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COMEDY OF ERRORS,
ACT I. SCENE I.
- What obscured light the heavens
did grant “ Did but convey unto our fearful minds .“ A doubtful warrant of immediate death."
Perhaps Milton had a view to this passage, in these lines of Paradise Lost: “A dungeon horrible, on all sides round, “ As one great furnace flam’d; yet from those
flames “No light, but rather darkness visible, “ Serv'd only to discover sights of woe.”
ACT II. SCENE I. 368. I know not thy mistress; out on thy mis
tress.” A slight transposition would reform the prosody: “I know thy mistress not; out on thy mistress.”
SCENE II. 384. “ Dromio, thou drone,” &c.
The line in the old copy:
“ Dromio, thou Dromio! Snail, thou slug, thou
sot!” Mr. Theobald says is half a foot too long; but he is inistaken, the prosody is correct and unexceptionable. “ Dromio” might, indeed, if the measure required it, be extended to three syllables, but here it is only a dissyllable.
ACT IV. SCENE III. 424.“ He that sets up his rest,” &c. • To “set up his rest,” means, I believe, to make up or compose his mind to a fixed resolution; thus, in Romeo and Juliet:
“Will I set up my everlasting rest."
ACT V. SCENE I.
441. “But moody and dull melancholy.”
Mr. Heath's emendation, or something equivalent, should be adopted : “ But moody moping and dull melancholy.” “ Kinsman to grim and comfortless Despair.”
It is strange that Dr. Warburton should reject this line, beautiful and finely associated as it is merely on account of a feminine quality's being called kinsman, an irregularity that has, on various occasions, high poetic sanction. Gray, who knew the value of this verse, has inserted it in one of his elegant poems :
“ Grim-vizag'd comfortless Despair."
Mr. Steevens, upon a general revisal of The Comedy of Errors, tells us, he is convinced the whole of it was not written by Shakspeare; an observation which, though delivered, apparently, with the apprehension of risk, might safely be applied to almost any, even the best play in the catalogue of our poet's works. The truth is, that very little of it can, by a discriminating reader, be fairly ascribed to Shakspeare. His hand, indeed, is incidentally conspicuous; but the general style of thinking, diction and versification, is utterly unlike him; and rather resembles, sometimes, the manner of the author of Titus Andronicus ; and sometimes his who furnished to our meliorating poet The Taming of a Shrew.
This tragedy, originally printed without the name of its author, has no title to the place it holds among the works of Shakspeare, except what it may derive from Messrs. Hemings and Condell's having chosen to insert it in the folio publication of our poet's plays. The motive of those editors for such insertion is obvious. Their known professional intimacy with our poet was likely to procure for them, with the public, a ready acceptance of whatever they should pronounce as the production of a favourite author, become now more endeared by death; and studious of their own profit rather than their friend's fame, their only care was, to swell out the bulk of their volume; and any trash, which the rude taste of the age had received with applause, and was not notoriously elsewhere appropriated, they would, without scruple, have ascribed to the bard of Avon.
ACT I. SCENE II. 14. “Wilt thou drar near the nature of the
gods ? “ Draw near them then in being This sentiment, taken, as Mr. Steevens 're
marks, from the quoted passage of Cicero, occurs in the Merchant of Venice: “ And earthly pow'r doth then shew likest God's, “When mercy seasons justice.” 15. “ Patient yourself.”
This is no phrase of Shakspeare's.
ACT II. SCENE III.
52. “O Tamora! thou bear'st a woman's face."
This is almost the only passage, in the vile play before us, that exhibits any thing like just or natural sentiment, and it is remarkable that we find it again in the Third Part of K. Henry VI. “How could'st thou drain the life-blood of the
child, “And yet be seen to wear a woman's face ?"
If Shakspeare could be supposed to have written one line of Titus Andronicus, and only one, I should assign this to him. 53. “ The raven doth not hatch a lark.” "
Nec imbellem feroces
Hor. Ode IV. V. 31, 32.