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Vincentio, duke of Vienna.
Isabella, fifter to Claudio.
Lords, gentlemen, guards, officers, and order attendantv
Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to and fays nothingJOHNSON.
MEASURE for MEASURE:.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A room in the Duke's Palace.
1 The story is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8. Novel š. POPE.
We are sent to Cinthio for the plot of Measure for Measure, and Shakspeare's judgment hath been attacked for fome deviations from him in the conduct of it, when probably all he knew of the matter was from Madam Isabella, in the Heptameron of Whetstone, Lond. 4to. 1582.She reports, in the fourth dayes Exercise, the rare Historie of Promos and Cassandra. A marginal note informs us, that Wbeiftone was the author of the Comedie on that subject; which likewise had probably fallen into the hands of Shakspeare. FARMER.
There is perhaps not one of Shakspeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its authour, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by distortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and Callundra of G. Whetstone, published in 1578. See Theobald's note at the end.
A hint, like a seed, is more or less prolifick, according to the qualities of the soil on which it is thrown. This story, which in the hands of Whetstone produced little more than barren infipidity, under the culture of Shakspeare became fertile of entertainment. The curious reader will find that the old play of Promos and Casandra exhibits an aimolt complete embryo of Measure for Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are so Night, that it is nearly as impossible to detect them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak,
The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Casa sandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inserted here. See likewise the piece itself among Six old Plays ox wbicb Sbakspeare founded &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-cross. STEEVENS.
Measure for Measure was, I believe, written in 1603. See an Asrempito afcertain ibe order of Sbakspeare's plays, ante. MALONE.
Since I am put to know?, that your own science
2 Since I am put to know,–] I am put to know may mean, I am obliged 10 acknowledge. So, in King Henry VI. Part I. sc. i :
· had I first been put to speak my mind." STEEVEN S. 3 — lifts] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON.
Tben no more remains,
And let them work.] I have not the smallest doubt that the composia tor's eye glanced from the middle of the second of these lines to that under it in the Ms. and that by this means two half lines have been omitted. . The very fame error may be found in Macbetb, edit. 1632:
which, being taught, return,
« To our own lips." inficad of
"--which, being taught, return,
“ Commends ibe ingredients of our poison'd chalice" &c. Again, in Mucb ado about nobbing, edit. 1623. p. 103:
" And I will break with her. Was't not to this end, &c." instead of
" And I will break with her, and with ber father, “ And thou shalt bave ber. Was't not to this end, &c." Mr. Theobald would supply the defeat thus :
But that to your sufficiency you add
Due diligence, as your worth is able, &c. Sir T. Hanmer reads :
But that to your fufficiency you join
A zvill to serve us, as your worth is able, &c. The following pallage, in K. Henry IV. P. I. which is constructed in a manner fomewhat similar to the pielent when corrected, appears to me to itrengthen the supposition that two half lines have been lost:
“ Send danger from the cast unto the west,
“ And let obem grapple.” Sufficiency is ikillin government; ability to execute his office. And let item work, a figurative exprellion; Letihem ferment. MALONE.
Some words ieem to have been lost here, the fentc of which, perhaps, may be thus lupplied :
then no more remains, But that to your fuficiency you put A zeal as willing as your worib is able, &c. TYRWHITT.
For common justice', you are as pregnant in ',
Escal. If any in Vienna be of worth
Ang. Always obedient to your grace's will,
An old book called Les Termes de la Ley, (written in Henry the Eighth's time) was in Shakspeare's days, and is now, the accidence of young itudents in the law. BLACKSTONE.
- as pregnant in,] Pregnant is ready, knowing. JOHNSON.
- with special foul] By the words with special Joul ele&ted him, I believe, the poet meant no more than obat be was ibe immediate cboice of his beart. So, in the Tempeft:
« for several virtues
« With so full soul, but fome defc&t” &c. STEEVENS. This seems to be only a translation of the usual formal words inserted in all royal grants : “ de gratia noftra fpeciali, et 'ex hole motu-,” MALONE. • There is a kind of character in thy life,
That, to the observer, dorb thy history
Fully unfold:] What is there peculiar in this, that a man's life informs the observer of his biftory?
Hiftory may be taken in a more diffuse and licentious meaning, for future occurrences, or the part of life yet to come. If this sense be're. ceived, the partage is clear and proper. Jensson.
Fully unfold; Thyself and thy belongings 9
Shakspeare has the same thought in Henry IV, which is some com. ment on this passage before us :
" There is a history in all men's lives,
tby belongings] i. e. endowments. MALONE.
- are not obine own so proper,] i. e. are not so much thy own property. STEEVENS.
2 - them on tbee.] The old copy reads_bey on thee. STEEVENS. Corrected by Sir Tho. Hanmer. MALONE.
- for if our virtues &c.]
Celata virtus.--Hor. THEOBALD. 4 to fireifues: ] To great consequences; for high purposes. JOHNSON.
S- nor nature never lends] Two negatives, not employed to make an affirmative, are common in our author. STEEVENS.
fue determines Herself tbe glory of a creditor,
Borb ibanks and use.] i. e. She (Nature) requires and allots to berself the same advantages that creditors usually enjoy,—thanks for the eadowments she has bestowed, and extraordinary exertions in those whom the hath thus favoured, by way of interest for what she has lent. Uje, in the phraseology of our author's age, signified intereft of money.
MALONE. I do bend my speech To one that can my part in him advertise ;] I believe, the meaning is, I am talking to one who is himself already fufficiently conversant with the nature and duties of my office;ot that office, wbicb I bave now delegated to bim. MALONE.