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Vincentio, Duke of Vienna.
Claudio, a young Gentleman.
Two other like Gentlemen.
* Varrius, a Gentleman, Servant to the Duke.
Ifabella, Sifter to Claudio.
Guards, Officers, and other Attendants.
*Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to, and fays nothing. JOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE I.
The Duke's Palace".
Enter Duke, Efcalus, and Lords.
The ftory is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8. Novel 5.
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 phrafe, or negligence of tranfcription. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and Caffandra of George Whetstone, published in 1578. See Theobald's note at the end.
A hint, like a feed, is more or lefs prolific, according to the qualities of the foil on which it is thrown. This ftory, 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 Caffandra exhibits an almost complete embryo of Measure for Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are fo flight, that it is nearly as impoffible to detect them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak.
"Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer: one with a bunche "of keyes: Phallax, Promos Man. "You.officers which now in Julio staye "Know you your leadge, the King of Hungarie. "Sent me to Promos, to joyne with you in fway" "That ftyll we may to Juftice have an eye.
Whetstone opens his play thus.
A&t I. Scene I.
Duke. Of government the properties to unfold, Would feem in me to affect speech and difcourfe; Since I am put to know, that your own fcience, Exceeds, in that, the lifts of all advice+ My ftrength can give you: Then no more remains, But
"And now to show, my rule and power at lardge,
Loe, here you fee what is our Soveraignes wyl "Loe, heare his wifh, that right, not might, bear swaye : "Loe, heare his care, to weede from good the yll, "To fcoorge the wights, good laws that diobay. "Such zeale he bears, unto the common weale, "(How fo he byds, the ignoraunt to fave) "As he commaundes, the lewde doo rigor feele, &c. &c. &c,
As you commaunde I wyll give heedeful eare. Phallax readeth the Kinges Letters Pattents, which must be fayre written in parchment, with fome great counter feat zeale.
Both fwoorde and keies, unto my princes ufe,
"We poynt a tyme, of councell more at lardge, "To treate of which, a whyle we wyll depart. "Al. Speake. To worke your wyll, we yeelde a willing hart.
The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Caffandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inferted here. See likewife the Piece itself among Six old Plays on which Shakespeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charing-crofs. STEEVENS.
3 Since I am not to know,-] Old copy,
put to know,Perhaps rightly. JOHNSON.
I am put to know, may mean, I am obliged to acknowledge.
had I first been put to fpeak my mind."
Again in Drayton's Legend of Pierce Gavefton:
My limbs were put to travel day and night." STEEVENS. litt's] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON.
So in Othello.
"Confine yourself within a patient lift." STEEVENS.
Put that to your fufficiency,
But that your fufficiency, as your worth is able,
To the integrity of this reading Mr. Theobald objects, and fays, What was Efcalus to put to his fufficiency? why, his fcience: But his fcience and fufficiency were but one and the fame thing. On what then does the relative them depend? He will have it, therefore, that a line has been accidentally dropp'd, which he attempts to restore by due diligency. Nodum in fcirpo quarit. And all for want of knowing, that by fufficiency is meant authority, the power delegated by the duke to Efcalus. The plain meaning of the word being this: Put your skill in governing (fays the duke) to the power which I give you to exercife it, and let them work together.
Sir Tho. Hanmer having caught from Mr. Theobald a hint that a line was loft, endeavours to fupply it thus.
Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency you join
A will to ferve us, as your worth is able.
He has by this bold conjecture undoubtedly obtained a meaning, but, perhaps, not even in his own opinion, the meaning of Shakspeare.
That the paffage is more or lefs corrupt, I believe every reader will agree with the editors. I am not convinced that a line is loft, as Mr. Theobald conjectures, nor that the change of but to put, which Dr. Warburton has admitted after fome other editor,' will amend the fault. There was probably fome original obfcurity in the expreffion, which gave occafion to mistake in repetition or tranfcription. I therefore fufpect that the authour wrote thus,
Then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiencies your worth is abled,
Then nothing remains more than to tell you, that your virtue is now invefted with power equal to your knowledge and wifdom. Let therefore your knowledge and your virtue now work together. It may eafily be conceived how fufficiencies was, by an inarticulate fpeaker, or inattentive hearer, confounded with fufficiency as, and how abled, a word very unusual, was changed into able. For abled, however, an authority is not wanting. Lear ufes it in the same sense, or nearly the fame with the Duke. As for fufficiencies, D. Hamil ton in his dying fpeech, prays that Charles II. may exceed both the virtues and fufficiencies of his father. JOHNSON.
The uncommon redundancy, as well as obfcurity, of this verse may be confidered as fome evidence of its corruption. Take away the two firft words, and the fenfe joins well enough with what went before. Then (fays the duke) no more remains to fay: Your fufficiency as your worth is able, And let them work.
Our city's inftitutions, and the terms
I fay, bid come before us Angelo.
What figure of us think you will he bear?
i. e. Your skill in government is in ability to ferve me, equal to the integrity of your heart, and let them co-operate in your future miniftry.
The verfification requires that either fomething should be added, or fomething retrenched. The latter is the easier, as well as the fafer talk. I join in the belief, however, that a line is loft; and whoever is acquainted with the inaccuracy of the folio, (for of this play there is no other old edition) will find my opinion justified. STEEVENS. Some words feems to be lost here, the fenfe of which, perhaps, may be thus fupplied:
then no more remains,
But that to your fufficiency you put
A zeal as willing as your worth is able,
And let them work.
the terms Terms mean the technical language of the 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 ftudents in the law. BLACKSTONE.
For common justice you are pregnant in,] The later editions all give it, without authority,
and Dr. Warburton makes terms fignify bounds or limits. I rather think the Duke meant to fay, that Efcalus was pregnant, that is ready and knowing all the forms of the law, and, among other things, in the terms or times fet apart for its administration.
The word pregnant is used with this fignification in Ram-alley, or Merry Tricks 1611, where a lawyer is reprefented reading: "In triceffimo primo Alberti Magni
"'Tis very cleare-the place is very pregnant." i. e. very expreffive, ready, or very big with meaning.. Again,
the Proof is most pregnant." STEEVENS. For you muft know we have with special foul Elected him our abfence to fupply;]