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Vincentio, duke of Vienna.
Isabella, fifter to Claudio.
Lords, gentlemen, guards, officers, and other attendanti
Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to, and fays nothing. JOHNSON.
MEASURE for MEASURE..
ACT I. SCENE I.
A room in the Duke's Palace.
Duke. Of government the properties to unfold,
1 The story is taken from Cinthio's Novels, Decad. 8. Novel 5. 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 Wberstone 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 Calandra 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 Cassandra exhibits an aimolt complete embryo of Measure for Measure; yet the hints on which it is formed are so light, that it is nearly as impoffible 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 Caffandra, 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-crofs. STEVENS.
Measure for Measure was, I believe, written in 1603. See an Ato temprio ascertain ibe order of Sbakspeare's plays, ante. MALONE. B 2
Since I am put to know?, that your own science
2. Since I am put to know,-) I om put to know may mean, I am obliged to acknowledge. So, in King Henry VI. Part II. sc. i:
had I first been put to speak my mind." STEEVENS. - lifts] Bounds, limits. JOHNSON,
Tben no more romains, But that to your fufficiency
as your worth is able, 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 Mr. and that by this means two half lines have been omitted. . The very fame error may be found in Macbeth, edit. 1632:
which, being taught, return,
“ To our own lips." inficad of
" --which, being taught, return,
“ Commends beingredients of our poison'd chalice” &c. Again, in Mucb ado about notbing, edit. 1623. p. 103:
" And I will break with her. Was't not to this end, &c.“ infead of
" And I will break with her, and with ber faiber,
“ And thou fialt bave ber. Was't not to this end, &c." Mr. Theobald would supply the defect thus :
But that to your sufficiency you add
Due diligence, as your worth is able, &c. Sir T. Hanmer reads:
But that to your sufficiency you join
A will to serve us, as your worth is able, &c. The following paliage, in K. Henry IV. P. I. which is constructed in a manner tomewhat similar to the piesent when corrected, appears to me to strengthen the supposition that two half lines have been lost:
“ Send danger from the cast unto the west,
“ And let ibem grapple.” Sufficiency is skillin government; ability to execute his office. And les them work, a figurative expression; Letibem ferment. MALONE.
Some words teem to have been lot here, the sense of which, perhaps, may be thus supplied :
-ben no more remains, But that to ysur fufficiency you put A zeal as willing as your woribis able, &c. TYRWHITT.
For common justices, 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.
« for several virtues
“ With so full soul, but some defect” &c. STEEVENS.
That, to the obferver, dorb iby history
Fully unfold:] What is there peculiar in this, that a man's life informs the observer of his history?
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’received, the passage is clear and proper. JOHNSON,
Fully unfold; Thyself and thy belongings?
Shakspeare has the same thought in Henry IV, which is some coma ment on this passage before us :
" There is a history in all men's lives,
tby belongings] i. e. endowments. MALONE. - are not sbire 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 fine issues :) 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. STIEVENS.
he determines Herself tbe glory of a creditor,
Borbebanks and use.) i. e. She (Nature) requires and allots to berself the same advantages that creditors usually enjoy,—thanks for the endowments the has bestowed, and extraordinary exertions in those whom the hath thus favoured, by way of interest for what she has lent. Use, in the phraseology of our author's age, signified intereft of money.
I do bend my speech To one ebat 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 ofice, wbicb I bave now delegated to bim. MALONE.