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*Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA. ] Some of the incidents in this play may be fuppofed to have been taken from The Arcadia, Book I. chap. 6, where Pyrocles confents to head the Helots. (The Arcadia was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, Aug. 23d, 1588.) The love-adventure of Julia resembles that of Viola in Twelfth Night, and is indeed common to many of the ancient novels. STEEVENS.
Mrs. Lenox obferves, and I think not improbably, that the ftory of Proteus and Julia might be taken from a fimilar one in the Diana of George of Montemayor.- - This paftoral romance," fays fhe, was tranflated from the Spanish in Shakspeare's time." I have feen no earlier tranflation than that of Bartholomew Yong, who dates his dedication in November 1598; and Meres, in his Wit's Treafury, printed the fame year, exprefsly mentions the Two Gentlemen of Verona. Indeed Montemayor was tranflated two or three years before, by one Thomas Wilfon; but this work, I am perfuaded, was never publifhed entirely; perhaps fome parts of it were, or the tale might have been tranflated by others. However, Mr. Steevens fays, very truly, that this kind of love-adventure is frequent in the old novelifts. FARMER.
There is no earlier tranflation of the Diana entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, than that of B. Younge, Sept. 1598. Many tranflations, however, after they were licensed, were capriciously fuppreffed. Among others, "the Decameron of Mr. John Boccace, Florentine," was recalled by my lord of Canterbury's commands." STEEVENS.
It is obfervable (I know not for what cause,) that the flyle of this comedy is lefs figurative, and more natural and unaffected, than the greater part of this author's, though supposed to be one of the firft he wrote.
It may very well be doubted whether Shakspeare had any other hand in this play than the enlivening it with fome fpeeches and lines thrown in here and there, which are easily diftinguished, as being of a different flamp from the rest. HANMER.
To this obfervation of Mr. Pope, which is very juft, Mr. Theobald has added, that this is one of Shakspeare's worst plays, and is lefs corrupted than any other. Mr. Upton peremptorily determines, that if any proof can be drawn from manner and fiyle, this play must be fent, packing, and feek for its parent elsewhere. How otherwife, fays he, do painters diftinguifh copies from originals? and have not authors their peculiar style and manner, from which a true critic can form as unerring judgement as a painter? I am afraid this illuftration of a critic's fcience will not prove what is defired. A painter knows a copy from an original by rules fomewhat refembling those by which critics know a tranflation, which if it be literal, and literal
it must be to refemble the copy of a pidure, will be easily diftinguished. Copies are known from originals, even when the painter copies his own picture; so, if an author fhould literally tranflate his work, he would lofe the manner of an original.
Mr. Upton confounds the copy of a pi&ure with the imitation of a painter's manner. Copies are eafily known; but good imitations are not detected with equal certainty, and are, by the best judges, often mistaken. Nor is it true that the writer has always peculiarities equally diftinguishable with those of the painter. The peculiar manner of each arifes from the defire, natural to every performer, of facilitating his fubfequent work by recurrence to his former ideas; this recurrence produces that repetition which is called habit. The painter, whofe work is partly intellectual and partly manual, has habits of the mind, the eye, and the hand; the writer has only habits of the mind. Yet, fome painters have differed as much from themfelves as from any other; and I have been told, that there is little refemblance between the firft works of Raphael and the laft. The fame variation may be expected in writers; and if it be true, as it. feems, that they are lefs fubje& tó habit, the difference between their works may be yet greater.
But by the internal marks of a compofition we may difcover the author with probability, though feldom with certainty. When I read this play, I cannot but think that I find, both in the ferious and ludicrous fcenes, the language and fentiments of Shakspeare. It is not indeed one of his moft powerful effufions; it has neither many diverfities of character, nor ftriking delineations of life; but it abounds in voucí beyond most of his plays, and few have more lines or passages, which, fingly confidered, are eminently beautiful. I am yet inclined to believe that it was not very fuccefsful, and fufped that it has efcaped corruption, only because, being feldom played, it was lefs expofed to the hazards of tranfcription. JOHNSON.
This Comedy, I believe was written 1595. to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's Piays, Vol. I.
See An Attempt
Duke of Milan, father to Silvia.
Gentlemen of Verona,
Antonio, father to Proteus.
Thurio, a foolish rival to Valentine.
Panthino,' fervant to Antonio.
Hoft, where Julia lodges in Milan.
Julia, a lady of Verona beloved by Proteus,
SCENE, fometimes in Verona; fometimes in Milan; and on the frontiers of Mantua.
Proteus,] The old copy has-Protheus; but this is merely the antiquated mode of fpelling Proteus. Shakspeare's character was fo called, from his difpofition to change. STEEVENS.
3 Panthino,] In the enumeration of characters in the old copy, this attendant on Antonio is called Panthion, but in the play, always Panthino, STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
An open place in Verona.
Enter VALENTINE and PROTEUS.
VAL. Cease to perfuade, my loving Proteus;
To fee the wonders of the world abroad,
PRO. Wilt thou be gone? Sweet Valentine, adieu! Think on thy Proteus, when thou, haply, seeft Some rare note-worthy object in thy travel:
2 Hame-keeping youth have ever homely wits:] Milton has the fame play on words, in his Mafque at Ludlow Castle :
"It is for homely features to keep home,
They had their names thence," STEEVENS,
3 — fhapeless idleness.] The expreffion is fine, as implying that idleness prevents the giving any form or chara&er to the manWARBURTON.