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* Two GENTLEMEN OP VERONA.) Some of the incidents in this play may be supposed to have been taken from The Arcadia, Book 1. chap. 6. where Pyrocles consents 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 observes, and I think not improbably, that the story of Proteus and Jalia might be taken from a similar one in the Diana of George of Montemayor.--" This paftoral romance," says
was translated from the Spanish in Shakspeare's time." I have seen no earlier translation than that of Bartholomew Yong, who dates his dedication in November 1598; and Meres, in his Wit's Treasury, printed the same year, expressly mentions the Two Gentlemen of Verona. Indeed Montemayor was translated two or three years before, by one Thomas Wilson; but this work, I am persuaded, was never published entirely; përhaps some parts of it were, or the tale might have been translated by others. However, Mr. Steevens says, very truly, that this kind of love-adventure is frequent in the old novelifs. FARMER.
There is no earlier translation of the Diana entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, than that of B. Younge, Sept. 1598. Many translations, however, after they were licensed, were capriciously suppressed. Among others, “ The Decameron of Mr. John Boccace, Florentine," was recalled by my lord of Canterbury's commands." STEVENS,
It is observable (I know not for what cause,) that the style of this comedy is less figurative, and more natural and unaffected, than the greater part of this author's, though supposed to be one of the firtt he wrote. Pope.
It may very well be doubted whether Shakspeare had any other hand in this play than the enlivening it with some speeches and lines thrown in here and there, which are easily distinguished, as being of a different stamp from the rest. Hanmer.
To this observation of Mr. Pope, which is very just, Mr. Theobald has added, that this is one of Shakspeare's worst plays, and is less corrupted than any other. Mr. Upton peremptorily determines, that if any proof can be drawn from manner and Ayle, this play must be sent packing, and seek for its parent elsewhere. How otherwije, says he, do painters diftinguish 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 illustration of a critic's science will not prove what is desired. A painter knows a copy from an original by rules fomewhat resembling those by which critics know a translation, which if it be literal, and literal
it must be to resemble the copy of a picture, will be easily diftinguished. Copies are known from originals, even when the painter copies his own picture; so, if an author should literally translate his work, he would lose the manner of an original.
Mr. Upton confounds the copy of a picture with the imitation of a painter's manner. Copies are easily known; but good imitations are not detected with equal certainty, and are, by the best judges, often miftaken. Nor is it true that the writer has always peculiarities equally diftinguishable with those of the painter. The peculiar manner of each arises from the desire, natural to every performer, of facilitating his subsequent work by recurrence to his former ideas ; this recurrence produces that repetition which is called habit. The painter, whose 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, some painters have differed as much from themselves as from any other; and I have been told, that there is little resemblance between the first works of Raphael and the last. The same variation may be expected in writers; and if it be true, as it seems, that they are less subject to habit, the difference between their works may be yet greater.
But by the internal marks of a composition we may discover the author with probability, though seldom with certainty. When I read this play, I cannot but think that I find, both in the serious and ludicrous scenes, the language and sentiments of Shakspeare. It is not indeed one of his most powerful effufions ; it has neither many diversities of character, nor striking delineations of life; but it abounds in yapar beyond moft 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 successful, and fuspect that it has escaped corruption, only because, being feldom played, it was less exposed to the hazards of tranfcription. JOHNSON.
This Comedy, I believe, was written in 1595. See An Attempo to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. 1. MALONE.
Duke of Milan, father to Silvia.
} Gentlemen of Verona.
Servants, musicians. SCENE, sometimes 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 spelling Proteus. Shakspeare's character was fo called, from his difpofition to change. STEEVENS.
9 Panthino,] In the enumeration of characters in the old copy, this attendant on Antonio is called Panthion, but in the play, always Panthing. STEEVENS.