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410, 1582.


* MEASURE FOR MEASURE.] The ftory 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 some deviations from him in the conduct of it, when probably all he knew of the matter was from Madam Isabella, in The Heptameron of Whetslone, Lond.

She reports, in the fourth dayes Exercise, the rare Hillorie of Promos and Cassandra. À marginal note informs 115, thai Whetstone was the author of the Comedie on that subject; which likewise had probably fallen into the hands of Shakspeare.

FARNIER. There is perhaps not one of Shakspeare's plays more darkened than this by the peculiarities of its author, and the unskilfulness of its editors, by distortions of phrase, or negligence of transcription,

JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's remark is so just respecting the corruptions of this play, ihat I shall not attempt much reformation in its metre, which is 100 often rough, redundant, and irregular. Additions and omilfions (however trifling) cannot be made without constant notice of them; and such notices, in the present instance, would so frequently occur, as to become equally tirefome to the commentator and the reader.

Shakspeare took the fable of this play from the Promos and Cassandra of George Whetstone, published in 1578. See Theobald's note at the end,

A hint, like a seed, is more or less prolific, 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 almost complete embryo of Measure for Measure ; yel the hints on which it is formed are so flight, that it is nearly as impoffible to deica them, as it is to point out in the acorn the future ramifications of the oak. Whetstone opens his play thus :

Ad I. Scene i.. « Promos, Mayor, Shirife, Sworde bearer: one with a bunche

of keyes : Phallax, Promos Man.
c. You officers which now in julio staye,
... Know you your leadge, the King of Hungarit,
" Sent me to Promos, to joyne with you in sway:
6. That styil we may to jufiice have an eye.

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16 And now 10 how my rule and power at laruge,
• Attentivelie his letters patents heare:

- Phallax, reade out my Soveraines chardge.
Phal. " As you commaunde I wyll: give heedeful eare.

Phallax readeth the Kinges Letters Pattents, which

must be fayre written in parchment, with Jomo

great counterfeat zeale. Pro.. Loe, here you see what is our Soveraignez wyl,

« Loe, hcare his wish, that right, not might, beare swaye:

Loe, heare his care, to weede from good the yll,
* To scoorge the wights, good lawes that disobay.
6. Such zeale he beares, unto the common weale,
66 (How so be byds, the ignoraunt to save)
" As he commaundes, the lewde doo rigor fecle, &c. &c. &c.

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Pro... Both fwoorde and keies, unto my princes use,

“ I do receyve, and gladlie take my chardge.
« It resteth now, for to reforme abuse,
“ We poynt a tyme of councell more at lardge,

s. To treate of which , a whyle we wyll depart.
Al. speake.
5. To worke your wyil, we yeelde a willing hart.

Exeunt." The reader will find the argument of G. Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, at the end of this play. It is too bulky to be inserte here. See likewise the piece itself among Six old Plays on which Shakspeare founded, &c. published by S. Leacroft, Charingcross. STEEVENS.

Measure for Measure was, I believe, written in 1603. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's: Plays, Vol. II.


Vincentio, duke of Vienna.
Angelo, lord deputy in the duke's absence.
Escalus, an ancient lord, joined with Angelo in

the depuiation.
Claudio, a young gentleman.
Lucio, a fantastick.
Two other like gentlemen.
Varrius, a gentleman, servant to the duke.
Provost. .

two friars.
A justice.
Elbow, a simple constable:
Froth, a foolish gentleman.
Clown, servant to Mrs. Over-done.
Abhorson, an executioner.
Barnardine, a diffolute prisoner.

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Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, Officers, and other


SCENĖ, Vienna.

* Varrius might be omitted, for he is only once spoken to, and says nothing. JOHNSON.

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Elb. O thou caitif.0 thor varlot'O thore wicked Hannibal

respected with her, or she with me, let not your
I resputed with her before I was marryd teherifwrr I Measure for Measure worship think me the poor dukis officer. -
Angelo's Housė

. _localus, a Justice, Éillon, Froth Clonn Officers dc.


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