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Shakespeare Study Programs; The Comedies   By: (1859-1942)

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Authors of The Tragedies Editors of the Pembroke Shakespeare , the First Folio Shakespeare , Poet Lore , etc.

Boston: Richard G. Badger Toronto: The Copp Clark Co., Limited The Gorham Press, Boston, U.S.A.

[Illustration: ARTI et VERITATI]


The Shakespeare Study Programs appeared originally in Poet Lore . They have met with marked favor, and have been reprinted as the back numbers went out of print. The steady demand for these programs prompts the present issue in book form. Several new programs have been added, and those reprinted have been revised.

The references in this volume are to the "First Folio Edition" of Shakespeare, edited by Charlotte Porter.

"Criticism is the endeavour to find, to know, to love, to recommend not only the best, but all the good that has been known and thought and written in the world. ... It shows how to grasp and how to enjoy;... it helps the ear to listen when the horns of England blow."

GEORGE SAINTSBURY, "History of Criticism."


The Comedie of Errors

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Taming of the Shrew

Love's Labour's Lost

Much Adoe About Nothing

A Midsommer Nights Dreame

The Merchant of Venice

The Merry Wives of Windsor

As You Like It

Twelfe Night

The Tempest

The Winter's Tale


In the Summer of 1594 a translation of a Latin Farce by the Roman Dramatist, Plautus, was made ready for publication in London. It may even have been published then, for, although the title page date is 1595, then, as often now, the issue was made in advance of date. Circulation in MS., moreover, now unusual, was then common.

This translation was registered, at any rate, for publication, June 16, 1594, as "A Booke entitled Menæchmi, being a pleasant and fine conceited comedy taken out of the most wittie poet Plautus, chosen purposely from out the rest as being the least harmful and most delightful."

Six months later, Shakespeare had made an English Farce out of this Latin one. He invented several new characters, arranged many new situations, and put a good deal more life likeness in the relations of the characters, while yet it may be seen that, his new play, "The Comedie of Errors," was directly drawn from the old one by Plautus.

The first record we have of Shakespeare as an actor before Queen Elizabeth relates to the performance in Christmas week of this same year of "twoe severall comedies." This record in the Accounts of the Treasurer who paid out the money for the Plays acted before the Queen, runs as follows:

"To William Kempe, William Shakespeare, and Richard Burbage, servaunts to the Lord Chamberleyn upon the Councelles warrant dated at Whitehall xv. die. Marcij 1594 [1595], for twoe severall comedies or enterludes, shewed by them before her Majestie in Christmas tyme laste paste, viz., upon St. Stephen daye, [Dec. 26,] and Innocente's day, [Dec. 28,] xiii^{li} vi^{s} viij^{d} and by way of her Majesties rewarde vi^{li} xiij^{s} iv^{d} in all xx^{li}."

It is fair to infer that the "Comedie of Errors" was one of these two comedies, for on the evening of the 28th of December, 1594, there arose a sudden necessity to hire an entertainment to take the place at Gray's Inn, one of the great Law Schools of London, of a Play by the students which had gone to pieces. In lieu of this amateur play, for which a great stage had been built in their Hall, it is recorded that the great throng assembled were forced, first, to "content themselves with ordinary dancing and revelling, and when that was over, with a Comedy of Errors like to Plautus his Menoechmus, which was played by the players." That these "players" were public players is shown in the Gray's Inn account of these Christmas festivities by another reference to this "company of base and common fellows" who were "foisted" in "to make up our disorders with a play of Errors and Confusions... Continue reading book >>

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