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have differea 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 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 effusions; it has neither many diversities of character, nor striking delineation of life, but it abounds in yronlar beyond most of his plays, and few have more lines or passages which, singly considered, are eminently beautiful. I am yet inclined to believe that it was not very successful, and suspect that it has escaped corruption, only because, being seldom played, it was less exposed to the hazards of transcription.”
Pope has set what he calls a mark of reprobation upon the low and trifiing conceits which are to be found in this play. It is true that the familiar scenes abound with quibbles and conceits; but the poet must not be condemned for adopting a mode of writing admired by his contemporaries; they were not considered low and trifling in Shakspeare's age, but, on the contrary, were very generally admired and allowed for pure and genuine wit. Yet some of these scenes have much farcical drollery and invention: that of Launce with his dog in the fourth act is an instance, and surely “Speed's mode of proving his master to be in love is neither deficient in wit or sense.”.
“The tender scenes in this play, though not so highly wrought as in some others, have often much sweetness of sentiment and expression." Schlegel says, “It is as if the world was obliged to accommodate itself to a transient youthful caprice, called love." Julia may be considered a light sketch of the lovely characters of Viola and Imogen. Her answer to Lucetta's advice against following her lover in disguise has been pointed out as a beautiful and highly-poetical passage.
“ That it should ever have been a question whether this comedy were the genuine and entire composition of Shakspeare appears to me very extraordinary," says Malone. “Hanmer and Upton never seem to have considered whether it were his first or one of his latest pieces. Is no allowance to be made for the first flights of a young poet? nothing for the imitation of a preceding celebrated dramatist,* which in some of the lower dialogues of this comedy (and these only) may, I think, be traced ? But even these, as well as the other parts of the play, are perfectly Shak· spearean (I do not say as finished and beautiful as any of his other pieces); and the same judgment must, I conceive, be pronounced concerning the Comedy of Errors and Love's Labor's Lost, by every person who is intimately acquainted with his manner of writing and thinking."
Sir William Blackstone observes, “that one of the great faults of the Two Gentlemen of Verona is the hastening too abruptly, and without preparation, to the dénouëment, which shows that it was one of Shakspeare's very early performances.” Dr. Johnson, in his concluding observations, has remarked upon the geographical errors. They cannot be defended by attributing them to his youthful inexperience, for one of his latest productions is also liable to the same objection. To which Malone replies: 6 The truth, I believe, is, that as he neglected to observe the rules of the drama with respect to the unities, though before he began to write they had been enforced by Sidney in a treatise which doubtless he had read;
* Malone points at Lilly, whose comedies were performed with great success and admic ration previous to Shakspeare's commencement of his dramatic career.