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INTRODUCTION

TO

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE stands the fourth in the list of Com. edies in the folio of 1623, where it was first printed. Like the four plays included in our first volume, the divisions and subdivis. ions of acts and scenes are carefully noted in the original edition, and at the end is a list of the persons represented, under the usual heading, “ The names of all the actors." Though the general scope and sense of the dialogue are every where clear enough, there are several obscure and doubtful words and passages, which cause us to regret, more than in any of the preceding plays, the want of earlier impressions to illustrate, and rectify, or establish, the text. As it is, the right reading in some places can searce he eleared of uncertainty, or placed beyond controversy.

The strongly-marked peculiarity in the language, cast of thought, and moral temper of Measure for Measure, have invested the play with great psychological interest, and bred a strange curiosity among critics 10 connect it in some way with the author's mental history; with some supposed crisis in his feelings and experience. Hence the probable date of its composition was for a long time argued more strenuously than the subject would otherwise seem to justify; and, as often falls out in such cases, the more the critics argued the point, the farther they were from coming to an agreement. But, what is not a little remarkable, the best thinkers have nere struck widest of the truth; the dull matter-of-fact critics have borne the palm away from their more philosophical brethren ;an edifying instance how little the brightest speculation can do in questions properly falling within the domain of facts. Tieck and Ulrici, proceeding mainly upon internal evidence, fix the date somewhere between 1609 and 1612; and it is quite eurious to observe how confident and positive they are in their inferences : Ulrici, after stating the reasons of Tieck for 1612, says, “The later origin of the piece — certainly it did not precede 1609 — is But when I came to man's estate,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, 'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate,

For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, By swaggering could I never thrive,

For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my bed,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, With toss-pots still had drunken head,

For the rain it raineth every day.
A great while ago the world begun,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.

(Exi

INTRODUCTION

TO

MEASURE FOR MEASURE.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE stands the fourth in the list of Comedies in the folio of 1623, where it was first printed. Like the four plays included in our first volume, the divisions and subdivis. ions of acts and scenes are carefully noted in the original edition, and at the end is a list of the persons represented, under the usual heading, “ The names of all the actors." Though the general scope and sense of the dialogue are every where clear enough, there are several obscure and doubtful words and passages, which cause us to regret, more than in any of the preceding plays, the want of earlier impressions to illustrate, and rectify, or establish, the text. As it is, the right reading in some places can scarce he cleared of uncertainty, or placed beyond controversy.

The strongly-marked peculiarity in the language, cast of thought, and moral temper of Measure for Measure, have invested the play with great psychological interest, and bred a strange curiosity among critics to connect it in some way with the author's mental history; with some supposed crisis in his feelings and experience. Hence the probable date of its composition was for a long time argued more strenuously than the subject would otherwise seem to justify; and, as ofien falls out in such cases, the more the critics argued the point, the farther they were from coming to an agreement. Bat, what is not a little remarkable, the best thinkers have nere struck widest of the truth; the dull matter-of-fact critics have borne the palm away from their more philosophical brethren ;an edifying instance how little the brightest speculation can do in questions properly falling within the domain of facts. Tieck and Ulrici, proceeding mainly upon internal evidence, fix the date somewhere between 1609 and 1612; and it is quite curious to observe how confident and positive they are in their inferences : Ulrici, aster stating the reasons of Tieck for 1612, says, " The later origin of the piece - certainly it did not precede 1609 — is vouched still more strongly by the profound masculine earnes ness which pervades it, and by the prevalence of the same tone of feeling which led Shakespeare to abandon the life and pursuits of London for his native town."

Until since these conclusions were put forth, the English critics, in default of other dalil, grounded their re isonings upon certain probable allusions to contemporary matters; especially those pas. sages which express the Duke's fondness for “ the life ren ov'd," and his aversion to being greeted by crowds of people : and Chalmers, a very considerable instance of critical dulness, bad the sa. gacity to discover a sort of portrait-like resemblance in the Duke to King James I. As the King was undeniably a much better theologian than statesman or governor, the circumstance of the Duke's appearing so much more at home in the cowl and hood than in his ducal robes certainly lends some credit to this discov. ery. The King's unamiable repuguance to being gazed upon by throngs of adıniring subjects is thus spoken of by a contemporary writer : “ In his public appearance, especially in his sports, the accesses of the people made him so impatient, that he often dispersed them with frowns, that we may not say with curses.” And his anhandsome bearing towards the crowds which, prompted by eager loyalty, flocked forth to hail his accession, is noted by several historians. But he was a pretty liberal, and, for the time, judicious encourager of the drama, as well as of other learned delectations; and with those who sought or had tasted his patronage it was nat ural that these symptoms of weakness, or of something worse, should pass for tokens of a wise superiority to the dainties of popular applause.

All which renders it quite probable that the Poel may have had an eye to the King in the passages cited hy Malone in support of his conjecture.

I love the people,
But do not like to stage me to their eyes :
Though it do well, I do not relish well
Their loud applause and ares vehement;
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion
That does affect it."

« And even so
The general, subject to a well-wish'd king,
Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
Crowd to his presence, where their untaught love
Must needs appear offence.

The allusion here being granted, Malone's inference that the slay was probably made soon after the King's accession, and before the effect of his unlooked-for austerity on this score had spent itself, was natural enough. Nor is the conjecture of Ulrici and others without weight, " that Shakespeare was led to the compo. sition of the play by the rigoristic sentiments and arrogant virtne of the Puritans." And in this view several points of the main action might be aptly suggested at the time in question : for the King had scarcely set foot in England but he began to be worried by the importunities of that remarkable people, who had been feeding upon the hope, that by the sole exercise of his prerogative ne would cast out surplice, Liturgy, and Episcopacy, and revolulionize the Church up to the Presbyterian model ; it being a prime lotion of theirs, that with the truth a minority, however small, was retter than a majority, however large, without it.

Whether this view be fully warranted or not, it has been much Barengthened by a recent discovery. The play is now known to b.ve been acted at court December 26, 1604. For this knowledge we are indebted to Edınund Tyluey's “ Account of the Revels at Court," preserved in the Audit Office, Somerset House, and lately edited by Mr. Peter Cunningham. Tylney was Master of the Revels from 1579 to 1610; and in his account of expenses for the year beginning in October, 1694, occurs the following entry : “ By His Majesty's players : On ;. Stephen's night in the Hall a play called Measure for Measure." In a column headed « The Poets which made the Plays," our author is set down as “ Mr. Shaxherd;” the writer not taking pains to know the right spelling of * tame, the mentioning of which was to be the sole cause that his yun should be remembered in after ages and on other continents.

l'he date of the play being so far ascertained, all the main provabilities allegeable from the play itself readily fall into harmony therewith. And it is rather remarkable that Measure for Measure most resembles some other plays, known to have been written about the same time, in those very characteristics which led the German critics to fix upon a later date. Which shows he weak, in such cases, the internal evidence of style, temper, auc spirit is by itself, and yet how strong in connection with the external evidence of facts.

No question is made, that for some particulars in the plot and story of Measure for Measure the Poet was ultimately indebted to Giraldi Cinthio, an Italian novelist of the sixteenth century. The original story forms the eighty-fifth in his Hecatommithi, or Hundred Tales. A youth named Ludovico is there overtaken in the sam fault as Claudio; Juriste, a magistrate highly reputed for wisdom and justice, passes sentence of death upon him; and Ellia, Ludovico's sister, a virgin of rare gifts and graces, goes 10 pleading for her brother's life. Casting herself at the governor's feet her beauty and eloquence, made doubly poleat by the tears of suffering affection, have the same effect upon him as Isabella's upon Angelo. His proposals are rejected with scorn and hurror; but the lady, overcome by the pathetic entreaties of her brother, at last yields to them under a solemn promise of marriage His object being gained, the wicked man commits a double vow

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