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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS was first printed in the Folio of 1623, wherein at folio 85 it stands fifth in the "Catalogue of the severall Comedies Histories and Tragedies contained in this Volume." It may have been printed from Shakespeare's own manuscript, ie., if it be reasonable, and I think in this case it is reasonable, to assume its preservation during the generation which had elapsed from the production of the play, viz., in or about the winter of 1591-2. Perhaps we may for once assume the truth of Heminge and Condell's statement "To the great Variety of Readers" of the Folio, that they had "scarse received from him a blot in his papers."

In the Folio the play is divided into acts, but not into scenes, although "Scaena Prima" duly figures at the beginning of each act, with the exception, for no apparent reason, of the second; and the play is not furnished at the end with "the names of the actors," as in the case of The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Measure for Measure, three of the four preceding "Comedies." We are left to conjecture the reason, which was probably sheer carelessness, if not too rapid work, on the part of the printers, and the want of any proper supervision; since there is ample room for the names on folio 100, the concluding page of the play. The dramatis persona, however, were first added by Rowe in 1709.


The text, like that of A Midsumm has reached us in a state of comparative ex in places, however, by obvious omissions misprints; notably in the passages II. i. I IV. ii. 33; IV. iii. 13 and IV. iii. 73, 74. and imperative-emendations I have not particularly, amongst others, pelf for the 151; we talk with fairies in II. ii. 190; sz heavy in v. i. 79; and the arrangement in last three lines of the play, as the latter a Folio. These lines are, distinctly, "con "fourteeners" or "rime dogerel," as Chaucer and the obvious and remarkable blunder d in three lines beyond doubt originated in the of the Folio, and has been, strangely eno in most sheepish fashion, by every subse close on two hundred years, viz., since th Rowe in 1709.

The emendations of the present text, of seem to fall, roughly speaking, into three emendations of the editor being distinguish and the reasons for change being discussed (a) Instances of words or phrases havir the text:

ight's Dream, nce, disfigured rruptions and

= 3; II. ii. 190; -me original— cated to make; st help in I. i. - it in v. i. 26; -o lines of the printed in the trimeters" or

led this metre ; rranging them areless printing h, perpetuated, ent editor for first edition of

nal or adopted, lasses; original by an asterisk, the notes.

dropped out of


and sprites.


ath him by the heel. ture of old Adam.

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*IV. iv. 89.


V. i. 26.

And God and the rope-maker bear me witness. These ears of mine, thou know'st, did hear thee swear it. v. i. 46. And much much different from the man he was.

* v. i. 79. But moody, heavy and dull melancholy.

*v. i. 235. He did consent and by the way we met.

(b) Instances of words wrongly introduced into the text:

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i. 87.

*IV. ii. 4.

Look'd he or red? or pale? or sad or merrily?

v. i. 174. My master preaches patience to him and the while.

(c) Instances of corruptions, metatheses of letters, faulty metrical arrangement of words or lines :—

*1. i. 150. Therefore, merchant, I'll limit thee this day,
To seek thy pelf by beneficial help.




IV. i. 69. Well, officer, arrest him at my suit. I do;
And charge you in the duke's name to obey me.

IV. ii. 56. If an hour meet a sergeant.

V. i. 424-5. Nay then thus: we... before another. (Two lines.) The chronology of the plays is one of the most difficult and at the same time one of the most important subjects of Shakespearian study. Whilst it is difficult if not impossible to fix the date of composition, or production, of The Errors with absolute precision, it is still possible to arrive at conclusions which may be called fairly satisfactory; at anyrate that in respect of date The Errors was one of the earliest, if not the very earliest, of the Comedies, and that it was probably untouched by the author after its first production. The evidence, on the whole, points to the winter of the year 1591-2

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