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ACT I. SCENE I.
A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, Ægeon, Gaoler, Officers, and other
Attendants, ÆGE. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And, by the doom of death, end woes and all.
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more I am not partial, to infringe our laws: The enmity and discord, which of late Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives, Have seal'd his rigorous statutes with their bloods, Excludes all pity from our threat’ning looks. For, since the mortal and intestine jars 'Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us, It hath in folemn fynods been decreed, Both by the Syracusans and ourselves, To admit no traffick to our adverse towns: Nay, more, If any, born at Ephesus, be seen At any Syracusan marts and fairs, Again, If any Syracusan born, Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies, His goods confiscate to the duke's dispose ; Unless a thousand marks be levied, To quit the penalty, and to ransom him. Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
DUKE. Well, Syracufan, say, in brief, the cause Why thou departedst from thy native home; And for what cause thou cam’st to Ephesus. · Æge. A heavier task could not have been impos’d, Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable: Yet, that the world may witness, that my end Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence, I'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave. In Syracusa was I born; and wed Unto a woman, happy but for me, And by me too,4 had not our hap been bad. With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'd,
3 Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,] All his hearers - understood that the punishinent he was about to undergo was in consequence of no private crime, but of the publick entity be. tween two ftates, to one of which he belonged : but it was a ge. neral superstition amongst the ancients, that every great and sudden misfortune was the vengeance of heaven pursuing men for their secret offences. Hence the sentiment put into the mouth of the speaker was proper. By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, that my present death is according to the ordinary course of Providence [wrought by nature and not the effects of divine vengeance overtaking me for my crimes, [not by vile offence.] WARBURTON.
The real meaning of this passage is much less abftrufe, than thae which Warburton attributes to it. By nature is meant natural affe&tion.-Ægeon came to Ephesus in search of his son, and tells his story, in order to shew that his death was in consequence of natural affection for his child, not of any criminal intention. M. MASON.
4 And by me too,] Too, which is not found in the original copy, was added by the editor of the second folio, to complete the metre,
By prosperous voyages I often made
4 And he, great care of goods at random left,] Surely we should read :
And the great care of goods at random left
Drew me, &c. The text, as exhibited in the old copy, can scarcely be reconciled to grammar. MALONE.
SA poor mean woman - Poor is not in the old copy. It was inserted for the sake of the metre by the editor of the fecond folio.
n’d him retul for the ripe, tous
Did but convey unto our fearful minds
ÆGE. O, had the gods done so, I had not now · Worthily term’d them merciless to us! For, ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues, We were encounter'd by a mighty rock;
Which being violently borne upon,
for, Do me the favour to dilate at full What hath befall’n of them, and thee, till now.
Æge. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
6 borne opon,] The original copy reads-borne up. The additional syllable was supplied by the editor of the second folio,
MALONE, 7 Gave helpful welcome -----] Old copy-healthful welcome. Corrected by the editor of the second folio.So, in K. Henry IV. P.I:
“ And gave the tongue a helpful welcome.” Malonę. 8 _ and thee, till now.] The first copy erroneously reads and they. The correction was made in the second folio.
MALONE, 9 My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,] Shakspeare has here