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COMEDY OF ERRORS.
SCENE I. A Hall in the Duke's Palace.
Enter Duke, ÆGEON, Gaoler, Officer, and other
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more;
A gilder was a coin valued from one shilling and sixpence to two shillings.
Again, If any Syracusan born,
words done, My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
Duke. Well, Syracusan, 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 imposed, 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, had not our hap been bad. With her I liv’d in joy; our wealth increas'd, By prosperous voyages I often made To Epidamnum, till my factor's death; And the great care of goods at random left, Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse: From whom my absence was not six months old, Before herself (almost at fainting, under The pleasing punishment that women bear), Had made provision for her following me, And soon, and safe, arrived where I was. There she had not been long, but she became
2 i. e. natural affection. 3 The old copy reads he: the emendation is Malone's. It is a happy restoration; for the manner in which Steevens pointed this passage gave to it a confused if not an absurd meaning.
A joyful mother of two goodly sons ;
4 The word poor was supplied by the editor of the second folio. 5 Instance appears to be used here for symptom or prognostic. Shakspeare uses this word with very great latitude. VOL. IV.
The children thus dispos’d, my wife and I,
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off so; For we may pity, though not pardon thee.
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 upono, Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst, So that in this unjust divorce of us, Fortune had left to both of us alike What to delight in, what to sorrow for. Her part, poor soul! seeming as burdened With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe, Was carried with more speed before the wind; And in our sight they three were taken up By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought. At length, another ship had seiz'd on us; And, knowing whom it was their hap to save, Gave healthful? welcome to their shipwreck'd guests;
6 The first folio reads • borne up.'
7 The second folio altered this to helpful welcome; but change was unnecessary. A healthful welcome is a kind welcome, wishing health to their guests. It was not a hepful welcome, for the slowness of their bark prevented them from rendering assist
And would have reft the fishers of their prey,
Duke. And for the sake of them thou sorrowest for,
Æge. My youngest boy8, and yet my eldest care, At eighteen years became inquisitive After his brother; and importun'd me, That his attendant (for his case was like, Reft of his brother, but 10 retain'd his name), Might bear him company in the quest of him: Whom whilst I labour'd of a love to see, I hazarded the loss of whom I lov’d. Five summers have I spent in furthest Greece, Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia, And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus; Hopeless to find, yet loath to leave unsought, Or that, or any place that harbours men. But here must end the story of my And happy were I in my timely death, Could all my travels warrant me they live. Duke.
Hapless Ægeon, whom the fates have
8 It appears, from what goes before, that it was the eldest, and not the youngest. He says, “My wife, more careful of the latter born,' &c.
9 The first folio reads so; the second for.
10 The personal pronoun he is suppressed: such phraseology is not unfrequent in the writings of that age.