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His goods confifcate to the Duke's dispose,
Unless a thousand marks be levied
To quit the penalty, and ransom him.
Thy fubftance, valu'd at the highest rate,
Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.
Egeon. Yet this my comfort, when your words are
My woes end likewise with the evening fun.
Duke. Well, Syracufan, fay, in brief, the cause, Why thou departed'ft from thy native home; And for what cause thou cam'ft to Ephesus.
Ægeon. A heavier task could not have been impos'd, Than I to speak my grief unfpeakable:
Yet that the world may witness, that my end
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,
I'll utter what my forrow gives me leave.
In Syracufa 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 profperous 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 fix months old,
Before herself (almoft at fainting under
The pleafing punishment that women bear)
Had made provifion for her following me,
And foon, and safe, arrived where I was.
There she had not been long, but fhe became
A joyful mother of two goodly fons ;
And, which was ftrange, the one fo like the other,
As could not be diftinguifh'd but by names.
That very hour, and in the felf-fame inn,
A poor mean woman was delivered
Of fuch a burden, male-twins both alike:
Thofe (for their parents were exceeding poor)
I bought, and brought up to attend my fons.
My wife, not meanly proud of two fuch boys,
Made daily motions for our home-return:
Unwilling, I agreed; alas, too foon!
A league from Epidamnum had we fail'd,
Before the always-wind-obeying deep
Gave any tragic inftance of our harm;
But longer did we not retain much hope:
For what obfcured light the heav'ns did grant,
Did but convey unto our fearful minds
A doubtful warrant of immediate death;
Which, tho' myself would gladly have embrac'd,
Yet the inceffant weeping of my wife,
(Weeping before, for what fhe faw muft come;)
And piteous plainings of the pretty babes,
That mourn'd for fashion, ignorant what to fear,
Forc'd me to feek delays for them and me:
And this it was; (for other means were none.)
The failors fought for fafety by our boat,
And left the fhip, then finking-ripe, to us;
My wife, more careful for the elder born,
Had faften'd him unto a fmall spare maft,
Such as fea-faring men provide for ftorms;
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whilft I had been like heedful of the other.
The children thus difpos'd, my wife and I,
Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixt,
Faften'd ourselves at either end the maft;
And floating ftraight, obedient to the stream,
Were carry'd towards Corinth, as we thought.
At length the fun, gazing upon the earth,
Difpers'd thofe vapours that offended us ;
And, by the benefit of his wifh'd light,
The feas waxt calm; and we discovered
Two fhips from far making amain to us,
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this;
But ere they came-oh, let me fay no more!
Gather the fequel by that went before.
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off fo; For we may pity, tho' not pardon thee.
Egeon. Oh, had the Gods done fo, I had not now Worthily term'd them merciless to us;
For ere the ships could meet by twice five leagues,
We were encountered by a mighty rock;
Which being violently borne upon,
Our helpless ship was fplitted in the midft:
So that, in this unjuft divorce of us,
Fortune had left to both of us alike
What to delight in, what to forrow for.
Her part, poor foul! feeming as burdened
With leffer weight, but not with leffer woe,
Was carry'd with more speed before the wind,
And in our fight they three were taken up
By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
At length, another ship had feiz'd on us;
And knowing whom it was their hap to fave,
Gave helpful welcome to their fhipwreckt guests;
And would have reft the fishers of their prey,
Had not their bark been very flow of fail;
And therefore homeward did they bend their course.-
Thus have you heard me sever'd from my blifs;
That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd,
To tell fad ftories of my own mishaps.
Duke. And, for the fakes of them thou forrow'ft for, Do me the favour to dilate at full
What hath befall'n of them, and thee, 'till now.
Egeon. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
At eighteen years became inquifitive
After his brother; and importun'd me,
That his attendant, (for his cafe was like,
Reft of his brother, but retain'd his name,)
Might bear him company in quest of him;
Whom whilft I labour'd of a love to fee,
I hazarded the lofs of whom I lov'd.
Five fummers have I spent in fartheft Greece,
Roaming clean through the bounds of Afia,
And coafting homeward, came to Ephefus:
Hopeless to find, yet loth to leave unsought,
Or that, or any place that harbours men.
But here must end the ftory of my life:
And happy were I in my timely death,
Could all my travels warrant me they live.
Duke. Haplefs Egeon, whom the fates have markt
To bear th'extremity of dire mishap ;
Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,
(Which Princes, would they, may not disannul;)
Againft my crown, my oath, my dignity,
My foul should sue as advocate for thee.
But, tho' thou art adjudged to the death,
And paffed fentence may not be recall'd,
But to our honour's great difparagement;
Yet will I favour thee in what I can;
I therefore, merchant, limit thee this day,
To feek thy life by beneficial help:
Try all the friends thou haft in Ephefus,
Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the fum,
And live; if not, then thou art doom'd to die.
Jailor, take him to thy cuftody.
Egeon. Hopeless and helpless doth Ægeon wend, But to procraftinate his lifelefs end.
[Exeunt Egeon, and Jailor.
Enter Antipholis of Syracufe, a Merchant, and Dromio.
Mer. THE damnum,
HEREFORE give out, you are of Epi
Left that your goods too foon be confifcate.
This very day, a Syracufan merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here;
And, not being able to buy out his life,
According to the ftatute of the town,
Dies ere the weary fun fet in the weft:
There is your money, that I had to keep.
Ant. Go bear it to the Centaur, where we hoft,
And stay there, Dromio, 'till I come to thee:
Within this hour it will be dinner time;
"Till that I'll view the manners of the town,
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,
And then return and fleep within mine inn;
For with long travel I am stiff and weary.
Get thee away.
Dro. Many a man would take you at your word, And go indeed, having fo good a means.
[Exit Dromio. Ant. A trufty villain, Sir, that very oft, When I am dull with care and melancholy, Lightens my humour with his merry jefts. What, will you walk with me about the town, And then go to the inn and dine with me?
Mer. I am invited, Sir, to certain merchants, Of whom I hope to make much benefit: I crave your pardon. Soon at five o'clock, Please you, I'll meet with you upon the mart, And afterward confort you 'till bed-time : My present bufinefs calls me from you now. Ant. Farewel 'till then; I will go lofe myself, And wander up and down to view the city. Mer. Sir, I commend you to your own content. [Exit Merchant.
E that commends me to my own content,
Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
I to the world am like a drop of water,
That in the ocean feeks another drop,