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COMEDY of ERRORS.
ACT 1. SCENE I.
The Duke's Palace.
Enter the Duke of Ephesus, Ægeon, Jailor, and
ROCEED, Salinus, to procure my fall,
Duke. Merchant of Syracufa, plead no more ;
T'admit no traffick to our adverse towns.
Thy substance, valu’d at the highest rate,
Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause, Why thou departedft from thy native home ; And for what cause thou cam'lt to Ephesus.
Ægeon. A heavier task could not have been imposid, Than I to speak my grief 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 * Was wrought by nature, not fences. Hence the sentiment
by vile offence,} All his here put into the mouth of the hearers understood that the pu- speaker was proper. By my nishment he was about to un-' past life (fays he) which I am dergo was in consequence of no going to relate, the world may private crime, but of the pub- understand that my present death lic enmity betwein two states, is according to the ordinary to one of which he belonged: course of providence, [wrong be But it was a general superstition - by nature) and not the effects of amongst the ancients, that every divine vengeance overtaking me great and sudden misfortune was for my crimes (not by vile of the vengeance of heaven pur- fence.] suing men for their secret of.
To Epidamnum; 'till my factor's death,
Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast,
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off so į For we may pity, tho' not pardon thee.
Ægeon. Oh, 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 encountred by a mighty rock; Which being violently borne upon, Our helpless 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 carry'd 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 helpful welcome to their shipwreckt guests s And would have reft the fishers of their prey, Had not their bark been very now of fail;
And therefore homeward did they bend their course.-
Duke. And, for the fakes of them thou sorrow't for,
Ægeon. My youngest boy, and yet ny 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 retain'd his name,) Might bear him company in quest of him : Whom whilst I labour'd of a love to see, I nazarded the loss of whom I lov'd. Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece, Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia, And coasting homeward, came to Ephesus. Hopeless to find, yet loth to leave unfoughts Or that, or any place that harbours men. But here must end the story of my life; And happy were I in my timely death, Could all my travels warrant me they live.'
Duke. Hapless Ægeon, whom the fates have marko To bear th' extremity of dire misap; Now, trust me, were it not against our laws, (Which Princes, would they, may not disannul;) Against my crown, my oath, my dignity, My soul should sue as advocate for thee. But, tho' thou art adjudged to the death, And passed sentence may not be recallid, But to our honour's great disparagement; Yet will I favour thee in what I can; I therefore, merchant, limit thee this day, To seek thy life by beneficial help: Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus, Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,