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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 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 increasid, 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 fix months old, Before her self (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 A joyful mother of two goodly sons ; And, which was ftrange, the one so like the other, As could not be distinguish'd but by names. That very hour, and in the self-fame Inn, A poor mean woman was delivered Of such a burthen, male-twins both alike: Those (for their parents were exceeding poor) I bought, and brought up to attend my sons. My wife, noț meanly proud of two such boys, Made daily motions for our home-return: Unwilling, I agreed ; alas, too soon! We came aboard. A league from Epidamnum had we fail'd, Before the always-wind-obeying Deep Gave any tragick instance of our harm; But longer did we not retain much hope: For what obscured light the heav'ns did grant, Did but convey unto our fearful minds A doubtful Warrant of immediate death; here to have had in his Eye the Exordium of Æneas's Speech to Dido in the second Book of Virgil's Æneis. Infandtm, Regina, jubes renovare dolorem, &c.
Which, tho' my self would gladly have embrac'd,
Yer the incessant weeping of my wife,
(Weeping before, for what the law must come ;)
And piteous plainings of the pretty babes,
That mourn'd for fashion, ignorant what to fear,
Forc'd me to seek delays for them and me:
And this it was; (for other means were none.)
The sailors sought for safety by our boat,
And left the thip, then sinking-ripe, to us;
My wife, more careful for the elder born,
Had fastend him unto a small spare Maft,
Such as fea-faring men provide for storms;
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whilft I had been like heedful of the other.
The children thus dispos’d, my wife and I,
Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixt,
Fasten'd our selves at either end the mast;
And floating straight, obedient to the stream,
Were carry'd towards Corinth, as we thought.
At length the Sun, gazing upon the earth,
Dispers'd those vapours that offended us;
And, by the benefit of his wish'd light,
The seas waxt calm; and we discovered
Two ships from far making amain to us,
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this;
But ere they camemoh, let me say no more!
Gather the Sequel by that went before,
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off so;
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 born upon,
Our helpless thip 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 fight they three were taken up
By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
At length, another fhip had feiz'd on us;
And knowing whom it was their hap to fave,
Gave helpful welcome to their shipwrackt guests;
And would have reft the filhers 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 fever'd from my bliss,
That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd,
To tell fad ftories of my own mishaps.
Duke. And, for the fakes of them thou sorrow'ft for,
Do me the favour to dilate at full
What hath befall’n of them, and thee, 'till now.
Ægeon. My youngeft boy, 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 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 loss of whom I lov'd.
Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece,
Roaming clean through the bounds of Aha,
And coafting homeward, came to Ephesus:
Hopeless to find, yet loth to leave unsought,
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 markt
To bear th' extremity of dire mishap;
Now, trust me, were it not against our laws, (3)
(3) Now trust me, were it not against our Laws,
Against my Crown, my Oath, my Dignity,
Which Princes would, they may not disannul,] Thus are these Lines placed in all the former Editions. But as the single Verb does not agree with all the Substantives, which should be govern'd of it, I have ventur'd to make a Transpofition; and by a Change in the Pointing, clear'd up the Perplexity of the Sense.
(Which Princes, would they, may not disanul ;)
Against my Crown, my Oath, my Dignity,
My soul should fue 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 haft in Ephesus,
Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,
And live; if not, then thou art doom'd to die.
Jailor, take him to thy custody.
[Exeunt Duke, and Train, Fail. I will, my lord.
Egean. Hopeless and helpless doth Ægeon wend, But to procrastinate his liveless end.
[Exeunt Ægeon, and fajlot..
SCENE changes to the Street.
Enter Antipholis of Syracuse, a Merchant, and Dromio.
Lest that your goods top foon be confiscate,
This very day, a Syracusan merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here ;
And, not being able to buy out his life,
According to the Statute of the Town,
Dies ere the weary Sun set in the west:
There is your mony, 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 sleep within mine Inn;
For with long travel I am stiff and weary:
Dro. Many a man would take you at your word,
And go indeed, having so good a means. (Exit Dromio.
Ant. A trusty villain, Sir, that very oft,
When I am dull with care and melancholy,
Lightens my humour with his merry jests.
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 consoft you 'till bed-time:
My present business calls me from you now.
Ant. Farewel 'till then; I will go lose my self,
And wander up and down to view the city.
Mer. Sir, I commend you to your own content.
Ant. He 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 seeks another drop,
Who falling there to find his fellow forth,
Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself;
$o I, to find a mother and a brother,
In quest of them, unhappy, lose my self.
Enter Dromio of Ephesus.
Here comes the almanack of my true date.
What now? how chance, thou art return'd so soon?
E. Dro. Return’d so soon! rather approach'd too
The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit,
The clock has ftrucken twelve upon the bell;
My mistress made it one upon my cheek;
She is so hot, because the meat is cold;
The meat is cold, because you come not home;
You come not home, because you have no ftomach ;
You have no stomach, having broke your faft:
But we, that know what 'tis to fast and pray,
Are penitent for your default to day.