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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.

ACT I. SCENE I.

A Hall in the DUKE's Palace.

of

Enter Solinus, Duke of Ephesus, Ægeon, a Merchant of Syra

cusa, Jailor, 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 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 solemn synods been decreed,
Both by the Syracusians and ourselves,
To admit no traffic to our adverse towns :
Nay, more, if any, born at Ephesus,
Be seen at Syracusian marts and fairs';

I Be seen at Syracusian marts and fairs ;) This line has two syllables too many in the old copies, viz.,

“Be seen at any Syracusian marts and fairs ;" but any seems to have been caught by the printer from the line above, and it is erased in the corr. fo. 1632. Raleigh, in his “ History of the World,” B. v., invariably calls them not Syracusans, but, like Shakespeare, “Syracusians," as if the name of the city had been Syracusia.

a

Again, if any Syracusian 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 ;
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.

Æge. Yet this my comfort; when your words are done, My woes end likewise with the evening sun.

Duke. Well, Syracusian; 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”, 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 had she not been long, but she became
A joyful mother of two goodly sons;
And, which was strange, the one so like the other,
As could not be distinguish'd but by names.

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? Was wrought by NATURE,) i. e. Was wrought by the course of natural events. The corr. fo. 1632 has fortune for "nature,” but we cannot consent, on this ground alone, to displace the original word in all the old impressions.

3 And by me too,] “ Too" was added by the editor of the second folio.

• And The great care of goods at random left,] Malone altered he, as it stands in the folio of 1623, to “the," and it is very evident that a letter had dropped out. The second folio, in order to make sense of the passage, reads

“ And he great store of goods at random leaving

Drew me from kind embracements," &c.

That very hour, and in the self-same inn,
A poor mean woman was delivered
Of such a burden, male twins, both alike.
Those, for their parents were exceeding poor,
I bought, and brought up to attend my sons.
My wife, not 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 sail'd,
Before the always-wind-obeying deep
Gave any tragic instance of our harm:
But longer did we not retain much hope;
For what obscured light the heavens did grant
Did but convey unto our fearful minds
A doubtful warrant of immediate death ;
Which, though myself would gladly have embrac'd',
Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,
Weeping before for what she saw 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 was none.
The sailors sought for safety by our boat,
And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us.
My wife, more careful for the latter-born,
Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast,
Such as sea-faring men provide for storms:
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whilst I had been like heedful of the other'.

S A POOR mean woman was DELIVERED] The word "poor” was added to complete the metre in the second folio. Malone therefore adopted it, but he himself spoiled the line, by printing deliver'd instead of " delivered.” In the same way, near the end of the speech, we meet with this line :

“The seas wax'd calm, and we discovered :" Malone printed discover'd, though the word must be read as four syllables.

6 Unwilling I agreed. Alas, too soon we came aboard !] This is the reading of the folios, whereas Malone would make the sense run on to the next line: the clear meaning is, that they came aboard too soon,” in consequence of the storm that almost immediately followed.

would GLADLY have embrac’d,] The corr. fo. 1632 has gently for “gladly.” Although there seems no sufficient reason why Ægeon should " gladly" have embraced death, still we are not warranted in removing that adverb: gently, i. e. submissively, might suit the place better.

8 And this it was,] One of the cases in which “this " is made to signify thus : "this" may be said to agree with “means " understood.

• Whilst I had been like heedful of the OTHER.] i. e. Of the other two : if we do not so understand the text, we must print others for “other;" because Ægeon's wife had taken care of two children, and had left the other two to be provided for by her husband.

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The children thus dispos’d, my wife and I,
Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fix’d,
Fasten'd ourselves at either end the mast;
And floating straight, obedient to the stream,
Were carried 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 wax'd calm, and we discovered
Two ships from far making amain to us ;
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this :
But ere they came,- Oh, let me say no more!
Gather the sequel by that went before.

Duke. Nay, forward, old man: do not break off so, For we may pity, though not pardon thee.

Æge. 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 encounter'd by a mighty rock, Which being violently borne upon ', 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 ; And would have reft the fishers of their prey, Had not their bark · been very slow of sail, And therefore homeward did they bend their course.

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1 Which being violently borne upon,] The first folio has up, and the second up upon. The present is, no doubt, the true reading, as fixed by Malone.

2 Gave healthFUL welcome! The second folio reads helpful, which is probably wrong, as we have had that word just before. Malone adopted the change without sufficient reason.

3 Had not their BARK] The first folio has back for “bark," as it is correctly

Thus have you heard me sever'd from my bliss,
That by misfortunes' was my life prolong'd,
To tell sad stories of my own mishaps.

Duke. And, for the sake of them thou sorrowest 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, At eighteen years became inquisitive After his brother; and importun'd me, That his attendant (so his case was like, Reft of his brother, but retain'd his name,) Might bear him company in the quest of him; Whom whilst he labour'd of all love to see', I hazarded 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 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 mark'd To bear the extremity of dire mishap! Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,

printed in the folio, 1632. The word “bark” forms a remarkable printer's blunder in “The Honest Man's Fortune," A. iii. sc. 2 (Dyce's “ Beaumont and Fletcher," iii. p. 396), where Longueville ought to say “ And for the understanding of the younger, let bim get as much rhetoric as he can, to grace his language, they will see he shall have gloss little enough to set out his book.” Here “ book," which the word “gloss” (i. e. comment), if nothing else, shows beyond dispute to be the true lection, is misprinted bark in every edition from 1647 to 1853.

4 That by misfortunes] " And by misfortunes" in the corr. fo. 1632.

3 What hatu befall’n of them, and THEE, till now.] This is the reading of the second folio: the first gives the line thus :

“What have befall'n of them, and they, till now." 6 My Youngest boy,] Monck Mason remarks, that Shakespeare has here been forgetful, and that it was Ægeon's wife who had been fastened on the mast near the youngest boy. Perhaps the two words ought to change places. 7 Whom whilst he labour'd of all love to see,] The line in the folios is

" Whom whilst I labour'd of a love to see;" but it was not himself but his son who wished to go in quest of his brother; there. fore, there is no doubt of the fitness of that emendation. As to the expression of a love to see," it is unprecedented: but the phrase, “of all love,” indicating strong affection, by all means, or for love's sake, was not uncommon. We have already met with it in “Midsummer Night's Dream,” A. ii. sc. 3, Vol. ii. p. 212. It occurs also in “The Merry Wives of Windsor," A. ii. sc. 2, this Vol. p. 199.

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