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His goods confiscate to the duke's dispose;
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.
Aege. 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 the3 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 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. That very hour, and in the selfsame inn,
By prospemnum, till mor goods aents of my time
2 i. e. natural affection.
3 The old copy reads he: the emendation is Malone's. It is a happy restoraiiou; for the manner in which Steevers pointed this passage gave to it a confused if not an absurd meaning.
A poort mean woman was delivered
4 The word poor was supplied by the editor of the second folio.
5 Instance, appears to be used here for symptom or prognostic. Sbakspeare uses this word with very grcat latitude.
And, by the benefit of his wish'd light,
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off so; For we may pity, though not pardon thee.
Aeg. 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 upons, 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. 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 befalln of them, and thee, till now.
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 helpful welcome, for the slowness of their bark prevented them from rende ing assistance. Vol. IV.
Aege. My youngest boys, and yet my eldest care, At eighteen years became inquisitive After his brother; and impórtun'd me, That his attendant (for his case was like, Reft of his brother, but10 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 life; And happy were I in my timely death, Could all my travels warrant me they live. Duke. Hapless Aegeon, whom the fates have
mark'd To bear the extremity of dire mishap! Now, trust me, were it not against our laws, Against my crown, my oath, my dignity, Which princes, would they, may not disannul, My soul should sue as advocate for thee. But, though thou art adjudged to the death, And passed sentence may not be recall’d, But to our honour's great disparagement, Yet will I favour thee in what I can: Therefore, merchant, I'll limit thee this day, To seek thy help by beneficial help: Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus; Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum, And live; if notll, then thou art doom'd to die:-Gaoler, take him to thy custody.
8 It appears, from what goes before, that it was the eldest, and not the youngest. He says, “My wife, more careful for 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.
11 No, which is the reading of the first folio, was anciently ofteu used for not. The second folio reads not.
Gaol. I will, my lord.
Aege. Hopeless, and helpless, doth Aegeon wend 12, But to procrastinate his lifeless end. [Exeunt.
SCENE II. A public Place.
and a Merchant.
Ant. S. Go bear it to the Centaur, where we host, 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. Get thee away.
Dro. S. Many a man would take you at your word, And go indeed, having so good a mean.
[Exit Dro. S.
Mer. I am invited, sir, to certain merchants,
12 Go. | That is, a faithful slave. It is the French sense of the word.