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To Epidamnum; 'till my factor's death,
And the great care of goods at random left,
Drew me from kind embracements of my fpoufe;
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 fafe, arrived where I was.
There fhe had not been long, but she became
A joyful mother of two goodly fons ;
And, which was ftrange, the one so like the other,
As could not be diftinguifh'd but by names.
That very hour, and in the felf-fame inn,
poor mean woman was delivered
Of such 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,
We came aboard.
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 the faw must come;
And piteous plainings of the pretty babes,
That mourn'd for fashion, ign'rant 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 small spare mast,
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 difpos'd, my wife and I,
Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixt,
Fasten'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 those vapours that offended us;
And, by the benefit of his wifh'd light,
The feas waxt calm; and we difcovered
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 so; 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 fhips could meet by twice five leagues,
We were encountred 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 fpeed 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 sail;
And therefore homeward did they bend their courfe.Thus have you heard me fever'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 queft of him:
Whom whilst 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 unfought,
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. 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 difannul;)
Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
My foul fhould fue as advocate for thee.
But, tho' thou art adjudged to the death,
And passed sentence 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 Ephesus,
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 Egeon wend, But to procraftinate his liveless end.
[Exeunt Ægeon, and Jailor.
Enter Antipholis of Syracufe, a Merchant, and Dromio.
Herefore give out, you are of Epidamnum, 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 mony, that I had to keep.
Ant. 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,
Perufe the traders, gaze upon the buildings,
And, then return and fleep within mine inn;
For with long travel I am ftiff and weary.
Get thee away.
Dro. Many a man would take you at your word,
And go indeed, having fo good a means.
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 with you 'till bed-time:
My prefent 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.
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, Unfeen, inquifitive, confounds himself: So I, to find a mother and a brother, In queft of them, unhappy, lofe myself.
Here comes the almanack of my true date.
What now? how chance, thou art return'd fo foon ?
E. Dro. Return'd fo foon! rather approach'd too
The capon burns; the pig falls from the fpit;
The clock has ftrucken twelve upon the bell,
My mistress made it one upon my cheek;
She is fo hot, becaule the meat is cold;
The meat is cold, because you come not home;
You come not home, because you have no stomach;
You have no ftomach, having broke your faft;
But we, that know what 'tis to faft and pray,
Are penitent for your default to day.