Shakespeare - First Folio facsimile (1910)/The Comedy of Errors/Act 1
The Comedie of Errors.
Actus primus, Scena prima.
Enter the Duke of Ephesus, with the Merchant of Siracusa, Iaylor, and other attendants.
Roceed Solinus to procure my fall,
And by the doome of death end woes and all.
Duke. Merchant of Siracusa, plead no more.
I am not partiall to infringe our Lawes;
The enmity and discord which of late
Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your Duke,
To Merchants our well-dealing Countrimen,
Who wanting gilders to redeeme their liues,
Haue seal'd his rigorous statutes with their blouds,
Excludes all pitty from our threatning lookes:
For since the mortall and intestine iarres
Twixt thy seditious Countrimen and vs,
It hath in solemne Synodes beene decreed,
Both by the Siracusians and our selues,
To admit no trafficke to our aduerse townes:
Nay more, if any borne at Ephesus
Be seene at any Siracusian Marts and Fayres:
Againe, if any Siracusian borne
Come to the Bay of Ephesus, he dies:
His goods confiscate to the Dukes dispose,
Vnlesse a thousand markes be leuied
To quit the penalty, and to ransome him:
Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,
Cannot amount vnto a hundred Markes,
Therefore by Law thou art condemn'd to die.
Yet this my comfort, when your words are done,
My woes end likewise with the euening Sonne.
Well Siracusian; say in briefe the cause
Why thou departedst from thy natiue home?
And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.
A heauier taske could not haue beene impos'd,
Then I to speake my griefes vnspeakeable:
Yet that the world may witnesse that my end
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,
Ile vtter what my sorrow giues me leaue.
In Syracusa was I borne, and wedde
Vnto a woman, happy but for me,
And by me; had not our hap beene bad:
With her I liu'd in ioy, our wealth increast
By prosperous voyages I often made
To Epidamium, till my factors death,
And he great care of goods at randone left,
Drew me from kinde embracements of my spouse;
From whom my absence was not sixe moneths olde,
Before her selfe (almost at fainting vnder
The pleasing punishment that women beare)
Had made prouision for her following me,
And soone, and safe, arriued where I was:
There had she not beene long, but she became
A ioyfull mother of two goodly sonnes:
And, which was strange, the one so like the other,
As could not be distinguish'd but by names.
That very howre, and in the selfe-same Inne,
A meane woman was deliuered
Of such a burthen Male, twins both alike:
Those, for their parents were exceeding poore,
I bought, and brought vp to attend my sonnes.
My wife, not meanely prowd of two such boyes,
Made daily motions for our home returne:
Vnwilling I agreed, alas, too soone wee came aboord.
A league from Epidamium had we saild
Before the alwaies winde-obeying deepe
Gaue any Tragicke Instance of our harme:
But longer did we not retaine much hope;
For what obscured light the heauens did grant,
Did but conuay vnto our fearefull mindes
A doubtfull warrant of immediate death,
Which though my selfe would gladly haue imbrac'd,
Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,
Weeping before for what she saw must come,
And pitteous playnings of the prettie babes
That mourn'd for fashion, ignorant what to feare,
Forst me to seeke delayes for them and me,
And this it was: (for other meanes was none)
The Sailors sought for safety by our boate,
And left the ship then sinking ripe to vs.
My wife, more carefull for the latter borne,
Had fastned him vnto a small spare Mast,
Such as sea-faring men prouide for stormes:
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whil'st I had beene like heedfull of the other.
The children thus dispos'd, my wife and I,
Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fixt,
Fastned our selues at eyther end the mast,
And floating straight, obedient to the streame,
Was carried towards Corinth, as we thought.
At length the sonne gazing vpon the earth,
Disperst those vapours that offended vs,
And by the benefit of his wished light
The seas waxt calme, and we discouered
Two shippes from farre, making amaine to vs:
Of Corinth that, of Epidarus this,
But ere they came, oh let me say no more,
Gather the sequell by that went before.
Nay forward old man, doe not breake off so,
For we may pitty, though not pardon thee.
Oh had the gods done so, I had not now
Worthily tearm'd them mercilesse to vs:
For ere the ships could meet by twice fiue leagues,
We were encountred by a mighty rocke,
Which being violently borne vp,
Our helpefull ship was splitted in the midst;
So that in this vniust diuorce of vs,
Fortune had left to both of vs alike,
What to delight in, what to sorrow for,
Her part, poore soule, seeming as burdened
With lesser waight, but not with lesser woe,
Was carried with more speed before the winde,
And in our sight they three were taken vp
By Fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
At length another ship had seiz'd on vs,
And knowing whom it was their hap to saue,
Gaue healthfull welcome to their ship-wrackt guests,
And would haue reft the Fishers of their prey,
Had not their backe beene very slow of saile;
And therefore homeward did they bend their course.
Thus haue you heard me seuer'd from my blisse,
That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd,
To tell sad stories of my owne mishaps.
And for the sake of them thou sorrowest for,
Doe me the fauour to dilate at full,
What haue befalne of them and they till now.
My yongest boy, and yet my eldest care,
At eighteene yeeres became inquisitiue
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 beare him company in the quest of him:
Whom whil'st I laboured of a loue to see,
I hazarded the losse of whom I lou'd.
Fiue Sommers haue I spent in farthest Greece,
Roming cleane through the bounds of Asia,
And coasting homeward, came to Ephesus:
Hopelesse to finde, yet loth to leaue vnsought
Or that, or any place that harbours men:
But heere must end the story of my life,
And happy were I in my timelie death,
Could all my trauells warrant me they liue.
Haplesse Egeon whom the fates haue markt
To beare the extremitie of dire mishap:
Now trust me, were it not against our Lawes,
Against my Crowne, my oath, my dignity,
Which Princes would they may not disanull,
My soule should sue as aduocate for thee:
But though thou art adiudged to the death,
And passed sentence may not be recal'd
But to our honours great disparagement:
Yet will I fauour thee in what I can;
Therefore Marchant, Ile limit thee this day
To seeke thy helpe by beneficiall helpe,
Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus,
Beg thou, or borrow, to make vp the summe,
And liue: if no, then thou art doom'd to die:
Iaylor, take him to thy custodie.
I will my Lord.
Merch. Hopelesse and helpelesse doth Egean wend,
But to procrastinate his liuelesse end. Exeunt.
Enter Antipholis Erotes, a Marchant, and Dromio.
Therefore giue out you are of Epidamium,
Lest that your goods too soone be confiscate:
This very day a Syracusian Marchant
Is apprehended for a riuall here,
And not being able to buy out his life,
According to the statute of the towne,
Dies ere the wearie sunne set in the West:
There is your monie that I had to keepe.
Ant. Goe beare it to the Centaure, where we host,
And stay there Dromio, till I come to thee;
Within this houre it will be dinner time,
Till that Ile view the manners of the towne,
Peruse the traders, gaze vpon the buildings,
And then returne and sleepe within mine Inne,
For with long trauaile I am stiffe and wearie.
Get thee away.
Many a man would take you at your word,
And goe indeede, hauing so good a meane. Exit Dromio.
A trustie villaine sir, that very oft,
When I am dull with care and melancholly,
Lightens my humour with his merry iests:
What will you walke with me about the towne,
And then goe to my Inne and dine with me?
I am inuited sir to certaine Marchants,
Of whom I hope to make much benefit:
I craue your pardon, soone at fiue a clocke,
Please you, Ile meete with you vpon the Mart,
And afterward consort you till bed time:
My present businesse cals me from you now.
Farewell till then: I will goe loose my selfe,
And wander vp and downe to view the Citie.
Sir, I commend you to your owne content. Exeunt.
He that commends me to mine owne content,
Commends me to the thing I cannot get:
I to the world am like a drop of water,
That in the Ocean seekes another drop,
Who falling there to finde his fellow forth,
(Vnseene, inquisitiue) confounds himselfe.
So I, to finde a Mother and a Brother,
In quest of them (vnhappie a) loose my selfe.
Enter Dromio of Ephesus.
What now? How chance thou art return'd so soone.
Return'd so soone, rather approacht too late:
The Capon burnes, the Pig fals from the spit;
The clocke hath strucken twelue vpon the bell:
My Mistris made it one vpon my cheeke:
She is so hot because the meate is colde:
The meate is colde, because you come not home:
You come not home, because you haue no stomacke:
You haue no stomacke, hauing broke your fast:
But we that know what 'tis to fast and pray,
Are penitent for your default to day.
Stop in your winde sir, tell me this I pray?
Where haue you left the mony that I gaue you.
Oh sixe pence that I had a wensday last,
To pay the Sadler for my Mistris crupper:
The Sadler had it Sir, I kept it not.
I am not in a sportiue humor now:
Tell me, and dally not, where is the monie?
We being strangers here, how dar'st thou trust
So great a charge from thine owne custodie.
I pray you iest sir as you sit at dinner:
I from my Mistris come to you in post:
If I returne I shall be post indeede.
For she will scoure your fault vpon my pate:
Me thinkes your maw, like mine, should be your cooke,
And strike you home without a messenger.
Come Dromio, come, these iests are out of season,
Reserue them till a merrier houre then this:
Where is the gold I gaue in charge to thee?
To me sir? why you gaue no gold to me?
Come on sir knaue, haue done your foolishnes,
And tell me how thou hast dispos'd thy charge.
My charge was but to fetch you from the Mart
Home to your house, the Phœnix sir, to dinner;
My Mistris and her sister staies for you.
Now as I am a Christian answer me,
In what safe place you haue bestow'd my monie;
Or I shall breake that merrie sconce of yours
That stands on tricks, when I am vndispos'd:
Where is the thousand Markes thou hadst of me?
I haue some markes of yours vpon my pate:
Some of my Mistris markes vpon my shoulders:
But not a thousand markes betweene you both.
If I should pay your worship those againe,
Perchance you will not beare them patiently.
Thy Mistris markes? what Mistris slaue hast thou?
Your worships wife, my Mistris at the Phœnix;
She that doth fast till you come home to dinner:
And praies that you will hie you home to dinner.
What wilt thou flout me thus vnto my face
Being forbid? There take you that sir knaue.
What meane you sir, for God sake hold your hands:
Nay, and you will not sir, Ile take my heeles.
Exeunt Dromio Ep.
Vpon my life by some deuise or other,
The villaine is ore-wrought of all my monie.
They say this towne is full of cosenage:
As nimble Iuglers that deceiue the eie:
Darke working Sorcerers that change the minde:
Soule-killing Witches, that deforme the bodie:
Disguised Cheaters, prating Mountebankes;
And manie such like liberties of sinne:
If it proue so, I will be gone the sooner:
Ile to the Centaur to goe seeke this slaue,
I greatly feare my monie is not safe. Exit.