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Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke,
Tomerchants, our well-dealing countrymen,
(Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives,
Have feald 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 fynods been decreed,
Both by the Syracusans and ourselves,
To admit no traffick to our adverse towns :
Nay, more, If any born at Ephesus
Be seen at Syracusan marts and fairs,
Again, if any, Syracusan 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 ransom him.
Thy substance, valu'd at the highest rate,
Cannot amount unto a hundred marks
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die.
Ægeon. Yet this my comfort, when your words are
My woes end likewise with the evening sun.
Duke. Well, Syracusan, say, in brief, the cause, Why thou departedft from thy native home; And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.
Ægeon. A heavier task could not have been imposid, 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 2 Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,] All his hearers unrderstood that the punishment he was about to undergo was in consequence of no private crime, but of the public enmity between two states, to one of which he belonged : but it was a general superftition amongst the ancients, that every great and sudden misfortune was the vengeance of Heaven pursuing men for their secret offences. Hence the sentiment put into the mouth of the speaker
TH 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'u,
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 she had not been long, but she became
A joyful mother of two goodly fons ;
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 self-fame 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 fons.
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 faild,
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,
was proper. By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate,
the world may underftand, that my present death is according to
the ordinary course of Providence, [wrought by nature) and not the
effects of divine vengeance overtaking me for my crimes, (not by
vile offence.] WARBURTON.
Did but convey unto our fearful minds
A doubtful warrant of immediate death;
Which, tho’.myself would gladly have embrac’d,
Yet the inceffant weepings of my wife,
Weeping before, for what she saw nuust 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 failors fought for safety by our boat,
And left the ship, then sinking.ripe, to us :
My wife,' more careful for the elder-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,
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 fix’d,
Fasten'd ourselves 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 feas 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, 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 borne upon, Pur helpless 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 forrow for.
Her part, poor soul! seeming as burdened
With leffer weight, but not with lesser woe,
Was carry'd 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 helpful welcome to their shipwreck'd guests ;
And would have reft the fishers of their prey,
Had not their bark been very now of fail,
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' ,
To tell sad stories of my own milhaps.
Duke. And, for the fakes of them thou sorrow'st
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, Ac 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 see, I. hazarded the loss of whom I lov’d. Five fummers 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 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. Hapless Ægeon, whom the fates have
To bear the extremity of dire mishap;
Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,
(Which princes, would they, may not disannul ;)
Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
My foul should sue as advocate for thee.
But, tho' thou art adjudged to the death,
And passed sentence may not be recalld,
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 life by beneficial help:
Try all the friends thou hast 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.
Egeon. Hopeless, and helpless, doth Ægeon wend, But to procrastinate his liveless end.
[Excunt Ægeon and Jailor.
Enter Antipholis of Syracuse, a Merchant, and Dromio.
Mer. Therefore give out, you are of Epidamnum, Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate. This very day, a Syracufan 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 money, that I had to keep.