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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, 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 tragick 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 mę. 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 :
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break off
For we may pity, though not pardon thee.
Æge. 0, 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 helpful welcome to their shipwreck'd guests; And would have reft the fishers of their prey,
Had not their bark been very slow of sail,
for, Do me the favour to dilate at full What hath befalln of them, and thee, till now.
Æge. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
his brother ; and importun'd me,
2 My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,] Shakspeare has here been guilty of a little forgetfulness. Ægeon had said, page 7, that the youngest son was that which his wife had taken care of;
“ My wife, more careful for the latter-born,
“ Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast.” He himself did the same by the other; and then each, fixing their eyes on whom their care was fixed, fastened themselves at either end of the mast. M. Mason.
3 Roaming elean through the bounds of Asia,) In the northern parts of England this word is still 'used instead of quite, fully; perfectly, completely.
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, 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 not, then thou art doom'd to die: Gaoler, take him to thy custody.
Gaol. I will, my lord.
Æge. Hopeless, and helpless, doth Ægeon wend, But to procrastinate his lifeless end. [Exeunt.
A publick Place.
and a Merchant.
weary sun set in the west. There is your money that I had to keep.
wend,] i. e. go. An obsolete word.
Ant. S. Go bear it to the Centaur, where we host, And stay there, Dromio, till I come to theė. 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,
Ant. S. Farewell till then: I will go lose myself,
[Exit Merchant. Ant. S. He that commends me to mine own con
S A trusty villain,] i. e. servant.