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COMEDY OF ERRORS.
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. THE Menech mi of Plautus (translated by an anonymous author in 1595,) furnished Shakspeare with the prin
cipal incidents of this play. It is one of his earliest productions. Stevens thinks that the piece is not entirely of his writing. The singularity of the plot gives occasion to many amusing perplexities ; but they are repeated till they become wearisome, and varied till they become unintelligible. Were it possible to procure in the representation, two Dromios, or two Antipholus's, of whom one should be exactly the counterpart of the other, no powers of porception or of memory, would euable an audience to carry their recollection of each individual beyond the termination of a second act. The very facility of in ntion with which the rerembling individuals are made to puzzle and to thwart each other, would so confound the senses of a spectator, that he would soon be as much bewildered as the parties themselves: whereas the zest of the entertainment depends upon his being able accurately to retain the personal identity of each ; without which, he may be involved in the intricacy, but cannot enjoy the humour, occasioned by similarity of person, and contrariety of purpose. Mr. Stevens has justly observed, that this comedy “exhibits more intricacy of plot than distinction of character; and that attention is not actively engaged, since every one can tell how the denouement will be effected."
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. SOLINU's, Duke of Ephesus.
A MERCHANT, Friend to Antipholus of Syra. ÆGEON, a Merchant of Syracuse.
cuse. Tuin Brothers Pinch, a Schoolmaster, and a Conjuror.
and sons to ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus, Ægeon and ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse, milia, but un.
ÆMILIA, Wife to Ægeon, an Abbess at Ephe.
ADRIANA, Wife to Antipholus of Ephesus.
LUCIANA, her Sister.
LUCE, her Servant. Drom10 of Syracuse, ?
two Antipholus's. BALTHAZAR, a Merchant. ANGELO, a Goldsmith.
Jailer, Officers, and other Attendants.
If any, born at Ephesus, be seen SCENE 1.-A Hall in the DUKE's Palace
At any Syracusan marts * and fairs,
Again, If any Syracusau born, Enter DUKE, ÆG BON, Jailer, Officer, and
Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
His goods contiscate to the duke's dispose ;
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more ; | Thy substance, valued at the higbest rate,
Cannot amount unto a hundred marks ; The enmity and discord, which of late
Therefore, by law thou art condemn'd to die. Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke Æge. Yet this my comfort; when your words To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,
are done, Who wanting gilders * to redeem their lives, My woes end likewise with the evening sun. Have sealed bis rigorous statutes with their Duke. Well, Syracusan, say in brief, the bloods,
cause Excludes all pity from our threat'ning looks. Why thou departedst from thy native home ; For, since the mortal and intestine jars
And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus. 'Twixt thy seditious countrymen and us,
Æge. A heavier task could not have been Im. It hath in solemn synods been decreed,
pos'd, Both by the Syracusans and ourselves,
Than I to speak my griefs unspeakable : To admit no traffic to our adverse towns : Yet, that the world may witness, that my end • Naine of a coin.
Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence, At length, anoiher ship bad seiz'd on us ; l'll utter what my sorrow gives me leave. And, knowing whom it was their hap to save. In Syracusa was I born ; and wed
Gave helpful welcome to their sbipwreck'a Unto a woman, happy but for me,
guests ; Aud by me too, had not our bap been bad. And would have reft • the fsbers of their prey, With her I liv'd in joy ; our wealth increas'd, Had not their bark been very slow of sail, By prosperous voyages I often made
And therefore homeward did they bend their To Epidamnum, till my factor's death ;
course. And he (great care of goods at random left) Thus have you heard me sever'd froin my bliss ; Drew me from kind embracements of my spouse: That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd From whom my absence was not six months old, To tell sad stories of my own mishaps. Before herself (almost at fainting, under
Duke. And, for the sake of them thou sor. The pleasing punishment that women bear,)
rowest for, Had made provision for her following me, Do me the favour to dilate at full And soon, and safe, arrived where I was,
Wbat bath befall’n of them, and thee, till now. There sbé bad not been long, but she became Æge. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest A joyful mother of two goodly sons ;
care, And, which was strange, the one so like the At eighteen years became inquisitive other,
After bis brother; and importun'd me, As could not be distinguish'd but by pames. That his attendant, (for his case was like, That very hour, and in the self-same inn, Reft of his brother, but retaiu'd bis name,) A poor mean woman was delivered
Might bear him company in the quest of him : of such a burden, male twins, both alike : Whom whilst I labour'd of a love to see, Those, for their parents were exceeding poor, I bazarded the loss of whom I lov'd. I bought, and brought up to attend my sons. Five summers have I spent ip furthest Greece, My wife, not meanly proud of two such boys, Roaming clean + though the bounds of Asia, Made daily motions for our home returu : And coasting homeward, came to Ephesus ; Unwilling I agreed ; alas, too soon.
Hopeless to önd, yet loath to leave unsought, We came aboard :
Or that, or any place that barbours men. A league from Epidamnum had we saild, But here must end the story of my life ; Before the always-wind-obeying deep
And happy were I in my timely death, Gave any tragic instance of our bari :
Could all my travels warrant me they live. But longer did we not retain much bope ;
Duke. Hapless Ægeon, whom the rates bave For wbat obscured light the heavens did grant
mark'd Did but convey unto our fearful minds
To bear the extremity of dire mishap! A doubtful warrant of immediate death;
Now, trust me, were it not against our laws, Which, though myself would gladly bave em Against my crown, my oath, my dignity, brac'd,
Which princes, would they, may not disannul, Yet the incessant weepings of my wife,
My soul should sue as advocate for thee, Weeping before for what she saw must come, But, though thou art adjudged to the death, And piteous plainings of the pretty babes, And passed sentence may not be recall's, That mourn' for fashion, ignorant what to fear, But to our honour's great disparagement, Forc'd me to seek delays for them and me. Yet will I favour thee in what I can: And this it was,-for other means was none.- Therefore, merchant, I'll limit tbee this day, The sailors sougbt for safety by our boat, To seek thy help by beneficial help : And left the ship, then sinking-ripe, to us : Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus; My wife, more careful for the latter-born, Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum, Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast, And live ; if not, then thou art doom'd to die : Such as sea-faring men provide for storms; Jailer, take bim to thy custody. To him one of toe otber twins was bou: d, Jail. I will, my lord. Whilst I had been like beedful of the other. Æge. Hopeless, and helpless, doth Ægeon The children thus dispos'd, my wife and I,
wend, Fixing our eyes on whom our care was fix'd, But to procrastinate bis lifeless end. (Excunt. Fasten'd ourselves at either end the mast; And floating straight, obedient to the stream, Were carried towards Corinth, as we thougbt.
SCENE II.-A public Place. At length the sun, gazing upon the earth,
Enter ANTIPHOLUS and DROMIO of Syra. Dispers'd those vapours that offended us;
cuse, and a MERCHANT. And, by the benefit of his wisb'd light,
Mer. Therefore, give out you are of Epla The seas wax'd calın, and we discovered
damnum, Two ships from far making amain to us,
Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate. or Corinth that, of Epidaurns this :
This very day, a Syracusan merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here ;
According to the statute of the town,
Dies ere the weary sun set in the west. For we may pity, though not paidon thee.
There is your money that I had to keep. Æge. Oh I had the gods done so, I had not now
Ant. S. Go bear it to the Centaur, where Worthily term'd them inerciless to us!
we host, For, ere the ships could meet by twice Ave And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee.
leagues, We were encounter'd by a mighty rock;
Within this hour it will be dinner-time :
Till that, I'll view the manners of the town, Which being violently borne upon, Our helpful ship was splitted in the midst,
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,
And then return, and sleep within mine ina ; So that, in this unjust divorce of us,
For with long travel I am stiff and weary.
Get thee away.
Dro. 8. Many a man would take you at you
word, With lesser weight, but not with lesser woe, Was carried with more speed before the wind;
And go indeed, having so good a mean. And in our sight they three were taken up
(Ecit Dro. S. By fishermen of Corinth, as we thought.
+ Clear, completely. • Natural affection.
• rbe sign of their bulel.
Ant. s. A trusty villain, • Sir, that very oft, Dro. E. I have some marks of your's upon When I am dull with care and melancholy,
my pate, Lightens my humour with bis merry jests. Some of my mistress' marks upon my shoulders What, will you walk with me about the town, But not a thousand marks between you both.And then, go to my inn, and dine with me! If I shonld pay your worship those again,
Mer. I am invited, Sir, to certain mercbants, Perchance, you will not bear them patiently. Of whom I hope to make much benefit ;
Ant. S. Thy mistress' marks! what mistiess I crave your pardon. Soon, at five o'clock,
slave, hast thou? Please you, I'll meet with you upon the mart, t Dro. E. Your worship's wife, my mistress at And afterwards consort you till bed-time;
the Phoenix ; My present business calls me from you now. She that doth fast, till you come home to din Ant. S. Farewell till theu : I will go lose
And prays, that you will hie you home to And wander up and down, to view the city.
dinner. Mer. Sir, I commend you to your own con- Ant. S. What, wilt thou fout me thus unto tent. ( Exit MERCHANT.
my face, Ant. s. He that commends me to mine own Being forbid ; There, take you that, sir knave. content,
Dro. E. What mean you, Sir ? for God's sake Commends me to the thing I cannot get.
hold your bands ; I to the world am like a drop of water,
Nay, an you will not, Sir, i'll take my heels. That in the ocean seeks another drop ;
(Erit DROM10, E. Who, falling there to find his fellow forib, Ant. S. Upon my life, by some device of Unseen, inquisitive, confounds himself :
other, So I, to find a mother and a brother,
The villain is 'o'er-raught of all my money.
They say, this town is full of cozenage ;
As nimble jugglers, that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers, that change the mind, Here comes the alınanack of my true date,- Soul-killing witches, that deform the body; What wow? How chance, thou art return'd so Disguised cheaters, prating mountebauks, soon ?
And many such like liberties of sin : Dro. E. Return'd so soon I rather approach'a If it prove so, I will be gone the sooner. too late :
I'll to the Centaur, to go seek this slave; The capon burns, the pig falls from the spit : I greatly fear, my money is not safe. (Erit. The clock bath strucken twelve upon the bell, My mistress made it one upon my cheek : She is so hot, because the meat is cold : The meat is cold, because you come pot home ;
SCENE I.-A public place.
Enter ADRIANA, and LUCIANA.
Adr. Neither my husband, por the slave reAnt. S. Stop in your wind, Sir; tell me this, I
turn'd, pray ;
(you? That in such haste I sent to seek his master! Where have you left the money that I gave Sure Luciana, it is two o'clock. Dro. E. Oh !-sixpence, that I had o'Wednes- Luc. Perhaps some merchant hath invited day last,
him, To pay the saddler for my mistress' crupper ;- And from the mart he's somewhere gone to The saddler had it, Sir, I kept it not.
dinuer, Ant. s. I am not in a sportive humour now : Good sister, let us dine, and never fret : Tell me, and dally not, where is the money? A man is master of bis liberty : We being strangers here, how dar'st thou trust Time is their master; and, when they see time, So great a charge from thine own custody ? They'll go, or come : If so, be patient, sister. Dro. E. I pray you, jest, Sir, as you sit at Adr. Why should their liberty than our's be dinner :
more? I from my mistress come to you in post;
Luc. Because their business stili lies out If I return, I shall be post indeed ;
o'door. For she will score your fault upon my pate. Adr. Look, when I serve him so, he takes it Methinks your maw, like mine, should be your
Luc. Ob! know he is the bridle of your And strike you home without a messenger.
will. Ant. S. Come, Dromio, come, these jests Adr. There's none but asses, will be b:idled
are out of season ; Reserve them till a merrier bour than this :
Luc. Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with Where is the gold I gave in charge to thee ? Dro. E. To me, Sir ? why you gave no gold There's nothing, situate under heaven's eye, to me.
But bath its bound, in earth, in sea, in sky: Ant. S. Come on, sic knave, have done your The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls, oolishness,
Are their males' subject, and at their controls : And tell me, how thon hast dispos'd thy charge. Men, more divine, and masters of all these, Dro. E. My charge was but to fetch you from Lords of the wide world, and wild wat'ry seas, the mart
Indued with intellectual sense and souls, Home to your house, the Phænix, Sir, to din- of more pre-eminence than fish and fowls, ner ;
Are masters to their females, and their lords: My mistress, and her sister, stay for you.
Then let your will attend on their accords. Ant. S. Now, as I am a Christian, answer Adr. This servitude makes you to keep unme,
wed. In what safe place you bave bestow'd my mo. Luc. Not this, but troubles of the marriage ney ;
bed. Or, I will break that merry sconce of your's,
Adn. But, were you wedded, you would bear That otands on tricks when I am indispos’d:
some sway. Where is the thousand marks thou had'ol of Luc. Ere I learn love, l'll practise i ohey. me ?
Adr. How if your husband start some other • I. c. Servant. + Exchange, market-place.