The Comedie of Errors Page 01
Actus primus, Scena prima.
Enter the Duke of Ephesus, with the Merchant of Siracusa, Iaylor, and other attendants.
Marchant. Proceed 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
Mer. Yet this my comfort, when your words are done, My woes end likewise with the euening Sonne
Duk. Well Siracusian; say in briefe the cause Why thou departedst from thy natiue home? And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus
Mer. 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