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A Hall in the Duke's Palace.

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Enter Duke, Ægeon, Gaoler, Officers, and other

Attendants, ÆGE. Proceed, Solinus, to procure my fall, And, by the doom of death, end woes and all.

Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more I am not partial, to infringe our laws: The enmity and discord, which of late Sprung from the rancorous outrage of your duke To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives, Have seal'd 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 folemn 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 any 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 to ransom him. Thy substance, valued at the highest rate,

Cannot amount unto a hundred marks;
Therefore, by law thou art condemn’d to die.
Æge. Yet this my comfort; when your words

are done,
My woes end likewise with the evening sun.

DUKE. Well, Syracufan, say, in brief, the cause Why thou departedst from thy native home; And for what cause thou cam’st to Ephesus. · Æge. A heavier task could not have been impos’d, 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 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,4 had not our hap been bad. With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'd,

3 Was wrought by nature, not by vile offence,] All his hearers - understood that the punishinent he was about to undergo was in consequence of no private crime, but of the publick entity be. tween two ftates, to one of which he belonged : but it was a ge. neral superstition 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 was proper. By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, 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.

The real meaning of this passage is much less abftrufe, than thae which Warburton attributes to it. By nature is meant natural affe&tion.-Ægeon came to Ephesus in search of his son, and tells his story, in order to shew that his death was in consequence of natural affection for his child, not of any criminal intention. M. MASON.

4 And by me too,] Too, which is not found in the original copy, was added by the editor of the second folio, to complete the metre,


By prosperous voyages I often made
To Epidamnum, till my factor's death;
And he, 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 foon, 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 selfsame inn,
A poor mean womanwas 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 fail'd,
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

4 And he, great care of goods at random left,] Surely we should read :

And the great care of goods at random left

Drew me, &c. The text, as exhibited in the old copy, can scarcely be reconciled to grammar. MALONE.

SA poor mean woman - Poor is not in the old copy. It was inserted for the sake of the metre by the editor of the fecond folio.


nd him retul for the ripe, tous

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 me.
And this it was,-for other means was none.
The failors 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;
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whilst 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 carried 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 seas wax'd calm, and we discovered
Two ships from far making amain to us,
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this:
But ere they came,-0, let me say no more!
Gather the sequel by that went before.
Duke. Nay, forward, old man, do not break

off lo;
For we may pity, though not pardon thee.

ÆGE. O, 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 fail,
And therefore homeward did they bend their

Thus have you heard me sever'd from my bliss;
That by misfortunes was my life prolong'd,
To tell sad stories of my own mishaps.
Duke. And, for the sake of them thou sorrowest

for, Do me the favour to dilate at full What hath befall’n of them, and thee, till now.

Æge. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,

6 borne opon,] The original copy reads-borne up. The additional syllable was supplied by the editor of the second folio,

MALONE, 7 Gave helpful welcome -----] Old copy-healthful welcome. Corrected by the editor of the second folio.So, in K. Henry IV. P.I:

And gave the tongue a helpful welcome.” Malonę. 8 _ and thee, till now.] The first copy erroneously reads and they. The correction was made in the second folio.

MALONE, 9 My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,] Shakspeare has here

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