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A Hall.

GUARDS, and ATTENDANTS, discovered.
Egeon. Proceed, Salinus, to procure my fall,
And terminate, by this, thy rig'rous doom,
Ægeon's life and miseries together.

Duke. Merchant of Syracuse, plead no more.
The enmity and discord, which, of late,
Sprung from the ranc'rous outrage of your duke,
To merchants, our well-dealing countrymen,
(Who, wanting gilders to redeem their lives,
Have seal'd his rig'rous statutes with their blood)
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 synods, been decreed,

Both by the Syracusans and ourselves,
T'admit no traffic to our adverse towns.
Nay, more-If any, born at Ephesus,
Be seen at Syracusan marts or 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, valued at the highest rate,
Cannot amount unto an hundred marks;
Therefore, by law, thou art condemn'd to die.
Egeon. This comfort, then, (the wretch's last re-

At least, I gain from the severe decree-
My woes must finish ere the setting sun.

Duke. Yet, Syracusan, say in brief the cause,
Why thou departedst from my native home,
And for what cause thou cam'st to Ephesus.
Egeon. A heavier task could not have been im-

Yet will I utter what my grief permits.-
In Syracusa was I born; and wed
Unto a woman, happy but for me!

With her I liv'd in joy; our wealth increas'd
By prosp'rous traffic-till my factor's death,
Drew us unwillingly to Epidamnum.
There had we not been long, but she became
A joyful mother of two goodly sons,

And, strange to hear, the one so like the other,
They hardly by ourselves could be distinguish'd.
That very hour, and in the self-same house,
A poor mean woman was delivered

Of such a burden, male twins, both alike.
These (for their parents were exceeding poor)
I bought, and brought up, to attend my sons.
My wife, not meanly proud of her two boys,
Made daily motions for our home return.

Unwilling I agreed. We came aboard-
Oh, bitter recollection!

Duke. Stop thy tears

I long, yet almost dread, to hear the rest.

Egeon. A league from Epidamnum had we sail'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 heav'ns did grant, Did but convey into our fearful minds A dreadful warrant of immediate death. The sailors sought 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; To him, one of the other twins was bound; While I had been like heedful of the younger. The children thus dispos'd, my wife and I 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 sea wax'd calm; and we discover'd Two ships from far, making amain to us; But ere they came

Duke. Pursue thy tale, old man.

Egeon. Being encounter'd by a mighty rock,
Our helpless raft was splitted in the midst.
Her part (poor soul !) burden'd with lesser weight,
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 would have 'reft the fishers of their prey,
Had not their bark been very slow of sail.
Duke. Relate at full

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What hath befallen to them, and thee, till now. Egeon. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care, At 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, while I labour'd of a love to see,
I yielded to the loss of him I lov❜d.

Since which unhappy time, no news arriving
What course their wayward stars had hurry'd them,
Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece,
Roaming e'en through the bounds of Asia,
And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus;
But here must end the story of my life,
And happy were I in my timely death,
Could all my travels warant me they live.

Duke. Hapless Egeon! whom the fates have mark'd

To bear th' extremity of dire mishap,
Now trust me, were it not against our laws,
Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
My soul should sue as advocate for thee:
But though thou art adjudged to the death,
And passed sentence cannot be recall'd,
But to our honour's great disparagement,
Yet will I favour thee in what I can.
I, therefore, merchant, 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 art thou doom'd to die.
[Exit, with GUARDS.
Egeon. What friends can misery expect?
This pity but prolongs the date of pain;
And to a sure, though short protracted end,
Helpless and hopeless doth Ægeon wend.

[Exit, guarded.

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