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SCENE I. A Hall in the DUKE's Palace.

Enter the DUKE OF EPHESUS, with ÆGEON, the Merchant
of Syracuse, Gaoler, and 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 guilders1 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 solemn synods been decreed,
Both by the Syracusians and ourselves,
To admit no traffic to our adverse towns.

Nay, more, if any born at Ephesus
Be seen at any Syracusian marts and fairs;
Again, if any Syracusian 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, Syracusian, say, in brief, the cause

1 Flemish for 1s. 6d. to 28.

Sc. I

Why thou departed'st 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,1 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, had not our hap been bad.

With her I liv'd in joy: our wealth increas'd
By prosperous voyages I often made

To Epidamium; till my factor's death
And the 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 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 meanly 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 Epidamium 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 Heavens did grant
Did but convey unto our fearful minds

A doubtful warrant of immediate death:

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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 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;
To him one of the other twins was bound,
Whilst I had been like heedful of the others.
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,
Was carried towards Corinth, as we thought.
At length the Sun, gazing upon the Earth,
Dispers'd those vapours that offended1 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-O, let me say no more!
Gather the sequel by that went before.

DUKE. Nay, forward, old man; do not break off so,
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,

1 impeded.

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