Imatges de pàgina

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.

EGE. 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 sail,


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.

[ocr errors]

7 borne UPON,] The original copy reads-borne up. The additional syllable was supplied by the reviser of the second folio, who, however, absurdly reads-borne up upon. MALONE.

8 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 ornament." MALONE.

I cannot think any change was necessary. A healthful welcome is a kind welcome, wishing health to their guests. It was not a helpful welcome, for the slowness of their bark prevented them from rendering assistance. BOSWELL.

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. EGE. My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care',

At eighteen years became inquisitive
After his brother; and impórtun'd me,
That his attendant, (so his case was like,
Reft of his brother, but retain'd his name",)
Might bear him company in the quest of him :
Whom whilst I labour'd of a love to see,
I hazarded the loss of whom I lov'd.
Five summers have I spent in farthest Greece,
Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia1,

9 — and THEE, till now.] The first copy erroneously readsand they. The correction was made in the second folio. MALONE.

1 MY YOUNGEST BOY, and yet my eldest care,] Shakspeare has here been guilty of a little forgetfulness. Egeon had said, page 156, that the youngest son was that which his wife had taken care of:

My wife, more careful for the latter-born,
"Had fasten'd him unto a small spare mast."


[ocr errors]

He himself did the same by the other; and then each, fixing their eyes on whom their care was fixed, fastened themselves at either end of the mast. M. MASON.

2-so his case was like,] i. e. his case being so like that of Antipholus. The reviser of the second folio inserted for, instead of so; and this unnecessary change was adopted by all the subsequent editors. MALONE.


3 - but retain'd his name,] i. e. he retained his name. Here we have another instance of what frequently occurs in these plays, the suppression of the personal pronoun. See the essay on the Phraseology of Shakspeare. MALONE.

4 Roaming CLEAN through the bounds of Asia,] In the northern parts of England this word is still used instead of quite, fully, perfectly, completely. So, in Coriolanus :

This is clean kam."

Again, in Julius Cæsar :

"Clean from the purpose of the things themselves." The reader will likewise find it in the 77th Psalm. STEEVENS.

And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus;
Hopeless to find, yet loth to leave unsought,
Or that, or any place that harbours men.
But here must end the story of my life;
And happy were I in my timely death,
Could all my travels warrant me they live.
DUKE. Hapless Egeon, whom the fates have

To bear the extremity of dire mishap!

Now, trust me, were it not against our laws,
Against my crown, my oath, my dignity,
Which princes, would they, may not disannul,
My soul should sue as advocate for thee.
But, though thou art adjudged to the death,
And passed sentence may not be recall'd,
But to our honour's great disparagement,
Yet will I favour thee in what I can :
Therefore, merchant, I'll limit thee this day,
To seek thy help by beneficial help" :
Try all the friends thou hast in Ephesus;
Beg thou, or borrow, to make up the sum,
And live; if no, then thou art doom'd to die :-
Jailer, take him to thy custody,

Again, in Chloris, or the Complaint of the Passionate Despised Shepheard, by W. Smith, 4to. 1596:

"Yet let me rather cleane forget myselfe." MALONE.

5 To seek thy HELP by beneficial help,] Pope and some other modern editors read-To seek thy life, &c. But the jingle has much of Shakspeare's manner. MALONE.

To seek thy life, can hardly be the true reading, for, in ancient language, it signifies a base endeavour to take life away. Thus, Antonio says of Shylock :

"He seeks my life."

I believe, therefore, the word-help, was accidentally repeated by the compositor, and that our author wrote,— "To seek thy help by beneficial means.


This emendation seems to have been proposed on a principle which Mr. Steevens seems to have adopted, that we are at liberty to substitute any one word for another. MALONE.


if No,] Thus the old copy. The reviser of the second

JAIL. I will, my lord.

ÆGE. Hopeless, and helpless, doth Ægeon wend', But to procrastinate his lifeless ✶ end. [Exeunt.


A publick Place.

Enter ANTIPHOLUS and DROMIO of Syracuse, and a Merchant.

MER. Therefore, give out, you are of Epidamnum,
Lest that your goods too soon be confiscate.
This very day, a Syracusian merchant
Is apprehended for arrival here;

And, not being able to buy out his life,
According to the statute of the town,
Dies ere the weary sun set in the west R.
There is your money that I had to keep.

ANT. S. Go bear it to the Centaur, where we host,

And stay there, Dromio, till I come to thee.
Within this hour it will be dinner time:
Till that, I'll view the manners of the town,
Peruse the traders, gaze upon the buildings,
And then return, and sleep within mine inn;

* First folio, liveless.

folio substituted not for no. But it appears from other passages that no was sometimes used with the sense of not. So, in the common language-Say whether you will or no?

Again, in Measure for Measure:

"Canst thou tell if Claudio die to-morrow, or no?" 7-WEND,] i. e. go. An obsolete word. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:

"And back to Athens shall the lovers wend."



―ere the WEARY sun set in the west.] So, in King John : the feeble and day-wearied sun."


Again, in King Richard III. :'

"The weary sun hath made a golden set." STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

For with long travel I am stiff and weary.

Get thee away.

DRO. S. Many a man would take you at your


And go indeed, having so good a mean.

[Exit DRO. S.

ANT. S. A trusty villain, sir; that very oft,
When I am dull with care and melancholy,
Lightens my humour with his merry jests.
What, will you walk with me about the town,
And then go to my inn, and dine with me?

MER. I am invited, sir, to certain merchants,
Of whom I hope to make much benefit;
I crave your pardon. Soon at five o'clock',
Please you, I'll meet with you upon the mart,
And afterwards consort you till bed-time 2;

9 A trusty villain,] A faithful bondman or slave. By these appellations, each Antipholus throughout this comedy denominates the Dromio attached to him. So, in The Rape of Lucrece, where a Roman slave is mentioned:

"The homely villain curt'sies to her low." MALONE.


Soon at five o'clock,] As these words have been pointed hitherto, with a comma after the word soon, they must mean that the Merchant would meet Antipholus soon, namely, at five o'clock; but the present hour is about eleven, for the dinner hour was twelve; and five o'clock would not be soon, reckoning from eleven, or even from twelve.

But the Merchant, I conceive, means that he will meet his friend in the evening, nearly at five o'clock; either a little before or soon after that hour. I therefore placed no stop after the word soon; following, in this respect the original copy, of which the punctuation, though it has been so much depretiated, in all doubtful cases stands for somewhat. MALONE.

2 And afterwards CONSORT YOU till bed-time ;] We should read, I believe,

"And afterwards consort with you till bed-time." So, in Romeo and Juliet:

"Mercutio, thou consort'st with Romeo." MALONE. There is no need of emendation. The old reading is supported by the following passage in Love's Labour's Lost, Act II. Sc. 1.: "Sweet health and fair desires consort your grace.” VOL. IV.


« AnteriorContinua »