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Adr. I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me
Dro. S. I, sir, am Dromio; command him away.
Abb. Whoever bound him, I will loose his bonds, And gain a husband by his liberty. Speak, old Ægeon, if thou be'st the man That hadst a wife once called Æmilia, That bore thee at a burden two fair sons. O, if thou be'st the same Ægeon, speak, And speak unto the same Emilia !
Ege. If I dream not, thou art Æmilia;1 If thou art she, tell me, where is that son That floated with thee on the fatal raft?
Abb. By men of Epidamnum, he, and I,
Duke. Why, here begins his morning story right.3
Ant. S. No, sir, not I; I came from Syracuse. Duke. Stay, stand apart; I know not which is which.
1 In the old copy, this speech of Ægeon, and the subsequent one of the abbess, follow the speech of the duke. It is evident that they were transposed by mistake.
2 The morning story" is what Ægeon tells the duke in the first scene of this play.
Ant. E. I came from Corinth, my most gracious lord. Dro. E. And I with him.
Ant. E. Brought to this town by that most famous warrior
Duke Menaphon, your most renowned uncle.
And are not you my husband? Ant. E. No, I say nay to that. Ant. S. And so do I, yet did she call me so; And this fair gentlewoman, her sister here, Did call me brother.-What I told you then, I hope, I shall have leisure to make good; If this be not a dream I see and hear.
Ang. That is the chain, sir, which you had of me. Ant. S. I think it be, sir; I deny it not.
Ant. E. And you, sir, for this chain arrested me.
Adr. I sent you money, sir, to be your bail,
Dro. E. No, none by me.
Ant. S. This purse of ducats I received from you,
Ant. E. These ducats pawn I for my father here.
Abb. Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains go with us into the abbey here,
And hear at large discoursed all our fortunes.
My heavy burden here delivered.1
The duke, my husband, and my children both,
Duke. With all my heart, I'll gossip at this feast.
Ant. E. Dromio, what stuff of mine hast thou embarked?
Dro. S. Your goods, that lay at host, sir, in the Centaur.
Ant. S. He speaks to me; I am your master, Dromio; Come, go with us; we'll look to that anon. Embrace thy brother there, rejoice with him.
[Exeunt ANT. S. and ANT. E., ADR. and Luc. Dro. S. There is a fat friend at your master's house, That kitchened me for you to-day at dinner; She now shall be my sister, not my wife.
Dro. E. Methinks you are my glass, and not my brother:
I see by you, I am a sweet-faced youth.
1 The old copy reads, erroneously, thus:
Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail
Theobald corrected it in the following manner :——
"Twenty-five years have I but gone in travail
"Of you, my sons; until this present hour
Thirty-three years are an evident error for twenty-five; this was corrected by Theobald. The reader will choose between the simple emendation in the text, and those made by Theobald and Malone.
2 i. e. the two Dromioes. Antipholus of Syracuse has already called one of them "the almanac of my true date." See note on Act i. Sc. 2.
3 Heath thought that we should read, " and joy with me." Warburton proposed gaud, but the old reading is probably right.
Dro. S. Not I, sir; you are my elder.
Dro. E. That's a question; how shall we try it? Dro. S. We will draw cuts for the senior; till then, lead thou first
Dro. E. Nay; then thus;
We came into the world, like brother and brother; And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.
On a careful revision of the foregoing scenes, I do not hesitate to pronounce them the composition of two very unequal writers. Shakspeare had undoubtedly a share in them; but that the entire play was no work of his, is an opinion which (as Benedick says) "fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake." Thus, as we are informed by Aulus Gellius, Lib. III. Cap. 3, some plays were absolutely ascribed to Plautus, which in truth had only been (retractata et expolita) retouched and polished by him.
In this comedy we find more intricacy of plot than distinction of character; and our attention is less forcibly engaged, because we can guess in great measure how the denouement will be brought about. Yet the subject appears to have been reluctantly dismissed, even in this last and unnecessary scene, where the same mistakes are continued, till the power of affording entertainment is entirely lost.