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The Comedy of Errors

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Act V, Scene 1

A street before a Priory.


[Enter Second Merchant and ANGELO]

  • Angelo. I am sorry, sir, that I have hinder'd you;
    But, I protest, he had the chain of me, 1425
    Though most dishonestly he doth deny it.
  • Angelo. Of very reverend reputation, sir,
    Of credit infinite, highly beloved,
    Second to none that lives here in the city: 1430
    His word might bear my wealth at any time.

[Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse and DROMIO of Syracuse]

  • Angelo. 'Tis so; and that self chain about his neck
    Which he forswore most monstrously to have. 1435
    Good sir, draw near to me, I'll speak to him.
    Signior Antipholus, I wonder much
    That you would put me to this shame and trouble;
    And, not without some scandal to yourself,
    With circumstance and oaths so to deny 1440
    This chain which now you wear so openly:
    Beside the charge, the shame, imprisonment,
    You have done wrong to this my honest friend,
    Who, but for staying on our controversy,
    Had hoisted sail and put to sea to-day: 1445
    This chain you had of me; can you deny it?
  • Second Merchant. These ears of mine, thou know'st did hear thee. 1450
    Fie on thee, wretch! 'tis pity that thou livest
    To walk where any honest man resort.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. Thou art a villain to impeach me thus:
    I'll prove mine honour and mine honesty
    Against thee presently, if thou darest stand. 1455

[They draw]

[Enter ADRIANA, LUCIANA, the Courtezan, and others]

  • Adriana. Hold, hurt him not, for God's sake! he is mad.
    Some get within him, take his sword away: 1460
    Bind Dromio too, and bear them to my house.
  • Dromio of Syracuse. Run, master, run; for God's sake, take a house!
    This is some priory. In, or we are spoil'd!
    [Exeunt Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse]
    to the Priory] 1465

[Enter the Lady Abbess, AEMILIA]

  • Aemilia. Be quiet, people. Wherefore throng you hither?
  • Adriana. To fetch my poor distracted husband hence.
    Let us come in, that we may bind him fast
    And bear him home for his recovery. 1470
  • Angelo. I knew he was not in his perfect wits.
  • Aemilia. How long hath this possession held the man?
  • Adriana. This week he hath been heavy, sour, sad,
    And much different from the man he was; 1475
    But till this afternoon his passion
    Ne'er brake into extremity of rage.
  • Aemilia. Hath he not lost much wealth by wreck of sea?
    Buried some dear friend? Hath not else his eye
    Stray'd his affection in unlawful love? 1480
    A sin prevailing much in youthful men,
    Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.
    Which of these sorrows is he subject to?
  • Adriana. To none of these, except it be the last;
    Namely, some love that drew him oft from home. 1485
  • Aemilia. You should for that have reprehended him.
  • Aemilia. Ay, but not rough enough.
  • Adriana. As roughly as my modesty would let me.
  • Adriana. It was the copy of our conference:
    In bed he slept not for my urging it;
    At board he fed not for my urging it; 1495
    Alone, it was the subject of my theme;
    In company I often glanced it;
    Still did I tell him it was vile and bad.
  • Aemilia. And thereof came it that the man was mad.
    The venom clamours of a jealous woman 1500
    Poisons more deadly than a mad dog's tooth.
    It seems his sleeps were hinder'd by thy railing,
    And therefore comes it that his head is light.
    Thou say'st his meat was sauced with thy upbraidings:
    Unquiet meals make ill digestions; 1505
    Thereof the raging fire of fever bred;
    And what's a fever but a fit of madness?
    Thou say'st his sports were hinderd by thy brawls:
    Sweet recreation barr'd, what doth ensue
    But moody and dull melancholy, 1510
    Kinsman to grim and comfortless despair,
    And at her heels a huge infectious troop
    Of pale distemperatures and foes to life?
    In food, in sport and life-preserving rest
    To be disturb'd, would mad or man or beast: 1515
    The consequence is then thy jealous fits
    Have scared thy husband from the use of wits.
  • Luciana. She never reprehended him but mildly,
    When he demean'd himself rough, rude and wildly.
    Why bear you these rebukes and answer not? 1520
  • Adriana. She did betray me to my own reproof.
    Good people enter and lay hold on him.
  • Aemilia. No, not a creature enters in my house.
  • Adriana. Then let your servants bring my husband forth.
  • Aemilia. Neither: he took this place for sanctuary, 1525
    And it shall privilege him from your hands
    Till I have brought him to his wits again,
    Or lose my labour in assaying it.
  • Adriana. I will attend my husband, be his nurse,
    Diet his sickness, for it is my office, 1530
    And will have no attorney but myself;
    And therefore let me have him home with me.
  • Aemilia. Be patient; for I will not let him stir
    Till I have used the approved means I have,
    With wholesome syrups, drugs and holy prayers, 1535
    To make of him a formal man again:
    It is a branch and parcel of mine oath,
    A charitable duty of my order.
    Therefore depart and leave him here with me.
  • Adriana. I will not hence and leave my husband here: 1540
    And ill it doth beseem your holiness
    To separate the husband and the wife.
  • Aemilia. Be quiet and depart: thou shalt not have him.


  • Luciana. Complain unto the duke of this indignity. 1545
  • Adriana. Come, go: I will fall prostrate at his feet
    And never rise until my tears and prayers
    Have won his grace to come in person hither
    And take perforce my husband from the abbess.
  • Second Merchant. By this, I think, the dial points at five: 1550
    Anon, I'm sure, the duke himself in person
    Comes this way to the melancholy vale,
    The place of death and sorry execution,
    Behind the ditches of the abbey here.
  • Second Merchant. To see a reverend Syracusian merchant,
    Who put unluckily into this bay
    Against the laws and statutes of this town,
    Beheaded publicly for his offence.
  • Angelo. See where they come: we will behold his death. 1560
  • Luciana. Kneel to the duke before he pass the abbey.
    [Enter DUKE SOLINUS, attended; AEGEON bareheaded; with the]
    Headsman and other Officers]
  • Solinus. Yet once again proclaim it publicly,
    If any friend will pay the sum for him, 1565
    He shall not die; so much we tender him.
  • Adriana. Justice, most sacred duke, against the abbess!
  • Solinus. She is a virtuous and a reverend lady:
    It cannot be that she hath done thee wrong.
  • Adriana. May it please your grace, Antipholus, my husband, 1570
    Whom I made lord of me and all I had,
    At your important letters,—this ill day
    A most outrageous fit of madness took him;
    That desperately he hurried through the street,
    With him his bondman, all as mad as he— 1575
    Doing displeasure to the citizens
    By rushing in their houses, bearing thence
    Rings, jewels, any thing his rage did like.
    Once did I get him bound and sent him home,
    Whilst to take order for the wrongs I went, 1580
    That here and there his fury had committed.
    Anon, I wot not by what strong escape,
    He broke from those that had the guard of him;
    And with his mad attendant and himself,
    Each one with ireful passion, with drawn swords, 1585
    Met us again and madly bent on us,
    Chased us away; till, raising of more aid,
    We came again to bind them. Then they fled
    Into this abbey, whither we pursued them:
    And here the abbess shuts the gates on us 1590
    And will not suffer us to fetch him out,
    Nor send him forth that we may bear him hence.
    Therefore, most gracious duke, with thy command
    Let him be brought forth and borne hence for help.
  • Solinus. Long since thy husband served me in my wars, 1595
    And I to thee engaged a prince's word,
    When thou didst make him master of thy bed,
    To do him all the grace and good I could.
    Go, some of you, knock at the abbey-gate
    And bid the lady abbess come to me. 1600
    I will determine this before I stir.

[Enter a Servant]

  • Servant. O mistress, mistress, shift and save yourself!
    My master and his man are both broke loose,
    Beaten the maids a-row and bound the doctor 1605
    Whose beard they have singed off with brands of fire;
    And ever, as it blazed, they threw on him
    Great pails of puddled mire to quench the hair:
    My master preaches patience to him and the while
    His man with scissors nicks him like a fool, 1610
    And sure, unless you send some present help,
    Between them they will kill the conjurer.
  • Adriana. Peace, fool! thy master and his man are here,
    And that is false thou dost report to us.
  • Servant. Mistress, upon my life, I tell you true; 1615
    I have not breathed almost since I did see it.
    He cries for you, and vows, if he can take you,
    To scorch your face and to disfigure you.
    [Cry within]
    Hark, hark! I hear him, mistress. fly, be gone! 1620
  • Solinus. Come, stand by me; fear nothing. Guard with halberds!
  • Adriana. Ay me, it is my husband! Witness you,
    That he is borne about invisible:
    Even now we housed him in the abbey here;
    And now he's there, past thought of human reason. 1625

[Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus and DROMIO of Ephesus]

  • Antipholus of Ephesus. Justice, most gracious duke, O, grant me justice!
    Even for the service that long since I did thee,
    When I bestrid thee in the wars and took
    Deep scars to save thy life; even for the blood 1630
    That then I lost for thee, now grant me justice.
  • Aegeon. Unless the fear of death doth make me dote,
    I see my son Antipholus and Dromio.
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. Justice, sweet prince, against that woman there!
    She whom thou gavest to me to be my wife, 1635
    That hath abused and dishonour'd me
    Even in the strength and height of injury!
    Beyond imagination is the wrong
    That she this day hath shameless thrown on me.
  • Solinus. Discover how, and thou shalt find me just. 1640
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. This day, great duke, she shut the doors upon me,
    While she with harlots feasted in my house.
  • Solinus. A grievous fault! Say, woman, didst thou so?
  • Adriana. No, my good lord: myself, he and my sister
    To-day did dine together. So befall my soul 1645
    As this is false he burdens me withal!
  • Luciana. Ne'er may I look on day, nor sleep on night,
    But she tells to your highness simple truth!
  • Angelo. O perjured woman! They are both forsworn:
    In this the madman justly chargeth them. 1650
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. My liege, I am advised what I say,
    Neither disturbed with the effect of wine,
    Nor heady-rash, provoked with raging ire,
    Albeit my wrongs might make one wiser mad.
    This woman lock'd me out this day from dinner: 1655
    That goldsmith there, were he not pack'd with her,
    Could witness it, for he was with me then;
    Who parted with me to go fetch a chain,
    Promising to bring it to the Porpentine,
    Where Balthazar and I did dine together. 1660
    Our dinner done, and he not coming thither,
    I went to seek him: in the street I met him
    And in his company that gentleman.
    There did this perjured goldsmith swear me down
    That I this day of him received the chain, 1665
    Which, God he knows, I saw not: for the which
    He did arrest me with an officer.
    I did obey, and sent my peasant home
    For certain ducats: he with none return'd
    Then fairly I bespoke the officer 1670
    To go in person with me to my house.
    By the way we met
    My wife, her sister, and a rabble more
    Of vile confederates. Along with them
    They brought one Pinch, a hungry lean-faced villain, 1675
    A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
    A threadbare juggler and a fortune-teller,
    A needy, hollow-eyed, sharp-looking wretch,
    A dead-looking man: this pernicious slave,
    Forsooth, took on him as a conjurer, 1680
    And, gazing in mine eyes, feeling my pulse,
    And with no face, as 'twere, outfacing me,
    Cries out, I was possess'd. Then all together
    They fell upon me, bound me, bore me thence
    And in a dark and dankish vault at home 1685
    There left me and my man, both bound together;
    Till, gnawing with my teeth my bonds in sunder,
    I gain'd my freedom, and immediately
    Ran hither to your grace; whom I beseech
    To give me ample satisfaction 1690
    For these deep shames and great indignities.
  • Angelo. My lord, in truth, thus far I witness with him,
    That he dined not at home, but was lock'd out.
  • Solinus. But had he such a chain of thee or no?
  • Angelo. He had, my lord: and when he ran in here, 1695
    These people saw the chain about his neck.
  • Second Merchant. Besides, I will be sworn these ears of mine
    Heard you confess you had the chain of him
    After you first forswore it on the mart:
    And thereupon I drew my sword on you; 1700
    And then you fled into this abbey here,
    From whence, I think, you are come by miracle.
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. I never came within these abbey-walls,
    Nor ever didst thou draw thy sword on me:
    I never saw the chain, so help me Heaven! 1705
    And this is false you burden me withal.
  • Solinus. Why, what an intricate impeach is this!
    I think you all have drunk of Circe's cup.
    If here you housed him, here he would have been;
    If he were mad, he would not plead so coldly: 1710
    You say he dined at home; the goldsmith here
    Denies that saying. Sirrah, what say you?
  • Courtezan. He did, and from my finger snatch'd that ring.
  • Solinus. Saw'st thou him enter at the abbey here?
  • Courtezan. As sure, my liege, as I do see your grace.
  • Solinus. Why, this is strange. Go call the abbess hither.
    I think you are all mated or stark mad.

[Exit one to Abbess]

  • Aegeon. Most mighty duke, vouchsafe me speak a word:
    Haply I see a friend will save my life
    And pay the sum that may deliver me.
  • Solinus. Speak freely, Syracusian, what thou wilt.
  • Aegeon. Is not your name, sir, call'd Antipholus? 1725
    And is not that your bondman, Dromio?
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Within this hour I was his bondman sir,
    But he, I thank him, gnaw'd in two my cords:
    Now am I Dromio and his man unbound.
  • Aegeon. I am sure you both of you remember me. 1730
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Ourselves we do remember, sir, by you;
    For lately we were bound, as you are now
    You are not Pinch's patient, are you, sir?
  • Aegeon. Why look you strange on me? you know me well.
  • Aegeon. O, grief hath changed me since you saw me last,
    And careful hours with time's deformed hand
    Have written strange defeatures in my face:
    But tell me yet, dost thou not know my voice?
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Ay, sir, but I am sure I do not; and whatsoever a
    man denies, you are now bound to believe him. 1745
  • Aegeon. Not know my voice! O time's extremity,
    Hast thou so crack'd and splitted my poor tongue
    In seven short years, that here my only son
    Knows not my feeble key of untuned cares?
    Though now this grained face of mine be hid 1750
    In sap-consuming winter's drizzled snow,
    And all the conduits of my blood froze up,
    Yet hath my night of life some memory,
    My wasting lamps some fading glimmer left,
    My dull deaf ears a little use to hear: 1755
    All these old witnesses—I cannot err—
    Tell me thou art my son Antipholus.
  • Aegeon. But seven years since, in Syracusa, boy,
    Thou know'st we parted: but perhaps, my son, 1760
    Thou shamest to acknowledge me in misery.
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. The duke and all that know me in the city
    Can witness with me that it is not so
    I ne'er saw Syracusa in my life.
  • Solinus. I tell thee, Syracusian, twenty years 1765
    Have I been patron to Antipholus,
    During which time he ne'er saw Syracusa:
    I see thy age and dangers make thee dote.
    [Re-enter AEMILIA, with ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse and]
    DROMIO of Syracuse] 1770
  • Aemilia. Most mighty duke, behold a man much wrong'd.

[All gather to see them]

  • Adriana. I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me.
  • Solinus. One of these men is Genius to the other;
    And so of these. Which is the natural man, 1775
    And which the spirit? who deciphers them?
  • Aemilia. Whoever bound him, I will loose his bonds
    And gain a husband by his liberty.
    Speak, old AEgeon, if thou be'st the man
    That hadst a wife once call'd AEmilia
    That bore thee at a burden two fair sons: 1785
    O, if thou be'st the same AEgeon, speak,
    And speak unto the same AEmilia!
  • Aegeon. If I dream not, thou art AEmilia:
    If thou art she, tell me where is that son
    That floated with thee on the fatal raft? 1790
  • Aemilia. By men of Epidamnum he and I
    And the twin Dromio all were taken up;
    But by and by rude fishermen of Corinth
    By force took Dromio and my son from them
    And me they left with those of Epidamnum. 1795
    What then became of them I cannot tell
    I to this fortune that you see me in.
  • Solinus. Why, here begins his morning story right;
    These two Antipholuses, these two so like,
    And these two Dromios, one in semblance,— 1800
    Besides her urging of her wreck at sea,—
    These are the parents to these children,
    Which accidentally are met together.
    Antipholus, thou camest from Corinth first?
  • Solinus. Stay, stand apart; I know not which is which.
  • Antipholus of Ephesus. Brought to this town by that most famous warrior,
    Duke Menaphon, your most renowned uncle. 1810
  • Adriana. Which of you two did dine with me to-day?
  • Adriana. And are not you my husband?
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. And so do I; yet did she call me so: 1815
    And this fair gentlewoman, her sister here,
    Did call me brother.
    [To Luciana]
    What I told you then,
    I hope I shall have leisure to make good; 1820
    If this be not a dream I see and hear.
  • Angelo. That is the chain, sir, which you had of me.
  • Angelo. I think I did, sir; I deny it not. 1825
  • Adriana. I sent you money, sir, to be your bail,
    By Dromio; but I think he brought it not.
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. This purse of ducats I received from you,
    And Dromio, my man, did bring them me. 1830
    I see we still did meet each other's man,
    And I was ta'en for him, and he for me,
    And thereupon these errors are arose.
  • Solinus. It shall not need; thy father hath his life. 1835
  • Courtezan. Sir, I must have that diamond from you.
  • Aemilia. Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains
    To go with us into the abbey here
    And hear at large discoursed all our fortunes: 1840
    And all that are assembled in this place,
    That by this sympathized one day's error
    Have suffer'd wrong, go keep us company,
    And we shall make full satisfaction.
    Thirty-three years have I but gone in travail 1845
    Of you, my sons; and till this present hour
    My heavy burden ne'er delivered.
    The duke, my husband and my children both,
    And you the calendars of their nativity,
    Go to a gossips' feast and go with me; 1850
    After so long grief, such festivity!
  • Solinus. With all my heart, I'll gossip at this feast.
    [Exeunt all but Antipholus of Syracuse, Antipholus]
    of Ephesus, Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus]
  • Antipholus of Syracuse. 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. 1860

[Exeunt Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus]

  • Dromio of Syracuse. There is a fat friend at your master's house,
    That kitchen'd me for you to-day at dinner:
    She now shall be my sister, not my wife.
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Methinks you are my glass, and not my brother: 1865
    I see by you I am a sweet-faced youth.
    Will you walk in to see their gossiping?
  • Dromio of Ephesus. Nay, then, thus:
    We came into the world like brother and brother;
    And now let's go hand in hand, not one before another.