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Syracuse, he whom the old man had come to Ephesus to seek, happened to
arrive at Ephesus with his slave Dromio that very same day that Aegeon
did; and he being also a merchant of Syracuse, he would have been in
the same danger that his father was, but by good fortune he met a
friend who told him the peril an old merchant of Syracuse was in, and
advised him to pass for a merchant of Epidamnum; this Antipholus agreed
to do, and he was sorry to hear one of his own countrymen was in this
danger, but he little thought this old merchant was his own father.

The eldest son of Aegeon (who must be called Antipholus of Ephesus, to
distinguish him from his brother Antipholus of Syracuse) had lived at
Ephesus twenty years, and, being a rich man, was well able to have paid
the money for the ransom of his father's life; but Antipholus knew
nothing of his father, being so young when he was taken out of the sea
with his mother by the fishermen that he only remembered he had been so
preserved, but he had no recollection of either his father or his
mother; the fishermen who took up this Antipholus and his mother and
the young slave Dromio, having carried the two children away from her
(to the great grief of that unhappy lady), intending to sell them.

Antipholus and Dromio were sold by them to duke Menaphon, a famous
warrior, who was uncle to the duke of Ephesus, and he carried the boys
to Ephesus when he went to visit the duke his nephew.

The duke of Ephesus taking a liking to young Antipholus, when he grew
up, made him an officer in his army, in which he distinguished himself
by his great bravery in the wars, where he saved the life of his patron
the duke, who rewarded his merit by marrying him to Adriana, a rich
lady of Ephesus; with whom he was living (his slave Dromio still
attending him) at the time his father came there.

Antipholus of Syracuse, when he parted with his friend, who advised him
to say he came from Epidamnum, gave his slave Dromio some money to
carry to the inn where he intended to dine, and in the mean time he
said he would walk about and view the city, and observe the manners of
the people.

Dromio was a pleasant fellow, and when Antipholus was dull and
melancholy he used to divert himself with the odd humours and merry
jests of his slave, so that the freedoms of speech he allowed in Dromio
were greater than is usual between masters and their servants.

When Antipholus of Syracuse had sent Dromio away, he stood awhile
thinking over his solitary wanderings in search of his mother and his
brother, of whom in no place where he landed could he hear the least
tidings; and he said sorrowfully to himself: 'I am like a drop of water
in the ocean, which seeking to find its fellow drop, loses itself in
the wide sea. So I unhappily, to find a mother and a brother, do lose

While he was thus meditating on his weary travels, which had hitherto
been so useless, Dromio (as he thought) returned. Antipholus, wondering
that he came back so soon, asked him where he had left the money. Now
it was not his own Dromio, but the twin-brother that lived with
Antipholus of Ephesus, that he spoke to. The two Dromios and the two
Antipholuses were still as much alike as Aegeon had said they were in
their infancy; therefore no wonder Antipholus thought it was his own
slave returned, and asked him why he came back so soon. Dromio replied:
'My mistress sent me to bid you come to dinner. The capon burns, and
the pig falls from the spit, and the meat will be all cold if you do
not come home.' 'These jests are out of season,' said Antipholus:
'where did you leave the money?' Dromio still answering, that his
mistress had sent him to fetch Antipholus to dinner: 'What mistress?'
said Antipholus. 'Why, your worship's wife, sir,' replied Dromio.
Antipholus having no wife, he was very angry with Dromio, and said:
'Because I familiarly sometimes chat with you, you presume to jest with
me in this free manner. I am not in a sportive humour now: where is the
money? we being strangers here, how dare you trust so great a charge
from your own custody?' Dromio hearing his master, as he thought him,
talk of their being strangers, supposing Antipholus was jesting,
replied merrily: 'I pray you, sir, jest as you sit at dinner. I had no
charge but to fetch you home, to dine with my mistress and her sister.'
Now Antipholus lost all patience, and beat Dromio, who ran home, and
told his mistress that his master had refused to come to dinner, and
said that he had no wife.

Adriana, the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, was very angry when she
heard that her husband said he had no wife; for she was of a jealous
temper, and she said her husband meant that he loved another lady
better than herself; and she began to fret, and say unkind words of
jealousy and reproach of her husband; and her sister Luciana, who lived
with her, tried in vain to persuade her out of her groundless

Antipholus of Syracuse went to the inn, and found Dromio with the money
in safety there, and seeing his own Dromio, he was going again to chide
him for his free jests, when Adriana came up to him, and not doubting
but it was her husband she saw, she began to reproach him for looking
strange upon her (as well he might, never having seen this angry lady
before); and then she told him how well he loved her before they were
married, and that now he loved some other lady instead of her. 'How
comes it now, my husband,' said she, 'O how comes it that I have lost
your love?' 'Plead you to me, fair dame?' said the astonished
Antipholus. It was in vain he told her he was not her husband, and that
he had been in Ephesus but two hours; she insisted on his going home
with her, and Antipholus as last, being unable to get away, went with
her to his brother's house, and dined with Adriana and her sister, the
one calling him husband, and the other brother, he, all amazed,
thinking he must have been married to her in his sleep, or that he was
sleeping now. And Dromio, who followed them, was no less surprised, for
the cook-maid, who was his brother's wife, also claimed him for her

While Antipholus of Syracuse was dining with his brother's wife, his
brother, the real husband, returned home to dinner with his slave
Dromio; but the servants would not open the door, because their
mistress had ordered them not to admit any company; and when they
repeatedly knocked, and said they were Antipholus and Dromio, the maids
laughed at them, and said that Antipholus was at dinner with their
mistress, and Dromio was in the kitchen; and though they almost knocked
the door down, they could not gain admittance, and at last Antipholus
went away very angry, and strangely surprised at hearing a gentleman
was dining with his wife.

When Antipholus of Syracuse had finished his dinner, he was so
perplexed at the lady's still persisting in calling him husband, and at
hearing that Dromio had also been claimed by the cook-maid, that he
left the house, as soon as he could find any presence to get away; for
though he was very much pleased with Luciana, the sister, yet the
jealous-tempered Adriana he disliked very much, nor was Dromio at all
better satisfied with his fair wife in the kitchen; therefore both
master and man were glad to get away from their new wives as fast as
they could.

The moment Antipholus of Syracuse had left the house, he was met by a
goldsmith, who mistaking him, as Adriana had done, for Antipholus of
Ephesus, gave him a gold chain, calling him by his name; and when
Antipholus would have refused the chain, saying it did not belong to
him, the goldsmith replied he made it by his own orders; and went away,
leaving the chain in the hands of Antipholus, who ordered his man
Dromio to get his things on board a ship, not choosing to stay in a
place any longer, where he met with such strange adventures that he
surely thought himself bewitched.

The goldsmith who had given the chain to the wrong Antipholus, was
arrested immediately after for a sum of money he owed; and Antipholus,
the married brother, to whom the goldsmith thought he had given the
chain, happened to come to the place where the officer was arresting
the goldsmith, who, when he saw Antipholus, asked him to pay for the
gold chain he had just delivered to him, the price amounting to nearly
the same sum as that for which he had been arrested. Antipholus denying
the having received the chain, and the goldsmith persisting to declare
that he had but a few minutes before given it to him, they disputed
this matter a long time, both thinking they were right: for Antipholus
knew the goldsmith never gave him the chain, and so like were the two
brothers, the goldsmith was as certain he had delivered the chain into
his hands, till at last the officer took the goldsmith away to prison
for the debt he owed, and at the same time the goldsmith made the
officer arrest Antipholus for the price of the chain; so that at the
conclusion of their dispute, Antipholus and the merchant were both
taken away to prison together.

As Antipholus was going to prison, he met Dromio of Syracuse, his
brother's slave, and mistaking him for his own, he ordered him to go to
Adriana his wife, and tell her to send the money for which he was
arrested. Dromio wondering that his master should send him back to the
strange house where he dined, and from which he had just before been in
such haste to depart, did not dare to reply, though he came to tell his
master the ship was ready to sail: for he saw Antipholus was in no
humour to be jested with. Therefore he went away, grumbling within
himself, that he must return to Adriana's house, 'Where,' said he,
'Dowsabel claims me for a husband: but I must go, for servants must
obey their masters' commands.'

Adriana gave him the money, and as Dromio was returning, he met
Antipholus of Syracuse, who was still in amaze at the surprising
adventures he met with; for his brother being well known in Ephesus,
there was hardly a man he met in the streets but saluted him as an old
acquaintance: some offered him money which they said was owing to him,
some invited him to come and see them, and some gave thanks for
kindnesses they said he had done them, all mistaking him for his
brother. A tailor showed him some silks he had bought for him, and
insisted upon taking measure of him for some clothes.

Antipholus began to think he was among a nation of sorcerers and
witches, and Dromio did not at all relieve his master from his
bewildered thoughts, by asking him how he got free from the officer who
was carrying him to prison, and giving him the purse of gold which
Adriana had sent to pay the debt with. This talk of Dromio's of the
arrest and of a prison, and of the money he had brought from Adriana,
perfectly confounded Antipholus, and he said: 'This fellow Dromio is
certainly distracted, and we wander here in illusions'; and quite
terrified at his own confused thoughts, he cried out: 'Some blessed
power deliver us from this strange place!'

And now another stranger came up to him, and she was a lady, and she
too called him Antipholus, and told him he had dined with her that day,
and asked him for a gold chain which she said he had promised to give
her. Antipholus now lost all patience, and calling her a sorceress, he
denied that he had ever promised her a chain, or dined with her, or had
ever seen her face before that moment. The lady persisted in affirming
he had dined with her, and had promised her a chain, which Antipholus
still denying, she further said, that she had given him a valuable
ring, and if he would not give her the gold chain, she insisted upon
having her own ring again. On this Antipholus became quite frantic, and
again calling her sorceress and witch, and denying all knowledge of her
or her ring, ran away from her, leaving her astonished at his words and
his wild looks, for nothing to her appeared more certain than that he
had dined with her, and that she had given him a ring, in consequence
of his promising to make her a present of a gold chain. But this lady
had fallen into the same mistake the others had done, for she had taken
him for his brother: the married Antipholus had done all the things she
taxed this Antipholus with.

When the married Antipholus was denied entrance into his own house
(those within supposing him to be already there), he had gone away very
angry, believing it to be one of his wife's jealous freaks, to which
she was very subject, and remembering that she had often falsely
accused him of visiting other ladies, he, to be revenged on her for
shutting him out of his own house, determined to go and dine with this
lady, and she receiving him with great civility, and his wife having so
highly offended him, Antipholus promised to give her a gold chain,
which he had intended as a present for his wife; it was the same chain
which the goldsmith by mistake had given to his brother. The lady liked
so well the thoughts of having a fine gold chain, that she gave the
married Antipholus a ring; which when, as she supposed (taking his
brother for him), he denied, and said he did not know her, and left her
in such a wild passion, she began to think he was certainly out of his
senses; and presently she resolved to go and tell Adriana that her
husband was mad. And while she was telling it to Adriana, he came,
attended by the jailor (who allowed him to come home to get the money
to pay the debt), for the purse of money, which Adriana had sent by
Dromio, and he had delivered to the other Antipholus.

Adriana believed the story the lady told her of her husband's madness
must be true, when he reproached her for shutting him out of his own
house; and remembering how he had protested all dinner-time that he was
not her husband, and had never been in Ephesus till that day, she had
no doubt that he was mad; she therefore paid the jailor the money, and
having discharged him, she ordered her servants to bind her husband
with ropes, and had him conveyed into a dark room, and sent for a
doctor to come and cure him of his madness: Antipholus all the while
hotly exclaiming against this false accusation, which the exact
likeness he bore to his brother had brought upon him. But his rage only
the more confirmed them in the belief that he was mad; and Dromio
persisting in the same story, they bound him also, and took him away
along with his master.

Soon after Adriana had put her husband into confinement, a servant came
to tell her that Antipholus and Dromio must have broken loose from
their keepers, for that they were both walking at liberty in the next
street. On hearing this, Adriana ran out to fetch him home, taking some
people with her to secure her husband again; and her sister went along
with her. When they came to the gates of a convent in their
neighbourhood, there they saw Antipholus and Dromio, as they thought
being again deceived by the likeness of the twin-brothers.

Antipholus of Syracuse was still beset with the perplexities this
likeness had brought upon him. The chain which the goldsmith had given
him was about his neck, and the goldsmith was reproaching him for
denying that he had it, and refusing to pay for it, and Antipholus was
protesting that the goldsmith freely gave him the chain in the morning,
and that from that hour he had never seen the goldsmith again.

And now Adriana came up to him and claimed him as her lunatic husband,
who had escaped from his keepers; and the men she brought with her were
going to lay violent hands on Antipholus and Dromio; but they ran into
the convent, and Antipholus begged the abbess to give him shelter in
her house.

And now came out the lady abbess herself to inquire into the cause of
this disturbance. She was a grave and venerable lady, and wise to judge
of what she saw, and she would not too hastily give up the man who had
sought protection in her house; so she strictly questioned the wife
about the story she told of her husband's madness, and she said: 'What
is the cause of this sudden distemper of your husband's? Has he lost
his wealth at sea? Or is it the death of some dear friend that has
disturbed his mind?' Adriana replied, that no such things as these had
been the cause. 'Perhaps,' said the abbess, 'he has fixed his
affections on some other lady than you his wife; and that has driven
him to this state.' Adriana said she had long thought the love of some
other lady was the cause of his frequent absences from home. Now it was
not his love for another, but the teasing jealousy of his wife's
temper, that often obliged Antipholus to leave his home; and (the
abbess suspecting this from the vehemence of Adriana's manner) to learn
the truth, she said: 'You should have reprehended him for this.' 'Why,
so I did,' replied Adriana. 'Ay,' said the abbess, 'but perhaps not
enough.' Adriana, willing to convince the abbess that she had said
enough to Antipholus on this subject, replied: 'It was the constant
subject of our conversation: in bed I would not let him sleep for
speaking of it. At table I would not let him eat for speaking of it.
When I was alone with him, I talked of nothing else; and in company I
gave him frequent hints of it. Still all my talk was how vile and bad
it was in him to love any lady better than me.'

The lady abbess, having drawn this full confession from the jealous
Adriana, now said: 'And therefore comes it that your husband is mad.
The venomous clamour of a jealous woman is a more deadly poison than a
mad dog's tooth. It seems his sleep was hindered by your railing; no
wonder that his head is light: and his meat was sauced with your
upbraidings; unquiet meals make ill digestions, and that has thrown him
into this fever. You say his sports were disturbed by your brawls;
being debarred from the enjoyment of society and recreation, what could
ensue but dull melancholy and comfortless despair? The consequence is
then, that your jealous kits have made your husband mad.'

Luciana would have excused her sister, saying, she always reprehended
her husband mildly; and she said to her sister: 'Why do you hear these
rebukes without answering them?' But the abbess had made her so plainly
perceive her fault, that she could only answer: 'She has betrayed me to
my own reproof.'

Adriana, though ashamed of her own conduct, still insisted on having
her husband delivered up to her; but the abbess would suffer no person
to enter her house, nor would she deliver up this unhappy man to the
care of the jealous wife, determining herself to use gentle means for
his recovery, and she retired into her house again, and ordered her
gates to be shut against them.

During the course of this eventful day, in which so many errors had
happened from the likeness the twin brothers bore to each other, old
Aegeon's day of grace was passing away, it being now near sunset; and
at sunset he was doomed to die, if he could not pay the money.

The place of his execution was near this convent, and here he arrived
just as the abbess retired into the convent; the duke attending in
person, that if any offered to pay the money, he might be present to
pardon him.

Adriana stopped this melancholy procession, and cried out to the duke
for justice, telling him that the abbess had refused to deliver up her
lunatic husband to her care. While she was speaking, her real husband
and his servant Dromio, who had got loose, came before the duke to
demand justice, complaining that his wife had confined him on a false
charge of lunacy; and telling in what manner he had broken his bands,
and eluded the vigilance of his keepers. Adriana was strangely
surprised to see her husband, when she thought he had been within the

Aegeon, seeing his son, concluded this was the son who had left him to
go in search of his mother and his brother; and he felt secure that his
dear son would readily pay the money demanded for his ransom. He
therefore spoke to Antipholus in words of fatherly affection, with
joyful hope that he should now be released. But to the utter
astonishment of Aegeon, his son denied all knowledge of him, as well he
might, for this Antipholus had never seen his father since they were
separated in the storm in his infancy; but while the poor old Aegeon
was in vain endeavouring to make his son acknowledge him, thinking
surely that either his griefs and the anxieties he had suffered had so
strangely altered him that his son did not know him, or else that he
was ashamed to acknowledge his father in his misery; in the midst of
this perplexity, the lady abess and the other Antipholus and Dromio
came out and the wondering Adriana saw two husbands and two romios
standing before her.

And now these riddling errors, which had so perplexed them all, were
clearly made out. When the duke saw the two Antipholuses and the two
Dromios both so exactly alike, he at once conjectured aright of these
seeming mysteries, for he remembered the story Aegeon had told him in
the morning; and he said, these men must be the two sons of Aegeon and
their twin slaves.

But now an unlooked-for joy indeed completed the history of Aegeon; and
the tale he had in the morning told in sorrow, and under sentence of
death, before the setting sun went down was brought to a happy
conclusion, for the venerable lady abbess made herself known to be the
long-lost wife of Aegeon, and the fond mother of the two Antipholuses.

When the fishermen took the eldest Antipholus and Dromio away from her,
she entered a nunnery, and by her wise and virtuous conduct, she was at
length made lady abbess of this convent, and in discharging the rites
of hospitality to an unhappy stranger she had unknowingly protected her
own son.

Joyful congratulations and affectionate greetings between these long
separated parents and their children made them for a while forget that
Aegeon was yet under sentence of death; but when they were become a
little calm, Antipholus of Ephesus offered the duke the ransom money
for his father's life; but the duke freely pardoned Aegeon, and would
not take the money. And the duke went with the abbess and her newly
found husband and children into the convent, to hear this happy family
discourse at leisure of the blessed ending of their adverse fortunes.
And the two Dromios' humble joy must not be forgotten; they had their
congratulations and greetings too, and each Dromio pleasantly
complimented his brother on his good looks, being well pleased to see
his own person (as in a glass) show so handsome in his brother.

Adriana had so well profited by the good counsel of her mother-in-law,
that she never after cherished unjust suspicions, or was jealous of her

Antipholus of Syracuse married the fair Luciana, the sister of his
brother's wife; and the good old Aegeon, with his wife and sons, lived
at Ephesus many years. Nor did the unravelling of these perplexities so
entirely remove every ground of mistake for the future, but that
sometimes, to remind them of adventures past, comical blunders would
happen, and the one Antipholus, and the one Dromio, be mistaken for the
other, making altogether a pleasant and diverting Comedy of Errors.


In the city of Vienna there once reigned a duke of such a mild and
gentle temper, that he suffered his subjects to neglect the laws with
impunity; and there was in particular one law, the existence of which
was almost forgotten, the duke never having put it in force during his
whole reign. This was a law dooming any man to the punishment of death,
who should live with a woman that was not his wife; and this law,
through the lenity of the duke, being utterly disregarded, the holy
institution of marriage became neglected, and complaints were every day
made to the duke by the parents of the young ladies in Vienna, that
their daughters had been seduced from their protection, and were living
as the companions of single men.

The good duke perceived with sorrow this growing evil among his
subjects, but he thought that a sudden change in himself from the
indulgence he had hitherto shown, to the strict severity requisite to
check this abuse, would make his people (who had hitherto loved him)
consider him as a tyrant; therefore he determined to absent himself a
while from his dukedom, and depute another to the full exercise of his
power, that the law against these dishonourable lovers might be put in
effect, without giving offence by an unusual severity in kits own

Angelo, a man who bore the reputation of a saint in Vienna for his
strict and rigid life, was chosen by the duke as a fit person to

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Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 14 of 23)