Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT V. - The Comedy of Errors
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
ACT V. - William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
A Street before an Abbey.
Enter Merchant andAngelo.
I am sorry, sir, that I have hinder’d you;
But, I protest, he had the chain of me,
Though most dishonestly he doth deny it.
How is the man esteem’d here in the city?
Of very reverend reputation, sir,
Of credit infinite, highly belov’d,
Second to none that lives here in the city:
His word might bear my wealth at any time.
Speak softly: yonder, as I think, he walks.
EnterAntipholus of Syracuse andDromio of Syracuse.
’Tis so; and that self chain about his neck
Which he forswore most monstrously to have.
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
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.
This chain you had of me; can you deny it?
I think I had: I never did deny it.
Yes, that you did, sir, and forswore it too.
Who heard me to deny it or forswear it?
These ears of mine, thou know’st, did hear thee.
Fie on thee, wretch! ’tis pity that thou liv’st
To walk where any honest men resort.
Thou art a villain to impeach me thus:
I’ll prove mine honour and mine honesty
Against thee presently, if thou dar’st stand.
I dare, and do defy thee for a villain.
EnterAdriana, Luciana, Courtezan, and Others.
Hold! hurt him not, for God’s sake! he is mad.
Some get within him, take his sword away.
Bind Dromio too, and bear them to my house.
Run, master, run; for God’s sake, take a house!
This is some priory: in, or we are spoil’d.
[ExeuntAntipholus of Syracuse andDromio of Syracuse to the Abbey.
Enter the Abbess.
Be quiet, people. Wherefore throng you hither?
To fetch my poor distracted husband hence.
Let us come in, that we may bind him fast,
And bear him home for his recovery.
I knew he was not in his perfect wits.
I am sorry now that I did draw on him.
How long hath this possession held the man?
This week he hath been heavy, sour, sad,
And much different from the man he was;
But, till this afternoon his passion
Ne’er brake into extremity of rage.
Hath he not lost much wealth by wrack of sea?
Buried some dear friend? Hath not else his eye
Stray’d his affection in unlawful love?
A sin prevailing much in youthful men,
Who give their eyes the liberty of gazing.
Which of these sorrows is he subject to?
To none of these, except it be the last;
Namely, some love that drew him oft from home.
You should for that have reprehended him.
Why, so I did.
Ay, but not rough enough.
As roughly as my modesty would let me.
Haply, in private.
And in assemblies too.
Ay, but not enough.
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;
Alone, it was the subject of my theme;
In company I often glanced it:
Still did I tell him it was vile and bad.
And thereof came it that the man was mad:
The venom clamours of a jealous woman
Poison more deadly than a mad dog’s tooth.
It seems, his sleeps were hinder’d by thy railing,
And thereof comes it that his head is light.
Thou say’st his meat was sauc’d with thy upbraidings:
Unquiet meals make ill digestions;
Thereof the raging fire of fever bred:
And what’s a fever but a fit of madness?
Thou say’st his sports were hinder’d by thy brawls:
Sweet recreation barr’d, what doth ensue
But moody moping, and dull melancholy,
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:
The consequence is then, thy jealous fits
Have scar’d thy husband from the use of wits.
She never reprehended him but mildly
When he demean’d himself rough, rude, and wildly.
Why bear you these rebukes and answer not?
She did betray me to my own reproof.
Good people, enter, and lay hold on him.
No; not a creature enters in my house.
Then, let your servants bring my husband forth.
Neither: he took this place for sanctuary,
And it shall privilege him from your hands
Till I have brought him to his wits again,
Or lose my labour in assaying it.
I will attend my husband, be his nurse,
Diet his sickness, for it is my office,
And will have no attorney but myself;
And therefore let me have him home with me.
Be patient; for I will not let him stir
Till I have us’d the approved means I have,
With wholesome syrups, drugs, and holy prayers,
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.
I will not hence and leave my husband here;
And ill it doth beseem your holiness
To separate the husband and the wife.
Be quiet, and depart: thou shalt not have him.
Complain unto the duke of this indignity.
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.
By this, I think, the dial points at five:
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.
Upon what cause?
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.
See where they come: we will behold his death.
Kneel to the duke before he pass the abbey.
EnterDukeattended;Ægeonbare-headed; with the Headsman and other Officers.
Yet once again proclaim it publicly,
If any friend will pay the sum for him,
He shall not die; so much we tender him.
Justice, most sacred duke, against the abbess!
She is a virtuous and a reverend lady:
It cannot be that she hath done thee wrong.
May it please your Grace, Antipholus, my husband,
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,—
Doing displeasure to the citizens
By rushing in their houses, bearing thence
Rings, jewels, anything his rage did like.
Once did I get him bound and sent him home,
Whilst to take order for the wrongs I went
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
Met us again, and, madly bent on us
Chas’d us away, till, raising of more aid
We came again to bind them. Then they fled
Into this abbey, whither we pursu’d them;
And here the abbess shuts the gates on us,
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.
Long since thy husband serv’d me in my wars,
And I to thee engag’d 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.
I will determine this before I stir.
Enter a 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,
Whose beard they have sing’d off with brands of fire;
And ever as it blaz’d 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;
And sure, unless you send some present help,
Between them they will kill the conjurer.
Peace, fool! thy master and his man are here,
And that is false thou dost report to us.
Mistress, upon my life, I tell you true;
I have not breath’d almost, since I did see it.
He cries for you and vows, if he can take you,
To scotch your face, and to disfigure you.
Hark, hark! I hear him, mistress: fly, be gone!
Come, stand by me; fear nothing. Guard with halberds!
Ay me, it is my husband! Witness you,
That he is borne about invisible:
Even now we hous’d him in the abbey here,
And now he’s here, past thought of human reason.
EnterAntipholus of Ephesus andDromio 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
That then I lost for thee, now grant me justice.
Unless the fear of death doth make me dote,
I see my son Antipholus and Dromio!
Justice, sweet prince, against that woman there!
She whom thou gav’st to me to be my wife,
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.
Discover how, and thou shalt find me just.
This day, great duke, she shut the doors upon me,
While she with harlots feasted in my house.
A grievous fault! Say, woman, didst thou so?
No, my good lord: myself, he, and my sister
To-day did dine together. So befall my soul
As this is false he burdens me withal!
Ne’er may I look on day, nor sleep on night,
But she tells to your highness simple truth!
O perjur’d woman! They are both forsworn:
In this the madman justly chargeth them!
My liege, I am advised what I say:
Neither disturb’d with the effect of wine,
Nor heady-rash, provok’d with raging ire,
Albeit my wrongs might make one wiser mad.
This woman lock’d me out this day from dinner:
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.
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 perjur’d goldsmith swear me down
That I this day of him receiv’d the chain,
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
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-fac’d villain,
A mere anatomy, a mountebank,
A threadbare juggler, and a fortune-teller,
A needy, hollow-ey’d, sharp-looking wretch,
A living-dead man. This pernicious slave,
Forsooth, took on him as a conjurer,
And, gazing in mine eyes, feeling my pulse,
And with no face, as ’twere, out-facing me,
Cries out, I was possess’d. Then, altogether
They fell upon me, bound me, bore me thence,
And in a dark and dankish vault at home
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
For these deep shames and great indignities.
My lord, in truth, thus far I witness with him,
That he din’d not at home, but was lock’d out.
But had he such a chain of thee, or no?
He had, my lord; and when he ran in here,
These people saw the chain about his neck.
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;
And then you fled into this abbey here,
From whence, I think, you are come by miracle.
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!
And this is false you burden me withal.
Why, what an intricate impeach is this!
I think you all have drunk of Circe’s cup.
If here you hous’d him, here he would have been;
If he were mad, he would not plead so coldly;
You say he din’d at home; the goldsmith here
Denies that saying. Sirrah, what say you?
Sir, he din’d with her there, at the Porpentine.
He did, and from my finger snatch’d that ring.
’Tis true, my liege; this ring I had of her.
Saw’st thou him enter at the abbey here?
As sure, my liege, as I do see your Grace.
Why, this is strange. Go call the abbess hither.
[Exit an Attendant.
I think you are all mated or stark mad.
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.
Speak freely, Syracusian, what thou wilt.
Is not your name, sir, called Antipholus?
And is not that your bondman Dromio?
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.
I am sure you both of you remember me.
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?
Why look you strange on me? you know me well.
I never saw you in my life till now.
O! grief hath chang’d 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, nor thou?
No, trust me, sir, not I.
I am sure thou dost.
Ay, sir; but I am sure I do not; and whatsoever a man denies, you are now bound to believe him.
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 untun’d cares?
Though now this grained face of mine be hid
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:
All these old witnesses, I cannot err,
Tell me thou art my son Antipholus.
I never saw my father in my life.
But seven years since, in Syracusa, boy,
Thou know’st we parted: but perhaps, my son,
Thou sham’st to acknowledge me in misery.
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.
I tell thee, Syracusian, twenty years
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 Abbess, withAntipholus of Syracuse andDromio of Syracuse.
Most mighty duke, behold a man much wrong’d.
[All gather to see him.
I see two husbands, or mine eyes deceive me!
One of these men is Genius to the other;
And so of these: which is the natural man,
And which the spirit? Who deciphers them?
I, sir, am Dromio: command him away.
I, sir, am Dromio: pray let me stay.
Ægeon art thou not? or else his ghost?
O! my old master; who hath bound him here?
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 call’d Æmilia,
That bore thee at a burden two fair sons.
O! if thou be’st the same Ægeon, speak,
And speak unto the same Æmilia!
If I dream not, thou art Æmilia:
If thou art she, tell me where is that son
That floated with thee on the fatal raft?
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.
What then became of them, I cannot tell;
I to this fortune that you see me in.
Why, here begins his morning story right:
These two Antipholus’, these two so like,
And these two Dromios, one in semblance,
Besides her urging of her wrack at sea;
These are the parents to these children,
Which accidentally are met together.
Antipholus, thou cam’st from Corinth first?
No, sir, not I; I came from Syracuse.
Stay, stand apart; I know not which is which.
I came from Corinth, my most gracious lord,—
And I with him.
Brought to this town by that most famous warrior,
Duke Menaphon, your most renowned uncle.
Which of you two did dine with me to-day?
I, gentle mistress.
And are not you my husband?
No; I say nay to that.
And so do I; yet did she call me so;
And this fair gentlewoman, her sister here,
Did call me brother. [ToLuciana.] What I told you then,
I hope I shall have leisure to make good,
If this be not a dream I see and hear.
That is the chain, sir, which you had of me.
I think it be, sir; I deny it not.
And you, sir, for this chain arrested me.
I think I did, sir; I deny it not.
I sent you money, sir, to be your bail,
By Dromio; but I think he brought it not.
No, none by me.
This purse of ducats I receiv’d from you,
And Dromio, my man, did bring them me.
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.
These ducats pawn I for my father here.
It shall not need: thy father hath his life.
Sir, I must have that diamond from you.
There, take it; and much thanks for my good cheer.
Renowned duke, vouchsafe to take the pains
To go with us into the abbey here,
And hear at large discoursed all our fortunes;
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
Of you, my sons; and, till this present hour
My heavy burdens ne’er delivered.
The duke, my husband, and my children both,
And you the calendars of their nativity,
Go to a gossip’s feast, and joy with me:
After so long grief such festivity!
With all my heart I’ll gossip at this feast.
[ExeuntDuke, Abbess, Ægeon, Courtezan, Merchant, Angelo,and Attendants.
Master, shall I fetch your stuff from shipboard?
Dromio, what stuff of mine hast thou embark’d?
Your goods that lay at host, sir, in the Centaur.
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.
[ExeuntAntipholus of Syracuse andAntipholus of Ephesus, AdrianaandLuciana.
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.
Methinks you are my glass, and not my brother:
I see by you I am a sweet-fac’d youth.
Will you walk in to see their gossiping?
Not I, sir; you are my elder.
That’s a question: how shall we try it?
We’ll draw cuts for the senior: till then lead thou first.
Nay, then, thus:
We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.