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Dr. Drake, in defending our author from the indiscriminate censure of Steevens, observes, that if we consider the construction of the fable, the narrowness of its basis, and that its powers of entertainment are almost exclusively confined to a continued deception of the external senses, we must confess that Shakspeare bas not only improved on the Plautian model, but, making allowance for a somewhat too coarse vein of humor, has given to his production all the interest and variety that the nature and the limits of his subject would permit.'
A rich merchant of Syracuse, named Ægeon, and a poor man
of the same city, become the fathers of twin sons exactly resembling each other in feature : the children of the latter are purchased by the citizen, who bestows them on his sons as attendants. Ægeon, with his wife and family, shortly after visits Epidamnum; and on their return, the ship in which they sail is split asunder by a violent storm, which separates the husband from the wife, and each of the twin brothers from their respective counterparts. Ægeon, with his younger son and attendant, is rescued from his perilous condition, and conveyed to Syracuse. Arrived at years of maturity, the young man is anxious to procure some intelligence of his mother and brother, and, with the consent of his father, quits his home, and at length, in company with his servant, arrives at Ephesus, where the elder Antipholus, who is separated from his mother, has long resided, in high favor with the duke, at whose desire he has united himself to a lady of fortune, who mistakes the stranger for her husband, insisting that he shall accompany her home to dinner : the real husband arrives during the repast, and finds his own doors barred against his entrance. The perplexities, arising from the confusion of the masters and their servants, induce the Syracusan youth to suppose bimself under the influence of witchcraft, and he takes refuge in a religious house, whither his mother had retired, and had long presided as abbess. The Ephesian dame, supposing the refugee to be her husband, complains to the duke of the conduct of the abbess, who refuses to deliver him up to the custody of his wife. The simultaneous appearance of the young men and their servants now unravels the mystery. In the mean time, Ægeon lands at Ephesus, and is about to lose his head for a violation of the law in entering a hostile city, when he is ransomed by his son, from whom he parted at Syracuse; and recognises, in the person of the abbess, his long-lost wife, Æmilia.
SOLinus, duke of Ephesus.
Twin brothers, and sons to ANTIPHOLUS of Ephesus,
Ægeon and Æmilia, but unANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse,
known to each other. Dromio of Ephesus, 5 Twin brothers, and attendants on the DROMIO of Syracuse, two Antipholuses. BALTHAZAR, a merchant. ANGELO, a goldsmith. A MERCHANT, creditor to Angelo. PINch, a schoolmaster and a conjurer.
Æmilia, wife to Ægeon, an abbess at Ephesus.
Jailer, Officers, and other Attendants.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
A hall in the Duke's palace.
Duke. Merchant of Syracusa, plead no more.
Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies,
Duke. Well, Syracusian, say, in brief, the cause
· Not by any criminal act, but by natural affection.