Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > The Comedy of Errors
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Comedy of Errors
 
Act II. Scene II.
 
A public Place.
 
Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse.
  Ant. S.  The gold I gave to Dromio is laid up
Safe at the Centaur; and the heedful slave
Is wander’d forth, in care to seek me out.        5
By computation, and mine host’s report,
I could not speak with Dromio since at first
I sent him from the mart. See, here he comes.
 
Enter DROMIO of Syracuse.
How now, sir! is your merry humour alter’d?        10
As you love strokes, so jest with me again.
You know no Centaur? You receiv’d no gold?
Your mistress sent to have me home to dinner?
My house was at the Phœnix? Wast thou mad,
That thus so madly thou didst answer me?        15
  Dro. S.  What answer, sir? when spake I such a word?
  Ant. S.  Even now, even here, not half-an-hour since.
  Dro. S.  I did not see you since you sent me hence,
Home to the Centaur, with the gold you gave me.
  Ant. S.  Villain, thou didst deny the gold’s receipt,        20
And told’st me of a mistress and a dinner;
For which, I hope, thou felt’st I was displeas’d.
  Dro. S.  I am glad to see you in this merry vein:
What means this jest? I pray you, master, tell me.
  Ant. S.  Yea, dost thou jeer, and flout me in the teeth?        25
Think’st thou I jest? Hold, take thou that, and that.  [Beating him.
  Dro. S.  Hold, sir, for God’s sake! now your jest is earnest:
Upon what bargain do you give it me?
  Ant. S.  Because that I familiarly sometimes
Do use you for my fool, and chat with you,        30
Your sauciness will jest upon my love,
And make a common of my serious hours.
When the sun shines let foolish gnats make sport,
But creep in crannies when he hides his beams.
If you will jest with me, know my aspect,        35
And fashion your demeanour to my looks,
Or I will beat this method in your sconce.
  Dro. S.  Sconce, call you it? so you would leave battering, I had rather have it a head: an you use these blows long, I must get a sconce for my head and insconce it too; or else I shall seek my wit in my shoulders. But, I pray, sir, why am I beaten?
  Ant. S.  Dost thou not know?
  Dro. S.  Nothing, sir, but that I am beaten.        40
  Ant. S.  Shall I tell you why?
  Dro. S.  Ay, sir, and wherefore; for they say every why hath a wherefore.
  Ant. S.  Why, first,—for flouting me; and then, wherefore,—
For urging it the second time to me.
  Dro. S.  Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season,        45
When, in the why and the wherefore is neither rime nor reason?
Well, sir, I thank you.
  Ant. S.  Thank me, sir! for what?
  Dro. S.  Marry, sir, for this something that you gave me for nothing.
  Ant. S.  I’ll make you amends next, to give you nothing for something. But say, sir, is it dinner-time?        50
  Dro. S.  No, sir: I think the meat wants that I have.
  Ant. S.  In good time, sir; what’s that?
  Dro. S.  Basting.
  Ant. S.  Well, sir, then ’twill be dry.
  Dro. S.  If it be, sir, I pray you eat none of it.        55
  Ant. S.  Your reason?
  Dro. S.  Lest it make you choleric, and purchase me another dry basting.
  Ant. S.  Well, sir, learn to jest in good time: there’s a time for all things.
  Dro. S.  I durst have denied that, before you were so choleric.
  Ant. S.  By what rule, sir?        60
  Dro. S.  Marry, sir, by a rule as plain as the plain bald pate of Father Time himself.
  Ant. S.  Let’s hear it.
  Dro. S.  There’s no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature.
  Ant. S.  May he not do it by fine and recovery?
  Dro. S.  Yes, to pay a fine for a periwig and recover the lost hair of another man.        65
  Ant. S.  Why is Time such a niggard of hair, being, as it is, so plentiful an excrement?
  Dro. S.  Because it is a blessing that he bestows on beasts: and what he hath scanted men in hair, he hath given them in wit.
  Ant. S.  Why, but there’s many a man hath more hair than wit.
  Dro. S.  Not a man of those but he hath the wit to lose his hair.
  Ant. S.  Why, thou didst conclude hairy men plain dealers without wit.        70
  Dro. S.  The plainer dealer, the sooner lost: yet he loseth it in a kind of jollity.
  Ant. S.  For what reason?
  Dro. S.  For two; and sound ones too.
  Ant. S.  Nay, not sound, I pray you.
  Dro. S.  Sure ones then.        75
  Ant. S.  Nay, not sure, in a thing falsing.
  Dro. S.  Certain ones, then.
  Ant. S.  Name them.
  Dro. S.  The one, to save the money that he spends in tiring; the other, that at dinner they should not drop in his porridge.
  Ant. S.  You would all this time have proved there is no time for all things.        80
  Dro. S.  Marry, and did, sir; namely, no time to recover hair lost by nature.
  Ant. S.  But your reason was not substantial, why there is no time to recover.
  Dro. S.  Thus I mend it: Time himself is bald, and therefore to the world’s end will have bald followers.
  Ant. S.  I knew ’twould be a bald conclusion. But soft! who wafts us yonder?
 
Enter ADRIANA and LUCIANA.
        85
  Adr.  Ay, ay, Antipholus, look strange, and frown:
Some other mistress hath thy sweet aspects,
I am not Adriana, nor thy wife.
The time was once when thou unurg’d wouldst vow
That never words were music to thine ear,        90
That never object pleasing in thine eye,
That never touch well welcome to thy hand,
That never meat sweet-savour’d in thy taste,
Unless I spake, or look’d, or touch’d, or carv’d to thee.
How comes it now, my husband, O! how comes it,        95
That thou art thus estranged from thyself?
Thyself I call it, being strange to me,
That, undividable, incorporate,
Am better than thy dear self’s better part.
Ah! do not tear away thyself from me,        100
For know, my love, as easy mayst thou fall
A drop of water in the breaking gulf,
And take unmingled thence that drop again,
Without addition or diminishing,
As take from me thyself and not me too.        105
How dearly would it touch thee to the quick,
Shouldst thou but hear I were licentious,
And that this body, consecrate to thee,
By ruffian lust should be contaminate!
Wouldst thou not spit at me and spurn at me,        110
And hurl the name of husband in my face,
And tear the stain’d skin off my harlot-brow,
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring
And break it with a deep-divorcing vow?
I know thou canst; and therefore, see thou do it.        115
I am possess’d with an adulterate blot;
My blood is mingled with the crime of lust:
For if we two be one and thou play false,
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted by thy contagion.        120
Keep then fair league and truce with thy true bed;
I live unstain’d, thou undishonoured.
  Ant. S.  Plead you to me, fair dame? I know you not:
In Ephesus I am but two hours old,
As strange unto your town as to your talk;        125
Who, every word by all my wit being scann’d,
Want wit in all one word to understand.
  Luc.  Fie, brother: how the world is chang’d with you!
When were you wont to use my sister thus?
She sent for you by Dromio home to dinner.        130
  Ant. S.  By Dromio?
  Dro. S.  By me?
  Adr.  By thee; and this thou didst return from him,
That he did buffet thee, and in his blows,
Denied my house for his, me for his wife.        135
  Ant. S.  Did you converse, sir, with this gentle-woman?
What is the course and drift of your compact?
  Dro. S.  I, sir? I never saw her till this time.
  Ant. S.  Villain, thou liest; for even her very words
Didst thou deliver to me on the mart.        140
  Dro. S.  I never spake with her in all my life.
  Ant. S.  How can she thus then, call us by our names,
Unless it be by inspiration?
  Adr.  How ill agrees it with your gravity
To counterfeit thus grossly with your slave,        145
Abetting him to thwart me in my mood!
Be it my wrong you are from me exempt,
But wrong not that wrong with a more contempt.
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine;
Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine,        150
Whose weakness, married to thy stronger state,
Makes me with thy strength to communicate:
If aught possess thee from me, it is dross,
Usurping ivy, brier, or idle moss;
Who, all for want of pruning, with intrusion        155
Infect thy sap and live on thy confusion.
  Ant. S.  To me she speaks; she moves me for her theme!
What! was I married to her in my dream?
Or sleep I now and think I hear all this?
What error drives our eyes and ears amiss?        160
Until I know this sure uncertainty,
I’ll entertain the offer’d fallacy.
  Luc.  Dromio, go bid the servants spread for dinner
  Dro. S.  O, for my beads! I cross me for a sinner.
This is the fairy land: O! spite of spites.        165
We talk with goblins, owls, and elvish sprites:
If we obey them not, this will ensue,
They’ll suck our breath, or pinch us black and blue.
  Luc.  Why prat’st thou to thyself and answer’st not?
Dromio, thou drone, thou snail, thou slug, thou sot!        170
  Dro. S.  I am transformed, master, am not I?
  Ant. S.  I think thou art, in mind, and so am I.
  Dro. S.  Nay, master, both in mind and in my shape.
  Ant. S.  Thou hast thine own form.
  Dro. S.        No, I am an ape.        175
  Luc.  If thou art chang’d to aught, ’tis to an ass.
  Dro. S.  ’Tis true; she rides me and I long for grass.
’Tis so, I am an ass; else it could never be
But I should know her as well as she knows me.
  Adr.  Come, come; no longer will I be a fool,        180
To put the finger in the eye and weep,
Whilst man and master laugh my woes to scorn.
Come, sir, to dinner. Dromio, keep the gate.
Husband, I’ll dine above with you to-day,
And shrive you of a thousand idle pranks.        185
Sirrah, if any ask you for your master,
Say he dines forth, and let no creature enter.
Come, sister. Dromio, play the porter well.
  Ant. S.  [Aside.]  Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?
Sleeping or waking? mad or well-advis’d?        190
Known unto these, and to myself disguis’d!
I’ll say as they say, and persever so,
And in this mist at all adventures go.
  Dro. S.  Master, shall I be porter at the gate?
  Adr.  Ay; and let none enter, lest I break your pate.        195
  Luc.  Come, come, Antipholus; we dine too late.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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