Comedy of Errors By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 1

May it please your grace, Antipholus, my husband, —
Who 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 desp'rately 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,
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,
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 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, 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 scorch your face, and to disfigure you:

[Cry within.]

Hark, hark, I hear him, mistress; fly, be gone!

Come, stand by me; fear nothing. Guard with halberds.

Ah 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 there, past thought of human reason.


Justice, most gracious duke; oh, 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 peflur'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 Porcupine,
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-faced 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, outfacing 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.

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