The Comedy of Errors, by William Shakespeare

Act IV

Scene I. A public place.

Enter Second Merchant, Angelo, and an Officer

Second Merchant You know since Pentecost the sum is due,
And since I have not much importuned you;
Nor now I had not, but that I am bound
To Persia, and want guilders for my voyage:
Therefore make present satisfaction,
Or I’ll attach you by this officer.

Angelo Even just the sum that I do owe to you
Is growing to me by Antipholus,
And in the instant that I met with you
He had of me a chain: at five o’clock
I shall receive the money for the same.
Pleaseth you walk with me down to his house,
I will discharge my bond and thank you too.

Enter Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus from the courtezan’s

Officer That labour may you save: see where he comes.

Antipholus of Ephesus While I go to the goldsmith’s house, go thou
And buy a rope’s end: that will I bestow
Among my wife and her confederates,
For locking me out of my doors by day.
But, soft! I see the goldsmith. Get thee gone;
Buy thou a rope and bring it home to me.

Dromio of Ephesus I buy a thousand pound a year: I buy a rope.


Antipholus of Ephesus A man is well holp up that trusts to you:
I promised your presence and the chain;
But neither chain nor goldsmith came to me.
Belike you thought our love would last too long,
If it were chain’d together, and therefore came not.

Angelo Saving your merry humour, here’s the note
How much your chain weighs to the utmost carat,
The fineness of the gold and chargeful fashion.
Which doth amount to three odd ducats more
Than I stand debted to this gentleman:
I pray you, see him presently discharged,
For he is bound to sea and stays but for it.

Antipholus of Ephesus I am not furnish’d with the present money;
Besides, I have some business in the town.
Good signior, take the stranger to my house
And with you take the chain and bid my wife
Disburse the sum on the receipt thereof:
Perchance I will be there as soon as you.

Angelo Then you will bring the chain to her yourself?

Antipholus of Ephesus No; bear it with you, lest I come not time enough.

Angelo Well, sir, I will. Have you the chain about you?

Antipholus of Ephesus An if I have not, sir, I hope you have;
Or else you may return without your money.

Angelo Nay, come, I pray you, sir, give me the chain:
Both wind and tide stays for this gentleman,
And I, to blame, have held him here too long.

Antipholus of Ephesus Good Lord! you use this dalliance to excuse
Your breach of promise to the Porpentine.
I should have chid you for not bringing it,
But, like a shrew, you first begin to brawl.

Second Merchant The hour steals on; I pray you, sir, dispatch.

Angelo You hear how he importunes me; — the chain!

Antipholus of Ephesus Why, give it to my wife and fetch your money.

Angelo Come, come, you know I gave it you even now.
Either send the chain or send me by some token.

Antipholus of Ephesus Fie, now you run this humour out of breath, where’s the chain? I pray you, let me see it.

Second Merchant My business cannot brook this dalliance.
Good sir, say whether you’ll answer me or no:
If not, I’ll leave him to the officer.

Antipholus of Ephesus I answer you! what should I answer you?

Angelo The money that you owe me for the chain.

Antipholus of Ephesus I owe you none till I receive the chain.

Angelo You know I gave it you half an hour since.

Antipholus of Ephesus You gave me none: you wrong me much to say so.

Angelo You wrong me more, sir, in denying it:
Consider how it stands upon my credit.

Second Merchant Well, officer, arrest him at my suit.

Officer I do; and charge you in the duke’s name to obey me.

Angelo This touches me in reputation.
Either consent to pay this sum for me
Or I attach you by this officer.

Antipholus of Ephesus Consent to pay thee that I never had!
Arrest me, foolish fellow, if thou darest.

Angelo Here is thy fee; arrest him, officer,
I would not spare my brother in this case,
If he should scorn me so apparently.

Officer I do arrest you, sir: you hear the suit.

Antipholus of Ephesus I do obey thee till I give thee bail.
But, sirrah, you shall buy this sport as dear
As all the metal in your shop will answer.

Angelo Sir, sir, I will have law in Ephesus,
To your notorious shame; I doubt it not.

Enter Dromio of Syracuse, from the bay

Dromio of Syracuse Master, there is a bark of Epidamnum
That stays but till her owner comes aboard,
And then, sir, she bears away. Our fraughtage, sir,
I have convey’d aboard; and I have bought
The oil, the balsamum and aqua-vitae.
The ship is in her trim; the merry wind
Blows fair from land: they stay for nought at all
But for their owner, master, and yourself.

Antipholus of Ephesus How now! a madman! Why, thou peevish sheep,
What ship of Epidamnum stays for me?

Dromio of Syracuse A ship you sent me to, to hire waftage.

Antipholus of Ephesus Thou drunken slave, I sent thee for a rope;
And told thee to what purpose and what end.

Dromio of Syracuse You sent me for a rope’s end as soon:
You sent me to the bay, sir, for a bark.

Antipholus of Ephesus I will debate this matter at more leisure
And teach your ears to list me with more heed.
To Adriana, villain, hie thee straight:
Give her this key, and tell her, in the desk
That’s cover’d o’er with Turkish tapestry,
There is a purse of ducats; let her send it:
Tell her I am arrested in the street
And that shall bail me; hie thee, slave, be gone!
On, officer, to prison till it come.

Exeunt Second Merchant, Angelo, Officer, and Antipholus of Ephesus

Dromio of Syracuse To Adriana! that is where we dined,
Where Dowsabel did claim me for her husband:
She is too big, I hope, for me to compass.
Thither I must, although against my will,
For servants must their masters’ minds fulfil.


Scene II. The house of Antipholus of Ephesus.

Enter Adriana and Luciana

Adriana Ah, Luciana, did he tempt thee so?
Mightst thou perceive austerely in his eye
That he did plead in earnest? yea or no?
Look’d he or red or pale, or sad or merrily?
What observation madest thou in this case
Of his heart’s meteors tilting in his face?

Luciana First he denied you had in him no right.

Adriana He meant he did me none; the more my spite.

Luciana Then swore he that he was a stranger here.

Adriana And true he swore, though yet forsworn he were.

Luciana Then pleaded I for you.

Adriana And what said he?

Luciana That love I begg’d for you he begg’d of me.

Adriana With what persuasion did he tempt thy love?

Luciana With words that in an honest suit might move.
First he did praise my beauty, then my speech.

Adriana Didst speak him fair?

Luciana Have patience, I beseech.

Adriana I cannot, nor I will not, hold me still;
My tongue, though not my heart, shall have his will.
He is deformed, crooked, old and sere,
Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind;
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.

Luciana Who would be jealous then of such a one?
No evil lost is wail’d when it is gone.

Adriana Ah, but I think him better than I say,
And yet would herein others’ eyes were worse.
Far from her nest the lapwing cries away:
My heart prays for him, though my tongue do curse.

Enter Dromio of Syracuse

Dromio of Syracuse Here! go; the desk, the purse! sweet, now, make haste.

Luciana How hast thou lost thy breath?

Dromio of Syracuse By running fast.

Adriana Where is thy master, Dromio? is he well?

Dromio of Syracuse No, he’s in Tartar limbo, worse than hell.
A devil in an everlasting garment hath him;
One whose hard heart is button’d up with steel;
A fiend, a fury, pitiless and rough;
A wolf, nay, worse, a fellow all in buff;
A back-friend, a shoulder-clapper, one that countermands
The passages of alleys, creeks and narrow lands;
A hound that runs counter and yet draws dryfoot well;
One that before the judgement carries poor souls to hell.

Adriana Why, man, what is the matter?

Dromio of Syracuse I do not know the matter: he is ’rested on the case.

Adriana What, is he arrested? Tell me at whose suit.

Dromio of Syracuse I know not at whose suit he is arrested well;
But he’s in a suit of buff which ’rested him, that can I tell.
Will you send him, mistress, redemption, the money in his desk?

Adriana Go fetch it, sister.

Exit Luciana

This I wonder at,
That he, unknown to me, should be in debt.
Tell me, was he arrested on a band?

Dromio of Syracuse Not on a band, but on a stronger thing;
A chain, a chain! Do you not hear it ring?

Adriana What, the chain?

Dromio of Syracuse No, no, the bell: ’tis time that I were gone:
It was two ere I left him, and now the clock strikes one.

Adriana The hours come back! that did I never hear.

Dromio of Syracuse O, yes; if any hour meet a sergeant, a’ turns back for very fear.

Adriana As if Time were in debt! how fondly dost thou reason!

Dromio of Syracuse Time is a very bankrupt, and owes more than he’s worth, to season.
Nay, he’s a thief too: have you not heard men say
That Time comes stealing on by night and day?
If Time be in debt and theft, and a sergeant in the way,
Hath he not reason to turn back an hour in a day?

Re-enter Luciana with a purse

Adriana Go, Dromio; there’s the money, bear it straight;
And bring thy master home immediately.
Come, sister: I am press’d down with conceit —
Conceit, my comfort and my injury.


Scene III. A public place.

Enter Antipholus of Syracuse

Antipholus of Syracuse There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me
As if I were their well-acquainted friend;
And every one doth call me by my name.
Some tender money to me; some invite me;
Some other give me thanks for kindnesses;
Some offer me commodities to buy:
Even now a tailor call’d me in his shop
And show’d me silks that he had bought for me,
And therewithal took measure of my body.
Sure, these are but imaginary wiles
And Lapland sorcerers inhabit here.

Enter Dromio Of Syracuse

Dromio of Syracuse Master, here’s the gold you sent me for. What, have you got the picture of old Adam new-apparelled?

Antipholus of Syracuse What gold is this? what Adam dost thou mean?

Dromio of Syracuse Not that Adam that kept the Paradise but that Adam that keeps the prison: he that goes in the calf’s skin that was killed for the Prodigal; he that came behind you, sir, like an evil angel, and bid you forsake your liberty.

Antipholus of Syracuse I understand thee not.

Dromio of Syracuse No? why, ’tis a plain case: he that went, like a bass-viol, in a case of leather; the man, sir, that, when gentlemen are tired, gives them a sob and ‘rests them; he, sir, that takes pity on decayed men and gives them suits of durance; he that sets up his rest to do more exploits with his mace than a morris-pike.

Antipholus of Syracuse What, thou meanest an officer?

Dromio of Syracuse Ay, sir, the sergeant of the band, he that brings any man to answer it that breaks his band; one that thinks a man always going to bed, and says, ‘God give you good rest!’

Antipholus of Syracuse Well, sir, there rest in your foolery. Is there any

Dromio of Syracuse Why, sir, I brought you word an hour since that the bark Expedition put forth to-night; and then were you hindered by the sergeant, to tarry for the hoy Delay. Here are the angels that you sent for to deliver you.

Antipholus of Syracuse The fellow is distract, and so am I;
And here we wander in illusions:
Some blessed power deliver us from hence!

Enter a Courtezan

Courtezan Well met, well met, Master Antipholus.
I see, sir, you have found the goldsmith now:
Is that the chain you promised me to-day?

Antipholus of Syracuse Satan, avoid! I charge thee, tempt me not.

Dromio of Syracuse Master, is this Mistress Satan?

Antipholus of Syracuse It is the devil.

Dromio of Syracuse Nay, she is worse, she is the devil’s dam; and here she comes in the habit of a light wench: and thereof comes that the wenches say ‘God damn me;’ that’s as much to say ‘God make me a light wench.’ It is written, they appear to men like angels of light: light is an effect of fire, and fire will burn; ergo, light wenches will burn. Come not near her.

Courtezan Your man and you are marvellous merry, sir.
Will you go with me? We’ll mend our dinner here?

Dromio of Syracuse Master, if you do, expect spoon-meat; or bespeak a long spoon.

Antipholus of Syracuse Why, Dromio?

Dromio of Syracuse Marry, he must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil.

Antipholus of Syracuse Avoid then, fiend! what tell’st thou me of supping?
Thou art, as you are all, a sorceress:
I conjure thee to leave me and be gone.

Courtezan Give me the ring of mine you had at dinner,
Or, for my diamond, the chain you promised,
And I’ll be gone, sir, and not trouble you.

Dromio of Syracuse Some devils ask but the parings of one’s nail,
A rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin,
A nut, a cherry-stone;
But she, more covetous, would have a chain.
Master, be wise: an if you give it her,
The devil will shake her chain and fright us with it.

Courtezan I pray you, sir, my ring, or else the chain:
I hope you do not mean to cheat me so.

Antipholus of Syracuse Avaunt, thou witch! Come, Dromio, let us go.

Dromio of Syracuse ‘Fly pride,’ says the peacock: mistress, that you know.

Exeunt Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse

Courtezan Now, out of doubt Antipholus is mad,
Else would he never so demean himself.
A ring he hath of mine worth forty ducats,
And for the same he promised me a chain:
Both one and other he denies me now.
The reason that I gather he is mad,
Besides this present instance of his rage,
Is a mad tale he told to-day at dinner,
Of his own doors being shut against his entrance.
Belike his wife, acquainted with his fits,
On purpose shut the doors against his way.
My way is now to hie home to his house,
And tell his wife that, being lunatic,
He rush’d into my house and took perforce
My ring away. This course I fittest choose;
For forty ducats is too much to lose.


Scene IV. A street.

Enter Antipholus of Ephesus and the Officer

Antipholus of Ephesus Fear me not, man; I will not break away:
I’ll give thee, ere I leave thee, so much money,
To warrant thee, as I am ’rested for.
My wife is in a wayward mood to-day,
And will not lightly trust the messenger
That I should be attach’d in Ephesus,
I tell you, ’twill sound harshly in her ears.

Enter Dromio of Ephesus with a rope’s-end

Here comes my man; I think he brings the money.
How now, sir! have you that I sent you for?

Dromio of Ephesus Here’s that, I warrant you, will pay them all.

Antipholus of Ephesus But where’s the money?

Dromio of Ephesus Why, sir, I gave the money for the rope.

Antipholus of Ephesus Five hundred ducats, villain, for a rope?

Dromio of Ephesus I’ll serve you, sir, five hundred at the rate.

Antipholus of Ephesus To what end did I bid thee hie thee home?

Dromio of Ephesus To a rope’s-end, sir; and to that end am I returned.

Antipholus of Ephesus And to that end, sir, I will welcome you.

Beating him

Officer Good sir, be patient.

Dromio of Ephesus Nay, ’tis for me to be patient; I am in adversity.

Officer Good, now, hold thy tongue.

Dromio of Ephesus Nay, rather persuade him to hold his hands.

Antipholus of Ephesus Thou whoreson, senseless villain!

Dromio of Ephesus I would I were senseless, sir, that I might not feel your blows.

Antipholus of Ephesus Thou art sensible in nothing but blows, and so is an ass.

Dromio of Ephesus I am an ass, indeed; you may prove it by my long ears. I have served him from the hour of my nativity to this instant, and have nothing at his hands for my service but blows. When I am cold, he heats me with beating; when I am warm, he cools me with beating; I am waked with it when I sleep; raised with it when I sit; driven out of doors with it when I go from home; welcomed home with it when I return; nay, I bear it on my shoulders, as a beggar wont her brat; and, I think when he hath lamed me, I shall beg with it from door to door.

Antipholus of Ephesus Come, go along; my wife is coming yonder.

Enter Adriana, Luciana, the Courtezan, and Pinch

Dromio of Ephesus Mistress, ‘respice finem,’ respect your end; or rather, the prophecy like the parrot, ‘beware the rope’s-end.’

Antipholus of Ephesus Wilt thou still talk?

Beating him

Courtezan How say you now? is not your husband mad?

Adriana His incivility confirms no less.
Good Doctor Pinch, you are a conjurer;
Establish him in his true sense again,
And I will please you what you will demand.

Luciana Alas, how fiery and how sharp he looks!

Courtezan Mark how he trembles in his ecstasy!

Pinch Give me your hand and let me feel your pulse.

Antipholus of Ephesus There is my hand, and let it feel your ear.

Striking him

Pinch I charge thee, Satan, housed within this man,
To yield possession to my holy prayers
And to thy state of darkness hie thee straight:
I conjure thee by all the saints in heaven!

Antipholus of Ephesus Peace, doting wizard, peace! I am not mad.

Adriana O, that thou wert not, poor distressed soul!

Antipholus of Ephesus You minion, you, are these your customers?
Did this companion with the saffron face
Revel and feast it at my house to-day,
Whilst upon me the guilty doors were shut
And I denied to enter in my house?

Adriana O husband, God doth know you dined at home;
Where would you had remain’d until this time,
Free from these slanders and this open shame!

Antipholus of Ephesus Dined at home! Thou villain, what sayest thou?

Dromio of Ephesus Sir, sooth to say, you did not dine at home.

Antipholus of Ephesus Were not my doors lock’d up and I shut out?

Dromio of Ephesus Perdie, your doors were lock’d and you shut out.

Antipholus of Ephesus And did not she herself revile me there?

Dromio of Ephesus Sans fable, she herself reviled you there.

Antipholus of Ephesus Did not her kitchen-maid rail, taunt, and scorn me?

Dromio of Ephesus Certes, she did; the kitchen-vestal scorn’d you.

Antipholus of Ephesus And did not I in rage depart from thence?

Dromio of Ephesus In verity you did; my bones bear witness,
That since have felt the vigour of his rage.

Adriana Is’t good to soothe him in these contraries?

Pinch It is no shame: the fellow finds his vein,
And yielding to him humours well his frenzy.

Antipholus of Ephesus Thou hast suborn’d the goldsmith to arrest me.

Adriana Alas, I sent you money to redeem you,
By Dromio here, who came in haste for it.

Dromio of Ephesus Money by me! heart and goodwill you might;
But surely master, not a rag of money.

Antipholus of Ephesus Went’st not thou to her for a purse of ducats?

Adriana He came to me and I deliver’d it.

Luciana And I am witness with her that she did.

Dromio of Ephesus God and the rope-maker bear me witness
That I was sent for nothing but a rope!

Pinch Mistress, both man and master is possess’d;
I know it by their pale and deadly looks:
They must be bound and laid in some dark room.

Antipholus of Ephesus Say, wherefore didst thou lock me forth to-day?
And why dost thou deny the bag of gold?

Adriana I did not, gentle husband, lock thee forth.

Dromio of Ephesus And, gentle master, I received no gold;
But I confess, sir, that we were lock’d out.

Adriana Dissembling villain, thou speak’st false in both.

Antipholus of Ephesus Dissembling harlot, thou art false in all;
And art confederate with a damned pack
To make a loathsome abject scorn of me:
But with these nails I’ll pluck out these false eyes
That would behold in me this shameful sport.

Enter three or four, and offer to bind him. He strives

Adriana O, bind him, bind him! let him not come near me.

Pinch More company! The fiend is strong within him.

Luciana Ay me, poor man, how pale and wan he looks!

Antipholus of Ephesus What, will you murder me? Thou gaoler, thou,
I am thy prisoner: wilt thou suffer them
To make a rescue?

Officer   Masters, let him go
He is my prisoner, and you shall not have him.

Pinch Go bind this man, for he is frantic too.

They offer to bind Dromio of Ephesus

Adriana What wilt thou do, thou peevish officer?
Hast thou delight to see a wretched man
Do outrage and displeasure to himself?

Officer He is my prisoner: if I let him go,
The debt he owes will be required of me.

Adriana I will discharge thee ere I go from thee:
Bear me forthwith unto his creditor,
And, knowing how the debt grows, I will pay it.
Good master doctor, see him safe convey’d
Home to my house. O most unhappy day!

Antipholus of Ephesus O most unhappy strumpet!

Dromio of Ephesus Master, I am here entered in bond for you.

Antipholus of Ephesus Out on thee, villain! wherefore dost thou mad me?

Dromio of Ephesus Will you be bound for nothing? be mad, good master: cry ‘The devil!’

Luciana God help, poor souls, how idly do they talk!

Adriana Go bear him hence. Sister, go you with me.

Exeunt all but Adriana, Luciana, Officer and Courtezan

Say now, whose suit is he arrested at?

Officer One Angelo, a goldsmith: do you know him?

Adriana I know the man. What is the sum he owes?

Officer Two hundred ducats.

Adriana Say, how grows it due?

Officer Due for a chain your husband had of him.

Adriana He did bespeak a chain for me, but had it not.

Courtezan When as your husband all in rage to-day
Came to my house and took away my ring —
The ring I saw upon his finger now —
Straight after did I meet him with a chain.

Adriana It may be so, but I did never see it.
Come, gaoler, bring me where the goldsmith is:
I long to know the truth hereof at large.

Enter Antipholus of Syracuse with his rapier drawn, and Dromio of Syracuse

Luciana God, for thy mercy! they are loose again.

Adriana And come with naked swords.
Let’s call more help to have them bound again.

Officer Away! they’ll kill us.

Exeunt all but Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse

Antipholus of Syracuse I see these witches are afraid of swords.

Dromio of Syracuse She that would be your wife now ran from you.

Antipholus of Syracuse Come to the Centaur; fetch our stuff from thence:
I long that we were safe and sound aboard.

Dromio of Syracuse Faith, stay here this night; they will surely do us no harm: you saw they speak us fair, give us gold: methinks they are such a gentle nation that, but for the mountain of mad flesh that claims marriage of me, I could find in my heart to stay here still and turn witch.

Antipholus of Syracuse I will not stay to-night for all the town;
Therefore away, to get our stuff aboard.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59