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“ upon reason, now do you bring better proofs that “you are that same certain man; and in order to it, “answer me to certain questions. “Mer. I say I am Sosia, Amphitryon's man. “What reason have you to urge against it “Sos. What was your father's name “Mer. Davus; who was an honest husbandman, “whose sister's name was Harpage, that was married “ and died in a foreign country. “Sos. So far you are right, I must confess; and “your wife's name is “Mer. Bromia—a devilish shrew of her tongue, “ and a vixen of her hands, that leads me a mise** rable life— “Sos. By many a sorrowful token. This must be I. “Mer. I was once taken upon suspicion of burg“lary, and was whipped through Thebes, and brand“ed for my pains. “Sos. Right me again. But if you are I, as I be“gin to suspect, that whipping and branding might “have been passed over in silence for both our cre44 dits.” And yet, now I think on’t, if I am I, (as I am I) he cannot be I. All these circumstances he might have heard; but I will now interrogate him upon some private passages. [Aside..] What was Amphitryon's share of the booty Mer. A buckle of diamonds, consisting of five large stones, which was worn as an ornament by Pterelas. Sos. What does he intend to do with it
Mer. To present it to his wife, Alcmena. Sos. And where is it now Mer. In a case, sealed with my master’s coat of arms. Sos. This is prodigious, I confess!—but yet 'tis nothing, now I think on’t ; for some false brother may have revealed it to him. [Aside.]—But I have another question to ask you, of somewhat that passed only betwixt myself and me—If you are Sosia, what were you doing in the heat of battle Mer. What a wise man should, that has a respect for his own person. I ran into our tent, and hid myself amongst the baggage. Sos. [Aside..] Such another cutting answer, and I must provide myself of another name. [To him.] And how did you pass your time in that same tent You need not answer to every circumstance so exaštly now ; you must lie a little, that I may think you the more me. Mer. That cunning shall not serve your turn, to
circumvent me out of my name. I am for plain
naked truth—There stood a hogshead of old wine, which my lord reserved for his own drinking— Sos. [Aside.] Oh, the devil | As sure as death he must have hid himself in that hogshead, or he could never have known that. Mer. And by that hogshead, upon the ground, there lay the kind inviter and provoker of good drinking— Sos. Nay, now I have caught you—there was neither inviter nor provoker; for I was all alone.
Mer. A lusty gammon of Sos. Bacon!—That word has quite made an end of me—Let me see This must be I, in spite of me—But let me view him nearer. [Walks about Mercury with his dark lantern. Mer. What are you walking about me for, with your dark lantern ? Sos. No harm, friend; I am only surveying a parcel of earth here that I find we two are about to bargain for.—s Aside.] He's damnable like me, that's certain. Imprimis, there's the patch upon my nose, with a pox to him—Item, a very foolish face, with a long chin at the end on’t Item, one pair of shambling legs, with two splay feet belonging to them.— And—summa totalis—from head to foot all my body apparel. [To Mer.] Well, you are Sosia: there’s no denying it. But what am I then for my mind misgives me I am somebody still, if I knew but who I were. Mer. When I have a mind to be Sosia no more, then thou may’st be Sosia again. Sos. I have but one request more to thee—that, though not as Sosia, yet, as a stranger, I may go into that house, and carry a civil message to my lady. Mer. No, sirrah; not being Sosia, you have no message to deliver, nor lady in this house. Sos. Thou canst not be so barbarous, to let me lie in the streets all night, after such a journey and such a beating: and therefore I am resolved to knock at the door in my own defence. 2
Mer. If you come near the door, I recall my word, and break off the truce—and then expect— [Holds up his cudgel. Scs. No, the devil take me if I do expect—I have felt too well what sour fruit that crab-tree bears : I'll rather beat it back upon the hoof to my Lord Amphitryon, to see if he will acknowledge me for Sosia: if he does not, then I am no longer his slave; there's my freedom dearly purchased with a sore drubbing: if he does acknowledge me, then I am Sosia again; so far ’tis tolerably well ; but then I shall have a second drubbing for an unfortunate ambassador as I am ; and that's intolerable. [Exit. Mer. I have fobbed his excellency pretty well. Now let him return, and make the best of his credentials. But here comes Jupiter.
Enter Jupiter leading AlcMeNA, followed by PHAEDRA, Pages with torches before them.
Jup. Those torches are offensive; stand aloof: [To the Pages. For tho’ they bless me with thy heav'nly sight, [To her. They may disclose the secret I would hide. The Thebans must not know I have been here; Detracting crouds would blame me, that I stole These happy moments from my public charge, To consecrate to thee; and I could wish That none were witness of the thest, but she By whom it is approv’d—
Alc. So long an absence, and so short a stay! What, but one night One night of joy and love, Could only pay one night of cares and fears; And all the rest are an uncancel’d sum. jup. Alcmena, I must go. Alc. Not yet, my lord. Jup. Indeed I must. Alc. Indeed, you shall not go. Jup. Behold the ruddy streaks o'eryonder hills Those are the blushes of the breaking morn, That kindle day-light to this nether world. Alc. No matter for the day; it was but made To number out the hours of busy men. Let them be busy still, and still be wretched; And take their fill of anxious drudging day: But you and I will draw our curtains close, Extinguish day-light, and shut out the sun. Stay, then, my lord—I’ll bribe you with this kiss. “Mer. [Aside.] That's a plaguy little devil.— “What a roguish eye she has l—I begin to like her “strangely. She's the perquisite of my place, too; “for my lady's waiting woman is the proper fees of “my lord's chief gentleman.” jup. A bribe, indeed, that soon will bring me back; Though now it is not possible to stay. Alc. Not possible l—Alas, how short is life, If we compute alone those happy hours In which we wish to live! “Our seventy years “Are fill'd with pains, diseases, wants and woes, “And only dash'd with love—a little lovel D