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Curse his better angel from his side,
And fall to reprobation.

      — Othello, Act V Scene 2


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The Taming of the Shrew

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Prologue, con'd



      next scene .


  • Hostess. A pair of stocks, you rogue!
  • Christopher Sly. Y'are a baggage; the Slys are no rogues. Look in the
    chronicles: we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore, paucas 5
    pallabris; let the world slide. Sessa!
  • Hostess. You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?
  • Christopher Sly. No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy, go to thy cold bed
    and warm thee.
  • Hostess. I know my remedy; I must go fetch the third-borough. 10


  • Christopher Sly. Third, or fourth, or fifth borough, I'll answer him by law.
    I'll not budge an inch, boy; let him come, and kindly.
    [Falls asleep]
    Wind horns. Enter a LORD from hunting, with his train 15
  • Lord. Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds;
    Brach Merriman, the poor cur, is emboss'd;
    And couple Clowder with the deep-mouth'd brach.
    Saw'st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good
    At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault? 20
    I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.
  • First Huntsman. Why, Belman is as good as he, my lord;
    He cried upon it at the merest loss,
    And twice to-day pick'd out the dullest scent;
    Trust me, I take him for the better dog. 25
  • Lord. Thou art a fool; if Echo were as fleet,
    I would esteem him worth a dozen such.
    But sup them well, and look unto them all;
    To-morrow I intend to hunt again.
  • Lord. What's here? One dead, or drunk?
    See, doth he breathe?
  • Second Huntsman. He breathes, my lord. Were he not warm'd with ale,
    This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.
  • Lord. O monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies! 35
    Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
    Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
    What think you, if he were convey'd to bed,
    Wrapp'd in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,
    A most delicious banquet by his bed, 40
    And brave attendants near him when he wakes,
    Would not the beggar then forget himself?
  • Lord. Even as a flatt'ring dream or worthless fancy. 45
    Then take him up, and manage well the jest:
    Carry him gently to my fairest chamber,
    And hang it round with all my wanton pictures;
    Balm his foul head in warm distilled waters,
    And burn sweet wood to make the lodging sweet; 50
    Procure me music ready when he wakes,
    To make a dulcet and a heavenly sound;
    And if he chance to speak, be ready straight,
    And with a low submissive reverence
    Say 'What is it your honour will command?' 55
    Let one attend him with a silver basin
    Full of rose-water and bestrew'd with flowers;
    Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper,
    And say 'Will't please your lordship cool your hands?'
    Some one be ready with a costly suit, 60
    And ask him what apparel he will wear;
    Another tell him of his hounds and horse,
    And that his lady mourns at his disease;
    Persuade him that he hath been lunatic,
    And, when he says he is, say that he dreams, 65
    For he is nothing but a mighty lord.
    This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs;
    It will be pastime passing excellent,
    If it be husbanded with modesty.
  • First Huntsman. My lord, I warrant you we will play our part 70
    As he shall think by our true diligence
    He is no less than what we say he is.
  • Lord. Take him up gently, and to bed with him;
    And each one to his office when he wakes.
    [SLY is carried out. A trumpet sounds] 75
    Sirrah, go see what trumpet 'tis that sounds-
    [Exit SERVANT]
    Belike some noble gentleman that means,
    Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
    [Re-enter a SERVINGMAN] 80
    How now! who is it?
  • Servant. An't please your honour, players
    That offer service to your lordship.
  • Lord. Bid them come near.
    Now, fellows, you are welcome. 85
  • Lord. Do you intend to stay with me to-night?
  • Player. So please your lordship to accept our duty.
  • Lord. With all my heart. This fellow I remember 90
    Since once he play'd a farmer's eldest son;
    'Twas where you woo'd the gentlewoman so well.
    I have forgot your name; but, sure, that part
    Was aptly fitted and naturally perform'd.
  • Player. I think 'twas Soto that your honour means. 95
  • Lord. 'Tis very true; thou didst it excellent.
    Well, you are come to me in happy time,
    The rather for I have some sport in hand
    Wherein your cunning can assist me much.
    There is a lord will hear you play to-night; 100
    But I am doubtful of your modesties,
    Lest, over-eying of his odd behaviour,
    For yet his honour never heard a play,
    You break into some merry passion
    And so offend him; for I tell you, sirs, 105
    If you should smile, he grows impatient.
  • Player. Fear not, my lord; we can contain ourselves,
    Were he the veriest antic in the world.
  • Lord. Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery,
    And give them friendly welcome every one; 110
    Let them want nothing that my house affords.
    [Exit one with the PLAYERS]
    Sirrah, go you to Bartholomew my page,
    And see him dress'd in all suits like a lady;
    That done, conduct him to the drunkard's chamber, 115
    And call him 'madam,' do him obeisance.
    Tell him from me- as he will win my love-
    He bear himself with honourable action,
    Such as he hath observ'd in noble ladies
    Unto their lords, by them accomplished; 120
    Such duty to the drunkard let him do,
    With soft low tongue and lowly courtesy,
    And say 'What is't your honour will command,
    Wherein your lady and your humble wife
    May show her duty and make known her love?' 125
    And then with kind embracements, tempting kisses,
    And with declining head into his bosom,
    Bid him shed tears, as being overjoyed
    To see her noble lord restor'd to health,
    Who for this seven years hath esteemed him 130
    No better than a poor and loathsome beggar.
    And if the boy have not a woman's gift
    To rain a shower of commanded tears,
    An onion will do well for such a shift,
    Which, in a napkin being close convey'd, 135
    Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
    See this dispatch'd with all the haste thou canst;
    Anon I'll give thee more instructions. Exit a SERVINGMAN
    I know the boy will well usurp the grace,
    Voice, gait, and action, of a gentlewoman; 140
    I long to hear him call the drunkard 'husband';
    And how my men will stay themselves from laughter
    When they do homage to this simple peasant.
    I'll in to counsel them; haply my presence
    May well abate the over-merry spleen, 145
    Which otherwise would grow into extremes. Exeunt
. previous scene      

Prologue, continued


Enter aloft SLY, with ATTENDANTS; some with apparel, basin and ewer, and other appurtenances; and LORD

  • Second Servant. Will't please your honour taste of these conserves? 150
  • Christopher Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me 'honour' nor 'lordship.' I
    ne'er drank sack in my life; and if you give me any conserves,
    give me conserves of beef. Ne'er ask me what raiment I'll wear,
    for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than 155
    legs, nor no more shoes than feet- nay, sometime more feet than
    shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the overleather.
  • Lord. Heaven cease this idle humour in your honour!
    O, that a mighty man of such descent,
    Of such possessions, and so high esteem, 160
    Should be infused with so foul a spirit!
  • Christopher Sly. What, would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher Sly, old
    Sly's son of Burton Heath; by birth a pedlar, by education a
    cardmaker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present
    profession a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of 165
    Wincot, if she know me not; if she say I am not fourteen pence on
    the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying'st knave in
    Christendom. What! I am not bestraught. [Taking a pot of ale]
  • Lord. Hence comes it that your kindred shuns your house,
    As beaten hence by your strange lunacy.
    O noble lord, bethink thee of thy birth!
    Call home thy ancient thoughts from banishment, 175
    And banish hence these abject lowly dreams.
    Look how thy servants do attend on thee,
    Each in his office ready at thy beck.
    Wilt thou have music? Hark! Apollo plays, [Music]
    And twenty caged nightingales do sing. 180
    Or wilt thou sleep? We'll have thee to a couch
    Softer and sweeter than the lustful bed
    On purpose trimm'd up for Semiramis.
    Say thou wilt walk: we will bestrew the ground.
    Or wilt thou ride? Thy horses shall be trapp'd, 185
    Their harness studded all with gold and pearl.
    Dost thou love hawking? Thou hast hawks will soar
    Above the morning lark. Or wilt thou hunt?
    Thy hounds shall make the welkin answer them
    And fetch shall echoes from the hollow earth. 190
  • First Servant. Say thou wilt course; thy greyhounds are as swift
    As breathed stags; ay, fleeter than the roe.
  • Second Servant. Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee
    Adonis painted by a running brook, 195
    And Cytherea all in sedges hid,
    Which seem to move and wanton with her breath
    Even as the waving sedges play wi' th' wind.
  • Lord. We'll show thee Io as she was a maid
    And how she was beguiled and surpris'd, 200
    As lively painted as the deed was done.
  • Third Servant. Or Daphne roaming through a thorny wood,
    Scratching her legs, that one shall swear she bleeds
    And at that sight shall sad Apollo weep,
    So workmanly the blood and tears are drawn. 205
  • Lord. Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord.
    Thou hast a lady far more beautiful
    Than any woman in this waning age.
  • First Servant. And, till the tears that she hath shed for thee
    Like envious floods o'er-run her lovely face, 210
    She was the fairest creature in the world;
    And yet she is inferior to none.
  • Christopher Sly. Am I a lord and have I such a lady?
    Or do I dream? Or have I dream'd till now?
    I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak; 215
    I smell sweet savours, and I feel soft things.
    Upon my life, I am a lord indeed,
    And not a tinker, nor Christopher Sly.
    Well, bring our lady hither to our sight;
    And once again, a pot o' th' smallest ale. 220
  • Second Servant. Will't please your Mightiness to wash your hands?
    O, how we joy to see your wit restor'd!
    O, that once more you knew but what you are!
    These fifteen years you have been in a dream;
    Or, when you wak'd, so wak'd as if you slept. 225
  • Christopher Sly. These fifteen years! by my fay, a goodly nap.
    But did I never speak of all that time?
  • First Servant. O, yes, my lord, but very idle words;
    For though you lay here in this goodly chamber,
    Yet would you say ye were beaten out of door; 230
    And rail upon the hostess of the house,
    And say you would present her at the leet,
    Because she brought stone jugs and no seal'd quarts.
    Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.
  • Third Servant. Why, sir, you know no house nor no such maid,
    Nor no such men as you have reckon'd up,
    As Stephen Sly, and old John Naps of Greece,
    And Peter Turph, and Henry Pimpernell;
    And twenty more such names and men as these, 240
    Which never were, nor no man ever saw.

Enter the PAGE as a lady, with ATTENDANTS

  • Page. How fares my noble lord?
  • Christopher Sly. Marry, I fare well; for here is cheer enough.
    Where is my wife?
  • Page. Here, noble lord; what is thy will with her?
  • Christopher Sly. Are you my wife, and will not call me husband? 250
    My men should call me 'lord'; I am your goodman.
  • Page. My husband and my lord, my lord and husband;
    I am your wife in all obedience.
  • Lord. Madam, and nothing else; so lords call ladies.
  • Christopher Sly. Madam wife, they say that I have dream'd
    And slept above some fifteen year or more.
  • Page. Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me, 260
    Being all this time abandon'd from your bed.
  • Christopher Sly. 'Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone.
    [Exeunt SERVANTS]
    Madam, undress you, and come now to bed.
  • Page. Thrice noble lord, let me entreat of you 265
    To pardon me yet for a night or two;
    Or, if not so, until the sun be set.
    For your physicians have expressly charg'd,
    In peril to incur your former malady,
    That I should yet absent me from your bed. 270
    I hope this reason stands for my excuse.
  • Christopher Sly. Ay, it stands so that I may hardly tarry so long. But I would be
    loath to fall into my dreams again. I will therefore tarry in
    despite of the flesh and the blood.


  • Messenger. Your honour's players, hearing your amendment,
    Are come to play a pleasant comedy;
    For so your doctors hold it very meet,
    Seeing too much sadness hath congeal'd your blood,
    And melancholy is the nurse of frenzy. 280
    Therefore they thought it good you hear a play
    And frame your mind to mirth and merriment,
    Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.
  • Christopher Sly. Marry, I will; let them play it. Is not a comonty a
    Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick? 285
  • Page. No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.
  • Page. It is a kind of history.
  • Christopher Sly. Well, we'll see't. Come, madam wife, sit by my side and let
    the world slip;-we shall ne'er be younger. 290

[They sit down]

A flourish of trumpets announces the play