The Taming of the Shrew (1590-1)

Intro
Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.b.
Date variant: 1590-3
Shakespeare Network - https://shakespearenetwork.net/

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Prologue, Scene 2

A bedchamber in the LORD'S house

Christopher Sly
For God's sake, a pot of small ale.

First Servant
Will't please your lordship drink a cup of sack?

Second Servant
Will't please your honour taste of these conserves?

Third Servant
What raiment will your honour wear to-day?

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
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,
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
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]
Here's-

Third Servant
O, this it is that makes your lady mourn!

Second Servant
O, this is it that makes your servants droop!

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,
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.
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,
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.

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
straight
Adonis painted by a running brook,
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,
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.

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,
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;
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.

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.

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;
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.

Christopher Sly
Ay, the woman's maid of the house.

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,
Which never were, nor no man ever saw.

Christopher Sly
Now, Lord be thanked for my good amends!

All
Amen.

Christopher Sly
I thank thee; thou shalt not lose by it.

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?
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.

Christopher Sly
I know it well. What must I call her?

Lord
Madam.

Christopher Sly
Al'ce madam, or Joan madam?

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,
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
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.
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.
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?

Page
No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.

Christopher Sly
What, household 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.

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© Copyright 2017-2022 Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.