The Taming of the Shrew

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Enter Begger and Hostes, Christophero Sly.

Begger.
ILe pheeze you infaith.

Host.
A paire of stockes you rogue.

Beg.
Y'are a baggage, the Slies are no Rogues. Looke in the
Chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror: therefore
Paucas pallabris, let the world slide: Sessa.

Host.
You will not pay for the glasses you haue burst?

Beg.
No, not a deniere: go by S. Ieronimie, goe to thy
cold bed, and warme thee.

Host.
I know my remedie, I must go fetch the
Headborough.

Beg.
Third, or fourth, or fift Borough, Ile answere him by
Law. Ile not budge an inch boy: Let him come, and
kindly.
Falles asleepe.
Winde hornes. Enter a Lord from hunting, with his traine.

Lo.
Huntsman I charge thee, tender wel my hounds,
Brach Meriman, the poore Curre is imbost,
And couple Clowder with the deepe-mouth'd brach,
Saw'st thou not boy how Siluer made it good
At the hedge corner, in the couldest fault,
I would not loose the dogge for twentie pound.

Hunts.
Why Belman is as good as he my Lord,
He cried vpon it at the meerest losse,
And twice to day pick'd out the dullest sent,
Trust me, I take him for the better dogge.

Lord.
Thou art a Foole, if Eccho were as fleete,
I would esteeme him worth a dozen such:
But sup them well, and looke vnto them all,
To morrow I intend to hunt againe.

Hunts.
I will my Lord.

Lord.
What's heere? One dead, or drunke? See doth he breath?

2.Hun.
He breath's my Lord. Were he not warm'd with Ale,
this were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.

Lord.
Oh monstrous beast, how like a swine he lyes.
Grim death, how foule and loathsome is thine image:
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
What thinke you, if he were conuey'd to bed,
Wrap'd in sweet cloathes: Rings put vpon his fingers:
A most delicious banquet by his bed,
And braue attendants neere him when he wakes,
Would not the begger then forget himselfe?

1.Hun.
Beleeue me Lord, I thinke he cannot choose.

2.H.
It would seem strange vnto him when he wak'd

Lord.
Euen as a flatt'ring dreame, or worthles fancie.
Then take him vp, and manage well the iest:
Carrie him gently to my fairest Chamber,
And hang it round with all my wanton pictures:
Balme his foule head in warme distilled waters,
And burne sweet Wood to make the Lodging sweete:
Procure me Musicke readie when he wakes,
To make a dulcet and a heauenly sound:
And if he chance to speake, be readie straight
(And with a lowe submissiue reuerence)
Say, what is it your Honor wil command:
Let one attend him with a siluer Bason
Full of Rose-water, and bestrew'd with Flowers,
Another beare the Ewer: the third a Diaper,
And say wilt please your Lordship coole your hands.
Some one be readie with a costly suite,
And aske him what apparrel he will weare:
Another tell him of his Hounds and Horse,
And that his Ladie mournes at his disease,
Perswade him that he hath bin Lunaticke,
And when he sayes he is, say that he dreames,
For he is nothing but a mightie Lord:
This do, and do it kindly, gentle sirs,
It wil be pastime passing excellent,
If it be husbanded with modestie.

1.Hunts.
My Lord I warrant you we wil play our part
As he shall thinke by our true diligence
He is no lesse then what we say he is.

Lord.
Take him vp gently, and to bed with him,
And each one to his office when he wakes.
Sound trumpets.
Sirrah, go see what Trumpet 'tis that sounds,
Belike some Noble Gentleman that meanes
(Trauelling some iourney) to repose him heere.
Enter Seruingman.
How now? who is it?

Ser.
An't please your Honor, Players
That offer seruice to your Lordship.

Lord.
Bid them come neere:
Enter Players.
Now fellowes, you are welcome.

Players.
We thanke your Honor.

Lord.
Do you intend to stay with me to night?

2.Player.
So please your Lordshippe to accept our dutie.

Lord.
With all my heart. This fellow I remember,
Since once he plaide a Farmers eldest sonne,
'Twas where you woo'd the Gentlewoman so well:
I haue forgot your name: but sure that part
Was aptly fitted, and naturally perform'd.

Sincklo.
I thinke 'twas Soto that your honor meanes.

Lord.
'Tis verie true, thou didst it excellent:
Well you are come to me in happie time,
The rather for I haue some sport in hand,
Wherein your cunning can assist me much.
There is a Lord will heare you play to night;
But I am doubtfull of your modesties,
Least (ouer-eying of his odde behauiour,
For yet his honor neuer heard a play)
You breake into some merrie passion,
And so offend him: for I tell you sirs,
If you should smile, he growes impatient.

Plai.
Feare not my Lord, we can contain our selues,
Were he the veriest anticke in the world.

Lord.
Go sirra, take them to the Butterie,
And giue them friendly welcome euerie one,
Let them want nothing that my house affoords.
Exit one with the Players.
Sirra go you to Bartholmew my Page,
And see him drest in all suites like a Ladie:
That done, conduct him to the drunkards chamber,
And call him Madam, do him obeisance:
Tell him from me (as he will win my loue)
He beare himselfe with honourable action,
Such as he hath obseru'd in noble Ladies
Vnto their Lords, by them accomplished,
Such dutie to the drunkard let him do:
With soft lowe tongue, and lowly curtesie,
And say: What is't your Honor will command,
Wherein your Ladie, and your humble wife,
May shew her dutie, and make knowne her loue.
And then with kinde embracements, tempting kisses,
And with declining head into his bosome
Bid him shed teares, as being ouer-ioyed
To see her noble Lord restor'd to health,
Who for this seuen yeares hath esteemed him
No better then a poore and loathsome begger:
And if the boy haue not a womans guift
To raine a shower of commanded teares,
An Onion wil do well for such a shift,
Which in a Napkin (being close conuei'd)
Shall in despight enforce a waterie eie:
See this dispatch'd with all the hast thou canst,
Anon Ile giue thee more instructions.
Exit a seruingman.
I know the boy will wel vsurpe the grace,
Voice, gate, and action of a Gentlewoman:
I long to heare him call the drunkard husband,
And how my men will stay themselues from laughter,
When they do homage to this simple peasant,
Ile in to counsell them: haply my presence
May well abate the ouer-merrie spleene,
Which otherwise would grow into extreames.
Enter aloft the drunkard with attendants, some with apparel,
Bason and Ewer, & other appurtenances, & Lord.

Beg.
For Gods sake a pot of small Ale.

1.Ser.
Wilt please your Lord drink a cup of sacke?

2.Ser.
Wilt please your Honor taste of these Conserues?

3.Ser.
What raiment wil your honor weare to day.

Beg.
I am Christophero Sly, call not mee Honour nor Lordship:
I ne're drank sacke in my life: and if you giue me
any Conserues, giue me conserues of Beefe: nere ask me
what raiment Ile weare, for I haue no more doublets then
backes: no more stockings then legges: nor no more shooes
then feet, nay sometime more feete then shooes, or such
shooes as my toes looke through the ouer-leather.

Lord.
Heauen cease this idle humor in your Honor.
Oh that a mightie man of such discent,
Of such possessions, and so high esteeme
Should be infused with so foule a spirit.

Beg.
What would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher
Slie, old Sies sonne of Burton-heath, by byrth a Pedler,
by education a Cardmaker, by transmutation a
Beare-heard, and now by present profession a Tinker. Aske
Marrian Hacket the fat Alewife of Wincot, if shee know
me not: if she say I am not xiiii.d. on the score
for sheere Ale, score me vp for the lyingst knaue in
Christen dome.

What I am not bestraught: here's---

3.Man.
Oh this it is that makes your Ladie mourne.

2. Mar.
Oh this is it that makes your seruants droop.

Lord.
Hence comes it, that your kindred shuns your house
As beaten hence by your strange Lunacie.
Oh Noble Lord, bethinke thee of thy birth,
Call home thy ancient thoughts from banishment,
And banish hence these abiect lowlie dreames:
Looke how thy seruants do attend on thee,
Each in his office readie at thy becke.
Wilt thou haue Musicke? Harke Apollo plaies,
Musick
And twentie caged Nightingales do sing.
Or wilt thou sleepe? Wee'l haue thee to a Couch,
Softer and sweeter then the lustfull bed
On purpose trim'd vp for Semiramis.
Say thou wilt walke: we wil bestrow the ground.
Or wilt thou ride? Thy horses shal be trap'd,
Their harnesse studded all with Gold and Pearle.
Dost thou loue hawking? Thou hast hawkes will soare
Aboue the morning Larke. Or wilt thou hunt,
Thy hounds shall make the Welkin answer them
And fetch shrill ecchoes from the hollow earth.

1.Man.
Say thou wilt course, thy gray-hounds are as swift
As breathed Stags: I fleeter then the Roe.

2.M.
Dost thou loue pictures? we wil fetch thee strait
Adonis painted by a running brooke,
And Citherea all in sedges hid,
Which seeme to moue and wanton with her breath,
Euen as the wauing sedges play with winde.

Lord.
Wee'l shew thee Io, as she was a Maid,
And how she was beguiled and surpriz'd,
As liuelie painted, as the deede was done.

3.Man.
Or Daphne roming through a thornie wood,
Scratching her legs, that one shal sweare she bleeds,
And at that sight shal sad Apollo weepe,
So workmanlie the blood and teares are drawne.

Lord.
Thou art a Lord, and nothing but a Lord:
Thou hast a Ladie farre more Beautifull,
Then any woman in this waining age.

1 Man.
And til the teares that she hath shed for thee,
Like enuious flouds ore-run her louely face,
She was the fairest creature in the world,
And yet shee is inferiour to none.

Beg.
Am I a Lord, and haue I such a Ladie?
Or do I dreame? Or haue I dream'd till now?
I do not sleepe: I see, I heare, I speake:
I smel sweet sauours, and I feele soft things:
Vpon my life I am a Lord indeede,
And not a Tinker, nor Christopher Slie.
Well, bring our Ladie hither to our sight,
And once againe a pot o'th smallest Ale.

2.Man.
Wilt please your mightinesse to wash your hands:
Oh how we ioy to see your wit restor'd,
Oh that once more you knew but what you are:
These fifteene yeeres you haue bin in a dreame,
Or when you wak'd, so wak'd as if you slept.

Beg.
These fifteene yeeres, by my fay, a goodly nap,
But did I neuer speake of all that time.

1.Man.
Oh yes my Lord, but verie idle words,
For though you lay heere in this goodlie chamber,
Yet would you say, ye were beaten out of doore,
And raile vpon the Hostesse of the house,
And say you would present her at the Leete,
Because she brought stone-Iugs, and no seal'd quarts:
Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.

Beg.
I, the womans maide of the house.

3.man.
Why sir you know no house, nor no such maid
Nor no such men as you haue reckon'd vp,
As Stephen Slie, and old Iohn Naps of Greece,
And Peter Turph, and Henry Pimpernell,
And twentie more such names and men as these,
Which neuer were, nor no man euer saw.

Beg.
Now Lord be thanked for my good amends.

All.
Amen.
Enter Lady with Attendants.

Beg.
I thanke thee, thou shalt not loose by it.

Lady.
How fares my noble Lord?

Beg.
Marrie I fare well, for heere is cheere enough.
Where is my wife?

La.
Heere noble Lord, what is thy will with her?

Beg.
Are you my wife, and will not cal me husband?
My men should call me Lord, I am your good-man.

La.
My husband and my Lord, my Lord and husband
I am your wife in all obedience.

Beg.
I know it well, what must I call her?

Lord.
Madam.

Beg.
Alce Madam, or Ione Madam?

Lord.
Madam, and nothing else, so Lords cal Ladies

Beg.
Madame wife, they say that I haue dream'd,
And slept aboue some fifteene yeare or more.

Lady.
I, and the time seeme's thirty vnto me,
Being all this time abandon'd from your bed.

Beg.
'Tis much, seruants leaue me and her alone:
Madam vndresse you, and come now to bed.

La.
Thrice noble Lord, let me intreat of you
To pardon me yet for a night or two:
Or if not so, vntill the Sun be set.
For your Physitians haue expressely charg'd,
In perill to incurre your former malady,
That I should yet absent me from your bed:
I hope this reason stands for my excuse.

Beg.
I, it stands so that I may hardly tarry so long: / But I
would be loth to fall into my dreames againe: I wil therefore
tarrie in despight of the flesh & the blood
Enter a Messenger.

Mes.
Your Honors Players hearing your amendment,
Are come to play a pleasant Comedie,
For so your doctors hold it very mcete,
Seeing too much sadnesse hath congeal'd your blood,
And melancholly is the Nurse of frenzie,
Therefore they thought it good you heare a play,
And frame your minde to mirth and merriment,
Which barres a thousand harmes, and lengthens life.

Beg.
Marrie I will let them play, it is not a Comontie, a
Christmas gambold, or a tumbling tricke?

Lady.
No my good Lord, it is more pleasing stuffe.

Beg.
What, houshold stuffe.

Lady.
It is a kinde of history.

Beg.
Well, we'l see't: Come Madam wife sit by my side,
And let the world slip, we shall nere be yonger.
Flourish.
Modern text
INDUCTION
Enter Christopher Sly and the Hostess

SLY
I'll pheeze you, in faith.

HOSTESS
A pair of stocks, you rogue!

SLY
Y'are a baggage, the Slys are no rogues. Look in the
Chronicles, we came in with Richard Conqueror. Therefore
paucas pallabris, let the world slide. Sessa!

HOSTESS
You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?

SLY
No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy, go to thy
cold bed and warm thee.
He lies on the ground

HOSTESS
I know my remedy, I must go fetch the
thirdborough.
Exit

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.
He falls asleep
Wind horns. Enter a Lord from hunting, with his train

LORD
Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds.
Breathe Merriman, the poor cur is embossed,
And couple Clowder with the deep-mouthed brach.
Saw'st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good
At the hedge corner, in the coldest fault?
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 today picked out the dullest scent.
Trust me, I take him for the better dog.

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.
Tomorrow I intend to hunt again.

FIRST HUNTSMAN
I will, my lord.

LORD
What's here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe?

SECOND HUNTSMAN
He breathes, my lord. Were he not warmed with ale,
This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.

LORD
O monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies!
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
What think you, if he were conveyed to bed,
Wrapped in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,
A most delicious banquet by his bed,
And brave attendants near him when he wakes,
Would not the beggar then forget himself?

FIRST HUNTSMAN
Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose.

SECOND HUNTSMAN
It would seem strange unto him when he waked.

LORD
Even as a flattering dream or worthless fancy.
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.
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?'
Let one attend him with a silver basin
Full of rose-water and bestrewed 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,
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 Sly, say that he dreams,
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
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 away
A trumpet sounds
Sirrah, go see what trumpet 'tis that sounds –
Exit Servingman
Belike some noble gentleman that means,
Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
Enter Servingman
How now? Who is it?

FIRST SERVINGMAN
An't please your honour, players
That offer service to your lordship.

LORD
Bid them come near.
Enter Players
Now, fellows, you are welcome.

PLAYERS
We thank your honour.

LORD
Do you intend to stay with me tonight?

FIRST PLAYER
So please your lordship to accept our duty.

LORD
With all my heart. This fellow I remember
Since once he played a farmer's eldest son.
'Twas where you wooed the gentlewoman so well.
I have forgot your name; but, sure, that part
Was aptly fitted and naturally performed.

FIRST PLAYER
I think 'twas Soto that your honour means.

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 tonight;
But I am doubtful of your modesties,
Lest overeyeing 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,
If you should smile, he grows impatient.

FIRST 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.
Let them want nothing that my house affords.
Exit one with the Players
Sirrah, go you to Barthol'mew my page,
And see him dressed in all suits like a lady.
That done, conduct him to the drunkard's chamber,
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 observed in noble ladies
Unto their lords, by them accomplished.
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?’
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 restored to health,
Who for this seven years hath esteemed him
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 conveyed,
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
See this dispatched 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.
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 overmerry spleen,
Which otherwise would grow into extremes.
Exeunt
Enter aloft Sly, with attendants; some with apparel,
basin and ewer, and other appurtenances; and Lord

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

FIRST SERVINGMAN
Will't please your lordship drink a cup of sack?

SECOND SERVINGMAN
Will't please your honour taste of these conserves?

THIRD SERVINGMAN
What raiment will your honour wear today?

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, sometimes 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!

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 lyingest knave in
Christendom.
A Servingman brings him a pot of ale
What! I am not bestraught. Here's –
He drinks

THIRD SERVINGMAN
O, this it is that makes your lady mourn.

SECOND SERVINGMAN
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 trimmed up for Semiramis.
Say thou wilt walk; we will bestrew the ground.
Or wilt thou ride? Thy horses shall be trapped,
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 shrill echoes from the hollow earth.

FIRST SERVINGMAN
Say thou wilt course, thy greyhounds are as swift
As breathed stags, ay, fleeter than the roe.

SECOND SERVINGMAN
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 surprised,
As lively painted as the deed was done.

THIRD SERVINGMAN
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 SERVINGMAN
And till the tears that she hath shed for thee
Like envious floods o'errun her lovely face,
She was the fairest creature in the world –
And yet she is inferior to none.

SLY
Am I a lord and have I such a lady?
Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed 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 Christophero Sly.
Well, bring our lady hither to our sight,
And once again a pot o'th' smallest ale.

SECOND SERVINGMAN
Will't please your mightiness to wash your hands?
O, how we joy to see your wit restored!
O, that once more you knew but what you are!
These fifteen years you have been in a dream,
Or when you waked, so waked as if you slept.

SLY
These fifteen years! By my fay, a goodly nap.
But did I never speak of all that time?

FIRST SERVINGMAN
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 sealed quarts.
Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.

SLY
Ay, the woman's maid of the house.

THIRD SERVINGMAN
Why, sir, you know no house, nor no such maid,
Nor no such men as you have reckoned up,
As Stephen Sly, and did 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.

SLY
Now Lord be thanked for my good amends.

ALL
Amen.
Enter Page as a lady, with attendants. One gives Sly
a pot of ale

SLY
I thank thee, thou shalt not lose by it.

PAGE
How fares my noble lord?

SLY
Marry, I fare well, for here is cheer enough.
He drinks
Where is my wife?

PAGE
Here, noble lord, what is thy will with her?

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.

SLY
I know it well. What must I call her?

LORD
Madam.

SLY
Al'ce madam, or Joan madam?

LORD
Madam and nothing else, so lords call ladies.

SLY
Madam wife, they say that I have dreamed
And slept above some fifteen year or more.

PAGE
Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me,
Being all this time abandoned from your bed.

SLY
'Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone.
Exeunt Lord and Servingmen
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 charged,
In peril to incur your former malady,
That I should yet absent me from your bed.
I hope this reason stands for my excuse.

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.
Enter the Lord as a Messenger

LORD
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 congealed 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.

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.

SLY
What, household stuff?

PAGE
It is a kind of history.

SLY
Well, well see 't. Come, madam wife, sit by my side
and let the world slip, we shall ne'er be younger.
They sit
A flourish of trumpets to announce the play
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2020 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL