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A 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 dress'd 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 overjoy'd
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 convey'd




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 :

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

Which otherwise would grow into extremes. [Exeunt.


SCENE II-A BEDCHAMBER IN THE LORD'S HOUSE Enter aloft SLY, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with basin and ewer and other appurtenances, and Lord

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

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

SEC. SERV. Will 't please your honour taste of these conserves?

THIRD SERV. What raiment will your honour wear


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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

135 over-merry spleen] Cf. note on 1. 95, supra.

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 10 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 1 Christopher Sly, old Sly's son of Burton-heath, by birth a pedlar, by education a card-maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present profession a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know 20 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. What! I am not bestraught: here's —

THIRD SERV. O, this it is that makes your lady


SEC. SERV. O, this is it that makes your servants droop!

17 Burton-heath] The village of Barton-on-the-heath, the home of Shakespeare's aunt, the wife of Edmund Lambert.

20 Marian Hacket ... Wincot] Wincot, a small hamlet within four miles of Stratford-on-Avon, is in the parish of Quinton. There a family of Hackets is noticed in the parish registers. The Warwickshire poet, Sir Aston Cokain, identified Wincot, as noticed by Sly, with Wilnecote (pronounced Wincot), a village in North Warwickshire. Others identify it with Wilmcote, the native place of Shakespeare's mother, which is also popularly pronounced Wincot. But Shakespeare's reference is doubtless to Wincot in Quinton parish.

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,
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


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 SERV. Say thou wilt course; thy greyhounds are as swift

As breathed stags, ay, fleeter than the roe.

SEC. SERV. 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 with wind.

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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 SERV. 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 SERV. 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.

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 Christophero Sly.
Well, bring our lady hither to our sight;

And once again, a pot o' the smallest ale.
SEC. SERV. 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.



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