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Belike, some noble gentleman, that means,
Re-enter a Servant.
An it please your honor,
Lord. Bid them come near.
Now, fellows, you are welcome. 1 Play. We thank your honor. Lord. Do you intend to stay with me to-night? 2 Play. So please your lordship to accept our duty. Lord. With all my heart. This fellow I re
member, 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.
1 Play. I think 'twas Soto that your honor 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 to-night: But I am doubtful of
your modesties; Lest, over-eyeing of his odd behavior, (For yet his honor 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.
1 It was in old times customary for players to travel in companies, and offer their service at great houses.
2 The old copy prefixes the name of Sincklo to this line, who was an actor in the same company with Shakspeare. Soto is a character in Beaumont and Fletcher's Woman Pleased; he is a farmer's eldest son, but he does not woo any gentlewoman.
1 Play. Fear not, my lord; we can contain our
selves, 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.
[Exeunt Servants and Players. Sirrah, go you to Bartholomew my page,
[To a Servant. 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 honorable 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 honor 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 twice 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,
1 In the old play the dialogue is thus continued :
“ San. (To the other.] Go get a dishclout to make cleyne your shooes, and Jle speak for the properties. (Exit Player.) My lord, we must have a shoulder of mutton for a property, and a little vinegre to make our divell roar.”
2 Pope remarks, in his preface to Shakspeare, that “the top of the profession were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage; they were led into the buttery, not placed at the lord's table, or the lady's toilet.”
3 The old copy reads this. The emendation is Theobald's. 4 Him is used for himself, as in Chapman's Banquet of Sense, 1595:
“ The sense wherewith he feels him deified.”
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
[Exit Servant I know the boy will well usurp
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.
Sly is discovered in a rich night-gown, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with basin, ewer, and other appurtenances.
Enter Lord, dressed like a Servant. Sly. For God's sake, a pot of small ale. 1 Serv. Will't please your lordship drink a cup of
sack ? 2 Serv. Will't please your honor taste of these
conserves ? 3 Serv. What raiment will your honor wear to-day?
Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me-honor, nor lordship; I never 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 over-leather.
Lord. Heaven cease this idle humor in your honor !
! From the original stage direction in the first folio, it appears that Sly and the other persons mentioned in the Induction were intended to be exhibited here, and during the representation of the comedy, in a balcony above the stage.
O, that a mighty man of such descent,
Sly. What, would you make me mad ? Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly's son of Burton-heath; by birth a pedler, 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 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
1 Serv. O, this it is that makes your lady mourn. 2 Serv. O, this it is that makes your servants droop. Lord. Hence comes it that
kindred shun 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 ?
1 Wilnecotte, says Warton, is a village in Warwickshire, with which Svakspeare was well acquainted, near Stratford. The house kept by our genial hostess still remains, but is at present a mill. There is a village also called Barton on the heath in Warwickshire.
2 Sheer ale has puzzled the commentators; but none of the conjectures offered appear satisfactory. Sheer ale may mean nothing more than ale unmixed, mere ale, or pure ale. The word sheer is still used for mere, pure. 3 i. e. distraught, distracted.
Thy hounds shall make the welkin answer them, And fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth. 1 Serv. Say, thou wilt course; thy greyhounds are
as swift As breathed stags; ay, fleeter than the roe. 2 Serv. Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch
Lord. We'll show thee lo, as she was a maid ;
3 Serv. Or, Daphne roaming through a thorny wood,
Lord. Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord.
1 Serv. And, till the tears that she hath shed for thee,
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 savors, and I feel soft gs: 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. 2 Serv. Will't please your mightiness to wash your
[Servants present a ewer, basin, and napkin. O, how we joy to see your wit restored ! O, that once more you knew but what
you These fifteen years you have been in a dream; Or, when you waked, so waked as if