Enter Hostess and Sly
Sly I’ll pheeze you, in faith.
Hostess A pair of stocks, you rogue!
Sly Ye 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, Jeronimy: go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.
Hostess I know my remedy; I must go fetch the third — borough.
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.
Horns winded. Enter a Lord from hunting, with his train
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?
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.
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.
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 warm’d 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 convey’d to bed,
Wrapp’d 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 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
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,
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.
Some bear out Sly. A trumpet sounds
Sirrah, go see what trumpet ’tis that sounds:
Belike, some noble gentleman that means,
Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
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.
Players We thank your honour.
Lord Do you intend to stay with me tonight?
A Player So please your lordship to accept our duty.
Lord With all my heart. This fellow I remember,
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.
A Player I think ’twas Soto that your honour means.
Lord ’Tis very true: thou didst it excellent.
Well, you are come to me in a 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 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.
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 esteem’d 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.
Enter aloft Sly, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with basin and ewer and appurtenances; and Lord
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?
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 over-leather.
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 Burtonheath, 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. What! I am not bestraught: 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,
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 shrill 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 with 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 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.
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.
Second Servant 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 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.
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 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!
Sly I thank thee: thou shalt not lose by it.
Enter the Page as a lady, with attendants
Page How fares my noble lord?
Sly Marry, I fare well for here is cheer enough.
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?
Sly Al’ce madam, or Joan madam?
Lord ‘Madam,’ and nothing else: so lords call ladies.
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.
Sly ’Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone.
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 a Messenger
Messenger Your honour’s players, heating 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.
Sly Marry, I will, let them play it. Is not a comondy 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.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:13