« AnteriorContinuar »
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
See this despatch'd with all the haste thou canst;
Anon I'll give thee more instructions.
A Bedchamber in the Lord's House.
Sly is discovered in a rich night gown, with At^ tendants; some with apparel, others with bason, 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
2 Serv. Will't please your honour taste of these
3 Serv. What raiment will your honour wear to
day? Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me—honour, 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 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 pedler, by education a card-maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present profession a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat alewife 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:5 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 your 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 musick? hark! Apollo plays,
[Musich. And twenty caged nightingales do sing:
* of Burton-heath; Marian Hacket the fat ale-wife of
Wincot,] I suspect we should read —Barton-heath. Barton and Wvodmancot, or, as it is vulgarly pronounced, IVoncot, are both of them in Gloucestershire, near the residence of Shakspeare's old enemy, Justice Shallow. Very probably too, this fat ale-wife might be a real character. Steevens.
5 I am not bestraught:] Bestraught seems to have been
synonymous to distraught or distracted.
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?
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
Adonis, painted by a running brook:
Lord. We'll show thee lo, as she was a maid;
3 Serv. Or Daphne, roaming through a thorny
Scratching her legs that one shall swear she bleeds:
Lord. Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord:
1 Serv. And, till the tears that she hath shed for
Like envious floods, o'er-ran her lovely face,
Sly. Am I a lord? and have I such a lady?
2 Serv. WilFt please your mightiness to wash
[Servants present an ewer, bason, and napkin. 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.
Sly. These fifteen years! by my fay, a goodly nap. But did I never speak of all that time?
1 Serv. 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,8 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.
3 Serv. Why, sir, you know no house, nor no
Nor no such men, as you have reckon'd up,—
Sly. Now, Lord be thanked for my good amends!
Sly. I thank thee; thou shalt not lose by it.
"leet,] At the Cowt-leet, or courts of the manor.
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 and more.
Page. Ay, and the time seems thirty onto me; Being all this time abandon'd from your bed.
Sly. 'Tis much; Servants, leave me and her
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.
Sly. Ay, it stands so, that I may hardly tarry so long. But I would be loth to fall into my dreams again; I will therefore tarry, in despite of the flesh and the blood.