Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > British
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. VI–IX: British
 
The Tinker’s Dream
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “The Taming of the Shrew” (Prologue)

Before an Ale-house on a Heath.

SLY and HOSTESS.

Sly.  I’ll pheese you, in faith.
  1
  Host.  A pair of stocks, you rogue!  2
  Sly.  Y’re 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!  3
  Host.  You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?  4
  Sly.  No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy: go to thy cold bed, and warm thee.  5
  Host.  I know my remedy, I must go fetch the third-borough.  (Exit.)  6
  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.  (Lies down on the ground, and falls asleep.)  7
 
Enter a LORD, with HUNTSMEN.
  Lord.  Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds:
  8
Brach Merriman, the poor cur, is embossed;  9
And couple Clowder with the deep-mouthed brach.  10
Saw’st thou not, boy, how Silver made it good  11
At the hedge-corner, in the coldest fault?  12
I would not lose the dog for twenty pound.  13
  1st Hun.  Why, Belman is as good as he, my lord;  14
He cried upon it at the merest loss,  15
And twice to-day picked out the dullest scent:  16
Trust me, I take him for the better dog.  17
  Lord.  Thou art a fool! if Echo were as fleet,  18
I would esteem him worth a dozen such.  19
But sup them well, and look unto them all;  20
To-morrow I intend to hunt again.  21
  1st Hun.  I will, my lord.  22
  Lord.  What’s here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe?  23
  2d Hun.  He breathes, my lord. Were he not warmed with ale,  24
This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.  25
  Lord.  O monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies!  26
Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!  27
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.  28
What think you, if he were conveyed to bed,  29
Wrapped in sweet clothes, rings put upon his fingers,  30
A most delicious banquet by his bed,  31
And brave attendants near him when he wakes,  32
Would not the beggar then forget himself?  33
  1st Hun.  Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose.  34
  2d Hun.  It would seem strange unto him when he waked.  35
  Lord.  Even as a flattering dream, or worthless fancy.  36
Then take him up, and manage well the jest.
*        *        *        *        *
  37
A Bed-chamber in the LORD’S House.

SLY, in a rich night-gown; SERVANTS; LORD, disguised as an attendant.

Sly.  For God’s sake, a pot of small ale!
  38
  1st Serv.  Will’t please your lordship drink a cup of sack?  39
  2d Serv.  Will’t please your honour taste of these conserves?  40
  3d Serv.  What raiment will your honour wear to-day?  41
  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, sometime, more feet than shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the over-leather.  42
  Lord.  Heaven cease this idle humour in your honour!  43
Oh, that a mighty man of such descent,  44
Of such possessions, and so high esteem,  45
Should be infuséd with so foul a spirit!  46
  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 card-maker, by transmutation a bearherd, 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—  47
  1st Serv.  Oh, this it is that makes your lady mourn!  48
  2d Serv.  Oh, this it is that makes your servants droop!  49
  Lord.  Hence comes it that your kindred shun your house,  50
As beaten hence by your strange lunacy.  51
O noble lord, bethink thee of thy birth;  52
Call home thy ancient thoughts from banishment,  53
And banish hence these abject, lowly dreams.  54
Look how thy servants do attend on thee,  55
Each in his office ready at thy beck.  56
Wilt thou have music? Hark! Apollo plays,  (Music.)  57
And twenty cagéd nightingales do sing.  58
Or wilt thou sleep? We’ll have thee to a couch  59
Softer and sweeter than the lustful bed  60
On purpose trimmed up for Semiramis.  61
Say thou wilt walk, we will bestrew the ground;  62
Or wilt thou ride? Thy horses shall be trapped,  63
Their harness studded all with gold and pearl.  64
Dost thou love hawking? Thou hast hawks will soar  65
Above the morning lark. Or wilt thou hunt?  66
Thy hounds shall make the welkin answer them,  67
And fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth.  68
  1st Serv.  Say thou wilt course; thy greyhounds are as swift  69
As breathéd stags, ay, fleeter than the roe.  70
  2d Serv.  Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee straight  71
Adonis paintéd by a running brook;  72
And Cytherea all in sedges hid,  73
Which seem to move and wanton with her breath,  74
Even as the waving sedges play with wind.  75
  Lord.  We’ll show thee Io, as she was a maid,  76
And how she was beguiléd and surprised,  77
As lively painted as the deed was done.  78
  3d Serv.  Or Daphne, roaming through a thorny wood,  79
Scratching her legs, that one shall swear she bleeds;  80
And at that sight shall sad Apollo weep,  81
So workmanly the blood and tears are drawn.  82
  Lord.  Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord:  83
Thou hast a lady far more beautiful  84
Than any woman in this waning age.  85
  1st Serv.  And, till the tears that she hath shed for thee  86
Like envious floods o’erran her lovely face,  87
She was the fairest creature in the world;  88
And yet she is inferior to none.  89
  Sly.  Am I a lord? and have I such a lady?  90
Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now?  91
I do not sleep; I see, I hear, I speak;  92
I smell sweet savours, and I feel soft things.  93
Upon my life, I am a lord indeed,  94
And not a tinker, nor Christopher Sly.  95
Well, bring our lady hither to our sight;  96
And, once again a pot o’ the smallest ale.  97
  2d Serv.  Will’t please your mightiness to wash your hands?  98
 
(SERVANTS present a ewer, basin, and napkin.)

Oh, how we joy to see your wit restored!
  99
Oh, that once more you knew but what you are!  100
These fifteen years you have been in a dream,  101
Or, when you waked, so waked as if you slept.  102
  Sly.  These fifteen years! By my fay, a goodly nap!  103
But did I never speak of all that time?  104
  1st Serv.  O, yes, my lord, but very idle words;  105
For though you lay here in this goodly chamber,  106
Yet would you say ye were beaten out of door,  107
And rail upon the hostess of the house,  108
And say you would present her at the leet,  109
Because she brought stone jugs and no sealed quarts.  110
Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.  111
  Sly.  Ay, the woman’s maid of the house.  112
  3d Serv.  Why, sir, you know no house, nor no such maid,  113
Nor no such men, as you have reckoned up—  114
As Stephen Sly, and old John Naps of Greece,  115
And Peter Turf, and Henry Pimpernell,  116
And twenty more such names and men as these,  117
Which never were, nor no man ever saw.  118
  Sly.  Now, Lord be thankéd for my good amends!  119
  All.  Amen.  120
  Sly.  I thank thee; thou shalt not lose by it.  121
 
Enter PAGE, as a lady.

  Page.  How fares my noble lord?
  122
  Sly.  Marry, I fare well, for here is cheer enough.  123
Where is my wife?  124
  Page.  Here, noble lord. What is thy will with her?  125
  Sly.  Are you my wife, and will not call me husband?  126
My men should call me lord; I am your goodman.  127
  Page.  My husband and my lord, my lord and husband;  128
I am your wife in all obedience.  129
  Sly.  I know it well.—What must I call her?  130
  Lord.  Madam.  131
  Sly.  Al’ce madam, or Joan madam?  132
  Lord.  Madam, and nothing else: so lords call ladies.  133
  Sly.  Madam wife, they say that I have dreamed,  134
And slept above some fifteen year or more.  135
  Page.  Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me,  136
Being all this time abandoned from your bed.  137
  Sly.  ’Tis much.—Servants, leave me and her alone.—  138
  Madam, undress you, and come now to bed.  139
  Page.  Thrice noble lord, let me entreat of you  140
To pardon me yet for a night or two;  141
Or, if not so, until the sun be set:  142
For your physicians have expressly charged,  143
In peril to incur your former malady,  144
That I should yet absent me from your bed.  145
I hope this reason stands for my excuse.  146
  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.  147
 
 
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