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The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew Translation Induction, Scene 1

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Enter SLY and HOSTESS

SLY

I’ll pheeze you, in faith.

SLY

I'll get you back, I promise.

HOSTESS

A pair of stocks, you rogue!

HOSTESS

I'll have you put in the stocks, you villain!

SLY

Y'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!

SLY

The Slys aren't villains, you whore. Look it up—we came over with Richard the Conqueror. So hold your tongue, and forget about it. Enough!

HOSTESS

You will not pay for the glasses you have burst?

HOSTESS

You won't pay for the glasses you've broken?

SLY

No, not a denier. Go by, Saint Jeronimy. Go to thy coldbed and warm thee.

SLY

No, not a penny. Forget about it, Saint Jeronimy. Run off to bed now and play with yourself.

HOSTESS

I know my remedy. I must go fetch the thirdborough.

HOSTESS

I know what to do. I'll go call the constable.

Exit

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.

SLY

Call every last one, I'll answer them all. I have my rights. I won't budge an inch. Let the constable come—I welcome him!

Falls asleep

Wind horns Enter a LORD from hunting, with his train

LORD

Huntsman, I charge thee, tender well my hounds. Breathe Merriman, the poor cur is embossed, And couple Clowder with the deep-mouthed 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.

LORD

Huntsman, take care of my hounds. Let Merriman rest—the poor dog's exhausted. And leash Clowder with the bitch with the deep bark. Didn't you see how Silver picked up the trail at the hedge corner, when the scent was coldest? I wouldn't sell that dog for twenty pounds.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

Why, Belman is as good as he, my lord. He cried upon it at the merest loss, And twice today picked out the dullest scent. Trust me, I take him for the better dog.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

Why, Belman is just as good, my lord. He was the only one to howl when the scent was lost completely, and twice today he picked it up when it was weakest. Trust me, I think he's 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. Tomorrow I intend to hunt again.

LORD

You're a fool. If Echo were as fast, he'd be worth a dozen Belmans. But feed them all well and look after them. I intend to go hunting again tomorrow.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

I will, my lord.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

I will, my lord.

LORD

What’s here? One dead, or drunk? See, doth he breathe?

LORD

What's this here? Is he dead or drunk? Check and see if he's breathing.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

He breathes, my lord. Were he not warmed with ale,This were a bed but cold to sleep so soundly.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

He's breathing, my lord. But he couldn't be sleeping so deeply in such a cold place if beer wasn't keeping him warm.

LORD

O monstrous beast, how like a swine he lies! Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image! Sirs, I will practice on this drunken man. What think you: if he were conveyed to bed, Wrapped 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?

LORD

Oh, what a monstrous beast, lying there like a pig! Grim death, how foul and hateful your twin—sleep—is! Gentlemen, I will play a trick on this drunken man. What do you think: if he were carried to bed, dressed in fresh clothes, had rings put on his fingers, a delicious feast laid out by his bed, and had finely dressed servants near him when he woke up—wouldn't the beggar be confused then?

FIRST HUNTSMAN

Believe me, lord, I think he cannot choose.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

I don't think he'd have any choice, my lord, believe me.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

It would seem strange unto him when he waked.

SECOND HUNTSMAN

Everything would seem strange to him when he woke up.

LORD

Even as a flatt'ring 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 Honor will command?” Let one attend him with a silver basin Full of rose-water and bestrewed with flowers, Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper, And say, “Will ’t please your Lordship cool your hands?” Someone 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.

LORD

Like a nice dream or an empty fantasy. So take him inside and start setting up the prank. Carry him gently to my finest room, and hang all my erotic paintings on the walls. Bathe his filthy head with warm, clean water, and burn fragrant wood to make the room smell sweet. Find some musicians to be ready for when he wakes, so they can make sweet and heavenly sounds for him. If he happens to speak, be ready right away—bow low and say obediently, "What does your Honor command us to do?" Let one servant wait on him with a silver bowl full of rosewater and flowers. Have another servant carry the pitcher, and a third carry a towel, and say, "Would it please your Lordship to cool your hands?" Have someone ready with expensive clothing, and ask him what he wants to wear. Have another servant tell him about his dogs and his horse, and explain that his wife has been grieving over his illness. Convince him he's been out of his mind, and when he says that he's insane now, tell him that he's just mistaken, for he is really a mighty lord. Do all this, and do it convincingly, gentle sirs. If this can be managed subtly, it will be some excellent entertainment for us.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

My lord, I warrant you we will play our partAs he shall think by our true diligenceHe is no less than what we say he is.

FIRST HUNTSMAN

My lord, I promise you that we'll play our parts so well that he'll believe everything we tell him. 

LORD

Take him up gently, and to bed with him,And each one to his office when he wakes.

LORD

Carry him gently off to bed, and have everyone in position for when he wakes up.

Some servants carry out SLY. Sound trumpets

Sirrah, go see what trumpet ’tis that sounds.

Go see what that trumpet's for, boy.

Exit Servingman

Belike some noble gentleman that means,Traveling some journey, to repose him here.

Probably some noble gentleman on a journey, who wants to stop and rest here.

Enter SERVANT

How now! who is it?

Hello! Who is it?

SERVANT

An’t please your Honor, playersThat offer service to your Lordship.

SERVANT

It's a troupe of actors, your Honor, offering to perform for your Lordship.

LORD

Bid them come near.

LORD

Tell them to come in.

Enter PLAYERS

Now, fellows, you are welcome.

Now, fellows, you are welcome here.

PLAYERS

We thank your Honor.

PLAYERS

We thank your Honor.

LORD

Do you intend to stay with me tonight?

LORD

Do you intend to sleep here tonight?

A PLAYER

So please your Lordship to accept our duty.

A PLAYER

If it would please your Lordship to have us.

LORD

With all my heart. This fellow I remember 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.

LORD

With all my heart. I remember this fellow here—he once played the part of a farmer's eldest son. That was the play in which you courted the gentlewoman so successfully. I've forgotten your name, but you were well suited for that role, and played it realistically.

A PLAYER

I think ’twas Soto that your Honor means.

A PLAYER

I think your Honor means the character "Soto."

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 tonight; 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.

LORD

Yes, that's right. You played it excellently. Well, you've come at just the right time, especially because I have some special entertainment planned and could use your acting skills. There is a lord who will watch you perform tonight, but I'm worried about your self-control—for his Honor has never seen a play before—and I fear that you might notice his odd behavior and burst out laughing, and offend him. I tell you, sirs, if you even smile, he will notice.

A PLAYER

Fear not, my lord, we can contain ourselvesWere he the veriest antic in the world.

A PLAYER

Don't worry, my lord. We can control ourselves even if he's the greatest buffoon in the world.

LORD

Go, sirrah, take them to the butteryAnd give them friendly welcome every one. Let them want nothing that my house affords.

LORD

Go, fellow, take them to the pantry and make them all welcome. See that they have whatever they need.

Exit one with the PLAYERS

Sirrah, go you to Barthol’mew, my page, 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 accomplishèd. 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 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 conveyed Shall in despite enforce a watery eye. See this dispatched with all the haste thou canst:Anon I’ll give thee more instructions.

And you, fellow, go find my page, Bartholomew, and dress him up like a lady in great detail. When that's done, bring him to the drunkard's room, address him as "madam," and bow to him and treat him as if he were the lady of the house. Tell Bartholomew I said this: if he wants to please me, he will conduct himself properly, copying the way he's seen noble ladies act towards their husbands. Let him attend to the drunkard like that: speaking softly, acting humble and polite, and saying things like, "What does your Honor command your lady and humble wife to do, that she might show her devotion and love?" And then with kind embraces, tempting kisses, and his head resting on the drunkard's breast, Bartholomew should weep as if he's overjoyed to see his noble husband restored to health after believing for the last seven years that he was no better than a poor, disgusting beggar. And if the boy lacks a woman's gift for crying on command, an onion will serve the same purpose. Hide one in a handkerchief and put it close to his face, and that will certainly make his eyes water. Get this taken care of as quickly as you can, and soon I'll give you 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.

I know the boy will convincingly mimic the grace, voice, walk, and gestures of a gentlewoman. I can't wait to hear him call the drunkard "husband," and to watch my men contain their laughter as they bow to this simple peasant. I'll go in and advise them. Perhaps my presence will restrain their joy and rowdiness, which otherwise might get out of control.

Exeunt

The taming of the shrew
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.