Enter aloft SLY, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with basin and ewer and appurtenances; and Lord
For God’s sake, a pot of small ale.
Will’t please your lordship drink a cup of sack?
Will’t please your honour taste of these conserves?
What raiment will your honour wear to-day?
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.
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!
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
O, this it is that makes your lady mourn!
O, this is it that makes your servants droop!
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.
Say thou wilt course; thy greyhounds are as swift
As breathed stags, ay, fleeter than the roe.
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.
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.
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.
Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord:
Thou hast a lady far more beautiful
Than any woman in this waning age.
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.
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.
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.
These fifteen years! by my fay, a goodly nap.
But did I never speak of all that time?
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.
Ay, the woman’s maid of the house.
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.
Now Lord be thanked for my good amends!
I thank thee: thou shalt not lose by it.
Enter the Page as a lady, with attendants
How fares my noble lord?
Marry, I fare well for here is cheer enough.
Where is my wife?
Here, noble lord: what is thy will with her?
Are you my wife and will not call me husband?
My men should call me ‘lord:’ I am your goodman.
My husband and my lord, my lord and husband;
I am your wife in all obedience.
I know it well. What must I call her?
Al’ce madam, or Joan madam?
‘Madam,’ and nothing else: so lords
Madam wife, they say that I have dream’d
And slept above some fifteen year or more.
Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me,
Being all this time abandon’d from your bed.
‘Tis much. Servants, leave me and her alone.
Madam, undress you and come now to bed.
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.
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
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.
Marry, I will, let them play it. Is not a
comondy a Christmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?
No, my good lord; it is more pleasing stuff.
What, household stuff?
It is a kind of history.
Well, well see’t. Come, madam wife, sit by my side
and let the world slip: we shall ne’er be younger.