CAST OF CHARACTERS
In The Introduction:
Sly, A Drunkard.
A Lord (who calls himself in jest “Simon,” aka “Sim”).
Tom, a Serving-man to the Lord.
Will, a Serving-man to the Lord.
Sander, an Actor.
Tom, an Actor.
A Boy, an Actor.
In The Play:
Jerobel, Duke of Sestos.
Aurelius, His Son.
Valeria, Servant (male) to Aurelius.
Polidor, a Gentleman of Athens.
A Boy, Servant to Polidor.
Ferando, a Gentleman of Athens.
Sander, Servant to Ferando.
Tom, Servant to Ferando.
Will, Servant to Ferando.
Alfonso, a Rich Citizen of Athens.
Kate, Eldest Daughter to Alfonso.
Philema, Middle Daughter to Alfonso.
Emelia, Youngest Daughter to Alfonso.
Phylotus, a Merchant of Athens.
Peter Lukacs has an excellent annotated text of the play at ElizabethanDrama.org. It can be downloaded free:
Also available there is a free theater script of the play.
His arrangement of the play is copyrighted: © arrangement copyright Peter Lukacs and ElizabethanDrama.org, 2020.
Peter Lukacs writes: “This play is in the public domain, and this script may be freely copied and distributed.”
He also writes, “The text of the play is taken from Frederick Boas’ edition of The Taming of a Shrew of 1908, but with much original wording and spelling reinstated from the quarto of 1594.”
Earliest Extant Edition: 1594
The Taming of a Shrew may be a parody of Christopher Marlowe’s writing by someone other than Marlowe, or it may be written by Marlowe himself as a parody of himself. Lukacs writes:
Scholar Donna N. Murphy, in her book The Marlowe-Shakespeare Continuum (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), argues that the author of A Shrew is in fact Christopher Marlowe, who wrote the play to be performed for his sister’s wedding in 1590. While I do not propose to rehearse any of Murphy’s reasoning here, I will suggest that there is some evidence (some of it based on my own research) to support the theory that Marlowe in fact wrote A Shrew to parody himself.
— Scene 1 —
A bartender appeared at the front door of a country alehouse, shoving a very drunk man named Sly out of his alehouse.
The bartender said, “You son of a whore! You drunken slave! You had best be gone and vomit and empty your drunken stomach somewhere else, for in this alehouse you shall not rest tonight.”
Sly was apparently so drunk that he had been vomiting.
The bartender went back into the alehouse.
Wandering away a short distance from the alehouse, Sly drunkenly said, “Pish posh, by Jeez, bartender, I’ll beat you soon!
“Fill up for us another drinking vessel, and all’s paid for!
“Look, I drink it of my own instigation.”
By “instigation,” he meant “initiative.”
Recalling the Latin for “All’s well,” Sly added, “Omne bene: Here I’ll lie awhile.
“Why, bartender, I say, fill up for us a fresh tankard here!
“Heigh-ho, here’s good warm lying.”
He fell asleep on the ground, which would have been cold instead of warm to him if he were not drunk.
A Nobleman — that is, a Lord — and his huntsmen were returning to their home after hunting.
The well-educated Lord said in poetic language that they were returning home because of the arrival of dark night:
“Now that the gloomy shadow of the night,
“Longing to view Orion’s drizzling looks,
“Leaps from the Antarctic world to the sky,
“And dims the sky with her pitch-black breath,
“And dark night shades over the crystal heavens,
“Here break we off our hunting for tonight.”
When the constellation Orion appears in England in late autumn, it is often accompanied by stormy weather, and so the Lord referred to “Orion’s drizzling looks.”
The Lord continued, “Leash the hounds in pairs and let us hurry home, and tell the huntsmen to see that the hounds are well fed, for they have all deserved it well today.”
Seeing the sleeping, drunken Sly, the Lord said, “But wait, what sleepy fellow is this who is lying here? Or is he dead instead of asleep?
“One of you see what he needs.”
One of the serving-men examined Sly and said, “My Lord, this is nothing but a drunken sleep; his head is too heavy for his body and so he cannot hold it up, and he has drunk so much that he can go no further.”
The Lord said, “Bah, how the slavish villain stinks of drink!”
He called to Sly, “Ho, Sirrah, arise! What! So sound asleep?”
People such as Lords could call men of lower class “Sirrah.”
Thinking of playing a practical joke on the drunken Sly, the Lord then ordered his serving-men, “Go, pick him up and carry him to my house, and carry him easily for fear he will wake up.
“In my fairest chamber make a fire, and set a sumptuous banquet on the table, and put my richest clothing on his back.Then set him at the table in a chair.
“When this is done, in anticipation for when he shall awake, let heavenly music play about him always.”
This culture lacked radio and television and YouTube, but rich people such as the Lord paid musicians and kept them on standby to play live for him.
The Lord added, “Two of you carry him away from here, and then I’II tell you what practical joke I have devised, but see in any case that you don’t wake him.”
Two serving-men carried away Sly.
Later, at his house, the Lord said to his serving-men, “Now take my cloak and give me one of yours.”
He put it on and said, “We are all equal fellows now, we are all serving-men, and see that you treat me like a serving-man, for we will wait upon and serve this drunken man in order to see his face when he awakens and finds himself dressed in such expensive attire, with heavenly music sounding in his ears, and such a banquet set before his eyes that the fellow surely will think he is in Heaven.
“But we will be around him when he awakens. See that you call him ‘Lord’ every chance you get.
He said to the servant named Will, “You offer him his horse to ride.”
He said to the servant named Tom, “And you offer him his hawks and hounds to hunt the deer.”
The Lord then said, “And I will ask what suits he means to wear.
“Whatever he says, see that you do not laugh, but always behave in such a way that will convince him that he is a Lord.”
A messenger arrived and said, “If it please your honor, your actors have come, and they await your honor’s pleasure here.”
This society had traveling troupes of actors who journeyed through the countryside and performed at the homes of the wealthy.
The Lord said, “This is the best and fittest time they could have chosen to come here. Tell one or two of them to come here immediately.
“Now I will fit myself accordingly and pretend to be a servant to the drunken man, for the actors shall perform a play for him when he awakes.”
Three actors arrived: Sander and Tom (two adult men carrying packs on their backs), and a boy. In this society, women and girls did not act. Boys performed female roles.
The Lord asked, “Now, sirs, what kind of plays do you have?”
Sander said, “Indeed, my Lord, you may have a tragical, or a comodity, or whatever you will.”
Sanders used words mistakenly: “tragical” for “tragedy,” and “comodity” for “comedy.”
Tom, who knew more about words than Sander, said, “A comedy, you should say. By God’s wounds, you shame us all.”
The Lord asked, “And what’s the name of your comedy?”
Sander replied, “Indeed, my Lord, it is called The Taming of a Shrew. It is a good lesson for us, my Lord, for us who are married men.”
The Lord said, “The Taming of a Shrew: That’s excellent, to be sure. Go and see that you get ready to perform immediately, for you must play before a Lord tonight. Say that you are his men and that I am your fellow. He’s somewhat foolish, but whatever he says, see that you are not dashed out of countenance, but continue to treat him as a Lord.”
To the boy-actor, he said, “And, Sirrah, go make yourself ready immediately, and dress yourself like some lovely lady,and when I call, see that you come to me, for I will say to him that you are his wife.
“Flirt with him and hug him in your arms, and if he wants to go to bed with you, make up some excuse and say you will soon but not now.
“Be gone, I say, and see that you act the part of his wife well!”
“Fear not, my Lord,” the boy-actor said, “I’ll flirt with him and tease him well enough, and I will make him think I love him mightily.”
The boy-actor exited.
The Lord then said to Sander and Tom, “Now, sirs, go and make yourselves ready, too, for you must perform the play as soon as he wakes up.
“Oh, this is excellent,” Sander said. “Sirrah Tom, we must play before a foolish Lord. Come, let’s go make ourselves ready. Go and get a dishcloth to clean your shoes, and I’ll take care of the stage props.”
He then turned toward the Lord and said, “My Lord, we must have a shoulder of mutton for a stage prop, and a little vinegar to make our devil roar.”
No devil appears in the play — unless Kate the shrew and Ferando the tamer are metaphorical devils. Apparently, Sander was arranging for food to feed the troupe of actors.
“Very well,” the Lord said.
He ordered a serving-man, “Sirrah, see that they lack nothing.”
— Scene 2 —
In a room in the Lord’s house, Sly, who was now richly dressed, slept in a chair placed in front of a table on which two servants had placed good, expensive food.
The first servant expressed satisfaction at a job well done: “So.”
He then said to the second servant, “Sirrah, now go and call my Lord, and tell him that all things are ready as he wished.”
The second servant replied, “Set some wine upon the board, and then I’ll go and fetch my Lord immediately.”
The first servant placed wine on the table, and then the second servant exited.
The Lord and his serving-men entered the room.
“How are things now!” the Lord said. “Are all things ready?”
“Aye, my Lord,” the first servant answered.
“Then sound the music, and I’ll wake the drunken man immediately,” the Lord said, “and see that you do as previously I gave you the order.”
He said loudly to Sly, “My Lord, my Lord!”
Sly continued to snore, and the Lord said to his serving-men, “He sleeps soundly.”
He said loudly again, “My Lord!”
Waking, and continuing to think that he was in the inn, Sly said, “Bartender, give us a little small ale. Heigh-ho!”
“Small ale” is weak ale.
“Heigh-ho” is an expression that indicates weariness.
“Here’s wine, my Lord, the purest blood of the grape,” the Lord said.
“For which Lord?” Sly asked.
The Lord replied, “For your honor, my Lord.”
“Who, I?” Sly asked. “Am I a Lord?”
He looked at the clothes he was wearing and said, “Jesus! What fine apparel I have got on!”
The Lord said, “Your honor has more clothing much richer by far to wear, and if it would please you, I will fetch better clothing immediately.”
The serving-man named Will said, “And if your honor would please to go horseback riding, I’ll fetch you lusty steeds that are swifter of pace than the winged horse Pegasus in all his pride, which ran so swiftly over the Persian plains.”
The serving-man named Tom said, “And if your honor would please to hunt the deer, your hounds stand ready leashed in pairs at the door. These hounds in running will overtake the deer and make the tiger, which runs fast and far, broken-winded.”
“By the mass, I think I am a Lord indeed,” Sly said.
He then asked the Lord, who was dressed as a serving-man, “What’s your name?”
“Simon, if it please your honor,” the Lord answered.
Sly said, “Simon — that’s as much to say ‘Simion’ or ‘Sim.’”
These were two nicknames for “Simon.”
He ordered the Lord, “Put forth your hand and fill my drinking vessel,” and then he said, “Give me your hand, Sim. Am I a Lord indeed?”
“Aye, my gracious Lord,” the Lord said, “and your lovely wife has for a long time mourned for your absence here.”
Soon the boy-actor would say that Sly had been mentally ill and not in his right mind.
The Lord said about Sly’s “wife,” “Now with joy behold where she is coming here in order to express her joy over your honor’s safe return.”
The boy-actor, now wearing woman’s clothing, entered the room.
“Sim, is this she?” Sly asked.
The Lord answered, “Aye, my Lord.”
“By the Mass!” Sly said. “She’s a pretty girl! What’s her name?”
The boy-actor said, “Oh, that my lovely Lord would once give me the favor of looking at me, and stop having these frantic, insane fits. Or if I were now but eloquent enough to paint in words what I’ll perform in deeds, I know your honor then would pity me.”
“Hark you, mistress, will you eat a piece of bread?” Sly asked.
People in Sly’s social class ate much bread. Much richer fare was on the table, but Sly was not accustomed to eating or offering to others such fare.
He then said, “Come sit down on my knee.”
The boy-actor sat on Sly’s knee.
Sly then ordered, “Sim, drink to her, Sim, for she and I will go to bed soon.”
The Lord said, “May it please you, your honor’s actors have come to offer your honor a play.”
“A play, Sim?” Sly said. “Oh, splendid! They are my players?”
Some Lords were wealthy enough to hire an entire company of actors to live on the Lord’s estate and perform plays when the Lord requested.
The Lord answered, “Aye, my Lord.”
“Isn’t there a fool in the play?” Sly asked, hoping that the answer would be, Yes, there is a comic character in the play.
The Lord answered, “Yes, there is, my Lord.”
“When will they play, Sim?” Sly asked.
“Whenever it pleases your honor, they are ready,” the Lord said.
The boy-actor said, “My Lord, I’ll go and tell them to begin their play.”
“Do, but make sure that you come back again,” Sly said.
The boy-actor replied, “I promise you, my Lord, I will not abandon you like that.”
The boy-actor exited.
“Come, Sim, where are the actors?” Sly said. “Sim, stand by me, and we’ll heckle the actors out of their coats.”
The Lord said, “I’ll call them, my Lord.”
He then called, “Ho! Where are you there?”
— 1.1 —
In Athens on the street in front of Alfonso’s house, two young gentlemen, Aurelius and Polidor, and their servants, Valeria and a boy, met.
Polidor was a resident of Athens and Aurelius was his newly arrived friend. Valeria was Aurelius’ serving-man, and the boy-servant served Polidor. Aurelius was the son of Jerobel, Duke of Sestos.
Polidor greeted Aurelius, “Welcome to Athens, my beloved friend! Welcome to Plato’s schools and Aristotle’s walks.”
Plato and Aristotle were two famous ancient Greek philosophers. Plato had been the pupil of Socrates, and Aristotle tutored the young Alexander the Great.
Aurelius had come to Athens to study philosophy.
Polidor continued, “Welcome from Sestos, famous for the love of good Leander and his tragedy, for whom the Hellespont weeps brinish tears.”
Sestos was located on the European shore of the Hellespont, the narrow strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. In mythology, a woman named Hero, who lived in Sestos, loved a man named Leander, who lived on the Asian side of the strait. Each night, Leander would swim across the Hellespont, guided by the light of a lamp that Hero lit. One night the wind blew out the lamp, and Leander drowned. After discovering his body, Hero committed suicide in order to be with him.
Polidor continued, “The greatest grief is I cannot give the entertainment I wish I could to my dearest friend.”
Aurelius replied, “Thanks, noble Polidor, my second self and best friend. The faithful love that I have found in you hasmade me leave the princely court of my father — the Duke of Sestos’ three-times-renowned seat — to come to Athens thus to find and visit you, which since I have so happily done, my fortune now I account as great as formerly did Caesar when he was most successful at warfare.
“But tell me, noble friend, where shall we lodge, for I am unacquainted in and with this place,” Polidor replied.
“My Lord, if you are willing to partake of scholar’s fare, my house, myself, and all is yours to use,” Polidor said. “You and your men shall stay and lodge with me.”
Many scholars are impoverished, and so their food and lodgings are poor.
“With all my heart I will repay your kindness,” Aurelius said.
Alfonso and his three daughters came out of their house.
Kate was Alfonso’s eldest daughter.
Philema was Alfonso’s middle daughter.
Emelia was Alfonso’s youngest daughter.
Seeing them, Aurelius said, “But wait a moment. What dames are these so light-skinned and bright of hue, whose eyes are brighter than the lamps — the stars — of heaven, fairer than pearls and precious jewels, far more lovely than is the morning Sun when first she opens her oriental gates and rises in the East?”
In this society, lighter complexions were regarded as more beautiful than darker complexions.
Alfonso said, “Daughters, leave now and hurry to the church, and I will hurry down to the quay to see what merchandise has come ashore.”
A quay is a wharf.
Alfonso and his three daughters exited.
Polidor said to his best friend, “Why, how are you now, my Lord? What! Depressed to see these damsels leave so soon?”
“Trust me, my friend,” Aurelius said. “I must confess to you that I took so much delight in these fair dames that I wish they had not gone so soon.
“If you can, tell me who they are, and who is the old man who went with them, for I long to see them once again.”
“I cannot blame your honor, my good Lord,” Polidor said, “for the three ladies are lovely, wise, beautiful, and young.
“And, sweet friend, one of them, the youngest of the three, I long have loved and she has long loved me. But we could never find a way to achieve our desired joys.”
Such desired joys can be achieved through marriage.
“Why, isn’t her father willing to agree to the marriage match?” Aurelius asked.
“Yes, trust me,” Polidor said. “But he has solemnly sworn that his eldest daughter shall first be married before he grants his younger daughters permission to love.
“Therefore, the men who intend to get the loves of the two younger daughters must first provide for the eldest daughter if they will find success in love.
“But he who marries the eldest daughter shall be so fettered that it will be as if he were wedded to the devil himself, for such a scold as the eldest daughter never did live.
“And until the eldest daughter is married, none of the other daughters will be allowed to marry, which makes me think that all my labor spent pursuing the youngest daughter is lost.
“But whoever can get the eldest daughter’s firm good will shall be sure to have a large dowry, for her father is a man of mighty wealth and an ancient citizen of the town, and he was the old man who went along with the three dames.”
Aurelius said, “But in my opinion he shall keep the eldest daughter always because she is unlikely to marry. And yet I must love his second daughter, who is the image of honor and nobility and in whose sweet person is comprised the sumof nature’s skill and heavenly majesty.”
Polidor said, “I like your choice, and I am glad you didn’t choose my choice.
“If you wish to pursue your love, we must devise a plan and find someone who will attempt to wed this devilish scold — and I know the man.”
Taking action immediately, he ordered his servant, “Come here, boy, and listen. Make your way, Sirrah, to Ferando’s house. Ask him to take the pains to come to me, for I must speak with him immediately.”
“I will, sir,” the boy servant said, “and I will fetch him here quickly.”
The boy servant exited.
“Ferando is a man, I think, who will fit the eldest daughter’s temperament well,” Polidor said. “He is as blunt in speech as she is sharp of tongue, and he, I think, will match her in every way. And yet he is a man of sufficient wealth, and as for his person he is worth as good as she.
“If he wins her to be his wife, then we both may freely visit our loves.”
Aurelius said, “Oh, I wish I could see the center of my soul, the dame whose sacred beauty has enchanted me. She is more beautiful than was the Grecian Helen of Troy for whose sweet sake so many princes died, who came with a thousand ships to Tenedos!”
In his tragedy Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe referred to the beautiful Helen of Troy as possessing “the face which launched a thousand ships.” Homer’s Iliad recounts some of the events near the end of the Trojan War, a ten-year war that started after Paris, a prince of Troy, ran off with Helen, the wife of Menelaus, the King of Sparta.
Tenedos is an island near Troy.
Aurelius continued, “But when we come into her father’s house, tell him I am a son of a merchant of Sestos, and I have come on business here to Athens.”
Continuing with his plan to wed Alfonso’s second daughter, Aurelius ordered Valeria, his serving-man, “Sirrah, I will exchange clothing with you here at this time. Now you will pretend to be the Duke of Sestos’ son. Revel and enjoy yourself and spend my money as if you were myself, for I will court my love in this disguise.”
Aurelius would pretend to be a serving-man, while Valeria would pretend to be Aurelius.
Valeria objected, “My Lord, what if the Duke, your father, would by some means come to Athens in order to see how you are profiting in these public schools of philosophy? And what if he would find me clothed thus in your attire? How do you think he would take it then, my Lord?”
“Tush, fear not, Valeria, leave it to me,” Aurelius said. “But wait, here comes some other company.”
Ferando and his serving-man Sander entered the scene. Sander was wearing the typical attire of a serving-man in this society: a blue coat. Servants’ attire — livery — differed to show which master the servant served.
Polidor said, “Here comes the man whom I told you about.”
Ferando was Polidor’s choice to pursue Kate, Alfonso’s shrewish daughter.
“Good morning, gentlemen, to both of you!” Ferando said. “How are you now, Polidor? What, man, are you still in love? Forever wooing and never succeeding? May God send me better luck when I shall woo.”
Sander said to Ferando, “I promise you success, master, if you take my advice.”
“Why, Sirrah, are you so cunning?” Ferando said.
“Who, I? It would be better for you by five marks, if you could tell how to do it as well as I,” Sander said.
Marks were 16th century English money. This strange “Athens” used English money such as crowns, and some of the citizens’ names were more Italian than Greek.
Polidor said to Sander, “I wish that your master were in the mood to test himself and see how he could woo a wench.”
The word “wench” at this time was often used affectionately.
“Indeed, I am even now going to woo a woman,” Ferando said.
Sander backed up that statement: “Indeed, sir, my master’s going about this business right now.”
“Where will you woo, indeed, Ferando?” Polidor asked. “Tell me the truth.”
Ferando said, “I am going to woo Signor Alfonso’s eldest daughter, bonny Kate, the most patient wench alive.” He was sarcastic when he referred to “bonny Kate, the most patient wench alive,” as was shown by his next statement: “The devil himself scarcely dares to venture to woo her.”
“Signor” is an Italian courtesy title; it can also be spelled “Signior.”
He continued, “Signor Alfonso has promised me six thousand crowns if I can win her to be my wife.”
This was a very good dowry.
Ferando added, “She and I must woo with scolding, surely, and I will make her scold until she is exhausted and can argue against me no longer, or else give up and agree to marry me.”
“How do you like this, Aurelius?” Polidor said. “I think he knew what was in our minds before we sent to him.”
He then asked Ferando, “But tell me, when do you mean to speak with her?”
“Indeed, immediately,” Ferando said. “Just stand to the side, out of the way, and I will make her father bring her here, and she, and I, and he, will talk alone, privately.”
“We will do that with all our hearts!” Polidor said. “Come, Aurelius, let us go, and leave him here alone.”
Aurelius and Polonius exited.
Ferando called, “Ho! Signor Alfonso, who’s within there?”
Alfonso returned from the quay and said, “Signor Ferando, you’re welcome heartily. You are a stranger, sir, to my house.”
Either this was the first time that Ferando had been to Alfonso’s house, or he had not been there for a while.
Alfonso continued, “Listen, sir. Look, I’ll do what I promised you, if you get my daughter’s love.”
Ferando replied, “Then after I have talked a word or two with her, you step in and give her hand to me, and tell her when the marriage day shall be. For I know she would willingly be married. And when our nuptial rites have once been performed, let me alone to tame her well enough.
“Now call her forth so that I may speak with her.”
Alfonso called for her, and Kate arrived on the scene.
“Ha, Kate!” Alfonso said. “Come hither, wench, and listen to me. Treat this gentleman as friendly as you can.”
Alfonso exited. Ferando’s serving-man Sander stood behind a door to give some privacy to Ferando and Kate, but he was still within hearing distance. A good servant knows more about his master than the master usually thinks the servant knows.
“Twenty good mornings to my lovely Kate!” Ferando said.
“You jest, I am sure. Is she yours already?” Kate said.
“I tell you, Kate, I know you love me well,” Ferando said.
“The devil you do!” Kate said. “Who told you that?”
“My mind, sweet Kate, does say that I am the man who must wed and bed and marry bonny Kate,” Ferando said.
“Was ever seen so gross an ass as this?” Kate said.
“Aye, to stand so long and never get a kiss,” Ferando said.
Ferando attempted to kiss Kate, but failed.
“Hands off, I say, and get away from this place,” Kate said, “or I will set my ten commandments in your face.”
Kate’s ten commandments were her fingers: She was threatening to scratch Ferando’s face, thereby commanding him to leave her alone.
“I pray that you do, Kate,” Ferando said. “They say you are a shrew, and I like you the better for it, for I would have you so.”
He wanted a wife with spirit — but one who would respect and obey him.
“Let go of my hand for fear it will reach your ear and hit you,” Kate said.
“No, Kate, this hand is mine, and I am your love,” Ferando said.
“Indeed, sir, no,” Kate said. “The woodcock lacks his tail.”
Woodcocks were notoriously stupid birds that were easily trapped.
The tail could be a body part that men have and women do not have.
“But yet his bill — his mouth — will serve, if the other fail,” Ferando said.
He kissed her.
Alfonso re-entered the scene.
“How are things now, Ferando?” Alfonso asked. “What says my daughter?”
“She’s willing to marry me, sir,” Ferando said, “and she loves me as she loves her life.”
“It is for the sake of your skin then, but not to be your wife,” Kate said.
She may have meant that she wanted to scratch his skin.
“Come here, Kate, and let me give your hand to him whom I have chosen for your love,” Alfonso said, “and you tomorrow — Sunday — shall be wed to him.”
“Why, father, what do you mean to do with me,” Kate said. “To give me thus to this brain-sick madman, who in his mood doesn’t care if he murders me?”
She thought, But yet I will consent and marry him, for I think that I have lived too long a maiden, and I will match him and be his equal, too, or else his manhood’s good.
Only a strong, capable man could tame Kate.
“Give me your hand,” Alfonso replied. “Ferando loves you well, and he will with wealth and ease maintain your high and stately quality of life.”
He then said, “Here, Ferando, take her for your wife, and Sunday — tomorrow — shall be your wedding day.”
Ferando said, “Why, didn’t I tell you I should be the man?”
Now that Ferando and Alfonso were to be son-in-law and father-in-law, they began to call each other “Son” and “Father.”
Ferando said, “Father, I leave my lovely Kate with you. Prepare yourselves for our marriage day, for I must hurry to my country house, to see that provision may be made to entertain my Kate when she comes.”
Alfonso said, “Do so.
“Come, Kate, why do you look so sad? Be merry, wench, your wedding day’s at hand.
“Son, fare you well, and see that you keep your promise.”
Alfonso didn’t want Ferando to reconsider his decision to marry Kate. He did not want his eldest daughter to be abandoned at the altar.
Alfonso and Kate exited.
“So,” Ferando said. “All, thus far, goes well.”
He called, “Ho, Sander!”
Sander came out from behind the door where he had been standing to give Alfonso and the others some privacy.
Laughing, he said, in part to himself, “Sander, indeed, you’re a beast. I cry to God heartily for mercy — my heart’s ready to run out of my belly with laughing. I stood behind the door all this while and heard what you said to her.”
“Why, did you think that I did not speak well to her?” Ferando asked.
Sander said, “You spoke like an ass to her. I’ll tell you what, if I had been there to have wooed her, and if I had thiscloak on that you have and if I had been in your shoes, I would have had her before she had gone a step further.
“But you talk of woodcocks with her, and I cannot tell you what else.”
Tails can be embarrassing to speak about.
“Well, Sirrah,” Ferando said, “and yet you see I have got her for all this. She will be my bride.”
“Aye, by the Virgin Mary, it was more by good luck than by any good cunning. I hope she’ll make you one of the head-men of the parish shortly.”
The kind of “head-man” Sander may have meant may have been a man with horns on his head — in other words, a cuckold.
“Well, Sirrah, leave your jesting and go to Polidor’s house,” Ferando said. “Find there the young gentleman who was here with me, and tell him the details of all you know. Tell him that on this Sunday Kate and I must be married. And if he asks you where I have gone, tell him into the country to my house, and I’ll be here again Sunday.”
Alone, Sander said, “I assure you, master, fear not that I will not do my business.”
Ferando was about to marry into one of the richest families in Athens. He would have a notable rise in status, and as his servant, Sander would also have a notable rise in status.
Sander continued, “Now hang him who has not a livery coat to slash it out and swash it out and swagger it out among the proudest of them.”
One can slash with a sword, and one can swash by making a noise with a sword. A swashbuckler is a person who beats a shield of the kind called a buckler with a sword. Such a person can be a miles gloriosus, which is Latin for a swaggering, boastful soldier. In the theater, such soldiers are stock comic characters.
He continued, “Why, look you now, I’ll scarcely put up with plain ‘Sander’ now at any of their hands, for if anybody wants to have anything to do with my master, immediately they will come crouching and bowing to me to say, ‘I beg you, good Master Sander, speak a good word for me,’ and they will beg me to arrange an appointment for him. Then I will be very stout and arrogant and stand upon my dignity and behave pompously to an extraordinary degree.
“Why, I have a life like a giant now, except that my master lately has such a pestilent mind that he will marry a shrewish woman now. I have a pretty wench who is my sister, and I had thought to have recommended my master to her; their marriage would have been a good deal in my way to make me rise higher in society, but now he’s engaged to another woman already.”
Polidor’s boy-servant entered the scene.
He greeted Sander, “Friend, well met!”
Thinking about his soon-to-be rise in status, Sander was affronted by the informal greeting and said, “By God’s wounds, ‘Friend, well met!’
“I bet my life he doesn’t see my master’s livery — the coat I am wearing. If he did, he would treat me with more respect.”
He then greeted Polidor’s boy-servant, “Plain friend hop-of-my-thumb, do you know who we are?”
He was using the majestic plural because he regarded himself as vastly superior to this small boy.
“Trust me, sir, it is the custom where I was born to salute men after this manner,” Polidor’s boy-servant said. “Yet, notwithstanding, if you are angry at me for calling you ‘friend,’ I am the more sorry for it, hoping the name of a fool will make you amends for all.”
Sander thought that the boy-servant was calling himself a fool, but the boy-servant was calling Sander a fool.
Sander thought, The slave is sorry for his fault; now we cannot be angry.
He then said, “Well, what’s the business that you have with us.”
“By the Virgin Mary, sir,” the boy-servant said, “I hear you are employed by Signor Ferando.”
“Aye, and if you are not blind, you may see,” Sander said. “Ecce signum, here.”
He pointed to his livery, which showed that he was employed by Signor Ferando.
Ecce signum is Latin for “Behold the sign.”
The boy-servant asked, “Shall I entreat you to deliver for me a message to your master?”
“Aye, you may,” Sander said, “if you tell us from where you come.”
“By the Virgin Mary, sir, I serve young Polidor, your master’s friend,” the boy-servant said.
“Do you serve him, and what’s your name?” Sander asked.
“My name, Sirrah, I tell you, Sirrah, is called Catapie,” the boy-servant said.
“Cake and pie?” Sander said. “Oh, my teeth waters to have a piece of you.”
“Why, slave, would you eat me?” the boy-servant asked.
“Eat you?” Sander said. “Who would not eat cake and pie?”
“Why, villain, my name is Catapie,” the boy-servant said. “But will you tell me where your master is?”
“No, you must first tell me where your master is, for I have good news for him, I can tell you,” Sander said.
“Why, see there where he comes,” the boy-servant said, pointing.
Polidor, Aurelius, and Valeria entered the scene. Polidor was the boy-servant’s master.
“Come, sweet Aurelius, my faithful friend,” Polidor said. “Now we will go to see those lovely dames, richer in beauty than the orient pearl, whiter than is the Alpine crystal mould, and far more lovely than the Terean plant, which blushing in the air turns to a stone.”
Polidor’s being in love was making him speak poetically. The Alpine crystal mould was the icy top of an Alp. (The word “mould” literally means “top of the head.”) The Terean plant was Mediterranean coral. In this society, people believed that coral was a sea-plant that turned to stone and turned reddish when exposed to air.
Seeing Sander and the boy-servant, Polidor asked, “Sander, what is the news with you?”
“By the Virgin Mary, sir,” Sander said, “my master sends you word that you must come to his wedding tomorrow.”
“What!” Polidor said. “Shall he be married then?”
“Indeed, yes,” Sander said. “You think he stands as long about getting married as you do?”
“Where has your master gone now?” Polidor asked.
“By the Virgin Mary,” Sander said, “he’s gone to our house in the country in order to make all things ready in preparation for when my new mistress comes there, but he’ll come again tomorrow.”
“This is suddenly dispatched, it seems,” Polidor said.
He then ordered, “Well, Sirrah boy-servant, take Sander in with you, and take him to the pantry immediately and give him some refreshments.”
“I will, sir,” the boy-servant replied. “Come, Sander.”
Sander and the boy-servant exited.
Aurelius had made a change in his plan to court Alfonso’s second daughter: Philema. Previously, the plan was for Valeria to impersonate Aurelius. Now Aurelius had decided that Valeria would impersonate a music tutor.
Aurelius said to his servant, “Valeria, as formerly we did plan, take your lute and go to Alfonso’s house, and say that Polidor sent you there.”
Polidor said, “Aye, Valeria, for he spoke to me and asked me to help him find some skillful musician to teach his eldest daughter, Kate, to play on the lute. And you, I know, will fit his turn and serve his purpose so well that you shall get great favor at his hands.
“Go, Valeria, and say I sent you to him.”
“I will, sir,” Valeria said, “and I will await your coming at Alfonso’s house.”
Polidor said, “Now, sweet Aurelius, through this plan we shall have the opportunity to court our loves, for while Kate is learning on the lute, her sisters may take the opportunity to steal abroad and go outside for otherwise she’ll keep them both within the house and make them work while she herself plays.
“But come, let’s go to Alfonso’s house, and see how Valeria and Kate agree. I doubt his music will please his scholar.”
It is difficult to please a shrew.
“But wait,” Polidor said. “Here comes Alfonso.”
Alfonso walked over to them and said, “Master Polidor, you are well met. I thank you for the man you sent to me. I think he is a good musician. I have set my daughter and him together.”
Looking at Aurelius, Alfonso asked, “But is this gentleman a friend of yours?”
“He is,” Polidor said, “Please, sir, welcome him. He’s the son of a wealthy merchant of Sestos.”
Alfonso said to Aurelius, “You’re welcome, sir, and if my house can provide you with anything that may content your mind, I ask you, sir, to make bold with me and request it.”
“I thank you, sir,” Aurelius replied, “and if what I have got, by merchandise or travel on the seas, satins, or fine linen, or azure-colored silk, or precious fiery-pointed gems of India, you shall command both them, myself, and all.”
Azure is blue.
“Thanks, gentle sir,” Alfonso replied.
He then said, “Polidor, take him in, and bid him welcome, too, to my house, for you, I think, must be my second son.”
Because Ferando was marrying Kate, Polidor would be able to marry Alfonso’s third daughter: Emelia. Thus, Polidor would be Alfonso’s second son-in-law.
Alfonso continued, “Polidor, don’t you know? Ferando must marry Kate, and tomorrow is the day of the wedding.”
“Such news I heard,” Polidor said, “and I came here now to confirm it.”
“Polidor, it is true,” Alfonso said. “Go, and let me alone now, for I must see to the preparations for when the bridegroom comes so that all things will be as he wishes, and so I’ll leave you for an hour or two.”
Polidor said, “Come then, Aurelius, come in with me, and we’ll go and sit awhile and chat with Alfonso’s middle and youngest daughters, and afterward bring them forth to go for a stroll and take the air.
Polidor and Aurelius exited.
Sly, who had been drinking and watching the play, asked, “Sim, when will the fool come again?”
Sander is the fool.
The real Lord replied, “He’ll come again, my Lord, soon.”
“Give us some more drink here,” Sly said. “By God’s wounds, where’s the bartender?”
Sly, still drunk and confused, thought he was at the inn.
He then said, “Here, Sim, eat some of these things,” referring to the food on the table.
“So I do, my Lord,” the real Lord replied.
“Here, Sim, I drink to you,” Sly said.
“My Lord, here come the actors again,” the real Lord said.
“Oh, splendid,” Sly said. “Here’s two fine gentlewomen!”
Actually the characters were Kate and Aurelius’ man-servant Valeria, who was wearing tutor’s clothing that Sly apparently thought was feminine attire.