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leave her. I will give her thanks as if she bid me stay with her a
week.' Now the stately Katharine entered, and Petruchio first addressed
her with 'Good morrow, Kate, for that is your name, I hear.' Katharine,
not liking this plain salutation, said disdainfully: 'They call me
Katharine who do speak to me.' 'You lie,' replied the lover; 'for you
are called plain Kate, and bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the Shrew:
but, Kate, you are the prettiest Kate in Christendom, and therefore,
Kate, hearing your mildness praised in every town, I am come to woo you
for my wife.'

A strange courtship they made of it. She in loud and angry terms
showing him how justly she had gained the name of Shrew, while he still
praised her sweet and courteous words, till at length, hearing her
father coming, he said (intending to make as quick a wooing as
possible): 'Sweet Katharine, let us set this idle chat aside, for your
father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry is agreed
on, and whether you will or no, I will marry you.'

And now Baptista entering, Petruchio told him his daughter had received
him kindly, and that she had promised to be married the next Sunday.
This Katharine denied, saying she would rather see him hanged on
Sunday, and reproached her father for wishing to wed her to such a
mad-cap ruffian as Petruchio. Petruchio desired her father not to
regard her angry words, for they had agreed she should seem reluctant
before him, but that when they were alone he had found her very fond
and loving; and he said to her: 'Give me your hand, Kate; I will go to
Venice to buy you fine apparel against our wedding day. Provide the
feast, father, and bid the wedding guests. I will be sure to bring
rings, fine array, and rich clothes, that my Katharine may be fine; and
kiss me, Kate, for we will be married on Sunday.'

On the Sunday all the wedding guests were assembled, but they waited
long before Petruchio came, and Katharine wept for vexation to think
that Petruchio had only been making a jest of her. At last, however, he
appeared; but he brought none of the bridal finery he had promised
Katharine, nor was he dressed himself like a bridegroom, but in strange
disordered attire, as if he meant to make a sport of the serious
business he came about; and his servant and the very horses on which
they rode were in like manner in mean and fantastic fashion habited.

Petruchio could not be persuaded to change his dress; he said Katharine
was to be married to him, and not to his clothes; and finding it was in
vain to argue with him, to the church they went, he still behaving in
the same mad way, for when the priest asked Petruchio if Katharine
should be his wife, he swore so loud that she should, that, all amazed,
the priest let fall his book, and as he stooped to take it up, this
mad-brained bridegroom gave him such a cuff, that down fell the priest
and his book again. And all the while they were being married he
stamped and swore so, that the high-spirited Katharine trembled and
shook with fear. After the ceremony was over, while they were yet in
the church, he called for wine, and drank a loud health to the company,
and threw a sop which was at the bottom of the glass full in the
sexton's face, giving no other reason for this strange act, than that
the sexton's beard grew thin and hungerly, and seemed to ask the sop as
he was drinking. Never sure was there such a mad marriage; but
Petruchio did but put this wildness on, the better to succeed in the
plot he had formed to tame his shrewish wife.

Baptista had provided a sumptuous marriage feast, but when they
returned from church, Petruchio, taking hold of Katharine, declared his
intention of carrying his wife home instantly: and no remonstrance of
his father-in-law, or angry words of the enraged Katharine, could make
him change his purpose. He claimed a husband's right to dispose of his
wife as he pleased, and away he hurried Katharine off: he seeming so
daring and resolute that no one dared attempt to stop him.

Petruchio mounted his wife upon a miserable horse, lean and lank, which
he had picked out for the purpose, and himself and his servant no
better mounted; they journeyed on through rough and miry ways, and ever
when this horse of Katharine's stumbled, he would storm and swear at
the poor jaded beast, who could scarce crawl under his burthen, as if
he had been the most passionate man alive.

At length, after a weary journey, during which Katharine had heard
nothing but the wild ravings of Petruchio at the servant and the
horses, they arrived at his house. Petruchio welcomed her kindly to her
home, but he resolved she should have neither rest nor food that night.
The tables were spread, and supper soon served; but Petruchio,
pretending to find fault with every dish, threw the meat about the
floor, and ordered the servants to remove it away; and all this he did,
as he said, in love for his Katharine, that she might not eat meat that
was not well dressed. And when Katharine, weary and supperless, retired
to rest, he found the same fault with the bed, throwing the pillows and
bedclothes about the room, so that she was forced to sit down in a
chair, where if she chanced to drop asleep, she was presently awakened
by the loud voice of her husband, storming at the servants for the
ill-making of his wife's bridal-bed.

The next day Petruchio pursued the same course, still speaking kind
words to Katharine, but when she attempted to eat, finding fault with
everything that was set before her throwing the breakfast on the floor
as he had done the supper; and Katharine, the haughty Katherine, was
fain to beg the servants would bring her secretly a morsel of food; but
they being instructed by Petruchio, replied, they dared not give her
anything unknown to their master. 'Ah,' said she, 'did he marry me to
famish me? Beggars that come to my father's door have food given them.
But I, who never knew what it was to entreat for anything, am starved
for want of food, giddy for want of sleep, with oaths kept waking, and
with brawling fed; and that which vexes me more than all, he does it
under the name of perfect love, pretending that if I sleep or eat, it
were present death to me.' Here the soliloquy was interrupted by the
entrance of Petruchio: he, not meaning she should be quite starved, had
brought her a small portion of meat, and he said to her: 'How fares my
sweet Kate? Here, love, you see how diligent I am, I have dressed your
meat myself. I am sure this kindness merits thanks. What, not a word?
Nay, then you love not the meat, and all the pains I have taken is to
no purpose.' He then ordered the servant to take the dish away. Extreme
hunger, which had abated the pride of Katharine, made her say, though
angered to the heart: 'I pray you let it stand.' But this was not all
Petruchio intended to bring her to, and he replied: 'The poorest
service is repaid with thanks, and so shall mine before you touch the
meat.' On this Katharine brought out a reluctant 'I thank you, sir.'
And now he suffered her to make a slender meal, saying: 'Much good may
it do your gentle heart, Kate; eat apace! And now, my honey love, we
will return to your father's house, and revel it as bravely as the
best, with silken coats and caps and golden rings, with ruffs and
scares and fans and double change of finery'; and to make her believe
he really intended to give her these gay things, he called in a tailor
and a haberdasher, who brought some new clothes he had ordered for her,
and then giving her plate to the servant to take away, before she had
half satisfied her hunger, he said: 'What, have you dined?' The
haberdasher presented a cap, saying: 'Here is the cap your worship
bespoke'; on which Petruchio began to storm afresh, saying the cap was
moulded in a porringer, and that it was no bigger than a cockle or
walnut shell, desiring the haberdasher to take it away and make it
bigger. Katharine said: 'I will have this; all gentlewomen wear such
caps as these.' 'When you are gentle,' replied Petruchio, 'you shall
have one too, and not till then.' The meat Katharine had eaten had a
little revived her fallen spirits, and she said: 'Why, sir, I trust I
may have leave to speak, and speak I will: I am no child, no babe; your
betters have endured to hear me say my mind; and if you cannot, you had
better stop your ears.' Petruchio would not hear these angry words, for
he had happily discovered a better way of managing his wife than
keeping up a jangling argument with her; therefore his answer was:
'Why, you say true; it is a paltry cap, and I love you for not liking
it.' 'Love me, or love me not,' said Katharine, 'I like the cap, and I
will have this cap or none.' 'You say you wish to see the gown,' said
Petruchio, still affecting to misunderstand her. The tailor then came
forward and showed her a fine gown he had made for her. Petruchio,
whose intent was that she should have neither cap nor gown, found as
much fault with that. 'O mercy, Heaven!' said he, 'what stuff is here!
What, do you call this a sleeve? it is like a demi-cannon, carved up
and down like an apple tart.' The tailor said: 'You bid me make it
according to the fashion of the times'; and Katharine said, she never
saw a better fashioned gown. This was enough for Petruchio, and
privately desiring these people might be paid for their goods, and
excuses made to them for the seemingly strange treatment he bestowed
upon them, he with fierce words and furious gestures drove the tailor
and the haberdasher out of the room; and then, turning to Katharine, he
said: 'Well, come, my Kate, we will go to your father's even in these
mean garments we now wear.' And then he ordered his horses, affirming
they should reach Baptista's house by dinner-time, for that it was but
seven o'clock. Now it was not early morning but the very middle of the
day, when he spoke this, therefore Katharine ventured to say, though
modestly, being almost overcome by the vehemence of his manner: 'I dare
assure you, sir, it is two o'clock, and will be supper-time before we
get there.' But Petruchio meant that she should be so completely
subdued, that she should assent to everything he said, before he
carried her to her father; and therefore, as if he were lord even of
the sun, and could command the hours, he said it should be what time he
pleased to have it, before he set forward; 'For,' he said, 'whatever I
say or do, you still are crossing it. I will not go to-day, and when I
go, it shall be what o'clock I say it is.' Another day Katherine was
forced to practice her newly found obedience, and not till he had
brought her proud spirit to such a perfect subjection, that she dared
not remember there was such a word as contradiction, would Petruchio
allow her to go to her father's house; and even while they were upon
their journey thither, she was in danger of being turned back again,
only because she happened to hint it was the sun, when he affirmed the
moon shone brightly at noonday. 'Now, by my mother's son,' said he,
'and that is myself, it shall be the moon, or stars, or what I list,
before I journey to your father's house.' He then made as if he were
going back again; but Katherine, no longer Katherine the Shrew, but the
obedient wife, said: 'Let us go forward, I pray, now we have come so
far, and it shall be the sun, or moon, or what you please, and if you
please to call it a rush candle henceforth, I vowed it shall be so for
me.' This he was resolved to prove, therefore he said again: 'I say, it
is the moon.' 'I know it is the moon,' replied Katherine. 'You lie, it
is the blessed sun,' said Petruchio. 'Then it is the blessed sun,'
replied Katherine; 'but sun it is not, when you say it is not. What you
will have it named, even so it is, and so it ever shall be for
Katherine.' Now then he suffered her to proceed on her journey; but
further to try if this yielding humour would last, he addressed an old
gentleman they met on the road as if he had been a young woman, saying
to him: 'Good morrow, gentle mistress'; and asked Katherine if she had
ever beheld a fairer gentlewoman, praising the red and white of the old
man's cheeks, and comparing his eyes to two bright stars; and again he
addressed him, saying: 'Fair lovely maid, once more good day to you!'
and said to his wife: 'Sweet Kate, embrace her for her beauty's sake.'
The now completely vanquished Katharine quickly adopted her husband's
opinion, and made her speech in like sort to the old gentleman, saying
to him: 'Young budding virgin, you are fair, and fresh, and sweet:
whither are you going, and where is your dwelling? Happy are the
parents of so fair a child.' 'Why, how now, Kate,' said Petruchio; 'I
hope you are not mad. This is a man, old and wrinkled, faded and
withered, and not a maiden, as you say he is.' On this Katharine said:
'Pardon me, old gentleman; the sun has so dazzled my eyes, that
everything I look on seemeth green. Now I perceive you are a reverend
father: I hope you will pardon me for my sad mistake.' 'Do, good old
grand-sire,' said Petruchio, 'and tell us which way you are travelling.
We shall be glad of your good company, if you are going our way.' The
old gentleman replied: 'Fair sir, and you my merry mistress, your
strange encounter has much amazed me. My name is Vincentio, and I am
going to visit a son of mine who lives at Padua.' Then Petruchio knew
the old gentleman to e the father of Lucentio, a young gentleman who
was to be married to Baptista's younger daughter, Bianca, and he made
Vincentio very happy, by telling him the rich marriage his son was
about to make: and they all journeyed on pleasantly together till they
came to Baptista's house, where there was a large company assembled to
celebrate the wedding of Bianca and Lucentio, Baptista having willingly
consented to the marriage of Bianca when he had got Katharine off his
hands.

When they entered, Baptista welcomed them to the wedding feast, and
there was present also another newly married pair.

Lucentio, Bianca's husband, and Hortensio, the other new married man,
could not forbear sly jests, which seemed to hint at the shrewish
disposition of Petruchio's wife, and these fond bridegrooms seemed high
pleased with the mild tempers of the ladies they had chosen, laughing
at Petruchio for his less fortunate choice. Petruchio took little
notice of their jokes till the ladies were retired after dinner, and
then he perceived Baptista himself joined in the laugh against him: for
when Petruchio affirmed that his wife would prove more obedient than
theirs, the father of Katharine said: 'Now, in good sadness, son
Petruchio, I fear you have got the veriest shrew of all.' 'Well,' said
Petruchio, 'I say no, and therefore for assurance that I speak the
truth, let us each one send for his wife, and he whose wife is most
obedient to come at first when she is sent for, shall win a wager which
we will propose.' To this the other two husbands willingly consented,
for they were quite confident that their gentle wives would prove more
obedient than the headstrong Katharine; and they proposed a wager of
twenty crowns, but Petruchio merrily said, he would lay as much as that
upon his hawk or hound, but twenty times as much upon his wife.
Lucentio and Hortensio raised the wager to a hundred crowns, and
Lucentio first sent his servant to desire Bianca would come to him. But
the servant returned, and said: 'Sir, my mistress sends you word she is
busy and cannot come.' 'How,' said Petruchio, 'does she say she is busy
and cannot come? Is that an answer for a wife?' Then they laughed at
him, and said, it would be well if Katharine did not send him a worse
answer. And now it was Hortensio's turn to send for his wife; and he
said to his servant: 'Go, and entreat my wife to come to me.' 'Oh ho!
entreat her!' said Petruchio. 'Nay, then, she needs must come.' 'I am
afraid, sir,' said Hortensio, 'your wife will not be entreated.' But
presently this civil husband looked a little blank, when the servant
returned without his mistress; and he said to him: 'How now! Where is
my wife?' 'Sir,' said the servant, 'my mistress says, you have some
goodly jest in hand, and therefore she will not come. She bids you come
to her.' 'Worse and worse!' said Petruchio; and then he sent his
servant, saying: 'Sirrah, go to your mistress, and tell her I command
her to come to me.' The company had scarcely time to think she would
not obey this summons, when Baptista, all in amaze, exclaimed: 'Now, by
my holidame, here comes Katharine!' and she entered, saying meekly to
Petruchio: 'What is your will, sir, that you send for me?' 'Where is
your sister and Hortensio's wife?' said he. Katharine replied: 'They
sit conferring by the parlour fire.' 'Go, fetch them hither!' said
Petruchio. Away went Katharine without reply to perform her husband's
command. 'Here is a wonder,' said Lucentio, 'if you talk of a wonder.'
'And so it is,' said Hortensio; 'I marvel what it bodes.' 'Marry, peace
it bodes,' said Petruchio, 'and love, and quiet life, and right
supremacy; and, to be short, everything that is sweet and happy.'
Katharine's father, overjoyed to see this reformation in his daughter,
said: 'Now, fair befall thee, son Petruchio! you have won the wager,
and I will add another twenty thousand crowns to her dowry, as if she
were another daughter, for she is changed as if she had never been,'
'Nay,' said Petruchio, 'I will win the wager better yet, and show more
signs of her new-built virtue and obedience.' Katharine now entering
with the two ladies, he continued: 'See where she comes, and brings
your froward wives as prisoners to her womanly persuasion. Katharine,
that cap of yours does not become you; off with that bauble, and throw
it under foot.' Katharine instantly took off her cap, and threw it
down. 'Lord!' said Hortensio's wife, 'may I never have a cause to sigh
till I am brought to such a silly pass!' And Bianca, she too said:
'Fie, what foolish duty call you this?' On this Bianca's husband said
to her: 'I wish your duty were as foolish too! The wisdom of your duty,
fair Bianca, has cost me a hundred crowns since dinner-time.' 'The more
fool you,' said Bianca, 'for laying on my duty.' 'Katharine,' said
Petruchio, 'I charge you tell these headstrong women what duty they owe
their lords and husbands.' And to the wonder of all present, the
reformed shrewish lady spoke as eloquently in praise of the wifelike
duty of obedience, as she had practiced it implicitly in a ready
submission to Petruchio's will. And Katharine once more became famous
in Padua, not as heretofore, as Katharine the Shrew, but as Katharine
the most obedient and duteous wife in Padua.





THE COMEDY OF ERRORS

The states of Syracuse and Ephesus being at variance, there was a cruel
law made at Ephesus, ordaining that if any merchant of Syracuse was
seen in the city of Ephesus, he was to be put to death, unless he could
pay a thousand marks for the ransom of his life.

Aegeon, an old merchant of Syracuse, was discovered in the streets of
Ephesus, and brought before the duke, either to pay this heavy fine, or
to receive sentence of death.

Aegeon had no money to pay the fine, and the duke, before he pronounced
the sentence of death upon him, desired him to relate the history of
his life, and to tell for what cause he had ventured to come to the
city of Ephesus, which it was death for any Syracusan merchant to enter.

Aegeon said, that he did not fear to die, for sorrow had made him weary
of his life, but that a heavier task could not have been imposed upon
him than to relate the events of his unfortunate life. He then began
his own history, in the following words:

'I was born at Syracuse, and brought up to the profession of a
merchant. I married a lady, with whom I lived very happily, but being
obliged to go to Epidamnum, I was detained there by my business six
months, and then, finding I should be obliged to stay some time longer,
I sent for my wife, who, as soon as she arrived, was brought to bed of
two sons, and what was very strange, they were both so exactly alike,
that it was impossible to distinguish the one from the other. At the
same time that my wife was brought to bed of these twin boys, a poor
woman in the inn where my wife lodged was brought to bed of two sons,
and these twins were as much like each other as my two sons were. The
parents of these children being exceeding poor, I bought the two boys,
and brought them up to attend upon my sons.

'My sons were very fine children, and my wife was not a little proud of
two such boys: and she daily wishing to return home, I unwillingly
agreed, and in an evil hour we got on shipboard; for we had not sailed
above a league from Epidamnum before a dreadful storm arose, which
continued with such violence, that the sailors seeing no chance of
saving the ship, crowded into the boat to save their own lives, leaving
us alone in the ship, which we every moment expected would be destroyed
by the fury of the storm.

'The incessant weeping of my wife, and the piteous complaints of the
pretty babes, who, not knowing what to fear, wept for fashion, because
they saw their mother weep, filled me with terror for them, though I
did not for myself fear death; and all my thoughts were bent to
contrive means for their safety. I tied my youngest son to the end of a
small spare mast, such as seafaring men provide against storms; at the
other end I bound the youngest of the twin slaves, and at the same time
I directed my wife how to fasten the other children in like manner to
another mast. She thus having the care of the two eldest children, and
I of the two younger, we bound ourselves separately to these masts with
the children; and but for this contrivance we had all been lost, for
the ship split on a mighty rock, and was dashed in pieces; and we,
clinging to these slender masts, were supported above the water, where
I, having the care of two children, was unable to assist my wife, who
with the other children was soon separated from me; but while they were
yet in my sight, they were taken up by a boat of fishermen, from
Corinth (as I supposed), and seeing them in safety, I had no care but
to struggle with the wild sea-waves, to preserve my dear son and the
youngest slave. At length we, in our turn, were taken up by a ship, and
the sailors, knowing me, gave us kind welcome and assistance, and
landed us in safety at Syracuse; but from that sad hour I have never
known what became of my wife and eldest child.

'My youngest son, and now my only care, when he was eighteen years of
age, began to be inquisitive after his mother and his brother, and
often importuned me that he might take his attendant, the young slave,
who had also lost his brother, and go in search of them: at length I
unwillingly gave consent, for though I anxiously desired to hear
tidings of my wife and eldest son, yet in sending my younger one to
find them, I hazarded the loss of them also. It is now seven years
since my son left me; five years have I passed in travelling through
the world in search of him: I have been in farthest Greece, and through
the bounds of Asia, and coasting homewards, I landed here in Ephesus,
being unwilling to leave any place unsought that harbours men; but this
day must end the story of my life, and happy should I think myself in
my death, if I were assured my wife and sons were living.'

Here the hapless Aegeon ended the account of his misfortunes; and the
duke, pitying this unfortunate father, who had brought upon himself
this great peril by his love for his lost son, said, if it were not
against the laws, which his oath and dignity did not permit him to
alter, he would freely pardon him; yet, instead of dooming him to
instant death, as the strict letter of the law required, he would give
him that day to try if he could beg or borrow the money to pay the fine.

This day of grace did seem no great favour to Aegeon, for not knowing
any man in Ephesus, there seemed to him but little chance that any
stranger would lend or give him a thousand marks to pay the fine; and
helpless and hopeless of any relief, he retired from the presence of
the duke in the custody of a jailor.

Aegeon supposed he knew no person in Ephesus; but at the very time he
was in danger of losing his life through the careful search he was
making after his youngest son, that son and his eldest son also were
both in the city of Ephesus.

Aegeon's sons, besides being exactly alike in face and person, were
both named alike, being both called Antipholus, and the two twin slaves
were also both named Dromio. Aegeon's youngest son, Antipholus of


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Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 13 of 23)