Grim death, how foul and loathsome is thine image!
Sirs, I will practise on this drunken man.
What think you, if he were convey’d to bed,
Wrapp’d 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?
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 honour will command?”
Let one attend him with a silver basin
Full of rose-water and bestrew’d with flowers,
Another bear the ewer, the third a diaper,
And say “Will’t please your lordship cool your hands?”
Some one 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.
And each one to his office when he wakes.
Sirrah, go see what trumpet ‘tis that sounds:
Belike, some noble gentleman that means,
Travelling some journey, to repose him here.
How now! who is it?
Well, you are come to me in a 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 to-night:
But I am doubtful of your modesties;
Lest over-eyeing of his odd behavior,—
For yet his honour 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.
And give them friendly welcome every one:
Let them want nothing that my house affords.
Sirrah, go you to Barthol’mew my page,
And see him dress’d 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 honourable action,
Such as he hath observed in noble ladies
Unto their lords, by them accomplished:
Such duty to the drunkard let him do
With soft low tongue and lowly courtesy,
And say “What is’t your honour 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 overjoy’d
To see her noble lord restored to health,
Who for this seven years hath esteem’d 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 convey’d
Shall in despite enforce a watery eye.
See this dispatch’d with all the haste thou canst:
Anon I’ll give thee more instructions.
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.