[The acting troupe commences their play. The setting is a public square in the city of Padua, located in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. The sound of trumpets. Enter Lucentio, a young aristocrat, and his servant, Tranio. They have just arrived in Padua from Pisa.]
Tranio, since for the great desire I had
To see fair Padua, nursery of arts,
I am arrived for fruitful Lombardy,
The pleasant garden of great Italy.
And by my father's love and leave, am armed
With his good will and thy good company,
My trusty servant well approved in all.
Here let us breathe and haply institute
A course of learning and ingenious studies.
Pisa, renowned for grave citizens,
Gave me my being, and my father first —
A merchant of great traffic through the world,
Vincentio, come of Bentivolii.
Vincentio's son, brought up in Florence,
It shall become to serve all hopes conceived
To deck his fortune with his virtuous deeds.
And therefore, Tranio, for the time I study,
Virtue and that part of philosophy
Will I apply, that treats of happiness
By virtue specially to be achieved.
Tell me thy mind, for I have Pisa left,
And am to Padua come, as he that leaves
A shallow plash to plunge him in the deep,
And with satiety seeks to quench his thirst.
Me pardonato, gentle master mine,
I am in all affected as yourself,
Glad that you thus continue your resolve
To suck the sweets of sweet philosophy.
Only, good master, while we do admire
This virtue and this moral discipline,
Let's be no stoics, nor no stocks, I pray,
Or so devote to Aristotle's cheques,
As Ovid be an outcast, quite abjured.
Balk logic with acquaintance that you have,
And practice rhetoric in your common talk;
Music and poesy use to quicken you;
The mathematics and the metaphysics,
Fall to them as you find your stomach serves you.
No profit grows where is no pleasure ta'en.
In brief, sir, study what you most affect.
Gramercies, Tranio, well dost thou advise.
If, Biondello, thou wert come ashore,
We could at once put us in readiness,
And take a lodging fit to entertain
Such friends as time in Padua shall beget.
[Enter Baptista (an elderly nobleman) with his two daughters (Katherina and Bianca), Gremio (an elderly suitor of Bianca), and Hortensio (a younger suitor of Bianca).]
But stay a while, what company is this?
Master, some show to welcome us to town.
[Lucentio and Tranio stand aside, but close enough to overhear the other group’s conversation.]
Gentlemen, importune me no farther,
For how I firmly am resolved you know —
That is not to bestow my youngest daughter
Before I have a husband for the elder.
If either of you both love Katherina —
Because I know you well and love you well —
Leave shall you have to court her at your pleasure.
Gremio (elderly suitor of Bianca)
[Aside] To “cart” her rather; she's too rough for me.
[Aloud] There, there, Hortensio, will you any wife?
[To Baptista] I pray you, sir, is it your will
To make a stale of me amongst these mates?
Hortensio (other suitor of Bianca)
‘Mates,’ maid, how mean you that? No mates for you,
Unless you were of gentler, milder mold.
I'faith, sir, you shall never need to fear;
Iwis, it is not halfway to her heart.
But if it were, doubt not her care should be
To comb your noddle with a three-legged stool,
And paint your face and use you like a fool.
From all such devils, good Lord deliver us!
And me too, good Lord!
[Quietly to Lucentio] Hush, master! Here's some good pastime toward.
That wench is stark mad, or wonderful froward.
[Quietly to Tranio] But in the other's silence do I see
Maid's mild behavior and sobriety.
Well said, master. Mum, and gaze your fill.
Gentlemen, that I may soon make good
What I have said — Bianca, get you in,
And let it not displease thee, good Bianca,
For I will love thee ne'er the less, my girl.
A pretty peat! It is best
Put finger in the eye, and she knew why.
Sister, content you in my discontent.
Sir, to your pleasure, humbly I subscribe.
My books and instruments shall be my company,
On them to look and practice by myself.
[Quietly to Tranio] Hark, Tranio! Thou mayst hear Minerva speak.
Signor Baptista, will you be so strange?
Sorry am I that our good will effects
Why, will you mew her up,
Signor Baptista, for this fiend of hell;
And make her bear the penance of her tongue?
Gentlemen, content ye; I am resolved.
Go in, Bianca.
And for I know she taketh most delight
In music, instruments, and poetry,
Schoolmasters will I keep within my house,
Fit to instruct her youth. If you, Hortensio
Or Signor Gremio, you know any such,
Prefer them hither; for to cunning men
I will be very kind, and liberal
To mine own children in good bringing-up.
And so farewell. — Katherina, you may stay,
For I have more to commune with Bianca.
Why, and I trust I may go too, may I not? What,
shall I be appointed hours, as though belike I knew not
what to take and what to leave? Ha!
[As if he’s addressing Katherina who has just left]
You may go to the devil's dam. Your gifts are so
good, here's none will hold you. [To Hortensio] Their love is not so
great, Hortensio, but we may blow our nails together,
and fast it fairly out. Our cake's dough on both sides.
Farewell. Yet for the love I bear my sweet Bianca, if I can
by any means light on a fit man to teach her that wherein
she delights, I will wish him to her father.
So will I, Signior Gremio; but a word, I pray.
Though the nature of our quarrel yet never brooked
parley, know now upon advice it toucheth us both —
that we may yet again have access to our fair mistress
and be happy rivals in Bianca's love — to labor and
effect one thing specially.
What's that, I pray?
Marry, sir, to get a husband for her sister.
A husband? A devil.
I say a husband.
I say a devil. Thinkest thou, Hortensio, though her
father be very rich, any man is so very a fool to be married
Tush, Gremio; though it pass your patience and
mine to endure her loud alarums, why, man, there be
good fellows in the world, an a man could light on them,
would take her with all faults — and money enough.
I cannot tell, but I had as lief take her dowry with
this condition — to be whipped at the high-cross every
Faith, as you say, there's small choice in rotten
apples. But come, since this bar in law makes us friends,
it shall be so far forth friendly maintained till by helping
Baptista's eldest daughter to a husband we set his youngest
free for a husband, and then have to't afresh. Sweet
Bianca! Happy man be his dole. He that runs fastest gets
the ring. How say you, Signior Gremio?
I am agreed, and would I had given him the best
horse in Padua to begin his wooing, that would
thoroughly woo her, wed her and bed her, and rid
the house of her! Come on.
[Exeunt Gremio and Hortensio, Tranio and Lucentio come forward.]
Tranio (Lucentio’s servant)
I pray, sir, tell me, is it possible
That love should, of a sudden, take such hold?
O Tranio, till I found it to be true,
I never thought it possible or likely.
But see, while idly I stood looking on,
I found the effect of love in idleness.
And now in plainness do confess to thee —
That art to me as secret and as dear
As Anna to the Queen of Carthage was —
Tranio, I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio,
If I achieve not this young modest girl.
Counsel me, Tranio, for I know thou canst.
Assist me, Tranio, for I know thou wilt.
Master, it is no time to chide you now;
Affection is not rated from the heart.
If love have touched you, naught remains but so.
'Redime te captam quam queas minimo.'
Gramercies, lad. Go forward, this contents.
The rest will comfort for thy counsel's sound.
Master, you look'd so longly on the maid,
Perhaps you marked not what's the pith of all.
O yes, I saw sweet beauty in her face,
Such as the daughter of Agenor had,
That made great Jove to humble him to her hand
When, with his knees, he kissed the Cretan strand.
Saw you no more? Marked you not how her sister
Began to scold and raise up such a storm
That mortal ears might hardly endure the din?
Tranio, I saw her coral lips to move,
And with her breath she did perfume the air.
Sacred and sweet was all I saw in her.
[Aside] Nay, then, 'tis time to stir him from his trance.
I pray, awake, sir. If you love the maid,
Bend thoughts and wits to achieve her. Thus it stands:
Her eldest sister is so curst and shrewd
That till the father rid his hands of her,
Master, your love must live a maid at home;
And therefore has he closely mewed her up,
Because she will not be annoyed with suitors.
Ah, Tranio, what a cruel father's he!
But art thou not advised he took some care
To get her cunning schoolmasters to instruct her?
Ay, marry, am I, sir; and now 'tis plotted.
I have it, Tranio.
Master, for my hand,
Both our inventions meet and jump in one.
Tell me thine first.
You will be schoolmaster
And undertake the teaching of the maid.
That's your device.
It is. May it be done?
Not possible; for who shall bear your part,
And be in Padua here Vincentio's son,
Keep house and ply his book, welcome his friends,
Visit his countrymen and banquet them?
Basta; content thee, for I have it full.
We have not yet been seen in any house,
Nor can we lie distinguished by our faces
For man or master. Then it follows thus:
Thou shalt be master, Tranio, in my stead,
Keep house and port and servants as I should;
I will some other be, some Florentine,
Some Neapolitan, or meaner man of Pisa.
'Tis hatched and shall be so. Tranio, at once
Uncase thee; take my coloured hat and cloak.
When Biondello comes, he waits on thee,
But I will charm him first to keep his tongue.
So had you need.
In brief, sir, sith it your pleasure is —
And I am tied to be obedient,
For so your father charged me at our parting;
'Be serviceable to my son,' quoth he,
Although I think 'twas in another sense —
I am content to be Lucentio,
Because so well I love Lucentio.
[They exchange clothes]
Tranio, be so because Lucentio loves;
And let me be a slave t’achieve that maid,
Whose sudden sight hath thralled my wounded eye.
[Enter Biondello (another of Lucentio’s servants)]
Here comes the rogue. [To Biondello] Sirrah, where have you been?
[Shocked to discover Lucentio and Tranio wearing each other’s clothes]
Where have I been! Nay, how now! Where are
you? Master, has my fellow Tranio stolen your
clothes, or you stolen his, or both? Pray, what's the
Sirrah, come hither. 'Tis no time to jest,
And therefore frame your manners to the time.
Your fellow Tranio here, to save my life,
Puts my apparel and my countenance on;
And I, for my escape, have put on his.
For in a quarrel since I came ashore
I kill'd a man and fear I was descried.
Wait you on him, I charge you, as becomes,
While I make way from hence to save my life.
You understand me?
I, sir? Ne'er a whit.
And not a jot of Tranio in your mouth.
Tranio is changed into Lucentio.
The better for him. Would I were so too!
So would I, ‘faith, boy, to have the next wish after,
that Lucentio indeed had Baptista's youngest daughter —
but, sirrah, not for my sake, but your master's. I advise
you use your manners discreetly in all kind of companies;
when I am alone, why, then I am Tranio, but in all places
else, your master Lucentio.
Tranio, let's go. One thing more rests that thyself
execute, to make one among these wooers. If thou
ask me why, sufficeth my reasons are both good and
[Exeunt all the actors, leaving on the stage only Sly and the servants who have been watching the play.]
My lord, you nod, you do not mind the play.
Yes, by Saint Anne, do I. A good matter, surely.
Comes there any more of it?
[As a Lady] My lord, 'tis but begun.
'Tis a very excellent piece of work, madam lady;
would 'twere done!
[They sit and watch the play continue]