The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1921 Tuesday, 9 November 1999.
From: Stefan Kirby <
Date: Friday, 05 Nov 1999 23:36:17 -0800
Subject: Re: Wedding Proposal
Oh dear, I suppose that my original message WAS a bit long-winded, but
the show loses all its humor without the other way of reading it, so if
I may impose good-naturedly upon your senses, and reprint what was
omitted, which is the same text verbatim, with the punctuation corrected
for Ralph Roister Doister's true inflective meaning:
(then you'll get the joke of early tudor comedy)
"Sweet mistress, whereas I love you- nothing at all
Regarding your riches and substance, chief of all
For your personage, beauty, demeanor and wit-
I commend me unto you. Never a whit
Sorry to hear report of your good welfare;
For (as I hear say) such your conditions are
That ye be worthy favour; of no living man
To be abhorred; of every honest man
To be taken for a woman inclined to vice
Nothing at all; to virtue giving her due price.
Wherefore, concerning marriage, ye are thought
Such a fine paragon, as ne'er an honest man bought.
And now by these presents I do you advertise
That I am minded to marry you - in no wise
For your goods and substance: I can be content
To take you as you are. If ye will be my wife,
Ye shall be assured for the time of my life
I will keep you right well. From good raiment and fare,
Ye shall not be kept; but in sorrow and care
Ye shall in no wise live; at your own liberty,
Do and say what ye lust: ye shall never please me
But when ye are merry; I will be all sad
When ye are sorry; I will be very glad
When ye seek your heart's ease; I will be unkind
At no time; in me shall ye much gentleness find.
But all things contrary to your will and mind
Shall be done otherwise; I will not be behind
To speak. And as for all they that would do you wrong
(I will so help and maintain ye), shall not live long.
Nor any foolish dolt shall cumber you; but I-
I, whoe'er say nay- will stick by you till I die.
Thus, good mistress Custance, the Lord you save and keep.
>From me, Roister Doister, whether I wake or sleep,
Who favoureth you no less (ye may be bold)
Than this letter purporteth, which ye have unfold."
[Editor's Note: My apologies. The fault was all mine. Too much to do,
and not enough time to do it all correctly. Hardy]