A true way of Taming a Shrew


These fragments come from A Caution for SCOLDS: OR, A True way of Taming a SHREWTo the Tune of Why are my Eyes still flowing (c.1685).

A Noble Man he Marry’d with a cruel Scold,
Who in her humours would ne’r be control’d,
So that he was almost aweary of his Life,
By the cross humours of his forward Wife:
Although he show’d himself exceeding kind,
Yet she was still of a turbulent mind;
Husband and Servants her Fury must feel,
For in their Ears she would Ring them a Peal.

When any Friend approach’d the presence of her Lord,
By this vile Shrew they were strangely abhord;
With cruel Frowns and Railings she would them salute
Though they were Persons of worthy Repute,
All was a case, for she would have her Will.
And the whole House with Confusion she’d fill;
So that for fear of the heat of her Pray,
They have been forc’d to run packing away.

It was his chance to make a worthy noble Feast,
Inviting full forty couple at least,
Both Lords & Earls with vertuous Ladies of high fame,
Who in true Friendship accordingly came:
All sorts of Dainties he then did prepare,
No cost nor charge in the least did he spare;
But ere they could to their Banquetting fall,
Sirs, you shall hear how she welcom’d them all.

When she beheld the costly Dishes of rich Meat,
This Shrew had not any Stomach to Eat,
But did cry out, I shall be Ruin’d at this rate,
This is enough to consume an Estate:
Before she any more words did reply·
She made both Bottles and Dishes to flye;
Both Friends and Husband she then did abuse,
Asking him how he dare be so profuse?

Like the Thunder loud, her voice the straight began to raise,
Which made the Guest to stand all in amaze,
Who never saw the like in all their lives before,
Dishes of Meat they lay strow’d on the floor:
Thus in disorder they all went their way,
Each one was glad they were out of the fray:
Then said her Husband, did ever Man know,
Any poor Mortal so plagu’d with a Shrow.

Now the next day he to a Skilful Doctor went,
Promising that he would give him content,
If he could cure the cause of a Distracted Wife,
Which almost made him aweary of Life:
Yes, quoth the Doctor, I’ll do it ne’r fear,
Bring her, for now ’tis the Spring of the Year;
I’ll take the Lunacy out of her Brains,
Or else I won’t have a Groat for my pains.

Then home he went, and sent her thither out of hand,
Now when the Shrow she did well understand.
All their intent, she call’d the Doctor sneaking knave,
Now when he see she began for to Rave;
Straightways the Doctor did bind her in Bed,
Leting her Blood, likewise Shaving her Head:
Sirrah, said she, I would have you to know,
That you shall suffer for serving me so.

Madam, said he, I know you are beside your Wits,
But I will soon bring you out of those Fits;
I’ll cut your Tongue, and when a Gallon you have bled
‘Twill Cure that violent Noise in your Head:
Pray Sir, said she, don’t afflict me so sore,
I’ll ne’r offend my sweet Husband no more:
Thus by sharp Vsage and Keeping her low,
He had the fortune to Conquer the Shrow.

After some time, he came to see his Wife at last,
Where she begg’d pardon for all that was past;
Saying, her Fits for evermore she would refrain,
If he’d be pleas’d to retrive her again;
My former Follies I pray now forgive,
I’ll ne’r oftend you no more while I live:
Then in much love they both homeward did go,
Thus has he made a sweet Wife of a Shrow.

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  • March 2, 2010 - 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Oy vey with the shrews!

  • February 25, 2010 - 11:57 am | Permalink

    Glad I did not live in 1685, for surely, I would be shrewish. “Funny, you don’t look shrewish.”

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