A vengeance on your crafty wither'd hide!

Yet I have faced it with a card of ten.

'Tis in my head to do my master good:

I see no reason but supposed Lucentio

Must get a father, call'd 'supposed Vincentio;'

And that's a wonder: fathers commonly

Do get their children; but in this case of wooing,

A child shall get a sire, if I fail not of my cunning.

Taming of the Shrew

What is faced it with a card of ten referencing in this text? I can't quite remember what it was but it was something along the lines of a game.


1 Answer 1


From A Glossary: Or, Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, &c., which Have Been Thought to Require Illustration, in the Works of English Authors, Particularly Shakespeare, and His Contemporaries by Robert Nares, page 248:

TO FACE IT WITH A CARD OF TEN. A common phrase, which we may suppose to have been derived from some game, (possibly primero), wherein the standing boldly upon a ten was often successful. A CARD OF TEN meant a tenth card, a ten.

Also similar from The Dramatic Works of Ben Jonson: Printed from the Text by Ben Jonson, Peter Walley:

A card o' ten, is what we now call a tenth card, and the phrase "to face it with a card of ten," is to win it, or get the better of it. To this purpose Shakespeare:

Tra. " A vengeance on your crafty wither'd hide !
" Yet I have fac'd it with a card of ten." Taming of the Shrew.

Which passage Mr. Warburton thus explains, that is, with the highest card, in the old simple game of our ancestors; so that this became a proverbial expression.

The suggestion that "ten" was the highest card can be found in Wikipedia, under the English version section of Primero:

Each player receives 4 cards dealt in 2’s from a 40-card deck ranking K Q J 7 6 5 4 3 2 A.

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