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“ The raging rocks,
« Of prison-gates :
Shall shine from far, « And make and mar
“ The foolith fates."
Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows.mender.
Flu. Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.
Quin. That's all one, you shall play it in a masque; and you may speak as small as you will.
the poet makes bully Bottom, as he is called afterwards, wish for a part to tear a cap in. And in the ancient plays, the bombast and the rant held the place of the sublime and pathetic : and indeed constituted the very effence of their tragical farces. Thus Bale in his Acts of English Votaries, part 2d, says-grenryng like termaguantes in a play. WARBURTON.
In the old comedy of the Roaring Girl, 1611, there is a character called Tear.cat, who says, I am called, by those who have “ seen my valour, Téarcat." In an anonymous piece called Hiftriomafix, or the Player whipt, 1610, in fix acts, a parcel of foldiers drag a company of players on the stage, and the captain says, “ Sirrah, this is you that would rend and tear a cat upon a “'fage, &c." Again,
In The Idle of Gulls, a comedy by J. Day, 1606. “I had “ rather hear two such jeits, than a whole play of such Tear-cat “ thunderclaps.” Steevens.
6 This paffage thews how the want of women on the old stage was supplied. "If they had not a young man who could perform
Bot. An' I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too; I'll speak in a monstrous little voice, Thisne, Thisne : ah, Pyramus, my lover dear, thy Thisby dear, and lady dear.
Quin. No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you, Thilby.
Bot. Well, proceed.
Snow. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. You, Pyramus's father ; myself, Thirby's father ; Snug, the joiner, you, the lion's part :-and I hope there is a play fitted.
Snug. Have you the lion's part written ? pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am now of study.
Quin. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring. the part with a face that might pass for feminine, the character was acted in a mask, which was at that time a part of a lady's dress so much in use that it did not give any unusual appearance to the scene : and he that could modulate his voice in a female tone might play the woman very successfully. It is observed in Downes's Memoirs of the Playhouse, that one of these counterfeit heroines moved the passions more strongly than the women that have since been brought upon the stage. Some of the catastrophes of the old comedies, which make lovers marry the wrong women, are, by recollection of the common use of masks, brought nearer to probability, JOHNSON.
- you must play Tbify's mother.] .There seems a double forgetfulness of our poet, in relation to the characters of this interlude. The father and mother of Thisby, and the father of Pyramus, are here mentioned, who do not appear at all in the interlude; but Wall and Moonshine are both employed in it, of whom there is not the least notice taken here. THEOBALD. * there is a play fitted.] Both the quarto's read here.
Bot. Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me. I will roar, that I will make the duke fay, let bim roar again, let him roar again.
Quin. If you should do it too terribly, you would fright the dutchess and the ladies, that they would Thriek; and that were enough to hang us all.
All. That would hang us every mother's son.
Bot. I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more difcretion but to hang us: but I will aggravate my voice fo, that I will roar you as gently as any fucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any nightingale.
Quin. You can play no part but Pyramus: for Py. ramus is a sweet-fac'd man; a proper man, as one shall see in a summer's day; a most lovely gentlemanlike man; therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I beft to play it in ?
Quin. Why, what you will.
Bot. I will discharge it in either your straw.coloured beard, your orange tawny beard, your purplein grain beard, or your French crown-coloured beard; your perfect yellow. 8
Quin. ' Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-fac’d. But, masters, here are your parts : and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night : and meet me in the palace wood, a mile
8 Here Bottom again discovers a true genius for the stage by his solicitude for propriety of dress, and his deliberation which beard to chuse among many beards, all unnatural. JOHNSON.
This custom of wearing coloured bcards, the reader will find more amply explained in Measure for Measure, act iv. sc. 2.
STEEvens. 9 That is, a head from which the hair has fallen in one of the last stages of the lues venerea, called the corona veneris. To this our poet has frequent allusions. STEEVENS.
without the town, by moon light : there we will rehearse : for if we meet in the city, we shall be dog'd with company, and our devices known. In the mean time I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me noc.
Bot. We will meet; and there we may rehearse more obscenely and courageously. Take pains, be perfect, adieu.
Quin. At the duke's oak we meet.
A CT II.
A WOOD. Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck (or Robin-good
fellow) at another.
OW now, spirit! whither wander you?
Fai. Over hill, over dale, 3 Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Over * Properties are whatever little articles are wanted in a play for the actors, according to their respective parts, dresses excepted. The person who delivers them out is to chis day called the properiy-man. STEEVENS.
* At the duke's oak ave meet-hold, or cut bow-strings.] This proverbial phrase came originally from the camp. When a rendezvous was appointed, the militia soldiers would frequently make excuse for not keeping word, that their bowstrings were broke, i. e. their arms unserviceable. Hence when one would give ano. ther absolute assurance of meeting him, he would say proverbially bold or cut bow-ftringsi.e. whether the bow string held or broke. For cut is used as a neuter, like the verb frets. As when we say, the Aring frets, the filk frets, for the passive, it is cut or frested. WARBURTON. • Over bill, over dale, &c.] So Drayton in his Court of Fairy, C 3
Over park, over pale,
Thorough brake, tharough brier,
Thorough water, thorough fire. JOHNSON.
4 To dew her orbs upon the green] For orbs Dr. Gray is inclined to substitute berbs. The orbs here mentioned are the circles supposed to be made by the Fairies on the ground, whose verdure proceeds from the fairy's care to water them.
They in th.ir courses make that round,
JOHNSON. 5 The cowslip was a favourite among the fairies. There is a hint in Drayton of their attention to May morning.
For the queen a fisting ow'r,
train there's not a fuy
The tallest there that groweth. JOHNSON. 6 In ibeir gold coats, Spets you fer, &c.] Shakespeare, in Cym. beline, refers to the same red spots.
A mele cinque-sported like the crimson drops
lib boriom of a cou flip. Percy. 7 - Lob of spirits.] Lob, lubber, loohy, lbcock, all denote both inactivity of body and dulness of mind." JOHNSON,