« PreviousContinue »
And never may'st thou come Lysander near ;
[Exit. Her. (starting.] Help me, Lysander, help me' do thy
Enter Quince, Snug, BOTTOM, FLUTE, Snout, and
Quin. Pat, pat ; and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal : This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tyring-house ; and we will do it in action, as we will do it before the duke.
Bot. Peter Quince,-
 In the time of Shakespeare there were many companies of players, sometimes five at the same time. contending for the favour of the public. or these some were undoubtedly very unskilful and very poor, and it is probable that the design of this scene was to ridicule their ignorance, and the odd expedients to which they might be driven by the want of proper decorations. Bottom was per baps the bead of a riral bouse, and is therefore honoured with an ass's head.
Bot. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby, that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill bimself; which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that ?
Snout. By’rlakin, a parlous fear.'
Star. I believe, we must leave the killing out, when all is done.
Bot. Not a whit; I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue : and let the prologue seem to say, we will do no harm with our swords ; and that Pyramus is not killed, indeed : and, for the more better assurance, tell them, that I Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: This will put them out of fear.
Quin. Well, we will have such a prologue ; and it shall be written in eight and six.
Bot. No, make it two more ; let it be written in eight
Snout. Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion ?
Bot. Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves : to bring in, God shield us! a lion among ladies, is a most dreadful thing: for there is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion, living ; and we ought to look to it.
Snout. Therefore, another prologue must tell, he is not a lion.
Bot. Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be seen through the lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect,Ladies, or fair ladies, I would wish you, or, I would request you, or, I would entreat you, not to fear, not to tremble : my life for yours.
think I come hither as a lion, it were píty of my life : No, I am no such thing ; I am a man as other men are:-and there, indeed, let him name his name ; and tell them plainly, he is Snug the joiner.'
 By our lady-kin, or lille lady: as ifakin is a corruption of by my faith. Parlons, a word corrupted from perilous, i. e. dangerous. STEEVENS.
19) There are prohably many temporary allusions to particular incidents and characters scattered through our author's plays, wbich gave a poignancy to certain passages, while the events were recent, and the persons pointed at yet living.-la the speech now before us, I think it not improbable that he meant to allude to a fact which happened in his time, at an entertainment exhibited before Queen Elizabeth It is recorded in a manuscript collection of anecdotes, stories, &c. entitled, Merru Passages and Jeasts, MS Harl. 6395 : “ There was a spectacle presented to Queen Elizabeth upon the water, and among others Harry Goldingham was to represent Arion upon the dolphin's backe; but finding his voice to be
Quin. Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things; that is, to bring the moon-light into a chamber: for you know, Pyramus and Tbisby meet by moon-light.
Snug. Doth the moon shine, that night we play our play?
Bot. A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanac; find out moon-shine, find out moon-shine.
Quin. Yes, it doth shine that night.
Bot. Why, then you may leave a casement of the great chamber window, where we play, open ; and the moon may shine in at the casement.
Quin. Ay;. or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lanthorn, and say, he comes to disfigure, or to present, the person of moon-shine. Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.
Snug. You never can bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom ?
Bot. Some man or other must present wall: and let him have some plaster, or some lome, or some roughcast, about him, to signify wall; or let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.
Quin. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin : when you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake ;' and so every one according to his
Enter Puck behind.
Quin. Speak, Pyramus :- Thisby, stand forth.
verye hoarse and unpleasant, when he came to perform it, he tears off his disguise, and spears he was none of Arion, not he, but even honest Harry Goldingham, which blunt discoverie pleased the queene better than if it had gone through iu the right way," &c. MALONE.
 Brake in the west of England is used to express a large extent of ground overgrown with furze, and appears both here and in the next scene to convey the same idea. HENLEY.
Pyr. odours savours sweet :
So doth thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear.But, hark, a voice! stay thou but here a while, And by and by I will to thee appear,
[Erit Pyr. Puck. A stranger Pyramus than e'er play'd here !
[Aside. Exit. This. Must I speak now?
Quin. Ay, marry, must you : for you must understand, he goes
but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again. This. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire, rll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.
Quin. Ninus' tomb, man : Why you must not speak that yet; that you answer to Pyramus : you speak all your part at once, cues and all.- Pyramus, enter; your cue is past ;' it is, never tire.
Re-enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head. This. 0,-as true as truest horse, that yet would never
tire. Pyr. If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine :
Quin. O monstrous ! O strange! we are haunted. Pray, masters ! Ay, masters ! help! [Exe. Clowns.
Puck. I'll follow you, I'll lead you about a round, Through bog, through bush, through brake, through
brier; Sometime a horse I'll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire ; And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, Like horse, hound, bog, bear, fire, at every turn. [Exit.
Bot. Why do they run away ? this is a knavery of them, to make me afeard."
Re-enter SNOUT. Snout. O Bottom! thou art changed! what do I see
Bot. What do you see? you see an ass's head of your Qwn;
 A cue, in stage cant, is the last words of the preceding speech, and serves as a hint to him who is to speak next. STEEVENS.
(3) Afear is from lo fear, by the old form of the language, as an hungered, from to hunger. So a dry for thirsty. JOHNSON.
Re-enter QUINCE. Quin. Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.
[Exit. Bot. I see their knavery : this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can : I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.
[Sings. The ousel-cock," so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The wren with little quill ;
Tita. What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?
(Waking Bot. The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
And dares not answer nay ; for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird ? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry, cuckoo, never so ?
Tita. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again :
Bot. Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that : And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days : The more the pity, that some honest neighbours will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek, upon occasion.  The ouzel cock is generally understood to be the cock black-bird.
STEEVENS. The Orsel differs from the Black-bird by having a white crescent upon his breast, and is besides rather larger. See Lewin's English Birds. DOUCE.
(5) That is, the cuckoo, who, baving no variety of strains, sings in plain song, or in plano cantu; by which expression the uniform modulation or simplicity of the chaunt was anciently distinguisher, in opposition to prick-song, or variegated music sung by note. Skelton introduces the birds singing the different parts of the service of the funeral of his favourite sparrow : among the rest is the cuckoo.
T. WARTON.  Gleek was originally a game at cards. The word is often used by other ancient comic writers, in the same sense as by our author. Mr. Lambe observes in his potes on the ancient metrical history of The Battle of Flodden, that, in the North, to gleek is to deceive or beguile ; and that the reply made by the queen of the fairies, proves this to be the meaning of it. STEEVENS.