« PreviousContinue »
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatick, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact :
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold ; 9
That is, the madman : the lover, all as frantick,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes; and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation, and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination;
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends soine bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos'd a bear?
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigur'd so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy ;
But, howsoever, strange, and admirable.
Enter LYSANDER, DEMETRIUS, HERMIA, and He
Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love,
Accompany your hearts !
Lys. More than to us
Wait on your royal walks, your board, your bed !.
The. Come now; what masks, what dances shall
To wear away this long age of three hours,
Between our after-supper, and bed-time?
Where is our usual manager of mirth?
What revels are in hand ? Is there no play,
To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Phil. Here, mighty Theseus.
40 The. Say, what abridgment have you for this even
ing? What mask? what musick? How shall we beguile, The lazy time, if not with some delight ? Philost. There is a brief, how many sports are
ripe; Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a Paper. The. reads.] The battle of the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
We'll none of that: that I have told my love,
In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,
Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.
That is an old device ; and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceas'd in beggary. That is some satire, keen, and critical, Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus,
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth. Merry and tragical? Tedious and brief?
60 That is, hot ice, and wonderous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this discord ? Philost. A play there is, my lord, some ten words
Which is as brief as I have known a play;
But by ten words, my lord, it is too long;
Which makes it tedious: for in all the play
There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
And tragical, my noble lord, it is;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which, when I saw rehears'd, I must confess, 70
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.
The. What are they that do play it ?
Philost. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens
Which never labour'd in their minds 'till now ;
And now have toil'd their unbreath'd memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.
The. And we will hear it.
Philost. No, my noble lord,
It is not for you : I have heard it over,
80 And it is nothing, nothing in the world ;
Unless you can find sport in their intents,
Extremely stretch'd, and conn’d with cruel pain,
To do you service,
The. I will hear that play:
For never any thing can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in;-and take your places, ladies.
[Exit PhilosT. Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o’ercharg’d, And duty in his service perishing.
go The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such
thing. Hip. He says, they can do nothing in this kind. The. The kinder we, to give them thanks for no
sport shall be, to take what they mistake:
And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
Where I have come, great clerks have purposed
To greet me with premeditated welcomes;
Where I have seen them shiver, and look pale,
Make periods in the midst of sentences,
Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, durubly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome : Trust me, sweet,
Out of this silence, yet, I pick'd a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much, as from the rattling tongile
Of saucy and audacious eloquence,
Love, therefore, and tongue-ty'd simplicity,
In least, speak most, to my capacity.
Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is ad.
drest, The. Let him approach.
[Flour. Trum. Enter the Prologue. Prol. If we offend, it is with our good will. That you
should think, we come not to offend, But with good-will. To shew our simple skill,
That is the true beginning of our end. Consider then, we come but in despite.
We do not come, as minding to content you,
Our true intent is.
All for your delight,
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The actors are at hand; and, by their show,
You shall know all, that you are like to know.
The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Lys. He hath rid his prologue, like a rough colt; he knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord : It is not enough to speak, but to speak true.
Hip. Indeed he hath play'd on this prologue, like a child on a recorder ; a sound, but not in government.
The. His speech was like a tangled chain ; nothing impair’d, but all disordered. Who is next? 130