Page images
PDF
EPUB

Bot. Masters, I am to discourse wonders ; but ask me not what; for if I tell you, I am no true At henian. I will tell you every thing as it fell out.

Quin. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

Bot. Not a word of me; all I will tell you, is, that the Duke hath dined. Get your apparel together, good ftrings to your beards, new ribbons to your pumps; eet presently at the palace, every man look o'er his part; for the short and the long is, (31) our play is referred: in any case, let Thisby have clean linnen; and let not him, that plays the lion, pare his nails, for they shall hang out for the lion's claws; and, most dear actors ! eat no onions, nor garlick, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words; away; go, away.

[Exeunt.

V.

·.

ACT

SCEN E, the Palace.
Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus, and his Lords.

HIPPOLITA.
IS strange, my Theseus, what these lovers speak of.
Thes. More strange

I never

may

believe Thefe antic fables, nor these fairy toys; Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantafies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,

(31) Our play is preferr’d:] This word is not to be taken in its most common acceptation here, as if their play was cbofen in preference to the others; (for that appears afterwards not to be the fact ;) but means, that it was given in, among others, for the Duke's option: And, jin this sense, we say,--- - preferr a petition; i. e. give it in, lodge it, for the Judge's answer. So, in Julius Cæfar, Decius says;

Where is Metellus Cimber ? let him go,
And presently prefer bis fuit to Cæfar,

Are

[ocr errors]

Are of imagination all compact :
One fees more deyils than valt hell can hold;
The madman. While the lover, all as frantic,
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 heav'n ;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shape, and gives to aiery nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if he would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some 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 fo together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.

Enter Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helená.

Thef. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
Joy, gentle friends; joy and fresh days of love
Accompany your hearts.

Lyf. More than to us,
Wait on your royal walks, your board, your bed.

Thef.Come now, what maks, whatdances shall we have,
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?
Call Philoftrate.

Enter Philoftrate.
Philoft. Here, mighty Theseus.

Thef. Say, what abridgment have you for this evening?
What masque? what mufic? how shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Philof,

Philof. There is a brief, how many sports are ripe:(32) Make choice of which your Highness will see first.

[Giving a paper: Thef.reads.] The battel with the Centaurs, to be fung (33) 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 tiply Bacchanals, Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage: That is an old device; and it was plaid, 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 forting with a nuptial ceremony. A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus, And his love Thisby; very tragical mirth. Merry and tragical? tedious and brief? That is hot ice, and wond’rous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this difcord ?

Philoft. A play there is, my Lord, fome ten words long; 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:

(32) - how many Sports are rife:] I have chosen to restore from one of the old quartos printed in 1600, ripe; as the most proper word here: ripe, fignifying any thing ready for use'; rife, only the great increase of any thing.

(33) Lys. I be battel with tbe Centaurs----] Here the fixteen lines, that follow, from the time of the first folio edition put out by the players, have impertinently been divided, by two verses alternately, betwixt Theseus and Lysander. But what has Lysander to do in the affair? He is no courtier of beseus's, but only an occasional guestz and just come out of the woods, lo not likely to know what sports were in preparation. I have taken the old quarts for my guides, in regulating this paffage. Theseus asks after entertainment. Pbis loftrate, who is his master of the revels, gives him in a lift of what Sports are ready: upon which, Tbefeus reads the titles of them out of the lift, and then alternately makes his remarks upon them. And this, I dare say, was the Poet's own design and distribution.

For

To do you

For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which, when I saw rehears’d, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water ; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

Thes. What are they, that do play it ?
Philoft. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
Which never labour'd in their minds 'till now;
And now have toild their unbreath'd memories
With this fame play against your nuptials.

Thef. And we will hear it.

Philoft. No, my noble Lord,
It is not for you. I have heard it over,
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,

service.
Thes. 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 Phil.

Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd, And duty in his service perishing.

Thes. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such thing. Hip. He says, they can do nothing in this kind.

Thef. The kinder we, to give them thanks for nothing. Our sport shall be, to take what they mistake; And what poor (willing] duty cannot do, (34) Noble respect takes it in might, not merit. Where I have come, great clerks have purposed To greet me with preineditated welcomes ; Where I have seen them fhiver and look pale, Make periods in the midst of sentences, Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears, And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,

(34) And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect

Takes it in might, not merit.] What ears have these poetical Editors, to palm this line upon us as a verse of Shakespeare "Tis certain, an epithet had nipt out, and I have ventur’d to restore such a one as the sense may dispense with; and which makes the two verses flowing and perfect.

Not

Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, fweet,
Out of this filence yet I pick'd a welcome :
And in the modefty of fearful duty
I read as much, as from the rattling tongue
Of fawcy and audacious eloquence.
Love therefore, and tongue-ty'd fimplicity,
In leaft, speak most, to my capacity.

Enter Philostrate.
Phil. So please your Grace, the prologue is addreft.
Thef. Let him approach.

[Flour. Trum. Enter Quince, for the prologue, Prol. If we offend, it is with our good will. T'hat 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 despight.

We do not come, as minding to content you, (35)
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.

Thef. This fellow doth not stand upon points.
Lys

. He hath rid his prologue, like a rough colt; he knows not the stop. À good moral, my Lord. It is not enough to speak, but to speak true.

Hip. Indeed he hath play'd on his prologue, like a child on the recorder ; a sound, but not in government.

(35) We do not come as minding to content you,

Our træe intent is all for your delighi,
We are not here that you should bere repent you,

The Actors are at hand; &c.] Thus the late accurate Editor, deviating from all the old copies, has, by a certain peculiar fatality, pointed this passage. The whole glee and humour of the prologue is in the actor's making false rests, and so turning every member of the sentences into flagrant nonsense. And Mr. Pope seems very cruel to our Author, (considering how many passages, which should have been pointed right, he has pointed wrong ;) that here, when he fhould point wrong, with a strange perverseness, and unusual appetite for fenle, he will point rigbt,

There

« PreviousContinue »