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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 garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath ; and I do not doubt, but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words ; away ; go, away.



SCENE 1.-The same. An Apartment in the Palace of

THESEUS. Enter Theseus, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, and Attendants.

Hippolyta. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.

The. More strange than true. I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers, and madmen, have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact :
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold ;
That is, the madman : 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 heaven;
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 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 so together,
More witnesseth than fancy's images,
And grows to something of great constancy ;
But, howsoever, strange, and admirable.

The. 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 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 Philostrate.

Phil. Here, mighty Theseus.

The. Say, what abridgment have you for this evening ?
What mask? what music ? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Phil. 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 with the Centaurs, to be sung
By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
We'll none of that: that have I 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?
That is, hot ice, and wondrous strange snow.
How shall we find the concord of this discord ?

Phil. A play there is, my lord, some 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

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[6] By abridgment our author may mean a dramatic performance, which crowds the events of years into a few hours. STEEVENS.

17] i. e. a short account or enumeration. STEEVENS.
laj Critical here means criticising, censuring. So, in Othello :

“0, I am nothing if not critical." STEEVENS.

There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
And tragical, my noble lord, it is ;
For Pyramus therein doth kill himself.
Which, wben I saw rehears’d, I must confess,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

The. What are they that do play it?

Phil. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
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.

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

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 nothing. Our 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,

[1] That is, unexercised, unpractised memories. STEEVENS.

[2] To intend and to attend were anciently synonymous. Intents therefore may be put for the object of their attention. We still say a person is intent on his business. STEEVENS.

[3] And what dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives with complacency, estimating it not by the actual merit of the performance, but by what it might have been, were the abilities of the performers equal to their zeal.--Such, I think, is the true interpretation of this passage; for which the reader is indebted partly to Dr. Johnson, and partly to Mr. Steevens.



That you

Throttle their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly 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 tongue
Of sawcy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
In least, speak most, to my capacity.

Re-enter PhilOSTRATE.
Phil. So please your grace, the prologue is addrest.
The. Let him approach. (Flourish of trumpets.

Enter Prologue.
Prol. If we offend, it is with our good will.

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


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 played on this prologue, like a child on a recorder ;' a sound, but not in government.

The. His speech was like a tangled chain ; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next? Enter PYRAMUS and Thisbe, WALL, MOONSHINE, and Li

on, as in dumb show. Prol. Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this show;

• But wonder on, till truth make all things plain. · This man is Pyramus, if you would know :

This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain."

[4] Recorder,-a kind of flute. Shakespeare introduces the same instrument in Hamlet ; and Milton says :--" To the sound of soft recorders." STEEVENS.

(5) A burlesque was here intended on the frequent recurrence of “ cerlain" as 8 bungling rhyme in poetry more ancient than the age of Shakespeare.


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• This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present

Wall, that vile wall which did these lovers sunder: * And through wall's chink, poor souls, they are content

To whisper; at the which let no man wonder. · This man, with lantern, dog, and bush of thorn, • Presenteth moon-shine : for, if you

will know, * By moon-shine did these lovers think no scorn

To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo. This grisly beast, which by name lion hight, • The trusty Thisby, coming first by night, Did scare away, or rather did affright: And, as she fled, her mantle she did fall;

• Which lion vile with bloody mouth did stain · Anon comes Pyramus, sweet youth, and tall,

* And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain : Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade,

• He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast; And, Thisby tarrying in mulberry shade,

His dagger drew, and died.. For all the rest, · Let Lion, Moon-shine, Wall, and lovers twain, • At large discourse, while here they do remain.'

[Ex. Prol. This. Lion, and MooN-SHINE. The. I wonder, if the lion be to speak.

Dem. No wonder, my lord : one lion may, when many asses do.

Wall. - In this same interlude, it doth befall, That I, one Snout by name, present a wall : . And such a wall, as I would have you think, · That had it in a cranny'd hole, or chink,

[6] Hight, in old English, signifies--is called. I think it probable that a line, following the words-by night, has been lost. MALONE.

(7) Mr. Upton rightly observes, that Shakespeare in this line ridicules the affectation of beginning many words with the same letter. He might have remarked the same of--The raging rocks, &c. Gascoigne, contemporary with our poet, remarks and blames the same affectation. JOHNSON.

This alliteration seems to have reached the height of its fashion in the reign of
Henry VIIl. The following stanza is quoted from a poein On the Fall and evil
Success of Rebellion, written in 1537, by Wilfride Holme:

" Loe, leprous lurdeins, lubricke in loquacitie,
“Vah, vaporous villeins, with venim vulnerate,
" Prob, prating parenticides, plexious to pinnositie,
"Fie, frantike fabulators, furibund, and fatuate,
“ Out, oblatrant, oblict, obstacle, and obsecate,
" Ab addict algoes, in acerbitie acclamant,
“ Maguall in mischief, malicious to mugilate,

“ Repriving your Roy so renowned and radiant.” In Tusser's Husbandry, p. 19.4, there is a poem of which 79ry word begins with a T, STEEYENS.

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