Page images


Here, mighty Theseus.

The. Say, what abridgement have you for this evening?

What mask? what musick? How shall we beguile The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Philost. There is a brieft, 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 deccas'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 wonderous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this discord? Philost. A play there is, my lord, some ten words long;

Which is as brief as I have known a play:
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,
Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears
The passion of loud laughter never shed.

* Pastime.


+ Short account.


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.


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,
To do you service.

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 Philostrate.
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 purpos'd
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, 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

* Unexercised.

Of sawcy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
In least, speak most, to my capacity.

Enter Philostrate.

Philost. 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. That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good-will. To show 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


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 recordert; a sound, but not in govern


The. His speech was like a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

[ocr errors]

Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion, as in dumb show.

Prol. 'Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this show;

* Ready.

+ A musical instrument.

'But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.. This man is Pyramus, if you would know;

'This beauteous lady Thisby is, certáin. 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


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.' [Exeunt Prol. Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine. The. I wonder, if the lion be to speak. Dem. No wonder, my lord: one lion may, 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 in it a cranny'd hole, or chink,

Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby, 'Did whisper often very secretly.

This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth


* Called.

That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.'
The. Would you desire lime and hair to speak bet.

[ocr errors]

Dem. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.

The. Pyramus draws near the wall; silence!

[ocr errors]

Enter Pyramus.

Pyr. O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!

"O night, which ever art, when day is not! O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,

I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot!And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,

That stand'st between her father's ground and mine;

Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall,
Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine
[Wall holds up his fingers.
Thanks, courteous wall: Jove shield thee well for

'But what see I? No Thisby do I see.
'O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss;
'Curst be thy stones for thus deceiving me!'

The. The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse again.

Pyr. No, in truth, sir, he should not. Deceiving me, is Thisby's cue: she is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I told you:-Yonder she comes.

Enter Thisbe.

This. O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,

For parting my fair Pyramus and me:

« PreviousContinue »