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Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured 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 HELENA. The. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.— Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love, Accompany your hearts!


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.


Here, mighty Theseus.

The. Say, what abridgement have you for this evening? What mask? what music? 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 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 played When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.

The thrice three muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceased 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?

Philost. 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
There is not one word apt, one player fitted.
A tragical, my noble lord, it is,

For Pyramus therein doth kill himself;
Which, when I saw rehearsed, 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?

Philost. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,
Which never labored in their minds till now;
And now have toiled their unbreathed 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 stretched, and conned 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.
Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged,
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,
Throttle their practised 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 picked a welcome;
And in the modesty of fearful duty

I read as much, as from the rattling tongue
Of saucy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
In least speak most, to my capacity.


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 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, Moon-shine, and Lion, 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. "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 broached 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 Moon-shine. The. I wonder if the lion be to speak. Dem. No wonder, my lord. asses do.

One lion may, when many

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 crannied hole, or chink,
"Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
"Did whisper often very secretly.

"This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show
"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.'

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The. Would you desire lime and hair to speak better? Dem. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.

The. Pyramus draws near the wall. Silence!



Pyr. "O grim-looked 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,

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"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 eyne. [Wall holds up his fingers. "Thanks, courteous wall. Jove shield thee well for this? "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 through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I told you. Yonder she comes.



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This. "O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans, "For parting my fair Pyramus and me. "My cherry lips have often kissed thy stones;


Thy stones, with lime and hair knit up in thee." Pyr. "I see a voice: now will I to the chink, "To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face. "Thisby!"

This. "My love! Thou art my love, I think." Pyr. "Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace; "And like Limander am I trusty still."

This. "And I like Helen, till the fates me kill."
Pyr. "Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true."
This. "As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you."

Pyr. "O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall."
This. "I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all."
Pyr. "Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?"
This. "Tide life, tide death, I come without delay.'
Wall. "Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;
"And, being done, thus wall away doth go.'

[Exeunt Wall, PYRAMUS, and THISBE. The. Now is the mural down between the two neighbors. Dem. No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning.

Hip. This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard. The. The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.

Hip. It must be your imagination then, and not theirs. The. If we imagine no worse of them, than they of themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

Enter Lion and Moon-shine.

Lion. "You, ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear "The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor, "May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here, "When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar. "Then know, that I, one Snug the joiner, am "No lion fell, nor else no lion's dam: "For if I should as lion come in strife "Into this place, 'twere pity on my life."

The. A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.
Dem. The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.
Lys. This lion is a very fox for his valor.
The. True; and a goose for his discretion.

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