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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 I. The same. An Apartment in the Palace

of Theseus.


and Attendants. Hip. '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

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,

1 i. e. composed.

It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear !

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.


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

To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
Call Philostrate.

Philost. 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?
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,

1 An abridgment appears to mean some pastime to shorten the tedious evening:

2 Schedule.

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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

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 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

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.

1 i. e. unexercised, unpractised.



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

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.


Enter PHILOSTRATE. Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is

addrest. The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets.


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The sense of this passage appears to be:-“What dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives with complacency; estimating it, not by the actual merit, but according to the power or might of the humble but zealous performers."

2 Ready.

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

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. 66 This man is Pyramus, if you would know;

66 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 con



“ 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
6. To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.

1 A kind of flageolet.

2 i. e. not regularly, according to the time.

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