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Extremely stretch'd and conn'd with cruel pain,
To do you service.

I will hear that play;
For never anything 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'ercharged
And duty in his service perishing.

The. Why, gentle sweet, you shall see no such

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 pick'd 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.

90. Our sport, etc. Their blunders will furnish our amusement. As the Princess says in the parallel passage, L. L.L. v. 2. 517: That sport best pleases that doth least know how.'

91, 92. noble respect Takes it,




etc. A noble mind, in judging the incompetent performances of well-meaning men, has regard to their powers, not to its worth.

101. fearful duty, timid loyalty.


Phil. So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd.

The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets.

Enter QUINCE for the Prologue.

Pro. 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 120 lord it is not enough to speak, but to speak true.

Hip. Indeed he hath played on his 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?

106. address'd, ready.

108 f. The humour of mis

punctuation had already been practised by Udail in Ralph Royster Doyster (c. 1551).

118. doth not stand upon points, is not minutely puncti


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Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, Wall,

Pro. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this

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

And through Wall's chink, poor souls, they are


To whisper. At the which let no man wonder.
This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn

To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name,
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, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain At large discourse, while here they do remain. [Exeunt Prologue, Pyramus, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine.




The. I wonder if the lion be to speak.

131. certain, this archaic accentuation only survived in rude popular verse.

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 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

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

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

Re-enter PYRAMUS.

The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence! 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

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


But what see I? No Thisby do I see.

164. sinister, left.




O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss! Cursed 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


Re-enter THISBE.

This. O wall, full often hast thou heard my


For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kiss'd 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


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

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 [Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe.


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Cephalus... Procris. Cephalus was wooed by Eos, but remained faithful to his wife Procris.

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