Imatges de pÓgina


BOT. Where are these lads? where are these hearts?

QUIN. Bottom!-O most courageous day! O most happy hour!

Bor. Masters, I am to discourse wonders: but ask me not what; for if I tell you I am no true Athenian. I will tell you everything, right as it fell out. QUIN. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

BOT. Not a word of me. All that I will tell you is, that the duke hath dined: Get your apparel together; good strings to your beards", new ribbons to your pumps; meet presently at the palace; every man look o'er his part; for, the short and the long is, our play is preferred. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen; and 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. [Exeunt. Right is omitted in the folio.


Preferred-not in the sense of chosen in preference-but offered-as a suit is preferred.

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SCENE I.-Athens. An Apartment in the Palace of Theseus.

Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, Lords, 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 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!

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Wait in 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?

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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?

The folio has "Call Egeus;" and to him nearly all the speeches subsequently given to Philostrate are assigned. As some stage convenience possibly suggested this arrangement in the folio, it is not worth while to derange the received allotment of the dialogue to Philostrate, which is that of the quartos.

Ꮟ Abridgment-pastime-something that may abridge "the lazy time." This is one explanstion. Is it not, rather,-what short thing have you, of play, or mask, or music?

PHILOST. There is a brief, how many sports are rifea;

Make choice of which your highness will see first.
LYS. [Reads.] "The battle with the Centaurs 32, to be sung,

By an Athenian eunuch to the harp."

THE. We'll none of that: that have I told my love,

In glory of my kinsman Hercules.

LYS. "The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals,

Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage."

THE. That is an old device, and it was play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.
LYS. "The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, late deceas'd in beggary."
THE. That is some satire, keen, and critical,

Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
LYS. "A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus,
And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth."
THE. 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;

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 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?

PHILOST. 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.

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[Giving a paper.

In the quartos, Theseus reads the "brief," and makes the remarks upon each item;—in the folio, Lysander reads the list. The lines are generally printed as in the quartos; but the division of so long a passage is clearly better, and is perfectly natural and proper.

• Wonderous strange snow. This has sorely puzzled the commentators. They want an antithesis for snow, as hot is for ice. Upton, therefore, reads, "black snow;" Hanmer, “scorching snow;" and Mason, "strong snow." Surely snow is a common thing; and, therefore, "wonderous strange" is sufficiently antithetical-hot ice, and snow as strange.

(Unless you can find sport in their intents a,) 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. 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,
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 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 address'dc.


THE. Let him approach.

Enter Prologue.

[Flourish of trumpets.

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.

This line is parenthetical, and we print it so. Johnson says he does not know what it is to stretch and con an intent. It is the play which Philostrate has heard over, so stretch'd and cons'd, which he describes as nothing.

Might. This is not used to express power, but will-what one mayeth-the will for the deed. (See Tooke's 'Diversions of Purley,' Part II., c. 5.)


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