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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 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,
Philost. Here, mighty Theseus.
The. Say, what abridgment a have you for this evening?
What mask, what music? How shall we beguile
Philost. There is a brief, how many sports are rife; Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a paper.
Lys. [Reads.] "The battle with the Centaurs, to be
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.”
Abridgment-pastime; something that may abridge "the lazy time.' This is one explanation. Is it not, rather-what short thing have you, of play, or mask, or music?
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.a 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,
With this same play, against your nuptial.
No, my noble lord,
It is not for you: I have heard it over,
And it is nothing, nothing in the world,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in: and take your places, ladies.
a Snow is a common thing; and, therefore, "wonderous strange is sufficiently antithetical-hot ice, and snow as strange.
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:
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
I read as much, as from the rattling tongue
Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is
The. Let him approach.
[Flourish of trumpets.
Prol. If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think we come not to offend,
a Might. This is not used to express power, but will-what one mayeth-the will for the deed.
Consider, then, we come but in despite.
We do not come as minding to content you,
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
You shall know all that you are like to know.
The. This fellow doth not stand upon points.a 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 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?
Enter PYRAMUS and THISBE, WALL, MOONSHINE, and LION, as in dumb show.
Prol. Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
This man is Pyramus, if you would know;
This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain.
This man, with lime and rough-cast, doth present
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
a The Prologue is very carefully mis-pointed in the original editions" a tangled chain; nothing impaired, but all disordered." Had the fellow stood " upon points" it would have
"If we offend, it is with our good will
That you should think we come not to offend;
We do not come. As, minding to content you,
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."
This grisly beast, which by name Lion hight,
And finds his trusty Thisby's mantle slain :
His dagger drew, and died. For all the rest,
[Exeunt Prol., THISBE, LION, and MOONSHINE. The. I wonder, if the lion be to speak.
Dem. No wonder, my lord; one lion may, when many asses do.
Wall. In this same interlude, it doth befall,
This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone doth show
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 better? Dem. It is the wittiest partition that ever I heard discourse, my lord.
The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence.
Pyr. O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black!
O night, O night, alack, alack, alack,
I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot!
And thou, O wall, thou sweet and lovely wall,
That stands 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.
a Fall-used actively.