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stage, this hawthorn brake our 'tyring-house: and we will do it in action, as we will do it before the duke.
Bot. Peter Quince, Quin. What say’st thou, bully Bottom? Bot. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby, that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself; which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?
Snout. By’rlakin, a parlous fear. 3 Star. I believe, we must leave the killing out, when all is done,
Bot. Not a whit; I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue: and let the prologue seem to say, we will do no harm with our swords; and that Pyramus is not killed indeed: and, for the more better assurance, tell them, that I, Pyramus, am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver: This will put them out of fear.
Quin. Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and six.*
Bot. No, make it two more: let it be written in eight and eight.
Snout. Will not the ladies be afeard of the lion?
skilful and very poor, and it is probable that the design of this scene was to ridicule their ignorance, and the odd expedients to which they might be driven by the want of proper decorations. Bottom was, perhaps, the head of a rival house, and is therefore honoured with an ass's head. Johnson.
3 By’rlakin, a parlous fear.] By our ladykin, or little lady, as ifakins is a corruption of by my faith. The former is used in Preston's Cambyses :
“ The clock hath stricken vive, ich think, by laken." Again, in magnificence, an interlude, written by Skelton, and printed by Rastell:
“ By our takin, syr, not by my will.” Parlous is a word corrupted from perilous, i. e. dangerous. So, Phaer and Twyne translate the following passage in the Æneid, Lib. VII, 302:
Quid Syrtes aut Scylla mihi? quid vasta Charybdis
dis wood ?
- in eight and six.] i. e. in alternate verses of eight and six syllables. Malone. ::
Bot. Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to bring in, God shield us! a lion among ladies, is a most dreadful thing: for there is not a more fearful wildfowl than your lion, living; and we ought to look to it.
Snout. Therefore, another prologue must tell, he is not a lion.
Bot. Nay, you must name his name; and half his face must be seen through the lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying thus, or to the same defect, -Ladies, or fair ladies, I would wish you, or, I would request you, or, I would entreat you, not to fear, not to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life: No, I am no such thing; I am a man, as other men are:-and there, indeed, let him name his name; and tell them plainly, he is Snug the joiner. 5
Quin. Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things; that is, to bring the moon-light into a chamber: for you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moon-light.
Snug. Doth the moon shine, that night we play our play?
Bot. A calendar, a calendar! look in the almanack; find out moon-shine, find out moon-shine.
Quin. Yes, it doth shine that night.
5 No, I am no such thing; I am a man, as other men are:-and there, indeed, let him name his name; and tell them plainly, he is Snug the joiner.] There are, probably, many temporary allusions to particular incidents and characters scattered through our author's plays, which give a poignancy to certain passages, while the events were recent, and the persons pointed at yet living.--In the speech now before us, I think it not improbable that he meant to allude to a fact which happened in his time, at an entertainment exhibited before Queen Elizabeth. It is recorded in a manuscript collection of anecdotes, stories, &c. entitled, Merry Passages and Feasts, MS. Harl. 6395:
“ There was a spectacle presented to Queen Elizabeth upon the water, and among others Harry Goldingham was to represent Arion upon the dolphin's backe; but finding his voice to be verye hoarse and unpleasant, when he came to perform it, he tears off his disguise, and swears he was none of Arion, not he, but even honest Harry Goldingham; which blunt discoverie pleased the queene better than if it had gone through in the right way :-yet he could order his voice to an instrument exceeding well.”
The collector of these Merry Passages appears to have been nephew to Sir Roger L'Estrange. Malone.
Bot. Why, then you may leave a casement of the great chamber window, where we play, open; and the moon may shine in at the casement.
Quin. Ay; or else one must come in with a bush of thorns and a lanthorn, and say, he comes to disfigure, or to present, the person of moon-shine. Then, there is another thing: we must have a wall in the great chamber; for Pyramus and Thisby, says the story, did talk through the chink of a wall.
Snug. You never can bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom?
Bot. Some man or other must present wall: and let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some roughcast about him, to signify wall; or let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.
Quin. If that may be, then all is well. Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts. Pyramus, you begin: when you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake:6 and so every one according to
Enter Puck behind.
Quin. Speak, Pyramus :- Thisby, stand forth.
that brake;] Brake, in the present instance, signifies & thicket or furze-bush. So, in the ancient copy of the Nut-brownc Mayde, 1521:
- for, dry or wete
“ But a brake bush, or twayne.”
Steedens. Brake, in the west of England, is used to express a large extent of ground, overgrown with furze; and appears, both here and in the next scene, to convey the same idea. Henley.
Pyr. odours savours sweet :
So doth thy breath, my dearest Thisby dear. But, hark, a voice! stay thou but here awhile, And by and by I will to thee appear.
[Exit. Puck. A stranger Pyramus than e'er play'd here !8
[Aside.-Erit. This. Must I speak now?
Quin. Ay, marry, must you: for you must understand, he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to come again.
This. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,
Of colour like the red rose on triumphani brier, Most brisky juvenal,' and eke most lovely Jew,
As true as trucst horse that yet would never tire, I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomó.
Quin. Ninus' tomb, man: Why you must not speak that yet; that you answer to Pyramus: you speak all your part at once, cues and all.1 -Pyramus enter; your cue is past ; it is, never tire.
Re-enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head. This. 0,
-As true as truest horse, that yet would never
tire. Pyr. If I were fair, 2 Thisby, I were only thine:
7 So doth thy breath,] The old copies concur in reading :
“ So hath thy breath,” Mr. Pope made the alteration, which seems to be necessary.
Steevens. -than e'er play'd here!] I suppose he means in that theatre where the piece was acting. Steevens.
- juvenal,] i. e. young man. So, Falstaff; 56 nal thy master. Steevens.
1-cues and all.] A cue, in stage cant, is the last words of the preceding speech, and serves as a hint to him who is to speak next. So, Othello:
“ Were it my cue to fight, I should have known it
“ Without a prompter.” Again, in The Return from Parnassus:
“ Indeed, master Kempe, you are very famous : but that is as well for works in print, as your part in cue." Kempe was one of Shakspeare's fellow comedians. Steevens.
2 If I were fair, &c.] Perhaps we ought to point thus: If I were, [i. e. as true, &c.] fair Thisby, I were only thine.
Quin. O monstrous! O strange! we are haunted. Pray, masters! fly, masters! help! [Exeunt Clowns.
Puck. I 'll follow you: I 'll lead you about a round, Through bog, through bush, through brake, through
brier; 3 Sometime a horse I 'll be, sometime a hound,
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a fire; And neigh, and bark, and grunt, and roar, and burn, Like horse, hound, hog, bear, fire, at every turn. [Exit.
Bot. Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them, to make me afeard ! 4
Re-enter Snout. Snout. O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee? 5
Bot. What do you see? you see an ass’s head of your own; do you?
Re-enter Quince. Quin. Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.
[Erit. Bot. I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.
3 Through bog, through bush, through brake, through brier;] Here are two syllables wanting. Perhaps, it was written:
“ Through bog, through mire,” Johnson. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. VI, c. vii: Through hills, through dales, through bushes and through
Long thus she bled,” &c. Malone. The alliteration evidently requires some word beginning with a b. We may therefore read: “ Through bog, through burn, through bush, through brake,
through brier.” Ritson.
- to make me afeard.) Afear is from to fear, by the old form of the language, as an hungered, from to hunger. So adry, for thirsty. Johnson.
5 O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee?] It is plain, by Bottom's answer, that Snout mentioned an ass's head. Therefore we should read:
Snout. O Bottom, thou art changed! what do I see on thee? An ass's head? Johnson.