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What mask? what musick ? 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,

be sung

In glory

By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.
We'll none of that: that have I told my love,

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 play'd
When I from Thebes came last a conqueror.

The thrice three Muses mourning for the death

Of learning, late deceas'd in beggaryo.
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 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.

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5 Short account.

6 This may be an allusion to Spenser's poem: · The Tears of the Muses on the Neglect and Contempt of Learning;' first printed in 1591. VOL. II.

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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.
Philost.

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

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.

[Exit PHILOSTRATE. 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 no

thing. Our sport shall be, to take what they mistake:

7 It is thought that Shakspeare alludes here to certain good hearted men of Coventry,' who petitioned that they mought renew their old storial shew' before the Queen at Kenilworth : where the poet himself may have been present, as he was then twelve years old.

8 i. e. unexercised, unpractised.

9 Intents may be put for the object of their attention. To intend and to attend were anciently synonymous.

And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit 10.
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 sawcy 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

addrestii . The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets 12.

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

should think we come not to offend, But with good-will. To shew 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. 10 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.'

11 Ready

12 Anciently the prologue entered after the third sounding of the trumpets, or, as we should now say, after the third music.

That 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 13; a sound, but not in government 14

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; “ 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 sunder: “ And through wall's chink, poor souls, they are

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

13 A kind of flageolet. To record anciently signified to modulate; perhaps the name arose from birds being taught to record by it. In modern cant the recorders of corporations are called flutes : an ancient jest, the meaning of which is perhaps unknown to those who use it.

14 i. e. not regularly, according to the time. So Hamlet, speaking of a recorder— govern these ventages with your finger and thumb; give it breath with your mouth; and it will discourse most eloquent music.'

“ This grisly beast, which by name lion hight 15, “ 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, moon-shine, wall, and lovers twain, “ At large discourse, while here they do remain.”

[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, “ That I, one Snout by name, present a wall: “ And such a wall, as I would have you think, That had in it a cranny'd hole, or chink, “ Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby, “ Did whisper often very secretly. “ This loam,this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show “ 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

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

lord. The. Pyramus draws near the wall: silence !

15 Called.

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