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Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on ; then read the names of the actors; and so grow on to a point." Quin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby. Bot. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.—Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves. Quin. Answer, as I call you.-Nick Bottom, the weaver. - Bot. Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed. Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. Bot. What is Pyramus P A lover, or a tyrant? Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love. Bot. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. ‘If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure. To the rest.—Yet my chief humor is for a tyrant; I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.
“The raging rocks,
This was lofty!—Now name the rest of the players
—This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is
more condoling. -
1 Grow on to a point. This is the reading of the first follo, and is probably a misprint for go on to appoint, i.e. appoint the actors to their several parts.
Flu. What is Thisby? A wandering knight? Quin. It is the lady that Pyramus must love. Flu. Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming. Quin. That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will. Bot. An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too. I’ll speak in a monstrous little voice,—Thisne, Thisne—Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisby dear! And lady dear! Quin. No, no; you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you Thisby. Bot. Well, proceed. Quin. Robin Starveling, the tailor. Star. Here, Peter Quince. Quin. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.—Tom Snout, the tinker. Snout. Here, Peter Quince. Quin. You, Pyramus's father; myself, Thisby's father;-Snug, the joiner, you, the lion's part:—and, I hope, here is a play fitted. Snug. Have you the lion's part written ? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study. Quin. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring. Bot. Let me play the lion too. I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say, Let him roar again, Let him roar again. . Quin. An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all. All. That would hang us every mother's son. Bot. I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us; but I will aggravate my voice so, that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any nightingale. Quin. You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man, as one shall see in a summer's day, a most lovely, gentleman like man; therefore you must needs play Pyramus. Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in P Quin. Why, what you will. Bot. I will discharge it in either your straw-colored beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your perfect yellow. Quin. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here are your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night, and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moon-light. There will we rehearse; for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the mean time, I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not. Bot. We will meet; and there we may rehearse more obscenely, and couragcously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu. Quin. At the duke’s oak we meet. Bot. Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings." [Eveunt.
Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck at another.
Puck. How now, spirit! whither wander you?
1 To meet whether bowstrings hold or are cut is to meet in all events. But the origin of the phrase has not been satisfactorily explained.
Thorough flood, thorough fire. I do wander every where, Swifter than the moones sphere; And I serve the fairy queen, To dew her orbs' upon the green. The cowslips tall her pensioners” be, In their gold coats spots you see; Those be rubies, fairy favors; In those freckles live their savors. l must go seek some dew-drops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear. Farewell, thou lob” of spirits, I’ll be gone; Our queen and all her elves come here anon. Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night. Take heed the queen come not within his sight, For Oberon is passing fell and wrath, Because that she, as her attendant, hath A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king. She never had so sweet a changeling; “ And jealous Oberon would have the child Knight of his train, to trace the forest wild. But she, perforce, withholds the loved boy, Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy; And now they never meet in grove, or green, By fountain clear, or spangled star-light sheen,” But they do square; " that all their elves, for fear, Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there. Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making quite, Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite,
Over park, over pale,
# The orbs here mentioned are those circles in the herbage, commonly called fairy-rings, the cause of which is not yet certainly known.
* The allusion is to Elizabeth's band of gentlemen pensioners, who were chosen from among the handsomest and tallest young men of family and fortune; they were dressed in habits richly garnished with gold lace.
3 Lubber or clown. Lob, lobcock, looby, and lubber, all denote inactivity of body and dulness of mind.
4. A changeling was a child changed by a fairy: it here means one stolen or got in exchange.
5 Shining. 6 Quarrel.
Called Robin Good-fellow. Are you not he,
Puck. Thou speak'st aright;
Fai. And here my mistress.-'Would that he were
1 A quern was a hand-mill. 2 Wild apple.
3 Dr. Johnson thought he remembered to have heard this ludicrous exclamation upon a person's seat slipping from under him. He that slips from his chair falls as a tailor squats upon his board. Hanmer thought the passage corrupt, and proposed to read “rails or cries.”
4 The old copy reads: “And waren in their mirth,” &c. It seems most probable that we should read, as Dr. Farmer proposed, yeren. To yer is to hiccup, and is so explained in all the old dictionaries.