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Quince. At the Duke's Oak we meet.

105 Bottom. Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.


The company meet in the Palace Wood, not knowing that

they have intruded on a haunt of the Fairies : the Queen
of the Fairies lies asleep hard by, and the Fairy Puck or
Robin Goodfellow is keeping watch. The Fairies were

supposed to punish any intrusion of this kind. With Bottom's plan for getting over the difficulty of bringing

in a lion amongst ladies, we may compare what really happened at Kenilworth Castle in 1575, when Queen Elizabeth was entertained there by the Earl of Leicester. In one of the performances a singer named Harry Goldingham had to perform the part of the Greek poet Arion, and go through the water on a dolphin's back, and sing in honour of the Queen ; 'but finding his voice to be very hoarse when he came to perform it, he tears of his disguise, and swears he was none of Arion, not he! but e'en honest Harry Goldingham,—which blunt discovery pleased the Queen better than if it had gone through in

the right way.' Enter Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling.

Bottom [looking as if he were the manager]. Are we all met ?

Quince. Pat, pat; and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal. This green plot shall be our stage, this hawthorn brake our tiring-house ; and we will do

5 it in action as we will do it before the Duke.

Bottom. Peter Quince,-
Quince. What sayst thou, bully Bottom ?

Bottom. There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby' that will never please. [Quince looks annoyed.] 10 First, Pyramus must draw a sword to kill himself, which the ladies cannot abide. [A pause. He looks solemnly at Quince.] How answer you that ?

Snout. By ’r lakin, a parlous fear.

Starveling. I believe we must leave the killing out, 15 when all is done.

Bottom. Not a whit: [holding up his finger] I have a device to make all well. (A sigh of relief from Quince.]


Write me a prologue ; and let the prologue seem to say, we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus 20 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.

Quince. Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and six.

25 Bottom. No, make it two more ; let it be written in eight and eight. Snout. Will not the ladies be afeared of the lion ? Starveling. I fear it, I promise you.

Bottom. Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves : 30 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.

35 Bottom. 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, to the same defect, 'Ladies,'-01, ‘Fair ladies, I would wish you,'—or, ‘I would request you,'-or, ‘I would entreat you, -not to 40 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.

45 Quince. Well, it shall be so. But there is two hard things; that is, to bring the moonlight into a chamber; for, you know, Pyramus and Thisby meet by moon-light.

Snug. Doth the moon shine that night we play our play?

Bottom. A calendar, a calendar ! look in the almanack; [Quince pulls out a calendar] find out moonshine, find out moonshine.

Quince. Yes, it doth shine that night.

Bottom. Why, then may you leave a casement of the 55 great chamber window, where we play, open ; and the moon may shine in at the casement.

Quince. Aye, 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 moonshine. Then, there is another 63 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 can never bring in a wall. What say you, Bottom ?

65 Bottom. Some man or other must present wall : and let him have some plaster, or some loam, or some roughcast about him, to signify wall; and let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper.

70 Quince. 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 ; and so every one according to his cue.

75 Enter Puck, invisible to them. Puck [aside). What hempen homespuns have we swag

gering here,
So near the cradle of the Fairy Queen ?
What, a play toward ! I'll be an auditor ;
An actor too, perhaps, if I see cause.
Quince. Speak, Pyramus. Thisby, stand forth.

80 Bottom. Thisby, the flowers of odious savours

sweet, Quince. Odours, odours. Bottom. - Odours savours sweet :

So hath 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 [aside). A stranger Pyramus than e'er played here !

[Exit. Flute. Must I speak now?

Quince. Aye, marry must you; for you must understand, he goes but to see a noise that he heard, and is to go come again.

Flute. Most radiant Pyramus, most lily-white of hue,

Of colour like the red rose on triumphant brier, Most brisky juvenal, and eke most lovely Jew,

As true as truest horse, that yet would never tire, 95 I'll meet thee, Pyramus, at Ninny's tomb.'

Quince. “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. Pyramus, enter; your cue is past; it is, 'never tire.'



Flute. Oh,- As true as truest horse, that yet would

never tire.' Re-enter Puck, and Bottom with an ass's head on his shoulders instead of his own, as Puck has changed him. Pyramus. 'If I were fair, Thisby, I were only thine:'

Quince. O monstrous ! O strange! we are haunted. Pray, masters ! fly, masters! Help!

[The Clowns rush of in all directions. Puck [darting among them, and tripping them up.]

I'll follow you, I'll lead you about a round, 105 Through bog, through bush, through brake, through

brier ! 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. Bottom. Why do they run away? this is a knavery of them, to make me afeard.

Re-enter Snout. Snout. O Bottom ! thou art changed ! what do I see on thee ?

114 Bottom. What do you see ? you see an ass-head of your own, do you?

[Exit Snout. Re-enter Quince. Quince. Bless thee, Bottom ! bless thee! thou art translated.

[Exit, leaving Bottom bewildered.


SCENE III. THE COURT PERFORMANCE. The enchantment which fixed the ass's head on Bottom has

been removed, and he returns to Quince's cottage just as the actors were in despair over the play and were regretting that Bottom has missed a chance of obtaining a pension of sixpence a day for his brilliant acting. They go at

once to the Palace where Theseus is keeping festival. Enter Theseus and Hippolyta, attended by Philostrate,

Master of the Revels, and by Lysander and Demetrius and many Lords and Ladies. Theseus. Come now, what masques, 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

5 To ease the anguish of a torturing hour? Call Philostrate.

Philostrate. Here, mighty Theseus.
Theseus. Say, what abridgement have you for this

What masque ? what music ? How shall we beguile
The lazy time, if not with some delight ?
Philostrate (giving a paper). There is a brief how many

sports are ripe : Make choice of which your highness will see first.

Theseus [reads]. The riot of the tipsy Bacchanals, Tearing the Thracian singer in their rage.' That is an old device; and it was played

15 When I from Thebes came last a conqueror. [Reads.] 'A tedious brief scene of young Pyramus And his love Thisbe; very tragical mirth.' Merry and tragical ! tedious and brief ! How shall we find the concord of this discord ? Philostrate. 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 ; 25 And tragical, my noble lord, it is ; For Pyramus therein doth kill himself. Which, when I saw rehearsed, I must confess, Made mine eyes water ; but more merry tears The passion of loud laughter never shed.

30 Theseus. What are they that do play it ? Philostrate. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens

Which never laboured in their minds till now;
And now have toiled their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.

35 Theseus. And we will hear it. Philostrate.

No, my noble lord ; It is not for you; I have heard it over, And it is nothing, nothing in the world;


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