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utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words: away! go, away! [Exeunt.
SCENE I. Athens. The palace of Theseus.
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate, Lords, and Attendants.
Hip. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers speak of.
The. More strange than true: I never may believe
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
More witnesseth than fancy's images
And grows to something of great constancy;
But, howsoever, strange and admirable.
The. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth.
Enter Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena.
Joy, gentle friends! joy and fresh days of love
Lys. More than to us 30
Wait in your royal walks, your board, your bed!
The. 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, To ease the anguish of a torturing hour? Call Philostrate. Phil. Here, mighty Theseus.
The. Say, what abridgement have you for this evening? What masque? what music? How shall we beguile 40 The lazy time, if not with some delight?
Phil. There is a brief how many sports are ripe: Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a paper.
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! That is, hot ice and wondrous strange snow. How shall we find the concord of this discord? <5o
Phil. 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 rehearsed, I must confess, Made mine eyes water; but more merry tears The passion of loud laughter never shed. 70
The. What are they that do play it?
Phil. Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
The. And we will hear it.
Phil. No, my noble lord;
It is not for you: I have heard it over,
To do you service.
The. I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss,
Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharged 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: 90
And what poor duty cannot do, noble respect
And in the modesty of fearful duty
Re-enter PHILOSTRATE. Phil. So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd. The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets.
Enter QuiNCE/or the Prologue.
Pro. If we offend, it is with our good will.
That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good will. To show our simple skill, no
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, 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. 121
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.
Pro. 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 130
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 lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know, By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo. This grisly beast, which Lion hight by name, The trusty Thisby, coming first by night, Did scare away, or rather did affright; 14°
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, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain At large discourse, while here they do remain. 150
[Exeunt Prologue, 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;