Page images

In glory of my kinsman Hercules.
[Reads] ‘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.
[Reads] ‘The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of Learning, late deceased in beggary.'
That is some satire, keen and critical,
Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony.
[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 ?

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.

The. What are they that do play it ?

Phil. Hard-handed men that work in Athens here,
Which never labour'd in their minds till now,
And now have toild their unbreathed memories
With this same play, against your nuptial.

The. And we will hear it.

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,

[ocr errors]

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

I will hear that play ;
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in : and take your places, ladies.

[Exit Philostrate.
Phil. So please your grace, the Prologue is address'd.
The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets.

Enter QUINCE for the Prologue.
Pro. If we offend, it is with our good will. 14

That you should think, we come not to offend, But with good will. To show our simple skill,

That is the true beginning of our end. Consider then we come but in despite.

We do not come as ininding 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.

Lysander. 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.

Hippolyta. Indeed he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder ;15 a sound, but not in government.

The. His speech was like a tangled chain ; nothing
impaired, but all disordered. Who is next?

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

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'16 tomb, there, there to woo.
This grisly beast, which Lion hight17 by name,
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, Moonshine, Wall, and lovers twain
At large discourse, while here they do remain.

[Exeunt Prologue, Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine. The. I wonder if the Lion be to speak. Demetrius. 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 crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
Tbis 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, 18
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,

Enter PYRAMUS. The. Pyramus draws near the wall : silence ! Pyr. O grim-look'd night! O night with hue so black !

O night, which ever art when day is not ! O night, О night! alack, alack, alack,

I fear my Thisby's promise is forgot ! And thou, O wall, O sweet, O lovely wall,

That stand'st between her father's ground and mine ! Thou wall, O wall, O sweet and lovely wall, Show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne !

[Wall holds up his fingers. Thanks courteous wall : Jove shield thee well for this !

But what see I ? No Thisby do I see,
O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss !

Cursed be thy stones for thus deceiving me !
The. The wall, methinks, being sensible, should curse

again. Pyr. No, in truth, sir, he should not. 'Deceiving me' is Thisby's cue: she is to enter now, and I am to spy her through the wall. You shall see, it will fall pat as I

Yonder she comes.

This. O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,

For parting my fair Pyramus and me!
My cherry lips have often kiss'd thy stones,

Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee.

told you.

Pyr. I see a voice: now will I to the chink,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.

This. My love thou art, my love I think.

Pyr. Think what thou wilt, I am thy lover's grace; And, like Limander, 19 am I trusty still.

This. And I like Helen, till the Fates me kill.
Pyr. Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true.
This. As Shafalus to Procrus, I to you.
Pyr. O, kiss me through the hole of this vile wall !
This. I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
Pyr. Wilt thou at Ninny's tomb meet me straightway?
This. 'Tide life, 'tide death, I come without delay.

[Exeunt Pyramus and Thisbe. Wall. Thus have I, Wall, my part discharged so; And, being done, thus Wall away doth go. [Exit.

The. Now is the mural down between the two neighbours.

Dem. No remedy, my lord, when walls are so wilful to hear without warning.

Hip. This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard.

The. The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.

Hip. It must be your imagination then, and not theirs.

The. If we imagine no worse of them than they of themselves, they may pass for excellent men. Here come two noble beasts in, a man and a lion.

Enter Lion and MOONSHINE.

Lion. You ladies, you, whose gentle hearts do fear

The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor, May now perchance both quake and tremble here,

When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.

« PreviousContinue »