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To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?

Call Philostrate.

Philost. Here, mighty Theseus.

The. Say, what abridgment* have you for this evening? What mask? what music? How shall we beguile

The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Philost. There is a brief,t how many sports are ripe;

Make choice of which your highness will see first.[ Giving a paper. The. [reads.] The battle with the Centaurs, to be sung,

By an Athenian eunuch to the harp.

We'll none of that: that have I told my love,

In glory 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 deceased in beggary.
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.
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 ?

Philost. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,

Which never labour'd in their minds till now;

And now have toil'd their unbreathedt 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 anything can be amiss,

When simpleness and duty tender it.

Go, bring them in ;-and take your places, ladies. [Exit PHILOS.

* Pastime.

† Short account


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:
And what poor duty cannot do,

Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.
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 practised 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 saucy and audacious eloquence.

Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
In least, speak most, to my capacity.


Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is addrest.* The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets.


Prol. 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, 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.

Hip. Indeed he hath played on this 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, 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, certáin.

• Ready.

+ A musical instrument

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"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 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 by name lion hight,
"The trusty Thisby, coming first by night,
"Did scare away, or rather did affright:

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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 siain: "Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade, "He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast; And, Thisby tarrying in mulberry shade,

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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.

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 crannied hole, or chink,


Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby, "Did whisper often very secretly.

"This loam, this rough-cast, and this stone doth snow, "That I am that same wall; the truth is so:

"And this the cranny is, right and sinister,

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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!



O grim-look'd night! Onight with hue so black!

"O night, which ever art, when day is not!

O night, Ó night, alack, alack, alack,

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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.

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"O wicked wall, through whom I see no bliss; "Curst 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 told you:-Yonder she comes.

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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." Pyr. 'I see a voice: now will I to the chink, 66 То 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, am I trusty still."

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This. And I like Helen, till the fates me kill."

Pyr. "Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true."

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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."
Wall. "Thus have I, wall, my part discharged so;

And, being done, thus wall away doth go."

[Exeunt WALL, PYRAMUS, and THISBE 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 moon and a lion.


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. "Then know, that I, one Snug the joiner, am "A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam:

"For if I should as lion come in strife

"Into this place, 'twere pity, on my life."

The. A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience

Dem. The very best at a beast, my lord, that e'er I saw.

Lys. This lion is a very fox for his valour.

The. True; and a goose for his discretion.

Dem. Not so, my lord: for his valour cannot carry his discre

tion; and the fox carries the goose.

The. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour; for

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the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.

Moon. "This lantern doth the horned moon present:"
Dem. He should have worn the horns on his head.

The. He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.

Moon. "This lantern doth the horned moon present;

Myself the man i' the moon do seem to be."

The. This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be put into the lantern: How is it else the man i' the moon? Dem. He dares not come there for the candle: for, you see, it is already in snuff.*

Hip. I am weary of this moon: Would, he would change! The. It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane: but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.

Lys. Proceed, moon.

Moon. All that I have to say is, to tell you, that the lantern is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thorn-bush, my thornbush; and this dog, my dog.

Dem. Why all these should be in the lantern; for they are in the moon. But silence; here comes Thisbe.



This. This is old Ninny's tomb: Where is my love?"

Lion. "Oh,

Dem. Well roared, lion.

The. Well run, Thisbe.

[The LION roars.-THISBE runs off.

Hip. Well shone, moon.-Truly, the moon shines with a good grace.

The. Well moused, lion.

[The LION tears THISBE's mantle, and exit.

Dem. And so comes Pyramus.

Lys. And then the moon vanishes.


Pyr. "Sweet moon, I thank thee for thy sunny beams;

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I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright:

"For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering streams,
"I trust to taste of truest Thisby's sight.

"But stay;-0 spite!

"But mark;-Poor knight,

"What dreadful dole is here?

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Quail, crush, conclude, and quell!"

The. This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go

near to make a man look sad.

In anger; a quibble.

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