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PHILOST. A play there is, my lord, fome 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 piay
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 rehears'd, 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 unbreath'd 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, 6

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In support of Mr. Mason's conje&ure it may be observed that the words strong and Arange are often confounded in our old plys.

Mr. Upton's emendation also may derive some fupport from a passage in Macbeth :

when they fall be opened, black Macbeth u Shall seem as pure as frow.MALONE.

unbreath'à memories -- ] That is, unexercised, unpra&tised memories. STEEVENS.

6 Unless you can find sport in their intents, ] Thus all the copies. But as I know not what it is to stretch and con an intent, I suspeo a line to be lost. JOHNSON.

To intend and to attend were anciently synonymous. Of this use several instances are given in a note on the third scene of the firft VOL. VII.

L

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

you

service. THE.

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

[ Exit PHILOSTRATE. Hip. I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd, 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,

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a& of Othello. Intents therefore may be put for the obje& of their attention. We still say a person is intent his business.

STEEVENS. never any thing can be amiss, When simpleness and duty tender it.] Ben Jonson in Cyntkia's Revels has employed this fentiment of humanity on the same occafion, when Cynthia is preparing to see a masque:

" Nothing which duty and desire to please,
“ Bears written on the forehead, comes amiss."

STELVENS. 8 Our sport shall be, &c.] Voltaire says something like this of Louis XIV, who took a pleasure in secing his courtiers in confufion when they spoke to him.

I am told, however, by a writer in the Edinburgh Magazine, for Nov. 1786, that I have assigned a malignant instead of a humane sentiment to Theseus, and that he really means We will accept with pleasure even their blundering atiempt. STEEVENS.

9 And what poor duty cannot do, ] The defeâive metre of this line shews that fome word was inadvertently omitted by the transcriber or compofitor. Mr. Theobald supplied the defect by reading “ And what poor willing duty," &c. MALONE.

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,
Throtile their practis'd accent in their fears,
And, in conclusion, dumbly have broke off,
Not paying me a welcome : Trust me, sweet,
Out of this filence, yet, I pick'da welcome;

· And what poor duty cannot do,

Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.] The sense of this passage, as it now stands, if it has any fense, is this: What the inability of duty cannot perform, regardful generofily receives as an act of ability, though not of merit. The contrary is rather true : What dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives as having the merit, though not the power, of complete per fornance.

We should therefore read:

And what poor duty cannot do,

Noble respeå takes not in might, but merit. JOHNSON. In might, is perhaps an elliptical expression for what might have been. STLEVENS.

If this passage is to stand as it is, the meaning appears to be this :

:~" and what poor duty would do, but cannot accomplish, noble resped considers as it might have been, not as it is."

M. MASON. And what dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives with complacency, estimating it not by the a&ual merit of the performance, but by what it might have been, the abilities of the performers equal 10 iheir zcal.-Such, I think, is the true interpretation of this ge; for which the reader is indebted partiy to Dr. Johnson, and partly to Mr. Steevens.

MALONE. 3 Where I have come, great clerks, have purposed, &c.]. So, in Pericles :

" She fings like one immortal, and shc dances
" As goddess like to her admired lays ;

" Deep clerks the dumbs." It should be observed, that periods in the text is used in the sease of full points. MALONE.

were

And in the modesty of fearful duty
I read as much, as from the rattling tongue
Of lawcy and audacious eloquence.
Love, therefore, and tongue-tied simplicity,
In lealt, speak most, to my capacity:

Enter PHILOSTRATE.

Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is

addrest. The. Let himn approach. ( Flourish of Trumpets.'

Enter PROLOGUE.

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 fimple 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 Mould here repent you, The actors are at hand; ani, by their Mow, 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;

addrest. ] That is, ready. So, in K. Henry V : ". To-morrow for our march we are addrejt.

STEEVENS. 5 Flourish of trumpets.] It appears from The Guls Hornbook, by Decker, 1609, that the prologue was anciently usher'd in by trumpets. " Present not yourselfe on the stage ( especially at a new play) until the quaking prologue hail (by rubbing) got cullor in his checkes, and is ready to give the trumpets their cue that hee's upon point to enter. STEEVENS.

he knows not the stop. A good moral, my lord : Itis not enough to speak, but to speak true.

Hip. Indeed he hath play'd on this prologue, like a child on a recorder ;5 a found, 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 pow.

PROL. "Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this

fhow ; “ But wonder on, till truth make all things plain, " This, man is Pyramus, if you would know;

" This beauteous lady Thisby is, certáin,'

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- on a recorder; ] Lord Bacon in his natural history, cent. iii. seđ. 221, speaks of recorders and flutes at the faine instant, and says, that the recorder hath a less bore, and a greater, above and below; and elsewhere, cent. ii. le&. 187, he speaks of it as having fix holes, in which respect it answers to the Tibia minor or Flajolet of Mersennus. From all which particulars it should seem thai the flute and the recorder were different instruments, and that the latter in propriety of speech was no other than the flagelet. Hawkins's History of Musick, Vol. IV. p. 479. REED.

Shakspeare introduces the same instrument in Hamlet; and Milton says:

" To the sound of soft recorders." The recorder is mentioned in many of the old plays. STEEVENS.

but not in government. ] That is, not regularly, according to the tune. STEEVENS. Hamlet, speaking of a recorder, says,

co Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb; give it breath with your mouth; and it will discourse most eloquent music." — This explains the meaning of government in this pallage. M, Mason,

S In this place the folio, 1623, exhibits the following prompter's direction. Tawyer with a trumpet before then. STEEVENS. 9 This beauteous laily Thisby is, certain.] A burlesque was hero

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