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is, that the duke hath dined : get your apparel together; good strings to your beards, new ribbons to your pumps ; meet presently at the palace ; every man look o'er his part; for, the short and the long is, our play is preferred. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen; and let not him that plays the lion pare his nails, for they shall hang out for the lion's claws. And, most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlick, for we are to utter sweet breath ; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words; away; go, away.




The same.

An apartment in 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 These antique fables, nor these fairy toys. Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend More than cool reason ever comprehends. The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,

I To prevent them from falling off during the representation

Are of imagination all compact : 1
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold;
That is the madman : the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to

And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation, and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination;
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,

easy is a bush supposed a bear!
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
And all their minds transfigured so together,
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.Joy, gentle friends! joy, and fresh days of love, Accompany your hearts ! Lys.

More than to us Wait in your royal walks, your




1 Are made of mere imagination.

* Consistency.




The. Come now; what masks, 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.

Phi. Here, mighty Theseus.
The. Say, what abridgment 1 have you for this

evening? What mask? what music? How shall we beguile The lazy time, if not with some delight?

Phi. There is a brief,2 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,

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i Pastime.

2 Short account.

Not sorting with a nuptial ceremony. • A tedious brief scene of young

· 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 ?
Phi. A play there is, my lord, some ten words

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 ?
Phi. Hard-handed men, that work in Athens

Which never labor'd in their minds till now;
And now have toil'd their unbreathed 1 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,

1 Unexercised.

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


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.

[Erit Philostrate. 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

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.

1 Endeavor.

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