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Not paying me a welcome. Trust me, sweet,
Philost. So please your grace, the prologue is addrest. The. Let him approach. [Flourish of trumpets 3.
Enter the 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 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,
We are not here. That you should here repent you,
The. This fellow doth not stand upon his 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,
Enter the Presenter, PYRAMUS, and THISBE, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion, as in dumb show.
Pres. "Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this show;
addrest.] i. e. Ready, prepared.
3 Flourish of trumpets.] This is the stage-direction of the folio, 1623: the quartos say nothing about it; but it was usual in our old theatres for the actor who spoke the prologue to enter upon the stage when the trumpet or trumpets had sounded thrice. Hist. Engl. Dram. Poetry and the Stage, iii. 440.
upon His points.] So the corr. fo. 1632: "his" is necessary for the verse, and Theseus is not intended here to speak prose.
* Enter the Presenter, Pyramus, and Thisbe,] The stage-direction in the folio,
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.
This beauteous lady Thisby is, certain.
Presenteth moonshine; for, if you will know,
To meet at Ninus' tomb, there, there to woo.
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 Pres. THISBE, Lion, and Moonshine'. The. I wonder, if the lion be to speak.
1623 (there is none in the 4tos, 1600), is "Tawyer with a trumpet before them," which words follow "as in dumb show." In the corr. fo. 1632 Tawyer and his trumpet are erased, and "Enter Presenter" is made to precede the other characters. Such, no doubt, was the stage-arrangement when this play was played in the time of the old annotator, and we may presume that it was so in the time of Shakespeare. In the early state of our drama a Presenter, as he was called, sometimes introduced the characters of a play, and as Shakespeare was imitating this species of entertainment, we need entertain little doubt that "Tawyer with a trumpet" of the folio, 1623, was, in fact, the Presenter, a part then filled by a person of the name of Tawyer. In the corr. fo. 1632 also the Presenter is made to speak the argument of the play. This was to be made intelligible, with a due observation of points, and could not properly be given to the same performer who had delivered the prologue, purposely made so blunderingly ridiculous. In the old copies, 4to. and folio, both the prologue and the argument, containing the history of the piece, are absurdly assigned to one and the same man. Perhaps such was the case when the number of the company could not afford separate actors.
And finds his TRUSTY Thisby's mantle slain :] Both the 4tos. have "trusty;" a necessary epithet, as far as relates to the measure, but omitted in the folio.
7 Exeunt Pres. Thisbe, Lion, and Moonshine.] So the corr. fo. 1632: the old copies have "Exeunt Prol.," &c.
Dem. No wonder, my lord:
Wall. "In this same interlude, it doth befal,
This lime, this rough-cast, and this stone, doth show
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
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!
Pyr. "O, grim-look'd night! O, night with hue so black! O night, which ever art, when day is not! O night! O 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;
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.
8 This LIME, this rough-cast,] We have had "lime and rough-cast" just before; and Theseus asks, afterwards, "Would you desire lime and hair to speak better?" The 4tos. and folio in this place have lome; merely the mistake of a letter.
1 O sweet, O lovely wall!] Fisher's and Roberts's 4tos. read "O sweet, O lovely wall." The folio has "thou sweet and lovely wall."
she is to enter NOW,] The folios omit "now."
This. "O wall, full often hast thou heard my moans,
Thy stones with lime and hair knit up in thee".
This. "My love! thou art my love, I think."
This. "And I like Helen, till the fates me kill.”
Pyr. "Not Shafalus to Procrus was so true."
Pyr. "O! kiss me through the hole of this vile wall."
[Exeunt Wall, PYRAMUS, and THISBE. The. Now is the mure all 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 e'er 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 their's.
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
with lime and hair knit UP IN THEE.] This is the preferable reading of the folio, 1623: the 4tos. have "knit now again," which does not preserve the intended rhyme.
Now is the MURE ALL down] For "mure all," (which is Theobald's emendation,) the folio misreads moral; while the 4tos. are still farther from the meaning, when they have it, "Now is the moon used," &c. It should seem that in the time of the old corrector of the folio, 1632, neither "moral," nor mure all were the words on the stage: he inserts wall.
May now, perchance, both quake and tremble here,
The. A very gentle beast, and of a good conscience.
The. True; and a goose for his discretion.
Dem. Not so, my lord; for his valour cannot carry his discretion, and the fox carries the goose.
The. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his valour, for 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;"
The. He is not 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 aweary 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.
ONE Snug the joiner,] So the folio, 1623: the two 4tos. have "as Snug the joiner."
A lion's fell,] "Fell" is skin, and such it had been agreed that Snug should announce himself, in order that the ladies might not be alarmed: the old text is "a lion fell;" but my late friend, Mr. Barron Field, proposed the judicious change to "lion's fell," which is doubtless correct, inasmuch as it is the reading of the corr. fo. 1632. The German translation has Löwenfell.
'twere pity on MY life.] ""Twere pity on your life," corr. fo. 1632. We follow here the older reading, but it is questionable.
8 let us LISTEN to the moon.] The folio, 1623, and the 4to. by Roberts have "hearken to the moon."
9 He is NOT crescent,] "He is no crescent," in the old copies, the t having most likely dropped out in the press.
1 - it is already in SNUFF.] To take any thing "in snuff," in the language of that day, was to take it in anger, to be irritated by it.