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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.

Re-enter PHILOSTRATE.

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,
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 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,
Nothing impair'd, but all disordered.
Who is next?

Enter the Presenter, PYRAMUS, and THISBE, Wall, Moonshine, and Lion, as in dumb show.

Pres. "Gentles, perchance, you wonder at this show;

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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 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 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 lion hight 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,

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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:
One lion may, when many asses do.

Wall. "In this same interlude, it doth befal,
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a cranny'd hole, or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.

This lime, 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,
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!

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Enter PYRAMUS.

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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."

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she is to enter NOW,] The folios omit "now."

Enter THISBE.

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,
To spy an I can hear my Thisby's face.
Thisby!"

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."

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."
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 mure all down between the two neighbours.

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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
The smallest monstrous mouse that creeps on floor,

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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,
When lion rough in wildest rage doth roar.
Then know, that I, one Snug the joiner, am,
A lion's 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 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;"
Dem. He should have worn the horns on his head.

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.

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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.

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'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.

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