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shall see in a summer's day, a most lovely, gentlemanlike man; therefore you must needs play Pyramus.
Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?
Quin. Why, what you will.
Bot. I will discharge it in either your straw-colored beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-color beard, your perfect yellow.
Quin. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced. But, masters, here are your parts; and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night, and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moon-light. There will we rehearse; for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with company, and our devices known. In the mean time, I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants. pray you, fail me not.
Bot. We will meet; and there we may rehearse more obscenely, and courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu.
Quin. At the duke's oak we meet.
Bot. Enough; hold, or cut bow-strings.' [Exeunt.
SCENE I. A Wood near Athens.
Enter a Fairy at one door, and PUCK at another.
Thorough bush, thorough briar,
1 To meet whether bowstrings hold or are cut is to meet in all events. But the origin of the phrase has not been satisfactorily explained.
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire.
In those freckles live their savors.
Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night. Take heed the queen come not within his sight, For Oberon is passing fell and wrath, Because that she, as her attendant, hath A lovely boy, stolen from an Indian king. She never had so sweet a changeling; And jealous Oberon would have the child Knight of his train, to trace the forest wild. But she, perforce, withholds the loved boy, Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy; And now they never meet in grove, or green, By fountain clear, or spangled star-light sheen,5 But they do square; that all their elves, for fear, Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there.
Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite,
1 The orbs here mentioned are those circles in the herbage, commonly called fairy-rings, the cause of which is not yet certainly known.
2 The allusion is to Elizabeth's band of gentlemen pensioners, who were chosen from among the handsomest and tallest young men of family and fortune; they were dressed in habits richly garnished with gold lace.
3 Lubber or clown. Lob, lobcock, looby, and lubber, all denote inactivity of body and dulness of mind.
4 A changeling was a child changed by a fairy: it here means one stolen or got in exchange.
Called Robin Good-fellow. Are you not he,
Puck. Thou speak'st aright; I am that merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon, and make him smile, When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a filly foal; And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, In very likeness of a roasted crab; 2 And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, And on her withered dew-lap pour the ale. The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me; Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, And tailor cries,3 and falls into a cough; And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe: And yexen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear A merrier hour was never wasted there.But room, Faery; here comes Oberon.
Fai. And here my mistress.-'Would that he were gone!
1 A quern was a hand-mill.
2 Wild apple.
3 Dr. Johnson thought he remembered to have heard this ludicrous exclamation upon a person's seat slipping from under him. He that slips from his chair falls as a tailor squats upon his board. Hanmer thought the passage corrupt, and proposed to read “rails or cries."
4 The old copy reads: "And waxen in their mirth," &c. It seems most probable that we should read, as Dr. Farmer proposed, yexen. To yer is to hiccup, and is so explained in all the old dictionaries.
Enter OBERON, at one door, with his Train, and TITANIA, at another, with hers.
Obe. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania.
Obe. Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord?
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
And make him with fair Ægle break his faith,
Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy;
1 See the Life of Theseus in North's Translation of Plutarch. Egle, Ariadne, and Antiopa, were all, at different times, mistresses to Theseus. The name of Perigune is translated by North Perigouna.
2 Spring seems to be here used for beginning. The spring of day is used for the dawn of day in K. Henry IV. Part II.
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
We are their parents and original.
Obe. Do you amend it, then; it lies in you.
1 i. e. paltry. The folio reads petty.
2 A rural game, played by making holes in the ground in the angles and sides of a square, and placi stones or other things upon them, according to certain rules. These figures are called nine men's morris, or merrils, because each party playing has nine men: they were generally cut upon turf, and were, consequently, choked up with mud in rainy seasons. 3 Theobald proposed to read "their winter cheer."
4 Autumn producing flowers unseasonably upon those of summer. 5 Page of honor.