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Flu. What is Thisby? A wandering knight?
Flu. Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.
Quin. That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.
Bot. An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too. I'll speak in a monstrous little voice,- Thisne, Thisne—Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear ; thy Thisby dear! And lady dear!
Quin. No, no; you must play Pyramus; and, Flute, you Thisby.
Bot. Well, proceed.
Quin. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.— Tom Snout, the tinker.
Snout. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. You, Pyramus's father; myself, Thisby's father ;-Snug, the joiner, you, the lion's part :-and, I hope, here is a play fitted.
Snug. Have you the lion's part written ? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.
Quin. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
Bot. Let me play the lion too. I will roar, that I will do any man's heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say, Let him roar again, Let him roar again.
Quin. An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all.
All. That would hang us every mother's son.
Bot. I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more discretion but to hang us; but I will aggravate my voice so, that I will roar you as gently as any sucking dove; I will roar you an 'twere any nightingale.
Quin. You can play no part but Pyramus; for Pyramus is a sweet-faced man, a proper man, as one
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. I 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.
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.
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. Loh, 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. 5 Shining.
Called Robin Good-fellow. Are you not he,
Thou speak'st aright;
Fai. And here my mistress.—'Would that he were
T 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 waren 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.
Tita. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairy, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Obe. Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord ?
Tita. Then I must be thy lady. But I know
Your buskined mistress, and your warrior love, • To Theseus must be wedded; and you come To give their bed joy and prosperity.
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy;
1 See the Life of Theseus in North's Translation of Plutarch. Ægle, 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.