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SCENE IV.

Changes to a Cottage.

Enter Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snowt and Starveling. (5)

Quin. TS all our company here?

Quin. Is

Bot. You were beft to call them generally man by man, according to the fcrip.

Quin. Here is the fcrowl of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the Duke and Dutchefs, on his wedding-day at night.

Bot. First, good Peter Quince, fay what the play treats on; then read the names of the actors and fo * grow on to a point.

Quin. Marry, our play is the most lamentable comedy, and moft cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.

Bot. A very good piece of work, I affure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the fcrowl. Mafters, fpread yourfelves. Quin. Anfwer, as I call you. Nick Bottom, the

weaver.

Bot. Ready: name what part I am for, ceed.

and pro

(5) In this Scene Shakespeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre, to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the prin cipal Actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noife, fuch as every young man pants to perform when he firft fteps upon the Stage. The fame Bottom, who feems bred in a tiring-room, has another hiftrionical paffion. He is for engroffing every part, and would exclude bis inferiors from all poffibility of diftinction.-He is therefore defirous to play Pyramus, Thife, and the Lyon at the fame

time.

*L Grow to a point.

Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are fet down for Py

ramus.

Bot. What is Pyramus, a lover, or a tyrant?

Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love.

Bot. That will ask fome tears in the true performing of it; if I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move ftorms ; I will condole in fome measure. To the reft;-yet, my chief humour

is for a tyrant ; I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in (6) To make all split: "The raging rocks, "And fhivering fhocks "Shall break the locks "Of prifon gates: "And Phibbus car

"Shall fhine from far,

"And make and mar

"The foolish fates."

This was lofty. Now name the reft of the players. This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling.

Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows mender.
Flu. Here, Peter Quince.

Quin. You must take Thisby on you.

Flu. What is Thisby, a wand'ring Knight?
Quin. It is the lady, that Pyramus must love.
Flu. Nay, faith, let not me play a woman;
a beard coming.

I have

(6) I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a CAT in.] We should read,

A part to tear a CAP in.

for as a ranting whore was called a tear-fbeet, [2d part of Hen. IV.] fo a ranting bully was called a tear-cap. For this reason it is the Poet makes bully Bottom, as he is called afterwards, with for a part to tear a cap in. And in the ancient plays, the bombaft and the rant held the place of the fublime and pathetic: And indeed conftituted the very effence of their tragical Farces. Thus Bale in his Acts of English votaries, part 2d, fays,-grenWARBURTON. nyng like Termagauntes in a play.

Quin,

Quin. That's all one, you fhall play it in a mafque; and you may speak as fmall as you will. (7)

Bot. An' I may hide my face, let me play Thiby too; I'll fpeak in a monftrous little voice, Thifne, Thifne,; ah, Pyramus, my lover dear, thy Thisby dear, and lady dear.

Quin. No, no, you must play Pyramus; and Flute, you, Thifty.

Bot. Well, proceed.

Quin. Robin Starveling, the taylor.

Star. Here, Peter Quince.

Quin. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother. (8)

Tom Snowt, the tinker.

Snow. Here, Peter Quince.

Quin. You, Pyramus's father; myfelf, Thisby's father; Snug, the joiner, you, the lion's part: I hope, there is a play fitted.

Snug. Have you the lion's part written ? pray you 1? if it be, give it me, for I am flow of study. Quin. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.

(7) This paffage fhews how the want of women on the old Stage was fupplied. If they had not a young man who could perform the part with a face that might pafs for feminine, the character was acted in a mask, which was at that time a part of a Lady's dress so much in ufe that it did not give any unusual appearance to the Scene: and he that could modulate his voice in 2 female tone, might play the woman very fuccefsfully. It is obferved in Downes's Memoirs of the Playhoufe, that one of these counterfeit heroines moved the paffions more strongly than the women that have fince been brought upon the stage. Some of the catastrophes of the old comedies, which make Lovers marry the wrong women, are, by recollection of the common ufe of masks, brought nearer to probability.

(8) you must play Thiby's Mother.] There feems a double forgetfulness of our Poet, in relation to the characters of this Interlude. The Father and mother of Thify, and the Father of Pyramus, are here mention'd, who do not appear at all in the Interlude; but Wall and Moonfbine are both employed in it, of whom there is not the least Notice taken here.

THEOBALD.

Bot.

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 fay, "let him roar again,

"let him roar again."

Quin. If you thould do it too terribly, you would fright the Dutchefs and the ladies, that they would fhriek, and that were enough to hang us all.

All. That would hang us every mother's fon.

Bot. I grant you, friends, if you should fright the ladies out of their wits, they would have no more difcretion but to hang us; but I will aggravate my voice fo, that I will roar you as gently as any fucking dove I will roar you an' 'twere any nightingale.

Quin. You can play no part but Pyramus, for Pyramus is a sweet-fac'd man; a proper man, as one fhall fee in a fummer's-day; a moft lovely gentlemanlike man therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I beft to play it in ?

Quin. Why, what you will.

Bot. I will discharge it in either your ftraw-colour'd beard, your orange-tawny beard, your (9) purple-ingrain beard, or your French crown-colour'd beard; your perfect yellow.

Quin. (1) Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-fac'd. But masters, here are your parts; and I am to intreat you, request you, and defire you, to con them by to-mor row night; and meet me in the palace-wood, a mile without the town, by moon-light, there we will rehearfe; for if we meet in the city, we fhall be dog'd with company, and our devices known. In the mean time I will draw a bill of properties, fuch as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not..

(9) Here Bottom again difcovers a true genius for the Stage by his folicitude for propriety of drefs, and his deliberation which beard to chuse among many beards, all unnatural.

(1) That is, a head from which the hair has fallen in the lues THEOBALD.

venerea..

Bot.

Bot. We will meet, and there we may rehearse more obfcenely and courageously. Take pains, be perfect, adieu.

Quin. At the Duke's oak we meet.

Bot. Enough; hold, or cut bow-ftings. (2)

[Exeunt.

ACT II. SCENE I

A WOO D.

Enter a Fairy at one Door, and Puck (or Robin-good-fellow) at another.

PUCK.

OW now, fpirit, whither wander you
Fai. Over hill, over dale, (3)

How

Through bush, through briar,

Over park, over pale,

Through flood, through fire,
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moon's fphere;

(2) At the Duke's Oak we meet- -hold, or cut bow-ftrings.] This proverbial phrafe came originally from the Camp. When a Rendezvous was appointed, the militia Soldiers would frequently make excufe for not keeping word, that their bowstrings were broke, i. e. their arms unferviceable. Hence when one would give another abfolute affurance of meeting him, he would fay proverbiallyhold or cut bowftrings. e. whether the bowstring held or broke. For cut is ufed as a neuter, like the verb frets. As when we fay, the string frets for the paffive, it is cut or fretted.

(3) So Drayton in his court of Fairy,
Thorough brake, thorough brier,
Thorough muck, thorough mire,
Thorough water, thorough fire.

the filk frets, WARBURTON.

And

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