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this last age.

name Shake-spear, Fletcher, Johnson, Shirley, and others; and these collections are the very souls of their writings, if the witty part thereof may be so termed; and the other small pieces composed by several other authors are such as have been of great fame in

When the publique theatres were shut up, and the actors forbidden to present us with any of their tragedies, because we had enough of that in earnest; and comedies, because the vices of the age were too lively and smartly represented; then all that we could divert ourselves with were these humours and pieces of plays, which, passing under the name of a merry conceited fellow called Bottom the Weaver, Simpleton the Smith, John Swabber, or some such title, were only allowed us, and that but by stealth too, and under pretence of rope-dancing or the like ; and these being all that was permitted us, great was the confluence of the auditors, and these small things were as profitable, and as great get-pennies, to the actors, as any of our late famed plays.” “I have seen," continues Kirkman, “ the Red Bull Playhouse, which was a large one, so full, that as many went back for want of room as had entred ; and as meanly as you may now think of these drols, they were then acted by the best comedians then and now in being." The droll of Bottom the Weaver appears to have been exceedingly popular. It was printed separately in quarto under the title of,—“ the Merry Conceited Humors of Bottom the Weaver, as it hath been often publikely acted by some of his majesties comedians, and lately privately presented by several apprentices for their harmless recreation, with great applause, Lond. 1661.” The publishers of this edition, Francis Kirkman and Henry Marsh, observe, in their address to the reader," the entreaty of several persons, our friends, hath enduced us to the publishing of this piece, which, when the life of action was added to it, pleased generally well.” And again.--"supposing that things of this nature will be acceptable,” we “have therefore begun with this, which we know may be easily acted, and may be now as fit for a private recreation, as formerly it hath been for a publike." There is also said to be an edition in quarto without date. It is included in the First Part of Kirkman's Wits, 8vo. 1672; reprinted in quarto, 1673, from the former of which it is here copied.

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Who like

wise may

three

Quince the Carpenter, who speaks the Prologue.
Bottom the Weaver.

Pyramus.
Flute the Bellows-mender. Thisbe.

present Snout the Tinker.

Wall.

Fairies. Snug the Joyner.

Lion. Starveling the Taylor. Moonshine. Oberon, King of the Fairies, who likewise may pre

sent the Duke. Titania, his Queen, the Dutchess. Pugg, a Spirit, a Lord.

Enter Bottom the Weaver, Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Joyner, Flute the Bellows-mender, Snout the Tinker, and

Starveling the Taylor.

B

Bottom.

[graphic]

OME, Neighbours, let me tell

you, and in troth I have spoke like a

man in my daies, and hit right too, that if this business do but please his Grace's fancy, we are made men for ever.

Quince. I believe so too, Neighbour, but is all our company here?

Bot. You had best to call them generally man by man according to the Scrip.

Qu. Here is the scrowl of every mans name which is thought fit through all Athens, to play our Interlude between the Duke and the Dutchess on his Wedding day at night.

Bot. First good Peter Quince say what the Play treats of, then read the names of the Actors, and so grow on to a point.

Qu. Marry our Play is the most Lamentable Comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.

Bot. A very good piece of work I assure

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