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My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
That he bath turn'd a heaven unto a hello!
To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to steal.
Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
To seek new friends and stranger companies c. the word fair that Helena catches the words of Hermia; but she would also catch her voice, her intonation, and her expression, as well as her words. We do not think, as Mr. Halliwell thinks, that the reading of the second folio helps the matter :-" Your words I'd catch.” * This is the reading of the quarto printed by Fisher. That by Roberts, and the folio, read
“ His folly, Helena, is none of mine."
"And in the wood, where often you and I
To seek new friends and strange companions." It will be observed that the whole dialogue is in rhyme; and the introduction, therefore, of four lines of blank verse has a harsh effect. The emendations were made by Theobald; and they are
Farewell, sweet playfellow; pray thou for us,
From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight.
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you !
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
certainly ingenious and unforced. Companies for companions has an example in 'Henry V.:'
“ His companies unletter'd, rude, and shallow." We cannot carry our reverence for the old texts so far as to exclude such an evident improvement.
• Vildhvile. The word repeatedly occurs in Shakspere, as in Spenser; and when it does so occur we are scarcely justified in substituting the vile of the modern editors.
So oft, in the quartos. The folio, often.
Enter SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, QUINCE, and STARVELING.
Quin. Is all our company here?
scrip Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all
Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his
wedding-day at night. Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the
names of the actors; and so grow on to a point. QUIN. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death
of Pyramus and Thisby. Bot. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.-Now, good Peter
Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll: Masters, spread yourselves. QUIN. Answer, as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the weaver. Bot. Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed. . QUIN. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. Bot. What is Pyramus ? a lover, or a tyrant? Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love. Bot. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: If I do it, let the
audience look to their eyes ; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure. To the rest :-Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.
“The raging rocks,
The foolish fates." This was lofty!-Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling.
Scrip-script-& written paper. Bills of exchange are called by Locke“ scrips of paper;" and the term is still known upon the Stock Exchange.
• Bottom and Sly both speak of a theatrical representation as they would of a piece of cloth or a pair of shoes. Sly says of the play, “ 'T is a very excellent piece of work."
• Ercles-Hercules-was one of the roaring heroes of the rude drama which preceded Shakspere. In Greene's . Groat's-worth of Wit' (1592), a player says, “ The twelve labours of Hercules have I terribly thundered on the stage.” There is a passage in Heywood's ' Apology for Actors' which strikingly exhibits the Hercules of the drama for the multitude,—" fighting with Hydra, murdering Geryon, slaughtering Diomed, wounding the Stymphalides, killing the Centaurs," &c., &c.
Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
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. Bor. Well, proceed. Quin. Robin Starveling, the tailor. STAR. Here, Peter Quince. Quin. Robert 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 't were 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, gentleman
like 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. Bor. I will discharge it in either your straw-colour beard, your orange-tawny
beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-coloured beard, your
perfect yellow. Quin. Some of your French crowns have no bair at all, and then you will play
bare-faced.—But, masters, here are your parts: and I am to intreat 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 moonlight; there we will rehearse : for if we meet in the city we shall be dogg'd with company, and our devices known. In the mean time I will draw a bill of properties 6
such as our play wants. I pray you fail me not. Bot. We will meet; and there we may rehearse more obscenely and cou
rageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu. Quin. At the duke's oak we meet. Bor. Enough. Hold, or cut bow-strings *
• Capell says, this is a proverbial expression derived from the days of archery :—“When a party was made at butts, assurance of meeting was given in the words of that phrase."