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William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night's Dream



A c t u s  P r i m u s .


Enter Theseus, Hippolita, with others.

Now faire Hippolita, our nuptiall houre
Drawes on apace: foure happy daies bring in
Another Moon: but oh, me thinkes, how slow
This old Moon wanes; She lingers my desires
Like to a Step-dame, or a Dowager,
Long withering out a yong mans reuennew.

Hip. Foure daies wil quickly steep the[m]selues in nights
Foure nights wil quickly dreame away the time:
And then the Moone, like to a siluer bow,
Now bent in heauen, shal behold the night
Of our solemnities.

The. Go Philostrate,
Stirre vp the Athenian youth to merriments,
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth,
Turne melancholy forth to Funerals:
The pale companion is not for our pompe,
Hippolita, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And wonne thy loue, doing thee iniuries:
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pompe, with triumph, and with reuelling.

Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, Lysander,
and Demetrius

Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned Duke.

The. Thanks good Egeus: what's the news with thee?

Ege. Full of vexation, come I, with complaint
Against my childe, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth Demetrius.
My Noble Lord,
This man hath my consent to marrie her.
Stand forth Lysander.
And my gracious Duke,
This man hath bewitch'd the bosome of my childe:
Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast giuen her rimes,
And interchang'd loue-tokens with my childe:
Thou hast by Moone-light at her window sung,
With faining voice, verses of faining loue,
And stolne the impression of her fantasie,
With bracelets of thy haire, rings, gawdes, conceits,
Knackes, trifles, Nose-gaies, sweet meats (messengers
Of strong preuailment in vnhardned youth)
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughters heart,
Turn'd her obedience (which is due to me)
To stubborne harshnesse. And my gracious Duke,
Be it so she will not heere before your Grace,
Consent to marrie with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient priuiledge of Athens;
As she is mine, I may dispose of her;
Which shall be either to this Gentleman,
Or to her death, according to our Law,
Immediately prouided in that case.

The. What say you Hermia? be aduis'd faire Maide,
To you your Father should be as a God;
One that compos'd your beauties; yea and one
To whom you are but as a forme in waxe
By him imprinted: and within his power,
To leaue the figure, or disfigure it:
Demetrius is a worthy Gentleman.

Her. So is Lysander.

The. In himselfe he is.
But in this kinde, wanting your fathers voyce,
The other must be held the worthier.

Her. I would my father look'd but with my eyes.

The. Rather your eies must with his iudgment looke.

Her. I do entreat your Grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold,
Nor how it may concerne my modestie
In such a presence heere to pleade my thoughts:
But I beseech your Grace, that I may know
The worst that may befall me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

The. Either to dye the death, or to abiure
For euer the society of men.
Therefore faire Hermia question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether (if you yeeld not to your fathers choice)
You can endure the liuerie of a Nunne,
For aye to be in shady Cloister mew'd,
To liue a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymnes to the cold fruitlesse Moone,
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood,
To vndergo such maiden pilgrimage,
But earthlier happie is the Rose distil'd,
Then that which withering on the virgin thorne,
Growes, liues, and dies, in single blessednesse.

Her. So will I grow, so liue, so die my Lord,
Ere I will yeeld my virgin Patent vp
Vnto his Lordship, whose vnwished yoake,
My soule consents not to giue soueraignty.

The. Take time to pause, and by the next new Moon
The sealing day betwixt my loue and me,
For euerlasting bond of fellowship:
Vpon that day either prepare to dye,
For disobedience to your fathers will,
Or else to wed Demetrius as hee would,
Or on Dianaes Altar to protest
For aie, austerity, and single life.

Dem. Relent sweet Hermia, and Lysander, yeelde
Thy crazed title to my certaine right.

Lys. You haue her fathers loue, Demetrius:
Let me haue Hermiaes: do you marry him.

Egeus. Scornfull Lysander, true, he hath my Loue;
And what is mine, my loue shall render him.
And she is mine, and all my right of her,
I do estate vnto Demetrius.

Lys. I am my Lord, as well deriu'd as he,
As well possest: my loue is more then his:
My fortunes euery way as fairely ranck'd
(If not with vantage) as Demetrius:
And (which is more then all these boasts can be)
I am belou'd of beauteous Hermia.
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, Ile auouch it to his head,
Made loue to Nedars daughter, Helena,
And won her soule: and she (sweet Ladie) dotes,
Deuoutly dotes, dotes in Idolatry,
Vpon this spotted and inconstant man.

The. I must confesse, that I haue heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to haue spoke thereof:
But being ouer-full of selfe-affaires,
My minde did lose it. But Demetrius come,
And come Egeus, you shall go with me,
I haue some priuate schooling for you both.
For you faire Hermia, looke you arme your selfe,
To fit your fancies to your Fathers will;
Or else the Law of Athens yeelds you vp
(Which by no meanes we may extenuate)
To death, or to a vow of single life.
Come my Hippolita, what cheare my loue?
Demetrius and Egeus go along:
I must imploy you in some businesse
Against our nuptiall, and conferre with you
Of something, neerely that concernes your selues.

Ege. With dutie and desire we follow you. Exeunt

Manet Lysander and Hermia.

Lys. How now my loue? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the Roses there do fade so fast?

Her. Belike for want of raine, which I could well
Beteeme them, from the tempest of mine eyes.

Lys. For ought that euer I could reade,
Could euer heare by tale or historie,
The course of true loue neuer did run smooth,
But either it was different in blood.

Her. O crosse! too high to be enthral'd to loue.

Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of yeares.

Her. O spight! too old to be ingag'd to yong.

Lys. Or else it stood vpon the choise of merit.

Her. O hell! to choose loue by anothers eie.

Lys. Or if there were a simpathie in choise,
Warre, death, or sicknesse, did lay siege to it;
Making it momentarie, as a sound:
Swift as a shadow, short as any dreame,
Briefe as the lightning in the collied night,
That (in a spleene) vnfolds both heauen and earth;
And ere a man hath power to say, behold,
The iawes of darkness do deuoure it vp:
So quicke bright things come to confusion.

Her. If then true Louers haue beene euer crost,
It stands as an edict in destinie:
Then let vs teach our triall patience,
Because it is a customarie crosse,
As due to loue, as thoughts, and dreames, and sighes,
Wishes and teares; poore Fancies followers.

Lys. A good perswasion; therefore heare me Hermia,
I haue a Widdow Aunt, a dowager,
Of great reuennew, and she hath no childe,
From Athens is her house remou'd seuen leagues,
And she respects me, as her onely sonne:
There gentle Hermia, may I marrie thee,
And to that place, the sharpe Athenian Law
Cannot pursue vs. If thou lou'st me, then
Steale forth thy Fathers house to morrow night:
And in the wood, a league without the towne,
(Where I did meete thee once with Helena.
To do obseruance for a morne of May)
There will I stay for thee.

Her. My good Lysander,
I sweare to thee, by Cupids strongest bow,
By his best arrow with the golden head,
By the simplicitie of Venus Doues,
By that which knitteth soules, and prospers loue,
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage Queene,
When the false Troyan vnder saile was seene,
By all the vowes that euer men haue broke,
(In number more then euer women spoke)
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To morrow truly will I meete with thee.

Lys. Keepe promise loue: looke here comes Helena.

Enter Helena.

Her. God speede faire Helena, whither away?

Hel. Cal you me faire? that faire againe vnsay,
Demetrius loues you faire: O happie faire!
Your eyes are loadstarres, and your tongues sweete ayre
More tuneable then Larke to shepheards eare,
When wheate is greene, when hauthorne buds appeare,
Sicknesse is catching: O were fauor so,
Your words I catch, faire Hermia ere I go,
My eare should catch your voice, my eye, your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongues sweete melodie,
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest Ile giue to be to you translated.
O teach me how you looke, and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius hart.

Her. I frowne vpon him, yet he loues me still.

Hel. O that your frownes would teach my smiles
such skil.

Her. I giue him curses, yet he giues me loue.

Hel. O that my prayers could such affection mooue.

Her. The more I hate, the more he followes me.

Hel. The more I loue, the more he hateth me.

Her. His folly Helena is none of mine.

Hel. None but your beauty, wold that fault wer mine

Her. Take comfort: he no more shall see my face,
Lysander and my selfe will flie this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seem'd Athens like a Paradise to mee.
O then, what graces in my Loue do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heauen into hell.

Lys. Helen, to you our mindes we will vnfold,
To morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her siluer visage, in the watry glasse,
Decking with liquid pearle, the bladed grasse
(A time that Louers flights doth still conceale)
Through Athens gates, haue we deuis'd to steale.

Her. And in the wood, where often you and I,
Vpon faint Primrose beds, were wont to lye,
Emptying our bosomes, of their counsell sweld:
There my Lysander, and my selfe shall meete,
And thence from Athens turne away our eyes
To seeke new friends and strange companions,
Farwell sweet play-fellow, pray thou for vs,
And good lucke grant thee thy Demetrius.
Keepe word Lysander we must starue our sight,
From louers foode, till morrow deepe midnight.
Exit Hermia.

Lys. I will my Hermia. Helena adieu,
As you on him, Demetrius dotes on you. Exit Lysander.

Hele. How happy some, ore othersome can be?
Through Athens I am thought as faire as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinkes not so:
He will not know, what all, but he doth know,
And as hee erres, doting on Hermias eyes;
So I, admiring of his qualities:
Things base and vilde, holding no quantity,
Loue can transpose to forme and dignity,
Loue lookes not with the eyes, but with the minde,
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blinde.
Nor hath loues minde of any iudgement taste:
Wings and no eyes, figure, vnheedy haste.
And therefore is Loue said to be a childe,
Because in choise he is often beguil'd,
As waggish boyes in game themselues forsweare;
So the boy Loue is periur'd euery where.
For ere Demetrius lookt on Hermias eyne,
He hail'd downe oathes that he was onely mine.
And when this Haile some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolu'd, and showres of oathes did melt,
I will goe tell him of faire Hermias flight:
Then to the wood will he, to morrow night
Pursue her; and for his intelligence,
If I haue thankes, it is a deere expence:
But heerein meane I to enrich my paine,
To haue his sight thither, and backe againe. Exit.

Enter Quince the Carpenter, Snug the Ioyner, Bottome the
Weauer, Flute the bellowes-mender, Snout the Tinker, and
Starueling the Taylor

Quin. Is all our company heere?

Bot. You were best to call them generally, man by
man according to the scrip.

Qui. Here is the scrowle of euery mans name, which
is thought fit through all Athens, to play in our Enter-
lude before the Duke and the Dutches, 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 Come-
dy, and most cruell death of Pyramus and Thisbie.

Bot. A very good peece of worke I assure you, and a
merry. Now good Peter Quince, call forth your Actors
by the scrowle. Masters spread your selues.

Quince. Answere as I call you. Nick Bottome the

Bottome. Ready; name what part I am for, and

Quince. You Nicke Bottome are set downe for Py-

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

Quin. A Louer that kills himselfe most gallantly for

Bot. That will aske some teares in the true perfor-
ming of it: if I do it, let the audience looke to their eies:
I will mooue stormes; I will condole in some measure.
To the rest yet, my chiefe humour is for a tyrant. I could
play Ercles rarely, or a part to teare a Cat in, to make all
split the raging Rocks; and shiuering shocks shall break
the locks of prison gates, and Phibbus carre shall shine
from farre, and make and marre the foolish Fates. This
was lofty. Now name the rest of the Players. This
is Ercles vaine, a tyrants vaine: a louer is more condo-

Quin. Francis Flute the Bellowes-mender.

Flu. Heere Peter Quince.

Quin. You must take Thisbie on you.

Flut. What is Thisbie, a wandring Knight?

Quin. It is the Lady that Pyramus must loue.

Flut. Nay faith, let not mee play a woman, I haue a
beard comming.

Qui. That's all one, you shall play it in a Maske, and
you may speake as small as you will.

Bot. And I may hide my face, let me play Thisbie too:
Ile speake in a monstrous little voyce; Thisne, Thisne, ah
Pyramus my louer deare, thy Thisbie deare, and Lady

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

Bot. Well, proceed.

Qu. Robin Starueling the Taylor.

Star. Heere Peter Quince.

Quince. Robin Starueling, you must play Thisbies
Tom Snowt, the Tinker.

Snowt. Heere Peter Quince.

Quin. you, Pyramus father; my self, Thisbies father;
Snugge the Ioyner, you the Lyons part: and I hope there
is a play fitted.

Snug. Haue you the Lions part written? pray you if
be, giue it me, for I am slow of studie.

Quin. You may doe it extemporie, for it is nothing
but roaring.

Bot. Let mee play the Lyon too, I will roare that I
will doe any mans heart good to heare me. I will roare,
that I will make the Duke say, Let him roare againe, let
him roare againe.

Quin. If you should do it too terribly, you would
fright the Dutchesse and the Ladies, that they would
shrike, and that were enough to hang us all.

All. That would hang vs euery mothers sonne.

Bottome. I graunt you friends, if that you should
fright the Ladies out of their Wittes, they would
haue no more discretion but to hang vs: but I will ag-
grauate my voyce so, that I will roare you as gently as
any sucking Doue; I will roare and 'twere any Nightin-

Quin. You can play no part but Piramus, for Pira-
mus is a sweet-fac'd man, a proper man as one shall see in
a summers day; a most louely Gentleman-like man, ther-
fore you must needs play Piramus.

Bot. Well, I will vndertake it. What beard were I
best to play it in?

Quin. Why, what you will.

Bot. I will discharge it, in either your straw-colour
beard, your orange tawnie beard, your purple in graine
beard, or your French-crowne colour'd beard, your per-
fect yellow.

Quin. Some of your French Crownes haue no haire
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
desire you, to con them by too morrow night: and meet
me in the palace wood, a mile without the Towne, by
Moone-light, there we will rehearse: for if we meete in
the Citie, we shalbe dog'd with company, and our deui-
ses knowne. In the meane time, I wil draw a bil of pro-
perties, such as our play wants. I pray you faile me not.

Bottom. We will meete, and there we may rehearse
more obscenely and couragiously. Take paines, be per-
fect, adieu.
Quin. At the Dukes oake we meete.

Bot. Enough, hold or cut bow-strings. Exeunt
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