ACT 1, SCENE 2: Athens. QUINCE'S house.


QUINCE: Is all our company here?

BOTTOM: You were best to call them generally, man
by man, according to the script.

QUINCE: Here is the scroll of every man's name,
which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in                          [5]
our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on
his wedding-day at night.

BOTTOM: First, good Peter Quince, say what the play
treats on, then read the names of the actors, and so
grow to a point.                                                                                           [10]

QUINCE: Marry, our play is, The most lamentable
comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and

BOTTOM: A very good piece of work, I assure you,
and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth                               [15]
your actors by the scroll. Masters, spread yourselves.

QUINCE: Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the

BOTTOM: Ready. Name what part I am for, and
proceed.                                                                                                        [20]

QUINCE: You, Nick Bottom, are set down for

BOTTOM: What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?

QUINCE: A lover, that kills himself most gallant for
love.                                                                                                              [25]

BOTTOM: That will ask some tears in the true per-
forming 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                                       [30]
tear a cat in, to make all split.
The raging rocks
And shivering shocks
Shall break the locks
Of prison gates;                                                                                        [35]
And Phibbus' car
Shall shine from far
And make and mar
The foolish Fates.
This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players.                            [40]
This is Ercle's vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more

QUINCE: Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.

FLUTE: Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE: Flute, you must take Thisby on you.                                               [45]

FLUTE: What is Thisby? a wandering knight?

QUINCE: It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

FLUTE: Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a
beard coming.

QUINCE: That's all one: you shall play it in a mask,                                    [50]
and you may speak as small as you will.

BOTTOM: An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby
too, I'll speak in a monstrous little voice. 'Thisne,
Thisne;' 'Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby
dear, and lady dear!'                                                                                   [55]

QUINCE: No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute,
you Thisby.

BOTTOM: Well, proceed.

QUINCE: Robin Starveling, the tailor.

STARVELING: Here, Peter Quince.                                                                   [60]

QUINCE: Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
Tom Snout, the tinker.

SNOUT: Here, Peter Quince.

QUINCE: You, Pyramus' father: myself, Thisby's
father: Snug, the joiner; you, the lion's part: and,                             [65]
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.

QUINCE: You may do it extempore, for it is nothing
but roaring.                                                                                                  [70]

BOTTOM: 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.'

QUINCE: An you should do it too terribly, you would                                 [75]
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.

BOTTOM: I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the
ladies out of their wits, they would have no more                            [80]
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.

QUINCE: You can play no part but Pyramus; for
Pyramus is a sweet-faced man; a proper man, as one                        [85]
shall see in a summer's day; a most lovely gentleman-
like man: therefore you must needs play Pyramus.

BOTTOM: Well, I will undertake it. What beard were
I best to play it in?

QUINCE: Why, what you will.                                                                           [90]

BOTTOM: I will discharge it in either your straw-colour
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in
-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your
perfect yellow.

QUINCE: Some of your French crowns have no hair                                   [95]
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 with-
out the town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse,                         [100]
for if we meet in the city, we shall be dogged with
company, and our devices known. In the meantime
I will draw a bill of properties, such as our play wants.
I pray you, fail me not.

BOTTOM: We will meet; and there we may rehearse                                   [105]
most obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be
perfect: adieu.

QUINCE: At the duke's oak we meet.

BOTTOM: Enough; hold or cut bow-strings.


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