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A Midsummer Night's Dream

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Act I, Scene 2

Athens. QUINCE’S house.



  • Quince. Is all our company here? 265
  • Bottom. You were best to call them generally, man by man,
    according to the scrip.
  • Quince. 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 270
    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.
  • Quince. Marry, our play is, The most lamentable comedy, and 275
    most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.
  • Bottom. 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.
  • Quince. Answer as I call you. Nick Bottom, the weaver. 280
  • Bottom. Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed.
  • Quince. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
  • Bottom. What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?
  • Quince. A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love.
  • Bottom. That will ask some tears in the true performing of 285
    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. 290
    The raging rocks
    And shivering shocks
    Shall break the locks
    Of prison gates;
    And Phibbus' car 295
    Shall shine from far
    And make and mar
    The foolish Fates.
    This was lofty! Now name the rest of the players.
    This is Ercles' vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is 300
    more condoling.
  • Quince. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
  • Flute. Here, Peter Quince.
  • Quince. Flute, you must take Thisby on you.
  • Flute. What is Thisby? a wandering knight? 305
  • 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, and
    you may speak as small as you will.
  • Bottom. An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too, I'll 310
    speak in a monstrous little voice. 'Thisne,
    Thisne;' 'Ah, Pyramus, lover dear! thy Thisby dear,
    and lady dear!'
  • Quince. No, no; you must play Pyramus: and, Flute, you Thisby.
  • Quince. Robin Starveling, the tailor.
  • Quince. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother.
    Tom Snout, the tinker.
  • Snout. Here, Peter Quince. 320
  • Quince. You, Pyramus' 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. 325
  • Quince. You may do it extempore, for it is nothing but roaring.
  • 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.' 330
  • Quince. 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.
  • Bottom. I grant you, friends, if that you should fright the 335
    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 'twere any
    nightingale. 340
  • Quince. 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.
  • Bottom. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best 345
    to play it in?
  • 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 350
    perfect yellow.
  • Quince. Some of your French crowns have no hair 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; 355
    and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the
    town, by moonlight; there will we rehearse, 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 360
    wants. I pray you, fail me not.
  • Bottom. We will meet; and there we may rehearse most
    obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect: adieu.
  • Quince. At the duke's oak we meet.
  • Bottom. Enough; hold or cut bow-strings. 365