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I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen; man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report, what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream : it shall be called Bottom's Dream, because it hath no bottom; and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke: Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death?



Athens. A Room in Quince's House.

Enter Quince, FLUTE, Snout, and STARVELING.

Quin. Have you sent to Bottom's house ? is he come home yet?

7- I shall sing it at her death.] At whose death? In Bottom's speech there is no mention of any she-creature, to whom this relative can be coupled. I make not the least scruple but Bottom, for the sake of a jest, and to render his voluntary, as we may call it, the more gracious and extraordinary, said :-I shall sing it after death. He, as Pyramus, is kill'd upon the scene; and so might promise to rise again at the conclusion of the interlude, and give the Duke his dream by way of song. The source of the corruption of the text is very obvious. The f in after being sunk by the vulgar pronunciation, the copyist might write it from the sound,-a'ter; which the wise editors not understanding, concluded, two words were erroneously got together; so, splitting them, and clapping in an h, produced the present reading-at her. TheoBALD.

Theobald might have quoted the following passage in The Tempest in support of his emendation. “ This is a very scurvy tune (says Trinculo,) for a man to sing at his funeral.-Yet I believe the text is right. Malone.

“- at her death.” He may mean the death of Thisbe, which his head might be at present full of; and yet I cannot but prefer the happy conjecture of Mr. Theobald to my own attempt at explanation. STEVENS.


STAR. He cannot be heard of. Out of doubt, he is transported.

Flu. If he come not, then the play is marred'; It goes not forward, doth it?

Quin. It is not possible : you have not a man in all Athens, able to discharge Pyramus, but he.

Flu. No; he hath simply the best wit of any handycraft man in Athens.

Quin. Yea, and the best person too: and he is a very paramour, for a sweet voice.

Flu. You must say, paragon: a paramour is, God bless us, a thing of nought 8.


Enter Snug. Snug. Masters, the duke is coming from the temple, and there is two or three lords and ladies more married : if our sport had gone forward, we had all been made meno.

- a thing of nought.] This Mr. Theobald changes with great pomp to a thing of naught; i. e. a good for nothing thing.

Johnson. A thing of naught inay be the true reading. So, in Hamlet:

Ham. The king is a thing
Guil. A thing my lord ?

Ham. Of nothing." See the note on this

passage. Paramour being a word which Flute did not understand, he may design to say that it had no meaning, i. e. was a thing of nought.

Mr. M. Mason, however, is of a different opinion. ejaculation, (says he,) God bless us ! proves that Flute imagined he was saying a naughty word.” Steevens.

The double meaning (understanding paramour in the sense of concubine) was undoubtedly intended to be conveyed. See King Richard III. Act. II. Sc. I. :

Bra. With this, my lord, myself have nought to do.

Rich. Naught to do with Mistress Shore !
“ I tell thee, fellow,
“ He that doth naught with her, excepting one,

“ Were best to do it secretly, alone.” Malone. 9 — MADE men.] In the same sense as in The Tempest, — any monster in England makes a man." Johnson.

“ The

Flu. O sweet bully Bottom! Thus hath he lost sixpence a-day during his life; he could not have 'scaped sixpence a-day: an the duke had not given him sixpence a-day for playing Pyramus, I'll be hanged; he would have deserved it: sixpence a-day, in Pyramus, or nothing'.

Enter Bottom. Bot. Where are these lads? where are these hearts?

Quin. Bottom !-0 most courageous day! O most happy hour!

Bot. Masters, I am to discourse wonders : but ask me not what; for, if I tell you, I am no true Athenian. I will tell you every thing, right * as it fell out.

Quin. Let us hear, sweet Bottom.

Bor. Not a word of me. All that I will tell you, is, that the duke hath dined: Get your apparel together; good strings to your beards ?, new ribbons

* Folio omits right. '- sixpence a-day, in Pyramus, or nothing.) Shakspeare has already ridiculed the title-page of Cambyses, by Thomas Preston; and here he seems to allude to him, or some other person who, like him, had been pensioned for his dramatic abilities. Preston acted a part in John Ritwise's play of Dido before Queen Elizabeth at Cambridge, in 1564; and the Queen was so well pleased, that she bestowed on him a pension of twenty pounds a year, which is little more than a shilling a day. STEEVENS.

- good strings to your beards,] i. e. to prevent the false beards, which they were to wear, from falling off. MALONE.

As no false beard could be worn, without a ligature to fasten it on, (and a slender one would suflice,) the caution of Bottom, considered in such a light, is superfluous. I suspect therefore that the good strings recommended by him were ornamental, or employed to give an air of novelty to the countenances of the performers. Thus, in Measure for Measure, (where the natural beard is unquestionably spoken of,) the Duke, intent on distiguring the head of Ragozine, says: “(), death's a great disguiser ; and you may add to it. Shave the head, and tie the beard."



to your pumps; meet presently at the palace ; every man look o'er his part; for, the short and the long is, our play is preferred'. In any case, let Thisby have clean linen; and let not him, that plays the lion, pare his nails, for they shall hang out for the lion's claws. And, most dear actors, eat no onions, nor garlick, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt, but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy. No more words; away; go, away.



The Same. An Apartment in the Palace of THE


Enter Theseus, HIPPOLYTA, PhiloSTRATE, Lords,

and Attendants. Hip. 'Tis strange, my Theseus, that these lovers

speak of.
The. More strange than true. I


believe These antique fables, nor these fairy toys. Lovers, and madmen, have such seething brains *,

And so because strings were absolutely necessary to fasten their beards, it would be superfluous for Bottom to recommend that they should be sound and good! As they were to have new ribbons to their shoes, so were they to have good or new strings to their beards. MALONE.

3- our play is preferred.] This word is not to be understood in its most common acceptation here, as if their play was chosen in preference to the others; (for that appears afterwards not to be the fact ;) but means, that it was given in among others for the duke's option. So, in Julius Cæsar, Decius says :

" Where is Metellus Cimber? let him go
“ And presently prefer his suit to Cæsar.” TheoBALD.
such seething brains,] So, in The Tempest :

Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatick, the lover, and the poet',
Are of imagination all compacto :
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold ;
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantick?,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt ® :
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling',
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to

And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen

thy brains, “ Now useless, boil'd within thy scull.” Steevens. We meet with the same expression in The Winter's Tale :

Would any but these boil'd brains of three and twenty hunt this weather?” MALONE.

s The lunatick, the lover, and the poet,] An ingenious modern writer supposes that our author had here in contemplation Orestes, Mark Antony, and himself; but I do not recollect any passage in his works that shows him to have been acquainted with the story of Agamemnon's son, -scelerum furiis agitatus Orestes : and indeed, if even such were found, the supposed allusion would still remain very problematical. Malone.

Are of imagination all compact:] i. e. are made of mere imagination. So, in As You Like It :

If he, compact of jars, grow musical." STEEVENS. So, in Nashe's Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil : “ The Frenchman (not altered from his own nature) is whollie compact of deceivable courtship." MALONE.

* That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantick,] Such is the reading of all the old copies; instead of which, the modern editors have given us :

“ The madman : while the lover,” &c. STEEVENS. 8 Sees Helen's beauty in a BROW of Egypt :) By

a brow of Egypt,” Shakspeare means no more than the brow of a gypsey. So much for some ingenious modern's ideal Cleopatra. See note 5. STEEVENS.

9 — in a fine frenzy rolling,] This seems to have been imitated by Drayton in his Epistle to J. Reynolds on Poets and Poetry : describing Marlowe, he says :

that fine madness still he did retain, Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.” Malone,

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