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SCENE I. Athens.

A Room in the Palace of Theseus. Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE,

and Attendants.

Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon: but, oh, methinks how slow
This old moon wanes ! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in

Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Turn melancholy forth to funerals,
The pale companion is not for our pomp.-

[Exit PhiloSTRATE.

Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
But I will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph', and with revelling.
Enter Egeus, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and

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 child, my daughter Hermia— Stand forth, Demetrius ;-My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her :Stand forth, Lysander;—and, my gracious duke, This hath bewitch'd ? the bosom of my child: Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes, And interchang'd love tokens with my child : Thou hast by moon-light at her window sung, With feigning voice, verses of feigning love; And stoln the impression of her fantasy With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits, Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweet-meats; messengers Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth: With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart;

1 A triumph was a public show, such as a mask, pageant, procession, &c. In 'The Duke of Anjou's Entertainment at Antwerp,' 1581 : Yet notwithstanding, their triumphes [i. e. those of the Romans] have so borne the bell above all the rest, that the word triunphing, which cometh thereof, hath beene applied to all high, great, and statelie dooings.'

? Duke, in our old language, was used for a leader or chief, as the Latin Dux.

3 The old copies read, “This man hath bewitched.' The alteration was made in the second folio for the sake of the metre; but a redundant syllable at the commencement of a verse perpetually occurs in our old dramas.

Baubles, toys, trifles.

To you your

and one


Turn’d her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness :—And, my gracious duke,
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege 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 provided in that case 5.
The. What say you, Hermia ? be advis’d, fair
maid :

father should be as a god; One that compos'd your

beauties; yea, To whom you are but as a form in wax,

him imprinted, and within his power To leave the figure, or disfigure it. Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.

Her. So is Lysander.

In himself he is :
But, in this kind, wanting your father's voice, ,
The other must be held the worthier.

Her. I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment

Her. I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold;
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here, to plead my thoughts:
But I beseech your grace that I may

know The worst that


befall me in this case, If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

The. Either to die the death, or to abjure For ever the society of men.

5 This line has a smack of legal common place. Shakspeare is supposed to have been placed while a boy in an attorney's office; at least he often displays that he was well acquainted with the phraseology of lawyers.

Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;
For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice blessed they, that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage:
But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,
Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.

Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

The. Take time to pause: and, by the next new


(The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship),
Upon that day either prepare to die,
For disobedience to your father's will;
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would:
Or on Diana's altar to protest,
For aye, austerity and single life.
Dem. Relent, sweet Hermia;-And, Lysander,

Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lys. You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him.

Ege. Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
And what is mine my love shall render him;
And she is mine; and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius.

6 Ever.

? Earthlier happy for earthly happier, which Capel proposed to substitute.

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Lys. I am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he, As well possess’d; my love is more than his; My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d, If not with vantage, as Demetrius'; And, which is more than all these boasts can be, I am belov'd of beauteous Hermia : Why should not I then prosecute my right? Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head, Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

The. I must confess, that I have heard so much, And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof; But, being over-full of self-affairs, My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come; And come, Egeus; you shall go with me, I have some private schooling for you both. For you, fair Hermia, look

you arm yourself To fit your fancies to


father's will; Or else the law of Athens yields you up (Which by no means we may extenuate) To death, or to a vow of single life.Come, my Hippolyta; What cheer, my love ? Demetrius, and Egeus, go along: I must employ you in some business Against our nuptial; and confer with you Of something nearly that concerns yourselves. Ege. With duty and desire we follow you. [Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS,

DEMETRIUS, and Train.

8 As spotless is innocent, so spotted is wicked. So in Caverdish's Metrical Visions :

• The spotted queen causer of all this strife.' and again:

Spotted with pride, viciousnes, and cruelty.'

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