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What should it be that he respects in her
But I can make respective in myself,
If this fond Love were not a blinded god ?
Come, shadow, come, and take this shadow up,
For 't is thy rival. O thou senseless form,
Thou shalt be worshipp'd, kissid, lov'd, and

And, were there sense in his idolatry,
My substance should be statue in thy stead.
I'll use thee kindly for thy mistress sake,
That us'd me so; or else, by Jove I vow,
I should have scratch'd out your unseeing eyes,
To make my master out of love with thee! 210









Jul. She thanks you.
Sil. What say'st thou ?
Jul. I thank you, madam, that you tender

her. Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her

much. Sil. Dost thou know her?

Jul. Almost as well as I do know myself. To think upon her woes I do protest That I have wept a hundred several times. Sil. Belike she thinks that Proteus hath for

sook her? Jul. I think she doth ; and that's her cause

of sorrow. Sil. Is she not passing fair? Jul. She hath been fairer, madam, than she

is. When she did think my master lov'd her

She, in my judgement, was as fair as you
But since she did neglect her looking-glass
And threw her sun-expelling mask away,
The air bath starv'd the roses in her cheeks
And pinch'd the lily-tincture of her face,
That now she is become as black as I.

Si. How tall was she?
Jul. About my stature; for at Pentecost,
When all our pageants of delight were play'd,
Our youth got me to play the woman's part, 185
And I was trimm'd in Madam Julia's gown,
Which served me as fit, by all men's judge-

ments, As if the garment had been made for me ; Therefore I know she is about my height. And at that time I made her weep agood, For I did play a lamentable part. Madam, 't was Ariadne passioning. For Theseus' perjury and unjust flight; Which I so lively acted with my tears That my poor mistress, moved therewithal, 175 Wept bitterly; and would I might be dead If I in thought felt not her very sorrow!

Sil. She is beholding to thee, gentle youth. Alas, poor lady, desolate and left! I weep myself to think upon thy words. Here, youth, there is my purse ; 1 give thee this For thy sweet mistress' sake, because thou

lov'st her. Farewell. (Exit Silvia, with attendants.] Jul. And she shall thank you for 't, if e'er

you know her. A virtuous gentlewoman, mild and beauti

ful! I hope my master's suit will be but cold, Since she respects my mistress' love so much. Alas, how love can trifle with itself ! Here is her picture ; let me see. I think, If I had such a tire, this face of mine Were full as lovely as is this of hers; And yet the painter flatter'd her a little, Unless I fatter with myself too much. Her hair is auburn, mine is perfect yellow : If that be all the difference in his love, I'll get me such a colour'd periwig. Her eyes are grey as glass, and so are mine. Ay, but her forehead's low, and mine 's as



70 Egl. Fear not; the

forest is not three leagues

SCENE I. (Milan. An abbey.]

Enter EGLAMOUR. Egl. The sun begins to gild the western sky, And now it is about the very hour That Silvia, at Friar Patrick's cell, should meet She will not fail, for lovers break not hours, Unless it be to come before their time; So much they spur their expedition. See where she comes.

[Enter Silvia.]

Lady, a happy evening ! Sil. Amen, amen! Go on, good kglamour, Out at the postern by the abbey-wall. I I

off. If we recover that, we are sure enough. (Exeunt. SCENE II. [The same. The Duke's palace.]

Thu. Sir Proteus, what says Silvia to my

suit? Pro. O, sir, I find her milder than she was ; And yet she takes exceptions at your person.

Thů. What, that my leg is too long?
Pro. No; that it is too little.
Thu. I'll wear a boot, to make it somewhat

(Jul. Aside.] But love will not be spurr'd to

what it loathes.
Thu. What says she to my face?
Pro. She says it is a fair one.
Thu. Nay, then the wanton lies; my face is

Pro. But pearls are fair; and the old saying

is, Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies' eyes. (Jul. Aside.)" 'Tis true; such pearls as put

out ladies' eyes;
For I had rather wink than look on them.

Thu. How likes she my discourse ?
Pro. Ill, when you talk of war.
Thu. But well, when I discourse of love and
Jul. (Aside.) But better, indeed, when you

hold your peace.








peace ?


3. Out. Being nimble-footed, he hath oatrun

us, But Moyses and Valerius follow him. Go thou with her to the west end of the wood There is our captain. We'll follow him that

fled. The thicket is beset; he cannot 'scape. 1. Out. Come, I must bring you to our cap

tain's cave.
Fear not; he bears an honourable mind,
And will not use a woman lawlessly.
Sil. O Valentine, this I endure for thee!






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Thu. What says she to my valour?
Pro. O, sir, she makes no doubt of that.
Jul. [Aside.) She needs not, when she knows

it cowardice.
Thu. What says she to my birth?
Pro. That you are well deriv'd.
Jul. (Aside.) True; from a gentleman to a

fool. Thu. Considers she my possessions ? Pro. O, ay; and pities them. Thu. Wherefore ? Jul. (Aside.] That such an ass should owe

them, Pro. That they are out by lease. Jul. Here comes the Duke.

(Enter DUKE.] Duke. How now, Sir Proteus! How now,

Thurio !
Which of yon saw Sir Eglamour of late ?

Thu. Not I.
Pro. Nor I.
Duke. Saw you my daughter ?

Duke. Why then,
She's fled unto that peasant Valentine,
And Eglamour is in her company.
'Tis true; for Friar Laurence met them both,
As he in penance wander'd through the forest.
Him he knew well, and guess'd that it was

she, But, being mask'd, he was not sure of it. Besides, she did intend confession At Patrick's cell this even ; and there she was

not. These likelihoods confirm her flight from hence. Therefore, I pray you, stand not to discourse, But mount you presently and meet with me Upon the rising of the mountain-foot That leads toward Mantua, whither they are

fled. Dispatch, sweet gentlemen, and follow me.

(Exit.] Thu. Why, this it is to be a peevish girl, That flies her fortune when it follows her. I'll after, more to be reveng'd on Eglamour Than for the love of reckless Silvia. (Erit.]

Pro. And I will follow, more for Silvia's love Than hate of Eglamour that goes with her.

[Exit.) Jul. And I will follow, more to cross that

love Than hate for Silvia that is gone for love.






SCENE IV. (Another part of the forest.]

Enter VALENTINE. Val. How use doth breed a habit in a man ! This shadowy desert, unfrequented woods, I better brook than flourishing peopled towns. Here can I sit alone, unseen of any, And to the nightingale's complaining notes Tune my distresses and record my woes. O thou that dost inhabit in my breast, Leave not the mansion so long tenantless, Lest, growing ruinous, the building fall And leave no memory of what it was! Repair me with thy presence, Silvia ! Thou gentle nymph, cherish thy forlorn swain ! What halloing and what stir is this to-day ? These are my mates, that make their wills their Have some unhappy passenger in chase. They love me well; yet I have much to do. To keep them from uncivil outrages. Withdraw thee, Valentine: who's this comes here?

(Steps aside.] [Enter PROTEUS, Silvia, and JULIA.] Pro. Madam, this service I have done for

you, Though you respect not aught your servant

doth, To hazard life and rescue you from him That would have forc'd your honour and your

love. Vouchsafe me, for my meed, but one fair look ; A smaller boon than this I cannot beg And less than this, I am sure, you cannot give. » Val. (Aside.) How like a dream is this! I

see and hear. Love, lend me patience to forbear awhile.

Sil. O miserable, unhappy that I am !

Pro. Unhappy were you, madam, ere I came ; But by my coming I have made you happy. 80 Sil. By thy approach thou mak'st me most

unhappy. Jul. (Aside.) And me, when be approacheth

to your presence.
Sil. Had I been seized by a hungry lion,
I would have been a breakfast to the beast,
Rather than have false Proteus rescue me.
0, Heaven be judge how I love Valentine,
Whose life 's as tender to me as my soul!
And full as much, for more there cannot be,
I do detest false perjur'd Proteus.
Therefore be gove ; solicit me no more.

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Pro. What dangerous action, stood it next to

death, Would I not undergo for one calm look! 0, 't is the curse in love, and still approv'd, When women cannot love where they 're be

lov'd! Sil. When Proteus cannot love where he's

belov'd. Read over Julia's heart, thy first, best love, For whose dear sake thou didst then rend 'thy

faith Into a thousand oaths; and all those oaths Descended into perjury, to love me. Thou bast no faith left now, unless thou 'dst

two, And that's far worse than none. Better have Than plural faith, which is too much by one. Thou counterfeit to thy true friend! Pro.

In love Who respects friend ? Sil.

All men but Proteus. Pro. Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving

words Can no way change you to a milder form, I'll woo you like a soldier, at arms' end, And love you 'gainst the nature of love, — force

ye. Sil. O heaven! Pro. I'll force thee yield to my desire.

Val. Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch, co
Thou friend of an ill fashion !

Valentine !
Val. Thou common friend, that's without

faith or love, For such is a friend now! Treacherous man, Thou hast beguil'd my hopes ! Nought but mine

eye Could have persuaded me. Now I dare not say I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove Who should be trusted (now), when one's right

hand Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus, I am sorry I must never trust thee more, But count the world a stranger for thy sake. 70 The private wound is deepest. O time most

acourst, Mongst all foes that a friend should be the

Pro. My shame and guilt confounds me.
Forgive me, Valentine ; if hearty sorrow
Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender 't here ; I do as truly suffer
As e'er I did commit.

Then I am paid ;
And once again I do receive thee honest.
Who by repentance is not satisfied
Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are

pleas'd. By penitence the Eternal's wrath 's appeas'd ; And, that my love may appear plain and free, All that was mine in Silvia I give thee. Jul. O me unhappy!

(Swoons.] Pro. Look to the boy. Val. Why, boy! why, wag! how now! what's the matter? Look uy; speak.

Jul. O good sir, my master charg'd me to deliver a ring to Madam Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done. Pro. 'Where is that ring, boy? Ju.

Here 't is ; this is it. Pro. How? let me see ! Why, this is the ring I gave to Julia.

Jul. O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook ; This is the ring you sent to Silvia. Pro. But how cam'st thou by this ring? At

my depart I gave this unto Julia.

Jul. And Julia herself did give me; And Julia herself hath brought it hither. Pro. How! Julia ! Jul. Behold her that gave aim to all thy

oaths, And entertain'd 'em deeply in her heart. How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root! O Proteus let this habit make thee blush! Be thou asham'd that I have took upon me Such an immodest raiment, if shame live In a disguise of love. It is the lesser blot, modesty finds, Women to change their shapes than men their

minds. Pro. Than men their minds! 't is true. O

heaven! were man But constant, he were perfect. That one error Fills him with faults; makes him run through

all the sins.
Inconstancy falls off ere it begins.
What is in Silvia's face, but I may spy
More fresh in Julia's with a constant eye ?

Val. Come, come, a hand from either. Let me be blest to make this happy close ; "T were pity two such friends should be long

foes. Pro. Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish

for ever. Jul. And I mine. [Enter OUTLAWS, with DUKE and THURIO.] Outlaws. A prize, a prize, a prize! Val. Forbear, forbear, I say! It is my lord

the Duke.
Your Grace is welcome to a man disgrac'd,
Banished Valentine.

Sir Valentine !
Thu. Yonder is Silvia; and Silvia 's mine. 128
Val. Thurio, give back, or else embrace thy

death; Come not within the measure of my wrath. Do not name Silvia thine ; if once again, Verona shall not hold thee. Here she stands : Take but possession of her with a touch, I dare thee but to breathe upon my love.

Thu. Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I. I hold him but a fool that will endanger His body for a girl that loves him not. I claim her not, and therefore she is thine. Duke. The inore degenerate and base art

thou, To make such means for her as thou hast done And leave her on such slight conditions, Now, by the honour of my ancestry, I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,









140 160



And think thee worthy of an empress' love.
Know then, I here forget all former griefs,
Cancel all grudge, repeal thee home again,
Plead a new state in thy unrival'd merit,
To which I thus subscribe: Sir Valentine,
Thou art a gentleman and well deriv'd ;
Take thou thy Silvia, for thou hast deserv'd

her. Val. I thank your Grace; the gift hath made

me happy. I now beseech you, for your daughter's sake, To grant one boon that I shall ask of you. Duke. I grant it, for thine own, whate'er it

be. Val. These banish'd men that I have kept

withal Are men endu'd with worthy qualities. Forgive them what they have committed here And let them be recall'd from their exile. They are reformed, civil, full of good, And fit for great employment, worthy lord.

Duke. Thou hast prevail'd; I pardon them

and thee; Dispose of them as thou know'st their deserts. Come, let us go; we will include all jars With triumphs, mirth, and rare solemnity:

Val. And, as we walk along, I dare be bold With our discourse to make your Grace to smile. What think you of this page, my lord ? Duke. I think the boy hath grace in him; he

blushes. Val. I warrant you, my lord, more grace

than boy. Duke. What mean you by that saying? Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass

along That you will wonder what hath fortuned. Come, Proteus ; 't is your penance but to hear The story of your loves discovered ; That done, our day of marriage shall be yours; One feast, one house, one mutual happiness.






In 1600 two quarto editions of A Midsummer-Night's Dream appeared. The earlier, printed for Thomas Fisher, seems to have been taken from an authentic manuscript, and on it the present text is based. The later, printed by James Roberts, follows the earlier with few changes beyond the addition of some stage directions. The text of the play in the First Folio appears to have been printed from a prompter's copy of Roberts's Quarto. The chief differences are in the division into acts, not hitherto marked, and in the presence of yet more detailed stage directions.

The only piece of external evidence of the existence of the play before 1600 is the mention of it by Meres in 1598. Attempts to date it more exactly are based chiefly on very slight probabilities. The supposed borrowing of 11. i. 2, 3 from the sixth book of The Faerie Queene, and the possible allusion in v. i. 52 to Spenser's Teares of the Muses are of no real assistance. Slightly more plausible is the theory that Titania's description of the inverted seasons in II. i. 88–114 derived point from the violent storms which afflicted England in 1594, and was perhaps suggested by them. It is hard to believe that the fear of the clowns lest the lion should frighten the ladies needed the hint of an actual incident occurring at a spectacle at the Scottish court in 1594, when a Moor was substituted for a lion lest the spectators should be disturbed. So far as these very slight indications go, they point to 1594-95. The impression one receives of the stage of maturity implied in the style, characterization, and construction of the play, and the evidence from the meter fit this date; and most modern scholars incline to accept it.

Certain marked peculiarities of A Midsummer-Night's Dream indicate that it was not written primarily for the public stage. The prominence of the marriage of Theseus in the setting, the general masque-like character of the whole, with its abundance of lyric, dance, and spectacle, and the virtual epithalamium with which it closes, all suggest that it was originally devised for some nobleman's wedding. The open flattery of Elizabeth in 11. i. 157–164, and the praise of chastity in 1. i. 74, 75, point further to the actual presence of the Queen. The most suitable occasion so far suggested is the marriage of the Earl of Derby to Elizabeth Vere, which took place at the Court at Greenwich in 1594.

No original for the main plot has been found. The most obvious sources whence Shakespeare may have derived information about Theseus are Chaucer's Knight's Tale and North’s translation of Plutarch's Life of Theseus. From the former he might have got the idea of the marriage festivities of Theseus, the May-Day observances, the hunting scene, the name of Philostrate, and some minor details. From the latter he might have taken a few proper names, and allusions to the previous adventures of Theseus in love and war.

The story of Pyramus and Thisbe was accessible to him in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in Golding's translation of the same, in Chaucer's Legend of Good Women, and in various later forms. A lovepotion with an effect somewhat similar to, but by no means identical with, that of the love-juice of Oberon plays a part in the Diana of Montemayor, from which the dramatist had taken part of the plot of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The fairy-lore is based mainly on popular tradition. Titania is one of Ovid's names for Diana. Oberon had appeared in medieval romances such as Huon of Bordeaux, in Greene's James IV, in The Faerie Queene, and elsewhere. Robin Goodfellow was a familiar figure in folk-lore, and had already made his way into books. But Shakespeare worked on these figures, and on the fairyworld in general, a transformation into something all his own; and in so doing permanently modified this whole field of popular fancy. There is perhaps no one achievement of his genius which has had so pervasive an effect as his treatment of fairies in the present play and in Mercatio's speech on Queen Mab, in Romeo and Juliet.

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