A Midsommer Nights Dreame

by

William Shakespeare

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Classic Literature Library

A Midsommer Nights Dreame Page 01

Actus primus.

Enter Theseus, Hippolita, with others.

Theseus. Now faire Hippolita, our nuptiall houre Drawes on apace: foure happy daies bring in Another Moon: but oh, me thinkes, how slow This old Moon wanes; She lingers my desires Like to a Step-dame, or a Dowager, Long withering out a yong mans reuennew

Hip. Foure daies wil quickly steep the[m]selues in nights Foure nights wil quickly dreame away the time: And then the Moone, like to a siluer bow, Now bent in heauen, shal behold the night Of our solemnities

The. Go Philostrate, Stirre vp the Athenian youth to merriments, Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth, Turne melancholy forth to Funerals: The pale companion is not for our pompe, Hippolita, I woo'd thee with my sword, And wonne thy loue, doing thee iniuries: But I will wed thee in another key, With pompe, with triumph, and with reuelling. Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius.

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 childe, my daughter Hermia.

Stand forth Demetrius.

My Noble Lord, This man hath my consent to marrie her.

Stand forth Lysander.

And my gracious Duke, This man hath bewitch'd the bosome of my childe: Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast giuen her rimes, And interchang'd loue-tokens with my childe: Thou hast by Moone-light at her window sung, With faining voice, verses of faining loue, And stolne the impression of her fantasie, With bracelets of thy haire, rings, gawdes, conceits, Knackes, trifles, Nose-gaies, sweet meats (messengers Of strong preuailment in vnhardned youth) With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughters heart, Turn'd her obedience (which is due to me) To stubborne harshnesse. And my gracious Duke, Be it so she will not heere before your Grace, Consent to marrie with Demetrius, I beg the ancient priuiledge 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 prouided in that case

The. What say you Hermia? be aduis'd faire Maide, To you your Father should be as a God; One that compos'd your beauties; yea and one To whom you are but as a forme in waxe By him imprinted: and within his power, To leaue the figure, or disfigure it: Demetrius is a worthy Gentleman

Her. So is Lysander

The. In himselfe he is. But in this kinde, wanting your fathers voyce, The other must be held the worthier

Her. I would my father look'd but with my eyes

The. Rather your eies must with his iudgment looke

Her. I do entreat your Grace to pardon me. I know not by what power I am made bold, Nor how it may concerne my modestie In such a presence heere to pleade my thoughts: But I beseech your Grace, that I may know The worst that may befall me in this case, If I refuse to wed Demetrius

The. Either to dye the death, or to abiure For euer the society of men. Therefore faire Hermia question your desires, Know of your youth, examine well your blood, Whether (if you yeeld not to your fathers choice) You can endure the liuerie of a Nunne, For aye to be in shady Cloister mew'd, To liue a barren sister all your life, Chanting faint hymnes to the cold fruitlesse Moone, Thrice blessed they that master so their blood, To vndergo such maiden pilgrimage, But earthlier happie is the Rose distil'd, Then that which withering on the virgin thorne, Growes, liues, and dies, in single blessednesse

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