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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.
The. What say you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair maid:
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 form in wax,
By 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 look. Her. 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 may befal 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.
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,
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.
The. Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon, (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, yield 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.
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 Neda'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 with 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 your 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 THES. HIP. EGE. DEM. and train.
Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the roses there do fade so fast?
Her. Belike for want of rain; which I could well
Beteem them from the tempest of mine eyes.
Lys. Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:
But either it was different in blood,
Or else misgrafted, in respect of years:
Or else it stood upon the choice of friends:
Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness, did lay siege to it;
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied* night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say,-Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.
Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
It stands as an edict in destiny:
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross;
As due to love, as thoughts and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.
Lys. A good persuasion; therefore, hear me, Hermia. I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child;
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us: If thou lov'st me then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night,
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.
My good Lysander!
I swear to thee by Cupid's strongest bow;
By his best arrow with the golden head;
By the simplicity of Venus' doves;
By that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves;
By all the vows that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever woman spoke ;-
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.
Lys. Keep promise, love: Look, here comes Helena.
Her. God speed fair Helena! Whither away? Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay. Demetrius loves you fair: O happy fair! Your eyes are load-stars; and your tongue's sweet air. More tunable than lark in shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching; O, were favor so!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'll give to be to you translated.
O, teach me how you look; and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.
Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
Hel. O, that your frowns would teach my smiles such skill!
Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
Hel. O, that my prayers could such affection move!
Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me.
Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me.
Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
Hel. None, but your beauty; 'Would that fault were mine!
Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my face;
Lysander and myself will fly this place.-
Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seem'd Athens like a paradise to me:
O then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto hell!
Lys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
To-morrow night when Phoebe doth behold
Her silver visage in the wat'ry glass,
Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
(A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal,)
Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to steal.
Her. And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet;
There my Lysander and myself shall meet:
And thence, from Athens, turn away our eyes,
To seek new friends and stranger companies.
Farewell, sweet playfellow; pray thou for us,
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius !-
Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight
From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight.
Lys. I will, my Hermia.-Helena, adieu :
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!
Hel. How happy some, o'er other some can be!
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she,
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,
Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love's mind of any judgment taste;
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste:
And therefore is love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguil'd.
As waggish boys in games themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjur'd every where;
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,*.
He hail'd down oaths that he was only mine;
And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:
Then to the wood will he, to-morrow night,
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither, and back again.
SCENE I-A Wood near Athens.
Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck at another.
Puck. How now, spirit! whither wander you?
Fai. Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moones sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favors,
In those freckles live their savors:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lobt of spirits, I'll be gone :
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.
Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night;
Take heed, the queen come not within his sight.
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy stol'n from an Indian king;
She never had so weet a changeling:
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild:
† A term of contempt.