Prologue

 

Bottom: Peter Quince!

Quince: What sayest thou, bully Bottom?

Bottom: There are things in this comedy of Pyramus and Thisby that will never please. First, Pyramus must draw his sword to kill himself; which the ladies cannot abide. How answer you that?

Snout: By'r lakin, a parlous fear.

Starvling: I believe we must leave the killing out, when all is done.

Bottom: Not a whit! I have a device to make all well. Write me a prologue, and let the prologue seem to say we will do no harm with our swords, and that Pyramus is not kill'd indeed; and for the more better assurance, tell them that I Pyramus am not Pyramus, but Bottom the weaver. This will put them out of fear.

Quince: Well; we will have such a prologue, and let it be written in eight and six.

 — William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, ca. 1596 AD [1]

1.

Bottom: No; make it half; let it be written in four and three.

Snout: Will not the readers be confused by the fictions?

Starvling: I fear it, I promise you.

Bottom: Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves: to bring in—God shield us!—a fiction among facts, is a most dreadful thing and there is no room for equivocation; we ought to look to it.

Snout: Therefore another prologue should probably tell each fact from each fiction.

Bottom: Nay, you must clearly distinguish the one from the other, giving each fiction a typographical symbol of some kind. And the author himself must speak the facts without embellishment or subterfuge of any kind and tell the reader plainly which ones are the facts.

Quince: With such an inspiration, all is well. Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts; and so every one according to his cue.

Notes

[1]

Reference [24], Act III, Scene 1.