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SCENE II.

Enter Puck.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,

And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow,

Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch, that lies in woe,

In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night,

That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide :
And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent with broom before,

To sweep the dust behind the door.
Enter OBERON, and TITANIA, with all their train.
Obe. Through the house give glimmering light,

By the dead and drowsy fire; Every elf, and fairy sprite,

Hop as light as bird from brier;
And this ditty after me
Sing, and dance it trippingly.

Tita. First, rehearse your song by rote,
To each word a warbling note:
Hand in hand with fairy grace
Will we sing, and bless this place.

THE SONG.
Obe. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be ;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand:
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall upon their children be.
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace with sweet peace;
Ever shall in safety rest, hrane
And the owner of it blest. $

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ACT 1.-SCENE 1.

"- our renowned duke”—Gibbon, (Decline and

Fall," chap. xvii.,) speaking of the title of Duke, as ap“New bent in heaven”—The old copies, quarto and

plied to the military commander of princes in the reign folio, are uniform in reading "new" now, which all the

of Constantine, says that “it is only a corruption of the editors, except Collier, have agreed with Rowe in con Latin word Dux, which was indiscriminately applied sidering as an early error of the press. The old reading

to any chief.” In this sense it was early adopted in of now, preferred by Collier, gives indeed an intelligible Old English, and used in the first translations of the sense, but far less probable and less poetical, and more Bible, including that of King James. Thus, in the fifharshly expressed, than that preferred in all other edi.

teenth chapter of “Genesis," the word in Greek and in tions.

Hebrew, answering to leader, is thus rendered. Again, Hippolyta, I woo'd thee with my sword"-" The in in the first chapter of the first book of “ Chronicles," genious writer of "A Letter on Shakespeare's Author we find a list of the "dukes of Edom." Chaucer has ship of the Two Noble Kinsmen' remarks, that the

Duke Theseus-Gower, Duke Spartacus-Stonyhurst, characters in a MIDSUMMER-Night's DREAM are classi.

Duke Æneas. cal, but the costume is strictly Gothic, and shows that “ — according to our law"-By a law of Solon, pait was through the medium of romance that he drew the

rents had an absolute power of life and death over their knowledge of them. It was in Chaucer's “Knight's children. It suited the Poet's purpose to suppose that Tale' that our Poet found the Duke of Athens, and Hip the Athenians had it before. polyta, and Philostrate ; in the same way that the author of the Two Noble Kinsmen,' and subsequently Dry " — EARTHLY happier”—More happy in an earthly den, found there the story of Palamon and Arcite.' sense. The reading of all the old copies is “earthlier Hercules and Theseus have been called, by Godwin, happy," and this is retained in the majority of editions, the knight-errants of antiquity;"

and truly the mode although Pope and Johnson proposed earlier happy, in which the fabulous histories of the ancient world

and Stevens earthly happy. We agree, with Knight blended themselves with the literature of the chivalrous and Collier, that Capell's reading, which we have ages fully justifies this seemingly anomalous designation. adopted, is the true one ; and that the old reading arose It is not difficult to trace Shakespeare in passages of the out of a common typographical error. The orthography * Knight's Tale.' The opening lines of that beautiful of the folio is earthlier happie-if the comparative had poem offer an example:

, ; Whilom, as olde stories tellen us,

and it is easy to see that the r has been transposed. Ther was a duk that highte Theseus. Of Athenes he was lord and governour,

Unto his lordship, whose UNWISHED yoke"-Collier And in his time swiche a conquerour,

follows the second folio—" to whose unwish'd yoke ;'' That greter was ther non under the sonne

but to give any thing sovereignty is still good English, Full many a riche contree had he wonne. What with his wisdom and his chevalrie,

without inserting to. The metre is more impressive as He conquerd all the regne of Feminie,

it stood in the three earlier editions, without this inserThat whilom was yeleped Scythia ;

tion. “Lordship" is used as it was anciently, where we And wedded the fresshe quene Ipolita,

should now use dominion-an instance, among many, And brought hire home with him to his contree With mochel glorie and gret solempnitee,

where the word of later derivation, of the same primiAnd eke hire yonge suster Emilie.

tive sense, had displaced the former Anglo-Saxon one, And thus with victorie and with melodie

or confined it to a more limited sense. In Wickliffe's Let I this worthy duk to Athenes ride,

“New Testament,” “ lordship" is used where the transAnd all his host, in armes him beside. And certes, if it n'ere to long to here,

lators of King James's “ Bible” have preferred dominion. I wolde have tolde you fully the manere,

“BETeem them"-To " beteem," in its common ac. How wonnen was the regne of Feminie. By Theseus, and by his chevalrie :

ceptation, is to bestow, as often used by Spenser and And of the grete bataille for the nones

others, and which gives a clear sense; but Stevens sug. Betwix Athenes and the Amasones : And how asseged was Ipolita

gests that it here means pour out, as he says it is used The faire hardy quene of Scythia;

in the North of England.
And of the feste, that was at hire wedding,
And of the temple at hire home coming.

Ah me! for aught that I could ever read”—The But all this thing I most as now forbere;

curious observer of Shakespearian rhythm will note I have, God woz, a large field to ere."

here a variation from most of the editions, affecting only KNIGHT. the melody of the passage. This is the reading of the

two editions printed in the Poet's life. The folio, fol. The magnet is for the same reason called the lode-stone, lowed by Stevens, Knight, and others, has—" that ever either because it leads iron, or because it guides the I could read."

sailor. Milton has the same thought in • L'Allegro:'“ The passage in Paradise Lost,' in which Milton

Towers and battlements it sees, has imitated this famous passage of Shakespeare, is

Bosomed high in tutted trees; conceived in a very different spirit. Lysander and Her

Where perhaps some beauty lies, mia lament over the evils by which

The cynosure of neighbouring eyes."

Johnsos. true lovers have been ever cross'd as 'an edict in destiny,' to which they must both sub

“ YOURS would I catch”—The reading of all the old

editions is, mit with patience and mutual forbearance. The Adam

Your words I catch," which, though Col. of Milton reproaches Eve with the

lier retains, I cannot comprehend, and, with all the other

editors presume it to be a misprint; and have adopted - innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares

the correction of Hanmer. as a trial of which lordly man has alone a right to com

what graces in my love do dwell, plain :

That he hath turn'd a heaven into a hell!" for either

“ Hermia is willing to comfort Helena, and to avoid He never shall find out fit mate, but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistake;

all appearance of triamph over her. She, therefore, Or whoin he wishes most shall seldom gain

bids her not to consider the power of pleasing as an ad. Through her perverseness, but shall see her gain'd

vantage, to be much envied or much desired; since By a far worse, or if she love, withheld

Hermia, whom she considers as possessing it in the su. By parents; or his happiest choice too late Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock-bound

preme degree, has found no other effect of it than the To a fell adversary, his hate or shame:

loss of happiness."-Johnson. . Which infinite calamity shall cause To human life, and household peace confound."

" — STRANGE COMPANIES"-In the original editions ("Paradise Lost," book x. ver. 895.) we have the following reading :adam had certainly cause to be angry when he uttered

And in the wood, where often you and I these reproaches; and, therefore, Milton has dramati.

Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie, cally forgotten that man is not the only sufferer in such

Emptying our bosoms, of their counsel suelld,

There my Lysander and myself shall meel, · disturbances on earth.'"-KNIGHT.

And thence from Athens turn away our eyes

To seek new friends and strange companions. " -- loo high to be enthralld 10 Low”—The quartos

The scene is in rhyme; and the introduction of four and folios read

lines of blank verse has a harsh effect. Swell’d, too, is O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to love.

a harsh and obscure epithet. The emendations were Theobald altered love to "low;" and the antithesis, made by Theobald; and they are certainly ingenious which is kept up through the subsequent lines, justifies and unforced. " Companies," for companions, has an the change-high, low : old, young.

example in Henry V.:“ – the choice of FRIENDS"-For “friends" the first

His companies unletter'd, rude, and shallow. folio reads me rit. It is difficult to account for the vari. "- base and vil'd”-i. e. Vile. The word occurs ation, which certainly gives a sense less clear, and less repeatedly in SHAKESPEARE, as in Spenser; and when suited to the next line.

it does occur, we are scarcely justified in substituting - MOMENTANY as a sound”—The folio changes

the modern vile. “ momentany" into momentary, which the “ Pictorial"

SCENE II. and other late editions follow. I have preferred retaining the Old-English variation of the word, as it stood in Enter Quince, Syug, Bottom, FLUTE, SNOUT, and the two first editions; it being the older word, and used STARVELING"— The old stage-direction gives their difhy Bacon, Hooker, and Crashaw, and still in use in

ferent trades—“Enter Quince, the carpenter; and Snug, Dryden's time.

the joiner; and Bottom, the weaver; and Flute, the

; 18 a word still in use in the Staffordshire collieries.

knowledge of the theatre to ridicule the prejudices and Shakespeare found it there, and transplanted it into the

competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally region of poetry.

acknowledged the principal actor, declares his inclina. " - in a spleen"—i. e. In a sndden fit of passion, tion to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and or caprice. Shakespeare repeatedly uses it, in the sense noise, such as every young man wants to perform, when of violent hasty motion : as in King John

he first steps upon the stage. The same Bottom, who With swifter spleen than powder can enforce.

seems bred in a 'tiring-room, has another histrionical

passion. He is for engrossing every part, and would " — FANCY's followers"-i. e. The followers" of love.

exclude his inferiors from all possibility of distinction. Fancy” is here used in the same sense as in the MER

.

Me is, therefore, desirous to play Pyramus, Thisby, and CHANT OF VENICE

the Lion, at the same time." --Johnson. Tell me where is fancy bred. The word is repeated, with the same meaning, in this

according to the scrip”-i. e. Script-a written play, (act iii. scene 2:)

paper. Bills of exchange are called, by Locke, “scrips In maiden meditation, fancy-free.

of paper;" and the terın is still known upon the Stock

Exchange.
Also, in act iii. scene 2-
All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer.

“ – most LAMENTABLE COMEDY"- Probably a bur

lesque upon the titles of some of the old dramas; thus:the false TROJAN"-Shakespeare forgot that “A lamentable Tragedie, mixed full of pleasant mirth, Theseus performed bis exploits before the Trojan war, containing the Life of Cambises, king of Percia," etc.; and consequently long before the death of Dido. by Thomas Preston, (no date.) So, Skelton's “Mag. your fair"— Used as a substantive for beauty.

nificence" is called “a goodly interlude and a mery.” As in the COMEDY OF ERRORS

"A very good piece of WORK"_Bottom and Sly My decayed fair

both speak of a theatrical representation as they would A sunny look of his would soon repair.

of a piece of cloth, or a pair of shoes. Sly says of the " Your eyes are lode-STARS”—“ This was a compli- play, “'Tis a very excellent piece of work.mnent not unfrequent among the old poets. The “lode - Ercles' vein"-i. e. Hercules. He was one of tar' is the leading, or guiding star-i. e. the pole-star. the roaring heroes of the rude drama which preceded

40

Shakespeare. In Greene's “Groat's-worth of Wit," (1592,) a player says, “ The twelve labours of Hercules have I terribly thundered on the stage."

" - play it in a mask”—“This passage shows how the want of women, on the old stage, was supplied. If they had not a young man who could perform the part with a face that might pass for feminine, the character was acted in a mask; which was at that time a part of a lady's dress so much in use, that it did not give any unusual appearance to the scene; and he that coulă modulate his voice in a female tone might play the woman very successfully. Some of the catastrophes of the old comedies, which make lovers marry the wrong women, are, by recollection of the common use of masks, brought nearer to probability. Prynne, in his “ Histriomatix,” exclaims with great vehemence through several pages, because a woman acted a part in a play at Blackfriars, in the year 1628.”—Illust. Shak.

“ – a bill of PROPERTIES"-The technicalities of the theatre are very unchanging. The person who has charge of the wooden swords, and pasteboard shields. and other trumpery required for the business of the stage, is still called the property-man. In the “Anti. podes,” by R. Brome, 1640, (quoted by Mr. Collier,) we have the following ludicrous account of the “properties," which form as curious an assemblage as in Hogarth's “Strollers :"

He has got into our tiring-house amongst us,
And ta'en a strict survey of all our properties ;
Our statues and our images of gods,
Our planets and our constellations,
Our giants, monsters, furies, beasts, and bugbears,
Our helmets, shields and vizors, hairs and beards.

Our pasteboard marchpanes, and our wooden pies. - Hold, or cut bow-strings"-Capell says this is a proverbial expression, derived from archery :-“When a party was made at butts, assurance of meeting was given in the words of that phrase.” It means, “at all events," or, as we now say, “rain or shine."

called fairy-rings, the cause of which is not yet certainly known. Thus, also, Drayton

They in courses make that round,
In meadows and in marshes found,

Of them so called fairy ground. Olaus Magnus says that these dancers parched np the grass; and, therefore, it is properly made the office of the fairy to refresh it."-Johnson and STEVENS.

The cowslips tall her PENSIONERS be"-i. e. Her guards. The golden-coated cowslips are selected as pensioners to the fairy queen, the dress of Queen Elizabeth's band of gentlemen-pensioners being very splendid, and the tallest and handsomest men being generally chosen for the office. These glittering attendants on royalty are alluded to by Dame Quickly, in the MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.

-thou LOB of spirits"—i. e. Lubber, or clown. “Lob," lobcock, looby, and lubber, all denote inactivity of body and dullness of mind. The reader will remember Milton, in “ L'Allegro"

Then lay him down the lubber fiend. " – a changeling”-i. e. A child procured in exchange.

" – starlight SHEEN"-i. e. Bright, shining.

" — they do SQUARE"-i. e. Quarrel. “It is difficult to understand how to square, which, in the ordinary sense, is to agree, should mean to disagree. And yet there is no doubt that the word was used in this sense. Hollingshed has— Falling at square with her husband.' In MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Beatrice says— Is there no young squarer now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil ?' Mr. Richardson, after explaining the usual meaning of this verb, adds— To square is also, consequently, to broaden; to set out broadly, in a position or attitude of offence or defence-(se quarrer.)' The word is thus used in the language of pugilism. There is more of our old dialect in flash terms than is generally supposed."-KNIGHT.

"—that shrewd and knavish sprite, Called Robin Good-fellow.“The account given of this knavish sprite' in these lines, corresponds with what is said of him in Harsenet's * Declaration,' (1603:)—" And if that the bowl of cards and cream were not duly set out for Robin Good-fellow, the friar, and Sisse, the dairy maid, why then either the pottage was burnt next day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or the ale in the vat never would have good head.' Scott also speaks of him, in bis Discovery of Witchcraft:'• Your grandams' maids were wont to set a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in grinding of malt and mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight. This white bread, and bread and milk, was his standing fee.'”—T. WARTON.

In his “ Nymphidia,” (1619) Drayton thus speaks of Puck, “ the merry wanderer of the night:"

This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt;
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt,

of purpose to deceive us;
And leading us, makes us to stray
Long winter nights, out of the way,
And when we stick in mire and clay.

He doth with laughter leave us. " — in the Queen"-i. e. Handmill; from the AngloSaxon, croyrn.

" - to bear no BARM"-i. e. Not to work : " barm""

ACT II.-Scene I.

" -- from opposite sides”-In the old stage-direction, and in the prefixes to the speeches, Puck is called Robin Good-fellow, until after the entrance of Oberon. Robin Good-fellow was his popular name.

“THOROUGH bush—“Thorough" is the older form of through, and both were used indiscriminately in Shakespeare's day, though the first began to be a little antiquated. He uses either, as suits his metrical effect. Some editors have shortened the lines by reading through, which is not in the measure the Poet chooses for his fairy rhythm. So Drayton, in his “ Nymphidia, or Court of Fairy"

Thorough brake, thorough briar,
Thorough muck, thorough mire,

Thorough water, thorough fire. Swifter than the moon's sphere"-We learn from Mr. Collier, that Coleridge, in his lectures, in 1818, was very einphatic in his praises of the beauty of these lines: “ the measure (he said) had been invented and employed by Shakespeare, for the sake of its appropriateness to the rapid and airy motion of the Fairy by whom the passage is delivered.” In his “ Literary Remains," he dwells upon the subject with more particularity, and dissects the lines according to the Greek measures, observing upon “the delightful effect on the ear in the sweet transition," from the eight amphimacers of the first four lines to the trochees of the concluding

Stevens and Collier print “moon's” mone's, as being the Old-Saxon genitive; and Mr. Guest (“ History of English Rhythm") is right in saying that this line accords - with the peculiar rhythm the Poet has devoted to his fairies," which he well describes as * abrupt verses of two, three, or four accents."

" her orbs upon the green”—“The "orbs' here mentioned are those circles in the herbage commonly

verses.

is yeast.

sweet Puck" -“The epithet is by no means superAuous; as “Puck' alone was far from being an endearing appellation. It signified nothing better than fiend, or devil. So, the author of Pierce Ploughman' puts the pouk for the devil - none helle powke.' It seems to have been an old Gothic word. Puke, puken; Satha nas, Gudm. And, Lexicon Island."-TYRWHITT.

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