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Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night ; Take heed, the queen come not within his fight. 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 sweet a changeling; And jealous Oberon would have the child Knight of his trạin, to trace the forests wild But she per-force, with-holds the loved boy, Crowns him with fowers, and makes him all her joy. And now they never meet in grove, or green, By fountain clear, or spangled star-light sheen, o But they do square'; that all their elves, for fear, Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there.
Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making quite, Or else you are that shrewd, and knavilh sprite, Callid Robin-good-fellow 3. Are you not he, That fright the maidens of the villag’ry;
Skim 8-Changeling.] Changeling is commonly used for the child supposed to be left by the fairies, but here for the child taken away. JOHNSON.
9 - Shun.] Shining, bright, gay. Johnson.
And now you are such fools to square for this? Gray.
3 Robin-good-fellow;) This account of Robin-good-fellow corresponds, in every article, with that given of him in Harfenet's Declaration, ch. xx. p. 135: " And if that the bowle of curds and creame " were not duly set out for Robin-good-fellow, the frier, and Siffe “ the dairy-maid, why then either the pottage was burnt 10 next “ day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter “ would not come, or the ale in the fat never would have got “ head. But if a pater. noster, or an house-egge were beturned,
or a patch of tythe unpaid-then beware of bull-beggars, fpi“ rits, &c.” He is mentioned by Cartwright as a spirit parti. cularly fond of disconcerting and disturbing domestick peace and economy
Saint Francis and Saint Benedigbt
Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the
4 And bootless make the breathless huswife churn: And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;s Mislead night. wanderers, laughing at their harm ? Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck, 6 You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
WARTON. Reginald Scot gives the same account of this frolicksome spirit, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, Lond. 1588. 4to. p. 66 “ Your foo grandames, 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.” Stesyens.
4 Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootlifs make the breaibless bufwife churn.] The sense of these lines is confused. Are not you he, says the fairy, that fright the country girls, that kim milk, work in the band-mill
, and make the tired dairy-woman churn without off &? The mention of the mill seems out of place, for she is not now telling the good þut the evil that he does. I would regulate the lines thus :
And fometimes make the breathlefs housewife cburn
Skim milk, and bootless labour in the quern, Or by a fimple transposition of the lines ;
And bootless, make ibe breathless housewife chure
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern. Yet there is no neceflity of alteration. JOHNSON.
s Barme, a name for yeaf, yet used in the midland counties, So in Mother Bombie, a Comedy, 1594: “ It behoveth my wits go to work like barme, alias yealit.” Again in the Humourous Lieutenant, of B. and Fletcher : “ I think my brains will work yet without barm,”
STEEVENS. • Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweer Puck,
You do their work.]
Tber 10 the Spicy nut-brown ale,
Are not you he?
Puck. "Thou speak'st aright ;?
She was pincb'd and pull'd she said,
Then lies him down the lubber fiend.
He meeteth Puck, which most men call
Of purpose to deceive us;
He doth with laughter leave us. It will be apparent to him that shall compare Drayton's poem with this play, that either one of the poets copied the other, or, as I rather believe, that there was then some system of the fairy empire generally received, which they both represented as accurately as they could. Whether Drayton or Shakespeare wrote first, I cannot discover. JOHNSON.
7 Puck. Thou speaks aright.] I have filled up the verse which I suppose the author left complete,
It seems that in the Fairy mythology Puck, or Hobgoblin, was the trusty servant of Oberon, and always employed to watch or detect the intrigues of Queen Mab, called by Shakespeare Tita. nia. For in Drayton's Nymphidia, the fame fairies are engaged in the same bufiness. Mab has an amour with Pigwiggen; Oberon being jealous, fends Hobgoblin to catch them, and one of Mab's nymphs opposes him by a spell. JOHNSON.
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
Fai. And here my mistress.- Would that we were
and the queen at another with bers.
Queen. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairies, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Ob. Tarry, rash wanton ; am not I thy lord ?
8. And tailor cries] The custom of crying tailer at a sudder fall backwards, I think I remember to have observed. He that flips beside his chair falls as a taylor squats upon his board. The Oxford editor and Dr. Warburton after him, read and rails or tries, plausibly, but I believe not rightly. Besides, the trick of the fairy is represented as producing rather merriment than anger.
JOHNSON. And waxen.) And encrease, as the moon waxes. Johnson. ' AH the old copies read- But room Fairy. The word Fairy or Faery, was sometimes of three syllables, as often in Spenser.
Your buskin'd mistress and your warrior love,
06. How can'st thou thus for shame; Titania,
From Perigune, whom he ravished ; 3
Queen. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
? Didft thou not lead him through the glimmering night.] We Tould read,
Did thou not lead bim glimmering through the night. The meaning is, She conducted him in the appearance of fire through the dark night. WARBURTON.
3 From Perigenia, whom he ravished:) Thus all the editors; bat our author, who diligently perus'd Plutarch, and glean'd from him, where his subject would admit, knew, from the life of Theseus, that her name was Perigyne, (or Perigune) by whom Theseus had his son Melanippus. She was the daughter of Sinnis, a cruel robber, and tormentor of passengers in the Ifthmus. Plutarch and Athenæus are both express in the circumstance of Theseus ravishing her. THEOBALD.
Ægle, Ariadne, and Antiopa were all at different times miltreffes to Theseus. See Plutarch. STEEVENS.
4 And never fince the middle simmer's Spring, &c.] There are pot many passages in Shakespeare which one can be certain he has borrowed from the ancients ; but this is one of the few that, I think, will admit of no dispute. Our author's admirable description of the miseries of the country being plainly an imitation of that which Ovid draws, as consequent on the grief of Ceres, for the loss of her daughter.
Nefcit adhuc ubi fit : terras tamen increpat omnes :
Ergo illic' sava vertentia glebas