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To seek new friends and stranger companies.
[E.rit Herm. Lys. I will, my Hermia.-Helena, adieu : As you on him, Demetrius dote on you !
[Exit Lys. 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 winged Cupid painted blind : Nor hath love's mind of any judgement taste ; Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste: And therefore is love said to be a child, Because in choice he is so oft * beguild. As waggish boys in game' themselves forswear,
* Quarto R. omits so ; first folio reads often. my companion, my guide, and mine own familiar friend. We took sweet counsel together, and walked in the house of God as friends." MALONE. 3 — when Phæbe doth behold, &c.
- deep midnight.] Shakspeare has a little forgotten himself. It appears from p. 175, that to-morrow night would be within three nights of the new moon, when there is no moonshine at all, much less at deep midnight. The same oversight occurs in Act III. Sc. I. BLACKSTONE.
- holding no QUANTITY,] Quality seems a word more suitable to the sense than quantity, but either may serve. Jounson. Quantity is our author's word. So, in Hamlet, Act III. Sc. 11.:
And women's fear and love hold quantity.” STEEVENS. s—in GAME —] Game here signifies not contentious play, but sport, jest. So Spenser :
'twixt earnest, and 'twixt game." Johnson.
So the boy love is perjur'd every where :
The Same. A Room in a Cottage.
Enter Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, QUINCE,
and STARVELING'. Quin. Is all our company here ?
Hermia's EYNE,] This plural is common both in Chaucer and Spenser. So, in Chaucer's Character of the Prioresse, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 152 :
his eyen grey as glass.” Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. i. c. iv. st. 9:
“While flashing beams do dare his feeble eyen." STEEVENS.
- This hail —] Thus all the editions, except the 4to. 1600, printed by Roberts, which reads instead of this hail,-his hail. STEEVENS.
- it is a DEAR EXPENCE :] i. e. it will cost him much, (be a severe constraint on his feelings,) to make even so slight a return for my communication. SteeveNS.
9 In this scene Shakspeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre, to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the principal actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noise, such as every young man pants to perform when he first steps upon the stage. The same Bottom, who seems bred in a tiring-room, has another histrionical passion.
Bor. You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip'.
Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and duchess, on his wedding-day at night.
Bor. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow * to a point?.
Quin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable
* First folio, grow on. He is for engrossing every part, and would exclude his inferiors from all possibility of distinction. He is therefore desirous to play Pyramus, Thisbe, and the Lion, at the same time.
Johnson. ' - the scrip.) A scrip, Fr. escript, now written ecrit. So, Chaucer, in Troilus and Cressida, 1. 2. 1130 :
Scripe nor bill." Again, in Heywood's, If you know not me you know Nobody, 1606, Part II. :
“ I'll take thy own word without scrip or scroll." Holinshed likewise uses the word. STEEVENS.
GROW to a point.] Dr. Warburton reads-go on; but grow is used, in allusion to his name, Quince. Johnson.
To grow to a point, I believe, has no reference to the name of Quince. I meet with the same kind of expression in Wily Beguiled :
“ As yet we are grown to no conclusion.” Again, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584 :
“Our reasons will be infinite, I trow,
STEEVENS. “ And so grow to a point." The sense, in my opinion, hath been hitherto mistaken ; and instead of a point, a substantive, I would read appoint, a verb, that is, appoint what part each actor is to perform, which is the real case. Quince first tells them the name of the play, then calls the actors by their names, and after that, tells each of them what part is set down for him to act.
Perhaps, however, only the particle a may be inserted by the printer, and Shakspeare wrote to point, i. e. to appoint. The word occurs in that sense in a poem by N. B. 1614, called, I Would and I Would Not, stanza ili. :
“ To point the captains every one their fight." WARNER. comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.
Bor. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry * -Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll : Masters, spread yourselves
Quin. Answer, as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the weaver.
Bot. Ready: Name what part I am for, and proceed.
Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus.
Bot. What is Pyramus ? a lover, or a tyrant ?
Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love.
Bot. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some measure .. To the rest :-Yet my chief hu
- The most lamentable comedy, &c.] This is very probably a burlesque on the title page of Cambyses : “A lamentable Tragedie, mixed full of pleasant Mirth, containing, The Life of Cambises King of Percia,” &c. By Thomas Preston, bl. 1. no date.
On the registers of the Stationers' company, however, appears “the boke of Perymus and Thesbye," 1562. Perhaps Shakspeare copied some part of his interlude from it. STEEVENS.
A poem entitled Pyramus and Thisbe, by D. Gale, was published in 4to. in 1597 ; but this, I believe, was posterior to the Midsummer-Night's Dream. Malone.
In A Handefull of Pleasant Delites by Clement Robinson, 1581, there is a new sonet of Pyramus and Thisbie.” Boswell.
4 A very good piece of work--and a merry.) This is designed as a ridicule on the titles of our ancient moralities and interludes. Thus Skelton's Magnificence is called “a goodly interlude and a mery." STEEVENS.
5 — SPREAD yourselves.] i.e. stand separately, not in a group, but so that you may be distinctly seen, and called over. STEEVENS.
6 - I will condole in some measure.] When we use this verb at present, we put with before the person for whose misfortune we profess concern. Anciently it seems to have been employed without it. So, in A Pennyworth of good Counsell, an ancient ballad: VOL. V.
mour is for a tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in?, to make all split 8.
“The raging rocks,
“ Of prison-gates :
“ The foolish fates."
This was lofty !--Now name the rest of the players.
- This is Ercles' vein', a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling
“ Thus to the wall
song : “ Poor weather beaten soles,
“ Whose case the body condoles.” Steevens. 7 I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in,] In the old comedy of 'The Roaring Girl, 1611, there is a character called Tear-cat, who says : “ I am called, by those who have seen my valour, Tear-cat." In an anonymous piece called Histriomastix, or the Player Whipt, 1610, in six acts, a parcel of soldiers drag a company of players on the stage, and the captain says: “Sirrah, this is you that would rend and tear a cat upon a stage," &c. Again, in The Isle of Gulls, a comedy by J. Day, 1606 : “ I had rather hear two such jests, than a whole play of such Tear-cat thunderclaps.” STEEVENS.
to MAKE ALL SPLIT.] This is to be connected with the previous part of the speech; not with the subsequent rhymes. It was the description of a bully. In the second act of The Scornful Lady, we meet with “two roaring boys of Rome, that made all split." Farmer.
I meet with the same expression in The Widows Tears, by Chapman, 1612: “ Her wit I must employ upon this business to prepare my next encounter, but in such a fashion as shall make all split." MALONE.
9 And shivering shocks,] Dr. Farmer would read— With shivering shocks. Malone.
1 - Ercles’ vein,] The verses recited by Bottom were probably a quotation from an old play, founded on the labours of Hercules. A play called Hercules, written by Martin Slaughter, a comedian,