Abbildungen der Seite

Some, to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds;
Some, war with rear-mice 7 for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves coats; and some, keep back
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders
At our quaint spirits® : Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.

But the persons employed are fairies, to whom the third part of a minute might not be a very short time to do such work in. The critick might as well have objected to the epithet tall, which the fairy bestows on the cowslip. But Shakspeare, throughout the play, has preserved the proportion of other things in respect of these tiny beings, compared with whose size, a cowslip might be tall, and to whose powers of execution, a minute might be equivalent to an age. Steevens.

6- in the MUSK-ROSE buds ;] What is at present called the Musk Rose, was a fower unknown to English botanists in the time of Shakspeare. About fifty years ago it was brought into this country from Spain. STEEVENS.

7 — with REAR-MICE —] A rere-mouse is a bat, a mouse that rears itself from the ground by the aid of wings. So, in Albertus Wallenstein, 1640 : Half-spirited souls, who strive on rere

re-mice wings.” Again, in Ben Jonson's New Inn :

I keep no shades “ Nor shelters, I, for either owls or rere-mice.Again, in Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphosis, b. iv. edit. 1587, p. 58, b: “ And we in English language bats or reremice call the same."

Gawin Douglas, in his Prologue to Maphæus's 13th Book of the Æneid, also applies the epithet leathern to the wings of the

bat :

• Up gois the bak with her pelit leddren flicht.”

STEEVENS. : - quaint spirits :) For this Dr. Warburton reads against all authority: "- quaint sports." But Prospero, in The Tempest, applies quaint to Ariel.

Johnson. “Our quaint spirits.. Dr. Johnson is right in the word, and Dr. Warburton in the interpretation. A spirit was sometimes used for a sport. In Decker's play, If It be Not Good, the Devil is In It, the king of Naples says to the devil Ruffman, disguised in the character of Shalcan: “ Now Shalcan, some new spirit ? -Ruff. A thousand wenches stark-naked to play at leap-frog. -Omnes. O rare sight! FARMER.

[ocr errors]

1 Fa. You spotted snakes, with double tongue",

Thorny hedge-hogs, be not seen;
Newts, and blind-worms, do no wrong';

Come not near our fairy queen :

Philomel, with melody,

Sing in our * sweet lullaby ;
Lulla, lulla, lullaby ; lulla, lulla, lullaby :

Never harm, nor spell nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh ;
So, good night, with lullaby.

II. 2 F41. Weaving spiders, come not here;

Hence, you long-legg'd spinners, hence : Beetles black, approach not near ;

Worm, nor snail, do no offence.


Philomel, with melody, &c.

* So quartos ; folio, your. 9 — with DOUBLE tongue,] The same epithet occurs in a fulure scene of this play:

with doubler tongue

“ Than thine, thou serpent," &c. Again, in The Tempest :

adders, who, with cloven tongues, “ Do hiss me into madness." By both these terms, I suppose, our author means-forked ; as the tongues of snakes are sometimes represented in ancient tapestry and paintings, and, it may be added, are so in nature.

STEEVENS. Newts, and BLIND-WORMS,] The newt is the cft, the blindworm is the Cæcilia or slow-worm. They are both ingredients in the cauldron of Macbeth. See Macbeth, Act IV. Sc. I. :


1 Fai. Hence, away; now all is well : One, aloof, stand sentinel ?.

[Exeunt Fairies. T'Irania sleeps.

OBE. What thou seest, when thou dost wake,

[Squeezes the flower on Titania's eye-lids.
Do it for thy true love take;
Love, and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce", or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wak'st, it is thy dear;
Wake, when some vile thing is near. [Exit.

Enter LYSANDER and HERMIA. Lys. Fair love, you faint with wandering in the

wood; And to speak troth, I have forgot our way; We'll rest us, Hermia, if you think it good,

And tarry for the comfort of the day.

Her. Be it so, Lysander : find you out a bed, For I upon this bank will rest my head.

Lys. One turf shall serve as pillow for us both; One heart, one bed, two bosoms, and one troth. Her. Nay, good Lysander; for my sake, my

dear, Lie further off yet, do not lie so near.

Lys. O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence ;

? Hence, away ; &c.] This, according to all the editions, is made part of the song; but, I think, without sufficient reason, as it appears to be spoken after the song is over. In the quarto 1600, it is given to the second Fairy ; but the other division is better. Steevens. 3 Be it ounce,] The ounce is a small tiger, or tiger-cat.

JOHNSON. 4 O, take the sense, sweet, of my INNOCENCE;] Lysander, in

Love takes the meaning, in love's conference
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit;
So that but one heart we can make of it:
Two bosoms interchained with an oath
So then, two bosoms, and a single troth.
Then, by your side no bed-room me deny ;
For, lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

Her. Lysander riddles very prettily
Now much beshrew' my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say, Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty

the language of love, professes, that as they have one heart, they shall have one bed; this Hermia thinks rather too much, and intreats him to lie further off. Lysander answers :

“O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence ; " Understand the meaning of my innocence, or my innocent meaning Let no suspicion of ill enter thy mind. Johnson.

s Love takes the meaning, in love's CONFERENCE.) In the conversation of those who are assured of each other's kindness, not suspicion but love takes the meaning. No malevolent interpretation is to be made, but all is to be received in the sense which love can find, and which love can dictate. Johnson.

The latter line is certainly intelligible as Dr. Johnson has explained it ; but, I think, it requires a slight alteration to make it connect well with the former. I would read:

Love take the meaning in love's conference. That is, Let love take the meaning. TYRWHITT.

There is no occasion for alteration. The idea is exactly similar to that of St. Paul: “ Love thinketh no evil." Henley.

interchained —] Thus the quartos; the folio, interchanged. Steevens.

7 Now much beshrew, &c.] This word, of which the etymology is not exactly known, implies a sinister wish, and means the same as if she had said “now ill befall my manners,” &c. It is used by Heywood in his Iron Age, 1632 :

Beshrew your amorous rhetorick.” Again :

Well, Paris, I beshrew you, with my heart.” Steevens. See Minsheu's etymology of it, which seems to be an imprecation or wish of such evil to one, as the venomous biting of the shrew-mouse. Tollet.


Such separation, as, may well be said,
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid :
So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend :
Thy love ne'er alter till thy sweet life end !

Lys. Amen, amen, to that fair prayer, say I;
And then end life, when I end loyalty !
Here is my bed : Sleep give thee all his rest!
Her. With half that wish the wisher's eyes be

[They sleep


Enter Puck.
Puck. Through the forest have I gone,

But Athenian found I none"
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower's force in stirring love.
Night and silence! who is here?
Weeds of Athens he doth wear :
This is he, my master said,
Despised the Athenian maid ;
And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
On the dank and dirty ground.
Pretty soul ! she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy?.

Churl, upon thy eyes I throw & But Athenian Found none,] Thus the quarto, 1600, printed by Fisher. That by Roberts, and the folio, 1623, read :

- find I none." STEEVENS:
9 Near this lack-love, kill-courtesy.) The old copies read :

“ Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy.” Mr. Theobald and Sir T. Hanmer, for the sake of the measure, leave out this lack-love. I have only omitted-this.

STEEVENS. If we read near as a dissyllable, like many other similar words, we shall produce a line of ten syllables, a measure which sometimes occurs in Puck's speeches :

“ I must go seek some dew drops here ;

“And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear." Again :

“ I go, I go: look how I go;

Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow." Malone.

« ZurückWeiter »