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O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream; Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues, Because their breaths with sweet-meats tainted
are 17. Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose 18, And then dreams he of smelling out a suit 19: And sometimes comes she with a tithe-pig's tail, Tickling a parson's nose as ’a lies asleep, Then dreams he of another benefice: Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck, And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats, Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades 20, Of healths five fathom deep: and then anon Drums in his ear; at which he starts, and wakes; And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two, And sleeps again. This is that very Mab, That plats the manes of horses in the night: And bakes the elf-locks 1 in foul sluttish hairs, Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes. This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs, That presses them, and learns them first to bear,
17 This probably alludes to the “ kissing comfits' mentioned by Falstaff in the last act of the Merry Wives of Windsor.
18 This speech received much alteration after the first edition in the quarto of 1597: and Shakspeare has inadvertently introdaced the courtier twice. Mr. Tyrwhitt finding countries knees' in the first instance printed in the second folio, would read counties' (i. e. noblemen's) knees. Steevens remarks that the whole speech bears a resemblance to a passage of Claudian In Sextum Consulatum Honorii Augusti Præfatio.
19 A place in court.
20 The quarto of 1597 reads, counter mines.' Spanish blades . were held in high esteem. A sword was called a Toledo, from the excellence of the Toletan steel.
21 i. e. fairy locks, locks of hair clotted and tangled in the night. It was a common superstition; and Warburton conjectures that it had its rise from the horrid disease called Plica polonica.
Making them women of good carriage 22,
Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
True, I talk of dreams; Which are the children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy; Which is as thin of substance as the air; And more inconstant than the wind, who woos Even now the frozen bosom of the north, And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence, Turning his face to the dew-dropping south. Ben. This wind, you talk of, blows us from our
selves; Supper is done, and we shall come too late.
Rom. I fear, too early; for my mind misgives, Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, Shall bitterly begin his fearful date With this night's revels; and expire 23 the term Of a despised life, clos’d in my breast, By some vile forfeit of untimely death : But He, that hath the steerage of my course, Direct my sail!—On, lusty gentlemen. Ben. Strike, drum 24.
22 So in Love's Labour's Lost, Act i. Sc. 2:-
• Moth. Sampson, master; he was a man of good carriage, great carriage ; for he carried the town-gates.' 23 So in The Rape of Lucrece:
* An expir'd date cancellid ere well begun.' And in Mother Hubbard's Tale :
Now whereas time flying with wings swift
Expired had the term,' &c. 24 Here the folio adds : They march about the stage, and serving men come forth with their napkins.
SCENE V1. A Hall in Capulet's House.
Musicians waiting. Enter Servants. 1 Serv. Where's Potpan, that he belps not to take away? he shift a trencher?! he scrape a trencher!
2 Serv. When good manners shall lie all in one or two men's hands, and they unwashed too, 'tis a foul thing.
1 Serv. Away with the joint-stools, remove the court-cupboard, look to the plate :-good thou, save me a piece of marchpane *; and, as thou lovest
1 This scene is not in the first copy in the quarto of 1597.
2 To shift a trencher was technical. So in The Miseries of Enforst Marriage, 1608:- Learne more manners, stand at your brother's backe, as to shift a trencher neately,' &c. Trenchers were used in Shakspeare's time and long after by persons of good fashion and quality. They continued common till a late period in many public societies, and are now, or were lately, still retained at Lincoln's Inn.
3 The court cupboard was the ancient sideboard: it was a cumbrous piece of furniture, with stages or shelves gradually receding, like stairs, to the top, whereon the plate was displayed at festivals. They are mentioned in many of our old comedies. Thus in Chapman's Monsieur D'Olive, 1606:- Here shall stand my court cupboard, with its furniture of plate. Again in his May Day, 1611:-'Court cupboards planted with flaggons, cans, cups, beakers,' &c. Two of these ancient pieces of furniture are still in Stationers' Hall : they are used at public festivals to display the antique silver vessels of the Company, consisting of cans, cups, beakers, flaggons, &c. There is a print in a curious work, entitled Laurea Austriaca, folio, 1627, representing an entertainment given by King James I. to the Spanish ambassadors, in 1623; from which the reader will get a better notion of the court cupboard than volumes of description would afford him. It was sometimes also called a cupboard of plate, and a livery cupboard.
4 Marchpane was a constant article in the desserts of our ancestors. It was a sweet cake, composed of filberts, almonds, pistachoes, pine kernels, and sugar of roses, with a small portion of flour. They were often made in fantastic forms. In 1562 the Stationers' Company paid · for ix marcbpaynes xxvi. s. viii.d.'
o the greate and the the longer
me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone, and Nell.-Antony! and Potpan!
2 Serv. Ay, boy; ready.
1 Serv. You are looked for, and called for, asked for, and sought for, in the great chamber.
2 Serv. We cannot be here and there too.Cheerly, boys; be brisk a while, and the longer liver take all.
[They retire behind. Enter CAPULET, 8c. with the Guests and the
play. A hall! a hall5! give room, and foot it, girls.
[Musick plays, and they dance. More lights, ye knaves; and turn the tables up,
5 An exclamation commonly used to make room in a crowd for any particular purpose, as we now say a ring! a ring! So Marston, Sat. iii.:
- A hall! a hall!
Will dance Kempe's jigg. The passages are numberless that may be cited in illustration of this phrase.
6 The ancient tables were flat leaves or boards joined by hinges and placed on tressels; when they were to be removed they were therefore turned up. The phrase is sometimes taken up. Thus in Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, ed. 1825, p. 198:- After that the boards-end was taken up.'
And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot.-
By’r lady, thirty years. 1 Cap. What, man! 'tis not so much, 'tis not so
much: 'Tis since the nuptial of Lucentio, Come pentecost as quickly as it will, Some five and twenty years; and then we mask'd.
2 Cap. 'Tis more, 'tis more: his son is elder, sir: His son is thirty.
1 Cap. Will you tell me that? His son was but a ward two years ago 8.
Rom. What lady's that, which doth enrich the hand Of yonder knight?
Serv. I know not, sir.
Rom. O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems she 9 hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear : Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
7 Cousin was a common expression for kinsman. Thus in Hamlet, the king, his uncle and stepfather, addresses him with
* But now, my cousin Hamlet and my son.' 8 This speech stands thus in the quarto of 1597 :
· Will you tell me that? it cannot be so:
Good youths, i'faith!—Oh, youth's a jolly thing! There are many trifling variations in almost every speech of this play; but when they are of little consequence I have not encumbered the page with them. The last of these three lines, however, is natural and pleasing.–Steevens. 9 Steevens reads, with the second folio:
Her beauty hangs apon,' &c.
Which like a jewel hung in ghastly night,