Page images



« With hands as pale as milk;

Lay them in gore, “ Since you have shore « With shears his thread of silk.

Tongue, not a word :“ Come, trusty sword ; “ Come, blade, my breast imbrue : “ And farewel, friends ;“ Thus Thilby ends : Adieu, adieu, adieu."

(Dies. Tbe. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead. Dem. Ay, and Wall too.

Bot. No, I assure you, the wall is down that parted their fathers. 9 Will it please you to see the epi. logue, or to hear a Bergomark dance, between two of our company?

Tbe. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he, that writ it, had play'd Pyramus, and hang’d himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly, and very notably discharg'd. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.

[Here a dance of clowns. The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve :Lovers to bed ; 'tis almost Fairy time.

Lay them in gore.) Mr. Theobald and Dr. Warburton instead of lay, read lave, but have no note to justify or account for the alteration. STEEVENS.

. Will it please, &c.] The quarto in 1600 gives this speech to Lion, but see an epilogue and bear a dance is so much in Bottom's character, that the modern editors are justified in retoring it to him. WARNER.

A Bergomask darcı, ] (As fir T. H. obferves in his Glossary) is a dance after the mander of the peasants of B-rzomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people, and from thence it became also a custom to imitate their manner of dancing. STEEVENS.

I fear,




I fear, we shall out-Neep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This palpable gross play hath well beguild
The heavy 'gait of night.--Sweet friends, to bed.--
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels and new jollity.

[Exeunt. SCENE II.

Enter Puck.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,

And the wolf beholds the moon :
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fore-done. ? Now the wasted brands do glow,

Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching 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 spright,

In the church-way paths to glide ;

gait.] i. e. pasage, progress. STEEVENS. 2 In the old copies : And the wolf beholds the moon.) As 'tis the design of these lines to characterize the a.vimals, as they present themselves at the hour of midnight ; and as the wolf is not jusly characterized by saying he beholds the moon, which other beasts of prey, then awake, do: and as the founds these animals make at that season, seem also intended to be represented; I make no question but the poet wrote ;

And the wolf behowls obe moon. For fo the wolf is exaâly characterized, it being lis peculiar property to bowl at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, befeem, and an hundred others.)

WARBURTON. The alteration is better than the original reading ; but perhaps the author meant only to say, that the wolf gazes at the moon.

JOHNSON. foredone.) i. e. overcome. So Spenser, F. Q. b. 1. c. x. " And many souls in dolour had fordone.



[ocr errors]


f. 33.

And we Fairies, that do run

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

Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolick; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent, with broom, before, 4
To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter King and Queen of Fairies, with their train.
06. Through this house give glimmering light, s

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.

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

* I am fent with broom before,

To freep the duft behind i be door.)
Cleanliness is always necessary to invite the residence and the
favour of Fairies.
These make our girls their

flutt'ry rue,
By pinching them both black and blue,
And put a penny in their fhoe
The boufe for cleanly sweeping. Drayton.

JOHNSON. Througb this bouse give glimmering light.] Milton perhaps had this picture in his thought :

Glowing embers through the room

Teach light to counterfeit a gloom. Il Penferoso.
So Drayton :

Hence Nadows seeming idle hapes
Of little frisking elves and apes,
To earth do make their wanton 'scapes,

As bope of paffime haftes them.
I think it should be read,
Through this house in glimmering light. Johnson.



Ob. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each Fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blested 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 gate,
And each several chamber bless,
Through this palace, with sweet peace,
Ever shall it safely reft,
And the owner of it bleft.
Trip away;
Make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and train. 6 Now, until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is in the edition of 1623, and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song ?-I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are loft. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a song, which fong is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed loft like the former, tho' the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismiffes his fairies to the dispatch of the ceremonies.

The songs, I suppose, were lost, because they were not inserted in the players parts, from which the drama was printed.



Puck. If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended ; That you have but Number'd here, While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend; If you pardon, we will mend. And as I'm an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck ? Now to 'scape the ferpent's tongue, We will make amends, ere long : Else the Puck a liar call : So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends 9 And Robin shall restore amends. [Exeunt omnes. *

[ocr errors]


-une arned luck.] i. e. if we have better fortune than we have deserved. STEEVENS.

* Now 10 scape the serpent's tongue.] That is, If we be dismiss'd without hiffes. JOHNSON.

Give me your hands.] That is, Clap your hands. Give us your applause. JOHNSON.

of this play there are two editions in quarto ; one printed for Thomas Fisher, the other for James Roberts, both in 1600. I have used the copy of Roberts, very carefully collated, as it seems, with that of Fisher. Neither of the editions approach to exactness. Fisher is sometimes preferable, but Roberts was followed, though not without some variations, by Hemings and Condel, and they by all the folios that succeeded them.

Wild and fantastical as this play is, all the parts in their various modes are well written, and give the kind of pleasure which the author designed. Fairies in his time were much in fashion; common tradition had made them familiar, and Spenser's poem bad made them great. JOHNSON.


« PreviousContinue »