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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 palling 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 train, to trace the forests wild ; But the per-force, with-holds the loved boy, Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy. And now they never meet in grove, or green, By fountain clear, or spangled star-light sheen, 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 . 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-ben.] Shining, bright, gay. JOHNSON.
And now you are such fools 10 square for this? Gray. The French word contrecarrer has the same import. Johnson.
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 Sisse “ 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 nofter, or an house-egge were beturned, “ or a patch of tyche 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 seconomy.
Saint Francis and Saint Benedigbt
Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the
quern, And bootless make the breathless huswife churn: And sometime make the drink to bear no barm; Mil-lead 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 fs 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.” Steevens.
4 Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootlefs make the breat bless bufwife churn.] The sense of these lines is confused. Are not you be, says the fairy, that fright the country girls, that skim milk, work in the band-mill, and make the tired dairy-woman churn without effect? 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 sometimes make the breathless housewife cbur»
Skim milk, and bootless labour in the quera, Or by a fimple transposition of the lines;
And bootless, make the breathless housewife churx
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern. Yet there is no necessity of alteration. JOHNSON.
s Barme, a name for yeasi, yet used in the midland counties, So in Mother Bombie, a Comedy, 1994: “ It behoveth my wils y to work like barme, alias yeait.” 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 sweet Puck,
You do their werk.]
Then 10 the Spicy nut-brown ale, -
Are not you he?
Puck. Thou speak’st aright;?
Sbe was pincb'd and pulld she said,
Tben lies him down the lubber friend.
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 Titania. For in Drayton's Nymphidia, the fame fairies are engaged in the same bufiness. Mab has an amour with Pigwiggen; Obe. ron being jealous, sends Hobgoblin to catch them, and one of Mab's nymphs opposes him by a spell. JOHNSON.
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
SCEN E' II.
and the queen at another with bers.
Queen. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairies, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Ob. Tarry, ralh wanton ; am not I thy lord ?
8. And tailor cries] The custom of crying tailor at a sudden fall backwards, I think I remember to have observed. He chat Nips beside his chair falls as a taylor squats upon his board. The Oxford editor and Dr. Warburton after him, read and rails or cries, plaufibly, but I believe not rightly. Besides, the trick of the fairy is represented as producing rather merriment than anger.
JOHNSON 9 And waxen.) And encrease, as the moon waxes. Johnson.
· AH the old copies sead-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,
Ob. How can'ít thou thus for shame, Titania,
And make him with fair Ægle break his faith,
Queen. There are the forgeries of jealousy:
By ? Did thou not lead him through the glimmering night.] We fhould read,
Didst thou net 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 Isthmus. Plutarch and Athenæus are both express in the circumstance of Theseus ravishing her. THEOBALD.
Ægle, Ariadne, and Antiopa were all at different times miftresses to Thereus. 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