Page images
[blocks in formation]

Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Philostrate, with attendants,

QW, fair Hippolita, our nuptial hour
Draws on apace : four happy days bring in

Another moon : but, oh, methinks, how Now This old moon wanes ! fhe lingers my desires,

' It is probable that the hint for this play was received from Chaucer's Knight's Tale: thence it is, that our author speaks of Theseus as duke of Athens. The Tale begins thus :

" Whylome as olde stories tellin us,
“ There was a Duke that highte Theseus,

“ Of Athens he was lord and governour, &c.Lidgate too, the monk of Bury, in his Translation of the Trage dies of John Bochas, calls him the same. chap. xii. 1. 21.

Duke Theseus had the victorye.” Creon, in the tragedy of Jocasta, translated from Euripides in 1566, is called Duke Creon. So Skelton,

“ Not lyke Duke Hamilcar,

“ Nor lyke Duke Asdruball.” And Stanyhurst, in his Translation of Virgil, calls Æneas, Duke Æneas.

The Pastorals of Drayton, quoted in the notes, were printed in 1593



Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a young man's revenue. *
Hip. Four days will quickly steep chemselves in

night ;
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow,
New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our folemnicies,

The. Go, Philostrate,

up the Athenian youth to merriments : Awake the perc and nimble spirit of mirth; Turn melancholy forth to funerals, The pale companion is not for our pomp. (Exit Phi.

. Hippolica, I woo'd thee with my sword; And won thy love, doing thee injuries; But I will wed thee in another key, With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling.

Enter Egeus, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius. Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke ! Tbe. Thanks, good Egeus: what's the news with

thee? Ege. Full of vexation come I, with complaint Against my child, my daughter Hermia.Stand forth, Demetrius :- My noble lord, This man hath my consent to inarry her. Stand forth, Lylander ;--and, my gracious duke, This man hath : witch'd the bosom of my child : Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhimes, And interchang'd love tokens with


child :


Long WITHERING OUT a young man's revenue.). Long wie thering out is, certainly, not good English. I rather think shakespeare wrote, Long wiNTERING ON a young man's revenue,

WARBURTON. That the common reading is not good English, I cannot perceive, and therefore find in myself no temptation to change it.

JOHNSON. 3 The old copies read bewitch'd. Johnson.


Thou hast by moon-light at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;
And stol'n the impression of her fantasy.
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds , conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweet-meats, messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth:
With cunning haft thou filch'd my daughter's heart;
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness :- And, my gracious duke,
Be it so, she will not here before


Consent to marry with Demetrius;
I beg the antient privilege of Athens,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
Which shah be either to this gentleman,
Or to her death, according to our law, '
Immediately provided in that case.

The. What lay you, Hermia ? be advis'd, fair maid. To you your father should be as a God, o


6 то

+ gawds,-) i. e. baubles, toys, trifles. Our author has the word frequently : See King John, act 3. sc. 5. Steevens.

s Or to ber death, according to our law.] By a law of Solon's, parents had an absolute power of life and death over their chil. dren. So it suited the poet's purpose well enough, to fuppose the Athenians had it before.- Or perhaps he neither thought nor know any thing of the matter. WARBURTON.

you your father should be as a God,
One, who compos'd your beauties; yea, and one,
To whom you are but as a form in wax
Ry bim imprinted; and within his power

To leave the figure or disfigure it.)
We thould read,

90'LEVE the figure, &c. i. e. releve, to heighten or add to the beauty of the figure, which is said to be imprinted by him. 'Tis from the French, relever. Thus they say, Tariffries relevées d'or. In the same sense they use enliver, which Maundevile makes English of in this manner“ And alle the walles withinne ben covered with gold and /ylver, in fyn plates : and in the plates ben stories ard barayles of Knightes ENLEVED.

B 3

p. 228.


One, that compos’d your beauties; yea, and one,
To whom you are but as a form in wax
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.

Her. So is Lysander.

The. In himself he is :
But in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.

Her. I would, my father look'd but with my eyes.
The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment

Her. I do intreat your Grace to pardon me:
I know not, by what power I am made bold
Nor how it may concern my inodesty,
In such a presence here, to plead my thoughts.
But, I beseech your Grace, that I may know
The worst that may befal me in this case,
If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

The. Either to die the death, ? or to abjure
For ever the society of nien.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires;
& Know of your youth, examine well your blood,

[ocr errors]

p. 228. Rabelais, with a strain of buffoon humour, that equals the fober elegance of this passage in our poet, calls the small gentry of France, Gentilhommes de bas relief. WARBURTON,

I know not why so harsh a word hould be admitted with so little need, a word that, sprken, could not be understood, and of which no example can be down. The sense is plain, you owe 10 your fuiber a being which he may at pleajure continue or dejiroy.

JOHNSON. -n die the death,-) Shakespeare employs this scriptural expreffion in king John ; and I meet with it again in the iccond part of the Downfail of Robert Earl of fiuntingdon, 1601.

We will, ny liege, else let us die the diath.Steevens. * Know of your youth,] Bring your youth to the question. Confider your youth. JOHNSON.



Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;
For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold, fruitless moon?
Thrice blessed they that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgriinage!
But earthlier happy is the role distill’d,'
Than that, which withering on the virgin-thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single bleiledness,

Her. So will I grow, fo live, so die my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin-patent up.
Unto his lordship, 'to whose unwilh'd yoak
My soul confents not to give sovereignty.
Tbe. Take time to pause : and, by the next new

moon, (The sealing day betwixt my love and me, For everlasting bond of fellowship). Upon that day either prepare to die, For disobedience to your father's will; Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would ; Or on Diana's altar to protest, For aye, austerity and single life. Dem. Relent, sweet Hermia ; --and, Lysander,

yield Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lyf. You have her father's love, Demetrius; Let me have Hermia's; do you marry him.

Ege. Scornful Lysander ! true, he hath my love ; And what is mine, my love shall render him :

9 But earıblier happy is the role diflilld.) 1 hus all the copies, yet ear: hli-r is so harsh a word, and earıblier bappy for happier earthly, a mode of speech so unusual, that I wonder none of the editors have propoled earlier happy. JOHNSON.

It has since been observed, that Mr. Pope did propose earlier. ''-10 whale unwih'd yoke] Thus the modern editors ; the particle to is wanting in the old copies. Steevens.

B 4



« PreviousContinue »