« PreviousContinue »
Enter Theseus, Hippolita, Egeus, and his Lords.
4 These beautiful lines are in all the old editions thrown out of metre. They are very well reitored by the later editors.
JOHNSON s That is the madman : the lover, all as frantick.] Such is the reading of all the old copies ; instead of which, the modern edi, tors have given us,
16 The madman: while the lover all as franţick.”
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
Hip. But all the story of the night told over,
Enter Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia and Helena. The. Here come the lovers, full of joy and mirth, Joy, gentle friends ! joy and fresh days of love Accompany your hearts !
Lys. More than to us,
$ Conftancy. ] Confiftency; stability ; certainty. JOHNSON.
Call Pbilostrate.] In the folio, 1623, it is, Call Egers, and all the speeches afterwards spoken by Philoftrate, are there given to that character. But the modern editions, from the quarto 1600, have rightly given them to Philoftrate, who appears in the first scene as master of the revels to Theseus, and is there sent out on a fimilar kind of errand. STEEVENS.
Say wbat abridgmert, &c.] By abridgment our author means dramatick performance, which crowds the events of years into as many hours. So in Hamlet, act ii. sc. 7. he calls the players abridgments, abstrakls, and brief chronicles of the time. Steevens.
What mask? what musick ? How shall we beguile The lazy time, if not with some delight?
Philoft. There is a brief, how many sports are ripe:' Make choice of which your highness will see first.
[Giving a paper. The. reads. '] The battle of the Centaurs, to be sung
by an Athenian cunuch to the barp.
8 One of the quartos has ripe, the other old editions, rife.
JOHNSON. 9 The. reads.] This is printed as Mr. Theobald gave it from both the old quartos. In the first folio, and all the following edirions, Lysander reads the catalogue, and Theseus makes the remarks. JOHNSON
· The tirice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, &c.] I do not know whether it has been before observed, that Shake. speare here, perhaps, alluded to Spenser's poem, entitled The Tears of the Muses, on the neglect and contempt of learning. This piece first appeared in quarto, with others 1591. The oldest edi. tion of this play now known is dated 1600. If Spenser's poem be here intended, may we not presume that there is some earlier edition of this ? But however, if the allusion be allowed, at least it feems to bring the play below 1591. WARTON.
-keen and critical.] Critical here means criticizing, cinJuring. So in Othello : 0, I am nothing if not critical. STEEVENS.
Merry and tragical ? Tedious and brief?
The. And we will hear it.
Pbilost. No, my noble lord,
3 Merry and tragical ? Tedious and brief?
That is, hot ice, and wondrous frange srow.] The nonsense of the last line should be corrected thus, That is, hot ice, a wondrous ftrange show.
WARBURTON. Mr. Upton reads, not improbably,
And wondrous Arange black snow. JOHNSON. Dr. Warburton reads, a wondrous strange show. Sir T. H. wondrous fcorching snow. Mr. Pope omits the line entirely. I think the passage needs no alteration, on account of the versification; for wonderous is as often used as three, as it is as two fyllables. The meaning of the line is “ That is, hot ice and “ snow of as strange a quality.” Steevens.
unbreath'd memories.] That is, unexercised, unpractised memories. STEEVENS.
And it is nothing, nothing in the world;
Tbe. I will hear that play:
4 Unlfs you can find sport in their intents.] Thus all the copies. But as I know not what it is to firetch and con an intent, I suspe& a line to be loft. JOHNSON.
* Our Sport shall be, &c.] Voltaire says something like this of Louis XIV. who took a pleasure in seeing his courtiers in confusion when they spoke to him. STEEVENS.
5 And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.] The sense of this pasiage, as it now stands, if it has any sense, is this: Wbat the inabiluy of duty cannst perform, regardful generclity receives as an act of ability, though not of merit. The contrary is rather true : Whar dutifulness tries to perfirm without ability, regardful generosity receives as beving the merit, though not the power, of complete performance. We should therefore read,
And what poor duty cannot do,