« PreviousContinue »
4" But no more sights."—What a world of horrors is in this little familiar phrase !
THE QUARREL OF OBERON AND TITANIA.
I have ventured to give the extract this title, because it not only contains the whole story of the fairy part of the Midsummer Night's Dream, but by the omission of a few lines, and the transposition of one small passage (for which I beg the reader's indulgence), it actually forms a separate little play. It is nearly such in the greater play; and its isolation was easily, and not at all injuriously effected, by the separation of the Weaver from his brother mechanicals.
Enter OBERON at one door with his train; and TITANIA at another
Ober. Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
Tit. What! jealous Oberon ? Fairies, skip hence;
I have forsworn his bed and company.
Ober. Tarry, rash wanton ; am not I thy lord ?
Tit. Then I must be thy lady; but I know
When thou hast stol'n away from fairy-land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here.
Come from the furthest steep of India,5
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress, and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity ?
Ober. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus ?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
From Perigenia, whom he ravished ?
And make him with fair Æglé break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiope ?
Tit. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By pavèd fountain, or by rushing brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But in thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling on the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents;
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain'd a beard :
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock;
The nine men's morris* is fill:d up with mud;
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable ;
The human mortals want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest :
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound :
And thorough this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter : hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hyems' chin, and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The chilling autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries ; and the mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which :
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension:
We are their parents and original.
Ober. Do you amend it then: it lies in you :
Why should Titian cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman,t
* Nine men's morris.-A rustic game, played with stones upon lines cut in the ground.
Set your heart at rest;
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votress of my order;
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarking traders on the flood;
When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind :
Which she with pretty and with swimming gait
(Following her womb, then rich with my young squire)
Would imitate; and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandize.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy :
And, for her sake, I will not part with him.
Ober. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tit. Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.
If you will patiently dance in our round,
And see our moonlight revels, go with us;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Ober. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tit. Not for thy fairy kingdom.-Fairies, away:
We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.
[Exeunt TITANIA and her train.
Ober. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove,
Till I torment thee for this injury. -
My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberost
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song ;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.
Ober. That very night I saw (but thou couldst not),
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal, throned by the west ;*
And loos’d his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
* At a fair vestal, throned by the west.-An allusion to Queen Eliza. beth. See in the Rev. Mr. Halpin's remarks on this passage, published by the Shakspeare Society, a most ingenious speculation on the hidden meaning of it, as a bit of secret court history. .
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts :
But I might seen young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the waťry moon :
And the imperial votaress pass'd on,
In maiden meditation, fancy free.
Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell;
It fell upon a little western flower,-
Before milk-white; now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it Love-in-idleness.*
Fetch me that flower: the herb I showed thee once :
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth,
In forty minutes.
[Exit Puck. i Ober.
Having once this juice,
I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes :
The next thing then she waking looks upon
(Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
Or meddling monkey, or on busy ape),
She shall pursue it with the soul of love,
And ere I take this charm off from her sight
(As I can take it with another herb),
I'll make her render up her page to me.
Another part of the Wood.
Enter TITANIA and her train.
Tit. Come, now a roundel, and a fairy song;
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence;
Some, to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds ;
Some, war with rear mice for their leathern wings,
To make my small elves' coats ; and some keep back
The clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, and wonders
At our quaint spirits : Sing me now asleep;
Then to your offices, and let me rest.
* Love-in-idleness.—The hearts-ease
1st Fai. You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedge-hogs, be not seen.
Newts and blind worms, do no wrong;
Come not near our fairy queen.
Chorus. Philomel with melody
Sing in our sweet lullaby,
Lulla, lulla, lullaby: lulla, lulla, lullaby ;
Never harm, nor spell, nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So, good night-with lullaby.
2d Fai. Weaving spiders, come not here;
Hence you long-legged spinners, hence:
Beetles black, approach not near;
Worm nor snail, do no offence.
Chorus. Philomel with melody, &c.
1st Fai. Hence, away; now all is well:
One, aloof, stand sentinel.
[Exeunt FAIRIES. TITANIA sleeps.
Ober.-What thou seest when thou dost awake
[Squeezes the flower on Titania's eyelids.
Do it for thy true love take;
Love and languish for his sake:
Be it ounce, or cat, or bear,
Pard, or boar with bristled hair,
In thy eye that shall appear
When thou wak’st, it is thy dear;
Wake, when some vile thing is near.
Enter BOTTOM, singing ; Puck having clapt on him an ass's head
Bot. The ousel-cock, so black of hue,
With orange-tawny bill,
The throstle with his note so true,
The wren with little quill-
Tit. What angel wakes me from my flowery bed ?
I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again ;
Mine ear is much enamor'd of thy note;