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ACT IV. SCENE 1.
Enter Titania and Bottom, Fairies attending ;
Oberon behind, unseen.
TITA. Come, fit thee down upon this flowery
bed, While I thy amiable cheeks do coy,' And stick mulk-roses in thy sleek smooth head,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy. Bor. Where's Peas-blossom? Peas. Ready
Bor. Scratch my head, Peas-blossom.- Where's monsieur Cobweb?
? I see no reason why the fourth act should begin here, when there seems no interruption of the action. In the old quartos of 1600, there is no division of acts, which seems to have been afterwards arbitrarily made in the first folio, and may therefore be altered at pleasure. JOHNSON.
3 — do coy,] To cay is to sooth, to stroke. So, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584:
Plays with Amyntas' lusty boy, and coys him in the dales.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602. Book VI. ch. xxx:
“ And whilft she coys his footy cheeks, or curls his sweaty top.” Again, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, B. IX :
his sports to prove,
Coying that powerful queen of love." Again, in Golding's Transation of the 7th Book of Ovid's Me.. samorphosis :
“ Their dangling dewclaps with his hand he coid unfearfully.” Again, ibid:
and with her hand had coid “ The dragons' reined neckes" The behaviour of Titania, on this occasion, seems copied from that of the Lady in Apuleius, Lib. VIII. STEEVENS.
Bot. Monsieur Cobweb; good monsieur, get your weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hip'd humble-bee on the top of a thistle ; and, good monsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, monsieur; and, good monsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not; I would be loth to have you over-flown * with a honey-bag, signior.-Where's monsieur Mustardsecd?
Bot. Give me your neif, monsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave your courtesy, good monsieur, .
Must. What's your will?
Bor. Nothing, good monsieur, but to help cavalero Cobwebo to scratch. I must to the barber's, monsieur; for, methinks, I am marvellous hairy about the face: and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch. Tita. What, wilt thou hear some musick, my
sweet love? Bor. I have a reasonable good ear in musick: let us have the tongs? and the bones.
-over-flown —-] It should be overflow'd; but it appears from a rhyme in another play that the mistake was our author's.
MALONE. I perceive no mistake. Overflown is the participle paffive. See Johnson's Diet. STEEVENS.
- neif,] i. e. fift. So, in K. Henry IV. AA II. sc. x: “ Sweet knight, I kiss thy neif." Grey.
cavalero Cobweb-] Without doubt it should be Cavalero Peas-blaffom; as for cavalere Cobweb, he had just been dispatched upon a perilous adventure. Grey.
the tongs -] The old rustic musick of the songs and kry. The folio has this stage direction.-—" Muficke Tongs, Rurali Mufieke.
TITA. Or, say, sweet love, what thou desir'ft to
Bor. Truly, a peck of provender; I could munch your good dry oats. Methinks, I have a great desire to a bottle of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
TITA. I have a venturous fairy that shall seek The squirrel's hoard, and fetch thee new nuts.
Bot. I had rather have a handful, or two, of
& The Squirrel's hoard,] Hoard is here employed as a disfyllable.
Steevens. 9 — and be all ways away.] i. e. disperse yourselves, and scout out severally, in your watch, that danger approach us from no quarter. THEOBALD.
The old copies read—“ be always." Corrected by Mr. Theo-
“ And be away-away." JOHNSON.
STEEVENS. 2 So doth the woodbine, the freet honeysuckle,
Gently entwift,--the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.] What does the woodbine entwist? The honey-fuckle. But the woodbine and honey suckle were, till now, but two names for one and the same plant. Florio, in his Italian Dictionary, interprets Madre Selva by woodbine or bonnie-suckle. Vie must therefore find a support for the woodbine as well as for the ivy. Which is done by reading the lines thus :
“ So doth the woodbine, the freet honey-suckle,
Gently entwist the maple; ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.” The corruption might happen by the first blunderer dropping the pin writing the word maple, which word thence became mal. A
Gently entwift,—the female ivy so
“'So doth the woodrine the sweet honey suckle," for bark of the wood. Shakspeare perhaps only meant, so the leaves involve the flower, using woodbine for the plant, and boneyfuckle for the flower; or perhaps Shakspeare made a blunder.
“ And as about a tre with many a twist
“ Gan eche of hem in armis other winde."
“ And, as the running word-bind, spread her arms
" To choak thy with’ring boughs in her embrace.” And Barrett in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, enforces the fame distinction that Shakspeare thought it necessary to make :
“ Woodbin that beareth the honey-fuckle." STEEVENS. This pallage has given rise to various conjectures. It is certain, that the wood-bine and the honey-fuckle were sometimes considered as different plants. In one of Taylor's poems, we have
“ The woodbine, primrose, and the cowslip fine,
“ The honijuckle, and the daffadill.” But I think Mr. Steevens's interpretation the true one. The old writers did not always carry the auxiliary verb forward, as Mr. Capell seems to suppose by his alteration of enrings to enring. So bishop Lowth, in his excellent Introduction to Grammar, p. 126, has without reason corrected a similar passage in our translation of St. Matthew. FARMER.
OBERON advances. Enler Puck.
OBE. Welcome, good Robin. See'st thou this
sweet sight? Her dotage now I do begin to pity. For meeting her of late, behind the wood,
Were any change necessary, I should not fcruple to read the weedbind, i. e. smilax : a plant that twists round every other that grows in its way. Steevens.
In lord Bacon's Nat. Hift. Experiment 496, it is observed that there are two kinds of " honeysuckles, both the woodbine and the trefoil.” i. e. the first is a plant that winds about trees, and the other is a three-leaved grass. Perhaps these are meant in Dr. Farmer's quotation. The distinction, however, may serve to shew why Shakspeare and other authors frequently added woodbine to honey-suckle, when they mean the plant and not the grass. Tollet.
The interpretation of either Dr. Johnson or Mr. Steevens removes all difficulty. The following passage in Sicily and Naples, or The Fatal Union, 1640, in which the honeysuckle is spoken of as the flower, and the woodbine as the plant, adds some support to Dr. Johnson's exposition :
- as fit a gift
“ The amorous woodbine's offspring." But Minshieu in v. W rodbinde, supposes them the fame : “ Alio nomine nobis Anglis Honysuckle dictus.". If Dr. Johnson's explanation be right, there should be no point after woodbine, honeyfuckle, or enrings. MALONE.
- the female i7y. — ] Shakspeare calls it female ivy, because it always requires some support, which is poetically called its hufband. So Milton:
led the vine
Platanusque cælebs « Evincet ulmos," Hor. STEEVENS. Though the ivy here represents the female, there is, notwithftanding, an evident reference in the words enrings and fingers, to the ring of the marriage rite. Henley.
In our ancient marriage ceremony, (or rather, perhaps, contract,) the woman gave the man a ring, as well as received one from him.