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Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud,
In remembrance of a shroud.
For so the wolf is exactly characterized, it being his peculiar property to howl at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, befeem, and an hundred others.) WARBURTON.
So, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, where the whole passage seems to be copied from this of our author :
“ Now barks the wolfe against the full-cheek'd moon,
Now croaks the toad, and night-crows screech aloud,
Flutt'ring 'bout casements of departing souls ;
Imprison'd spirits to revisit earth.” THEOBALD. The alteration is better than the original reading; but perhaps the author meant only to say, that the wolf gazes at the moon.
Johnson. I think,“ Now the wolf behowls the moon,” was the original text. The allusion is frequently met with in the works of our author and his contemporaries. 'Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon,” says he, in his As You Like It; and Maslinger, in his New Way to pay old Debts, makes an usurer feel only
as the moon is mov'd “ When wolves with hunger pin'd, bowl at her brightness."
FARMER. The word beholds was in the time of Shakspeare frequently written behoulds (as, I suppose, it was then pronounced, which probably occasioned the mistake.
It is observable, that in the passage in Lodge's Rosalynde, 1592, which Shakspeare seems to have had in his thoughts, when he wrote, in As You Like II—"'Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon :"—the expression is found, that Marston has used instead of behowls. “In courting Phebe, thou barkest with the wolves of Syria against the moon.
These lines also in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. I. c. v. ft. 30. which Shakspeare might have remembered, add support to the emendation now made:
“ And all the while she [Night] stood upon the ground,
Now it is the time of night,
That the graves, all gaping wide,
In the church-way paths to glide :
By the triple Hecat's team,
Following darkness like a dream,
C. X. ft. 33:
9 fordone.] i. e. overcome, So Spenser, Faery Queen, B. I.
• And many souls in dolour had foredone,” Again, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607:
" -- fore-wearied with striving, and fore-done with the tyrannous rage of her enemy."
Again, in the ancient metrical Romance of Sir Bevis of Hamplon, bl. l. no date :
“ But by the other day at none,
“ These two dragons were foredone,” STEEVENG. * Norw it is the time of night, &c.] So, in Hamlet :
“ 'Tis now the very witching time of night,
STEEVENS. 3 I am sent, with broom, before,
To fiveep the dust behind the door.] Cleanliness is always neces. fary to invite the residence and the favour of fairies :
These make our girls their slutt'ry rue,
Johnsox. To sweep the duft behind the door, is a common expression, and a common practice in large old houses; where the doors of halls and galleries are thrown backward, and feldoin or ever shut.
Enter Oberon and TITANIA, with their Train.
Hop as light as bird from brier;
SONG, AND DANCE.
Obe. Now, until the break of day,"
4 Through this house give glimmering light,] Milton perhaps had this picture in his thought:
And glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit à gloom, Il Penseroso.
Hence shadows, seeming idle sbapes
As hope of pastime haftes them.
Through this house in glimmering light. Johnson. s Now, until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is in the edition of 1623, and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to beltow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song ?I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this ; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a song, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next
To the best bride-bed will we,
their children be.
Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismisses his fairies to the despatch of the ceremonies.
The fongs, I suppose were lost, because they were not inserted in the players' parts, from which the drama was printed.
JOHNSO 5. To the best bride-bed will
Which by us shall blessed be;] We learn froin “ Articles ordained by K. Henry VII. for the Regulation of his Household," that this ceremony was observed at the Marriage of a Princess. “ – All men at her comming in to bee voided, except woemen, till thee bee brought to her bedd; and the man both; he fittinge in his bedd in his thirte, with a gowne cast about him. Then the Bishoppe, with the Chaplaines, to come in, and blelle the bedd: then everie man to avoide without any drinke, save the twoe estates, if they liste, priviely.” p. 129. STEEVENS.
-hare-lip,] This defect in children seems to have been so much dreaded, that numerous were the charms applied for its prevention. The following might be as efficacious as any of the reft. “ If a woman with chylde bave her smocke flyt at the neather ende or skyrt thereof, &c. the same chylde that the then goeth withall, hall be safe from having a cloven or hare lippe." Thomas Lupton's Fourth Book of Notable Thinges, 4to. bl. 1. STEVENS.
7 Nor mark prodigious,] Prodigious has here its primitive signi. fication of portentons. So, in K. Richard III:
“ If ever he have child, abortive be it,
With this field-dew consecrate,
Make no stay;
[Exeunt Oberon, TITANIA, and Train, Puck. If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, (and all is mended)
take his gait;] i. e. take his way, or direct his steps. So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. I. c. viii:
“ And guide his weary gate both to and fro." Again, in a Scottish Proverb:
“ A man may speer the gate to Rome.” Again, in The Mercers' Play, among the Chester collection of Wbitun Mysteries, p
“ Nor the gate you came to day.” Steevens. By gate, I believe is meant, the door of each chamber.
M. Mason. 9 Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber blefs, &c.] The fame superstitious kind of benediction occurs in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, v. 3479. Tyrwhitt's edit.
“ I crouche thee from elves, and from wightes.