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Her. O spite! too old to be engag'd to young!
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
The jaws of darkness do deveur it up:
So quick bright things come to confusion.
It stands as an edict in destiny:
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy'se followers.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
From Athens is her house remov'd' seven leagues ; • Friends. So the quartos. In the folio we find
" Or else it stood upon the choice of merit." The alteration in the folio was certainly not an accidental one; but we hesitate to adopt the reading, the meaning of which is more recondite than that of friends. The " choice of merit" is opposed to the " sympathy in choice;"—the merit of the suitor recommends itself to “ another's eye,” but not to the person beloved.
Momentary. So the folio of 1623; the quartos read momentany, which Johnson says is the old and proper word. Momentany has certainly a more antique sound than momentary; but they were each indifferently used by the writers of Shakspere's time. We prefer the reading of the folio, because momentary occurs in four other passages in our poet's dramas; and this is a solitary example of the use of momentany, and that only in the quartos. The reading of the folio is invariably momentary.
• Collied—black, smutted. This is a word still in use in the Staffordshire collieries. Shakspere found it there, and transplanted it into the region of poetry.
In a spleen—in a sudden fit of passion or caprice. • Fancy's followers—the followers of Love. Fancy is here used in the same sense as in the exquisite song in • The Merchant of Venice:'
“ Tell me where is fancy bred." The word is repeated with the same meaning three times in this play: in Act II., Scene 2–
“ In maiden meditation, fancy-free;"— in Act III., Scene 2–
“All fancy-sick she is, and pale of cheer;"and in Act IV., Scene 1
“ Fair Helena in fancy following me." * Remov'd—the reading of the folio. In the quartos we find remote. The reading of the folio is supported by several parallel passages; as in Hamlet,
" It wafts you to a more removed ground;"
And she respects me as her only son.
There will I stay for thee.
My good Lysander!
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.
HER. God speed fair Helena! Whither away?
Demetrius loves your faira: O happy fair!
and in' As You Like It'_“Your accent is somewhat finer than you could purchase in so removed a dwelling." Milton has in . Il Penseroso,
“ Some still removed place will fit." Upon this line Warton observes, “ Removed is the ancient English participle passive for the Latin remote." Fair_used as a substantive for beauty. As in The Comedy of Errors,'
“ My decayed fair
A sunny look of his would soon repair." This is the reading of the quartos. In the folio we have “ you fair.” • Favour-features--appearance-outward qualities. In Cymbeline' we find
" I have surely seen him;
His favour is familiar to me;" in · Measure for Measure," " Surely, sir, a good favour you have;" and in Hamlet,' “ Tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come."
• The reading of all the old editions is, Your words I catch. The substitution of Yours would I catch was made by Hanmer. We leave the text as in the old editions. It is in the repetition of
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.
Lysander and myself will fly this place.
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hellb!
To-morrow night, when Phæbe doth behold
Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to steal.
Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
the word fair that Helena catches the words of Hermia; but she would also catch her voice, her intonation, and her expression, as well as her words. We do not think, as Mr. Halliwell thinks, that the reading of the second folio helps the matter :-“ Your words I'd catch.” * This is the reading of the quarto printed by Fisher. That by Roberts, and the folio, read
“ His folly, Helena, is none of mine."
"And in the wood, where often you and I
To seek new friends and strange companions." It will be observed that the whole dialogue is in rhyme; and the introduction, therefore, of four lines of blank verse has a harsh effect. The emendations were made by Theobald; and they are
Farewell, sweet playfellow; pray thou for us,
From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight.
As you on him, Demetrius dote on you !
Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
certainly ingenious and unforced. Companies for companions has an example in · Henry V.;'
“ His companies unletterd, rude, and shallow." We cannot carry our reverence for the old texts so far as to exclude such an evident improvement.
- Vild—vile. The word repeatedly occurs in Shakspere, as in Spenser; and when it does so occur we are scarcely justified in substituting the vile of the modern editors.
So oft, in the quartos. The folio, often.
SCENE II.—The same.. A Room in a Cottage.
Enter SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, QUINCE, and STARVELING.
Quin. Is all our company here?
Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and the duchess, on his wed.
ding-day at night. Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the
names of the actors; and so grow on to a point. Quin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable comedy, and most cruel death
of Pyramus and Thisby.
Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll : Masters, spread yourselves.
audience look to their eyes; I will move storms, I will condole in some
-Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant: I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.
“The raging rocks,
And shivering shocks,
The foolish fates."
• Scrip-script—a written paper. Bills of exchange are called by Locke" scrips of paper;" and the term is still known upon the Stock Exchange.
Bottom and Sly both speak of a theatrical representation as they would of a piece of cloth or a pair of shoes. Sly says of the play, “ 'T is a very excellent piece of work."
• Ercles-Hercules-was one of the roaring heroes of the rude drama which preceded Shakspere. In Greene's Groat's-worth of Wit' (1592), a player says, " The twelve labours of Hercules have I terribly thundered on the stage." There is a passage in Heywood's ' Apology for Actors' which strikingly exhibits the Hercules of the drama for the multitude, -" fighting with Hydra, murdering Geryon, slaughtering Diomed, wounding the Stymphalides, killing the Centaurs," &c., &c.