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To give their bed joy and prosperity.
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
With Ariadne, and Antiopa?
And never, since the middle summer's spring,
The human mortalse want; their winter heref, * Middle summer's spring. The spring is the beginning—as the spring of the day, a common expression in our early writers. The middle summer is the midsummer.
Paved fountain—a fountain, or clear stream, rushing over pebbles,-certainly not an artificially paved fountain, as Johnson has supposed. The paved fountain is contrasted with the rushy brook. The epithet pared is used in the same sense as in the “ pearl-paved ford” of Drayton, the “ pebble-paved channel" of Marlowe, and the “ coral-paven bed” of Milton.
• Pelting-petty, contemptible. See note on “ pelting farm," in ‘Richard II., Act II, Scene 1. Pelting is the reading of the quarto; the folio has petty.
e Continents-banks. A continent is that which contains.
• Human mortals. This beautiful expression has been supposed to indicate the difference between mankind and fairykind in the following manner-that they were each mortal, but that the less spiritual beings were distinguished as human. Upon this assertion of Steevens, Ritson and Reed enter into fierce controversy. Chapman, in his Homer, has an inversion of the phrase, “mortal humans;" and we suppose that, in the same way, whether Titania were, or were not, subject to death, she employed the language of poetry in speaking of " human mortals," without reference to the conditions of fairy existence. * Their winter here
. The emendation proposed by Theobald, their winter cheer, is very plausible. The original reading is
The humane mortals want their winter heere." Johnson says here means in this country, and their winter signifies their winter evening sports.
No night is now with hymn or carol bless'd :-
We are their parents and original.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon ?
To be my henchmand,
Set your heart at rest, The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a vot’ress of my order : The ingenious author of a pamphlet, ' Explanations and Emendations,' &c. (Edinburgh, 1814), would read
“ The human mortals want; their winter here,
No night is now with hymn or carol bless'd." The writer does not support his emendation by any argument; but we believe that he is right. The swollen rivers have rotted the corn, the folds stand empty, the flocks are murrain, the sports of summer are at an end, the human mortals want. This is the climax. Their winter is hereis come-although the season is the latter summer, or autumn; and in consequence the hymns and carols which gladdened the nights of a seasonable winter are wanting to this premature one. The " therefore,” which follows, introduces another clause in the catalogue of evils produced by the “ brawls" of Oberon and Titania; as in the case of the preceding use of the same emphatic word in two instances :
“ Therefore, the winds, piping to us in vain," &c., and
“ The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,” &c. Hyems' thin and icy crown. The old copies read chin. Tyrwhitt proposed the change of a single letter to produce thin. Gifford sanctions this reading. “When Ovid paints winter," says Mr. Dyce,“ with icicles hanging from his beard and crown, we have such pictures presented to us as the imagination not unwillingly receives; but Hyems with a chaplet of summer buds on his chin is a grotesque which must surely startle even the dullest reader."
Childing-producing. The childing autumn” is “the teeming autumn" of our poet's 97th Sonnet.
"And every knight had after him riding
Three henshmen on him a waiting." It has been conjectured that henchman is haunchman-one that follows a chief or lord at his haunch. The derivation from the Anglo-Saxon hengest, a horse, seems more probable.
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
And, for her sake, I will not part with him.
If you will patiently dance in our round,
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay. (Exeunt TITANIA and her train. OBE. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove,
Till I torment thee for this injury.
To hear the sea-maid's music.
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts : * Fairy. This epithet is not found in modern editions, being rejected by Steevens-“ By the advice of Dr. Farmer I have omitted the useless adjective fairy, as it spoils the metre."
Al arm'd. One of the commentators turned this epithet into “alarm’d." The original requires no explanation, beyond the recollection of the Cupid of the poets:
" He doth bear a golden bow,
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
In forty minutes
Having once this juice,
Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA following him. DEM. I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
Where is Lysander, and fair Hermia?
The one I 'll stay, the other stayeth me b. • This is the reading of Fisher's quarto. That of Roberts, and the folio, omit round, printing the passage as one line:
" I'll put a girdle about the earth in forty minutes." • This is the invariable reading of the old copies. Theobald, upon the suggestion of Dr. Thirlby, changed it to
“ The one I 'll slay, the other slayeth me.” But it is surely unnecessary to assign to Demetrius any such murderous intents. Helena has betrayed her friend
“ I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:
Then to the wood will he, to-morrow night,
“ The one I 'll stay, the other stayeth me." He will stay-stop-Hermia; Lysander stayeth—hindereth-him.
Thou told'st me, they were stol'n into this wood.
Hence, get thee gone, apd follow me no more.
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart
And I shall have no power to follow you.
Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth
Tell you—I do not, nor I cannot love you?
I am your spaniel ; and, Demetrius,
Than to be used as you use your dog?
For I am sick when I do look on thee.
To leave the city, and commit yourself
With the rich worth of your virginity.
It is not night, when I do see your face,
When all the world is here to look on me?
And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.
Run when you will, the story shall be chang'd:
My Hermia. This has been enfeebled by some editor, who has been followed without apology by others, into
“ Because I cannot meet with Hermia."