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supper ; banquet late anights.' And Palsgrave (Lesclaircissement de la langue Francoyse) gives 'Rere supper-bancquet.' 38. Philostrate, the master of the revels. See i. 1. II.
So the quartos : the folios have 'Egeus.' Probably the same actor played both parts.
39. abridgement, an entertainment to make the time pass quickly. Used in Hamlet, ii. 2. 439, in a double sense, the entry of the players cutting short Hamlet's talk: 'For look, where my abridgement comes. Steevens quotes from Gawin Douglas's prologue to his translation of the fifth book of the Aeneid:
* Ful mony myrry abaytmentis followis heir'; where `abaitment' is clearly the same as the French 'esbatement,' which Cotgrave defines . A sporting, playing, dallying, ieasting, recreation.'
41. the lazy time, which moves so slowly, and in which we are idle.
42. a brief, a short statement, containing the programme of the performance. Compare Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2. 138:
• This is the brief of money, plate, and jewels,
I am possessed of.'
Ib. ripe, ready for representation. So the first quarto. The second quarto and folios read • rife,' a mere misprint.
44. In the folios the reading from the brief is given to Lysander and the comments to Theseus. There is no such distinction in the quartos.
Ib. The battle with the Centaurs. Told by Nestor in the twelfth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. The version by Theseus was different, for Nestor purposely omitted all mention of Hercules.
48. The death of Orpheus is told by Ovid, Metamorphoses, xi.
52. The thrice three Muses, &c. Warton suggested that Shakespeare here, perhaps, alluded to Spenser's poem, entitled The Tears of the Muses, on the neglect and contempt of learning. This piece first appeared in quarto with others, 1591. It was supposed by Knight that the death of Greene may be here referred to, which took place in 1592.
54. critical, censorious; as Iago says of himself in Othello, ii. 1. 120: * For I am nothing, if not critical.'
55. not sorting with, or agreeing with, not befitting. So 3 Henry VI,
V. 5. 26:
• His currish riddles sort not with this place.' 56. See note on i. 2. 11.
59. Pope settled the difficulty in this line by omitting it altogether. Warburton read 'a wondrous strange shew.' Many other solutions have been proposed, none of them absolutely satisfactory; as “strange black snow' (Upton), “strong snow' (Mason), ‘seething snow' (Collier MS.), “swarthy snow' (Staunton), 'staining snow?(Nicholson), ‘sable snow'(Elze), 'windrestraining snow' (Wetherell), and finally Sir Philip Perring has suggested
to me strange! hot snow,' or 'strange! jet snow.' From the words as they stand Steevens extracts a certain sense. He says .The meaning of the line is—“hot ice, and snow of as strange a quality.”' But there is no such antithesis between strange' and 'snow' as between 'hot' and `ice,' and this is what is required.
69. Made mine eyes water. We must supply "it' as the nominative; that is, the seeing of the play rehearsed. For this ellipsis see As You Like It, i. 1. 2, v. 4. 167, The Merchant of Venice, i. 1. 98, and Abbott, $ 399.
74. unbreathed, untrained, unpractised. Hamlet says (v. 2. 181), “'Tis the breathing time of day with me'; that is, the time for taking exercise.
75. nuptial. With only two exceptions Shakespeare always uses the singular form of this word. See note on i. 1. 125.
79. their intents seems to be used in connexion with the following line, both for the endeavour and the object of the endeavour. Their intents or endeavours have been strained to the utmost to learn their parts which they have conned or studied with cruel pain. Delius makes 1. 79 parenthetic, and connects I. 80 with 78; the play being extremely stretch'd' or spun out.
80. conn'd is the technical word for studying a part for the stage. See
i. 2. 90.
83. simpleness, simplicity, innocence. So Much Ado about Nothing, iii. I. 70:
. So turns she every man the wrong side out,
Which simpleness and merit purchaseth.'
• And what poor willing duty cannot do,
Noble respect,' &c. The defective metre has been amended by reading "cannot do aright' (Seymour), cannot do, yet would' (Coleridge). Johnson interprets the passage thus, . What the inability of duty cannot perform, regardful generosity receives as an act of ability, though not of merit’; but he thinks the contrary is rather true, and would read, “takes not in might, but merit.' There is no need for change; the sense being, noble respect or consideration accepts the effort to please without regard to the merit of the performance. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 517:
“That sport best pleases that doth least know how,' &c. Steevens takes ‘might' as an elliptical expression for what might have been, but this does not seem likely.
93. clerks, scholars, learned men; learning having been at one time almost confined to the clergy. Compare Pericles v, Prologue 5: Deep clerks she dumbs'; that is, she puts to silence profound scholars.
96. periods, full stops.
• He is address'd: press near and second him.' And 2 Henry IV, iv. 4. 5:
Our navy is address'd, our power collected.' 107. Steevens quotes the following passage from Dekker's Guls Hornbook, c. vi. (1609) to show that the prologue was anciently ushered in by trumpets: *Present not yourselfe on the stage (especially at a new play) until the quaking prologue hath (by rubbing) got cullor in his cheekes, and is ready to give the trumpets their cue that hee's upon point to enter.'
118.. doth not stand upon points, is not very particular, with a reference to his not minding his stops. Compare 3 Henry VI, iv. 7. 58:
• Why, brother, wherefore stand you on nice points ?' For a similar joke compare Roister Doister's letter to Mistress Custance (Roister Doister, iii. 3).
120. the stop, a term in horsemanship; used here in a punning sense. Compare A Lover's Complaint, 109:
• What rounds, what bounds, what course, what stop he makes !' 122. a recorder, a kind of flageolet, or flute with a mouthpiece. See note on Hamlet, iii. 2. 262 (Clar. Press ed.).
123. in government. So Hamlet in giving directions for playing on the recorder (iii. 2. 372) says, 'Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb.
125. The folios have here the stage direction “Tawyer with a Trumpet before them,' where “Tawyer ' looks like a misprint for 'Players,' unless it is the name of the actor who played the part of prologue.
129. certain. A most convenient word for filling up a line and at the same time conveying no meaning. Instances of its occurrence are common, and to those given by Steevens may be added from Sir Generydes (Early Eng. Text Soc.), 4693:
•Sir Amelok hath a doughter certayn.' 130. present. See iii. 1. 60.
136. think no scorn, not disdain. See 2 Henry VI, iv. 2.13: The nobility think scorn to go in leather aprons.' And Love's Labour's Lost, i. 2. 66: "I think scorn to sigh.' 137. Ninus' tomb. See Golding's Ovid, iv. fol. 44 a:
They did agree at Ninus Tombe to meet without the towne.' 138. hight, was called; here used as an intentional archaism, as in Love's Labour's Lost, i. 1. 171:
* This child of fancy that Armado hight.' It was in common use in old writers, and is equivalent to the Germ. heissen; A. S. hátan ; Goth, haitan.
139. Malone supposes a line to be lost, as there is no rhyme to 'name.' 141. fall, let fall. Compare The Tempest, ii. 1. 296:
• And when I rear my hand, do you the like,
To fall it on Gonzalo.' 145, 146. Shakespeare ridicules the alliteration which the poetasters of his day affected. It was an exaggeration of the principle upon which AngloSaxon verse was constructed, and comes again under his lash in Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 2. 57–59, where Holofernes composes an extemporal epitaph' on the death of the deer, which is intentionally alliterative: 'I will something affect the letter, for it argues facility. The preyful princess pierced and prick'd a pretty pleasing pricket;
Some say a sore; but not a sore, till now made sore with shooting.' 151. be to speak. See iv. 2. 26.
155. Snout. So the folios. The quartos have ‘Flute,' but he played the part of Thisbe. 157. Compare Golding's Ovid, iv. fol. 43 6:
• The wall that parted house from house had riuen therein a cranie.' 160. loam. See iii. 1. 61. Reed substitutes' lime,' as in l. 130.
162. sinister, left; used by Snout for two reasons; first, because it is a long word, and then because it gives a sort of rhyme to 'whisper.'
165. partition. Farmer says, “I believe the passage should be read: This is the wittiest partition, that ever I heard in discourse. Alluding to the many stupid partitions in the argumentative writings of the time.”
175. Pyne. See i. 1. 242 &c.
195. Limander. Johnson has pointed out that Limander and Helen are blunders for Leander and Hero, as Shafalus and Procrus are for Cephalus and Procris. Capell takes Limander to be for Lisander, and this for Alisander, Alexander or Paris.
201. 'Tide life, 'tide death, whether life or death betide.
204. Now is the mural down. This is Pope's emendation of the reading)
of the folios, ‘Now is the morall downe.' The quartos have . Now is the Moon vsed.' Mr. Grant White thinks the wall is called a 'moral' because it acted as a restraint upon the lovers. The folio reading is evidently corrupt, and Pope's emendation so far as I am aware has no evidence in its favour. Perhaps the quarto reading Now is the Moon vsed' is a corruption of a stage direction, and the reading of the folios may have arisen from an attempt to correct in manuscript the words in a copy of the quarto by turning · Moon' into · Wall,' the result being a compound having the beginning of one word and the end of the other. If there were any
evidence for the existence of such a word as 'mural' used as a substantive, it would be but pedantic and affected and so unsuited to Theseus. Having regard therefore to the double occurrence of the word 'wall' in the previous speech and its repetition by Demetrius, I cannot but think that Theseus said Now is the wall down between the two neighbours,' just as Bottom says later on, “The wall is down that parted their fathers.'
205. So wilful to hear. See Abbott § 281 for examples of the omission of as.'
212, 213. Here come two noble beasts, in a man and a lion. This is the punctuation of the quartos and folios which has been altered in modern editions by putting the comma after 'in,' but as I think unnecessarily. • In' here signifies in the character of': see iv. 2. 22. Theobald with great plausibility reads 'in a moon and a lion'; as Theseus says a few lines lower down let us listen to the moon.'
219. A lion fell, nor else no lion's dam. Johnson explains this by supposing 'neither’ to be omitted before 'a lion fell. Compare Sonnet lxxxvi. 9 :
He nor that affable familiar ghost.' Again Sonnet cxli. 9 :
• But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee.' And Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 15. 52 :
• The miserable change now at my end
Lament nor sorrow at.' Rowe read • No lion fell,' and another emendation is “A lion-fell' or 'A lion's fell,' that is, a lion's skin.
221. 'twere pity on my life. See note on iii. 1. 39.
224, 225. Valour' and · discretion' are associated as in the proverb (1 Henry IV, v. 4. 121): “The better part of valour is discretion.'
239. the greatest error of all the rest. Compare the often-quoted lines of Milton, Paradise Lost, iv. 323, 4:
• Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.' And Bacon's Essay Of Envy (ed. Wright, p. 35): “Of all other Affections, it is the most importune, and continuall.' See Abbott § 409, where it is given as an instance of the confusion of two constructions.
243. it is already in snuff. Demetrius as a professed joker quibbles upon the word "snuff.' To take in snuff' is to take offence; and “to be in snuff' is to be offended. See Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 22, where there is the san
• You'll mar the light by taking it in snuff.' 244. aweary, weary. Compare The Merchant of Venice, i. 2. 2: By