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i. e. put an end to your labours : alluding to, what the Greeks called by one word, BeAutos, the time for unyoking. Hom. Il. 6'. 779:
ΗμG- δ' ήέλια μέθενείσσαίο βελυλόνδε. Schol. επί την εσπέραν δείλης, καθ' ον καιρόν οι βολές átoavóslas Tūv špfw. From this one word Horace has made a whole stanza. L. III. Od. 6.
66 Sol ubi montium
“ Bobus fatigatis, amicum
“ Tempus agens abeunte curru."
Hence too our Milton in his Malk.
" Two such I saw, what time the labour'd oxe
In his loose traces from the furrow came.'
Our English word Drphan comes from óeφανος, ab ορφνός: being as it were left in darkness, left void of their greatest blessing their parents, the light and guide of their steps. 'DePavės is spoken of one in the dark and obscurity : ορφανός, ο άσημος και μηκέτι εμφανής, fays an ancient grammarian on the Ajax of Sophocles. Now allowing Shakespeare to use the word orpban, as a Grecian would have used it, how elegantly does he call the fairies, the orpban beirs of
deftiny : dejtiny : who administer in her works, acting in darkness and obscurity? The whole passage runs thus : In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V.
“ Fairies, black; gray, green and white; “ You moon-fhinerevellers, and shades of night, “ You Orphan-beirs of fixed destiny, “ Attend your office and your quality." Had the poet written oupben-beirs; he would have repeated the same thing. These oupbs I find in modern editions have routed the owls out of their old poffeffions : but I shall beg leave to reinstate them again, in the Comedy of Errours, Act II. " This is " the fairy land: oh spight of spights ! “ Wetalk with goblins, owls and elvish sprights ! “ If we obey them not, this will ensue, " They'll suck our breath, and pinch us black 6 and blue."
12 Fairy land.) Plautus lays the scene at Epidamnum, a town of Macedon, lying upon the Adriatic ; whose unfor. tunate sound made the Romans change it to Dyrrachium : the Roman comedian has some allusions and witticisms on the name. Shakespeare removes the scene to Ephesus ; which he calls the land of conjurors and witches. He had his eye chiefly on that passage in Acts xix, 19. The case
These owls which the Latins called striges, according to vulgar superstition had power to fuck children's breath and blood. Ovid. Fast.
L. VI. 135.
“Nocte volant, puerofque petunt nutricis egentes,
« Et vitiant cunis corpora rapta suis. “ Carpere dicuntur lactantia viscera roftris, “ Et plenum poto fanguine guttur habent."
seems to be this : there were at Ephesus several impostors and jugglers (conjurors the common people called them) who by the affiftance of charms, periapts, amulets, &c. certain magical words, or superstitious characters and figures, promised to cure people of their diseases, or to give them success in any undertaking. Hesychius has preserved fome of this trumpery in V. Epíolc ngáypala ; and of this kind we have still preserved to this day ; such as Abracadabra, to cure agues : St. George, St. George, &c. to cure the incubus, or night-mare, mention'd by Scot in his discovery of witchcraft, Book IV. C. II. St. Withold, &c. in K. Lear, Act III. with many others easily to be picked up. Now these, or the like, were the curious arts ; [tà megíegia, an impertinent prying and inquisitiveness into things which don't belong to us, and are above us : The false accusation laid against Socrates was, oro miguegyátlas ;] and 'twas nothing but a parcel of this trumpery of periapts, amulets and charms, together with some astrological books, that is mention'd to be burnt at Ephesus.---- And they counted the price of them, and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver : not that the books, in which this ridiculous stuff was writPlin. XI, 39.
“ Fabulofum puto de strigibus, ubera infan« tium eas labris immulgere.”
NOR is Shakespeare's peculiarity in using words to be passed over.
In Richard II. Act IJ.
" Why have those banish'd and forbidden legs, “ Dar'd once to touch a dust of England's
“ ground ?" i. e. interditied. As the pope's legate told K. John, “ He (the pope] hath wholly interdi&ted
ten, were really worth so much, but the superstitious people of this and the neighbouring countries bought them up at a high price ; and the conjurors had provided a great stock. This short account of these Ephesian Letters will give a new light not only to this place of the Acts, but will likewise explain a passage in Ovid's Met. XIV. 57. where Circe is introduced muttering her unintelligible jargon, like those mystical words mention'd in Hesychius, Ovid calls them Verba nova.
-obscurum VERBORUM ambage NOVORUM Ter novies carmen magico dimurmurat ore. Which is expressed most elegantly, and agreeably to ancient fuperftition. So too Shakespeare in King Lear, Ad II. MUMBLING of wicked charms. Y 3
" and cursed you, for the wrongs you have " done unto the holy church.” Fox. Vol. I,
So in Macbeth, AE I.
“ He shall live a man forbid."
In Macbeth, Act III. « And put a barren scepter in my gripe, " Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand."
į. e. not of my line, or descent.
In Macbeth, Ac V,
« For their dear causes " Would to the bleeding and the grim alarm « Excite the mortified man."
dear causes, i. e. dreadful.
To this land of conjurors Shakespeare removes the scene, as I said above, and calls it the Fairy land. This Fairy land ran in Dromio's head so much that Adriana asking him where his master is, he replies,
“ A Devil in an everlasting garment hath him,
" A fiend, a Fairy, &c." I find the editors have changed this Fairy into a Fury; notwithstanding Ephesus is here called a Fairy land: and beAde Fairy sometimes answered to the latin Strix or lamia :