« PreviousContinue »
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. Pýne. 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 óneither' 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 same pun:
• You'll mar the light by taking it in snuff.' 244. aweary, weary. Compare The Merchant of Venice, i. 2. 2: ‘By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.' Tennyson has made the word familiar to modern ears in his song of Mariana :
She said, I am aweary, aweary,
I would that I were dead.' 258. moused, torn in pieces; as a cat tears a mouse.
259, 260. These lines are arranged according to Mr. Spedding's suggestion. In the old copies they stand thus:
Dem. And then came Pyramus,
Lys. And so the lion vanished.' Both Demetrius and Lysander speak in the past tense, as if they were telling the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. Farmer proposed, and his emendation was adopted by Steevens: • Dem. And so comes Pyramus.
Lys. And then the moon vanishes.'
263. gleams. The quartos and first folio have "beames,' which must be a misprint. This was amended in the later folios to streams'; but the alliteration shews that ' gleams' is the true reading, which was suggested by Knight.
264. The folios read here ‘I trust to taste of truest Thisbies sight,' which is quite in keeping with ' I see a voice' &c. in l. 190.
275. thrum is the loose end of a weaver's warp, and is used of any coarse yarn. Warner says, “the maids now call a mop of yarn a thrum-mop.' The 'thrummed hat' of the fat woman of Brentford (Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 2. 80) was made of coarse tufts. "Thread and thrum' was used as an expression for everything in general. So Herrick (Hesperides, i. 100):
• Thou who wilt not love, do this;
A meere Botch of all and some.' 276. quell, destroy; A. S. cwellan. In Macbeth, i. 7. 72, it is used as a substantive for 'murder. In the Wicliffite versions of Acts xxviii. 4, 'manquellere' is equivalent to 'manslayer.'
277. This passion, and the death of a dear friend. The annotator of the Perkins Folio, with singular want of humour, changed this to this passion on the death of a dear friend.' For 'passion' in the sense of violent expression of sorrow, see 1. 303 and Hamlet, ii. 2. 587 :
•What would he do
That I have ?'
283. cheer. See iii. 2. 96. Here it signifies cheerfulness.' Compare Hamlet, iii, 2. 174:
• But woe is me, you are so sick of late,
So far from cheer and from your former state.' 284. confound, destroy, ruin. In this sense it is used in the Authorised Version of the Bible. See Jeremiah i. 17, where the marginal note to confound' is break to pieces, and the rendering in the Geneva and Bishops' Bibles is 'destroy And compare Macbeth, ii. 2. 12 :
•The attempt and not the deed
Confounds us.' 287, 288. Steevens again calls attention to the broad pronunciation which must have been given to the “a'in Shakespeare's time to make 'pap' and hop'a passable rhyme. See note on ii. 1. 263.
296. die. There is the same play upon words in Timon of Athens, v. 4. 34, 35:
And by the hazard of the spotted die
Let die the spotted.' 300. How chance. See i. 1. 29. 303. passion. See l. 277.
306. A mote. Spelt moth' in the quartos and folios. The same spelling occurs in three of the early quartos of Hamlet, i. 1. 112; and Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 3. 161, stands in the first folio thus :
•You found his Moth, the King your Moth did see:
But I a Beame doe finde in each of three.'
Note this before my notes ;
Note, notes, forsooth, and nothing.'
307, 8. he for a man ... bless us. Omitted in the folios, probably in consequence of the Act of 3 Janies I for restraining the abuses of players, which imposed a fine of ten pounds on any who should “jestingly or prophanely speak, or use the holy name of God.'
307. God warrant us. The quartos have 'warnd,' which may stand for • warn' or warrant,' for both expressions are used. See As You Like It, iv. 1. 77: · And for lovers lacking—God warn us !-matter, the cleanliest shift is to kiss.' And in the same play, iii. 3. 5: Your features! Lord warrant us! what features ?'
310. And thus she means. Theobald altered means' to moans, which does not fit in well with videlicet.' Ritson maintained that means' is here used in the sense of complains,' like the old word 'mene' which is of common occurrence; and so it occurs in a phrase which according to Mr. Pinkerton is employed in petitions to the Lords of Session in Scotland, which runs, “To the lords of council and session humbly means and shows your petitioner.'
317, 318. These lily lips &c. To mend the rhyme Theobald read · lily brows.' Mr. Collier adopts the correction of the Perkins Folio, This lily lip, This cherry tip. Farmer conjectured • These lips lily, This nose cherry.' Steevens quotes from Peele's Old Wives Tale (1595) a parallel to this nonsense: Her corall lippes, her crimson chinne.—Thou art a flouting knave-Her corall lippes her crimson chinne !'
327. shore, for shorn.' The rhyme is too much for Thisbe's grammar. Shore' is used elsewhere in Shakespeare for the preterite of 'Shear.'
331. imbrue, make bloody, stain with blood. The word is evidently used for purposes of alliteration and not in its strict sense; but an almost parallel instance occurs in Titus Andronicus, ii. 3. 222:
* Lord Bassianus lies embrewed here.' 339. a Bergomask dance. Hanmer explains this as a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country of Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people, and from thence it became a custom to mimick also their manner of dancing. If we substitute Bergamo for Bergomasco his explanation is correct. Alberti (Dizionario Universale) says that in Italian • Bergamasca' is a kind of dance, so called from Bergamo or from a song which was formerly sung in Florence, The Italian Zanni (our 'zany ') is a contraction for Giovanni in the dialect of Bergamo, and is the nickname for a peasant of that place.
340. No epilogue, which was generally an apology for the play. See The Tempest, As You Like It, All's Well that Ends Well, 2 Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VIII.
342. writ. The common form of the preterite in Shakespeare, who seldom uses wrote.' See As You Like It, v. 2. 84:
"To show the letter that I writ to you.' 344. discharged, performed. See i. 2. 84. 351. palpable-gross, the grossness or roughness of which is palpable.
352. The heavy gait, or slow progress. «Gait' is now used of the manner of walking. Compare Venus and Adonis, 529:
“Look, the world's comforter, with weary gait,
His day's hot task hath ended in the west.' And Richard II, iii. 2. 15 : 'heavy-gaited toads.'
353. Solemnity. See i. I. II.
356. behowls. So Theobald. The quartos and folios have beholds.' Compare As You Like It, v. 2. 119 : ''Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon.'
358. fordone, exhausted. The first quarto has · foredoone'; the second