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Scene 1. 1. The names of Theseus and Hippolyta queen of the Amazons may have been borrowed by Shakespeare from Chaucer's Knight's Tale, although there is nothing else in the play for which he can have been indebted to the same source. But he was no doubt acquainted with the story of Theseus in North's translation of Plutarch's Lives, and hence also he may have taken the Greek names which he uses, Egeus, Lysander, Demetrius, and Philostrate, which all occur in that work. Philostrate however is also the name assumed by Arcite in the Knight's Tale, 1. 1428.
4. She lingers my desires, protracts, delays the accomplishment of my desires. For •linger'in this transitive sense see Richard II, ii. 2. 72:
Who gently would dissolve the bands of life,
Which false hope lingers in extremity. And Othello, iv. 2. 231: Unless his abode be lingered here by some accident.'
5. a step-dame, or a dowager, who has a life interest in the property which falls to the heir at her death. Whalley quotes Horace [Epist. i. 1. 21, 22]:
ut piger annus Pupillis quos dura premit custodia matrum.' 6. withering out, causing the revenue to dwindle as she herself withers away. For the phrase Steevens quotes from Chapman's Homer, Iliad iv. (528]:
“And there the goodly plant lies withering out his grace.' 10. New-bent. Rowe's reading; the quartos and folios have · Now bent.'
II. solemnities, applied to the festivities on the solemnization of marriage, as in King John, ii. 1. 555, of the marriage of Blanch and the Dauphin :
Call the Lady Constance:
To our solemnity.' 13. pert, lively; used in a good sense, and not as now as equivalent to something a little less than impudent, saucy. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 272:
• This pert Biron was out of countenance quite.
Cotgrave (Fr. Dict.) has, 'Godinet : m. ette: f. Prettie, dapper, feat, peart, indifferently handsome. Godinette ; f. A prettie peart lasse; a louing, or louelie girle.' So Milton, Comus, 118:
*And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.' It is probably connected with the Fr. appert (whence malapert), for which Cotgrave gives the equivalents ·Expert, readie, dexter, prompt, actiue, nimble; feat, handsome, in that he does.' Mr. Wedgwood however connects it with 'perk,' 'to perk up the head, to prick up the head, or appear lively.' In this sense pert' is used as a verb in Beaumont and Fletcher, Knight of the Burning Pestle, i. 1: Sirrah, didst thou ever see a prettier child ? how it behaves itself, I warrant ye ! and speaks and looks, and perts up the head.'
15. companion, fellow. These two words have completely exchanged their meanings in later usage. Companion' is not now used contemptuously as it once was, and as “ fellow' frequently is. Compare 2 Henry IV, ii. 4. 132: ‘I scorn you, scurvy companion.'
Ib. pomp. See below, note on l. 19.
19. With pomp, with triumph. A triumph was a public exhibition or show, such as was originally used to celebrate a victory. The title of Bacon's 37th Essay is ‘Of Masques and Triumphs, and the two words appear to have been synonymous, for the Essay treats of masques alone. In the same way Milton uses the word. See L'Allegro, 120 :
•Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold.' And Samson Agonistes, 1312 :
• This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,
With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games.' In his note on the latter passage Warton suggests that Milton • applied pomp in the appropriated sense which it bore to the Grecian festivals, where the Troutin, a principal part of the ceremony, was the spectacular procession.' Shakespeare also, in King John, iii. 1. 304, has the word with a trace of its original meaning:
*Shall braying trumpets and loud churlish drums,
Clamours of hell, be measures to our pomp?' 20. duke, a title which Shakespeare might have found attached to Theseus in Chaucer. See the Knight's Tale (Cant. Tales, 1. 860):
•Whilom as olde stories tellen us,
There was a duk that highte Theseus.' 21. Egeus. Shakespeare for his own purposes makes three syllables of this name.
Ib. what's the news with thee? What has happened to thee? Compare ii. 2. 272.
27. This man hath bewitch'd. The later folios omit.man.' Theobald reads .witch'd.'
Ib. bosom, used like heart' for the seat of the affections and desires. See Lear, v. 3. 49, where 'common bosom' means the affections of the common people :
• To pluck the common bosom on his side.' 32. stolen the impression of her fantasy, secretly stamped his image on her imagination.
33. gawds, trifling ornaments, toys. See iv, 1. 166; and Troilus and Cressida, iii. 3. 176:
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gawds.' . Both 'gawd’ and jewel' are derived ultimately from the Latin gaudium ; the latter coming to us immediately from the Old French joel, which is itself gaudiale.
Įb. conceits, fanciful devices. Cotgrave has 'Gentilesses. Prettie conceits, deuises, knacks, feats, trickes.' 34. Knacks, knick-knacks, trinkets. Compare Winter's Tale, iv. 4. 360 :
Sooth, when I was young
To load my she with knacks. 35. prevailment, influence
Ib. unharden'd, tender, and capable of receiving impressions; inexperienced. 38. harshness, unkindness, want of tenderness. Compare Lear, ii. 4. 175:
• Thy tender-hefted nature shall not give
Thee o'er to harshness.' 41. Solon's laws gave a father the power of life and death over his child. See Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrhon. Hypot, iii. 24. But we need not suppose that Shakespeare knew of this.
45. Immediately provided &c., as Steevens has remarked, smacks of an attorney's office.
50. and within his power it is &c. For this ellipsis see Abbott & 403. 51. To leave the figure &c., to let the figure remain, or to obliterate it. 54. in this kind, in this respect. Compare As You Like It, ii. 1. 27:
* And in that kind swears you do more usurp
Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you.' Ib. wanting your father's voice, as he lacks your father's authority or suffrage in your favour. Compare All's Well, ii. 3. 60:
This youthful parcel
60. Nor how it may concern my modesty, nor how much it may affect my modesty.
61. to plead my thoughts, to utter my thoughts by way of plea or argument. Plead' is in many cases little more than speak.'
65. to die the death, to die ; generally but not uniformly applied to death inflicted by law: for instance, it is apparently an intensive phrase in Sackville's Induction, l. 55:
'It taught mee well all earthly things be borne
To dye the death.' Shakespeare however uses the expression always of a judicial punishment. Compare Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 14. 26:
"She hath betray'd me, and shall die the death.' Even when Cloten says (Cymbeline, iv. 2. 96) to Guiderius ‘Die the death,' he looks upon himself as the executioner of a judicial sentence in killing an outlaw. See Matthew xv. 4:
68. Know of your youth, enquire of your youth, ascertain from your youth. So King Lear, v. I. 1:
• Know of the duke if his last purpose hold.' Twelfth Night, iii. 4. 278: Do me this courteous office, as to know of the knight what my offence to him is.'
Ib. blood, passion as opposed to reason. See below, l. 74, and Hamlet, iii. 2. 74:
“Whose blood and judgement are so well commingled.' 69. Whether, a monosyllable ; as frequently in Shakespeare, See iii. I. 139 ; iii. 2. 81. It is sometimes written 'where'; as in The Tempest, v. 2. 111, the first folio has · Where thou bee'st he or no.'
70. the livery of a nun. For the word 'nun 'applied to a woman in the time of Theseus see North’s Plutarch (1631), p. 2: ‘But Ægeus desiring (as they say) to know how he might haue children, went into the city of Delphes, to the Oracle of Apollo : where, by a Nunne of the temple, this notable prophecie was giuen him for an answer,' 'Livery,' which now denotes the dress of servants, formerly signified any distinctive dress, as in the present passage. Compare Pericles, ii. 5. 10:
“One twelve moons more she'll wear Diana's livery.' Again in the same play, iii. 4. 10:
. “A vestal livery will I take me to.' 71. For aye, for ever. A. S. á, or aa, ever, always. Ib. mew'd, penned up, cooped up. Compare Richard III, i. 1. 132:
More pity that the eagle should be mew'd,
While kites and buzzards prey at liberty.' From the French mue, which Cotgrave defines, “A Mue, or Coope wherein foule is fattened.'
75. undergo, endure. So in The Tempest, iii. 1. 3:
“Some kinds of baseness Are nobly undergone.' Ib. maiden pilgrimage, a course of life passed in virginity. This sense of pilgrimage' is in accordance with the usage of scripture. Compare Genesis xlvii. 9: • The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years. And see As You Like It, iii. 2. 138:
Some, how brief the life of man
Runs his erring pilgrimage.' 76. earthlier happy, more earthly happy, happier in an earthly sense. Pope read earlier happy'; Capell, ' earthly happier'; and Steevens proposed * earthly happy.'
Ib. the rose distilld. Malone refers to other instances in which Shakespeare has used the same figure. See Sonnet v. 13, 14:
"But flowers distill’d, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.' The next sonnet begins, following up the same idea,
• Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distill’d:
Make sweet some vial, &c.' 80. my virgin patent, my privilege of virginity and the liberty that belongs to it. Compare Othello, iv. I. 209: 'If you are so fond over her iniquity, give her patent to offend.' The word is derived from the literæ patentes, or letters patent, which conveyed the privilege.
81. lordship, power, authority; especially used of the authority of a husband, as in All's Well, v. 3. 156:
'I wonder, sir, sith wives are monsters to you,
Yet you desire to marry. Ib, whose unwished yoke. So the quartos and first folio. The second folio, to mend the grammar, read 'to whose unwish'd yoke.' But the omission of the preposition in such cases is of common occurrence. Compare i Henry VI, iii. 2. 25:
“No way to that, for weakness, which she enter'd'; that is, by which she entered. See also Much Ado about Nothing, v. 2.47: • Let me go with that I came [for] In his note on Cymbeline, v. 5. 463, Malone quotes Winter's Tale, ii. 1. 94:
'Even as bad as those
That vulgars give bold'st titles [to]:'
•That the queen is spotless