Page images
PDF
EPUB

ANNOTATIONS

UPON

MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

10.

ACT I,
Line 6.
LONG WITHERING OUT a young

man's revenue.] So, in Chapman's 'Translation of the 4th book of Homer : “ —there the goodly plant lies withering out his grace."

STEEVENS. New bent in heaven,-] The old copies read Now bent.-Mr. Rowe made the change. Malone. 28. ~witch'd-] The old copies read bewitch'd.

JOHNSON. 34. -gawds--] 1. e. baubles, toys, trifles. Our author has the word frequently. The Rev. Mr. Lambe, in his notes on the ancient metrical history of the Battle of Flodden, observes, that a gaüd is a child's toy, and that the children in the North call their playthings gowdys, and their baby-house a gowdy-house.

STEEVENS.

45. Or to her death: according to our law,] By a law of Solon’s, parents had an absolute power of life and death over their children. So it suited the poet's purpose well enough, to suppose the Athenians had it before. Or, perhaps, he neither thought nor knew any thing of the matter.

WARBURTON. 67. to die the death,--] See note on Measz:re for Measure, act ii. line 732.

STEEVENS. 70. Know of your youth, -] Bring your youth to the question. Consider your youth. JOHNSON 73. For aye] i. e. for ever.

STEEVENS. 78. But earthlier happy is the rose distill’d,] Thus all the copies : yet earthlier is so harsh a word, and carthlier happy, for happier earthly, a mode of speech so unusual, that I wonder none of the editors have proposed earlier happy.

Johnson. It has since been observed, that Mr. Pope did propose earlier. We might read, earthly happier.

STEEVENS. This is a thought in which Shakspere seems to have much delighted.

We meet with it more than once in his Sonnets. See 5th, 6th, and 54th Sonnets.

MALONE. 83. to whose unwish'd yoke] Thus the modern editors; the particle to is wanting in the old copies.

STEEVENS. 96. You have her father's love, Demetrius;

Let me have Hermia's; do you marry him.] I suspect that Shakspere wrote:

* Let

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

“ Let me have Hermia ; do you marry him."

TYRWHITT. 112. -spotted] As spotless is innocent, so spotted is wicked.

JOHNSON. 133. Beteem them-]Give them, bestow upon them, The word is used by Spenser:

“ So would I, said th' enchanter, glad and fain Beteem to you his sword, you to defend."

Faery Queen.

JOHNSON. Again, in The Case is Altered. How ? Ask Dalio and Milo, 1605:

"I could beteeme her a better match." But I rather think that to beteem in this place signifies (as in the northern counties) to pour out; from tommer, Danish.

STEEVENS. 136. The course of true love, &c.] This passage seems to have been imitated by Milton.

Paradise Lost, B. X.-896.

MALONE. 145. The old editions read momentany, which is the old and proper word. The modern editors, momentary.

JOHNSON The first folio has not momentany but momentary.

MALONE. that short, momentany rage".

is an expression of Dryden.

HENLEY. 147. Brief as the lightning in the colly'd night, That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth, B

And

[merged small][ocr errors]

And ere a man hath power to say, -Behold!

The jaws of darkness do devour it up :] Though the word spleen be here employed oddly enough, yet I believe it right. Shakspere, always hurried on by the grandeur and multitude of his ideas, assumes every now and then, an uncommon licence in the use of his words. Particularly in complex moral modes it is usual with him to employ one, only to express a very few ideas of that number of which it is composed. Thus wanting here to express the ideas of a sudden, or-in a trice, he uses the word spleen; which, par. tially considered, signifying a hasty sudden fit, is enough for him, and he never troubles himself about the further or fuller signification of the word. Here, he uses the word spleen for a sudden hasty fit; so just the contrary, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, he uses sudden for splenetick -sudden quips. And it must be owned this sort of conversation adds a force to the diction.

WARBURTON. Brief as the lightning in the colly'd night,] colly'd, 2. e. black, smutted with coal, a word still used in the midland counties.

So, in Ben Jonson's Poetaster :
6 -Thou hast not collied thy face enough.

STEEVENS. 159. I have a widow aunt, &c.] These lines perhaps might more properly be regulated thus:

I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child,
And she respects me as her only son ;

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Her house from Athens is remov'd seven leagues,
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee,
And to that place-

Johnson. 161. -remote-) Remote is the reading of both the quartos.

STEEVENS. Remov’d, which is the reading of the folio, was, I believe, the author's word.—He uses it again in Hamlet, for remote : “ He wafts you to a more removed ground.”

MALONE. 176. by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen,] Shakspere had forgot that Theseus performed his exploits before the Trojan war, and consequently long before the death of Dido.

Steevens. 186. Your eyes are lode-stars ; -] This was a compliment not unfrequent among the old poets. The lode-star is the leading or guiding star, that is, the pole-star. The magnet is, for the same reason, called the lode-stone, either because it leads iron, or because it guides the sailor. Milton has the same thought in L'Allegro:

Tow'rs and battlements he sees
Bosom'd high in tufted trees,
" Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighb'ring eyes."

JOHNSON. 189. -0, were favour so!] Favour, is feature, countenance. So, in Twelfth Night :

TU

-thine eye

[ocr errors]

“ Hath stay’d upon some favour that it loves." Bij

STEEVENS.

« PreviousContinue »