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That fright the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk; and sometimes labor in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn ;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm ; ?
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck :
Are not you
Puck. Thou speak'st aright;
merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon, and make him smile, When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a filly foal : And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, very
likeness of a roasted crab; 3 And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, And on her wither'd dewlap 4 pour the ale. The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me; Then slip I from her bum : down topples she, And tailor 5 cries, and falls into a cough ; And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe And waxen 6 in their mirth, and neeze, and swear A merrier hour was never wasted there. But room, fairy : here comes Oberon.
3 Wild apple. * A lip flaccid with age.
5 He that slips beside his chair falls as a tailor squats on bis board : hence the custom of crying "tailor' at a sudden fall backwards.
Fai. And here my mistress.
Would that he were gone!
Enter OBERON, at one door, with his train, and
TITANIA, at another, with hers.
Obe. Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
Tit. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairy, skip hence : I have forsworn his bed and company.
Obe. Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord ?
Tit. Then I must be thy lady: but I know
When thou hast stolen away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest steep of India ?
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress, and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity.
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus ?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering
From Perigenia, whom he ravished ?
And make him with fair Ægle break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiopa ?
Tit. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land,
Have every pelting ? river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents ::
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain ;
The ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain'd a beard :
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock;
The nine men's morris * is fill'd up with mud :
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable :
The human mortals want their winter here ;
No night is now with hymn or carol biess'd :-
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound :
1 The beginning of the middle summer, or Midsummer.
3 Banks that contain them. • A game played by shepherds in the midland counties of England.
5 • Those sports with which country people are accustomed to beguile a winter's evening.'-Malone.
And, thorough this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter : hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose ;
And on old Hyems' chin, and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing 2 autumn, angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries ; and the 'mazed world,
By their increase,3 now knows not which is which :
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension :
We are their parents and original.
Obe. Do you amend it then ; it lies in you :
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
my henchman.* Tit.
Set your heart at rest :
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side ;
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood ;
When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
And grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind :
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait,
(Following her womb, then rich with my young
1 • Perturbation of the elements.' - Steevens.
* Page of honor.