Page images
PDF
EPUB

• sisters three,

Come, come, to me,
• With hands as pale as milk ; .

Lay them in gore,
Since you have shore
With shears his thread of silk.
• Tongue, not a word:

• Come, trusty sword;
• Come, blade, my breast imbrue :
* And farewell, friends ;-

Thus Thisby ends :
• Adieu, adieu, adieu.'

[Dies. The. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the dead. Dem. Ay, and Wall too.

Bot. No, I assure you ; the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergornask dance, between two of our com

pany?

The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excuse. Never excuse ; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it, had play'd Pyramus, and hanged himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone. [Here a dance of Clowns. The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve :Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time. I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn, As much as we this night have overwatch'd. This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd The heavy gait of night.-Sweet friends, to bed.-A fortnight hold we this solemnity, In nightly revels, and new jollity.

(Exeunt. SCENE II.

Enter Puck.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,'

And the wolf behowls the moon ; [9] A Burgomask dance (as Sir T. Hanmer observes in his Glossuty) is a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of ebat people, as well as their manner of dancing. STEEVENS.

[1] It has been justly observed by an anonymous writer, that among this assemblage of familiar circumstances attending midnight, either in England

Vol. III.

Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fordone.'
Now the wasted brands do glow,

Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud,
Puts the wretch, that lies in woe,

In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night,

That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,

In the church-way paths to glide :
And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecat's team,
From the presence of the sun,

Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house :
I am sent, with broom, before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.?
Enter OBERON and TITANIA with their train.
06. Through this house give glimmering light,

By the dead and drowsy fire:
Every elf, and fairy sprite,

Hop as light as bird from brier ;
And this ditty, after me,
Sing, and dance it trippingly.
Tit. First, rehearse the song by rote :

To each word a warbling note,
Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
Will we sing, and bless this place.

or its neighbouring kingdoms, Shakespeare would never have thought of intermixing the exotic idea of the hungry lion roaring, which can be heard no nearer than in the deserts of Africa, if he had not read in the 104th Psalm : " Thou makest darkness that it may be night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do move; the lions roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God." MALONE.

I do not perceive the justness of the foregoing anonymous writer's observation. Puck, who could " encircle the earth in forty minutes," like his fairy mistress, might have snuffed “the spiced Indian air;" and consequently an image, foreign to Europeans, might have been obvious to him. Our poet, however, inattentive to little proprieties, has sometiines introduced his wild beasts in regions where they are never found. STEEVENS. [1] Fordone--i. e. overcome.

STEEVENS. [2] Cleanliness is always necessary to invite the residence and the favour of the fairies :

" These make our girls their slutt'ry rue,
“ By pinching them both black and blue,
" And nut a penny in their shoe

Tee couse for clean!y sweeping Dravton. JOHNSON,

10

SONG,' AND DANCE.
Ob. Now, until the break of day,
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue, there create,
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be:
And the blots of nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
Shall
upon

their children be...
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait :
And each several chamber bless,"
Through this palace with sweet peace :
E’er shall it in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest.

(3) I am afraid this song is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a song, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. The Oberop dismisses his fairies to the despatch of the ceremonies. The

songs, I suppose were lost, because they were not inserted in the players' parts, from which the drama was printed. JOHNSON.

[4] This defect in children seems to have been so much dreaded, that numerous were the charms applied for its prevention. The following might be as efficacious as any of the rest. “If a woman with chylde have her smocke slyt at the neather ende or skyrt thereof, &c. the same chylde that she then goeth withall, shall be safe from having a cloven or hare lippe." Thomas Lupton's Fourth Book of Notable Thinges, 4to, bl. I. STEEVENS.

[5] Prodigious has here its primitive signification of portentous. STEEVENS. (6) i. e. take his way, or direct his steps. STEEVENS. Gait, for a path or road, is commonly used at present in the northern counties.

HARRIS. [7] The same superstitious kind of benediction occurs in Chaucer's Miller's Tāle, v. 3479, Tyrwhitt's edition :

"I

crouche thee from elves, and from wightes.
“ Therwith the nightspel said he anon rightes
"Oo four halves of the hous aboute,
" And on the threswold of the dore withoute.
" Jesu Crist, and Seint Benedight,
"Blisse this hous from every wicked wight,
“ Fro the nightes mare, the wite Paternoster," &cSTEEVENS.

Trip away ;

Make no stay ;
Meet me all by break of day.

[Exe. OBER. TITA. and Train.

Puck. If we shadows have offended,

Think but this, (and all is mended,)
That you have but slumber'd here,
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend;
If you pardon, we will mend.
And as I'm an honest Puck,
If we have unearned lucks
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long :
Else the puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

[Exit.

(8) i. e. if we have better fortune than we have deserved. STEEVENS.
(9) That is, if we be dismissed without hisses. JOHNSON.
11) That is, Clap your hands. Give us your applause. JOANSON.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING,

« PreviousContinue »