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239. hold the sweet jest up, keep it going, carry it on. Compare Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5. 109:
•I pray you, come, hold up the jest no higher,' And Much Ado about Nothing, ii. 3. 126; He hath ta'en the infection : hold it up;' that is, keep up the sport.
240. well carried, well managed. Compare Much Ado about Nothing, iv. I. 212:
• Marry, this well carried shall on her behalf
Change slander to remorse.' 242. such an argument, a subject for such merriment. For 'argument' in this sense see Much Ado about Nothing, i. 1. 258: Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.'
250. prayers. The reading of Theobald. The quartos and folios have '* praise.' Capell, at Theobald's suggestion, read 'prays,' a noun formed from the verb in accordance with Shakespeare's usage. So 'entreats' for 'entreaties,' exclaims' for 'exclamations.'
252. by that, by my life.
257. Ethiope. Hermia, like Rosaline in Love's Labour's Lost, was a brunette, as we learn from the banter that goes on with Biron, iv. 3. 266-268:
• Dum. To look like her are chimney-sweepers black.
Long. And since her time are colliers counted bright.
King. And Ethiopes of their sweet complexion crack.' 257, 8. No, no; he'll ... Seem, &c. This is substantially the reading of the quartos; the first has
• No, no; heele
Seeme to breake loose,' &c. The second,
No, no, hee 'l seeme to breake loose,' as one line. The folios, also as one line, read,
“No, no, sir, seem to break loose.' Other readings which have been proposed are Pope's,
No, no, he'll seem
To break away'; Capel's,
• No, no, he'll not come.
Seem to break loose;' Malone's, combining the quartos and folios,
No, no; he 'll---sir,
Seem to break loose'; which was slightly modified by Steevens,
'No, no; sir: he will
Seem to break loose.' Unless a line has fallen out, the reading in the text gives as good a sense as any. Demetrius first addresses Hermia, and then breaks off abruptly to taunt Lysander with not showing much eagerness to meet him. Delius follows the folios, "No, no, Sir :-Seem, &c., and regards the whole as addressed to Lysander, the first words being a remonstrance with him for his insulting language to Hermia.
259. you are a tame man, a spiritless, cowardly fellow. Compare Merry Wives of Windsor, iii. 5. 153 : Though what I am I cannot avoid, yet to be what I would not shall not make me tame.
Ib. go, be off with you: an exclamation of impatience. See Henry V, v. 1. 73; 'Go, go; you are a counterfeit cowardly knave.' And Romeo and Juliet, i. 5. 88; 'You are a princox, go.' 260. thou cat, used as a term of contempt, as in Coriolanus, iv. 2. 34:
''Twas you incensed the rabble :
Will not have earth to know.' 272. what news ? what has happened ? what is the matter ? Compare i. 1. 21: What's the news with thee?' And Hamlet, i. 2. 42:
* And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?' Singer quite unnecessarily reads .what means my love ?"
274. erewhile, a short time since, just now. So in As You Like It, ii. 4. 89: "That young swain that you saw here but erewhile.'
279. An Alexandrine. Pope reads “doubt' for of doubt.' 282. juggler, a trisyllable.
Ib. cankerblossom is generally taken to mean a blossom eaten by a canker, having a show of fairness but hollow within. But it is probably a compound formed like 'kill-courtesy' (ii. 2. 77), 'kill-joy,' and is equivalent to 'blossomcankerer'; Hermia comparing Helena to a canker that has stealthily eaten into and destroyed Lysander's love for her. 286, touch, delicate feeling. Compare Richard III, i. 2. 71:
“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.' And see note on The Tempest, v. I. 21. 290. compare, comparison. So Venus and Adonis, 8:
•The field's chief flower, sweet above compare.' For examples of verbs formed from substantives see note on exclaims,' Richard II, i. 2. 2.
292. personage, figure. See Twelfth Night, i. 5. 164: 'Of what personage and years is he?'
296. thou painted maypole. Stow, in his Survey of London (ed. Thoms, p. 54), gives an account of the great maypole in Cornhill, which when set up on the south side of the church of St. Andrew Undershaft, was higher than the church steeple. Steevens quotes from Stubbes' Anatomie of Abuses (p. 94, ed. 1585): “But their cheefest iewell they bring from thence is their Maie poole, whiche they bring home with greate veneration, as thus. They haue twentie, or fourtie yoke of Oxen, euery Oxe hauyng a sweete Nosegaie of flowers, tyed on the tippe of his hornes, and these Oxen drawe home this Maie poole (this stinckyng Idoll rather) which is couered all ouer with Flowers, and Hearbes bounde rounde aboute with stringes, from the top to the bottome, and sometyme painted with variable colours, with twoo or three hundred men, women, and children followyng it, with greate deuotion.'
300. curst, spiteful, mischievous; used of a woman who is a scold. So in The Taming of the Shrew, i. 1. 186: “Her eldest sister is so curst and shrewd. Also applied to animals, as in Much Ado about Nothing, ii. 1. 22: • For it is said, God sends a curst cow short horns.' Cotgrave defines Meschant, Wicked, impious, vngracious ... also, curst, mischieuous, harsh, froward.'
302. a right maid, a true maid. Compare Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 12. 28: ‘Like a right gipsy.'
310. your stealth, your stealing away, going secretly. Compare iv. I. 159, and Sonnet lxxvii. 7:
• Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know
Time's thievish progress to eternity.' 314. so, provided that. Şee The Merchant of Venice, iii. 2. 197:
With all my heart, so thou canst get a wife.' 317. fond. See ii. 2. 88.
323. shrewd, mischievous, especially with the tongue. See ii. 1. 33, and Much Ado about Nothing, ii. 1. 20: “Thou wilt never get thee a husband, if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue.'
324. vixen, properly a she-fox; hence applied to an ill-tempered spiteful woman. The form of the word is especially interesting as being the only instance in which the feminine termination -en has been preserved. See Morris, English Accidence, c, x. $ 73. It occurs in Anglo-Saxon as fixen, and in German as füchsin.
327. flout. See ii. 2. 128. 329. minimus, smallest thing.
Ib. hindering knot-grass. The common knot-grass (polygonum aviculare) was formerly believed to have the power of checking the growth of children. See Beaumont and Fletcher, the Coxcomb, ii. 2:
•We want a boy extremely for this function,
Kept under for a year with milk and knot-grass.' And The Knight of the Burning Pestle, ij. 2: “The child's a fatherless child, and say they should put him into a strait pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass; he would never grow after it.'
330. You bead. As beads were generally black, there is a reference here to Hermia's complexion as well as to her size.
333. intend, pretend. Demetrius does not think Lysander in earnest. Compare Much Ado about Nothing, ii. 2. 35: “Intend a kind of zeal both to the prince and Claudio.' And The Taming of the Shrew, iv. 1. 216:
Ay, and amid this hurly I intend
That all is done in reverend care of her.' 335. aby. See l. 175.
337. Of mine or thine. Compare The Tempest, ii. 1. 28: Which, of he or Adrian, for a good wager, first begins to crow?' And see the note on that passage (Clar. Press ed.).
338. cheek by jole, side by side, close together, as the cheek to the jole or jaw. Jole’ is from A. S. ceafl. 339. coil, disturbance, turmoil. See The Tempest, i. 2. 207:
• Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil
Would not infect his reason ?' Ib. ’long of you, owing to you. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, ii. 1. 119:
' 'Tis 'long of you that spur me with such questions.' 340. I repeated for emphasis, as in Two Gentlemen of Verona, v. 4. 132:
•Sir Valentine, I care not for her, I.' And Romeo and Juliet, iii. 1. 58:
•I will not budge for no man's pleasure, I.' 341. curst. See I. 300. 345. still. See iii. 1. 141.
351. 'nointed, anointed. So in Winter's Tale, iv. 4. 813 : •He has a son, who shall be flayed alive; then 'nointed over with honey, set on the head of a wasp's nest.' 352. sort, turn out, result. Compare Much Ado about Nothing, iv. 1. 242:
* And if it sort not well, you may conceal her.' And 2 Henry VI, i. 2. 107:
• Sort how it will, I shall have gold for all.' 353. As, inasmuch as. 356. welkin, sky; A. S. wolcen, cloud. See Lucrece, 116:
• No cloudy show of stormy blustering weather
Doth yet in his fair welkin once appear.' 357. Acheron, the river of hell in classical mythology, supposed by Shakespeare to be a pit or lake. Compare Macbeth, iii. 5. 15:
• And at the pit of Acheron
Meet me i' the morning.' Titus Andronicus, iv. 3. 44:
I'll dive into the burning lake below
And pull her out of Acheron by the heels.' 359. As, that. Compare Hamlet, ii, 1. 95 (Clar. Press ed.):
He raised a sigh so piteous and profound
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk'; where the quartos read • As,' the folios • That.'
360. sometime. See ii. 1. 38; iii. 1. 98.
"Well, ruffian, I must pocket up these wrongs.'
“O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her! 367. virtuous property, healthful, beneficial quality. Compare 2 Henry IV, iv. 5. 76:
•Culling from every flower
The virtuous sweets. For virtue' in the sense of power, efficacy,' see Romeo and Juliet, ii. 3. 13, of the herbs gathered by Friar Laurence,
Many for many virtues excellent.' And The Merchant of Venice, v. 1. 199:
• If you had known the virtue of the ring.' Compare also Milton, Il Penseroso, 113:
And who had Canacé to wife,
That own'd the virtuous ring and glass.' And Comus, 621:
‘Well skills In every virtuous plant and healing herb.' 372, wend, go. See Measure for Measure, iv. 3. 150: Wend you with this letter.' And Comedy of Errors, i. 1. 158, where it is used as in the present passage for the rhyme :
• Hopeless and helpless doth Ægeon wend,
But to procrastinate his lifeless end.' 374. Whiles, while. See As You Like It, ii. 7. 128.
Ib. employ. So the first quarto: the second has .apply,' and the folios 'imply. 379. night's swift dragons. Compare Cymbeline, ii. 2. 48:
• Swift, swift, you dragons of the night!' And Troilus and Cressida, v. 8. 17:
The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the earth." Milton perhaps had this passage in his mind when he wrote, Il Penseroso, 59:
While Cynthia checks her dragon-yoke
Gently o'er the accustom'd oak.' On which Keightley remarks it is wrong mythology, ‘for Demeter, or Ceres, alone had a dragon yoke. Drayton also (The Man in the Moon, 431) says that Phoebe
Calls downe the Dragons that her chariot drawe.' 380. Aurora's harbinger, the morning star. Douce quotes from Milton's Song on May Morning what is evidently a reminiscence of this ;
• Now the bright morning-star, Day's harbinger,