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days. Here Theseus and Hippolyta say that “four happy days” and “four nights” are to pass before “ the night of our solemnities” (I. i. pp. 17-18); but, in the hurry of the action of the play, Shakspere forgets this, and makes only two nights to pass.
Theseus speaks to Hippolyta, and gives judgment on Hermia's case, on April 29. “ To-morrow night,” April 30, the lovers meet, and sleep in the forest, and are found there on May-day morning by Theseus. They and he all go into Athens and get married that day, and go to bed at midnight, the fairies stopping with them till the break of the fourth day, May 2. It is likely that the Dream was written for a performance in honour of some Mayday marriage. This is, too, the first play with an epilogue.
.: Shakspere was no democrat,” says Munro. “Modern democratic ideas had not yet appeard on the horizon of European thought; but here, in this play, we see our poet's open-hearted humanity and noble sentiment. Philostrate would disparage the dramatic efforts of the hard-handed toilers of Athens, men who till that day had never labord in their minds; but Theseus, prince as he is indeed, replies :
1 See Mr. Halpin's interesting Paper on The Merchant, and Prof. Wilson's (Christojiher North's) Papers on the times of Macbeth and Othello, condenst and reprinted in the Appendix to New Shaks. Soc.'s Trans., 1875-6. Also Mr. P. A. Daniel's discussion of these in New Shaks. Soc.'s Trans., 1877-9.
Mr. Fleay thinks it may have been for the Earl of Derby's marriage, January 24th, 1595, at Greenwich (Life of Sh. 81).
3. On the general question of Shakspere and workingmen, we know that he saw the fun in them and made us see it, and that he enjoyd Bottom and Dull and their mates, and made us enjoy them. He liked them as we do. But when his characters of olden time had to abuse the rabble of their day, Shakspere of course let them do it. Certainly workingmen are often as big fools as their so-called superiors are.
'I will hear that play:
As Shaks pere may have used in his play Plutarch's Life of Theseus in North’s Plutarch's Lives, englisht in 1579 (other editions in 1595, 1603, 1612, &c.) from Amiot's French translation, Mr. Hazlitt has reprinted the Life in his Shakspere's Library, Pt. I.,
5-51. The names Perigenia (Perigouna in North), Ægles, Ariadne, and Antiopa, Midsummer-Night's Dream, II. ii. pp. 36-37, are in the Life, pp. 15-16, 28, 37. Dyce thinks that while composing the burlesque interlude of Pyramus and Thisbe,- subject very popular in those days (and therefore not meant by Shakspere expressly to ridicule Chaucer's Tisbe in his Legende)—he (Shakspere) seems to have had an eye to Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 1565, 1567, &c. (see Book iv., p. 43 (V), ed. 1603). In 1598 Francis Meres mentiond A Midsummer Night's Dream among Shakspere's works, and two editions of the play were publisht in 1600, the better by Thos. Fisher (to whom it was enterd-A Mydsommer Nightes Dreame-in the Stationers' Registers on October 8, 1600; Arber's Transcript, iii. 174), and the worse by Thos. Robertes. The Folio text is repeated from the less accurate Robertes quarto. (See Mr. Griggs's Facsimiles of these Quartos, 1880, ed. Ebsworth.)
With the Dream is closed the first Group of Shakspere's Comedies, those in which the Errors arising
from mistaken identity make so much of the fun. And the name for the Group may well be “ the Comedy of Errors or Mistaken-Identity Group." No doubt this mistaken-identity or personation of somebody else, is in The Two Gentlemen, as it is in all Shakspere's other comedies, but Julia's pageship is not a leading feature of The Two Gentlemen, and that play is rather a preparation for Romeo and Juliet than one of the Errors Group, tho' to the latter it is strongly linkt. In arranging the plays in sequence, therefore, I keep The Two Gentlemen by itself, treating it as the link-play between the Errors and Passion Groups. Canon Ellacombe in his
paper on the Seasons of Shakspere's Plays (New Shaks. Soc. Trans., 1880-6, Pt. I., p. 71-2) thinks the season of the Dream is June and July. As said above, the action of the Dream comprises three days. — Daniel's “Time-Analysis," Trans. New Shaks. Soc., 1877-79, p. 149.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM
DRAMATIS PERSONA THESEUS, Duke of Athens. HERMIA, daughter to Egeus, EGEUS, Father to Hermia.
in love with Lysander. LYSANDER, in love with HELENA, in love with DemeDEMETRIUS, ) Hermia.
trius. PHILOSTRATE, Master of the
OBERON, King of the Fairies. Revels to Theseus.
TITANIA, Queen of the Fairies. QUINCE, a Carpenter. SNUG, a Joiner.
Puok, or Robin Good-fellow.
PEAS-BLOSSOM, BOTTOM, a Weaver.
COBWEB, FLUTE, a Bellows-mender.
MOTH, SNOUT, a Tinker.
MUSTARD-SEED, STARVELING, a Tailor.
Other Fairies attending their HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the King and Queen.
Amazons, betrothed to The- Attendants on Theseus and seus.
SCENE-ATHENS and a Wood near it
This old moon wanes ! she lingers my desires,
up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Enter EgEUS, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS
Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke !