Page images
PDF
EPUB

is given in Wright's Provincial Dictionary as equivalent to‘in this manner'; and 'thissens’ is so used in Norfolk.

54. Theobald has pointed out that the father and mother of Thisbe and the father of Pyramus do not appear in the interlude.

74. aggravate. Bottom of course means the very opposite, like Mrs. Quickly in 2 Henry IV, ii. 4. 175: 'I beseek you now, aggravate your choler.'

75. roar you. For this superfluous use of the pronoun see Abbott, § 221.

Ib. an 'twere, as if it were. Compare Troilus and Cressida, i. 2. 189, · He will weep you, an 'were a man born in April.'

Ib. sucking dove. Oddly enough Bottom's blunder of sucking dove' for sucking lamb' has crept into Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Concordance to Shakespeare, where 2 Henry VI, iii. 1. 71 is quoted • As is the sucking dove or &c.'

78. as one shall see in a summer's day. So Henry V, iii. 6. 67: "I'll assure you, a' uttered as brave words at the bridge as you shall see in a summer's day.' And again in the same play iv. 8. 23. 84. discharge, perform. See iv. 2. 8; Coriolanus, iii. 2. 106:

•You have put me now to such a part which never

I shall discharge to the life.' It appears to have been a technical word belonging to the stage, and occurs in this connexion in The Tempest, ii. 1. 254:

• To perform an act
Whereof what's past is prologue, what to come

In yours and my discharge.' 85. orange-tawny, reddish yellow. See iii. 1. 115. Cotgrave (Fr. Dict.) gives, Orangé: m. ée : f. Orange-tawnie, orange-coloured.'

Ib. purple-in-grain, the dye obtained from the kermes (whence Fr. cramoisi, and English crimson), an insect which attached itself to the leaves of the Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera), a tree found in the south of Europe, especially in Spain, and also in India and Persia. Cotgrave (Fr. Dict.) has, · Migraine: f. ... Scarlet, or Purple in graine.' An interesting discussion of the etymology of 'grain' in the sense of dye will be found in Marsh's Lectures on the English Language, 66–75.

86. French-crown-colour, the colour of the gold coin of that name. There are many equivocal references in Shakespeare to the 'French crown,' which was a name for baldness produced by a certain disease.

85. I am to entreat you. See iv. 2. 29.

90. to con them, to study them, learn them by heart. See v. I. 80, and As You Like It, iii. 2. 289. “Have you not been acquainted with goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of rings ?'

91. a mile. In i. 1. 165 it is a league. · 94. properties, a theatrical term for all the adjuncts of a play except the

scenery and the dresses of the actors. Compare Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 4. 78:

Go get us properties And tricking for our fairies.' 97. obscenely. Misused by Bottom as by Costard in Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 1. 145:

•When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it were, so fit.'

99. hold or cut bowstrings. Capell seems to have hit upon the true explanation of this expression. When a party was made at butts, assurance of meeting was given in the words of that phrase: the sense of the person using them being, that he would “hold," or keep promise, or they might “ cut his bowstrings," demolish him for an archer.' Keep the appointment, or give up shooting. Malone explains it, “To meet, whether bowstrings hold or are cut, is to meet in all events. “To break one's bowstrings' was a phrase denoting the giving up of anything that was in hand. Steevens quotes from The Ball, a play by Chapman and Shirley :

"... Have you devices to jeer the rest ?

Luc. All the regiment of 'em, or I'll break my bowstrings.' In this case the bowstrings are the strings of the bow of a musical instrument. For an illustration of Capell’s note, see Much Ado about Nothing, iii. 2. II: He hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bowstring,' and so disabled him.

АСТ II.

Scene 1.
In the early copies Puck is called Robin good-fellow. See Preface.

3. Thorough. The spelling of the first quarto. The second quarto and the folios have • Through.' Drayton imitates this passage in his Nymphidia, 309-311 :

• Thorough Brake, thorough Brier,
Thorough Mucke, thorough Mier,

Thorough Water, thorough Fier !'
7. moon's, a disyllable, as 'Earth's' in The Tempest, iv. 1. 110:

• Earth's increase, foison plenty.' Steevens quotes from Spenser, Fairy Queen, iii. 1. 15:

And eke through fear as white as whales bone.' Compare also iv, 1. 101 of the present play, where the true reading is that of the first quarto :

"Trip we after night's shade.' The second quarto and the folios read 'the night's,' in which modern editors have followed them ; but this disturbs the accent of the verse.

Ib. sphere, orbit. See I. 153, and The Tempest, ii. 1. 183: “You would lift the moon out of her sphere.' Also Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (Works ed. Dyce, 1862), p. 83:

‘Be it to make the moon drop from her sphere.' 9. dew, bedew, water. Compare Venus and Adonis, 66:

• Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers,

So they were dew'd with such distilling showers.' And Romeo and Juliet, v. 3. 14:

•Which with sweet water nightly I will dew.' Ib. orbs, the circles in the grass called fairy rings, popularly believed to be caused by the fairies dancing. See line 86, and compare The Tempest, v. I. 37:

•You demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make.'
And Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5. 69, 70:

•And nightly, meadow-fairies, look you sing,

Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring.' 10. her pensioners, her body-guard, Henry the Eighth and Elizabeth both had such a band of attendants. Compare Merry Wives of Windsor, ii. 2. 79 ; of Mrs. Ford's suitors says Mrs. Quickly, and yet there has been earls, nay, which is more, pensioners.' They were young gentlemen of rank and fortune who were selected for their handsome faces and figures. See Osborne's Traditional Memoirs of Queene Elizabeth (in Secret History of the Court of James the First, i. 55). Tyrwhitt quotes from Holles's Life of the first Earl of Clare: 'I have heard the Earl of Clare say, that when he was pensioner to the Queen, he did not know a worse man of the whole band than himself: and that all the world knew he had then an inheritance of £4000 a year. From the present passage it may be inferred that their dress was splendid. When Queen Elizabeth visited Cambridge in 1564 she was present at a performance of the Aulularia of Plautus in the ante-chapel of King's College, on which occasion her gentlemen pensioners kept the stage, holding staff torches in their hands. (Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, ii. 193.) 11. spots. Compare Cymbeline, ii. 2. 38, 39:

A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops

l' the bottom of a cowslip.' 12. favours, love-tokens. See iv. I. 47, and Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2.

130 :

“Hold, Rosaline, this favour thou shalt wear,

And then the king will court thee for his dear.' 14. go seek. See i. 1. 246.

15. a pearl in every cowslip's ear. There are numberless allusions to the wearing of jewels in the ear both by men and women, in Shakespeare and in contemporary writers. Compare Romeo and Juliet, i. 5. 48:

* It seems she hangs upon the cheek of night

Like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear.' Marlowe, Tamburlaine, First Part, i. 1:

With costly jewels hanging at their ears.' In Ben Jonson, Every Man in his Humour, iv. 7, Matthew says : 0 yes, I'll pawn this jewel in my ear. Again, Every Man out of his Humour, Induction :

Coin new conceits, and hang my richest words

As polish'd jewels in their bounteous ears.' 16. thou lob. “Lob' is equivalent to lubber, lout, and like them is used contemptuously. Other synonyms are given by Cotgrave (Fr. Dict.) s. v, Lourdaut, which he defines by the following equivalents: “A sot, dunce, dullard, grotnoll, iobernoll, blockhead; a lowt, lob, luske, boore, clowne, churle, clusterfist; a proud, ignorant, and vnmannerlie swaine.' 17. elves, fairies; A. S. ælf. The singular occurs in y. I. 400:

Every elf and fairy sprite,'
See notes on King Lear, ii. 3. 10, and The Tempest, v. I. 33.

20. fell, fierce; from Old French, fel, Italian fello, with which felon is connected. Compare Othello, v. 2. 362:

More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea!' Ib. wrath, wroth, angry. So written for the sake of the rhyme. In Anglo-Saxon wráð is both the substantive "wrath,' and the adjective 'wroth.'

23. changeling, usually a child ieft by the fairies : here, as a fairy is the speaker, it denotes the one taken by them. See Winter's Tale, iii. 3. 122 : • It was told me I should be rich by the fairies. This is some changeling: open't.'

25. to trace, to traverse, wander through, So Much Ado about Nothing, iii. 1. 16:

• As we do trace this alley up and down.' Spenser uses it as equivalent to walk, travel. See Fairy Queen, iv. 8. 34:

How all the way the Prince on footpace traced.' And vi. 3. 29 :

Not wont on foote with heavy armes to trace.' Holt White quotes from Milton, Comus, 423 :

• And, like a quivered nymph with arrows keen,

May trace huge forests, and unharboured heaths.' 29. sheen, shining, brightness. As in Hamlet, iii. 2. 167:

And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen.' Johnson takes it as an adjective, and renders it'shining, bright, gay'; but Milton, with the passage in his mind, uses it as a substantive. See Comus, 1003:

• But far above, in spangled sheen,

Celestial Cupid her famed son advanced.' 30. square, quarrel. Cotgrave (Fr. Dict.) has, Rioter. To chide, brabble, scould, brawle; iangle; debate, square, contend, fall out, in words.' Compare Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 13. 41:

•Mine honesty and I begin to square.' Again, Titus Andronicus, ii. 1. 100:

•And are you such fools

To square for this ?' Hence 'squarer' =quarreler ; see Much Ado about Nothing, i. 1. 82: Is there no young squarer now that will make a voyage with him to the devil ? ' In his description of the singing in the church at Augsburg, Ascham uses the word “square' in the sense of jar or discord: “The præcentor begins the psalm, all the church follows without any square, none behind, none before, but there doth appear one sound of voice and heart amongst them all.' (Works, ed. Giles, i. 270.)

Ib. that, so that.

32. Either, used as a monosyllable. See ii. 2. 156, Macbeth, v. 7. 18, and Richard III, iv. 4. 182:

Either thou wilt die by God's just ordinance.'
So also 'neither,' whether,' are frequently metrical monosyllables.

33. shrewd, mischievous. See note on As You Like It, v. 4. 165 (Clar. Press ed.).

Ib. sprite, the spelling of the first quarto, and in consequence of the rhyme the pronunciation of the other copies, although they read 'spirit.' See Macbeth, ii. 3. 84:

*As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites.' 34. Robin Goodfellow. See Preface. 35. That frights. The later folios read 'fright,' so as to agree with skim' &c., that follow. Others rectify the irregularity by reading skims,' • labours,' and so on. But it is not necessary to correct what Shakespeare may very well have written. The first verb 'frights' is of course governed by 'he' which immediately precedes. The others are in agreement with ' you.' We have in English both constructions. For instance in Exodus vi. 7: 'And ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.' And in 2 Samuel v. 2 : 'Thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel.'

Ib. villagery, village population, and so peasantry. Johnson defines it as a district of villages, but it denotes rather a collection of villagers than a collection of villages. The first quarto reads · Villageree'; the other old copies 'villagree' or 'vilagree. No other instance of the word is recorded.

« PreviousContinue »