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fore bids her not to confider the power of pleasing, as an advantage to be much envied or much defired, fince Hermia, whom the considers as pofleffing it in some supreme degree, has found no other effect of it than the loss of happiness,
JOHNSON. L. 22. Emptyirg our bofoms of tbeir counsels swell’d;
There my Lyjander and myself mall meet ;
To liek new friends and strange companions. This whole scene is strictly in rhyme; and that it deviates in these two couplets, I am persuaded, is owing to the ignorance of the first, and the inaccuracy of the later editors : I have therefore ventured to restore the rhymes, as I make no doubt but the poet first gave them. Sweet was easily corrupted into fivelled, because that made an antithesis to emptying: and strange companions our editors thought was plain English; but stranger companies, a little quaint and unintelligible. Our author very often uses the subsiantive stranger adjuctively; ünd companies, to signify companions : As Rich. II. Act, 1.
To tread the franger paths of banishment.
THEOB. & CAPELL.
JOHNS. P: 94.] In this scene Shakespeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the principal actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noise, such as every young man pants toper form' when he first steps upon the stage. The same Bottom, who seems bred in a tiringroom, has another histrionical passion. He is for engrossing every part, and would exclude his inferiors from all possibility of distinction : he is therefore desirous to play Pyramus, Thife, and the Lion at the same time.
Johns. L. 9. Grow on to a point.] Read go on, &e. L. 25. I could play Erclis rarely, or a part to tear a cat in.)
We should read,
A part to tear a cap in. For as a ranting whore was called a tear-sheet, (2d Part of Hen. IV.) fo a ranting bully was called a tear-cap. For this reason it is, the poet makes bully Bottom, as he is called afterwards, wish for a part to tear a cap in. And in the antieut plays, the bombast and the rant held the place of the sublime and pathetic, and indeed constituted the very essence of their tragical farces. Thus Bale, in his acts of English votaries, Part II. says," Grennyng like termagauntes in a play.”
WAR B.* Ibid.] Nic Bottom's being called bully Bottom, seems to have given rise to this judicious conjecture; but it is much more likely that Shakespeare wrote, as all the editions give it, “ a part to tear a cat in ;" which is a burlesque upon Hercules's killing a lion.
CAN. OF CRIT.* P.95. 1. 8. The raging rocks
And shivering shocks, &c.] I presume this to be either a quotation from some fuftian old play, which I have not been able to trace; or if not a direct quotation, a ridicule on some bombast rants, very nearly rifembling it.
THEOB.* speak as small as you will.] This paffage Thews how the want of women on the old stage was supplied. If they had not a young man who could perform the part with a face that might pass for feminine, the character was acted in a mask, which was at that time a part of a lady's dress so much in use, that it did not give any unusual appearance to the scene : and he that could modulate his voice in a female tone, might play the woman very successfully. It is observed in Downes's Memoirs of the Play-house, that one of these counterfeit hervines moved the passions more strongly than the women that have since been brought upon the stage. Some of the catastrophes of the old comedies, whicb make lovers marry the wrong women, are, by recollection of the common use of masks, brought nearer to probability.
JOHNS. you must play Thisøy's morber. There seems a double forgetfulness of our poet, in relation to the characters of this interlude. The father and mother of
Thisby, and the father of Pyramus, are here mentioned, who do not appear at all in the interlude; but Wall and Moonshine are both employed in it, of whom there is not the least notice taken here.
THEOB. P. 96. I. 28. Purple-in-grain beard.] Here Bottom again discovers a true genius for the stage, by his solicitude for propriety of dress, and his deliberation which beard to chuse among many beards, all unnatural,
Johns. P.97. 1. 10. At the duke's oak we meet -hold, or cut bowitrings.] This proverbial laying came origirally from
When a rendezvous was appointed, the militia foldiers wouli frequently make excuse for not keeping word that their iocufirings were broke, i. e. their arms uinterviceable. Hence when one would give another ai solute affurance of meeting him, he would say proverbially -bold or cut boufirings, i. e. whether the bowitring held or broke: for cüt is ufcd as a neuter, like the verb frets. As when we say, the string frets—the filk frets, for the pasive, it is cu: or fretied.
JOHNS. L. 12.] So Drayton, in his Court of Fairy,
Thorough brake, thorough briar,
Thorough water, thorough fire, Johns. Ibid.] For tbrcugb bush, &c. read in all the places thorough.
HOLT.* L. 19. To dew ber orbs upon the green.] For orbs Dr. Gray is inclined to substitute herós. The orbs here mentioned are the circles supposed to be made by the fairies on the ground, .whose verdure proceeds from the fairy's care to water them.
They in their courses make that round,
Of them so call’d the fairy ground. Drayton. Johns. L. 20.] The cowlip was a favourite among the fairies. There is a hint in Drayton of their attention to May morning.--For the queen a fitting tow'r,
Quoth he, is that fair cowslip flow'r-
P.98. 1. 3.-lob of spirits.] Lob, lubbet, locby, lobcock, all denote both inactivity of body and dullness of mind.
Johns. changeling.] Changeling is commonly used for the child suppofed to be left by the
fairies, but here for the child taken away.
Johns. L. 16. con - fheen.] Shining, bright, gay. Jonxs.
they do Square.] To Square here is to quarrel. And are you now fuco fools to fquare for this ? GRAY, The French word contrecarrer hath the same import.
John's L. 21.-asthat fyrewd, and knavish sprite,
Cail'd Robin Goodfellotu : ere jou niat ke,
Mitfeat night-wand'rers, laughing at their barm?] This account of Robin Goodfellow corresponds, in every article, with that given of him in Harsenet's Declaration, ch. 20. p. 135. “ And if that the bowie duly sett out for Robin Goodfellow, the frier, and Siile the dairy-maid-why then either the pottage was burnt to next day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or the ale in the fat never would have got head. But if a pater-nofter, or an house-egge were beturned, or a patch of tythe unpaid then beware of bull. beggars, fpirits, &c.” He is mentioned by Cartwright, as a: fpirit particularly fond of disconcerting and difturbing do mestick peace and economy.
Saint Francis and Saint Benedight,
WARTON. L. 23. Skim milk, and fometimes labour in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless buftvífe cbern. The sense of these lines is confused. '« Are not you he, ffays the fairy) that fright the country girls, that-skim milk,
creame were not
work in the hand-mill, and make the tired dairy-woman churn without effect?” The mention of the miót is here useless, I would regulate the lines thus:
And sometimes make the breathless housewife chern
Skim milk, and bootless labour in the quern.
And bootless, make the breathless churn
You do tbeir work.-
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,-
Then lies him down the lubber fiend.
He meeteth Puck, which most men call
Hobgoblin, and on him doth fall.-
Of purpofe to deceive us;
He doth with laughter leave us. It will be apparent to him that shall compare Drayton's poem with this play, that either one of the poets, com pied the other, or, as I rather believe, that there was then fume system of the fairy empire generally received, which they both represented as accurately as they could. Whether Drayton or Shakespeare wrote firit, I cannot discover.