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SCENE I.-A Wood near Athens.
Enter a Fairy at one side, and Puck at the other.
Puck. How now, spirit! whither wander you ?
Fai. Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green :2
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see ;
Those be rubies,3 fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours :
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits,4 I'll be gone ;
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.
Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night;
Take heed the queen come not within his sight.
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy, stoln from an Indian king ;
She never had so sweet a changeling:
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild :
But she, perforce, withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy :
And now they never meet in grove or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen,
But they do square ;5 that all their elves, for fear,
Creep into acorn-cups, and hide them there.
Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite,
Call’d Robin Goodfellow : are you not he,
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skims milk, and sometimes labours in the quern,6
And bootless makes the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime makes the drink to bear no barm;
Misleads night-wanderers, laughing at their harm ?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good-luck:
Are not you he ?
Thou speak’st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab;
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her, 'when' down topples she,
And “Tailor' cries, and falls into a cough ;
And then the whole quire hold their hips, and laugh ;
And waxen in their mirth, and sneeze, 8 and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.-
But room, fairy ! here comes Oberon.
Fai. And here my mistress.—Would that he were gone !
Enter, from one side, OBERON, with his train, and from the
other, TITANIA, with hers. Obe. Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania.
Tita. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairies, skip hence ; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Obe. Tarry, rash wanton; am not I thy lord ?
Tita. Then I must be thy lady: but I know
When thou hast stol'n away from fairy-land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest steep of India ?
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded ; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity.
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus ?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night
From Perigenia, whom he ravished ?
And make him with fair Æglé break his faith,
With Ariadne and Antiopa ?
Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy :
And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents : 9
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat ; and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attain'd a beard :
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock;
The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud ; 10
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable :
The human mortals want their winter here ;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest :-
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound:
And thorough this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hyems' thin and icy crown 11
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer-buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, 12 angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries ; and the 'mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which :
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension ;
We are their parents and original.
Obe. Do you amend it then ; it lies in you:
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.13
Set your heart at rest,
The fairy-land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a votaress of my order:
And in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood;
When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following (her womb then rich with my young squire)
Would imitate ; and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die ;
And for her sake I do rear up her boy,
And for her sake I will not part with him.
Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tita. Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.
If you will patiently dance in our round,
And see our moonlight revels, go with us ;
If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tita. Not for thy fairy kingdom.-Fairies, away :
We shall chide downright, if I longer stay.
[Excit TITANIA, with her train Obe. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove Till I torment thee for this injury.My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou rememberest Since once I sat upon a promontory, And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back, Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,