« السابقةمتابعة »
imprisoned. This magician had learned his art from his mother Meroe, as Comus had been instructed by his mother Circe. The Brothers call out on the lady's name, and Echo replies. The Enchanter had given her a potion which suspends the powers of reason, and superinduces oblivion of herself. The Brothers afterwards meet with an Old Man who is also skilled in magic; and by listening to his soothsayings, they recover their lost Sister: but not till the Enchanter's wreath had been torn from his head, his sword wrested from his hand, a glass broken, and a light extinguished. The names of some of the characters, as Sacrapant, Chorebus, and others, are taken from the Orlando Furioso. The history of Meroe, a witch, may be seen in " The xi Bookes of the "Golden Asse, containing the Metamorphosie "of Lucius Apuleius, interlaced with sundrie "pleasant and delectable Tales, &c. Translated "out of Latin into English by William Adling"ton, Lond. 1566." See chap. iii. "How So"crates in his returne from Macedony to La"rissa was spoyled and robbed, and how he fell "acquainted with one.Meroe a witch." And, chap. iv. "How Meroe the witch turned divers "persons into miserable beasts." Of this book
there were other editions, in 15J1, 15QQ, 1600, and 1639; all in quarto, and the black letter. The translator was of University College. See also Apulems in the original. A Meroe is mentioned by Ausonius, Epigr. xix.
Peele's play opens thus.
Anticke, Frolicke, and Fantasticke, three adventurers, are lost in a wood, in the night. They agree to sing the old song,
"Three merrie men, and three merrie men,
They hear a dog, and fancy themselves to be near some village. A cottager appears, with a lantern:
<i This old ballad is alluded to in Twelfth Night , a. ii. s. iii. Sir Toby says, " My lady's a Catalan, we are polia ticians, Malvolio's a Peg a Ramsey, and " three merry "men be we." Again, in the comedy of Ram Alley, 1611. See Reed's Old PI. vol. v. p. 437. And in the Preface to the Shoemaker's Holiday, 1610, 4to. bl. let. "The merriments "that passed in Eyre's bouse and other accidents; with "two merry three mens songs." And in the comedy of Laugh and Lie Down, ] 60$, signat. E. 5. "He plaied such "a song of the three merry men," &c. Many more instances occur. Wartok.
on which Frolicke says, "I perceiue the glimryng *' of a gloworme, a candle, or a cats-eye," &c. They intreat him to shew the way, otherwise, they say, "wee are like to wander among the owlets "and hobgoblins of the forest." He invites them to his cottage 5 and orders his wife to " lay a crab "in the fire, to rost for lambes-wool," &c. They sing,
"When as the rie reach to the chin,
"And chopcherrie, chopcherrie ripe within;
"Strawberries swimming in the creame,
"And schoole-boyes playing in the streame," Sec.
At length, to pass the time trimly, it is proposed that the wife shall tell " a merry winters tale," or "an old wiues winters tale," of which sort of stories she is not without a scored She begins :—
* See Shakspeare's Winter's Tale, a. ii. s. i.
And tell us a tale. M. Merry or sad shall't be?. ..
.... A sad tale's best for winter:
I have one of sprights and goblins ....
There is an entry in the register of the stationers, of " A "Book intitled a Wynter Nyghts Pastyme, May 22, 1594."' This is not Shakspeare's Winter's Tale, which perhaps did not appear till after 1600. Warton.
There was a king, or dukq, who had a most beautiful daughter, and she was stolen away by a necromancer, who, turning himself into a dragon, carried her in his mouth to his castle. The king sent out all his men to find his daughter; "at last, all the king's men went out so long, that "hir Two Brothers went to seeke hir." Immediately the two Brothers enter, and speak;
"1 Br. Vpon these chalkie cliffs of Albion,
A Soothsayer enters, with whom they converse about the lost lady. "Sootfis. Was she fayre? "2 Br. The fayrest for white and the purest for "redde, as the blood of the deare or the driven "snowe," &c. In their search, Echo replies to their call/ They find too late that their Sister is under the captivity of a wicked magician, and that she had tasted his cup of oblivion. In the close, after the wreath is torn from the magician's head, and he is disarmed and killed, by a Spirit in the shape and character of a beautiful page of fifteen years old, she still remains subject to the magician's inchantment. But in a subse
f See Reed's Old Plays, vi. 420. xii. 401. Warton.
qut Ht scene the Spirit enters, and declares, that the Sister cannot be delivered but by a lady, who is neither maid, 'Wife, nor widow. The Spirit blows a magical horn, and the Lady appears; she dissolves the charm, by breaking a glass, and extinguishing a light, as I have before recited, A curtain is withdrawn, and the Sister is seen seated and asleep. She is disenchanted and restored to her senses, having been spoken to thrice. She then rejoins her two Brothers, with whom she returns home; and the boy-spirit vanishes under the earth. The magician is here called " inchanter vile," as in Comus, v. Q07.
There is another circumstance in this play, taken from the old English Apuleius. It is where the old man every night is transformed by our magician into a bear, recovering in the day-time his natural shape.
Among the many feats of magic in this play, a bride newly married gains a marriage portion by dipping a pitcher into a well. As she dips, there is a voice:
"Faire maiden, white and red,