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OBERON advances. Enter Puck. OBE. Welcome, good Robin. See'st thou this
sweet sight? Her dotage now I do begin to pity. For meeting her of late, behind the wood, Seeking sweet savours for this hateful fool, I did upbraid her, and fall out with her : For she his hairy temples then had rounded With coronet of fresh and fragrant flowers ; And that same dew, which sometime on the buds Was wont to swell, like round and orient pearls, Stood now within the pretty flourets' eyes', Like tears, that did their own disgrace bewail. When I had, at my pleasure, taunted her, And she, in mild terms, begg’d my patience, I then did ask of her her changeling child ; Which straight she gave me, and her fairy sent To bear him to my bower in fairy land. And now I have the boy, I will undo This hateful imperfection of her eyes. And, gentle Puck, take this transformed scalp From off the head of this Athenian swain ; That he awaking when the other do?,
5 — sweet savours - ] Thus Roberts's quarto, and the first folio. Fisher's quarto reads-favours ; which, taken in the sense of ornaments, such as are worn at weddings, may be right.
Steevens. flourets' eyes,] The eye of a flower is the technical term for its center. Thus Milton, in his Lycidas, v. 139:
“ Throw hither all your quaint enameld eyes.” Steevens. 7 That he awaking when the other do,] Such is the reading of the old copies, and such was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age; though the modern editors have departed from it.-So, in King Henry IV. P. I.: “ — and unbound the rest, and then came in the other.”
Again, in King Henry IV. P. II.: “For the other, Sir John, let me see,” &c.
So, in the epistle prefixed to Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil, by Thomas Nashe, 4to. 1592: “ I hope they will
May all to Athens back again repair ;
[Touching her eyes with an herb.
Hath such force and blessed power.
Tita. My Oberon! what visions have I seen! Methought, I was enamour'd of an ass.
OBE. There lies your love.
How came these things to pass ? O, how mine eyes do loath his visage now!
Obe. Silence, a while.—Robin, take off this head.Titania, musick call; and strike more dead Than common sleep, of all these five the sense '. Tita. Musick, ho! musick; such as charmeth
sleep. Puck. Now, when thou wak'st, with thine own
fool's eyes peep.
give me leave to think there be fooles of that art, as well as of all other." MALONE.
8 Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower - ] The old copies read—or Cupid's. Corrected by Dr. Thirlby. The herb now employed is styled Diana's bud, because it is applied as an antidote to that charm which had constrained Titania to dote on Bottom with “ the soul of love." Malone,
Dian's bud, is the bud of the Agnus Castus, or Chaste Tree. Thus, in “ Macer's Herball, practysed by Doctor Lynacre, translated out of Laten into Englysshe," &c. bl. I. no date : “ The vertue of this herbe is, that he wyll kepe man and woman chaste,” &c. Cupid's flower, is the Viola tricolor, or Love in idleness.
Steevens. of all these five the sense.] The old copies read—these fine ; but this most certainly is corrupt. My emendation needs no justification. The five, that lay asleep on the stage were Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Bottom.- Dr. Thirlby likewise communicated this very correction. THEOBALD.
Obe. Sound, musick. [Still musick.] Come, my
queen, take hands with me,
Puck. Fairy king, attend, and mark;
OBE. Then, my queen, in silence sad,
And bless it to all fair PROSPERITY:) I have preferred this, which is the reading of the first and best quarto, printed by Fisher, to that of the other quarto and the folio, (posterity,) induced by the following lines in a former scene:
your warrior love
- to all far posterity."
Fair posterity is the right reading.
In the concluding song, where Oberon blesses the nuptial bed, part of his benediction is, that the posterity of Theseus shall be fair :
“ And the blots of nature's hand
“ Shall upon their children be.” M. Mason.
Trip we after the night's shade :) Sad signifies only grave, sober ; and is opposed to their dances and revels, which were now ended at the singing of the morning lark. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act IV.: "My father and the gentlemen are in sad talk.” For grave or serious. WARBURTON.
A statute 3 Henry VII. c. xiv. directs certain offences committed in the king's palace, be tried by twelve sad men of the king's houshold. BLACKSTONE.
We the globe can compass soon,
Tira. Come, my lord; and in our flight,
[Horns sound within. Enter Theseus, HIPPOLYTA, Egeus, and train.
The. Go, one of you, find out the forester ;-
* Thus the quartos ; the folio, let them go.
our observation is perform'd :) The honours due to the morning of May. I know not why Shakspeare calls this play A Midsummer-Night's Dream, when he so carefully informs us that it happened on the night preceding May day. Johnson.
The title of this play seems no more intended, to denote the precise time of the action, than that of The Winter's Tale; which we find, was at the season of sheep-shearing. FARMER. The same phrase has been used in a former scene:
“ To do observance to a morn of May.” I imagine that the title of this play was suggested by the time it was first introduced on the stage, which was probably at Mid
“A Dream for the entertainment of a Midsummernight.”. Twelfth-Night and The Winter's Tale had probably their titles from a similar circumstance. Malone.
In Twelfth-Night, Act III. Sc. IV. Olivia observes of Malvolio's seeming frenzy, that it " is a very Midsummer madness.” That time of the year we may therefore suppose was anciently thought productive of mental vagaries resembling the scheme of Shakspeare's play. To this circumstance it might have owed its title.
Steevens. the VAWARD of the day,] Vaward is compounded of van and ward, the forepart. In Knolles's History of the Turks, the word vayvod is used in the same sense. Edinburgh Magazine, for Nov. 1786. Steevens.
And mark the musical confusion
Hip. I was with Hercules, and Cadmus, once,
5 — they bay'd the bear -] Thus all the old copies. And thus in Chaucer's Knightes Tale, v. 2020, Tyrwhitt's edit. :
“ The hunte ystrangled with the wild beres.” Bearbaiting was likewise once a diversion esteemed proper for royal personages, even of the softer sex. While the princess Elizabeth remained at Hatfield House, under the custody of Sir Thomas Pope, she was visited by Queen Mary. The next morning they were entertained with a grand exhibition of bearbaiting, “ with which their highnesses were right well content." See Life of Sir Thomas Pope, cited by Warton in his History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 391. Steevens.
In The Winter's Tale Antigonus is destroyed by a bear, who is chased by hunters. See also our poet's Venus and Adonis :
“For now she hears it is no gentle chace,
Malone. Holinshed, with whose histories our poet was well acquainted, says, “ the beare is a beast commonlie hunted in the East countrie.” See vol. i. p. 206; and in p. 226, he says,
Alexander at vacant time hunted the tiger, the pard, the bore, and the beare." Pliny, Plutarch, &c. mention bear-hunting. Turberville, in his Book of Hunting, has two chapters on hunting the bear. As the persons mentioned by the poet are foreigners of the heroic strain, he might perhaps think it nobler sport for them to hunt the bear than the boar. Shakspeare must have read the Knight's Tale in Chaucer, wherein are mentioned Theseus's “ white alandes (grey-hounds] to huntin at the lyon, or the wild bere.” TOLLET.
such gallant chiding:) Chiding in this instance means only sound. So, in King Henry VIII. :
“ As doth a rock against the chiding flood." Again, in Humour out of Breath, a comedy, by John Day, 1608 :
“ I take great pride
“ To hear soft musick, and thy shrill voice chide.” Again, in the 22d chapter of Drayton's Polyolbion :
drums and trumpets chide." This use of the word was not obsolete in the age of Milton, who says, in his Smectymnuus : " I may one day hope to have ye