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The. She will find him by star-light.-Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.
Hip. Methinks, she should not use a long one, for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.
Dem. A mote will turn the balance,5 which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better.6
Lys. She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes. Dem. And thus she moans, videlicet
This. "Asleep, my love?
"What, dead, my dove?
"O Pyramus, arise,
"Speak, speak. Quite dumb!
"Dead, dead! A tomb
"Must cover thy sweet eyes.
5 A mote will turn the balance,] The old copies have-moth; but Mr. Malone very justly observes that moth was merely the ancient mode of spelling mote. So, in King Henry V: "Wash every moth (i. e. mote) out of his conscience." Steevens.
6 The first quarto makes this speech a little longer, but not better. Johnson.
The passage omitted is," He for a man, God warned us; she for a woman, God bless us." Steevens.
7 And thus she moans,] The old copies concur in reading-means, which Mr. Theobald changed into-moans; and the next speech of Thisbe appears to countenance his alteration:
"Lovers, make moan."
Mr. Theobald alters means to moans: but means had anciently the same signification. Mr. Pinkerton (under the name of Robert Heron, Esq.) observes that it is a common term in the Scotch law, signifying to tell, to relate, to declare; and the petitions to the lords of session in Scotland, run: "To the lords of council and session humbly means and shows your petitioner." Here, however, it evidently signifies complains. Bills in Chancery being in a similar manner: "Humbly complaining sheweth unto your lordship," &c. The word occurs in an ancient manuscript in my own possession:
"This ender day wen me was wo,
So again, in a very ancient Scottish
"I hard ane may sair mwrne and meyne." Ritson. Thus also, in the Cronykil of A. Wyntown, B. VIII, ch. xxxvi, v. 87:
"Bot playnt; ná duie, ná yhit mening
Mycht helpe noucht-;"
See also, v. 110. Steevens.
"These lily brows,
"Come, come to me,
"Since you have shore
"With shears his thread of silk.
These lily brows,
This cherry nose,] the old copy reads:
"These lily lips," &c.
All Thisbe's lamentation, till now, runs in regular rhyme and metre. But both, by some accident, are in this single instance interrupted. I suspect the poet wrote:
These lily brows,
This cherry nose.
Now black brows being a beauty, lily brows are as ridiculous as a cherry nose, green eyes, or cowslip cheeks. Theobald. Theobald's emendation is supported by the following passage in As you like it:
""Tis not your inky brows, your black silk hair—.” And by another, in The Winter's Tale:
not for because
"Your brows are blacker, yet black brows they say
Lily lips are changed to lily brows for the sake of the rhyme, but this cannot be right: Thisbe has before celebrated her Py. ramus, as
"Lilly-white of hue."
It should be:
These lips lilly,
This nose cherry.
This mode of position adds not a little to the burlesque of the passage. Farmer.
We meet with somewhat like this passage in George Peele's Old Wives Tale, 1595:
"Her corall lippes, her crimson chinne.-Thou art a flouting knave. Her corall lippes her crimson chinne!" Steevens.
9 His eyes were green as leeks.] Thus also the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, speaking of Paris, says:
an eagle, madam,
"Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye."
See note on this passage. Steevens.
"Tongue, not a word:-
"And farewel, friends;
"Thus Thisbe ends:
"Adieu, adieu, adieu."
The. Moonshine and lion are left to bury the dead.
Bot. No, I assure you; the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance,1 beween two of our company?2
The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had play'd Pyramus, and hanged himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.
[Here a dance of Clowns. The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve :Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.
I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
1 a Bergomask dance,] Sir Thomas Hanmer observes, in his Glossary, that this is a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people; and from thence it became also a custom to imitate their manner of dancing. Steevens.
2 our company?] At the conclusion of Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggar's Bush, there seems to be a sneer at this character of Bottom; but I do not very clearly perceive its drift. The beggars have resolved to embark for England, and exercise their profession there. One of them adds:
"The spirit of Bottom, is grown bottomless."
This may mean, that either the publick grew indifferent to bad actors, to plays in general, or to characters, the humour of which consisted in blunders. Steevens.
3 heavy gait-] i. e. slow passage, progress. So, in Love's Labour Lost: "You must send the ass upon the horse, for he is slow-gaited." In another play we have "heavy-gaited toads."
A fortnight hold we this solemnity,
In nightly revels, and new jollity.
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars, 4
4 Now the hungry lion roars, &c.] It has been justly observed, by an anonymous writer, that "among this assemblage of familiar circumstances attending midnight, either in England or its neighbouring kingdoms, Shakspeare would never have thought of intermixing the exotick idea of the hungry lion roaring, which can be heard no nearer than in the deserts of Africa, if he had not read in the 104th Psalm: Thou makest darkness that it may be night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do move; the lions roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God." Malone. Shakspeare might have found the midnight roar of the Lion associated with the howl of the Wolf, in Phaer's translation of the following lines in the seventh Æneid:
"Hinc exaudiri gemitus iræque leonum
"Vincla recusantum, et sera sub nocte rudentum;
-ac formæ magnorum ululare luporum."
I do not, however, perceive the justness of the foregoing anonymous writer's observation. Puck, who could "encircle the earth in forty minutes," like his fairy mistress, might have snuffed "the spiced Indian air;" and consequently an image, foreign to Europeans, might have been obvious to him. He, therefore, was at liberty to
"Talk as familiarly of roaring lions,
"As maids of fifteen do of puppy-dogs."
Our poet, however inattentive to little proprieties, has sometimes introduced his wild beasts in regions where they are never found. Thus in Arden, a forest in French Flanders, we hear of a lioness; and a bear destroys Antigonus in Bohemia. Steevens. 5 And the wolf behowls the moon,] In the old copies: “ And the wolf beholds the moon." As it is the design of these lines to characterize the animals, as they present themselves at the hour of midnight; and as the wolf is not justly characterized by saying he beholds the moon, which other beasts of prey, then awake, do; and as the sounds these animals make at that season, seem also intended to be represented, I make no question but the poet
"And the wolf behowls the moon."
For so the wolf is exactly characterized, it being his peculiar property to howl at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, beseem, and an hundred others.) Warburton.
Now the wasted brands do glow,
Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud, Puts the wretch, that lies in woe,
In remembrance of a shroud.
So, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, where the whole passage seems to be copied from this of our author:
"Now barks the wolfe against the full-cheek'd moon,
"Now croaks the toad, and night-crows screech aloud,
"Now gape the graves, and thro' their yawns let loose
The alteration is better than the original reading; but perhaps the author meant only to say, that the wolf gazes at the moon. Johnson.
I think, "Now the wolf behowls the moon," was the original text. The allusion is frequently met with in the works of our author and his contemporaries. ""Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon," says he in his As you like it; and Massinger, in his New Way to pay old Debts, makes an usurer feel only
as the moon is mov'd
"When wolves with hunger pin'd, howl at her brightness.”
Farmer. The word beholds was, in the time of Shakspeare, frequently written behoulds, (as, I suppose, it was then pronounced) which probably occasioned the mistake.
It is observable, that in the passage of Lodge's Rosalynda, 1592, which Shakspeare seems to have had in his thoughts, when be wrote, in As you like it :-"'Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon:"-the expression is found, that Marston has used instead of behowls. "In courting Phebe, thou barkest with the wolves of Syria against the moon."
These lines also in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c. v, st. 30, which Shakspeare might have remembered, add support to the emendation now made:
"And all the while she [Night] stood upon the ground,
"At her abhorred face, so filthy and so fowle." Malone. 6 -fordone.] i. e. overcome. So Spenser, Fairy Queen, B. I, c. x, st. 33:
"And many souls in dolour had foredone."
Again, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607:
fore-wearied with striving, and fore-done with the tyrannous rage of her enemy,"