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Pease-blossom! Cobweb! Moth! and Mustard-seed !
Enter four Fairies,
Tita. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman;
dewberries,] Dewberries strictiy and properly are the fruit of one of the species of wild bramble called the creeping or the lefler bramble : but as they stand here among the more delicate fruits, they must be understood to mean raspberries, which are also of the bramble kind.
HAWKINS. Dewberries are gooseberries, which are still so called in several parts of the kingdom. HENLEY.
2 - tbe fiery glow-worm's eyes, ) I know not how Shakspeare, who commonly derived his knowledge of nature from his own observation, happened to place the glow-worm's light in his eyes, which is only in his tail. JOHNSON.
The blunder is not in Shakspeare, but in those who have construed too literally a poetical expression. It appears from every line of his writings that he had studied with attention the book of nature, and was an accurate observer of every object that fell within his notice. He must have known that the light of the glow-worm was seated in the tail ; but surely a poet is justified in calling the luminous part of a glow-worm the eye. It is a liberty we take in plain prose; for the point of greatest brightness in a furnace is commonly called the eye of it.
Dr. Johnson might have arraigned him with equal propriety for sende ing his fairies to ligbe their tapers at the fire of the glow-worm, which in Hamlet he terms uneffe&tual:
“ The glow-worm fhews the matin to be near,
1. Fai. Hail, mortal 3 !
Bot. I cry your worships mercy, heartily. I beseech, your worship's name?
Bot. I shall desire you of more acquaintance 4, good master Cobweb: If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you.-Your name, honest gentleman 5 ?
Boi. I pray you, commend me to mistress Squash, your mother , and to master Pealcod, your father. Good matter
3 Hail, mortal!] The old copies read-hail, mortal, bai!! The second hail was clearly intended for another of the fairies, so as that each of them should address Bottom. The regulation now adopted 33 proposed by Mr. Steevens. MALONE.
4 I ball desire you of more acquaintarce,] This line has been pery unnecesarily altered. Such phrateology was very common to many of our ancient writers. So in Lifty Juventus, a morality, 1561: “I thall desire you of better acquaintance.” Again in Ar Huncoreus Days Mirib, 1599 : “ I do desire you of more acquaintance." STEVENS.
The alteration in the modern editions was made on the authority of the first folio, which reads in the next speech but one-" I shall deil e af you more acquaintance." But the old reading is undoubtedly the true
- good mafter Cobweb : If I cut my finger, I shall male bald airb you.—Your rame, benej? gentleman?] In The Mayde's Me:amorpies, : comedy by Lilly, there is a dialogue between some foretters and a troop of fairies, very limilar to the present :
“ Mopso. I pray, fr, what might I call you?
“ Fris. I would I were a chimney for your sake."
MALONE. - mifirefs Squash, your mother,] A Squash is an immature jealood. So, in Twelf: b Night, Act I. fc. v : "was a squash is, before 'tis a peascod,” STEEVENS.
Pease-bloffom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance 100.--Your name, I beseech you, sir?
Bot. Good master Mustard seed, I know your patience? well: that same cowardly, giant-like, ox-beef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house : I promise you your kindred hath made my eyes water ere now. I desire you, more acquaintance, good master Mustard-feed.
Tita. Come, wait upon him; lead him to my bower.
The moon, methinks, looks with a watery eye ;
Lamenting fome enforced chastity.
Another part of the Wood.
Puck. My mistress with a monster is in love.
7 - parience,] By patience is meant, standing ftill in a mustard-pot to be eaten with the beef, on which it was a constant attendant.
COLLINS. — my love's tongue,] The old copies read-my lover's tongue.
STEEVENS. The emendation was made by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 9 Wbat night-rule--] Nigbo-rule in this place thould seem to mean, what frolick of the night, what revelry is going forward ? So, in Tom Tyler and bis Wife, 1661: Marry, here is good rule.” It appeari, from the old fong of Ribir. G-oifoll w, in the third volume of Dr. Percy's Roliques of Ancien: English Poetry, that it was the office of this waggih fpirit “ to viewe the nigiit-sporta," STEEVEN S.
A crew of patches', rude mechanicals,
1-parebes,] Patcb was in old language used as a term of opprobry; perhaps with much the same import as we use raggamuffin, or tattar • demalion. JOHNSON.
This conimon opprobious term, probably took its rise from Petek, cardinal Wolsey's fool. In the western counties, cross-patcb is ftill used for perverse, ill-natured fool. T. WARTON.
The name was rather taken from the patcb'd or pyed coats worn by the fools or jefters of those times. STIEVINS.
I should suppose parcb to be merely a corruption of the Italian pazzi, which fignifies properly a fool. So, in the Mercbant of Venice, Aa II. sc. v. Shylock says of Launcelot, Tbe patch is kind enougb;-after having just called him, that fool of Hagar's offspring. TYRWHITT.
- fort, ] See note 5. MALONE.
now.) A head. Saxon JOHNSON
—my mimick-] This is the reading of the folio. The quarto printed by Fither hasminnick; that by Roberts, mirnock: both evi. dently corruptions. The line has been exp ained as if it related to Ttite; but it does not relate to her, but to Pyramus. Bottom had juft beer playing that part, and had retired into a brake; (according to Quince's direction : “When you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake.") “ Anon his Tbijhe must be answered, And forib my mimick (i. e. my actor) comes.” In this there seems no difficulty.
Mimick is used as synonymous to actor, by Decker, in his Guls Horst. booke, 1609 : “Draw what troop you can from the stage after you; the mimicks are beholden to you for allowing them elbow room." Again, in his Satiromaftix, 1602 : “ Thou [B. Jonson] haft forgot how thou amblest in a leather pilch by a play-waggon in the highway, and took't mad Jeronymo's part, to get service amongst the mimicks."' MALOXE. s – fort,] Company. So above: “-ibat barren sort; and in Weller: « À sort of lusty phep berds Prive." JOHNSON, 5
Sever themselves, and madly sweep the sky;
Obe. This falls out better than I could devise.
6 And, at our ftamp,-) This seems to be a vicious reading. Fairies are never represented stamping, or of a fize that should give force to a stamp, nor could they have distinguished the stamps of Puck from those of their own companions : I read :
And at a stump bere o'er and o'er one falls.” JOHuson. I adhere to the old reading. The ftamp of a fairy might be efficaci. ous, though not loud ; neither is it necefiary to suppose, when supernatural beings are spoken of, that the size of the agent determines the force of the action. That fairies did ftamp to some purpose, may be known from the following pailage in Olaus Magnus de Gentibus Seprentrionalibus." Vero sal:um adeo profunda in serram imprefferant, ut locus insigni ardore orbiculariter peresus, non parit arenti redivivum cespite gramen.” Shakspeare's own authority, however, is most decisive. See the conclufion of the first scene of the fourth act :
“ —Come, my queen, take hand with me,
“ And rock the ground whereon these sleepers be." STEEVENS. Our “grandams maides were woont to let a boll of milke before Incubus, and his coufin Robin Goodfellow, for grinding of malt or murtard, and sweeping the house at midnight: and he would chafe exceedingly if the maid or good wife of the house, having compassion of his nakednes, laid anie clothes for him, beelides his meile of white bread and milke, which was his standing fee : for in that case he saith, What have we here? Hemton hamten, here will I never more tread, nor Pampen." Discoverieof Witcbcraft by Reginald Scott, 1584, p. 85.
ANONYMOUS. -larcb'd] or letch'd, lick'd over ; lecber, to lick, French.
HANMER. In the North, it signifies to infect. STELVENS.