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At a fair vestal, throned by the west;8
And loos’d his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts:
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quench'd in the chaste beams of the wat’ry moon;
And the imperial vot’ress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.'
Yet mark'd I where the bolt of Cupid fell:
It fell upon a little western flower,
Before, milk-white; now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it, love-in-idleness. 1

will spare


Shakspeare's compliment to Queen Elizabeth has no small degree of propriety and elegance to boast of. The same can hardly be said of the following, with which the tragedy of Soliman and Perseda, 1599, concludes. Death is the speaker, and vows he

none but sacred Cynthia's friend,
“ Whom Death did fear before her life began;
For holy fates have grav’n it in their tables,
“ That Death shall die, if he attempt her end

“ Whose life is heaven's delight, and Cynthia's friend.” If incense was thrown in cart-loads on the altar, this propitious deity was not disgusted by the smoke of it. Steevens.

8 At a fair vestal, throned by the west ;] A compliment to Queen Elizabeth. Pope.

It was no uncommon thing to introduce a compliment to this resolute, this determined virgin, in the body of a play. So again, in Tancred and Gismund, 1592:

“ There lives a virgin, one without compare,
“ Who of all graces hath her heavenly share ;
“ In whose renowne, and for whose happie days,
“ Let us record this Pæan of her praise." Cantant. Steevens.

-fancy.free.] i. e. exempt from the power of love. Thus, in Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, written by Churchyard, Chastity deprives Cupid of his bow, and presents it to her Majesty : “- and bycause that the Queene had chosen the best life, she gave the Queene Cupid's bowe, to learne to shoote at whome she pleased: since none could wound her highnesse hart, it was meete (said Chastitie) that she should do with Cupid's bowe and arrowes what she pleased.” Steevens.

1 And maidens call it, love-in-idleness.] This is as fine a metamorphosis as any in Ovid: with a much better moral, intimating, that irregular love has only power when people are idle, or not well employed. Warburton.

I believe the singular beauty of this metamorphosis to have been quite accidental, as the poet is of another opinion, in The Taming of a Shrew, Act I, sc. iv:

Fetch me that flower; the herb I show'd thee once;
The juice of it, on sleeping eye-lids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth?
In forty minutes.

[Exit Puck. Obe.

Having once this juice,
I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,
And drop the liquor of it in her eyes:
The next thing, then, she waking looks upon,
(Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape)
She shall pursue it with the soul of love.
And ere I take this charm off from her sight,
(As I can take it, with another herb)
I 'll make her render up her page to me.

“ But see, while idly I stood looking on,
" I found the effect of love in idleness;
“ And now in plainness I confess to thee,
“ Tranio, I burn, I pine, I perish, Tranio,

“ If I achieve not this young modest girl.” And Lucentio’s was surely a regular and honest passion. It is scarce necessary to mention, that love-in-idleness is a flower. Taylor, the water-poet, quibbling on the names of plants, mentions it as follows:

“ When passions are let loose without a bridle,

“ Then precious time is turn'd to love-in-idle." Steevens. The flower or violet, commonly called pansies, or heart's-ease, is named love-in-idleness in Warwickshire, and in Lyte's Herbal. There is a reason why Shakspeare says it is “ now purple with love's wound,” because one or two of its petals are of a purple colour. Tollet.

It is called in other counties, the Three-coloured violet, the Herb of Trinity, Three faces in a hood, Cuddle me to you, &c. Steevens.

2 I'll put a girdle round about the earth -] This expression also occurs in The Bird in a Cage, 1633:

“ And when I have put a girdie 'bout the world,

“ This purchase will reward me." Perhaps it is proverbial. Again, in Bussy d'Ambois, by, Chapman, 1613:

To put a girdle round about the world." And in other plays. Steevens.

But who comes here? I am invisible;3
And I will over-hear their conference.

Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA following him.
Dem. I love thee not, therefore pursue me not.
Where is Lysander, and fair Hermia?
The one I 'll slay, the other slayeth me.“
Thou told'st me, they were stol'n into this wood,
And here am I, and wood within this wood,5
Because I cannot meet with Hermia.
Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.

Hel. You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant;
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart


3 — I am invisible;] I thought proper here to observe, that as Oberon, and Puck his attendant, may be frequently observed to speak, when there is no mention of their entering, they are designed by the poet to be supposed on the stage during the greatest part of the remainder of the play; and to mix, as they please, as spirits, with the other actors; and embroil the plot, by their interposition, without being seen or heard, but when to their own purpose. Theobald. 4 The one I'll slay, the other slayeth me.] The old copies read

“ The one I 'll stay, the other stayeth me." Steevens. Dr. Thirlby ingeniously saw it must be as I have corrected in the text. Theobald. and wood within this wood,] Wood, or mad, wild, raving.

Pope. In the third part of the Countess of Pembroke's Ivy-Church, 1591, is the same quibble on the word:

“ Daphne goes to the woods, and vowes herself to Diana ;

“ Phæbus grows stark wood for love and fancie to Daphne." We also find the same word in Chaucer, in the character of the Monke, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 184:

“ What shulde he studie, and make himselven wood ?Spenser also uses it, Æglogue III. March:

“ The elf was so wanton, and so wode.The name Woden,” says Verstegan in his Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, &c. 1605: - signifies fierce or furious; and in like sense we still retain it, saying, when one is in a great rage, that he is wood, or taketh on as if he were wood.Steevens.

See Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II, sc. iii. Harris.
6 You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant ;

But yet you draw not iron,] I learn from Edward Fenton's Certaine Secrete Wonders of Nature, bl. 1. 1569, that—“there is now a dayes a kind of adamant which draweth unto it fleshe, and the same so strongly, that it hath power to knit and tie together,

Is true as steel: Leave you your power to draw,
And I shall have no power to follow you.

Dem. Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
Or, rather, do I not in plainest truth
Tell you—I do not, nor I cannot love you?

Hel. And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you:
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you.
What worser place can I beg in your love,
(And yet a place of high respect with me)
Than to be used as you use your dog?

Dem. Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit; For I am sick, when I do look on thee.

Hel. And I am sick, when I look not on you.

Dem. You do impeach your modesty? too much,
To leave the city, and commit yourself
Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night,
And the ill counsel of a desert place,
With the rich worth of your virginity.

Hel. Your virtue is my privilege for that. 8
It is not night, when I see your face;'
Therefore I think I am not in the night:


two mouthes of contrary persons, and drawe the heart of a man out of his bodie without offendyng any parte of him.” Steevens.

impeach your modesty - ) i. e. bring it into question. So, in The Merchant of Venice, Act III, sc. ii:

“ And doth impeach the freedom of the state,

“ If they deny him justice.” Steevens. 8 — for that.] i. e. For leaving the city, &c. Tyrwhitt.

9 It is not night, when I do see your face, &c.] This passage is paraphrased from two lines of an ancient poet [Tibullus]:

Tu nocte vel atra “ Lumen, et in solis tu mihi turba locis.” Fohnson. As the works of King David might be more familiar to Shakspeare than Roman poetry, perhaps, on the present occasion, the eleventh verse of the 139th Psalm, was in his thoughts : “ Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as the day.” Steevens.

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Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company;1


my respect, are all the world: Then how can it be said, I am alone, When all the world is here to look on me?

Dem. I'll run from thee, and hide me in the brakes, And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

Hel. The wildest hath not such a heart as you.”
Run when you will, the story shall be chang'd;
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase;
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger: Bootless speed!
When cowardice pursues, and valour flies.

Dem. I will not stay thy questions;3 let me go:
Or, if thou follow me, do not believe
But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

Hel. Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fy, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex:
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;
We should be woo’d, and were not made to woo.
I'll follow thee, and make a heaven of hell,
To die upon the hand I love so well.4

[Exeunt DEM. and HEL. Obe. Fare thee well, nymph! ere he do leave this grove, Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.

i Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company;] The same thought occurs in King Henry VI, P. II:

“ A wilderness is populous enough,

“ So Suffolk had thy heavenly company.” Malone. 2 The wildest hath not such a heart as you.]

“ Mitius inveni quam te genus omne ferarum.” Ovid. See Timon of Athens, Act IV, sc. i:

where he shall find “ The unkindest beasts more kinder than mankind.” S. W. 3 I will not stay thy questions ;] Though Helena certainly puts a few insignificant questions to Demetrius, I cannot but think our author wrote-question, i. e. discourse, conversation. So, in As you like it: “I met the duke yesterday, and had much question with him.” Steevens.

4 To die upon the hand, &c.] To die upon, &c. in our author's language, I believe, means to die by the hand.” So, in The two Gentlemen of Verona:

“ I'll die on him that says so, but yourself.” Steevens.

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