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Puck.

Thou speak’st aright; I am that merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon, and make him smile, When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a filly foal: And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, In very likeness of a roasted crab;8 And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale. The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me; Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, And tailor cries,' and falls into a cough; And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe;' And waxen” in their mirth, and neeze, and swear A merrier hour was never wasted there. But room, Faery, here comes Oberon. Fai. And here my mistress :-'Would that he

were gone!

SCENE II.

Enter OBERON, at one door, with his train, and

TITANIA, at another, with hers.
Obe. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania.

Tita. What, jealous Oberon? Fairy, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and

company. Obe. Tarry, rash wanton; Am not I thy lord? Tita. Then I must be thy lady: But I know

a roasted crab;] i. e. a wild apple of that name. 9 And tailor cries,] The custom of crying tailor at a sudden fall backwards, I think I remember to have observed. He that slips beside his chair, falls as a tailor squats upon his board.

Johnson. hold their hips, and loffe;] i. e. laugh. ? And waxen -] And encrcase, as the moon waxes.

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When thou hast stol'n away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest steep of India ?
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress, and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity.

Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering

night
From Perigenia, whom he ravished?
And make him with fair Æglé break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiopa?

Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer's spring,
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb’d our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents : 0

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the glimmering night-] the night faintly illuminated by stars.

4 And never, since the middle summer's spring, fc.] The middle summer's spring, is, I apprehend, the season when trees put forth their second, or, as they are frequently called, their midsummer shoots. HENLEY.

-pelting—] This word is always used as a word of contempt.

overborne their continents: ] Borne down the banks that contain them.

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The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain'd a beard:
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock;?
The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud;8
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable :
The human mortals' want their winter here;
No night is now with hymn or carol blest:
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatick diseases do abound:
And thorough this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hyems' chin, and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds

7

his men,

loses the game.

9

murrain flock;] The murrain is the plague in cattle. 8 The nine men's morris is fill'd. up with mud;] Nine men's morris is a game still played by the shepherds, cowkeepers, &c. in the midland counties, as follows:

A figure is made on the ground by cutting out the turf; and two persons take each nine stones, which they place by turns in the angles, and afterwards move alternately, as at chess or draughts. He who can place three in a straight line, may then take off any one of his adversary's, where he pleases, till one, having lost all

the quaint mazes in the wanton green,] This alludes to a sport still followed by boys; i. e. what is now called running the figure of eight. . STEEVENS.

The human mortals --] Shakspeare might have employed this epithet, which, at first sight, appears redundant, to mark the difference between men and fuiries. Fairies were not human, but they were yet subject to mortality.

? That rheumatick diseases do abound:] Rheumatick diseases signified in Shakspeare's time, not what we now call rheumatism, but distillations from the head, catarrhs, &c.

this distemperature,] is either this perturbation of the elements, or the perturbed state in which the king and queen had lived for some time past.

+

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İs, as in mockery, set: The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn,t angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the 'mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissention;
We are their parents and original.

Obe. Do you amend it then; it lies in you:
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.
Tita.

Set your heart at rest,
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a vot'ress of my order :
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood;
When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive,
And grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind:
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait,
(Following her womb, then rich with my young

squire,)
Would imitate; and sail upon the land,
To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandize.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy:
And, for her sake, I will not part with him.

Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tita. Perchance, till after Theseus' wedding-day.

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6

*The childing autumn,) Is the pregnant autumn. By their increase,] That is, By their produce.

henchman.] Page of honour. This office was abolished at court by Queen Elizabeth, but probably remained in the city. Henchmen were a certain number of youths, the sons of gentlemen, who stood or walked near the person of the monarch on all public occasions. VOL. II.

DD

If

you will patiently dance in our round, And see our moonlight revels, go with us; If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.

Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.

Tita. Not for thy kingdom.–Fairies, away: We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.

[Exeunt TITANIA, and her train. Obe. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this

grove,
Till I torment thee for this injury.--
My gentle Puck, come hither: Thou remember'st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's musick.
Puck.

I remember.
Obe. That very time I saw, (but thou could'st

not,)
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all arm’d: a certain aim he took
At a fair vestal, throned by the west;)
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 votress passed on,
In maiden meditation, fancy-free.s
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.

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

8 fancy-free.] i. e, exempt from the power of love.

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