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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
Enter OBERON, at one door, with his train, and
TITANIA, at another, with hers.
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.
When thou hast stol'n away from fairy land,
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
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.
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
loses the game.
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.
İs, as in mockery, set: The spring, the summer,
Obe. Do you amend it then; it lies in you:
Set your heart at rest,
Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay?
*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.
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
And the imperial votress passed on,
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.