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which there was great resort.” In a note he | wooden swords, and pasteboard shields, and explains “not long since" as “ Michaelmas other trumpery required for the business of the Term, 1629.” We therefore can have no donbt stage, is still called the property man. In 'The that in Shakspere's time the parts of women Antipodes,' by R. Brome, 1640, we have the were personated by men and boys; and, indeed, following ludicrous account of the “properties," Prynne denounces this as a more pernicious which form as curious an assemblage as in Ho custom than the acting of women. The objec garth's Strollers :tion of Flute that he had "a beard coming," “He has got into our tiring-house amongst us, was doubtless a common objection; and the And ta'en a strict survey of all our properties;
Our statues and our images of gods, remedy was equally common_“You shall play
Our planets and our constellations, it in a mask.” Quince instructing his
Our giants, monsters, furies, beasts, and bugbears, “ Hard-handed men, that work in Athens here,"
Our helmets, shields and vizors, hairs and beards,
Our pasteboard marchpanes, and our wooden pies." reminds us of the celebrated picture, found at
(Quoted in Mr. Collior's 'History of the Stage.") Pompeii, of the Choragus giving directions to the actors. The travestie would probably have den Theatre was examined in an appeal of the
In 1839 the “property-man" of Covent Garbeen as just two thousand years ago as in the days of Shakspere.
proprietors of the theatre against the poor-rate assessment, when he said that the articles under
his charge consisted of "almost everything in • SOENE II.-"Properties."
creation from the dy to the whale." He was The technicalities of the theatre are very unworthy to be a property-man to Shakspere, who changing. The person who has charge of the “exhausted worlds."
9 SCENE I.-"Over hill, over dale,
one nurtured by our elder poet,) observes apon Thorough bush, thorough briar," &c.
the passage as we print it,
"Swifter than the moon's sphere," THEOBALD printed this passage as it appears in the folio and one of the quartos
"The flow of Shakspere's line is quite in keeping
with the peculiar rhythm which he has devoted “ Through bush, through briar."
to his fairies.” This rhythm, Mr. Guest, in Coleridge is rather hard upon him :-"What a another place, describes as consisting of “abrupt noble pair of ears this worthy Theobald must
verses of two, three, or four accents.” have had !” He took the passage as he found it. It is remarkable that the reading was cor- •SCENE I. “that shrewd and knavish sprite, rupted in the folio; for Drayton, in his imita- Calld Robin Good-fellow." tion in the 'Nymphidia,' which was published
There can be no doubt that the attributes of a few years before the folio, exhibits the value Puck, or Robin Good-fellow, as described by of the word " thorough :"
Shakspere, were collected from the popular “ Thorough brake, thorough briar,
superstitions of his own day. In Harsnet's Thorough muck, thorough mire,
Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures' Thorough water, thorough fire." On the other hand, Steevens had not the justifi- triars :-"And if that the bowle of curds and
(1603) he is mixed up as a delinquent with the cation of any text when he gave us
creame were not duly set out for Robin Good. “ Swifter than the moones sphere."
fellow, the frier, and Sisse the dairy-maid, why Mr. Guest, in his History of English Rhythm,' then either the pottage was burnt to next day (a work of great research, but which belongs to in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or a disciple of the school of Pope, rather than of the butter would not come, or the ale in the fat [vat] never would have good head." —Again, in the name to this source. Tyrwhitt has given Scot's ‘Discoverie of Witchcraft' (1584), we his opinion that the Pluto and Proserpina of have, “Your grandames' maids were wont to Chaucer's 'Marchantes Tale' were the true pro set a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in genitons of Oberon and Titania Chaucer calls grinding malt and mustard, and sweeping the Pluto the “King of Faerie," and Proserpina is house at midnight—this white bread, and bread “ Queen of Faerie;" and they take a solicitude and milk, was his standing fee." But Robin in the affairs of mortals. But beyond this they Good-fellow does not find a place in English have little in common with Oberon and Titania poetry before the time of Shakspere. He is In the Wife of Bathes Tale, however, Shak. Puck's poetical creator. The poets who have spere found the popular superstition presented followed in his train have endeavoured to vary in that spirit of gladsome revelry which it was the character of the “ shrewd and meddling reserved for him to work out in this matchless elf;" but he is nevertheless essentially the
drama :same. Drayton thus describes him in the
" In olde dayes of the King Artour, 'Nymphidia :
of which that Bretons speken gret bonour,
All was this land fulflled of faerie,
The Elf-queene with her joly compagnie,
Danced ful oft in many a grene mede."
20 SOENE II.—"Playing on pipes of corn."
“Pipes made of grene corne were amongst And when we stick in mire and clay,
the rustic music described by Chaucer. SydHe doth with laughter leave us."
ney's 'Arcadia,' at the time when Shakspere In the song of Robin Good-fellow, printed in wrote his "Midsummer-Night's Dream,' bad 'Percy's Reliques' (which has been attributed
made pastoral images familiar to all. It is to Ben Jonson), we have the same copy of the pleasant to imagine that our poet had the foloriginal features :
lowing beautiful passage in his thoughts :“Yet now and then, the maids to please,
“There were hills which garnished their proud At midnight I card up their wool ;
heights with stately trees : humble valleys, And while they sleep, and take their ease, With wheel to threads their flax I pull.
whose base estate seemed comforted with the I grind at mill
refreshing of silver rivers : meadows enamelled Their malt up still ;
with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets, I dress their hemp, I spin their tow. If any wake,
which being lined with most pleasant shade Add would me take,
were witnessed so too by the cheerful disposiI wend me, laughing, ho, ho, ho !"
tion of many well-tuned birds : each pasture The “lubbar-fiend” of Milton is the “lob of stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, spirits” of Shakspere. The hind, " by friar's while the pretty lambs with bleating oratory lanthorn led,"
craved the dam's comfort: here & shepherd's "Tells how the drudging Goblin sweat,
boy piping, as though he should never be old; To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal When in one night, ere glimpse of mom, His shadowy flail hath thresh'd the com
singing, and it seemed that her voice comforted That ten day-lab'rers could not end;
her hands to work, and her hands kept time to Then lies him down the lubbar-fiend,
11 SCENE II.—“Therefore, the winds, piping to Ere the first cock his matin rings."-(L'Allegro.)
us in vain," &c. • SCENE II._"IU met by moonlight, proud
In Churchyard's 'Charitie,' a poem published Titania,” &c.
in 1595, the “distemperature” of that year is
thus described :The name of "Oberon, King of Fairies,” is
“ A colder time in world was never seen : found in Greene's "James the IVth.' Greene
The skies do lower, the sun and moon wax dim; died in
the name was long before Summer scarce known but that the leaves are green.
Berners' translation of the The winter's waste drives water o'er the brim;
Upon the land great floats of wood may swim.
Because we have displeased the Lord of Light."
was indebted for
This " progeny of evils" has been recorded | draughts, till the game was finished by one of by the theologians as well as the poets. In the players having all his pieces taken or imStrype’s ‘Annals' we have an extract from a pounded. This was the nine men's morris. It lecture preached by Dr. J. King, at York, in is affirmed that the game was brought hither which are enumerated the signs of divine wrath by the Norman conquerors, under the name of with which England was visited in 1593 and merelles ; and that this name, which signifies 1594. The lecturer says :-"Remember that the counters, was subsequently corrupted into morals spring” (that year when the plague broke out) and morris. In a wet season the lines upon
was very unkind, by means of the abundance which the nine men moved were “filled up with of rains that fell. Our July bath been like to mad;" and "the quaint mazes,” which the more a February; our June even as an April : so that active of the youths and maidens in propitious the air must needs be infected.” Then, seasons trod “in the wanton green,” were having spoken of three successive years of obliterated. scarcity, he adds,—"And see, whether the Lord doth not threaten'us much more, by sending 13 SCENE II.—“My gentle Puck, come hither : such unseasonable weather, and storms of rain
Thou remember'st,” &c. among us : which, if we will observe, and com
There can be no doubt that the "fair vestal" pare it with that which is past, we may say that of this exquisite description was Queen Eliza the course of nature is very much inverted. beth. See William Shakspere, a Biography,' Our years are turned upside down. Our sum- page 51. mers are no summers : our barvests are no har. vests : our seed-times are no seed-times. For a
1 SCENE III.-" You spotted snakes," &c. great space of time, scant any day hath been
Fletcher’s ‘Faithful Shepherdess' has passages seen that it hath not rained upon us."
which strongly remind us of the 'Midsummer12 SCENE II._" The nine men's morris is filled Night's Dream.' But they are such as a man of up with mud."
high genius would naturally produce with a Upon the green turf of their spacious com
beautiful model before him. Take the song of
the River God as an example :mons the shepherds and ploughmen of England were wont to cut a rude series of squares, and
“Do not fear to put thy feet
Naked in the river, sweet; other right lines, upon which they arranged
Think not leech, or newt, or toad eighteen stones, divided between two players,
Will bite thy foot when thou hast trod." who moved them alternately, as at chess or
1 SCENE I.-"A lion among ladies is a most improbable that Shakspere meant to ridicule dreadful thing."
this incident in_" there is not a more fearful THERE was an account published in 1594 of the wild-fowl than your lion, living." ceremonies observed at the baptism of Henry,!
16 SCENE I.-" Let him name his name ; and tell the eldest son of the King of Scotland. Ai triumphal chariot, according to this account,
them plainly he is Snug the joiner." was drawn in by a “black-moor.” The writer This passage will suggest to our readers Sir adds—“This chariot should bave been drawn in Walter Scott's description of the pageant at by a lion, but because his presence might have Kenilworth, when Lambourne, not knowing his brought some fear to the nearest, or that the part, tore off his vizard and swore, “Cogs-bones ! sight of the lighted torches might have com- he was none of Arion or Orion either, but moved his tameness, it was thought meet that honest Mike Lambourne, that had been drink. the moor should supply that room." It is not ing her Majesty's health from morning till
midnight, and was come to bid her heartily | scientific pretensions, maintaining that the welcome to Kenilworth Castle.” But a circum- woosel or ousel is something else. It is suffistance of this nature actually happened upon cient for us to show that this name expressed the Queen's visit to Kenilworth, in 1575; and the blackbird in Shakspere's day. It is used is recorded in the 'Merry Passages and Jests,' by Drayton as synonymous with the merle compiled by Sir Nicholas Lestrange, and lately (about which there can be no doubt) in his depublished by the Camden Society from the scription of the “rough woodlands” of the WarHarleian M8.—“There was a spectacle pre- wickshire Arden, where both he and his friend sented to Queen Elizabeth upon the water, and, Shakspere studied the book of nature :amongst others, Harry Goldingham was to “ The throstel, with shrill sharps; as purposely he song represent Arion upon the dolphin's back, but
T' wake the lustless sun, or chiding that so long finding his voice to be very hoarse and unplea
He was in coming forth, that should the thickets thrill:
The roosol near at hand, that hath a golden bill; sant when he came to perform it, he tears off As nature him had mark'd of purpose, t' let us see his disguise and swears he was none of Arion,
That from all other birds his tunes should different be:
For, with their vocal sounds, they sing to pleasant May; not he, but e'en honest Harry Goldingham;
Upon his dulcet pipe, the merle doth only play." which blunt discovery pleased the Queen better
(Poly-Olbion, 13th Song.) than if it had gone through in the right way; yet he could order his voice to an instrument
19 SCENE I.-" And light them at the fiery gloroexceeding well." It is by no means impro
worm's eyes." bable that Shakspere was familiar with this Shakspere was certainly a much truer lover local anecdote, and has applied it in the case
of nature, and therefore a much better naturalist, of Snug the joiner. Bottom and Quince, and
than Dr. Johnson, who indeed professed to the other “hard-handed men," must also have despise such studies; but the critic has, neverbeen exceedingly like the citizens of Coventry, theless, ventured in this instance to be severe who played their Hock play before the Queen, upon the poet :-“I know not how Shakspeare, on the memorable occasion of her visit to their who commonly derived his knowledge of nature neighbourhood.
from his own observation, happened to place
the glow-worm's light in his eyes, which is only 17 SCENE I.-“ Look in the almanac; find out in his tail.” Well, then, let us correct the poet, moonshine."
and make Titania describe the glow-worm with
a hatred of all metaphor :The popular almanac of Shakspere's time was that of Leonard Digges, the worthy precursor
“ And light them at the fiery glow-worm's tail." of the Moores and Murphys. He had a higher We fear this will not do. It reminds us of the ambition than these his degenerate descendants; attempt of a very eminent naturalist to unite for, while they prophecy only by the day and science and poetry in verses which he called the the week, he prognosticated for ever, as his Pleasures of Ornithology,' of which union the title-page shows :—A Prognostication euer. following is a specimen :lastinge of right good effect, fruictfully aug. " The morning wakes, as from the losty elm mented by the auctour, contayning plain, briefe,
The cuckoo sends the monotone. Yet he,
Polygamous, ne'er knows what pleasures wait pleasaunte, chosen rules to iudge the Weather
On pure monogamy." by the Sunne, Moone, Starres, Comets, Rainebow, We may be wrong, but we would rather have Thunder, Cloudes, with other extraordinarye Bottom's tokens, not omitting the Aspects of the Planets, with a briefe iudgement for euer, of Plenty, than these hard words.
plain-song cuckoo gray," Lucke, Sickenes, Dearth, Warres, &c., opening also many natural causes worthy to be knowen'
20 SCENE II.—" Thy lips, those kissing cherries,” (1575)
The "kissing cherries” of Shakspere gave 18 SCENE I. The oosel-cock, 80 black of hue, Herrick a stock in trade for half-a-dozen poems. Pith orange-tawny bill."
We would quote the 'Cherry ripe,' had it not Bottom has here described the passed into that extreme popularity which
almost renders a beautiful thing vulgar. The hardy enough to deny his following is little known :
“I saw a cherry weep, and why?
“ sectional rhyme”-an ancient form of em. Why wept it? but for shame;
phatically marking a portion of a verse. We Because my Julia's lip was by, And did out-red the same.
have it in the Taming of the Shrew:'But, pretty fondling, let not fall
“ With cuffs and ruffo; and farthingales and things," A tear at all for that;
and, in 'Love's Labour's Lost :'-
“Or groan for Joan, or spend a minute's time." 21 SCENE II.—“O, and is all forgot ?" &c. 91 SCENE II.-“ For night's swift dragons cut the Gibbon compares this beautiful passage with
clouds full fast." some lines of a poem of Gregory Nazianzen on The chariot of night was drawn by dragons, his own life.
on account of their watchfulness. They were the
serpents, whose eyes were never shut.” In X SCENE II.—“So, with two seeming bodies," &c. Milton's 'Il Penseroso :'Mr. Monck Mason's explanation of this pas
Cynthia checks her dragon yoke.” sage seems more intelligible than some other interpretations :—“Every branch of a family is
25 SOENE II.—"I with the morning's love have oft called a house; and none but the first of the
made sport." first house can bear the arms of the family with- Whether Oberon meant to laugh at Tithonus, out some distinction; two of the first, therefore, the old husband of Aurora, or sport "like a means two coats of the first house, which are forester” with young Cephalus, the morning's properly due but to one.” But we have pleasure love, is matter of controversy. in giving the explanation of an anonymous correspondent, signing himself “A Lover of 26 SCENE II.-"Even till the eastern gate,” &c. Heraldry :"
This splendid passage was perhaps suggested “ It is not easy to see how Monck Mason's by some lines in Chaucer's ‘Knight's Tale:'explanation bears on this passage, or why 'the " The besy larke, the messager of day, first house should have two coats due to him :
Salewith in hire song the morwe gray:
And firy Phebus riseth up so bright, to a herald his reasoning is very vague.
That all the orient laugheth of the sight, “I propose to take the passage as it stands,
And with his stremes drieth in the greves and then the expression 'two of the first' will
The silver dropes, hanging on the leves." have nothing to do with the coats of heraldry,
27 SCENE II.-" Ho, ho! ho, ho!" but refers to what Helena has just said, 'two seeming bodies :
The devil of the old mysteries was as well So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart,
known by his Ho, ho! as Henry VIII. by his Two of the first, (i.e. two bodies,) like coats in heraldry, Ha, ha! Robin Good-fellow succeeded to the Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.'
pass-word of the ancient devil. Of the old song, There is a double comparison here : 1st, of the which we quoted in Act II., each stanza ends two bodies, compared to two coats of heraldry; with "ho, ho, ho!” and, 2ndly, of the one heart, compared to the one crest and the one owner. Our bodies are
28 SCENE II.-" When thou wak'st, two, but tbey are as united under one heart, as
Thou tak'st.” two coats of arms (when quartered or impaled) The second line is generally corrupted into are borne by one person under one crest.'”
** See thou tak'st."
The structure of the verse is precisely the 23 SCENE II.—" Shall seem a dream, and fruitless vision."
same as in the previous lines—
"On the ground Mr. Guest classes this line in the division of