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Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my face;
Lys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
Her. And in the wood, where often you and I
[Exit HER. Lys. I will, my Hermia. Helena, adieu: As you on him, Demetrius dote on you! [Exit Lys.
Hel. How happy some o'er other some can be!
None.-But your beauty ;-'would that fault were mine !
Henderson. 4 Take comfort; he no more shall see my face; Lysander and myself will fly this place.
Before the time I did Lysander see,] Perhaps every reader may not discover the propriety of these lines. Hermia is willing to comfort Helena, and to avoid all appearance of triumph over her. She therefore bids her not to consider the power of pleasing as an advantage to be much envied or much desired, since Hermia, whom she considers as possessing it in the supreme degree, has found no other effect of it than the loss of happiness. Fohnson.
Things base and vile, holding no quantity,5
holding no quantity,] Quality seems a word more suitable to the sense than quantity, but either may serve. Johnson. Quantity is our author's word. So, in Hamlet, Act III, sc. ü:
“ And women's fear and love hold quantity.” Steppens.
in game - ] Game here signifies, not contentious play, but sport, jest. So Spenser:
'twixt earnest, and 'twixt game." Johnson.
Hermia's eyne,] This plural is common both in Chaucer and Spenser. So, in Chaucer's Character of the Prioresse, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 152:
- hir eyen grey as glass.” Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c. iv, st. 9:
“ While flashing beams do dare his feeble eyen.” Steevens.
this hail – ] Thus all the editions, except the 4to. 1600, printed by Roberts, which reads instead of this hail, his hail.
Steevens. it is a dear expense: ] i. e. it will cost him much, (be a severe constraint on his feelings) to make even ght a return for my communication. Steevens.
Bot. You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.2
Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and duchess, on his wedding-day at night.
Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow to a point. 3
1 In this scene, Shakspeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre, to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the principal actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noise, such as every young man pants to perform, when he first steps upon the stage. The same Bottom, who seems bred in a tiring-room, has another histrionical passion. He is for engrossing every part, and would exclude his inferiors from all possibility of distinction. He is, therefore, desirous to play Pyramus, Thisbe, and the Lion, at the same time. Fohnson.
the scrip.] A scrip, Fr. escript, now written écrit. So, Chaucer, in Troilus and Cressida, 1. 2. 1130:
Scripe nor bil.” Again, in Heywood's If you know not me you know Nobody, 1606, P. II:
“ I'll take thy own word without scrip or scroll.” Holinshed likewise uses the word. Steevens. grow to a point.] Dr. Warburton reads-go on ; but
grow is used, in allusion to his name, Quince. Johnson.
To grow to a point, I believe, has no reference to the name of Quince. I meet with the same kind of expression in Wily Beguiled:
" As yet we are grown to no conclusion.” Again, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584:
“ Our reasons will be infinite, I trow,
“ Unless unto some other point we grow.” Steevens. And so grow to a point.] The sense, in my opinion, hath been hitherto mistaken; and instead of a point, a substantive, I would read appoint, a verb; that is, appoint what part each actor is to perform, which is the real case. Quince first tells them the name of the play, then calls the actors by their names, and after that, tells each of them what part is set down for him to act,
Quin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable comedy, 4 and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby.
Bot. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry.5-Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll: Masters, spread yourselves.
Quin. Answer, as I call you.-Nick Bottom, the weaver. Bot. Ready: Name what part I am for, and proceed. Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. Bot. What is Pyramus? a lover, or a tyrant?
Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for love.
Bot. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it: If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes: I will move storms, I will condole in some measure.? To the rest:-Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant: I could
Perhaps, however, only the particle a may be inserted by the printer, and Shakspeare wrote to point, i. e. to appoint. The word occurs in that sense, in a poem, by N. B. 1614, called I would and I would not, stanza iii:
“ To point the captains every one their fight.” Warner.
The most lamentable comedy, &c.] This is very probably a burlesque on the title page of Cambyses: “A lamentable Tragedie, mixed full of pleasant Mirth, containing, The Life of Cambises King of Percia," &c. By Thomas Preston, bl. 1. no date.
On the registers of the Stationers' company, however, appears “ the boke of Pyramus and Thisbye,” 1562. Perhaps Shakspeare copied some part of his interlude from it.” Steevens.
A poem, entitled Pyramus and Thisbe, by D. Gale, was published in 4to. in 1597 ; but this, I believe, was posterior to the Midsummer Night's Dream. Malone.
5 A very good piece of work, and a merry.) This is designed as a ridicule on the titles of our ancient moralities and interludes. Thus Skelton's Magnificence is called “a goodly interlude and a mery.” Steevens.
- spread yourselves.] i. e. stand separately, not in a group, but so that you may be distinctly seen, and called over. Steevens.
I will condole in some measure,] When we use this verb at present, we put with before the person for whose misfortune we profess concern. Anciently, it seems to have been employed without it. So, in A Pennyworth of good Counsell, an ancient ballad:
“ Thus to the wall
“I may condole.”
“ Poor weather beaten soles,
play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make all split.
“ The raging rocks,
66 The foolish fates." This was lofty !-Now name the rest of the players. This is Ercles’ vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more condoling
Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.2
Flu. Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming
8 I could play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in,] In the old comedy of The Roaring Girl, 1611, there is a character, called Tear-cat, who says: “ I am called, by those, who have seen my valour, Tear-cat.” In an anonymous piece called Histriomastix, or The Player Whipt, 1610, in six acts, a parcel of soldiers drag a company of players on the stage, and the captain says:
" Sir rah, this is you that would rend and tear a cat upon a stage,” &c. Again, in The Isle of Gulls, a comedy, by J. Day, 1606; I had rather hear two such jests, than a whole play of such Tear-cat thunderclaps.” Steevens.
to make all split.] This is to be connected with the previous part of the speech ; not with the subsequent rhymes. It was the description of a bully. In the second act of The Scornful Lady, we meet with “ two roaring boys of Rome, that made all split.” Farmer.
I meet with the same expression in The Widow's Tears, by Chapman, 1612: “ Her wit I must employ upon this business, to prepare my next encounter, but in such a fashion as shall make all split.” Malone.
1 With shivering shocks, ]- The old copy reads—" And shiver, ing,” &c. The emendation is Dr. Farmer's. Steevens.
the bellows-mender.] In Ben Jonson's Masque of Pan's Anniversary, &c. a man of the same profession is introduced. I have been told that a bellows-mender was one, who had the care of organs, regals, &c. Steevens.