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The ousel-cock,6 so black of hue,
With orange-tawney bill,
The wren with little quill;
Tita. What angel wakes me from my flowery bed? 8
6 The ousel-cock,] The ouzel cock is generally understood to be the cock blackbird. Ben Jonson uses the word in The Devil is an ass :
stay till cold weather come, “I'll help thee to an ouzel and a field-fare." P. Holland, however, in his translation of Pliny's Nat. Hist. B. X, c. xxiv, represents the ouzle and the blackbird as different birds.
In The Arbor of Amorous Devises, 4to. bl. 1. are the following lines:
“ The chattering pie, the jay, and eke the quaile,
“ The thrustle-cock that was so black of hewe.” The former leaf and the title-page being torn out of the copy I consulted, I am unable either to give the two preceding lines of the stanza, or to ascertain the date of the book. Steevens.
From the following passage in Gwazzo's Civile Conversation, 1586, p. 139, it appears that ousels and blackbirds were the same birds : “ She would needs have it that they were two ousels or blackbirds." Reed.
The Ousel differs from the Black-hird by having a white crescent upon the breast, and is besides rather larger. See Lewin's English Birds. Douce.
7 The throstle -] So, in the old metrical romance of The Squhr of low degree, bl. 1. no date:
“ The pee and the popinjaye,
“ The thrustele, sayinge both nyght and daye.” Again, in the first book of Gower De Confessione Amantis, 1554:
" The throstel with the nightingale." It appears from the following passage in Thomas Newton's Herball to the Bible, 8vo, 1587, that the throstle is a distinct bird from the thrush: “ – There is also another sort of myrte or myrtle, which is wild, whose berries the mavises, throssels, owsells, and thrushes delite much to eate." Steevens.
8 What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?] Perhaps a parody on a line in The Spanish Tragedy, often ridiculed by the poets of our author's time:
“ What outcry calls me from my naked bed?” The Spanish Tragedly was entered on the Stationers' books in 1592. Malone.
Bot. The finch, the sparrow, and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
And dares not answer, nay ; for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird ? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry, cuckoo, never so?
Tita. I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again :
Bot. Methinks, mistress, you should have little reason for that: And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together now-a-days : The more
plain-song cuckoo, &c.] That is, the cuckoo, who, hav. ing no variety of strains, sings in plain song, or in plano cantu; by which expression, the uniform modulation or simplicity of the chaunt was anciently distinguished, in opposition to prick-song, or variegated musick, sung by note. Skelton introduces the birds singing the different parts of the service of the funeral of his favourite sparrow: among the rest is the cuckoo. P. 227, edit. Lond. 1736:
“ But with a large and a long
66 Our chanters shall be your cuckoue,” &c. T. Warton. Again,' in The Return from Parnassus:
“ Our life is a plain song with cunning penn'd.” Again, in Hans Beer-pot's Invisible Comedy, &c.
“ The cuckoo sings not worth a groat,
“ Because she never changeth note.” Steevens. 1 Mine ear is much enamour'd of thy note, So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape ; And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me,
On the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.] These lines are in one quarto of 1600, the first folio of 1623, the second of 1632, and the third of 1664, &c. ranged in the following order:
Mine ear is much enamour'd of thy note,
And thy fair virtue's force (perforce) doth move me. This reading I have inserted, not that it can suggest any thing better than the order to which the lines have been restored by Mr. Theobald from another quarto, (Fisher's] but to show that some liberty of conjecture must be allowed in the revisal of works so inaccurately printed, and so long neglected. Fohnson,
the pity, that some honest neighbours will not make them friends. Nay, I can gleek2 upon occasion.
Tita. Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.
Bot. Not so, neither: but if I had wit enough to get out of this wood, I have enough to serve mine own turn.
Tita. Out of this wood do not desire to go;
Enter four Fairies.
And I. 3 Fai.
And I. 4 Fai.
Where shall we go? Tita. Be kind and courteous to this gentleman; Hop in his walks, and gambol in his eyes; Feed him with apricocks, and dewberries,
-gleek,] Joke or scoff. Pope. Gleek was originally a game at cards. The word is often used by other ancient comic writers, in the same sense as by our au. thor. So, in Mother Bombie, 1594:
“There's gleek for you, let me have my gird.” Again, in Tom Tyler and his Wife:
“The more that I get her, the more she doth gleek me.” Again, in Greene's Farewell to Follie, 1617:
“ Messieur Benedetto galled Peratio with this gleek.” Mr. Lambe observes, in his notes on the ancient metrical his. tory of The Battle of Flodden, that, in the North, to gleek, is to deceive, or beguile; and that the reply made by the queen of the fairies, proves this to be the meaning of it. Steevens.
- jewels from the deep,] So, in King Richard III:
- reflecting gems “ That woo'd the slimy bottom of the deep." Steevens.
dewberries,] Dewberries, strictly and properly, are the fruit of one of the species of wild bramble, called the creeping or the lesser bramble: but as they stand here among the more
With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries;
1 Fai. Hail, mortal!
Bot. I cry your worships mercy, heartily.- I beseech, your worship's name?
delicate fruits, they must be understood to mean raspberries, which are also of the bramble kind. T. Hawkins.
Dewberries are gooseberries, which are still so called in several parts of the kingdom. Henley.
the fiery glow-worm's eyes,] I know not how Shakspeare, who commonly derived his knowledge of nature from his own observation, happened to place the glow-worm's light in his eyes, which is only in his tail. Johnson.
The blunder is not in Shakspeare, but in those who have construed too literally a poetical expression. It appears from every line of his writings that he had studied with attention the book of nature, and was an accurate observer of any object that fell within his notice. He must have known that the light of the glow-worm was seated in the tail; but surely a poet is justified in calling the luminous part of a glow-worm the eye. It is a liberty we take in plain prose; for the point of greatest brightness in a furnace is commonly called the eye
of it. Dr. Johnson might have arraigned him, with equal propriety, for sending his fairies to light their tapers at the fire of the glowworm, which in Hamlet he terms uneffectual:
“ The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
“ And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire.” M. Mason. 6 I shall desire you of more acquaintance,] This line has been very unnecessarily altered. The same mode of expression occurs in Lusty Fuventus, a morality:
“ I shall desire you of better acquaintance.” Such phraseology was very common to many of our ancient writers. So, in An Humorous Day's Mirth, 1599:
“I do desire you of more acquaintance."
master Cobweb: If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you.-Your name, honest gentleman ??
Bot. I pray you, commend me to mistress Squash, your mother, 8 and to master Peascod, your father. Good master Peas-blossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too.—Your name, I beseech you, sir?
Again, in Golding's version of the 14th Book of Ovid's Metamorphoses:
- he praid “ Him earnestly, with careful voice, of furthrance and
Again, in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, 1621 :
craving you of more acquaintance.” Steevens.
good master Cobweb: If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you. Your name, honest gentleman 2] In The Mayde’s Meta. morphosis, a comedy by Lyly, there is a dialogue between some foresters and a troop of fairies, very similar to the present: Mopso. I pray,
sir, what might I call you?
Mop. I am sorry I cannot purse you.
“ Fris. I would I were a chimney for your sake." The Maid's Metamorphosis was not printed till 1600, but was probably written some years before. Mr. Warton says, (History of English Poetry, Vol. II, p. 393) that Lyly's last play appeared in 1597. Malone.
mistress Squash, your mother,] A squash is an immature peascod. So, in Twelfth Night, Act I, sc. V:
as a squash is, before 'tis a peascod.” Steevens.
- patience -] The Oxford edition reads--I know your parentage well. I believe the correction is right. Fohnson.
Parentage was not easily corrupted to patience. I fancy, the true word is, passions, sufferings.
There is an ancient satirical Poem entitled-" The Poor Man's Passions, [i. e. sufferings,] or Poverty's patience.” Patience and Passions are so alike in sound, that a careless transcriber or compositor might easily have substituted the former word for the latter. Farmer.
No change is necessary. These words are spoken ironically. According to the opinion prevailing in our author's time, mustard was supposed to excite to choler. See note on Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, sc. ii. Reed. Perhaps we should read—“I know you passing well." D d 2