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I am a right maid for my cowardice;
Let her not strike me: You, perhaps, may think,
Because she's something lower than myself,
That I can match her.

Lower! hark, again.
Hel. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me.
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong'd you;
Save that, in love unto Demetrius,
I told him of your stealth unto this wood:
He follow'd you; for love, I follow'd him.
But he hath chid me hence; and threaten'd me
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too:
And now, so you will let me quiet go,
To Athens will I bear my folly back,
And follow you no further: Let me go:
You see how simple and how fond I am.8

Her. Why, get you gone: Who is 't that hinders you?
Hel. A foolish heart, that I leave here behind.
Her. What, with Lysander?

With Demetrius.
Lys. Be not afraid : she shall not harm thee, Helena.
Dem. No, sir; she shall not, though you take her part.

Hel. O, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd:
She was a vixen, when she went to school :9
And, though she be but little, she is fierce.

Her. Little again? nothing but low and little?-
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.

Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hind'ring knot-grass made ;?
You bead, you acorn.


how fond I am.] Fond, i. e. foolish. So, in The Mer. chant of Venice:

I do wonder,
“ Thou naughty gaoler, that thou art so fond

“ To come abroad with him.” Steevens. 9 She was a vixen, when she went to school;] Vixen, or fixen, primitively signifies a female fox. So, in The Boke of Hunting, that is cleped Mayster of Game; an ancient MS in the collection of Francis Douce, Esq. Gray's Inn: “ The fixen of the Foxe is Assaute onys in the yer. She hath venomous biting as a wolfe.”



You are too officious,
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;
Take not her part : for if thou dost intend?
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it. 3

Now she holds me not;
Now follow, if thou dar’st, to try whose right,
Or thine or mine, is most in Helena. 4



of hind'ring knot-grass made;] It appears that knotgrass was anciently supposed to prevent the growth of any ani. mal or child.

Beaumont and Fletcher mention this property of it in The Knight of the Burning Pestle:

“ Should they put him into a straight pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass, he would never grow after it.” Again, in the Coxcomb:

“ We want a boy extremely for this function, kept under, for a year, with milk and knot-grass.Daisy-roots were supposed to have the same effect.

That prince of verbose and pedantic coxcombs, Richard Tom. linson, apothecary, in his translation of Renodaus his Dispensatory, 1657, informs us that knot-grass “ is a low reptant hearb, with exile, copious, nodose, and geniculated branches.” Perhaps no hypochondriack is to be found, who might not derive his cure from the perusal of any single chapter in this work. Steevens.

intend -] i. e. pretend. So, in Much Ado about Nothing: Intend a kind of zeal both to the prince and Claudio."

Steevens. 3 Thou shalt aby it.] To aby is to pay dear for, to suffer. So, - in The Dorunfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601:

Had I sword and buckler here, “You should ab, these questions." The word has occurred before in this play. See p. 320, line 15. Aguin in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:

- but thou shalt dear aby this blow.” Steevens. Thou shalt aby it.] Aby it, is abide by it; i. e. stand to it, answer to it. So, in Psalm cxxx, v. 3, in Common Prayer: “if thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss : O Lord who may abide it?Harris.

4 Or thine or mine, &c.) The old copies read-Of thine. The emendation is Mr. Theobald's. I am not sure that the old reading is corrupt.

If the line had run--"Of mine or thine," I should have suspected that the phrase was borrowed from the Latin: Now follow, to try whose right of property,—of meum op tuun,-is the greatest in Helena. Malone.

Dem. Follow? nay, I 'll go with thee, cheek by jole.

[Exeunt Lys, and DEM. Her. You, Mistress, all this coil is ’long of you: Nay, go not back. Hel.

I will not trust you, I; Nor longer stay in your curst company: Your hands, than mine, are quicker for a fray; My legs are longer though, to run away. [Exit. Her. I am amaz’d, and know not what to say.

[Exit. pursuing HEL. Obe. This is thy negligence: still thou mistak'st, Or else commit'st thy knaveries wilfully.

Puck. Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook.
Did not you tell me, I should know the man
By the Athenian garments he had on?
And so far blameless proves my enterprise,
That I have 'nointed an Athenian's eyes:
And so far am I glad it so did sort,5
As this their jangling I esteem as sport.

Obe. Thou seest, these lovers seek a place to fight:
Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night;
The starry welkin cover thou anon
With drooping fog, as black as Acheron;
And lead these testy rivals so astray,
As one come not within another's way.
Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue,
Then stir Demetrius up with bitter wrong;
And sometime rail thou like Demetrius;
And from each other look thou lead them thus,
Till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep
With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep:
Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye;
Whose liquor hath this virtuous property,
To take from thence all error, with his might,
And make his eye-balls roll with wonted sight.

5 so did sort,] So happen in the issue. Fohnson. So, in Monsieur D'Olive, 1606: never look to have any action sort to your honour."

Steevens. virtuous property,) Salutiferous. So he calls, in The Tempest, poisonous dew, wicked dew. Folinson.



When they next wake, all this derision
Shall scem a dream, and fruitless vision;
And back to Athens shall the lovers wend,
With league, whose date till death shall never end.
Whiles I in this affair do thee employ,
I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
And then I will her charmed eye release
From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.

Puck. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste;
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
At whose approach, ghosts wandering here and there,
Troop home to church-yards: damned spirits all,
That in cross-ways and floods have burial,
Already to their wormy bedst are gone;
For fear lest day should look their shames upon,
They wilfully themselves exíle from light,
And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.2



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- wend,] i. e. go. So, in The Comedy of Errors :

“ Hopeless and helpless doth Ægeon wend.Steevens. 8 For night's swift dragons, &c.] So, in Cymbeline, Act II, sc. ii:

“ Swift, swift, ye dragons of the night.'See my note on this passage, concerning the vigilance imputed to the serpent tribe. Steevens.

This circumstance Shakspeare might have learned from a passage in Golding's translation of Ovid, which he has imitated in The Tempest:

Among the earth-bred brothers you a mortal war did set, “ And brought asleep the dragon fell, whose eyes were never

shet.' Malone.

damned spirits all, That in cross-ways and floods have burial,] The ghosts of self-murderers, who are buried in cross-roads; and of those who being drowned, were condemned (according to the opinion of the ancients) to wander for a hundred years, as the rites of sepulture bad never been regularly bestowed on their bodies. That the waters were sometimes the place of residence for damned spirits, we learn from the ancient bl. 1. romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date:

“ Let some preest a gospel saye,

“ For doubte of fendes in the flode." Steevens. 1- to their wormy beds -} This periphrasis for the grave has been borrowed by Milton, in his Ode on the Death of a fair Infant: “Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed.Steevens.

black-brow'd night,] So, in King John:
Why, here walk 1, in the black-brow of night.Steevens.

Obe. But we are spirits of another sort:
I with the morning's love have oft made sport;3
And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
Even till the eastern gate,* all fiery-red,
Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
Turns into yellow gold his salt-green str

ms. But, notwithstanding, haste; make no delay: We may effect this business yet ere day. [Exit OBE.

Puck. Up and down, up and down;
I will lead them up and down;

3 1 with the morning's love have oft made sport;] Thus all the old copies, and I think, rightly. Pithonus was the husband of Aurora, and Tithonus was no young deity. Thus, in Aurora, a collection of sonnets, by Lord Sterline, 1604:

“ And why should Tithon thus, whose day grows late,

Enjoy the morning's love?
Again, in The Parasitaster, by J. Marston, 1606:

Aurora yet keeps chaste old Tithon's bed;

“ Yet blushes at it when she rises." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. III, c. iii:

“ As faire Aurora rising hastily,
Doth by her blushing tell that she did lye

« All night in old Tithonus' frozen bed." Again, in The Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher:

- O, lend me all thy red, “ Thou shame-fac’d morning, when from Tithon's bed

“ Thou risest ever-maiden.How such a waggish spirit as the King of the Fairies might make sport with an antiquated lover, or his mistress in his absence, may be easily understood. Dr. Johnson reads with all the modern editors : “ I with the morning light,” &c. Steevens.

Will not this passage bear a different explanation? By the morning's love I apprehend Cephalus, the mighty hunter and paramour of Aurora, is intended. The context, “ And, like a forester,” &c. seems to show that the chace was the sport, which Oberon boasts he partook with the morning's love. Holt White.

The connection between Aurora and Cephalus is also pointed out in one of the Poems that form a collection entitled The Phenix Nest, &c. 4to. 1593, p. 95:

Aurora now began to rise againe
“ From watrie couch and from old Tithon's side,
“ In hope to kiss upon Acteian plaine

Young Cephalus," &c. Steevens. 4. Even till the eastern gate, &c.] What the fairy monarch means to inform Puck of, is this. That he was not compelled, like meaner spirits, to vanish at the first appearance of the dawn.


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