« PreviousContinue »
for, methinks, I am marvellous hairy about the face: and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch. Tita. What, wilt thou hear some musick, my sweet
love? Bot. I have a reasonable good ear in musick: let us have the tongs? and the bones.
T'ita. Or, say, sweet love, what thou desir'st to eat.
Bot. Truly, a peck of provender; I could munch your good dry oats. Methinks I have a great desire to a bottle of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
Titu. I have a venturous fairy that shall seek The squirrel's hoard, 8 and fetch thee new nuts.
Bot. I had rather have a handful, or two, of dried peas. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me; I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
Tita. Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms. Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away.' So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle,
the tongs -] The old rustick musick of the tongs and key. The folio has this stage direction: “ Musicke Tongs, Rurall Musicke."
This rough musick is likewise mentioned by Marston, in an address ad rithmum, prefixed to the second Book of his Satires, 1598:
“ Yee wel-match'd twins (whose like-tuned tongs affords
“ Such musical delight),” &c. vens. 8 The squirrel’s hoard,] Hoard is here employed as a dissyllable. Steevens.
and be all ways away.) i. e. disperse yourselves, and scout out severally, in your watch, that danger approach us from no quarter. Theobald.
The old copies read—“be always.” Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone. Mr. Upton reads:
And be away-away. Fohnson. Mr. Heath would read~" and be always i' the way.” Steevens. 1 So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle, Gently entwist,-the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.] What does the woodbine entwist? The honey-sucæle. But the woodbine and honey-suckle were, till now, but two names for one and the same plant. Florio, in his Italian Dictionary, interprets Madre Selva by woodbine or honie-suckle. We must therefore find a support for the woodbine as well as for the ivy. Which is done by reading the lines thus ;
Gently entwist; the female ivy? so
So doth the woodbine, the sweet honey-suckle,
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm. The corruption might happen by the first blunderer dropping the p in writing the word maple, which word thence became male. A following transcriber, for the sake of a little sense and measure, thought fit to change this male into female; and then tacked it as an epithet to ivy. Warburton. Mr. Upton reads:
So doth the woodrine the sweet honey-suckle, for bark of the wood. Shakspeare perhaps only meant, so the leaves involve the flower, using woodbine for the plant, and honeysuckle for the flower; or perhaps Shakspeare made a blunder.
Fohnson. The thought is Chaucer's. See his Troilus and Cresseide, v. 1236, Lib. III:
“ And as about a tre with many a twist
“ Gan eche of hem in armis other winde.” What Shakspeare seems to mean, is this So the woodbine, i. e. the sweet honey-suckle, doth gently entwist the barky fingers of the elm, and so does the female ivy enring the same fingers. It is not unfrequent in the poets, as well as other writers, to explain one word by another which is better known. The reason why Shakspeare thought woodbine wanted illustration, perhaps-is-this. In some counties, by woodbine or woodbind would have been generally understood the ivy, which he had occasion to mention in the very next line. In the following instance from Old Fortunatus, 1600, woodbind is used for ivy :
“ And, as the running wood-bind, spread her arms
«« To choak thy with’ring boughs in her embrace.” And Barrett in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, enforces the same distinction that Shakspeare thought it necessary to make :
“Woodbin that beareth the honey-suckle.” Steevens. This passage has given rise to various conjectures. It is certain, that the wood-bine and the honey-suckle were sometimes considered as different plants. In one of Taylor's Poems, we havem
“The woodbine, primrose, and the cowslip fine,
“ The honisuckle, and the daffadill." But I think Mr. Steevens's interpretation the true one. The old writers did not always carry the auxiliary verb forward, as Mr. Capell seems to suppose by his alteration of enrings, to enring. So, Bishop Lowth, in his excellent Introduction to Grammar, p. 126, has without reason corrected a similar passage in our translation of St. Matthew. Farmer.
Were any change necessary, I should not scruple to read the weedbind, i. e. similax, a plant that twists round every other that grows in its way.
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.
OBERON advances. Enter Puck.
In a very ancient translation of “Macer's Herball, practysed by Docter Linacre,” is the following passage: " Caprifolium is an herbe called woodbynie or withwynde, this groweth in hedges or in woodles, and it wyil beclyp a tre in her growynge, as doth yvye, and hath white flowers.” Steevens.
In Lord Bacon's Nat. Hist. Experiment 496, it is observed, that there are two kinds of “ honey-suckles, both the woodbine and trefoil," i. e. the first is a plant that winds about trees, and the other is a three-leaved grass. Perhaps these are meant in Dr. Farmer's quotation. The distinction, however, may serve to show why Shakspeare and other authors frequently added woodbine to honey-suckle, when they mean the plant and not the grass."
Tollet. The interpretation of either Dr. Johnson or Mr. Steevens removes all difficulty. The following passage in Sicily and Naples, or The Fatal Union, 1640, in which the honeysuckle is spoken of as the flower, and the woodbine as the plant, adds some support to Dr. Johnson's exposition :
as fit a gift
“ The amorous woodbine's offspring.".
the female ivy-] Shakspeare calls it female ivy, because it always requires some support, which is poetically called its husband. So Milton:
led the vine
“Evincet ulmos.” Hor. Steevens.
In our ancient marriage ceremony, (or rather, perhaps, contract) the woman gave the man a ring, as well as received one from him. To this custom the conduct of Olivia (See TwelfthNight, sc. ult.) bears sufficient testimony:
“A contract of eternal bond of love, &c.
Her dotage now I do begin to pity.
[Touching her eyes with an herb. See, as thou wast wont to see:
-sweet savours - ] Thus Roberts's quarto and the first folio. Fisher's quarto reads-favours; which, taken in the sense of ornaments, such as are worn at weddings, may be right. Steevens.
-flourets' eyes,] The eye of a flower is the technical term for its center. Thus Milton, in his Lycidas, v. 139:
“ Throw hither all your quaint enameld eyes.” Steevens. 5 That he awaking when the other do,] Such is the reading of the old copies, and such was the phraseology of Shakspeare's age; though the modern editors have departed from it. So, in King Henry IV, P. I: “ - and unbound the rest, and then came in the other."
Again, in King Henry IV, P. II: “For the other, Sir John, let me see,” &c.
So, in the epistle prefixed to Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil, by Thomas Nashe, 4to. 1592: “ I hope they will give me leave to think there be fooles of that art, as well as of all other." Malone.
Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower
Hath such force and blessed power.
Tita. My Oberon! what visions have I seen!
Obe. There lies your love.
How came these things to pass? O, how mine eyes do loath his visage now!
Obe. Silence, a while.—Robin, take off this head. Titania, musick call; and strike more dead Than common sleep, of all these five the sense.?
Tita. Musick, ho! musick; şuch as charmeth sleep. Puck. Now, when thou wak’st, with thine own fool's
eyes peep. Obe. Sound, musick. [Still musick] Come, my queen,
take hands with me,
6 Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower -] The old copies read-or Cupid's. Corrected by Dr. Thirlby. The herb now employed is styled Diana's bud, because it is applied as an antidote to that charm which had constrained Titania to dote on Bottom with " the soul of love." Malone.
Dian's bud, is the bud of the Agnus Castus, or Chaste Tree.Thus, in Macer's Herball, practysyd by Doctor Lynacre, translated out of Laten into Englyshe, &c. bl. 1. nó date: “ The vertue of this herbe is, that he wyll kepe man and woman chaste,” &c. Cupid's flower, is the Viola tricolor, or Love in Idleness. Steevens.
-of all these five the sense.] The old copies read these fine; but this most certainly is corrupt. My emendation needs no justification. The five, that lay asleep on the stage were De. metrius, Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Bottom.-- Dr. Thirlby likewise communicated this very correction. Theobald. 8 Dance in duke Theseus' house triumphantly, And bless it to all fair posterity:] We should read;
to all far posterity. i. e. to the remotest posterity. Warburton.
Fair posterity is the right reading.
In the concluding song, where Oberon blesses the nuptial bed, part of his bencdiction is, that the posterity of Theseus shall be air ;