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"a year, with milk and knot-grass." Daisy-roots were supposed to have the same effect. STEEVENS.
Line 584. intend] Means, pretend.
Thou shalt aby it.] To aby is to pay dear for, to
-so did sort,] So happen in the issue.
-virtuous property,] Salutiferous. So he calls,
in The Tempest, poisonous dew, wicked dew.
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 had never been regularly bestowed on their bodies. STEEVENS.
Line 645. I with the morning's love have oft made sport;] Thus all the old copies, and I think, rightly. Tithonus was the husband of Aurora, and Tithonus was no young Deity. How such a waggish spirit as the King of the Fairies might make sport with an antiquated lover may be easily understood. Dr. Johnson reads with all the modern editors, "I with the morning light," &c. STEEVENS.
Line 694. -buy this dear;] i. e. Thou shalt dearly pay for this. Though this is sense, and may well enough stand, yet the poet perhaps wrote thou shalt 'by it dear. So in another place, thou shalt aby it. So Milton, How dearly I abide that boast so vain. JOHNSON..
Line 729. Jack shall have Jill, &c.] These three last lines are to be found among Heywood's Epigrams on three hundred Proverbs. STEEVENS.
Line 1. I see no reason why the fourth act should begin here, when there seems no interruption of the action. In the old quartos of 1600, there is no division of acts, which seems to have
been afterwards arbitrarily made in the first folio, and
fore be altered at pleasure.
Line 3. 21.
do coy,] To coy is to sooth.
neif,] i. e. Fist. Henry IV. Act 2. Sc. 10. "Sweet knight, I kiss thy neif."
Cavalero Cobweb.] Without doubt it should be
Cavalero Pease-blossom; as for Cavalero Cobweb, he had just been
dispatched upon a perilous adventure.
-] Alludes to the old country music,
Line 47. —and be all ways away.] i. e. Disperse yourselves, and scout out severally, in your watch, that danger approach us from no quarter.
Line 48. So doth the woodbine, the sweet honey-suckle,
Gently entwist, the female ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.] 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 explanation, perhaps is this. In some countries, by woodbine or woodbind would be generally understood the Ivy, which he had occasion to mention in the very next line. STEEVENS.
the female ivy:] Shakspeare calls it female ivy, because it always require some support, which is poetically called its husband.
"To wed her elm: she spous'd, about him twines
Line 80. Dian's bud o'er Cupid's flower-] The old editions read, or Cupid's flower. The ingenious Dr. Thirlby gave me the correction, which I have inserted in the text.
Line 91.—of all these five the sense.] The old copies read, these fine; but this is most certainly corrupt. My emendation needs
no justification. The five, that lay asleep on the stage, were Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia, Helena, and Bottom.-Dr. Thirlby likewise communicated this correction. THEOBALD.
Line 106. Then, my queen, in silence sad;
Trip we after the night's shade:] Sad here signifies, grave, sober; and is opposed to their dances and revels, which were now ended at the singing of the morning lark.—So Winter's Tale, Act 4. My father and the gentlemen are in sad talk. For grave or serious. WARBURTON.
Line 115. -our observation is perform'd:] The honours due to the morning of May. I know not why Shakspeare calls this play A Midsummer-Night's Dream, when he so carefully informs us that it happened on the night preceding May-day. JOHNSON.
Dr. Farmer has justly observed, that this play no more denotes the real time of action, than that of The Winter's Tale, which was sheep-shearing time. The title of Twelfth-Night, as well as these two plays just quoted, were doubtless suggested by some temporary or theatrical custom.
vaward of the day,] Means, the forepart of the
-such gallant chiding;] Chiding in this instance STEEVENS.
means only sound. Line 131. So flew'd,] i. e. So mouthed. Flews are the large
chaps of a deep-mouthed hound.
Line 131. So sanded;] So marked with small spots.
Sandy'd means of a sandy-colour, which is one of the true denotements of a blood-hound.
Line 143. I wonder of] i. e. I wonder at, this was the
Line 152. saint Valentine is past;] Alluding to the old saying, That birds begin to couple on St. Valentine's day.
Line 179. Fair Helena in fancy following me.] Fancy is here taken for love or affection, and is opposed to fury, as before.
Sighs and tears poor fancy's followers."
Some now call that which a man takes particular delight in, his
Line 228. coat.
-patched fool,] That is, a fool in a particolour'd
Line 230. The eye of man, &e.] This is copied from 1st of Corinthians, c. ii. v. 9.
Line 238. --at her death.] He means the death of Thisbe, which is what his head is at present full of. STEEVENS.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
a thing of nought.] Which Mr. Theobald
changes with great pomp to a thing of naught, is, a good for no
-made men.] In the same sense as in The Tem
pest,-any monster in England makes a man.
Line 274. good strings to your beards,] Strings, to prevent the false beards from falling off.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 4. These beautiful lines are in all the old editions thrown out of metre. They are very well restored by the later editors. JOHNSON.
Line 12. brow of Egypt:] i. e. The brow of an Egyptian girl, or gipsy.
-constancy.] Consistency; stability; certainty. JOHNSON.
45. Say, what abridgment, &c.] By abridgment, our author means dramatick performance, which crowds the events of years into as many hours. So in Hamlet, Act 2. Sc. 7. he calls the players abridgments, abstracts, and brief chronicles of the times. STEEVENS.
Line 49. compass.
-a brief,] i. e. An account condensed into a small
Line 52. The. reads.] This is printed as Mr. Theobald gave it from both the old quartos. In the first folio, and all the following editions, Lysander reads the catalogue, and Theseus makes the remarks. JOHNSON.
Line 58. The thrice three Muses mourning for the death
Of learning, &c.] I do not know whether it has been before observed, that Shakspeare here, perhaps, alluded to Spen
ser's poem, entitled The Tears of the Muses, on the neglect and contempt of learning. Line 60.
keen and critical,] Critical here means, criticiz
ing, censuring. So in Othello:
"O, I am nothing if not critical."
Line 64. Merry and tragical?] "That is, hot ice and snow of " as strange a quality."
Line 82. unbreath'd memories.] That is, unexercised, unpractised memories.
Line 88. Unless you can find sport in their intents.] Thus all the copies. But as I know not what it is to stretch and con an intent, I suspect a line to be lost.
Dr. Johnson's remark is doubtless just, as to the commentaries he had already witnessed; but what would he now say to the gigantic pile of elucidations with which the various editors have of late favoured the public!
Line 102. Our sport shall be, &c.] Voltaire says something like this of Louis XIV. who took a pleasure in seeing his courtiers in confusion when they spoke to him. STEEVENS.
Line 103. And what poor duty cannot do,
Noble respect takes it in might, not merit.] The sense of this passage, as it now stands, is this: What the inability of duty cannot perform, regardful generosity receives as an act of ability, though not of merit. The contrary is rather true: What dutifulness tries to perform without ability, regardful generosity receives as having the merit, though not the power, of complete performance.
Line 119. addrest.] That is, ready. Henry V. "To-morrow for our march we are addrest."
-on a recorder,] A kind of flute. Shakspeare
introduced it in Hamlet, and Milton says,
"To the sound of soft recorders.”
It is found in very many of the old plays.
Line 137. but not in government.] That is, not regularly according to the tune.
In this place the folio, 1623, exhibits the following prompter's direction: Tawyer with a trumpet before them.