« ZurückWeiter »
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
Line 126. such gallant chiding;] Chiding in this instance means only sound. STEEVENS.
Line 131. So flew'd,] i. e. So mouthed. Flews are the large chaps of a deep-mouthed hound. HANMER.
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. STEEVENS. Line 143. I wonder of -] i. e. I wonder at, this was the old phraseology.
Line 152. saint Valentine is past;] Alluding to the old saying, That birds begin to couple on St. Valentine's day.
STEEVENS. 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 fancy.
-patched fool,] That is, a fool in a particolour'd JOHNSON.
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.
Line 252. a thing of nought.] Which Mr. Theobald changes with great pomp to a thing of naught, is, a good for nothing thing. JOHNSON. made men.] In the same sense as in The TemJOHNSON. Line 274. good strings to your beards,] Strings, to prevent the false beards from falling off.
pest, any monster in England makes a man.
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. -brow of Egypt:] i. e. The brow of an Egyptian
Line 12. girl, or gipsy. Line 28.
-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.
-a brief,] i. e. An account condensed into a small
Line 49. compass.
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. WARTON. Line 60. -keen and critical,] Critical here means, criticizing, 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. STEEVENS.
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. JOHNSON,
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."
STEEVENS. 136. -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. STEEVENS. Line 137. but not in government.] That is, not regularly according to the tune. STEEVENS. In this place the folio, 1623, exhibits the following prompter's direction: Tawyer with a trumpet before them,
Line 154. which by name lion hight,] Hight is an old English word, meaning, is called.
Line 161. Whereat, with blade, with bloody blameful blade,] Mr. Upton rightly observes, that Shakspeare in this line ridicules the affectation of beginning many words with the same letter. He might have remarked the same of
The raging rocks
And shivering shocks.
Gascoigne, contemporary with our poet, remarks and blames the same affectation. JOHNSON.
This alliteration seems to have reached the height of its fashion in the reign of Henry VIII. The following stanza is quoted from a poem On the Fall and evil Success of Rebellion, written in 1537, by Wilfride Holme :
"Loe, leprous lurdeins, lubricke in loquacitie,
"Vah, vaporous villeins, with venim vulnerate,
"Magnall in mischief, malicious to mugilate,
Line 219. And like Limander, &c.] Limander and Helen, are spoken by the blundering player, for Leander and Hero. Shafalus and Procrus, for Cephalus and Procris. JOHNSON. . Line 280. in snuff.] An equivocation. Snuff signifies both the cinder of a candle, and hasty anger. JOHNSON. glittering streams,] The old copies read beams. STEEVENS. -cut thread and thrum;] Thrum is the end or extremity of a weaver's warp; it is popularly used for very coarse yarn. The maids now call a mop of yarn a thrum mop.
and quell!] To quell, is to murder.
and prove an ass.] The character of Theseus
in this play is more exalted in his humanity, than his greatness.
Though some sensible observations on life, and animated descriptions fall from him, as it is said of Jago, you should taste him more as a soldier than as a wit, which is a distinction he is here striving to deserve, though with little success; as in support of his pretensions he never rises higher than a pun, and frequently sinks as low as a quibble. STEEVENS.
Line 354. A mote will turn the balance,] A mote is the smallest particle of matter, the old copies read moth, which was the old spelling of mote. Line 365.
These lily brows,
This cherry nose.] In the old copies, These lily lips, this cherry nose. All Thisby's lamentation, till now, runs in regular rhyme and metre. But both, by some accident, are in this single instance interrupted. I suspect the poet wrote;
These lily brows,
This cherry nose.
Now black brows being a beauty, lily brows are as ridiculous as a cherry nose, green eyes, or cowslip cheeks. THEOBALD,
ACT V. SCENE II.
Line 407. And the wolf behowls the moon;] In the old copies, And the wolf beholds the moon. As 'tis the design of these lines to characterize the animals, as they present themselves at the hour of midnight; and as the wolf is not justly characterized by saying he beholds the moon, which other beasts of prey, then awake, do: and as the sounds these animals make at that season, seem also intended to be represented; I make no question but the poet wrote;
And the wolf behowls the moon.
For so the wolf is exactly characterized, it being his peculiar property to howl at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, beseem, and an hundred others.)
-fordone.] i. e. Overcome.
414. Now it is the time of night, &c.] Thus also in
"'Tis now the very witching time of night,