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But miserable most, to love unlov'd ?
you mean by this.
Lys. Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse:
HEL. O excellent!
Sweet, do not scorn her so.
Helen, I love thee; by my life, I do;
5 Ay, do, persever,] Perférer is the reading of all the old copies. The word was formerly so pronounced. Thus our author, in All's Well that ends well, Ac IV. fc. ii:
fay thou art mine, and ever " My love, as it begins, so shall perséver." Again, in Glapthorne's Argalus and Parthenia, 1639;
for ever May they in love and union ftill perséver." STEEVENS. - such an argument.] Such a subje&i of light merriment.
JOHNSON. So, in the first part of King Henry IV. Ad II. sc. ii. "-, it would be argument for a week, &c. STEEVENS. than her weak prayers. The old copies read:
'than her weak praile.' STEEVENS. Mr. Theobald proposed 10 read - prays. A noun thus formed from the verb, to pray, is much in our anthor's manner; and the transcriber's car might have been easily deceived by the fimilarity of sounds. MALONE.
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
Dem. I say, I love thee more than he can do.
Lysander, whereto tends all this?
No, no, fir:-he will: Seem to break loose; takeon, as you would follow; But yet come not: You are a tame man, go! Lys. Hang off, thou cat, thou burr: vile thing,
let loose; Or I will shake thee from me, like a serpent. Her. Why are you grown so rude? what change
is this, Sweet love?
Lys. Thy love? out, tawny Tartar, out! Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!
Her. Do you not jest?
S No, no, fir:- he will, &c.] This passage, like almost all thofe in these plays in which there is a sudden transition, or the sense is hastily broken off, is much corrupted in the old copies, My text (No, no; she'll.-for,] is formed from the quarto printed by Filher and the first folio. The words " hill” are not in the folio, and Sir is not in the quarto. Demetrius, I suppose, would say, No, no; he'll not have refolution to disengage himself from Here mia.
But turning abruptly to Lysander, he addresses him ironi. cally: “vo
.-. Sir, seem to break loose;" Lic. MALONE. No critical remedy is nearer at hand, than a supposition that obscure passages are sentences designedly abrupt and imperfc&. Lysander calls Hermia an " Æthiop. "No, no, fir:" replies Demetrius; i. c. she is none; and then ironically fpeaks to her of Lysander, as of one whose struggle to break loose is merely a pretended effort. He next addrefies his provocation personally to Lysander. I have left the text as I found it; only reading (for the fake of metre,) he will, juscad of he'll. STEEVENS.
Yes, 'sooth; and so do you. Lys. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
Dem. I would, I had your bond: for, 1 perceive, A weak bond holds you; l'll not trust your word. Lys. What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her
dead? Although I hate her, I'll not harm her fo. · HER. What, can you do me greater harm, than
hate ? Hate me! wherefore? O me! what news, my love? Am not I Hermia ? Are not you Lysander? I am as fair now, as I was erewhile. Since night, you lov'd me; yet, fince night, you left
Why, then you left me,-0, the gods forbid !
Ay, by my life;
you canker-blossom!' You thief of love! what, have you come by night, And stol'n my love's heart from him ?
90 me! you juggler! you carker-blossom!} Juggler in this line is used as a trisyllable: So again, in K. Henry VI. P. I:
" She and the dauphin have been juggling.". So also tickling, wrefller, and many more. MALONE.
you canker-blossom!] The canker-blossom is not in this place the bloflom of the canker or wild rose, which our author alludes to in Muck ado about Nothing, A& J. sc. iii:
“ I had rather be a canker, in a hedge, than a rose in his grace:" but a worm that preys on the leaves or buds of fowers, always beginning in the middle. So, in this play, A& II. sc. iii: "Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds"
Fine, i'faith! Have you no modesty, no maiden shame, No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear Impatient answers from my gentle tongue? Fie, fie; you counterfeit, you puppet, you! Her. Puppet! why so? Ay, that way goes the
game. Now I perceive that she hath made compare Between our statures, she hath urg'd her height; And with her personage, her tall personage, Her height, forfooth, she hath prevail'd with him.And are you grown so high in his esteem, Because I am fo dwarfish, and so low? How low am I, thou painted maypole ? speak; How low am I? I am not yet so low, But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
Hel. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen, Let her not hurt me: I was never curst; I have no gift at all in shrewishness; 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. HER.
Lower! hark, again. Hel. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with
I evermore did love you, Hermia,
cursi;] i. c. Ihrewish or mischievous. Thus in the old proverbial saying: Curst cows have short horns." STEEVENS.
To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too :
With Demetrius. Lys. Be not afraid : she shall not harm thee,
Helena. Dem. No, fir; she shall not, though you take her
part. Hel. 0, when she'sangry, she is keen and shrewd: She was a vixen, when she went to school; * 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. Lys.
Get you gone, you dwarf; You miniinus, of hind'ring knot-grass made;' You bead, you acorn.
how fond I am.] Fond, i. c. foolish. So, in The Mere chant of Venice:
I do wonder,
" To come abroad with him." STEEVENS. 4 She was a vixen, when she went to school ;] Vizen or fixen primitively fignifies a female fox. So, in The boke of hunting, that is cleped Mayster of Game; an ancient MS. in the colleâion of Francis Douce, Esqr. Grays Inn : “ The fixen of the Foxe is aflaute onys in the yer. She hath venomous biting as a wolfe." 'STEEVENS.
s of hind'ring knot-grass made; ] It appears that knot.grass was anciently supposed to prevent the growth of any animal or child,