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epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance,“ between two of our company ? '
The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs no excufe. Never excufe; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it, had play'd Pyramus, and hang’d himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably discharg’d. But come, your Bergomalk: let your epilogue alone. [Here a dance of Clowns. The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve :Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time. I fear, we shall out-sleep the coming morn, As much as we this night have overwatch'd. This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd The heavy gait' of night.-Sweet friends, to bed. A fortnight hold we this solemnity. In nightly revels, and new jollity. [ Exeunt.
a Bergomask dance, ] Sir Thomas Hanmer observes in his Glosary, that this is a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affe & to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people; and from thence it became also a custom to imitate their manner of dancing. STEEVENS.
our company? ] At the conclusion of Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggar's Bush, there seems to be a fneer at this chara&er of Bottom; but I do not very clearly perceive its drift. The beggars have resolved to embark for England, and exercise their profesion there. One of them adds :
we have a course; " The spirit of Bottom, is grown bottomless." This may mean, that cither the publick grew indiffereut to bad adors, to plays in general, or to chara&ers, the humour of which consisted in blunders. STEEVENS.
heavy gait – ] i. e. now passage, progress. So, in Love's Labour's Loft: " You must send the ass upon the horse, for he is low-gaited." To another play we have — " heavy gaited toads."
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,"
And the wolf behowls the moon ;
All with weary task fordone."
7 Now the hungry lion roars, &c.] It has been juftly observed by an anonymous writer, that " among this assemblage of familiar cicumstances aitending midnight, either in England or its neigh. bouring kingdoins, Sbakspeare would never bave thought of intermixing the exotick idea of the hungry lion roaring, which can be heard no nearer than in the desarts of Africa, if he had not read in the 164th Psalm: Thou makest darkness that it may be night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do move; the lions roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God." MALONE.
Shakspeare might have found the midnight roar of the Lion affociated with the howl of the Wolf, in Phaer's translation of the following lines in the seventh Æncid:
Hinc cxaudiri gemitus iræque leonum
ac formæ magnorum ululare luporum. I do not, however, perceive the jusiness of the foregoing anonymous writer's observation. Puck, who could " encircle the earth in forty minutes," like his fairy mistress, might have snuffed " the spiced Indian air ;" and consequently an image, foreign to Europeans, might have been obvious to him. He therefore, liberty to
" Talk as familiarly of roaring lions,
" As maids of fifteen do of puppy-dogs." Our poet, however, inattentive to little proprieties, has sometimes introduced his wild beasts in regions where they are never found. Thus in Arden, a forest in French Flanders, we hear of a lioness, and a bear destroys Antigonus in Bohemia. STEEVENS, 8. And the wolf bebowls the moon;
; ] In the old copies : " And the wolf beholds the moon." As 'tis the design of these lines to chara&erize the animals, as they present themselves at the hour of mideight; and as the wolf is not justly chara&erized by saying he beholds the moon, which other beasts of prey, then awake, do: and as the sounds these animals wake at that season, seem also intended to be represented, I make no question but the poct wrote:
" And the wolf behowls the moon.".
Now the wasted brands do glow,.
Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud,
In remembrance of a shroud.
For so thc wolf is exa&ly charaderized, iç being his peculiar property to how at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, bef.com, and an hundred others.) WARBURTON.
So, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, where the whole passage scems to be copied from this of our author:
" Now barks the wolfe against the full-cheek'd moon,
Flutt'ring 'bout casements of departing souls ;
" Imprison'd spirits to revisit carth.” THEOBALD. The alteration is better than the original reading; but perhaps the author meant only to say, that the wolf gazes at the moon.
JOHNSON. I think, “ Now the wolf behowls the moon," was the original text. The allusion is frequently met with in the works of our author and his contemporaries. " 'Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon," says he, in his As You Like It ; and Mallinger, in his Now Way to pay old Debts, makes an usurer feel only
as the moon is mov'd " When wolves with hunger pin’d, howl at her brightness."
FARMER. The word beholds was in the time of Shakspeare frequently written behoulds (as, I suppose, it was then pronounced, ) --- which probably occasioned the mistake.
It is observable, that in the passage in Lodge's Rosalynde, 1592, which Shakspeare seems to have had in his thoughts, when he wrote, in As You Like It --"'Tis like the howling of lvis wolves against the moon :' - the expression is found, tirai Maiston has used instead of behawls. “ In courting Phebe, thou barkest with the wolves of Syria against the moon.
These lines also in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. I. c. v. ft. 30. which Shakspeare might have reinembered, add support to the emendation now made ;
" And all the while she [ Night] stood upon the ground,
Now it is the time of night,"
That the graves, all gaping wide,
In the church-way paths to glide :
By the triple Hecat’s team,
Following darkness like a dream,
fordane. ] i. e. overcome. So Spenser, Faery Queen, B. I, ç. x. ft. 33:
" And many souls in dolour had foredone." Again, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia. 1607:
fore-wearied with striving, and fore-done with the tyrannous rage of her enemy.
Again, in the ancient metrical Romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton, bl. 1. no date :
" But by the other day at none,
" These two dragons were foredone. STEEVENS. ? Now it is the time of night, &c.] So, in Hamlet:
" 'Tis now the very witching time of night,
" When churchyards yawn." STEEVENS. 3 I am fent, with broom, before,
To sweep the duft behind the door. ] Cleanliness is always necef, sary to invite the residence and the favour of fairies :
These make our girls their slutt'ry rue,
JOHNSON. To sweep the dust behind the door, is a common expreffion, and a common pra&ice in large old houses; where the doors of halls and galleries are thrown backward, and seldom or ever shut.
Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with their Train.
Obe. Through this house give glimmering
Hop as light as bird from brier;
S O N G AND D A N C E.
Obe. Now, until the break of day,'
. Through this house give glimmering light, ] Milton perhaps had this pi&ure in his thought:
And glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom. Il Penseroso.
Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes
As hope of pastime haftes them.
Through this honfe in glimmering light. JOHNSON. § Now, until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is in the edition of 1623, and in all the following, printed as the fong. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song? I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are loft. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a fang, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next