Imagens das páginas

Lys. I am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he,
As well possess’d; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius';
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am belov'd of beauteous Hermia.
Why should not I, then, prosecute my right?
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

The. I must confess, that I have heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
But, being over-full of self-affairs,
My mind did lose it.—But, Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus; you shall


with me;
I have some private schooling for you both.-
For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
To fit your fancies to your father's will;
Or else, the law of Athens yields you up
(Which by no means we may extenuate)
To death, or to a vow of single life.-
Come, my Hippolyta; What cheer, my love?--
Demetrius, and Egeus, go along:
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial; and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
Ege. With duty and desire we follow you.

[Exeunt THE. HIP. EGE. DEM, and train. Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Her. Belike, for want of rain; which I could well Beteem them? from the tempest of mine eyes.


spotted —] As spotless is innocent, so spotted is wicked.

Fohnson. Beteem them -] Give them, bestow upon them. The word is used by Spenser. Fohnson.

“ So would I, said th’enchanter, glad and fain

Beteem to you his sword, you to defend.” Fairy Queen. Again, in The Case is Altered. How? Ask Dalio and Milo, 1605:

“ I could beteeme her a better match.”

[ocr errors]

Lys. Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear, by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:
But, either it was different in blood,

Her. () cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low!!
Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of years;
Her. O spite! too old to be engagéd to young!
Lys. Or else it stood upon the choice of friends:
Her. O hell! to choose love by another's eye!

Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
Making it momentany as a sound, 1
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,



But I rather think, that to bete in this place, signifies (as in the northern counties) to pour out; from tommer, Danish.

Steevens. 8 The course of true love — ] This passage seems to have been imitated by Milton. Paradise Lost, B. X.-896. & seq.

Malone. - too high to be enthralld to low!] Love-possesses all the editions, but carries no just meaning in it. Nor was Hermia displeased at being in love; but regrets the inconveniences, that generally attend the passion ; either the parties are disproportioned, in degree of blood and quality; or unequal, in respect of years ; or brought together by the appointment of friends, and not by their own choice. These are the complaints, represented by Lysander; and Hermia, to answer to the first, as she has done to the other two, must necessarily say:

O cross ! too high to be enthrall’d to low! So the antithesis is kept up in the terms; and so she is made to condole the disproportion of blood and quality in lovers.

Theobald. The emendation is fully supported, not only by the tenour of the preceding lines, but by a passage in our author's Venus and Adonis, in which the former predicts that the course of love never shall run smooth :

“ Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend,
“ Ne’er settled equally, too high, or low," &c. Malone.

- momentany as a sound,] Thus the quartos. The first folio reads-momentary. Momentany (says Dr. Johnson) is the old and proper word. Steevens.

that short momentany rage,”-is an expression of Dryden. Henley.

2 Brief as the lightning in the collied night,) Collied, i. e. black, smutted with coal, a word still used in the midland counties.


That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And, ere a man hath power to say,Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:3
So quick bright things come to confusion.

Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
It stands as an edíct in destiny:
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross ;
As due to love, as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.*

Lys. A good persuasion; therefore, hear me, Hermia. I have a widow aunt, a dowager Of great revenue, and she hath no child: From Athens is her house remote seven leagues ; And she respects me as her only son. There, gentle Hermia, may I


And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us: If thou lov’st me, then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And, in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

So, in Ben Jonson's Poetaster :

Thou hast not collied thy face enough.” Steevens. 3 That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth, And, ere a man hath power to say,—Behold!

The jaws of darkness do devour it up: ] Though the word spleen be here employed oddly enough, yet I believe it right. Shakspeare, always hurried on by the grandeur and multitude of his ideas, assumes, every now and then, an uncommon licence in the use of his words. Particularly in complex moral modes it is usual with him to employ one, only to express a very few ideas of that number of which it is composed. Thus wanting here to express the ideas-of a sudden, or-in a trice, he uses the word spleen; which, partially considered, signifying a hasty sudden fit, is enough for him, and he never troubles himself about the further or fuller signification of the word. Here, he uses the word spleen for a sudden hasty fit; so, just the contrary, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, he uses sudden for splenetic; " sudden quips." And it must be owned, this sort of conversation adds a force to the diction. Warburton.

fancy's followers.] Fancy is love. So, afterwards, in this play:

“ Fair Helena in fancy following me." Steevens.



My good Lysander!
I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow;
By his best arrow, with the golden head;5
By the simplicity of Venus' doves;
By that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves;
And by that fire, which burn'd the Carthage queen,
When the false Trojan under sail was seen;
By all the vows, that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke;
In that same place, thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.
Lys. Keep promise, love: Look, here comes Helena.

Her. God speed fair Helena! Whither away?

Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair:6 O happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars:7 and your tongue's sweet air


[ocr errors]


his best arrow, with the golden head; ] So, in Sidney's Ar. cadia, Book II:

arrowes two, and tipt with gold or lead: “ Some hurt, accuse a third with horny head.” Steevens. 6 Demetrius loves your fair:) Fair is used again as a substantive in The Comedy of Errors, Act III, sc. iv:

My decayed fair, "A sunny look of his would soon repair.” Again, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601:

“But what foul hand hath arm’d Matilda's fair ?Again, in A Looking-Glass for London and England, 1598:

“ And fold in me the riches of thy fair.Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:

“ Then tell me, love, shall I have all thy fair ?Again, in Greene's Never too late, 1616: “ Though she were false to Menelaus, yet her fair made him brook her follies.” Again :

“ Flora in tawny hid up all her flowers,

“ And would not diaper the meads with fair.Steevens. 7 Your eyes are lode-stars;] This was a compliment not unfrequent among the old poets. The lode-star is the leading or guiding star, that is, the pole-star. The magnet is, for the same reason, called the lode-stone, either because it leads iron, or because it guides the sailor. Milton has the same thought in L'Allegro:

66 Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom’d high in tufted trees,
“ Where perhaps some beauty lies,
“ The cynosure of neighbring eyes.”

More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching; oh, were favour so ! 8
Your's would I catch,9 fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'll give to be to you translated.1
O, teach me how you look; and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
Hel. O, that your frowns would teach my smiles such

Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
Hel. O, that my pray’rs could such affection move!
Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me.
Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me.
Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.2
Hel. None, but your beauty; 'would that fault were

mine !3


thine eye

Davies calls Queen Elizabeth:

Lode-stone to hearts, and lode-stone to all eyes." Johnson. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

“ Led by the loadstar of her heavenly looks." Again, in The battle of Alcazar, 1594:

“ The loadstar and the honour of our line.” Steevens.

0, were favour so!] Favour is feature, countenance. So, in Twelfth Night, Act II, sc. iv:

“ Hath stay'd upon some favour that it loves.Steevens. 9 Yours would I catch,] This emendation is taken from the Oxford edition. The old reading is—Your words I catch. Johnson.

I have deserted the old copies, only because I am unable to discover how Helena, by catching the words of Hermia, could also catch her favour, i. e. her beauty. Steevens.

1- to be to you translated.] To translate in our author, sometimes signifies to change, to transform. So, in Timon:

- to present slaves and servants

Translates his rivals." Steevens. 2 His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.] The folio, and the quarto, printed by Roberts, read:

His folly, Helena, is none of mine. Johnson. 3 None, but your beauty; 'would.that fault were mine! ] I would point this line thus:

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »