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There shall the pairs of faithful lovers be
Puck. Fairy king, attend, and mark;
Obe. Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Tita. Come, my lord; and in our flight,
[Horns sound within. Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEus, and train.
The. Go, one of you, find out the forester; For now our observation is perform’d:1
« And the blots of nature's hand
to all fair prosperity:] I have preferred this, which is the reading of the first and best quarto, printed by Fisher, to that of the other quarto and the folio, (posterity) induced by the following lines in a former scene :
“your warrior love
“To give their bed joy and prosperity.” Malone. 9 Then, my queen, in silence sad,
Trip we after the nights shade :] Sad signifies only grave, sober; and is opposed to their dances and revels, which were now ended at the singing of the morning lark. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act IV: “My father and the gentlemen are in sad talk." For grave or serious. Warburton.
A statute 3 Henry VII, c. xiv, directs certain offences committed in the king's palace, to be tried by twelve sad men of the king's houshold. Blackstone.
1 --- 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 the night preceding May day. Johnson.
The title of this play seems no more intended, to denote the precise time of the action, than that of The Winter's Tale; which we find was at the season of sheep-shearing Farmer.
And since we have the vaward of the day, 2
Hip. I was with Hercules, and Cadmus, once,
The same phrase has been used in a former scene:
“ To do observance to a morn of May.” I imagine that the title of this play was suggested by the time it was first introduced on the stage, which was probably at Mid
" A Dream for the entertainment of a Midsummer night.” Twelfth Night and The Winter's Tale had probably their titles from a similar circumstance. Malone.
In Twelfth Night, Act III, sc. iv, Olivia observes of Malvo. lio's seeming phrenzy, that it “is a very Midsummer madness." That time of the year, we may therefore suppose, was anciently thought productive of mental vagaries resembling the scheme of Shakspeare's play. To this circumstance it might have owed its title. Steevens.
- the vaward of the day,] Vaward is compounded of van and ward, the forepart. In Knolles's History of the Turks, the word vayvod is used in the same sense. Edinburgh Magazine, for Nov. 1786. Steevens.
they bay'd the bear -] Thus all the old copies. And thus in Chaucer's Knightes Tale, v. 2020, Tyrwhitt's edit:
“ The hunte ystrangled with the wild beres.” Bearbaiting was likewise once a diversion esteemed proper for royal personages, even of the softer sex. While the princess Elizabeth remained at Hatfield House, under the custody of Sir Thomas Pope, she was visited by Queen Mary. The next morning they were entertained with a grand exhibition of bear. baiting, with which their highnesses were right well content. See Life of Sir Thomas Pope, cited by Warton in his History of Enge lish Poetry, Vol. II, p. 391. Steevens.
In The Winter's Tale, Antigonus is destroyed by a bear, who is chaced by hunters. See also our poet's Venus and Adonis :
- For now she hears it is no gentle chace,
“But the blunt boar, rough bear, or lion proud.” Malone. Holinshed, with whose histories our poet was well acquainted, says,
or the beare is a beast commonlie hunted in the East countrie.” See Vol. I, p. 206; and in p. 226, he says, « Alexander, at vacant time, hunted the tiger, the pard, the bore, and the beare.” Pliny, Plutarch, &c. mention bear-hunting. Turberville, in his Book of Hunting, has two chapters on hunting the bear.
With hounds of Sparta: never did I hear
T!e. My hounds are bred? out of the Spartan kind, So flew’d, 8 so sanded;' and their heads are hung
As the persons mentioned by the poet are foreigners of the heroic strain, he might perhaps think it nobler sport for them to hunt the bear than the boar. Shakspeare must have read the Knight's Tale in Chaucer, wherein are mentioned Theseus's “white alandes (grey-lounds] to huntin at the lyon, or the wild bere.” Tollet.
such gallant chiding;] Chiding in this instance means only sound. So, in King Henry VIII:
“ As doth a rock against the chilling flood.” Again, in Humour out of Breath, a comedy, by John Day, 1608:
- I take great pride “ To hear soft musick, and thy shrill voice chide." Again, in the 22d chapter of Drayton's Polyolbion:
- drums and trumpets chile." This use of the word was not obsolete in the age of Milton, who says, in his Smect ymnuus: “I may one day hope to have ye again in a still time, when there shall be no chiding. Not in these noises.” See edit. 1753, p. 118. Steevens.
5 The skies, the fountains,] Instead of fountains, Mr. Heath would read-mountains. The change had been proposed to Mr. Theobald, who has well supported the old reading, by observing that Virgil and other poets have made rivers, lakes, &c. responsive to sound:
“ Tum vero exoritur clamor, ripæque lacusque
Malone. 6 Seem'd all one mutual cry! The old copies concur in reading—seem; but, as Hippolyta is speaking of time past, I have adopted Mr. Rowe's correction. Steevens. My hounds are breit
, &c.] This passage has been imitated by Lee, in his Theodosius :
“ Then through the woods we chac'd the foaming boar,
Malone. 8 So flew'd,] Sir T. Hanmer justly remarks, that flews are the large chaps of a deep-mouth'd hound. Arthur Golding uses this word in his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses, finished 1567, a book with which Shakspeare appears to have been well acquaint
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;1
The. No doubt, they rose up early, to observe
ed. The poet is describing Actæon's hounds, B. III, p. 34, b. 1575. Two of them, like our author's, were of Spartan kind; bred from a Spartan bitch and a Cretan dog:
with other twaine, that had a syre of Crete, “ And dam of Sparta : tone of them called Jollyboy, a great “And large-flew'd hound.” Shakspeare mentions Cretan hounds (with Spartan) afterwards in this speech of Theseus. And Ovid's translator, Golding, in the same description, has them both in one verse, ibid, p. 34, a: “ This latter was a hounde of Crete, the other was of Spart."
T. Warton. 9 So sanded;] So marked with small spots. Fohnson.
Sanded means of a sandy colour, which is one of the true denotements of a blood-hound. Steevens.
1 With ears that sweep away the morning dew ;] So, in Heywood's Brazen Age, 1613:
the fierce Thessalian hounds,
“ From their moist breasts." Steevens. 2 I wonder of -] The modern editors read- I wonder at, &c. But changes of this kind ought, I conceive, to be made with great caution; for the writings of our author's contemporaries furnish us with abundant proofs that many modes of speech, which now seem harsh to our ears, were justified by the phraseology of former times. In All’s well that ends well, we have:
they rose up early, to observe The rite of May;] The rite of this month was once so univer. sally observed, that even authors thought their works would obtain a more favourable reception, if published on May-Day. The
Came here in grace of our solemnity.--
Ege. It is, my lord.
HERMIA, and HELENA, wake and start up.
Lys. Pardon, my lord. [He and the rest kneel to The.
I pray you all, stand up.
Lys. My lord, I shall reply amazedly,
Ege. Enough, enough, my lord; you have enough;
Dem. My lord, fair Helen told me of their stealth,
following is a title-page to a metrical performance by a once cele. brated poet, Thomas Churchyard :
" Come bring in Maye with me,
“ My Maye is fresh and greene;
“ To serue a mayden Queene.” “ A discourse of Rebellion, drawne forth for to warne the wanton wittes how to kepe their heads on their shoulders.”
“ Imprinted at London, in Fletestreate by William Griffith, Anno Domini 1570. The first of Maye." Steevens.
Saint Valentine is past;]Alluding to the old saying, that birds begin to couple on St. Valentine's day. Steevens.