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The. His discretion, I am sure, cannot carry his.valour; for the goose carries not the fox. It is well: leave it to his discretion, and let us listen to the moon.
Moon. “ This lantern doth the horned moon present:" Dem. He should have worn the horns on his head.
The. He is no crescent, and his horns are invisible within the circumference.
Moon. “ This lantern doth the horned moon present; “Myself the man i' th' moon do seem to be."
The. This is the greatest error of all the rest: the man should be put into the lantern: How is it else the man i' th' moon?
Dem. He dares not come there for the candle: for, you see, it is already in snuff.3
Hip. I am aweary of this moon: Would he would change!
The. It appears, by his small light of discretion, that he is in the wane: but yet, in courtesy, in all reason, we must stay the time.
Lys. Proceed, moon.
Moon. All that I have to say, is, to tell you, that the lantern is the moon; I, the man in the moon; this thornbush, my thorn-bush; and this dog, my dog.
Dem. Why, all these should be in the lantern; for they are in the moon. But, silence; here comes Thisbe.
Hip. Well shone, moon.—Truly, the moon shines with a good grace. The. Well moused, lion.“
[The Lion tears THISBE's mantle, and exit.
- in snuff.] An equivocation. Snuff signifies both the cinder of a candle and hasty anger. Johnson. So, in Love's Labour Lost:
“ You ’ll mar the light, by taking it in snuff.” Steevens. Again, in The Atheist's Tragedy, 1611:
“Do you take that in snuff, sir?" See also, note on Love's Labour Lost, Act V, sc. ii, and First Part of King Henry IV, Act I, sc. iji. Reed.
Dem. And so comes Pyramus.
“ I thank thee, moon, for shining now so bright: “ For, by thy gracious, golden, glittering streams, “ I trust to taste of truest Thisby's sight.
“But stay ;-0 spite!
“But mark;—Poor knight, " What dreadful dole is here?
“Eyes, do you see?
« How can it be?
“ Thy mantle good,
“What, stain'd with blood ? Approach, ye furies fell!?
« () fates! come, come;
“ Cut thread and thrum;8
* Well moused, lion.] So, in an ancient bl. 1. ballad on this story, entitled The Constancy of true Love : &c.
“ And having musled thus the same,
“ Thither he went whence first he came.” Theseus means that the lion has well tumbled and bloodied the veil of Thisbe. Steevens.
I believe this should be “Well mouthed lion," alluding either to his roaring, or to his tearing with his mouth, the mantle of Thisbe:
“ Which lion vile with bloody mouth did stain.” M. Mason. Well inoused lion'] To mouse signified to mammock, to tear in pieces, as a cat tears a mouse. Malone. 5 Dem. And so comes Pyramus. Lys. And then the moon vanishes.] The old copies read:
“ Dem. And then came Pyramus.
“ Lys. And so the lion vanished.” It were needless to say any thing in defence of Dr. Farmer's emendation. The reader, indeed, may ask why this glaring cor. ruption was suffered to remain so long in the text. Steevens. -glittering streams,] The old copies read-beams.
Steevens. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio.
Malone. 7 Approach, ye furies fell!] Somewhat like this our poet might possibly have recollected in “ A lytell Treatyse cleped La Gonusaunce d'Amours. Printed by Richard Pynson,” no date :
T'he. This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.
Hip. Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
dear: “ Which is no, no—which was the fairest dame, “ That liv'd, that lov'd, that lik’d, that look'd with
“Oye moost cruell and rabbyshe lions fell,
“He loked ofte, and it right swetely kist.” Steevens.
O fates! come, come, &c.] The poet here, and in the following lines spoken by Thisbe
“O sisters three,
“ With hands as pale as milk —" probably intended to ridicule a passage in Damon and Pythias, by Richard Edwards, 1582:
“ Ye furies, all at once
“ And present pangues of death,
“With speed come stop my breath.!” Malone.
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. Warner. So, in Hannibal and Scipio, 1637 :
“ — no rough pelt of thrums,
“ To fight with weather.” Again, in Chapman's translation of the 16th Iliad: “ And tapestries all golden fring'd, and curl'd with thrumbs
behind.” So, in Howell's Letter to Sir Paul Neale, Knt. Translations are like the wrong side of a Turkey carpet, which useth to be full of thrums and knots, and nothing so even as the rig side." The thought is borrowed from Don Quixote. Steevens.
and quell!] To quell is to murder, to destroy. So, in the 12th pageant of the Lusus Coventrie, commonly called the Corpus Christi Play. MS. Cott. Vesp. D. viii:
“ That he the lawe may here do,
“Come, tears, confound;
“Out, sword, and wound “ The pap of Pyramus:
“Ay, that left pap;
“ Where heart doth hop::— “ Thus die I, thus, thus, thus.
“Now am I dead,
“ Now am I fled;
“ Tongue, lose thy light!
“ Moon, take thy flight!
[Dies.-Exit Moon. Dem. No die, but an ace, for him; for he is but one.
Lys. Less than an ace, man; for he is dead; he is nothing
The. With the help of a surgeon, he might yet recover, and prove an ass.*
Hip. How chance moonshine is gone, before Thisbe comes back and finds her lover?
cheer.] i. e. countenance. So, in Chaucer's Clerke's Tale, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 8117:
-passing any wight “Of so yong age, as wel in chere as dede.” Steevens. 2 Come, tears, confound;] Thus, in Golding's Ovid: " —one night (he sayd) shall louers two confounde.”
Ritson. 3 Ay, that left pap,
Where heart doth hop:}' Lest our author should seem ehargeable with an inefficient rhyme, it ought to be remembered that the broad pronunciation, now almost peculiar to the Scotch, was anciently current in England. Throughout the old copies of Shakspeare's plays, “tattered” is always spelt.“ tottered;" Pap therefore was sounded, Pop. The context reminds us of a passage in the Seventh Satire of Juvenal :
- leva in parte mamillæ “Nil salit -." Steevens.
and prove an ass.] The character of Theseus throughout this play is more exalted in its humanity, than its greatness. Though some sensible observations on life, and animated descriptions fall from him, as it is said of Iago, you shall 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.
The. She will find him by star-light.--Here she comes; and her passion ends the play.
Enter THISBE. Hip. Methinks, she should not use a long one, for such a Pyramus: I hope she will be brief.
Dem. A mote will turn the balance,s which Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better. 6
Lys. She hath spied him already with those sweet eyes.
This. “Asleep, my love?
“ What, dead, my dove? “O Pyramus, arise,
“Speak, speak. Quite dumb!
“ Dead, dead! A tomb
5 A mote will turn the balance,] The old copies have moth; but Mr. Malone very justly observes that moth was merely the ancient mode of spelling mote. So, in King Henry V:“Wash every moth (i. e. mote) out of his conscience." Steevens.
6 The first quarto makes this speech a little longer, but not better. Johnson.
The passage omitted is,“ He for a man, God warned us ; she for a woman, God bless us.” Steevens.
7. And thus she moans,] The old copies concur in reading—means, which Mr. Theobald changed into-moans; and the next speech of Thisbe appears to countenance his alteration:
“ Lovers, make moan." Steevens. Mr. Theobald alters means to moans : but means had anciently the same signification. Mr. Pinkerton (under the name of Robert Heron, Esq.) observes that it is a common term in the Scotch law, signifying to tell, to relate, to declare; and the petitions to the lords of session in Scotland, run: “To the lords of council and session humbly means and shows your petitioner.” Here, however, it evidently signifies complains. Bills in Chancery being in a similar manner: “Humbly complaining sheweth unto your lordship,” &c. The word occurs in an ancient manuscript in my own possession :
“This ender day wen me was wo,
“ Under a bugh ther I lay,
• Naght gale to mene me to.”
“I hard ane may sair mwrne and meyne.” Ritson. Thus also, in the Cronykil of A. Wyntown, B. VIII, ch. xxxvi, • v. 87 :
“ Bot playnt; ná duie, ná yhit mening
“Mycht helpe noucht --- ;" See also, v. 110. Steevens.