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Thy mantle good,
Dead, dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone :
Lovers, make moan ! THE. This passion, and the death of a dear
His eyes were green as leeks.
O sisters three, friend, would go near to make a man look sad.(5)
Come, come to me, Hip. Beshrew my heart, but I pity the man.
With hands as pale as milk;
Lay them in gore, PYR. O, wherefore, nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since you have shore Since lion vile hath here deflower'd my dear :
With shears his thread of silk. Which is-no, no—which was the fairest dame,
Tongue, not a word :
Come, trusty sword;
Come, blade, my breast imbrue;
And farewell, friends ;
Thus Thisbe ends :
Adieu, adieu, adieu.
THE. Moonshine and Lion are left to bury the
DEM, Ay, and Wall too.
Bor. No, I assure you ; the wall is down that
parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the [Dies.-Exit MOONSHINE. epilogue, or to hear a Bergomasko dance, between
two of our company ? DEM. No die, but an ace, for him ; for he is
THE. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play
needs no excuse. Never excuse; for when the Lys. Less than an ace, man, for he is dead; players are all dead, there need none to be blamed, he is nothing The. With the help of a surgeon, he might yet hanged himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have
Marry, if he that writ it had played Pyramus, and recover, and prove an ass. HIP. How chance Moonshine is gone, before
been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly ; and very
notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: Thisbe comes back and finds her lover? THE. She will find him by starlight.--Here she
let your epilogue alone.
[Here a dance of Clowns. comes; and her passion ends the play.
The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve :
Lovers to bed : 't is almost fairy time.
I fear we shall outsleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd. HIP. Methinks, she should not use a long one
This palpable-gross play hath well beguild for such a Pyramus : I hope she will be brief.
The heavy gait of night.-Sweet friends, to bed. Dem. A mote will turn the balance, which A fortnight hold we this solemnity, Pyramus, which Thisbe, is the better. He for In nightly revels, and new jollity. [Exeunt. a man, God warn'd us; she for a woman, God bless us. Lys. She hath spied him already with those
SCENE II. DEM. And thus she moans, videlicet.
What, dead, my dove ?
Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls* the moon;
(*) Old copies, beholds.
a He for a man, God warn'd us; she for a woman, God bless us.] We should probably read, “ God ward us." . The meaning appears to be, “ From such a man God defend us; from such a woman God save us." The passage is altogether omitted in the folio, on account of the statute, 3 Jac. ch. 21, against the profane using of the sacred name. b And thus she moans,-) The old copies have means.
The change was made by Theobald; but, perhaps, without necessity, as means appears formerly to have sometimes borne the same signification. Thus, in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona," Act V. Sc. 4.
“ The more degenerate and base art thou,
To make such means for her as thou hast done."
d Here a dance of Clowns.] This stage direction was intro duced by Malone.
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be:(6)
And the issue there create,
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be ;
And the blots of Nature's hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,
their children be. From the presence of the sun,
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless, Shall disturb this hallow'd house :
Through this palace with sweet peace, I am sent, with broom, before,
And the owner of it blest, To sweep the dust behind the door.
Ever shall in safety rest.“
Make no stay:
Exeunt OBERON, TITANIA, and Train. OBE. Through the house give glimmering light,
Puck. If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, (and all is mended,)
have but slumber'd here,
While these visions did appear. And this ditty, after me,
And this weak and idle theme, Sing, and dance it trippingly.
No more yielding but a dream, Tita. First, rehearse your * song by rote:
Gentles, do not reprehend; To each word a warbling note,
If you pardon, we will mend. Hand in hand, with fairy grace,
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck,
We will make amends, ere long:
Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all. OBE. Now, until the break of day,
Give me your hands, if we be friends, Through this house each fairy stray.
And Robin shall restore amends. [Exit.
(*) First folio, this. And the owner of it blest,
Ever shall in safety rest.) In the old editions these lines run thus :
“ Ever shall in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest."
I, at one time, thought "Ever shall" a misprint for "Every hall;" and proposed to read,
" Every hall in safety rest,
And the owner of it blest;" — but it has since been suggested to me by Mr. Singer, and by an anonymous correspondent, that the difficulty in the passage arose from the printer's having transposed the two last lines.
(1) SCENE I. ---Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.] The very peculiar use of the adjective pert in this line, shows that in the sixteenth century it was not always understood with the ordinary meaning of saucy or talkative, but that it was also employed to express, quick, lively, subtle. Hence Skinner, in 1671, derived it through the French appert, from the Latin ad peritus, skilful, expert, prompt, &c. He also cites Dr. Davies as stating that in the Cambro-British the word signified elegant, or beautiful, as it occurs in the English poetical version of the Romance of Sir Launfal, in the description of Dame Tryainous :
"Sche was as whyt as lylye in May,
Or snow that sneweth yn wynterys day;
KEIGHTLEY's Fairy Mythology, Ed. 1850, p. 36.
homewards about the rising of the sun, and make their doors and windows to triumph in the flowery spoil. The after part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole, which is called a May Pole; which being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the Goddess of Flowers, without the least violence offered it, in the whole circle of the year."
The general popularity of this custom of early rising "to go a Maying,” may be inferred from a passage in
Henry VIII.” Act V. Sc. 3, where the Porter's man ex. claims of the crowd :
"T is as much impossible
Herrick—for in his time, though half a century later than Shakespeare, bigotry had not succeeded in frowning down all the simple, healthful pleasures of the people-has a poem, Corinna's going a Maying, in which the May worship is delightfully pictured :
-and see The dew-bespangling herbe and tree : Each flower has wept, and bow'd toward the east, Above an houre since ;-it is sin, Nay, profanation to keep in; Whenas a thousand virgins on this day, Spring sooner than the lark, to fetch in May! Come, my Corinna, come; and coming marke How each field turns a street, each street a parke, Made green, and trimm'd with trees, see how Devotion gives each house a bough, Or branch: each porch, each doore, ere this, An arke, a tabernacle is Made up of white-thorn neatly interwove.
(2) SCENE I.
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
The jaws of darkness do devour it up.] “ The word spleen is laid under suspicion by Warburton, and is not justified by the later commentators. Nares says, *We do not find it so used by other writers.' This is a. mistake : and it will be seen that a happier choice could not have been made than the poet has made of this word :
Like winter fires that with disdainful heat
The more encountered by the frosty air.' Verses by Poole, before his England's Parnassus, 8vo. 1657. So, in Lithgow's Nineteen Years' Travels,' quarto, 1632, p. 61:- All things below and above being cunningly perfected, and every one ranked in order with his harquebuse and pike, to stand in the centinel of his own defence, we recommend ourselves in the hands of the Almighty, and, in the meanwhile, attended their fiery salutations. In a furious spleen, the first holla of their courtesies was the progress of a martial conflict, thundering forth a terrible noise of gally-roaring pieces,'" &c.
HUNTER's New Illustrations of Shakespeare, I. 289. (3) SCENE I.
In the wood a league without the town,
To do observance to a morn of May.) The principal ceremonies with which young persons of both sexes were formerly accustomed to honour the mornings of May, were the Maying, which belonged especially to the first day; and the collecting of May-dew, which appears to have been practised at any part of the month. « Ôn the Calends, or the first day of May," says Bourne, "commonly called May-day, the juvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight, and walk to some neighbouring wood, accompany'd with music, and the blowing of horns, where they break down branches from the trees, and adorn them with nosegays and crouns of flowers. When this is done they return with their booty
There's not a budding boy, or girle, this day,
The most direct and charming illustration of the homage paid to the month of love and flowers is, however, contained in two exquisite pictures from the Knightes Tale of Chaucer :
• This passeth yere by yere, and day by day,
“ The busy larke, messager of day,
Saleweth in bir song the morwe gray,
the orient laugheth of the light:
Welcome be thou, wel faire freissche May."" All the ceremonial observed by Emelie is to walk in her garden at the sun-rising ; and this primitively was perhaps the simple method of collecting the May-dew-receiving it on the face and hands before it had evaporated. In the seventeenth century, however, the dew, held sovereign as a cosmetic by the damsels of old, was evidently gathered in phials; for, in 1667, Mrs. Turner had taught Mrs. Pepys to collect the May-dew, as being "the only thing in the world to wash her face with.”
(4) SCENE I.—Your eyes are lode-stars.] The lode-star is the leading or guiding star, the pole-stor, by which navigators directed their course. Davies, in his “Dedication to Queen Elizabeth,” calls her,
“Lode-stone to hearts, and lode-star to all eyes." And in another place speaks of her as,
“Eagle-ey'd Wisdome, life's lode-star."
No doubt our state will shipwreck'd be."
“ Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom'd high in tufted trees,
(5) SCENE II.-Enter Quince, Bottom, Flute, Snug, Snout, and Starveling.] The old editions add the several occupations of these individuals after their names, when they make their first appearance. It is possible that in the rude dramatic performance of these handicraftsmen of Athens, Shakespeare was referring to the plays and pageants exhibited by the trading companies of Coventry, which were celebrated down to his own time, and which he might very probably have witnessed. The last of those performances recorded in the list which the late Mr. Thomas Sharpe published from the City Leet-books, took place in 1591; when it was agreed by the whole consent of the council, “ that the Destrucyon of Jerusalem, the Conquest of the Danes, or the Historie of King Edward (the Confessor), should be plaied on the pagens on Midsomer daye and St. Peter's daye next, in this cittie, and none other playes.” In 1656, Dugdale states that he had been told " by some old people, who, in their younger years were eye-witnesses of these pageants, that the yearly confluence of people to see that shew, was extraordinary great, and yielded no small advantage to this city.” For the support therefore of the expenses of these profitable entertainments, the several municipal trading companies of Coventry were charged either to contribute in association to the exhibition of a joint performance; or else to furnish a pageant of their own. These theatrical unions were ordered by the Leet or Common Council ; and the combination of trades which played together was often remarkably like that of the operatives of Athens in this drama :
“ A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
(Who) met together to rehearse a play."--Act III. Sc. 2. In 1434 it was ordered “that the Sadelers and the Peyntours, be fro this tyme contrebetory unto the pajont of the Cardemakers." In 1435 the council “ will that the Carpenters be associate unto the Tilers and Pinners, to maynten ther pagent." In 1492 “it is ordeyned that the Chaundelers and Cookes of this Cite shall be contributory to the Smythes of this Cito;" and in subsequent years Bakers were added to the Smiths, the Barbers to the Girdlers, and the Shoemakers to the Tanners. So late as 1533 it was "enacted that such persons as are not associate or assistant to any craft which is charged with a pageant, such as Fishmongers, Bowyers, Fletchers, and others, shall now be associate or assistant to such crafts as the Mayor shall assign.” As most of the performances of these companies were Religious Mysteries taken from the Scriptures, there appears to have been a priest attached to each society, who directed the exhibition probably and played the most important part, as well as taught the other actors.
(6) SCENE II.-Qcin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisbe.] In the title of this interlude Shakespeare doubtless intended a burlesque on the old play by Thomas Preston, entitled, “A lamentable tragedie mixed full of pleasant mirth containing the life of Cambises king of Persia." The sad tale of Pyramus and Thisbe is told in the fourth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses; and if we may judge by the number of versions put forth in the sixteenth century, the story must have been very popular with our forefathers. The book of “ Perymus and Thesbye” was entered on the Stationers' registers in 1562–3. Arthur Golding's translation of Ovid was first published in 1567; and went through several editions. Another translation of the tale of the lovers appeared in the “Gorgious Gallery of Gallant Inventions,” 1578; and a “new sonet of Pyramus and Thisbie" in “ The Handefull of Pleasant Delites," 1584. Of course, the incidents are the same in all ; but Shakespeare appears to have had recourse to Golding's version, some extracts from which are here given :“Within the towne (of whose huge walles so monstrous high and
thicke The fame is giuen Semyramis for making them of bricke) Dwelt hard toogither twoo yoong folke in houses ioynde so nere That vnder all one roofe well nie both twaine conueyed were. The name of him was Pyramus and Thisbe cald was shee. And if that right had taken place, they had bin man and wife. But still their Parents went about to let which (for their life) They could not let. The wall that parted house from house had riuen therein a cranie Which shroon ke at making of the wall, this fault not markt of
anie of many hundred yeeres before (what doth not loue espie?) These louers first of all found out, and made a way whereby To talke togither secretly, and through the same did go Their louing whisprings very light and safely to and fro. Now as at one side Pyramus, and Thisbe on the tother Stood often drawing one of them the pleasant breath from other, O thou envious wall (they sayd) why letst thou louers thus What matter were it is that thou permitted both of vs In armes ech other to embrace? Or if thou thinke that this Were ouer-much, yet mightest thou at least make roome to kisse. Thus hauing where they stoode in vaine complayned of their wo, When night drew neere, they bade adew and eche gaue kisses Vnto the parget on their side, the whiche did neuer meete. And to thentent that in the feeldes they strayde not up and
downe, They did agree at Ninus Tumb to meet without the towne, And tarie vnderneath a tree that by the same did grow Which was a faire high Mulberie with fruite as white as snow. As soone as darkenesse once was come, straight Thisbe did
deuyse A shift to wind her out of doores, that none that were within Perceiued her: and muffling her with clothes about her chin, That no man might discerne her face, to Ninus Tombe she came Vnto the tree; and set her downe there vnderneath the same.
Loue made her bold, but see the chance, there comes besmerde She meynt hir weepying with his bloud, and kissing all his face with blood
(Which now became as cold as yse) she cride in wofull case About the chappes a Lyonnesse all foming from the wood
Alas what chaunce my Pyramus hath parted thee and mee! From slaughter lately made of kine, to stanch her bloody thirst Make auns were O my Pyramus : It is thy Thisb euen shee With water of the foresaid spring. Whom Thisbe spying first Whome thou doste loue most heartely that speaketh unto thee. Afarre by moonelight, thereupon with fearefull steps gan fie Giue eare and raise thy heauie head.' He hearing Thisbe's name And in a dark and yrkesome caue did hide her selfé thereby Lift vp his dying eyes and hauing seene hir closde the same. And as she fled away for haste she let her mantle fall
But when she knew hir mantle there, and saw his scabberd lie The which for feare she left behinde not looking backe at all. Without the sworde: Unhappy man thy loue hath made thee die:
Thy loue (she said) hath made thee slea thy selfe. This hand of The night was somewhat further spent ere Pyramus came there
mine Who seeing in the suttle sand the print of Lyons paw,
Is strong enough to doe the like. My loue no lesse than thine Waxt pale for feare. But when also the bloodie cloké he saw Shall giue me force to work my wound. I will pursue the dead. All rent and torne: one night (he sayd) shall louers two confound My soule deserves of this mischaunce the perill for to beare.
This said she tooke the sword yet warme with slaughter of hir
loue And when he had bewept and kist the garment which he knew, Receiue thou my blood too, (quoth he) and therewithall he drew
And setting it beneath hir brest, did to her heart it shoue." His sword the which among his guts he thrust, and by and bie Did draw it from the bleeding wound beginning for to die,
(7) SCENE II.--Hold, or cut bow-strings.] Capell's exAnd cast himselfe vpon his backe, the blood did spinne on hie. plication of this disputed saying is no doubt the true one. For doubt of disapoynting him comes Thisbe forth in hast,
* When a party was made at butts, assurance of meeting And for her louer lookes about, reioycing for to tell
was given in the words of that phrase: the sense of the How hardly she had scapt that night the danger that befell. person using them being, that he would 'hold,' or keep
she cast her eye aside And there beweltred in his bloud hir louer she espide.
promise, or they might cut his bowstrings,' demolish him
for an archer." There is another proverbial expression of She beate hir brest, she shricked out, she tare hir golden heares,
the same character, which none of the commentators, that And taking him betweene hir armes did wash his wounds with
I am aware of, has mentioned :—“Hold, or cut cod-piece teares,
(1) SCENE I.
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite,
Called Robin Goodfellow.) The frolics Shakespeare attributes to Puck, or, as he was usually called, Robin Goodfellow, correspond in every particular with the popular characteristics of this “shrewd and meddling elf.”. According to the rare tract entitled “The Mad Pranks and Merry Jests of Robin Goodfellow," reprinted by Mr. Collier from the original in Lord Francis Egerton's library, Robin Goodfellow was the son of Oberon, or Obreon, his mother being "a proper young wench. whom the fayry king was in the habit of visiting. Robin's knavish propensities as he grew up became so troublesome, that to avoid tho punishment they entailed, he ran away from his mother and was engaged to a tailor. After a short time he leaves his master, and the tract relates — “WHAT HAPNED TO ROBIN GOODFELLOW AFTER BE WENT
FROM THE TAYLOR.
Robin, my only son ne and heire,
The prankes of Robin Good-fellow;
One day thou shalt see Fayry Land.
This more I give : who tels thy prankes
From those that heare them shall have thankes. Robin having read this was very joyfull, yet longed he to know whether he had this power or not, and to try it hee wished for some meate: presently it was before him. Then wished hee for beere and wine: he straightway had it. This liked him well, and because he was weary, he wished himselfe a horse: no sooner was his wish ended, but he was transformed, and seemed a horse of twenty pound price, and leaped and curveted as nimble as if he had beene in stable at racke and manger a full moneth. Then wished he himselfe a dog, and was so: then a tree, and was so: so from one thing to another, till he was certaine and well assured that hee could change himselfe to any thing whatsoever."
Though the edition from which Mr. Collier made his reprint is dated 1628, there is little doubt that the tract, as he remarks, was published at least forty years earlier, and was evidently known to Shakespeare. The following account, “How ROBIN GOOD-FELLOW LED A COMPANY OP FELLOWES OUT OF THEIR WAY,” is a good illustration of the passage,
“ Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm."
Get you home, you merry lads :
And I 'll goe laughing ho, ho, koh !
The line which we have italicized will recal the same expression used by Puck in the play :
" Then will two at once woo one;
That must needs be sport alone." -Act III. Sc. 2.