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Here again an unnecessary alteration has been made from the original. In all the early editions we have this passage as follows :

“ And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel swelld,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet :
And thence from Athens turn away our eyes,

To seek new friends and strange companions." We owe the alteration to Theobald; but it is very evident that the author could not have written it so, for it would be impossible in that case to account for the corruption. . If Shakespeare had written sweet and stranger companies, it is very improbable that these words could have been so changed either by the actors or printers. Moreover, the antithesis in the first of these instances is a strong argument in favour of the old reading

Emptying our bosoms of their counsel swell’d.

Our ears have perhaps become familiarized with Theobald's version ; but it is safer to receive Shakespeare's own words, even if, at first hearing, they do not seem quite so harmonious as the others.

Act I. Sc. 2.

Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender.
Flu. Here, Peter Quince.
Quin. You must take Thisby on you.
Flu. What is Thisby? a wandering knight?
Quin. It is the lady that Pyramus must love.

Flu. Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming.

Quin. That's all one; you shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will."

Flute is proud of his approaching signs of manhood, which he calls a beard. Cf. Lily's Endimion, 1591 : Top. I pray thee feel on my chin, something pricketh me. What dost thou feel or see?

Epi. There are three or four little hairs.
Top. I pray thee call it


beard. How shall I be troubled when this young spring shall grow to a great wood."

It is scarcely necessary to observe that the female characters were at this period performed by boys.

Act I. Sc. 2.

Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in?

Quin. Why, what you will.

Bot. I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-coloured beard, your perfect yellow.

Quin. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play barefaced."

Sanderson, in his Diary, complains of the sad extravagance of his apprentice in the way of barbers : in a letter to a friend, he informs him that “the very cuttinge of his sharpe chinne hath cost me to the barber more then I spent in myselfe in seven years.” Mr. Repton has printed a tract expressly on the subject of the different forms in which beards were worn, some of which are exceedingly fantastic. A pun is concealed in the term of French-crown; in MS. Harl. 280, fol. 81, mention is made of “ French-crowne gould.” A curious song on beards may be found in MS. Harl. 6931, but allusions to the different colours of them are not very numerous. See, however, Middleton's Works by the Rev. A. Dyce, vol. i. p.


Act I. Sc. 2.

Bot. We will meet; and there we may rehearse most obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu.

Quin. At the duke's oak we meet.
Bot. Enough; hold or cut bowstrings."

Bottom the weaver, like Mrs. Malaprop in a later production, is continually using his " select words, so ingeniously misapplied, without being mispronounced ;” at the same time, seeming to think that “ if he reprehends anything in this world, it is the use of his oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs.” He here uses the word obscenely for obscurely. Shakespeare is fond of making his clowns miscall their words.

Act II. Sc. 1.

“ Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish spirite,
Callid Robin Goodfellow : are you not he
That fright the maidens of the villagre;
Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck :

Are not you he?” In Randolph's Amyntas there is an allusion to the fairies skimming milk :

“ I know no haunts I have but to the dairy,

To skim the milk-bowls like a liquorish fairy." Robin's name of Hobgoblin is mentioned in MS. Harl. 6482. The whole passage is worth transcription:

Of spirits called Hobgoblins, or Robin Goodfellowes. “ These kinde of spirits are more familiar and domestical then the others, and for some causes to us unknown, abode in one place more then in another, so that some never almost depart from some particular houses, as though they were their proper mansions, making in them sundry noises, rumours, mockeries, gawds and jests, without doing any harme at all, and some have heard them play at gitterns and Jews' harps, and ring bells and make answer to those that call them, and speake with certain signes, laughters and merry gestures, so that those of the house come at last to be so familiar and well acquainted with them that they fear them not at all. But in truth, if they had free power to put in execution their mallicious desire, we should finde these pranks of theirs not to be jests, but earnest indeed, tending to the destruction both of our body and soul, but their power is so restrained and tyed that they can passe no further then to jests and gawds, and if they do any harm at all, it is certainly very little, as by experience hath been founde.”

Act II. Sc. 2.

“ And never, since the middle-summer's spring."

The “ middle-summer's spring” means probably the beginning of midsummer. In Churchyard's Charitie, 1595, we have a similar expression :

“ A warmer time in better tune may bring

This hard cold age, when comes a summer spring.” Spring is here used for beginning.

Act II. Sc. 2.

“ And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossip'd by my side;
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking th' embarked traders on the flood.”

Cf. Bartholomæus de Glanvilla, 1582, fol. 252:“ As the rivers there are very many, so are they very great, through whose watery overflowing it commeth to passe that in the moyst grounde, the force of the sunne approaching, ingendreth or bringeth forth all things in great quantitie and seemeth almost to fill the whole world with spice and precious stones, of which it aboundeth more than all other countries of the world."

Act II. Sc. 2.
“ Yet mark’d I where the bolt of Cupid fell :
It fell upon a little western flower,

Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it Love-in-Idleness."

“ Viola tricolor, hart's ease ; herba Trinitatis, herba clavellata, paunsies, love-in-idlenes.”— MS. Sloan. 797, fol. 61.

Act II. Sc. 2.

“ You draw me, you bardhearted adamant,
But yet you draw not iron, for


Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,

And I shall have no power to follow you.” “ The Adamant is a stone of Inde, small and rare, in colour like to iron, but in clear reflection and representation of image more christal like. It yeeldeth or giveth place to nothing. Diascorides saith that it is called the stone of reconsiliation and of love,”A Grene Forest, by John Maplet, 1567. Again, in the same book we read that “The lodestone draweth iron to it, even as one lover coveteth and desireth another.” Lord Bacon says,-"I read that in nature there be two kinds of motions or appetites in sympathy; the one of iron to the adamant for perfection; the other of the vine to the stake for sustentation.”

Act II. Sc. 2.

" And even for that do I love you

the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.
Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,
Unworthy as I am, to follow you,
What worser place can I beg in your

(And yet a place of high respect with me),

Than to be used as you use your dog?”

suppose Shakespeare here alludes to the old proverb :

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