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"Tongue, not a word:-
"Come, trusty sword;

"Come, blade, my breast imbrue:

"And farewel, friends;

"Thus Thisbe ends:

"Adieu, adieu, adieu.”


The. Moonshine and lion are left to bury the dead.
Dem. Ay, and wall too.

Bot. No, I assure you; the wall is down that parted their fathers. Will it please you to see the epilogue, or to hear a Bergomask dance,1 beween two of our company?2

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no excuse.

The. No epilogue, I pray you; for your play needs Never excuse; for when the players are all dead, there need none to be blamed. Marry, if he that writ it had play'd Pyramus, and hanged himself in Thisbe's garter, it would have been a fine tragedy: and so it is, truly; and very notably discharged. But come, your Bergomask: let your epilogue alone.

[Here a dance of Clowns. The iron tongue of midnight hath told twelve:Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.

I fear we shall out-sleep the coming morn,
As much as we this night have overwatch'd.
This palpable-gross play hath well beguil'd
The heavy gait3 of night.-Sweet friends, to bed.

1a Bergomask dance,] Sir Thomas Hanmer observes, in his Glossary, that this is a dance after the manner of the peasants of Bergomasco, a country in Italy, belonging to the Venetians. All the buffoons in Italy affect to imitate the ridiculous jargon of that people; and from thence it became also a custom to imitate their manner of dancing. Steevens.

2 our company?] At the conclusion of Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggar's Bush, there seems to be a sneer at this char. acter of Bottom; but I do not very clearly perceive its drift. The beggars have resolved to embark for England, and exercise their profession there. One of them adds:

we have a course ;

"The spirit of Bottom, is grown bottomless."

This may mean, that either the publick grew indifferent to bad actors, to plays in general, or to characters, the humour of which consisted in blunders. Steevens.

3- heavy gait-] i. e. slow passage, progress. So, in Love's Labour Lost: "You must send the ass upon the horse, for he is slow-gaited." In another play we have "heavy-gaited toads."


A fortnight hold we this solemnity,

In nightly revels, and new jollity.



Enter Puck.


Puck. Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;5
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,

All with weary task fordone."

4 Now the hungry lion roars, &c.] It has been justly observed, by an anonymous writer, that "among this assemblage of familiar circumstances attending midnight, either in England or its neighbouring kingdoms, Shakspeare would never have thought of intermixing the exotick idea of the hungry lion roaring, which can be heard no nearer than in the deserts of Africa, if he had not read in the 104th Psalm: Thou makest darkness that it may be night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do move; the lions roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God." Malone. Shakspeare might have found the midnight roar of the Lion associated with the howl of the Wolf, in Phaer's translation of the following lines in the seventh Eneid:

"Hinc exaudiri gemitus iræque leonum

"Vincla recusantum, et sera sub nocte rudentum ;


— ac formæ magnorum ululare luporum."

I do not, however, perceive the justness of the foregoing anonymous writer's observation. Puck, who could "encircle the earth in forty minutes," like his fairy mistress, might have snuffed "the spiced Indian air;" and consequently an image, foreign to Europeans, might have been obvious to him. He, therefore, was at liberty to

"Talk as familiarly of roaring lions.

"As maids of fifteen do of puppy-dogs."

Our poet, however inattentive to little proprieties, has sometimes introduced his wild beasts in regions where they are never found. Thus in Arden, a forest in French Flanders, we hear of a lioness; and a bear destroys Antigonus in Bohemia. Steevens.

5 And the wolf behowls the moon;] In the old copies: "And the wolf beholds the moon." As it is the design of these lines to characterize the animals, as they present themselves at the hour of midnight; and as the wolf is not justly characterized by saying he beholds the moon, which other beasts of prey, then awake, do; and as the sounds these animals make at that season, seem also intended to be represented, I make no question but the poet


"And the wolf behowls the moon."

For so the wolf is exactly characterized, it being his peculiar property to howl at the moon. (Behowl, as bemoan, beseem, and an hundred others.) Warburton.

Now the wasted brands do glow,

Whilst the scritch-owl, scritching loud, Puts the wretch, that lies in woe,

In remembrance of a shroud.

So, in Marston's Antonio and Mellida, where the whole passage seems to be copied from this of our author:

"Now barks the wolfe against the full-cheek'd moon,
"Now lyons half-clam'd entrals roar for food,

"Now croaks the toad, and night-crows screech aloud,
"Flutt'ring 'bout casements of departing souls;
"Now gape the graves, and thro' their yawns let loose
"Imprison'd spirits to revisit earth." Theobald.

The alteration is better than the original reading; but perhaps the author meant only to say, that the wolf gazes at the moon. Johnson. I think, "Now the wolf behowls the moon," was the original The allusion is frequently met with in the works of our author and his contemporaries. ""Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon," says he in his As you like it; and Massinger, in his New Way to pay old Debts, makes an usurer feel only


66 as the moon is mov'd

"When wolves with hunger pin'd, howl at her brightness."


The word beholds was, in the time of Shakspeare, frequently written behoulds, (as, I suppose, it was then pronounced) which probably occasioned the mistake.

It is observable, that in the passage of Lodge's Rosalynda, 1592, which Shakspeare seems to have had in his thoughts, when he wrote, in As you like it:-"'Tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon:"-the expression is found, that Marston has used instead of behowls. "In courting Phebe, thou barkest with the wolves of Syria against the moon."

These lines also in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c. v, st. 30, which Shakspeare might have remembered, add support to the emendation now made.


“And all the while she [Night] stood upon the ground,
"The wakeful dogs did never cease to bay ;-
"The messenger of death, the ghastly owle,
"With drery shrieks did also her bewray;
"And hungry wolves continually did howle

"At her abhorred face, so filthy and so fowle." Malone.

- fordone.] i. e. overcome. So Spenser, Fairy Queen, B.

1, c. x, st. 33:

"And many souls in dolour had foredone."

Again, in Jarvis Markham's English Arcadia, 1607:

fore-wearied with striving, and fore-done with the tyrannous rage of her enemy,"

Now it is the time of night,"

That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run

By the triple Hecate's team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic; not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow'd house:
I am sent, with broom, before,

To sweep the dust behind the door.

Enter OBERON and TITANIA, with their Train.
Obe. Through this house give glimmering light,
By the dead and drowsy fire:

Every elf, and fairy sprite,

Hop as light as bird from brier;1

Again, in the ancient metrical romance of Sir Bevis of Hampton, bl. 1. no date:

"But by the other day at none,

"These two dragons were foredone." Steevens. 7 Now it is the time of night, &c.] So, in Hamlet: ""Tis now the very witching time of night, "When churchyards yawn ·

8 I am sent, with broom, before,


To sweep the dust behind the door.]


Cleanliness is always ne.

cessary to invite the residence and the favour of the fairies: "These make our girls their slutt'ry rue,

By pinching them both black and blue,

"And put a penny in their shoe

"The house for cleanly sweeping." Drayton. Johnson. To sweep the dust behind the door, is a common expression, and a common practice in large old houses, where the doors of halls and galleries are thrown backward, and seldom or ever shut.


9 Through this house give glimmering light,] Milton perhaps had this picture in his thought:

"And glowing embers through the room

"Teach light to counterfeit a gloom." Il Penseroso, So, Drayton:

"Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes

"Of little frisking elves and apes,

"To earth do make their wanton 'scapes,
"As hope of pastime hastes them."

I think it should be read:

"Through this house in glimmering light." Johnson.


And this ditty, after me,

Sing and dance it trippingly.

Tita. First, rehearse this song by rote:
To each word a warbling note,

Hand in hand, with fairy grace,

Will we sing, and bless this place.


Obe. Now, until the break of day,2
Through this house each fairy stray.
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;3

as light as bird from brier;] This comparison is a very ancient one, being found in one of the poems of Lawrence Minot, p. 31:

"That are was blith als brid on brere."


2 Now, until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is, in the edition of 1623 and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song?—I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this: after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a song, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismisses his fairies to the despatch of the ceremonies.

The songs, I suppose, were lost; because they were not inserted in the players' parts, from which the drama was printed.

3 To the best bride-bed will we,


Which by us shall blessed be;] So, in Chaucer's Merchantes Tale, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 9693 :

"And whan the bed was with the preest yblessed—." We learn also from "Articles ordained by King Henry VII, for the Regulation of his Household," that this ceremony was observed at the marriage of a Princess. "All men at her comming in to bee voided, except woemen, till shee bee brought to her bedd; and the man both; he sittinge in his bedd in his shirte, with a gowne cast about him. Then the Bishoppe, with the Chaplaines, to come in, and blesse the bedd: then everie man to avoide without any drinke, save the twoe estates, if they liste, priviely." p. 129. Steevens.


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