Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

And I ferye the Fairy Queen,

To dew her orbs (4) upon the green;
The cowflips tall her penfioners be, (5)
In their gold coats fpots you fee,
Those be rubies, Fairy favours:
In thofe freckles live their favours:
I must go feek fome dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowflip's ear.
Farewel, thou (6) lob of fpirits, I'll be gone,
Our Queen and all her elves come here anon.
Puck. The King doth keep his revels here to night,
Take heed, the Queen come not within his fight.
For Oberon is pafling fell and wrath,
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy, ftol'n from an Indian King:
She never had fo fweet a changeling; (7)
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forefts wild;
But the per-force with-holds the lovely boy,
Crowns him with flow'rs, and makes him all her joy.
And now they never meet in grove, or green,
By fountain clear, or fpangled ftar-light fheen, (8)

(4) To dew her orbs upon the green ;] For orbs Dr, Gray is inclined to fubftitute herbs. The orbs here mentioned are the circles fuppofed to be made by the Fairies on the ground, whofe verdure proceeds from the Fairy's care to water them. They in their courfes make that round,

In meadows and in marfbes found,

Of them fo called the fairy ground.

DRAYTON,

(5) The cowflip was a favourite among the fairies. There is a hint in Drayton of their attention to May morning.

For the Queen a fitting to'r

Quoth he, is that fair cowflip flow'r..
In all your train there's not a fay
That ever went to gather May,
But he hath made it in her way,
The tallest there that groweth.

(6) Lob of fpirits,] Lob, lubber, looby, lobcock, all denote both inactivity of body and dulness of mind.

(7)-Changeling ;] Changeling is commonly used for the child fuppofed to be left by the fairies, but here for the child taken away.

(8) Sheen.] Shining, bright, gay.

But

But they do fquare, that all their elves for fear (9) Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there.

Fai.Or I miftake your shape and making quite, Or elfe you are that fhrewd, and knavish sprite, Call'd Robin-goodfellow. Are you not he, That fright the maidens of the villageree, Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern, (1) And bootless make the breathless hufwife chern: And fometime make the drink to bear no barm, Mif-lead night wand'rers, laughing at their harm? Thofe that Hobgoblin call you, and fweet Puck, (2) You do their work, and they shall have good luck.

(9) But they do fquare,] To fquare here is to quarrel. And are you now. fuch fools to fquare for this. The French word contrecarrer has the fame import. * I. II. III. IV. Either.

(1) Skim milk, and fometimes labour in the quern, And bootless make the breathless hufwife chern.

Are

GRAY.

The sense of these lines is confused. Are not you he, fays the fairy, that fright the country girls, that skim milk, work in the hand-mill, and make the tired dairy woman churn without effect? The mention of the milk, is here ufelefs; I would regulate the lines thus:

And fometimes make the breathless housewife chern
Skim milk, and bootless labour in the quern,

Or by a fimple tranfpofition of the line,

And bootlefs, make the breathless housewife chern
Skim milk, and fometimes labour in the quern.

(2) Thofe thot Hobgoblin call-you and fweet Puck,
You do their work-

To these traditionary opinions Milton has reference in L'Allegro. Then to the fpicy nut brown ale,

With ftories told of many a feat.

How Fairy Mab the junkers eat;
She was pinch'd and pull'd, he said,
And be by Frier's lanthorn led;
Tells how the drudging Goblin feat
To earn his cream-bowl duly fet,
When in one night erè glimpse of morn
His fhadowy flail had thref'd the corn
Which ten day-labourers could not end,
Then lies him down the lubber fiend.
A like account of Puck, is given by Drayton.
He meeteth Puck, which most men call,
Hobgoblin, and on him doth fall.-

Are not you he?

I

Puck. I am thou fpeak'ft aright; (3)
am that
merry wand'rer of the night:
I jeft to Oberon and make him fmile,
When I a fat and bean fed horfe beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;
And fometimes lurk I in a goffip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roafted crab,
And when the drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale.
The wifeft aunt, telling the faddeft tale,
Sometimes for three-foot ftool mistaketh me;
Then flip I from her bum, down topples fhe,
And taylor cries, and falls into a cough: (4)

This Puck feems but a dreaming dolt,
Sull walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt,
Of purpofe to deceive us;

And leading us makes us to ftray,
Long winter's nights out of the way,
And when we stick in mire and clay,
He doth with laughter leave us.

It will be apparent to him that fhall compare Drayton's Poem with this play, that either one of the poets copied the other, or, as I rather believe, that there was then fome fyftem of the fairy empire generally received which they both reprefented as accurately as they could. Whether Drayton or Shakespeare wrote first, I cannot discover.

(3) Puck.-Thou speak ft aright;] I have filled up the verse which I fuppofe the authour left complete.

It seems that in the Fairy mythology Puck, or Hobgoblin, was the trusty servant of Oberon, and always employed to watch or detect the intrigues of Queen Mab, called by Shakespeare Titania. For in Drayton's Nymphidia the fame fairies are engaged in the fame bufinefs. Mab has an amour with Pigwiggen, Oberon being jealous fends Hobgoblin to catch them, and one of Mab's Nymphs oppofes him by a spell.

(4) And taylor cries,]The cuftom of crying taylor at a fudden fall backwards, I think I remember to have obferved. He that flips befide his chair falls as a taylor fquats upon his board. The Oxford Editor and Dr. Warburton after him, read and rails or cries, plaufibly, but I believe not rightly. Befides, the trick of the fairy is reprefented as producing rather merriment than

anger.

And

And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe, (5) And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and fwear, A merrier hour was never wafted there.

*

But make room, Fairy, here comes Oberon.

Fai. And here my mistress

Would, that we

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Enter Oberon, King of Fairies, at one door with his train, and the Queen at another with hers.

Ob. I'll meet by moon-light, proud Titania.
Queen. What, jealous Oberon? Fairies, skip hence,
I have forfworn his bed and company.

Ob. Tarry, rafh Wanton ; am not I thy lord?
Queen. Then I must be thy lady; but I know,
When thou haft ftol'n away from fairy land,
And in the fhape of Corin fate all day,
Playing on pipes of corn, and verfing love
To am'rous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the further fteep of India ?
But that, forfooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress and your warrior love,
To Thefeus must be wedded; and you come
To give their bed joy and profperity.

Ob. How can't thou thus for fhame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolita ;

Knowing, I know thy love to Thefeus?

Didft thou not lead him through the glimmering night (6)

(5) And waxen- -] And encrease, as the moon waxes. *I. II. III. IV. But room Fairy. The word Fairy or Faery,

was sometimes of three fyllables, as often in Spenser.

(6) Didft thou not lead him through the glimmering night.-] We should read,

Didft thou not lead him glimmering through the night. The meaning is, She conducted him in the appearance of fire thro' the,dark night.

WARBURTON.

From

From Periguné, whom he ravished; (7)
And make him with fair Ægle break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiopa?

Queen. These are the forgeries of jealoufie :
And never fince the middle fummer's fpring (8)
Met we on hill, in dale, foreft, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook, (9)
Or on the beached margent of the sea,

To dance our ringlets to the whiftling wind,
But with thy brawls thou haft difturb'd our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain, (1)
As in revenge, have fuck'd up from the fea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land,

(7) From Perigenia, whom he ravibed;] Thus all the Editors, but our Author, who diligently perus'd Plutarch, and glean'd from him, where his fubject would admit, knew, from the Life of Thefeus, that her Name was Perigyne; (or Perigune) by whom Thefeus had his Son Melanippus. She was the Daughter of Sinnis, a cruel Robber, and Tormentor of Paffengers in the Ifthmus. Plutarch and Athenæus are both express in the Circumstance of Thefeus ravishing her.

THEOBALD,

(8) And never fince the middle Summer's Spring, &c.] There are not many paffages in Shakespeare which one can be certain he has borrowed from the Ancients; but this is one of the few that, I think, will admit of no difpute. Our Author's admirable defcription of the miferies of the Country being plainly an imitation of that which Ovid draws, as confequent on the grief of Ceres, for the lofs of her Daughter.

Nefcit adhuc ubi fit: terras tamen increpat omnes:
Ingratafque vocat, nec frugum munere dignas.
-Ergo illic fava vertentia glebas

colonos

Fregit aratra manu parilique irata
Ruricolafque boves letho dedit: arvaque juffit
Fallere depofitum vitiataque femina fecit.
Fertilitas terræ latum vulgata per orbem
Sparfa jacet. Primis fegetes moriuntur in herbis.
Et modo fol nimius, nimius modo corripit imber :
Sideraque ventique nocent.

THE middle fummer's Spring.] We should read THAT. For it appears to have been fome years fince the quarrel firft began.

WARBURTON.. (9) Paved Fountain,] A Fountain laid round the edge with ftone.

(1) The Winds, piping. So Milton. While rocking winds are piping loud.

Have

« VorigeDoorgaan »