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unlike unto those whom the Germans call Guteli, bycause they sæme to bcare good affectivo lowards men, for they keepe horses, and do other necessary businesse.'

The resemblance which these descriptions bear both to the Brownie of the Scotch and the Puck of Shakspeare are very evident: but the combination and similitude are rendered still more apparent in the words of Scot; the

“Virunculi terrei.” says he, are such as was Robin good fellowe, that would supplie the office of servants, speciallie of maids ; as to make a fier in the morning, sweepe the house, grind mustard and malt, drawe water, &c. ;" + and speaking of the Incubus, he adds :-"In deede your grandams maides were wont lo set a boll of milke before him and his cousine Robin goodfellow, fur grinding of malt or mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight : and you have also heard that he would chafe exceedingly, if the maid or good rife of the house, having compassion on his nakednesse, laid anie clothes for him, beesides hix messe of white bread and milke, which was his standing fee. For in that case he saith; What have are here? Hemten, hamten, here. rill I never more tread nor stampen.

The lines in italics point out one of the most characteristic features of the Brownie, while the preceding parts, and the last word of the quotation, are in unison, both with the passages just transcribed from our poet, and with that expression of Puck, where, describing to Oberon the terror and dispersion of the rustic comedians, he says

And, at our stamp, here o'er and o'er one falls." It may be also remarked, the idea of fixing “an ass's nowl" on Bottom's head, is most probably taken from Scot, who gives us a very curious receipt for this singular metamorphosis.

So far, then, the Puck of Shakspeare is in conformity with the tales of tradition, and of preceding writers ; he is the “Goblin fear'd in field and town;"** who loves all things best “ that besal preposterously,” and who, even when the poet wrote, had not ceased to excite apprehension; for Scot hath told us, pine years before the era of the Midsummer-Night's Dream, that Robin Good-fellowe ceaseth now to be much feared.tt

But to these traits of customary character, Shakspeare has added some which greally modify the picture, and which have united to the “drudging goblin," and to the demon of mischievous frolic, duties and functions of a very different cast. He is the messenger, ## and trusty servantsS of the fairy king, by whom, in these capacities, he is called gentle *** and good, it and he combines with all his hereditary attributes, the speed, the legerity, and the intellectual skill of the highest order of the fairy world. Accordingly when Oberon says

“ Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again,

Ere the leviathan can swim a league ;” he replies,

“ I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes ; ”

Act ii. sc. 2.

OrGhostes and Spirites walking by nyght, 4to, 1752, p. 75.
Discoverie of Witchcraft, 410, 1584, P.

521,

# Discoverie, p. 85 “ Cut of the head of a horse or an asse (before they be dead), otherwise the vertue or strength thereof will be the lesse effectuall, and make an earthen vessell of fit capacitie to conteine the same, and let it be filled with the oile and fat thereof; cover it close, and dawbe it over with lome : let it boile over a soft fier three daies continuallie, that the flesh boiled may run into oile, so as the bare bones may be seene : bente the haire into powder, and mingle the same with the oile ; and annoint the heads of the standers by, and they shall seeme to have borses or asses heads."-Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, p. 315.

** Midsummer-Night's Dream, act iii. sc. 2. ++ Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584.—Epistle to the Readers, in which he afterwards speaks of "the want of Robin Goodfellowe and the fairies, which were woont to mainteine chat, and the common peoples talke in this behalfe.”

#1 "Ob. Here comes my messenger.Midsummer-Night's Dream, act iii. sc. 2.
98 “ Puck. Fear not, my lord, your servant shall do so. Actii. sc. 3.
*** (b. My gentle Puck, come hither:"--Act ii. sc. 3.
+++ “ 06. Welcome, good Robin." - Activ. sc. I,

and again, on receiving commission from the same quarter :

Obe. About the wood go swifter than the wind :
Puck. I go, I go; look, how I go;

Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow." Act iii, sc. 2. Upon the whole we may be allowed, from the preceding dissertation, to consider the following series of circumstances as entitled to the appellation of facts : namely, that the patria of our popular system of fairy mythology, was the Scandinavian Peninsula ; that, on its admission into this country, it gradually underwent various modifications through the influence of Christianity, the introduction of classical associations, and the prevalence of feudal manners; but that ultimately two systems became established; one in Scotland, founded on the wild and more terrific parts of the Gothic mythology, and the other in England, built, indeed, on the same system, but from a selection of its milder features, and converted by the genius of Shakspeare into one of the most lovely creations of a sportive imagination. Such, in fact, has been the success of our bard in expanding and colouring the germs of Gothic fairyism; in assigning to its tiny agents new attributes and powers; and in clothing their ministration with the most light and exquisite imagery, that his portraits, in all their essential parts, have descended to us as indissolubly connected with, and indeed nearly, if not altogether, forming our ideas of the fairy tribe.

The canvas, it is true, which he stretched, has been since expanded, and new groups have been introduced; but the outline and the mode of colouring which he employed, have been invariably followed. It is, in short, to his picture of the fairy world, that we are indebted for the "Nymphidia" of Drayton;* the “ Robin Goodfellow” of Jonson;t the miniatures of Fletcher and Browne ;£ the full-length portraits of Herrick :S the sly allusions of Corbet, ** and the spirited and picturesque sketches of Milton.++

To Shakspeare, therefore, as the remodeller, and almost the inventor of our fairy system, may, with the utmost propriety, be addressed the elegant compliment which Browne has paid to Occleve, certainly inappropriate as applied to that rugged imitator of Chaucer, but admirably adapted to the peculiar powers of our bard, and delightfully expressive of what we may conceive would be the gratitude, were such testimony possible, of these children of his playful fancy:Many times he hath been seene

Mints perfume the gentle aire, With the faeries on the greene,

And where Flora spreads her treasure, And to them bis pipe did sound

There they would beginn their measure. As they danced in a round;

If it chanc'd night's sable shrowds Mickle solace would they make him,

Muffled Cynthia up in clowds, And at midnight often wake him ;

Safely home they then would see him, And convey him from his roome

And from breakes and quagmires free him. To a fielde of yellow broome,

There are few such swaines as he
Or into the meadowes where

Now a days for harmonie." #1

* This beautiful and highly fanciful poem could not certainly have been written before 1605; for the Don Quixote of Cervantes, which was first published in Spain during the above year, is expressly mentioned in one of the stanzas; and Mr. Malone thinks that the carliest edition of the Nymphidia was printed

; in 1619.

+ Peck attributes this song to Ben Jonson; and Percy observes, that it seems to bave been originally intended for some masque.-Reliques, vol. iii. p. 203. ed. 1594.

See Fletcher's Faithfull Shepherdess, and Browne's Britannia's Pastorals., Ś Herrick, as I have observed in a former work, seems more particularly to have delighted in drawing the manners and costume of the fairy world.—He has devoted several of his most elaborate poems to these sportive creations of fancy. Under the titles of The Fairy Temple, Oberon's Palace, The Fairy Queen, and Oberon's Feast. a variety of curious and minute imagery is appositely introduced - Literary Hours, 3d edit

. vol. ii, p. 85. To these may be added another elegantly descriptive piece, entitler, King Oberon's Apparel, written by Sir John Mennis, and published in The Musarum Deliciæ, or The Muses Recreation, 1656.

In his political ballad entitled The Fairies Farewell. ++ Vide L'Allegro, and the occasional sketehes in Paradise Lost and Comus. #1 See Shepherd's Pipe, Eglogue 1. Chalmers's English Poets, vol. vi. p. 315. col. 2.

CHAPTER X.

Observations on Romeo and Juliet; on the Taming of the Shrew; on The Two Gentlemen of ve

rona; on King Richard the Third; on King Richard the Second ; on King Henry the Fourth, Parts First and Second; on The Merchant of Venice; and on Hamlet-Dissertation on the Agency of Spirits and Apparitions, and on the Ghost in Hamlet.

In endeavouring to ascertain the chronological series of our author's plays, we must ever hold in mind, that, in general, nothing more than a choice of probabilities is before us, and that, whilst weighing their preponderancy, the slightest additional circumstance, so equally are they sometimes balanced, may turn the scale. It appears to us, that an occurrence of this kind will be found to point out, more accurately than hitherto, the precise period to which the first sketch of the following tragedy may be ascribed.

7. ROMEO AND JULIET: 1593. The passage in this play on which the commentators have chiefly relied for the establishment of their respective dates, runs thus:

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Nurse. Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas-eve at night, shall she (Juliet) be fourteen.
That shall she, marry; I remember it well.
'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years ;
And she was wean'd, I never shall forget it, –
For then she could stand alone ; nay, by the rood,
She could have run aud waddled all about." Act i. sc. 3.

Building on Shakspeare's usual custom of alluding to the events of his own time, and transferring them to the scene and period of the piece on which he happened to be engaged, Mr. Tyrwhitt with much probability conjectured, that the poet, in these lines, had in view the earthquake which, according to Stowe, and Gabriel Harvey, took place in England on the 6th of April, 1580; but then, relying, unfortunately too much, on the computation of the good nurse, he hastily concludes, that Romeo and Juliet, or a part of it at least, was written in 1591.

Mr. Malone, after admitting the inference of Mr. Tyrwhitt, adds another conjecture, that the foundation of this play might be laid in 1591, and finished at a subsequent period, which period he has assigned in his chronology to the year 1595.

Lastly, Mr. Chalmers, principally because Shakspeare appears to have borrowed some imagery in the fifth act, froin Daniel's “ Complaint of Rosamond,” which was entered at Stationers' Hall on the 4th of February, 1592, has ascribed the first sketch of Romeo and Juliet to the spring-time of the same year.

Now, adopting the opinion of Mr. Tyrwhitt as to Shakspeare's reference to the earthquake of 1580, a little attention to the lines which the poet has put into the mouth of his garrulous nurse, will convince us that these gentlemen are alike mistaken in their chronological calculations.

The nurse in the first place tells us, that Juliet was within little more than a fortnight of being fourteen years old, an assertion in which she could not be incorrect, as it is corroborated by Lady Capulet, who thinks her daughter, in consequence of this age, fit for marriage. In the next place she informs us that Juliet was weaned on the day of the earthquake, and as she could then stand and run alone, we must conceive her to have been at this period at least a twelvemonth

* See Stowe's Chronicle, and Gabriel Harvey's Letter in the Preface to Spenser's Works, edit. 1679.

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