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Called Robin Good-fellow. Are you not he,
Thou speak’st aright; I am that merry wanderer of the night. I jest to Oberon, and make him smile, When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, Neighing in likeness of a filly foal ; And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, In very likeness of a roasted crab; 2 And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, And on her withered dew-lap pour the ale. The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me; Then slip I from her bum, down topples she, And tailor cries, and falls into a cough ; And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe : And yexen * in their mirth, and neeze, and swear A merrier hour was never wasted there. But room, Faery; here comes Oberon.
Fai. And here my mistress.—'Would that he were
1 A quern was a hand-mill.
2 Wild apple. 3 Dr. Johnson thought he remembered to have heard this ludicrous exclamation upon a person's seat slipping from under him. He that slips from his chair falls as a tailor squats upon his board. Hanmer thought the passage corrupt, and proposed to read “rails or cries.”
4 The old copy reads: “And waxen in their mirth,” &c. It seems most probable that we should read, as Dr. Farmer proposed, yeren. To yer is to hiccup, and is so explained in all the old dictionaries.
Enter OBERON, at one door, with his Train, and
TITANIA, at another, with hers. Obe. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania.
Tita. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairy, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.
Obe. Tarry, rash wanton. Am not I thy lord ?
Tita. Then I must be thy lady. But I know
Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy;
1 See the Life of Theseus in North’s Translation of Plutarch. Ægle, Ariadne, and Antiopa, were all, at different times, mistresses to Theseus. The name of Perigune is translated by North Perigouna.
2 Spring seems to be here used for beginning. The spring of day is used for the dawn of day in K. Henry IV. Part II.
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Obe. Do you amend it, then; it lies in you.
1 i. e. paltry. The folio reads petty,
? A rural game, played by making holes in the ground in the angles and sides of a square, and placing stones or other things upon them, according to certain rules. These figures are called nine men's morris, or merrils, because each party playing has nine men: they were generally cut upon turf, and were, consequently, choked up with mud in rainy seasons.
3 Theobald proposed to read their winter cheer.”
heart at rest,
grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind;
Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tita. Perchance, till after Theseus' wedding-day. If you will patiently dance in our round, And see our moon-light revels, go with us; If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tita. Not for thy fairy-kingdom.-Fairies, away. We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.
[Exeunt TITANIA and her Train. Obe. Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this
At a fair vestal,throned by the west;
Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth
[Exit Puck. Obe.
Having once this juice,
1 It is well known that a compliment to Queen Elizabeth was intended in this very beautiful passage. Warburton has attempted to show, that by the mermaid, in the preceding lines, Mary Queen of Scots was intended. It is argued with his usual fanciful ingenuity, but will not bear the test of examination, and has been satisfactorily controverted. It appears to have been no uncommon practice to introduce a compliment to Elizabeth in the body of a play.
2 Exempt from the power of love.
3 The tricolored violet, commonly called pansies, or hearts' ease, is here meant; one or two of its petals are of a purple color. It has other fanciful and expressive names.