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'A MIDSUMMEK-Night's Dream' was first printed in /sition were required to exbibit the power of the English 1600. In that year there appeared two editions of the language for purposes of poetry, that compositiou would play ;—the one published by Thomas Fisher, a book. be the . Midsummer-Night's Dream.' This wonderful seller; the other by James Roberts, a printer. The model, which, at the time it appeared, must have been differences between these two editions are very slight. the commencement of a great poetical revolution,The play was not reprinted after 1600, till it was col- and which has never ceased to influence our higher lected into the folio of 1623; and the text in that edi- poetry from Fletcher to Shelley,—was, according to tion differs in few instances from that of the quartos. Malone, the work of “the genius of Shakspeare, even
Malone has assigned the composition of A Midsum- in its minority." iner-Night's Dream' to the year 1594. We are not “This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard," says disposed to dissent from this; but we entirely object to Hippolyta, when Wall hus “discharged " his part. the reasous upon which Malone attempts to show that the answer of Theseus is full of instruction :-" The it was one of our author's “ earliest attempts in comedy." best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are vo It
appears to us a misapplication of the received mean- worse if imagination amend them." It was in this ing of words, to talk of the warmth of a youthful and humble spirit that the great poet judged of his own lively imagination " with reference to "A Midsummer- matchless performances. He felt the utter inadequacy Night's Dream' and the Shakspere of thirty. Of all of his art, and indeed of any art, to produce its due the dramas of Shakspere there is none more entirely effect upon the mind, unless the imagination, to which harmonious than • A Midsummer-Night's Dream.' All it addressed itself, was ready to convert the shadows the incidents, all the characters, are in perfect subordi- which it presented into living forms of truth and beauty, nation to the will of the poet. “ Throughout the whole "I am convinced,” says Coleridge, “that Shakspeare piece," says Malone, “the more exalted characters are availed himself of the title of this play in his own subservient to the interests of those beneath them." mind, and worked upon it as a dream throughout." Precisely so. An unpractised author-one who had | The poet says so, in express words :uot “a youthful and lively imagination" under perfect
“ If we shadows have offended, control-when he had got hold of the Theseus and
Think but this (and all is mended), Hippolyta of the heroic ages, would have made them
That you have but slumber'd lere,
While these visions did appear. ultra-heroical. They would have commanded events,
Aud this weak and idle theme, instead of moving with the supernatural influence
No more yielding but a dream, around them in harmony and proportion. An immature
Gentles, do not reprehend." poet, again, if the marvellous creation of Oberon and But to understand this dream-to have all its gay, Titania and Puck could have entered into such a mind, and soft, and harmonious colours impressed upon the would have laboured to make the power of the fairies vision-to hear all the golden cadences of its poesyproduce some strange and striking events. But the to feel the perfect congruity of all its parts, and thus exquisite beauty of Shakspere's conception is, that, to receive it as a truth—we must not suppose that it under the supernatural influence, “the human mortals" will enter the mind amidst the lethargic slumbers of move precisely according to their respective natures the imagination. We must receive itand habits. Demetrius and Lysander are impatient
“ As youthful poets dream and revengeful ;-Helena is dignified and affectionate,
On summer eves by haunted stream." with a spice of female error ;—Hermia is somewhat vain To offer an analysis of this subtle and ethereal drama and shrewish. And then Bottom! Who but the most would, we believe, be as unsatisfactory as the attempts skilful artist could have given us such a character ? to associate it with the realities of the stage. With Of him Malone says, “Shakspeare would naturally scarcely an exception, the proper understanding of the copy those manuers first with which he was first ac. other plays of Shakspere may be assisted by connecting quainted. The ambition of a theatrical candidate for the apparently separate parts of the action, and by deapplause he has bappily ridiculed in Bottom the veloping and reconciling what seems obscure and
A theatrical candidate for applause! Why, anomalous in the features of the characters. But to Bottom the weaver is the representative of the whole follow out the caprices and illusions of the loves of human race.
His confidence in his own power is Demetrius and Lysander,-of Helena and Hermia ;equally profound, whether ne exclaims, “Let me play to reduce to prosaic description the consequence of the the lion too;" or whether he sings alone, “ that they jealousies of Oberon and Titania ;-to trace the Fairy shall hear I am not afraid;" or whether, conscious that Queen under the most fantastic of deceptions, where he is surrounded with spirits, he cries out, with his grace and vulgarity blend together like the Cupids and voice of authority, “Where's Peas-blossom?" In Chimeras of Raphael's Arabesques ;-aud, finally, to every situation Bottom is the same,—the same per- go along with the scene till the illusions disappearsonification of that self-love which the simple cannot till the lovers are happy, and “sweet bully Bottom" couceal, and the wise can with difficulty suppress. is reduced to an ass of human dimensions;—such an Lastly, in the whole rhythmical structure of the versi- attempt as this would be worse even than unreverential fication, the poet has put forth all his strength. We criticism. No,—the Midsummer-Night's Dream venture to offer an opinion that, if any single compo- | must be left to its own influences.
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM.
THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
HIPPOLYTA, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 1.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 1.
Act V. sc.).
Hermia, daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander, LYSANDER, in love with Hermia.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2, Act IV.sc. i
Act V. sc. I.
HELENA, in love with Demetrius.
Appears, Act I. sc. 1. Act II. sc. 2; sc. 3. Act III. SC. 3 DEMETRIUS, in love with Hermia.
Act IV. g. 1. Act V. sc. 1.
OBERON, king of the fairies.
Appears, Act II. sc. 2; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 2. Act IV. sc. 1 PHILOSTRATE, master of the revels to Theseus.
Act V. sc. 2.
TITANIA, queen of the fairies.
Appears, Act II. sc. 2; sc. 3. Act III. sc. l. Act IV. sc. 1.
Act V. sc. 2.
Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, a fairy.
Appears, Act II. sc. !; sc. 2; sc. 3. Act III. sc. 1; sc. 2 Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 2.
Act IV. sc. 1. Act V. sc. 2.
Peas-BLOSSOM, COBWEB, Moth, MUSTARD-SEED, Appears, Act I. sc. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. se. l; sc. 2.
fairies. FLUTE, the belloros-mender.
Appear, Act III. sc. l. Act IV. sc. 1, Appears, Aet I. se. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc.2. Pyramus, Thisbe, Wall, Moonshine, Lion, characters SNOUT, the tinker.
in the Interlude performed by the Clowns. Appears, Act I. se. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 2.
Appear, Act V. sc. i.
Other Fairies attending their King and Queen. Appears, Aet I. s. 2. Act III. sc. 1. Act IV. sc. 2.
Attendants on Theseus and Hippolyta.
SCENE I.-Athens. A Room in the Palace of The. Thanks, gond Egeus : What 's the news with Theseus.
thee? Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and
Ege. Full of vexation come I, with complaint
Against my child, my daughter Hermia.
Stand forth, Demetrius : My noble lord, The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour This man hath my consent to marry her.Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Stand forth, Lysander :-and, my gracious duke, Another moon : but, oh, methinks, how slow
This man hath bewitchd the bosom of my child : This old moon wanes ! she lingers my desires,
Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes, Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
And interchang'd love-tokens with my child: Long withering out a young man's revenue.
Thou hast by moonlight at her window sung, Hip. Four days will quickly steep themselves in With feigning voice, verses of feigning love; nights;
And stol'n the impression of her fantasy Four nights will quickly dream away the time; With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits, And then the moon, like to a silver bow
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats; messengers New bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth : Of our solemnities.
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart; The. Go, Philostrate,
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me, Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
To stubborn harshness :- And, my gracious duke, Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth;
Be it so she will not here before your grace
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
As she is mine, I may dispose of her :
Which shall be either to this gentleinan, Bat I will wed thee in another key,
Or to her death ; according to our law, With pomp, with triumph, and with revelling. Immediately provided in that case. Enter Egeus, HERMIA, LYSANDER, and DEMETRIUS.
The. What say you, Hermia? Be advis'd, fair
maid: Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke !"
To you your father should be as a god; • The word duke was a corruption of the Latin dus, which One that compos'd your beauties; yea, and one was indiscriminately applied to any military chief, Chancer To whom you are but as a form in wax, seas. The word is also so used in our translation of the Bible. By him imprinted, and witr in his power
To Icave the figure, or disfigure it.
Or else the law of Athens yields you up Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
(Which by no means we may extenuate) Her. So is Lysander.
To death, or to a vow of single life.
Come, my Hippolyta : What cheer, my love?
Demetrius, and Egeus, go along:
I must employ you in some business
Ege. With duty and desire, we follow you.
[Excunt Thes., HIP., EGE., Dem., and train. Nor how it may concern my modesty,
Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek so paie i In such a presence here, to plead my thoughts : How chance the roses there do fade so fast? But I beseech your grace that I may know
Her. Belike for want of rain; which I could well The worst that may hefall me in this case,
Beteem them from the tempest of mine eyes. If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
Lys. Ah me! for aught that ever I could read, The. Either to die the death, or to abjure
Could ever hear by tale or history, For ever the society of men.
The course of true love never did run smooth : Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
But, either it was different in blood ;Know of your youth, examine well your bloodl,
Her. O cross! too high to be enthrallid to low! Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of years ;You can endure the livery of a nun;
Her. O spite! too old to be engag’d to young! For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
Lys. Or else it stood upon the choice of friends ;To live a barren sister all your life,
Her. O hell! to choose love by another's eye! Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choice, Thrice blessed they that master so their blool,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it; To undergo such maiden pilgrimage :
Making it momentary as a sound, But earthly happier is the rose distillid,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream, Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn, Brief as the lightning in the collied night, Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth, Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord, And ere a man hath power to say,—Behold! Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
The jaws of darkness do devour it up : Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
So quick bright things come to confusion. My soul consents not to give sovereignty.
Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross d, The. Take time to pause; and, by the next new moon, It stands as an edict in destiny: (The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
Then let us teach our trial patience, For everlasting bond of fellowship,)
Because it is a customary cross; Upon that day either prepare to die,
As due to love, as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs, For disobedience to your father's will ;
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.d Or else, to wed Demetrius, as he would ;
Lys. A good persuasion; therefore, hear me, Ilerm) Or on Diana's altar to protest,
I have a widow aunt, a dowager For aye, austerity and single life.
Of great revenue, and she hath no child;
And she respects me as her only son.
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night; And she is mine; and all my right of her
And in the wood, a league without the town, I do estate unto Demetrius.
Where I did meet thee once with Helena, Lys. am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he,
To do observance to a morn of May, As well possess'd; my love is more than his ,
There will I stay for thee. My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
My good Lysander!
I swear to thee by Cupid's strongest bow;
By the simplicity of Venus' doves;
By that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves, Demetrius, I 'll avouch it to his head,
And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen, Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
When the false Trojan under sail was seen ; And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
By all the vows that ever men have broke, Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,
In number more than ever women spoke; Upon this spottedd and inconstant man.
In that same place thou hast appointed me,
Her. God speed fair Helena! Whit er away! I have some private schooling for you both.
Hel. Call you me fair ? that fair agam unsay. For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself
Demetrius loves your fair:- 0 happy fair! To fit your fancies to your father's will;
Your eyes are load-stars ;' and your tongue's sweet ai
* Beteem--pour forth. Collied-black, smutted. • Earthly happier--more happy in an earthly sense.
• In a spleen-in a sudden fit of passion or a price. Lordship-authority.
Fancy's followers-the followers of Lore. • This is one of those elliptical expressions which frequently e Fair-used as a substantive for beauty. occur in our poet: to must be understood after sovereignty. I The load-star is the north star, hy which stilors steared the 4 Spotted-stained, impure; tbe opposite of spotless.
course in the early days of navigation.
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear,
Pursue her; and for this intelligence When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear. If I have thanks, it is a dear expense : Sickness is catching; 0, were favour" so,
But herein mean I to enrich my pain, (Your words I catch,)"fair Hermia, ere I go,
To have his sight thither and back again. Erit My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye, My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody. SCENE II.-The same. A Room in a Cottage. Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated, The rest I 'll give to be to you translated.
Enter Snug, Bottom, FLUTE, SNOUT, QUINCE, and
Quin. Is all our company here ?
Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name, which Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love. is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interHel. O, that my prayers could such affection move! lude before the duke and the duchess on his weddingHer. The more I hate, the more he follows me. day at night. Hel The more I love, the more he hateth me.
Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine. treats on; then read the names of the actors; and so Hel. None. But your beauty; would that fault were grow on to a point. mine!
Quin. Marry, our play is—The most lamentable Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my comedy, and most cruel death of Pyramus and Thisby face;
Bot. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a Lysander and myself will fly this place.
merry.—Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors Before the time I did Lysander see,
by the scroll: Masters, spread yourselves. Seemd Athens like a paradise to me:
Quin. Answer, as I call you.—Nick Bottom, the O then, what graces in my love do dwell, That he hath turn'd a heaven unto a hell!
Bot. Ready. Name what part I am for, and proLys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold: ceed. To-morrow night, when Phæbe doth behold
Quin. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. Her silver visage in the wat’ry glass,
Bot. What is Pyramus ? a lover, or a tyrant ? Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
Quin. A lover, that kills himself most gallantly for (A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal,)
love. Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to steal.
Bot. That will ask some tears in the true performing Her. And in the wood, where often you and I of it: If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes; I Cpon faint primrose beds were wont to lie,
will move storms, I will condole in some measure. To Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
the rest :-Yet my chief humour is for a tyrant : I could There my Lysander and myself shall meet :
play Ercles rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, to make And thence, from Athens, turn away our eyes,
all split. To seek new friends and stranger companies.
“ The raging rocks, Farewell, sweet playfellow; pray thou for us,
And shivering shocks, And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius –
Shall break the locks Keep word, Lysander : we must starve our sight
Of prison-gates; From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight. (Ex. Her.
And Phibbus' car Lys. I will, my Hermia.-Helena, adieu :
Shall shine from far, As you on him, Demetrius dote on you! [Exit Lys.
And make and mar Hel. How happy some o'er other some can be !
The foolish fates." Through Athens I am thought as fair as she.
This was lofty !-Now name the rest of the players.-Bat what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
This is Ercles'b vein, a tyrant's vein; a lover is more He will not know what all but he do know.
condoling. And as he erts, doting on Hermia's eyes,
Quin. Francis Flute, the bellows-mender. Sol, admiring of his qualities.
Flu. Here, Peter Quince. Things base and vild,d holding no quantity,
Quin. You must take Thisby on you. Love can transpose to form and dignity.
Flu. What is Thisby? a wandering knight? Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; Quin. It is the lady that Pyramus must love. And therefore is wing'd Cupid painted blind.
Flu. Nay, faith, let not me play a woman; I have Ner hath love's mind of any judgment taste;
a beard coming. Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste :
Quin. That 's all one; you shall play it in a mask, And therefore is love said to be a child,
and you may speak as small as you will. Because in choice he is so oft beguiid.
Bot. An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby As vaggish boys in game themselves forswear, too : I 'll speak in a monstrous little voice;- -“ Thisne, So the boy love is perjur'd everywhere :
Thisne, -Ah, Pyramus, my lover dear; thy Thisby For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,
dear! and lady dear!" He hail'd down oaths, that he was only mine ;
Quin. No, no, you must play Pyramus; and, Flute And when this hail some heat from Hermia felt. you, Thisby. So be dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.
Bot. Well, proceed. "I will go tell of fair Hermia's flight :
Quin. Robin Starveling, the tailor. Then to the wood will he, to-morrow night,
Star. Here, Peter Quince.