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Here are the beetle-brows fhall blufh for me.
Rom. A torch for me. Let wantons, light of heart, Tickle the fenfelefs rushes with their heels; For I am proverb'd with a granfire-phrase I'll be a candle-holder, and look on.
The game was ne'er fo fair, and I am done.
Mer. 7 Tut! dun's the mouse, the constable's own word;
If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire;
Or, fave your reverence, Love, wherein thou stickest Up to thine ears: come, we burn day-light, ho.
The game was ne'er fo fair, and
Mercutio, in his reply, answers the laft line firft. The thought of which, and of the preceding, is taken from gaming, I'll be a candle holder (fays Romeo) and look on. It is true, if I could play myself, I could never expect a fairer chance than in the company we are going to: but, alas! I am done. I have nothing to play with; I have loft my heart already. Mercutio catches at the word done, and quibbles with it, as if Romeo had faid, The ladies indeed are fair, but I am dun, i. e. of a dark complexion. And fo replies, Tut! dun's the mouse; a proverbial expreffion of
the fame import with the French, La nuit tous les chats funt gris. As much as to fay, You need not fear, night will make all your complexions alike. And because Romeo had introduced his obfervation with,
I am proverb'd with a grandfire's phrafe,
Mercutio adds to his reply, the conftable's own word. As much as to fay, if you are for old proverbs, I'll fit you with one; 'tis the conflable's own word: whofe cuftom was, when he fummoned his watch, and affigned them their feveral ftations, to give them what the foldiers call, the word. But this night guard being distinguished for their pacific character, the conftable, as an emblem of their harmless difpofition, chofe that domeftic animal for his word: which, in time, might become proverbial. WARE.
8 Or, fave your reverence,
Love,] The word or obfcures the fentence; we fhould read O for or Love, Mercutio
Rom. Nay, that's not fo.
Mer. I mean, Sir, in delay
We wafte our lights in vain, like lights by day.
Mer. Why, may one ask?
Rom. I dreamt a dream to-night.
Rom. Well what was yours?
Mer. That dreamers often lye.
Rom. In bed afleep; while they do dream things
Mer. O, then I fee, Queen Mab hath been with
She is the Fancy's mid-wife, and she comes
having called the affection with which Romeo was entangled by fo difrespectfuul a word as mire,
O! fave your reverence, Love. 90, then I fee, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the FAIRIES' midwife.] Thus begins that admirable Specch upon the effects of the imagination in dreams. But, Queen Mab the fairies' midwife? What is the then Queen of? Why, the fairies. What! and their mida fe too? But this is not the greatest of the abfurdities. Let us fee upon what occafion fhe is introduced, and under what quality. It is as a Being that has great power over human imaginations. But then the title given her, muft have reference to the employment fhe is put upon: First then, the is
called Queen: which is very per-
I talk of dreams;
Begot of nothing but vain fan-
Thefe dreams are begot upon
In fhape no bigger than an agat stone
• Sometimes she gallops o'er a
out a fuit;] The old edi tions have it, COURTIER's nose; and this undoubtedly is the true reading and for thefe reafons, First, In the prefent reading there is a vicious repetition in this fine fpeech; the fame thought having been given in the foregoing line, O'er lawyers' fingers, who frait
dream on fees: Nor can it be objected that there
will be the fame fault if we read courtier's, it having been said before.
On courtiers' knees, that dream
on curifies ftrat: because they are fhewn in two places under different views: in the firft, their foptery; in the fecond, their rapacity is ridiculed. Secondly, In our author's time, a court-folicitation was called fimply, a fuit: and a process, `a fuit at law, to diftinguish it from the other. The King (fays an anonymous
And fometimes comes fhe with a tithe-pig's tail,
anonymous contemporary writer of the life of Sir William Cecil) called him [Sir William Cecil] and after long talk with him, being much delighted with his anfwers, willed his Father to FIND [i. e. to fmell out] A SUIT for bim. Whereupon he became SUITER for the reverfion of the Cuftos brevium office in the Common Pleas. Which the King willingly granted, it being the firft SUIT he had in bis life. Indeed our Poet has very rarely turned his fatire again lawyers and law proceedings; the common topic of later writers. For, to obferve it to the honour of the English judicatures, they preserved the purity and fimplicity of their first inftitution, long after Chicane had over run all the other laws of Europe. Philip de Commines gives us a very frank description of the horrid abuses that had infected the courts of juftice in France, fo early as the time of Lewis XI. Auffi defiroit fort qu' en ce Royaume on ufaft d'une coustume, d'un poix, d'une mefure: et que toutes Ces couftumes fuffent mifes en françoys, en un beau Livre, pour eviter la cautelle & la pillerie des advocats qui eft fi grande en ce Royaume, que nulle autre n'eft femblable, & les nobles d'iceluy la doivent bien cougnoiftre. At this time the administration of the law in England was conduct
ed with great purity and integrity. The reafon of this dif ference I take to be, that, 'till of late, there were few gloffers or commentators on our laws, and those very able, honest, and concife. While it was the fortune of the other municipal laws of Europe, where the Roman civil law had a fupplemental authority, to be, in imitation of that law, overloaded with gloffes and commentators. And what corruption this practice occafioned in the administration of the Roman law itself, and to what a miferable condition it reduced public juftice, we may fee in a long and fine digreffion of the hiftorian Ammianus Marcellinus; who has painted, in very lively colours, the different kinds of vermine, which infected their tribunals and courts of law : whereby the state of public juftice became in a fhort time fo defperately corrupt, that Juftinian was obliged to new model and digeft the enormous body of their laws. WARB.
2 Spanish blades,] A fword is called a Toledo, from the excellence of the Toletan fteel. So Grotius,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
Mer. True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Supper is done, and we fhall come too late.
With this night's revels; and expire the term
[They march about the Stage, and Exeunt.
3 And cakes the elf locks, &c.] This was a common fuperftition; and feems to have had its rife from the horrid disease called the I
4 Dive my fuit !] Guide the Sequel of the adventure.