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Here are the beetle-brows fhall blush for me.
Ben. Come, knock and enter; and no fooner in, But ev'ry man betake him to his legs.
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 moufe, the conftable'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.
7 Tut! dun's the mouse, the conftable's own word;] This poor obfcure ftuff should have an explanation in mere charity. is an answer to these two lines of Romeo,
For I am proverb'd with a grandfire's phrafe,
The game was ne'er fo fair, and
Mercutio, in his reply, anfwers
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 phraft,
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: whole 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 diftinguished 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. WARB 8 Or, fave your reverence, Love,] The word or obfcures the fentence; we should read O! for or Love, Mercutio having
Rom. Nay, that's not fo.
We wafte our lights in vain, like lights by day.
Rom. And we mean well in going to this mask, But 'tis no wit to go.
Mer. Why, may one ask?
Mer. And fo did I.
Rom. Well what was yours?
Mer. That dreamers often lye.
Rom. In bed asleep; while they do dream things
Mer. O, then I fee, Queen Mab hath been with
you.. 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, cries out,
O! Save your reverence, Love. 90, then I fee, Queen Mab
hath been with you. She is the FAIRIES' midwife.] Thus begins that admirable Speech upon the effects of the imagination in dreams. But, Queen Mab the fairies' midwife? What is he then Queen of? Why, the fairies. What! and their midw 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 pertinent; for that defigns her power: Then fhe is called the fairies' midwife; but what has that to do with the point in hand? If we would think that Shakefeur wrote sense, we must fay, he wrote--the FANCY's midwife: and this is a proper title, as it introduces all that is faid afterwards of her vagaries. Befides, it exactly quadrates with thefe lines:
I talk of dreams; Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantafie.
Thefe dreams are begot upon fantafie, and Mab is the midwife to bring them forth. And fancy's mid-wife is a phrase altogether in the manner of our author.
In fhape no bigger than an agat stone
1 Sometimes fhe gallops o'er a courtier's nofe, And then dreams he of fmelling out a fuit;
Sometimes fhe gallops o'er a
And then dreams be of fmelling
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 foppery; 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 an-, fwers, willed his Father to FIND [i. e. to fmell out] A SUIT for him. 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 preferved the purity and fimplicity of their firft 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. Aufi defiroit fort qu' en ce Royaume on ufaft d'une couftume, 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 adminiftration 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 adminiftration 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 ftate 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,
Unda Tagi non eft ano celebranda metallo,
Utilis in cives eft ibi lamna fuos.
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
Mer. True, I talk of dreams,
Ben. This wind, you talk of, blows us from our-
Rom. I fear, too early; for my mind mifgives,
[They march about the Stage, and Exeunt.
3 And cakes the elf lock, &c.] This was a common fuperftition; and feems to have had its rife from the horrid disease called the
4 Dive my fuit !] Guide the Sequel of the adventure.