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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
I am done.

Mercutio, in his reply, anfwers
the last line firft. The thought
of which, and of the preceding,
is taken from gaming, I'll be a
candle bolder (fays Romeo) and
look on.
It is true, if I could
play myself, I could never ex-
pect 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 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.
Mer. I mean, Sir, in delay

We wafte our lights in vain, like lights by day.
Take our good meaning, for our judgment fits
Five times in that, ere once in our fine wits.

Rom. And we mean well in going to this mask, But 'tis no wit to go.

Mer. Why, may one ask?
Rom. I dreamt a dream to-night.

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
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies,
Athwart mens' noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon fpokes made of long fpinners' legs;
The cover, of the wings of grafhoppers;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watry beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film ;
Her waggoner, a fmall grey-coated gnat,
Not half fo big as a round little worm,
Prickt from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner fquirrel, or old grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers.
And in this State fhe gallops, night by night,
Through lover's brains, and then they dream of love;
On courtiers' knees, that dream on court'fies strait;
O'er lawyers fingers, who ftrait dream on fees;
O'er ladies' lips, who strait on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with fweet-meats tainted are.


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
LAWYER's nofe,

And then dreams be of fmelling
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 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,
Tickling the parfon as he lies asleep,
Then dreams he of another Benefice.
Sometimes the driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambufcadoes, Spanish blades,



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,

Enfis Toletanus

Unda Tagi non eft ano celebranda metallo,

Utilis in cives eft ibi lamna fuos.


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Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ears, at which he flarts and wakes;
And, being thus frighted, fwears a prayer or two,
And fleeps again. This is that very Mab,
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
3 And cakes the elf-locks in foul fluttish hairs,
Which, once entangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That preffes them, and learns them firft to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is fhe-

Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
Thou talk'ft of nothing.

Mer. True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing, but vain phantafy,
Which is as thin of fubftance as the air,
And more unconstant than the wind; who wooes
Ev'n now the frozen bofom of the north,
And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping fouth.

Ben. This wind, you talk of, blows us from our-
Supper is done, and we fhall come too late.

Rom. I fear, too early; for my mind mifgives,
Some confequence, yet hanging in the Stars,
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels; and expire the term
Of a despised life clos'd in my breast,
By fome vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he, that hath the fteerage of my course,
4 Direct my fuit! On, lufty Gentlemen.
Ben. Strike, drum.

[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


Plica Polonica.


4 Dive my fuit !] Guide the Sequel of the adventure.


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