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My good Lysander

I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow;
By his best arrow, with the golden head;5
By the simplicity of Venus' doves;

By that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves;
And by that fire, which burn'd the Carthage queen,
When the false Trojan under sail was seen;
By all the vows, that ever men have broke,
In number more than ever women spoke ;-
In that same place, thou hast appointed me,
To-morrow truly will I meet with thee.

Lys. Keep promise, love: Look, here comes Helena.

Her. God speed fair Helena! Whither away? Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay. Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!

Your eyes are lode-stars:7 and your tongue's sweet air


his best arrow, with the golden head;] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, Book II:


arrowes two, and tipt with gold or lead:

"Some hurt, accuse a third with horny head." Steevens. 6 Demetrius loves your fair:] Fair is used again as a substantive in The Comedy of Errors, Act III, sc. iv:


My decayed fair,

"A sunny look of his would soon repair."

Again, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601: "But what foul hand hath arm'd Matilda's fair?" Again, in A Looking-Glass for London and England, 1598: "And fold in me the riches of thy fair."

Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:


"Then tell me, love, shall I have all thy fair?" Again, in Greene's Never too late, 1616: "Though she were false to Menelaus, yet her fair made him brook her follies." Again:

"Flora in tawny hid up all her flowers,

"And would not diaper the meads with fair." Steevens. 7 Your eyes are lode-stars;] This was a compliment not unfre-quent among the old poets. The lode-star is the leading or guiding star, that is, the pole-star. The magnet is, for the same reason, called the lode-stone, either because it leads iron, or because it guides the sailor. Milton has the same thought in L'Allegro : "Towers and battlements it sees "Bosom'd high in tufted trees, "Where perhaps some beauty lies, "The cynosure of neighb'ring eyes."


More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching; oh, were favour so!
Your's would I catch,9 fair Hermia, ere I
My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye,
My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'll give to be to you translated.1
O, teach me how you look; and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
Hel. O, that your frowns would teach my smiles such

Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
Hel. O, that my pray'rs could such affection move!
Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me.
Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me.
Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.2

Hel. None, but your beauty; 'would that fault were mine !3

Davies calls Queen Elizabeth:

"Lode-stone to hearts, and lode-stone to all eyes." Johnson.

So, in The Spanish Tragedy:

"Led by the loadstar of her heavenly looks."

Again, in The battle of Alcazar, 1594:

"The loadstar and the honour of our line."


8 O, were favour so!] Favour is feature, countenance. in Twelfth Night, Act II, sc. iv:


thine eye


"Hath stay'd upon some favour that it loves." Steevens.

9 Yours would I catch,] This emendation is taken from the Oxford edition. The old reading is-Your words I catch. Johnson. I have deserted the old copies, only because I am unable to discover how Helena, by catching the words of Hermia, could also catch her favour, i. e. her beauty. Steevens.

To translate in our author,
So, in Timon:

1 to be to you translated.] sometimes signifies to change, to transform.

to present slaves and servants

"Translates his rivals."


2 His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.] The folio, and the quarto, printed by Roberts, read:

His folly, Helena, is none of mine. Johnson.

3 None, but your beauty; 'would that fault were mine!] I would point this line thus:

Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my face;
Lysander and myself will fly this place.—
Before the time I did Lysander see,*
Seem'd Athens as a paradise to me:
O, then, what graces in my love do dwell,
That he hath turn'd a heaven unto hell!

Lys. Helen, to you our minds we will unfold:
To-morrow night, when Phoebe doth behold
Her silver visage in the wat'ry glass,

Decking with liquid pearl the bladed grass,
(A time that lovers' flights doth still conceal)
Through Athens' gates have we devis'd to steal.
Her. And in the wood, where often you and I
Upon faint primrose-beds were wont to lie,
Emptying our bosoms of their counsel sweet,
There my Lysander and myself shall meet:
And thence, from Athens, turn away our eyes,
To seek new friends and stranger companies.
Farewel, sweet playfellow! pray thou for us;
And good luck grant thee thy Demetrius!--
Keep word, Lysander: we must starve our sight
From lovers' food, till morrow deep midnight.

Lys. I will, my Hermia.-Helena, adieu: As you on him, Demetrius dote on you!

[Exit HER.

[Exit Lys.

Hel. How happy some o'er other some can be!
Through Athens, I am thought as fair as she.
But what of that? Demetrius thinks not so;
He will not know what all but he do know.
And, as he errs, doting on Hermia's eyes,
So I, admiring of his qualities.

None. But your beauty;—would that fault were mine!

4 Take comfort; he no more shall see my face; Lysander and myself will fly this place.

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Before the time I did Lysander see,] Perhaps every reader may not discover the propriety of these lines. Hermia is willing to comfort Helena, and to avoid all appearance of triumph over her. She therefore bids her not to consider the power of pleasing as an advantage to be much envied or much desired, since Hermia, whom she considers as possessing it in the supreme degree, has found no other effect of it than the loss of happiness. Johnson.

Things base and vile, holding no quantity,"
Love can transpose to form and dignity.

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
And, therefore, is wing'd Cupid painted blind:
Nor hath love's mind of any judgment taste;
Wings, and no eyes, figure unheedy haste:
And, therefore, is love said to be a child,
Because in choice he is so oft beguil'd.

As waggish boys in game themselves forswear,
So the boy Love is perjur'd every where:
For ere Demetrius look'd on Hermia's eyne,7
He hail'd down oaths, that he was only mine;
And when this hails some heat from Hermia felt,
So he dissolv'd, and showers of oaths did melt.
I will go tell him of fair Hermia's flight:
Then to the wood will he, to-morrow night,
Pursue her; and for this intelligence
If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:9
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither, and back again.



holding no quantity,] Quality seems a word more suitable to the sense than quantity, but either may serve. Johnson. Quantity is our author's word. So, in Hamlet, Act III, sc. ii: "And women's fear and love hold quantity." Steevens. in game-] Game here signifies, not contentious play, but sport, jest. So Spenser:




'twixt earnest, and 'twixt game." Johnson. Hermia's eyne,] This plural is common both in Chaucer and Spenser. So, in Chaucer's Character of the Prioresse, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 152:


hir eyen grey as glass."

Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c. iv, st. 9:

"While flashing beams do dare his feeble eyen." Steevens. 8 this hail-] Thus all the editions, except the 4to. 1600, printed by Roberts, which reads instead of this hail, his hail. Steevens.

9 it is a dear expense:] i. e. it will cost him much, (be a severe constraint on his feelings) to make even so slight a return for my communication. Steevens.


The same. A Room in a Cottage.


Quin. Is all our company here?

Bot. You were best to call them generally, man by man, according to the scrip.2

Quin. Here is the scroll of every man's name, which is thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the duke and duchess, on his wedding-day at night.

Bot. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats on; then read the names of the actors; and so grow to a point.3

1 In this scene, Shakspeare takes advantage of his knowledge of the theatre, to ridicule the prejudices and competitions of the players. Bottom, who is generally acknowledged the principal actor, declares his inclination to be for a tyrant, for a part of fury, tumult, and noise, such as every young man pants to perform, when he first steps upon the stage. The same Bottom, who seems bred in a tiring-room, has another histrionical passion. He is for engrossing every part, and would exclude his inferiors from all possibility of distinction. He is, therefore, desirous to play Pyramus, Thisbe, and the Lion, at the same time. Johnson.


the scrip.] A scrip, Fr. escript, now written écrit. So, Chaucer, in Troilus and Cressida, 1. 2. 1130:

"Scripe nor bil.”

Again, in Heywood's If you know not me you know Nobody, 1606,

P. II:

"I'll take thy own word without scrip or scroll." Holinshed likewise uses the word. Steevens.

3 -grow to a point.] Dr. Warburton reads-go on; but grow is used, in allusion to his name, Quince. Johnson.

To grow to a point, I believe, has no reference to the name of Quince. I meet with the same kind of expression in Wily Beguiled:

"As yet we are grown to no conclusion." Again, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584:

"Our reasons will be infinite, I trow,

"Unless unto some other point we grow." Steevens. And so grow to a point.] The sense, in my opinion, hath been hitherto mistaken; and instead of a point, a substantive, I would read appoint, a verb; that is, appoint what part each actor is to perform, which is the real case. Quince first tells them the name of the play, then calls the actors by their names, and after that, tells each of them what part is set down for him to act.

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