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(1) SCENE 1.-1 have a reasonable good ear in music; let us have the tongs and the bones.] If the employment of unusual instruments to produce a barbarous kind of music were ingeniously traced backward to extreme antiquity, the origin of it might perhaps be found when "Pyctagoras passed som tyme by a symythes' hous, and herde a swete sowne, accordynge to the mystynge of foure hamers upon an anvelt;" as Higden relates the story. The practice of performing rustic or burlesque music is, however, really ancient; and Strutt attributes the invention of it to the minstrels and joculators, who appear to have converted every species of amusement into a vehicle for mirth. has engraved some parts of two illuminations of the fourteenth century, in one of which a youth is playing to a tumbler, by beating on a metal basin held on a staff; and in the other, an individual is depicted "holding a pair of bellows by way of fiddle, and using the tongs as the substitute for the bow." Mr. Halliwell has illustrated the passage which forms the subject of this note, by a reference to two figures in the original sketches of actors in the court masques, executed by Inigo Jones: one of which represents a performer with tongs and key; and the other a player on knackers of bone or wood, clacked together between the fingers. These instruments must be regarded as the immediate precursors of the more musical marrow-bones and cleavers, the introduction of which may, with great probability, be referred to the establishment of Clare Market, in the middle of the seventeenth century; since the butchers of that place were particularly celebrated for their performances. In Addison's description of John Dentry's remarkable "kitchen music" (Spectator, No. 570, 1714), the marrow-bones and cleavers form no part of the Captain's harmonious apparatus, but the tongs and key are represented to have become a little unfashionable some years before. By the year 1749, however, the former had obtained a considerable degree of vulgar popularity, and

were introduced in Bonnell Thornton's burlesque "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day, adapted to the Ancient British Musick." Ten years afterwards, this poem was recomposed by Dr. Burney, and performed at Ranelagh, on which occasion cleavers were cast in bell-metal to accompany the verses wherein they are mentioned.

(2) SCENE I.—

My hounds are bred out of the Spartan kind,
So flew'd, so sanded; and their heads are hung
With ears that sweep away the morning dew;
Crook-knee'd and dew-lapp'd like Thessalian bulls;
Slow in pursuit, but match'd in mouth like bells,
Each under each.]

The hounds of Sparta and Crete are classically celebrated :"Tenet ora levis clamosa Molossi, Spartanos, Cretasque, ligat."-Lucani Phars, IV. 440: and the peculiarities of form and colour indicated, are those which were considered to mark the highest quality of the bloodhound breed. The flews are the large hanging chaps, which, with long thin pendant ears, were a peculiar recommendation in these animals. Thus, Golding, 1567:

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(1) SCENE I.

What masks, what dances shall we have, To wear away this long age of three hours, Between our after-supper and bed-time?]


The accepted explanation of an after-supper conveys but an imperfect idea of what this refection really was. "A rere-supper," Nares says, "seems to have been a late or second supper." Not exactly. The rere-supper was to the supper itself what the rere-banquet was to the dinner-a dessert. On ordinary occasions, the gentlemen of Shakespeare's age appear to have dined about eleven o'clock, and then to have retired either to a garden-house, or other suitable apartment, and enjoyed their rere-banquet or dessert. Supper was usually served between five and six; and this, like the dinner, was frequently followed by a collation consisting of fruits and sweetmeats, called, in this country, the rere-supper; in Italy, Pocenio, from the Latin Pocanium.

(2) SCENE I.-You shall know all, &c.] The humour of distorting the meaning of a passage by mispunctuation was a favourite one formerly. There is a good example in Roister Doister's letter to Dame Custance, beginning,"Sweete mistresse, where as I love you nothing at all, Regarding your substance and richesse chiefe of all," &c. See Ralph Roister Doister, Act III. Sc. 4.

I find another specimen in a MS. collection of short poems, epigrams, &c., written evidently in the early part of the seventeenth century, which belonged to Dr. Percy.


"The Feminine kinde is counted ill,
And is I sweare: the Contrary,
No man can find: that hurt they will,
But every where: doe shewe pitty,
To no kinde heart: they will be curst,
To all true Friends: they will beare trust,
In no parte: they will worke the worst,
With tongue and minde: but Honestye,
They do detest: Inconstancye,
They do embrace: honest intent,
They like least: lewd Fantasye

In evry case: are Patient,

At no season: doing amisse,
To it truly Contrarye,

To all Reason: subject and meeke,
To no Bodye malitiouse,

To Frende and Foe: of gentle sort
They be never: doing amisse,
In Weale and Woe: of Like report,
They be ever: be sure of this,
The feminine kinde shall have no hart
Nothing at all false they will be,
In Worde and Minde: to suffer smart,
And ever shall: Believe thou me?"

Read thus, the lines are anything but complimentary; but, by transposing the colons and commas, they become highly eulogistic. Taylor, the water poet, in his "Address to Nobody," prefixed to Sir Gregory Nonsense, alludes to the Prologue in the text:- So ending at the beginning, I say as it is applawsefully written and commended to posterity in the Midsummer Night's Dream, If we offend, it is with our good will, we came with no intent, but to offend and shew our simple skill."

(3) SCENE I.

Whereat with blade, with bloody blameful blade, He bravely broach'd his boiling bloody breast.] The classical reader will remember the examples of alliterative trifling in Ennius, and his well-known

"O Tite, tute, Tati, tibi tanta, Tyranne, tulisti, At, Tuba terribili tonitru taratantara trusit." Perhaps the most famous of these puerilities, in later times, is the "Pugna Porcorum" of Leo Placentius, wherein every word begins with P. There is also the poem written by Hugald, in honour of Charles the Bold, in which the initial of each word is C; and a long poem, written in 1576, called "Christus Crucifixus," every word beginning with C also. Langland, the author of "The Vision of Piers Ploughman," and Norton, who wrote "Gorboduc," both "affected the letter;" and Tusser's "Husbandry" contains a poem in which all the words begin with T. In this country, the foppery appears to have reached its culminating point in the reign of Henry VIII., if we may judge from the following exquisite specimen in a production by Wilfride Holme, on "The Fall and evil Success of Rebellion:"

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"Loe, leprous lurdeins, lubricke in loquacitie,
Vah, vaporous villeins, with venim vulnerate,
Proh, prating parenticides, plexious to pennositie,
Fie, frantike fabulators, furibund and fatuate,
Out, oblatrant, oblict, obstacle, and obsecate,
Ah addict algoes, in acerbitie acclamant,
Magnall in mischief, malicious to mugilate,
Repriving your Roy so renowned and radiant."

(4) SCENE I.-Myself the man i th' moon doth seem to be.] "Although the legend of the man in the moon is perhaps one of the most singular and popular superstitions known, yet it is almost impossible to discover early materials for a connected account of its progress; nor have the researches of former writers been extended to this curious subject. It is very probable that the natural appearance of the moon, and those delineations on its disc, which modern philosophers have considered to belong to the geographical divisions of that body, may originally have suggested the similarity vulgarly supposed to exist between these outlines and a man 'pycchynde stake.' In fact, it is hardly possible to account for the universality of the legend by any other conjecture.

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"A manuscript of about the fourteenth century, preserved in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 2253), contains an exceedingly curious early English poem on the Man in the Moon, beginning,

'Mon in the mone stond and strit,

On his bot forke is burthen he bereth
Hit is muche wonder that he na doun slyt,

For doute leste he valle he shoddreth aut shereth.'

"Grimm, Deutsche Mythologie, p. 412, asserts that there

are three legends connected with the Man in the Moon. The first, that this personage was Isaac, carrying a bundle of sticks for his own sacrifice; the second, that he was Cain; and the other, which is taken from the history of the Sabbath-breaker, as related in the Book of Numbers. Chaucer, in Troilus and Creseide,' I. 147, refers to 'the chorle' in the moon; and in the poem entitled the 'Testament of Creseide,' printed in Chaucer's works, there is an allusion to the same legend :

'Next after him came lady Cynthia,

The laste of al, and swiftest in her sphere,
Of colour blake buskid with hornis twa
And in the night she listith best t'appere,
Hawe as the leed, of colour nothing clere,

For al the light she borowed at her brother
Titan, for of herselfe she hath non other.
Her gite was gray and ful of spottis blake,
And on her brest a chorle painted ful even,
Bering a bush of thornis on his bake,

Whiche for his theft might clime no ner the heven.' "From Manningham's diary (Harl. MS. 5353) we learn that, among the devises at Whitehall, in 1601, was 'the man in the moone with thornes on his backe looking downeward.' Ben Jonson, in one of his Masques, fol. ed., p. 41, expressly alludes to the man in the moon having been introduced upon the English stage:- Fac. Where? which is he? I must see his dog at his girdle, and the bushe of thornes at his backe, ere I beleeve it. 1 Her. Doe not trouble your faith then, for if that bush of thornes should prove a goodly grove of okes, in what case were you and your expectation? 2 Her. Those are stale ensignes o' the stages, man i'th moone, delivered doune to you by musty antiquitie, and are of as doubtfull credit as the makers.""-HALLIWELL.

(5) SCENE I.-This passion, and the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.] Mr. Collier's annotator reads, "This passion on the death of a dear friend," &c. ;-one proof among many of his inability to appreciate anything like subtle humour. Had he never heard the old proverbial saying, "He that loseth his wife and sixpence, hath lost a tester ?"


To the best bride-bed will we, Which by us shall blessed be.]

The ceremony of blessing the bridal-bed was observed, Douce says, at all marriages; and we are indebted to him for the formula, copied from the "Manual," of the use of Salisbury:-"Nocte vero sequente cum sponsus et sponsa ad lectum pervenerint, accedat sacerdos et benedicat thalamum, dicens: Benedic, Domine, thalamum istum et omnes habitantes in eo; ut in tua pace consistant, et in tua voluntate permaneant: et in amore tuo vivant et senescant et multiplicentur in longitudine dierum. Per Dominum.-Item benedictio super lectum. Benedic, Domine, hoc cubiculum, respice, qui non dormis neque dormitas. Qui custodis Israel, custodi famulos tuos in hoc lecto quiescentes ab omnibus fantasmaticis demonum illusionibus custodi eos vigilantes ut in preceptis tuis meditentur dormientes, et te per soporem sentiant: ut hic et ubique defensionis tuæ muniantur auxilio. Per Dominum. -Deinde fiat benedictio super eos in lecto tantum cum Oremus. Benedicat Deus corpora vestra et animas vestras; et det super vos benedictionem sicut benedixit Abraham, Isaac et Jacob, Amen.-His peractis aspergat aqua eos benedicta, et sic discedat et dimittat eos in pace."



"IN 'The Midsummer Night's Dream,' there flows a luxuriant vein of the boldest and most fantastical invention; the most extraordinary combination of the most dissimilar ingredients seems to have been brought about without effort, by some ingenious and lucky accident, and the colours are of such clear transparency, that we think the whole of the variegated fabric may be blown away with a breath. The fairy world here described, resembles those elegant pieces of arabesque, where little genii with butterfly wings rise, half-embodied, above the flower-cups. Twilight, moonshine, dew, and spring perfumes, are the elements of these tender spirits; they assist Nature in embroidering her carpet with green leaves, many-coloured flowers, and glittering insects; in the human world they do but make sport childishly and waywardly with their beneficent or noxious influences. Their most violent rage dissolves in good-natured raillery; their passions, stripped of all earthly matter, are merely an ideal dream. To correspond with this, the loves of mortals are painted as a poetical enchantment, which, by a contrary enchantment, may be immediately suspended, and then renewed again. The different parts of the plot; the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, Oberon and Titania's quarrel, the flight of the two pair of lovers, and the theatrical manœuvres of the mechanics, are so lightly and happily interwoven, that they seem necessary to each other for the formation of a whole. Oberon is desirous of relieving the lovers from their perplexities, but greatly adds to them through the mistakes of his minister, till he at last comes really to the aid of their fruitless amorous pain, their inconstancy and jealousy, and restores fidelity to its old rights. The extremes of fanciful and vulgar are united, when the enchanted Titania awakes and falls in love with a coarse mechanic with an ass's head, who represents, or rather disfigures, the part of a tragical lover. The droll wonder of Bottom's transformation is merely the translation of a metaphor in its literal sense; but in his behaviour during the tender homage of the Fairy Queen, we have an amusing proof how much the consciousness of such a head-dress heightens the effect of his usual folly. Theseus and Hippolyta are, as it were, a splendid frame for the picture; they take no part in the action, but surround it with a stately pomp. The discourse of the hero and his Amazon, as they course through the forest with their noisy hunting-train, works upon the imagination like the fresh breath of morning, before which the shades of night disappear. Pyramus and Thisbe is not unmeaningly chosen as the grotesque play within the play: it is exactly like the pathetic part of the piece, a secret meeting of two lovers in the forest, and their separation by an unfortunate accident, and closes the whole with the most amusing parody."-SCHLEGEL.

"The Midsummer Night's Dream' is the first play which exhibits the imagination of Shakspeare in all its fervid and creative power; for though, as mentioned in Meres's Catalogue, as having numerous scenes of continued rhyme, as being barren in fable, and defective in strength of character-it may be pronounced the offspring of youth and inexperience—it will ever, in point of fancy, be considered as equal to any subsequent drama of the poet.

"In a piece where the imagery of the most wild and fantastic dream is actually embodied before our eyes where the principal agency is carried on by beings lighter than the gossamer, and smaller than the cowslip's bell, whose elements are the moonbeams and the odoriferous atmosphere of flowers, and whose sport it is

'To dance in ringlets to the whistling winds,'

it was necessary, in order to give a filmy and assistant legerity to every part of the play, that the human agents should partake of the same evanescent and visionary character; accordingly both the

higher and lower personages of this drama are the subjects of illusion and enchantment, and love and amusement their sole occupation; the transient perplexities of thwarted passion, and the grotesque adventures of humorous folly, touched as they are with the tenderest or most frolic pencil, blending admirably with the wild, sportive, and romantic tone of the scene, where

'Trip the light fairies and the dapper elves,'

and forming together a whole so variously yet so happily interwoven, so racy and effervescent in its composition, of such exquisite levity and transparency, and glowing with such luxurious and phosphorescent splendour, as to be perfectly without a rival in dramatic literature."-DRAKE.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream!' At the sight of such a title we naturally ask-Who is the dreamer? The poet, any of the characters of the drama, or the spectators? The answer seems to be that there is much in.this beautiful sport of imagination which was fit only to be regarded as a dream by the persons whom the fairies illuded: and that, as a whole, it comes before the spectators under the notion of a dream.

"If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, (and all is mended,)
That you have but slumber'd here,
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend.'-

"Shakespeare was then but a young poet, rising into notice,—and it was a bold and hazardous undertaking to bring together classical story and the fairy mythology, made still more hazardous by the introduction of the rude attempts in the dramatic art of the hard-handed men of Athens. By calling it a dream he obviated the objection to its incongruities, since it is of the nature of a dream that things heterogeneous are brought together in fantastical confusion. Yet, to a person who by repeated perusals has become familiar with this play, it will not appear so incongruous a composition that it requires such an apology as we find in the Epilogue and title. It cannot, however, have been popular, any more than Comus is popular when brought upon the stage. Its great and surpassing beauties would be in themselves a hindrance to its obtaining a vulgar popularity.

"There is no apparent reason why it should be called a dream of Midsummer Night in particular. Midsummer night was of old in England a time of bonfires and rejoicings, and, in London, of processions and pageantries. But there is no allusion to anything of this kind in the play. Midsummer night cannot be the time of the action, which is very distinctly fixed to May morning and a few days before. May morning, even more than Midsummer night, was a time of delight in those times which, when looked back upon from these days of incessant toil, seem to have been gay, innocent, and paradisaical. See in what sweet language and in what a religious spirit the old topographer of London, Stowe, speaks of the universal custom of the people of the city on May-day morning, 'to walk into the sweet meadows and green woods, there to rejoice their spirits with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers, and with the harmony of birds praising God in their kinds.' We have abundant materials for a distinct and complete account of the May-day sports in the happy times of old England; but they would be misplaced in illustration of this play: for, though Shakespeare has made the time of his story the time when people went forth

'To do observance to the morn of May,'

and has laid the scene of the principal event in one of those half-sylvan, half-pastoral spots which we may conceive to have been the most favourite haunts of the Mayers, he does not introduce any of the May-day sports, or show us anything of the May-day customs of the time. Yet he might have done so. His subject seemed even to invite him to it, since a party of Mayers with their garlands of sweet flowers would have harmonized well with the lovers and the fairies, and might have made sport for Robin Goodfellow. Shakespeare loved to think of flowers and to write of them, and it may seem that it was a part of his original conception to have made more use than he has done of May-day and Flora's followers."-HUNTER.

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