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Bot. Well, I will undertake it. What beard were I best to play it in ?

Quin. Why, what you will.

Bot. I will discharge it in either your straw-coloured beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow.

Quin. Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced.—But, masters; here are your parts: and I am to entreat you, request you, and desire you, to con them by to-morrow night; and meet me in the palace wood, a mile without the town, by moon-light: there will we rehearse: for if we meet in the city, we shall be dog'd with company, and our devices known. In the mean time I will draw a bill of properties?, such as our play wants. I pray you, fail me not.

Bot. We will meet ; and there we may rehearse more obscenely and courageously. Take pains; be perfect; adieu.

Quin. At the duke's oak we meet.
Bot. Enough ; Hold, or cut bow-strings. (Exeunt.

ACT II.

SCENE I.- A Wood near Athens.

Enter a Fairy at one door, and Puck at another. Puck. How now, spirit! whither wander you?

i properties,] Properties are whatever little articles are wanted in a play for the actors, according to their respective parts, dresses and scenes excepted. The person who delivers them out is to this day called the property-man. 8 At the duke's oak we meet.

- Hold, or cut bow-strings.] To meet, whether bow-strings hold or are cut, is to meet in all events. To cut the bow-string,

Fai. Over hill, over dale,

Thorough bush, thorough briar,
Over park, over pale,

Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moones sphere,
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be';
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,

In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits?, I'll be gone:
Our queen and all our elves come here anon.

Puck. The king doth keep his revels here to-night;
Take heed, the queen come not within his sight.
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath,
Because that she, as her attendant, hath
A lovely boy, stoln from an Indian king;
She never had so sweet a changeling :
And jealous Oberon would have the child
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild:
But she, perforce, withholds the loved boy,
Crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy ;

when bows were in vise, was probably a common practice of those who bore enmity to the archer.

9 To dew her orbs upon the green :) These orbs are circles supposed to be made by the fairies on the ground, whose verdure proceeds from the fairies' care to water them.

1 The cowslips tall her pensioners be ;] This was said in consequence of Queen Elizabeth's fashionable establishment of a band of military courtiers, by the name of pensioners. They were some of the handsomest and tallest young men, of the best families and fortune, that could be found.

? — lob of spirits,] Lob, lubber, looby, lobcock, all denote both inactivity of body and dulness of mind, and were used as terms of contempt.

And now they never meet in grove, or green,
By fountain clear, or spangled star-light sheen,
But they do square"; that all their elves, for fear, .
Creep into acorn cups, and hide them there.

Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite,
Calld Robin Good-fellow : are you not he,
That fright the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the quern“,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barmo;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm ?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck?,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck :
Are not you he ?
Puck.

Thou speak’st aright;
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crabo ;
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;

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- sheen,] Shining, bright, gay. Johnson. * But they do square ;] To square here is to quarrel. 5 — in the quern,] Quern is a hand-mill: kuerna, mola.

6 — no barm :] Barme is a name for yeast, in some parts of England, and universally in Ireland and Scotland.

7 Sweet Puck,] The epithet is by no means superfluous; as Puck alone was far from being an endearing appellation. It signified nothing better than fiend or devil. It seems that in the fairy mythology, Puck, or Hobgoblin, was the trusty servant of Oberon, and always employed to watch or detect the intrigues of Queen Mab, called by Shakspeare, Titania.

8 — a roasted crab;] i. e. a wild apple of that name.

Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And tailor cries', and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips, and loffe';
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.-
But room, Faery, here comes Oberon.
Fai. And here my mistress :-'Would that he were

gone!

SCENE II.

Enter OBERON, at one door, with his train, and TITANIA,

at another, with hers. Obe. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania.

Tita. What, jealous Oberon ? Fairy, skip hence; I have forsworn his bed and company.

Obe. Tarry, rash wanton; Am not I thy lord ?

Tita. Then I must be thy lady: But I know
When thou hast stol’n away from fairy land,
And in the shape of Corin sat all day,
Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
To amorous Phillida. Why art thou here,
Come from the farthest steep of India ?
But that, forsooth, the bouncing Amazon,
Your buskin'd mistress, and your warrior love,
To Theseus must be wedded ; and you come
To give their bed joy and prosperity.

Obe. How canst thou thus, for shame, Titania,
Glance at my credit with Hippolyta,
Knowing I know thy love to Theseus ?
Didst thou not lead him through the glimmering night'
From Perigenia, whom he ravished ?
And make him with fair Æglé break his faith,
With Ariadne, and Antiopa ?

9 And tailor cries,] The custom of crying tailor at a sudden fall backwards, I think I remember to have observed. He that slips beside his chair, falls as a tailor squats upon his board. Johnson.

1- hold their hips, and loffe ;] i. e. laugh.
? And waxen - ] And increase, as the moon waxes.

3 the glimmering night -] The night faintly illuminated by stars.

Tita. These are the forgeries of jealousy:
And never, since the middle summer's spring',
Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook,
Or on the beached margent of the sea,
To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,
But with thy brawls thou hast disturb'd our sport.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have suck'd up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which falling in the land,
Have every pelting' river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents :
The ox hath therefore stretch'd his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attain’d a beard :
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock ?;
The nine men's morris is fill’d up with mud ® ;
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green',

* And never, since the middle summer's spring, &c.] The middle summer's spring, is, I apprehend, the season when trees put forth their second, or, as they are frequently called, their midsummer shoots. HENLEY.

- pelting -] This word is always used as a word of contempt.

6 — overborne their continents :) Borne down the banks that contain them.

i murrain flock ;] The murrain is the plague in cattle.

$ The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud ;] Nine men's morris is a game still played by the shepherds, cowkeepers, &c. in the midland counties, as follows :

A figure is made on the ground by cutting out the turf; and two persons take each nine stones, which they place by turns in the angles, and afterwards move alternately, as at chess or draughts. He who can place three in a straight line, may then take off any one of his adversary's, where he pleases, till one, having lost all his men, loses the game.

9 — the quaint mazes in the wanton green, ] This alludes to

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