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Bor. I pray you, commend me to mistress Squash, your mother', and to master Peascod, your father. Good master Peas-blossom, I shall desire you of more acquaintance too.—Your name, I beseech
Bot. Good master Mustard-seed, I know your patience & well: that same cowardly, giant-like oxbeef hath devoured many a gentleman of your house: I promise you, your kindred hath made my
6 – good master Cobweb: If I cut my finger, I shall make bold with you.—Your name, honest gentleman ?] In The Mayde's Metamorphosis, a comedy by Lyly, there is a dialogue between some foresters and a troop of Fairies, very similar to the present :
Mopso. I pray, sir, what might I call you?
I cannor purse you,
sake.” The Maid's Metamorphosis was not printed till 1600, but was probably written some years before. Mr. Warton says, (History of English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 393) that Lyly's last play appeared in 1597. Malone.
mistress SQUASH, your mother,] A squash is an immature peascod. So, in Twelfth-Night, Act I. Sc. V.:
as a squash is, before 'tis a peascod.” Steevens. 8 — patience -] The Oxford edition reads—I know your parentage well. I believe the correction is right. Johnson.
Parentage was not easily corrupted to patience. I fancy, the true word is, passions, sufferings.
There is an ancient satirical Poem entitled—“ The Poor Man's Passions, [i. e. sufferings,] or Poverty's Patience.” Patience and Passions are so alike in sound, that a careless transcriber or compositor might easily have substituted the former word for the latter. FARMER.
No change is necessary. These words are spoken ironically. According to the opinion prevailing in our author's time, mustard was supposed to excite to choler. See note on Taming of the Shrew, Act IV. Sc. III. Reed. Perhaps we should read~" I know you passing well.”
eyes water ere now. I desire you more acquaintance, good master Mustard-seed. Tira. Come, wait upon him ; lead him to my
bower. The moon, methinks, looks with a watery eye; And when she weeps, weeps every little flower,
Lamenting some enforced chastity.
Another part of the Wood.
spirit ? What night-rule' now about this haunted grove ?
9 — my love's tongue,] The old copies read—“my lover's tongue." STEEVENS.
Our poet has again used lover as a monosyllable in TwelfthNight :
“ Sad true lover never find my grave.” Malone. In the passage quoted from Twelfth-Night, “ true lover” is evidently a mistake for—" true love," a phrase which occurs in the very scene before us :
“ And laid the love-juice on some true love's sight.” Lover, in both the foregoing instances, 'I must therefore suppose to have been a printer's blunder for love ; and have therefore continued Mr. Pope's emendation in the text. How is lover to be pronounced as a monosyllable? STEEVENS.
How either is to be pronounced as a monosyllable, see p. 243; but this point is more fully discussed in the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. Malone. ' - what night-RULE -] Night-rule in this place should VOL. v.
Puck. My mistress with a monster is in love.
to rehearse a play,
seem to mean, what frolick of the night, what revelry is gooing forward ? So, in Tom Tyler and his Wife, 1661:
"Marry, here is good rule !" Again :
why how now strife ! here is pretty rule!" It appears from the old song of Robin Goodfellow, in the third volume of Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, that it was the office of this waggish spirit “ to viewe (or superintend) the night-sports.” Steevens.
- patches,] Patch was in old language used as a term of opprobry; perhaps with much the same import as we use raggamuffin, or tatterdemalion. Johnson.
Puck calls the players, a crew of patches.” A common opprobrious term, which probably took its rise from Patch, Cardinal Wolsey's fool. In the western counties, cross-patch is still used for perverse, ill-natur'd fool. T. Warton.
The name was rather taken from the patch'd or pied coats worn by the fools or jesters of those times. So, in The Tempest:
what a pied ninny's this ? " Again, in Preston's Cambyses :
“ Hob and Lob, ah ye country patches !" Again, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584 :
“ It is simplicitie, that patch.” Steevens. I should suppose patch to be merely a corruption of the Italian pazzo, which signifies properlya fool. So, in The Merchant of Venice, Act II. Sc. V. Shylock says of Launcelot : The patch is kind enough ;-after having just called him, that fool of Hagar's off-spring. Tyrwhitt. 3-thick-skin-) See Merry Wives of Windsor, Act IV.
BARREN sort,] Barren is dull, unpregnant. So, in Hamlet :
some quantity of birron spectators,” &c. Sort is company. STEEVENS.
Forsook his scene, and enter'd in a brake :
Johnson So, Chaucer, in The History of Beryn, 1524 :
“ No sothly, quoth the steward, it lieth all in thy noll,
“ Both wit and wysdom," &c. Again, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584 : “One thumps me on the neck, and another strikes me on the
nole." STEEVENS. The following receipt for the process tried on Bottom, occurs in Albertus Magnus de Secretis : “Si vis quod caput hominis assimiletur capiti asini, sume de segimine aselli, et unge hominem in capite, et sic apparebit.” There was a translation of this book in Shakspeare's time. Douce.
The metamorphosis of Bottom's head, might have been suggested by a similar trick played by Dr. Faustus. See his History, chap. xliii. Steevens.
– mimick --] Minnock is the reading of the old quarto, and I believe right. Minnekin, now minx, is a nice trifling girl. Minnock is apparently a word of contempt. Johnson.
The folio reads—mimmick : perhaps for mimick, a word more familiar than that exhibited by one of the quartos, for the other reads-minnick. Steevens.
Mimmick is the reading of the folio. The quarto printed by Fisher has-minnick ; that by Roberts, minrock : both evidently corruptions. The line has been explained as if it related to Thisbe ; but it does not relate to her, but to Pyramus. Bottom had just been playing that part, and had retired into a brake; (according to Quince's direction : “ When you have spoken your speech, enter into that brake.") “Anon, his Thisbe must be answered, And forth my mimick (i. e. my actor) comes.” In this there seems no difficulty.
Mimick is used as synonymous to actor, by Decker, in his Guls Hornebooke, 1609: “ Draw what troop you can from the stage after you ; the mimicks are beholden to you for allowing them elbow room.” Again, in his Satiromastix, 1602: “ Thou [B. Jonson] hast forgot how thou ambled'st in a leather pilch by a play-waggon in the highway, and took'st mad Jeronymo's part, to get service amongst the mimicks." Malone.
Or russet-pated choughs ?, many in sorto,
7 - CHOUGHS,] The chough is a bird of the daw kind. mentioned also in Macbeth :
“By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks," &c. Steevens. sort,] Company. So above :
that barren sort; " and in Waller :
“A sort of lusty shepherds strive." Johnson. So, in Chapman's May-day, 1611:
- though we neuer lead any other company than a sort of quart-pots." Steevens.
9 And, at OUR STAMP,] This seems to be a vicious reading. Fairies are never represented stamping, or of a size that should give force to a stamp, nor could they have distinguished the stamps of Puck from those of their own companions. I read :
“ And at a stump here o'er and o'er one falls.” So Drayton :
“ A pain he in his head-piece feels,
Against a stubbled tree he reels,
“ Alas, his brain was dizzy.-
Hobgoblin fumes, Hobgoblin frets,
“ And through the bushes scrambles,
Among the briers and brambles.” Johnson. I adhere to the old reading. The stamp of a fairy might be efficacious though not loud ; neither is it necessary to suppose, when supernatural beings are spoken of, that the size of the agent determines the force of the action. That fairies did stamp to some purpose, may be known from the following passage in Olaus Magnus de Gentibus Septentrionalibus :-“ Vero saltum adeo profundè in terram impresserant, ut locus insigni adore orbiculariter peresus, non parit arenti redivivum cespite gramen." Shakspeare's own authority, however, is most decisive. See the conclusion of the first Scene of the fourth Act :