Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

:

- Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes,
And interchang'd love-tokens with my child :
Thou hast by moon-light at her window sung,
With feigning voice, verses of feigning love;
And stol'n the impression of her fantasy
With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits,
Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweet-meats; messengers
Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth :
With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart;
Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me,
To stubborn harshness :- And, my gracious duke,
Be it so she will not here before your gra
Consent to marry with Demetrius,
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens ;
As she is nine, I may dispose of her:
Which shall be either to this gentleman,
Or to her death ; according to our law,
Immediately provided in that case.'

The. What say you, Hermia ? be advis'd, fair maid:
To you your father should be as a god ;
One that compos'd your beauties : yea, and one
To whom you are but as a form in wax,
By him imprinted, and within his power
To leave the figure, or disfigure it.
Demetrius is a worthy gentleman,

Her. So is Lysander,

The. In himself he is :
But, in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
The other must be held the worthier.

Her. I would my father look'd but with my eyes.
The. Rather your eyes must with his judgment look,

Her. I do entreat your grace to pardon me.
I know not by what power I am made bold;
Nor how it may concern my modesty,
In such a presence here, to plead my thoughts :
But I beseech your grace that I may

know The worst that may befal me in this case, If I refuse to wed Demetrius.

The. Either to die the death, or to abjure [!! By a law of Solon, parents had an absolutc power of life and death over their children. So it suited the poet's purpose well enough to suppose the Athenians had it before. Or perhaps he neither thought nor knew any thing of the inatter.

WARBURTON. (2) Shakespeare employs this scriptural expression in King John; and I meet with it again in the ad part of the Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon.

[ocr errors]

STEEVENS.

For ever the society of men.
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
Know of your youth, examine well your blood,
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;
For aye to be in shady cloister mew'd,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice blessed they, that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage :
But earthlier happy is the rose distillid,
Than that, which, with'ring on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.

Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, to whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

The. Take time to pause : and, by the next new moon,
(The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship)
Upon that day either prepare to die,
For disobedience to your father's will ;
Or else, to wed Demetrius, as he would ;
Or on Diana's altar to protest,
For aye, austerity, and single life.

Dem. Relent, sweet Hermia ;-And, Lysander, yield Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lys. You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia's : do you marry him.

Ege. Scornful Lysander ! true, he hath my love;
And what is mine my love shall render him ;
And she is mine; and all my right of her
I do estate unto Demetrius.

Lys. I am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he,
As well possess'd ; my love is more than his ;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank’d,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius';
And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am belov d of beauteous Hermia:
Why should not I then prosecute my right?
Demetrius, I'R avouch it to bis head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,

with me,

fancies to your

Upon this spotted and inconstant man."

The. I must confess, that I have heard so much,
And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof;
Bit, being over-full of self-affairs,
My mind did lose it.—But, Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus ; you

shall

go I have some private schooling for you both. -For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself To fit your

father's will;
Or else the law of Athens yields you up
(Which by no means we may extenuate)
To death, or to a vow of single life.
. -Come, my Hippolyta ; What cheer, my love !

-Demetrius, and Egeus, go along :
I must employ you in some business
Against our nuptial; and confer with you
Of something nearly that concerns yourselves.
Ege. With duty and desire, we follow you.

[Exe. Thes. Hıp. Egeus, Dem. and train. Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast ?

Her. Belike, for want of rain ; which I could well
Beteem* them from the tempest of mine eyes.

Lys. Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear my tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth :
But, either it was different in blood ;-

Her. O cross ! too high to be enthrali'd to low!
Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of years -
Her. O spite ! too old to be engag'd to young!
Lys. Or else it stood upon the choice of friends ;-
Her. O hell! to choose love by another's eye!

Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
8 As spotless is innocent, so spotted is wicked.
Give them, bestow upon them. The word is used by Spenser. JOHN.

5

Beleem to you his sword, you to defend." Fairy Queen. But I rather think thai to beteem, in this place, signifies (as in the northern counties) to pour out ; from lonner, Danish. (5) Collied, i. e black, smutted with coal, a word still used in the middaad

STEEVENS.

JOHNSON

** So would I, said the enchanter, glad and rain

STEEVENS.

coumies.

That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say,—Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up :
So quick bright things come to confusion.

Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
It stands as an edíct in destiny :
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross ;
As due to love, as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.

Lys. A good persuasion; therefore, hear me, Hermia.
I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child :
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues ;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us : If thou lov'st me then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

Her. My good Lysander !
I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow;
By his best arrow with the golden head;
By the simplicity of Venus' doves;
By that which knitteth soțls, 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.

[6] Though the word spleen be here employed oddly enough, yet I believe it right. Shakespeare, always hurried op by the grandeur and multitude of bis ideas, assumes every now and then an uncommon license in the use of bis words. Par ticularly in complex moral mores it is usual with him to employ one, oply to express a very few ideas of that number of which it is composed. Thus, wanting here to express the ideas--of a sudden, or--in a trice, be uses the word spleen; which, partially considered, signifying a basty sudden fit, is enough for him, and he never troubles himself about the further or fuller signification of the word. Here, he uses the word spleen for sudden hasty,fit : so just the contrary, in The Tro Gentemin of Verona, he uses sudden for splenetic : sudden quips." And it must be owned this sort of conversation adds a force to tbe diction. WARBURTON.

Enter 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 load-stars ;' and your tongue's sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching ; 0, were favour so!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go ;
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.
0, 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

skill!
Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love.
Hel. 0, that my prayers 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.
Hel. None, but your beauty; ’Would that fault were

mine! 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 Phæbe doth behold Her silver visage in the watry glass,

[7] This was a compliment not unfrequent 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 leads tbe sailor, Davies calls Queen Elizabeth:

** Lode-stone to hearts, and lode-stone to all eyes " JOHNSON. [8] Favour is feature, countenance. STEEVENS. 19] To translate, here signifies to change, to transform. STEEVENS.

[1] Perhaps every reader may not discover the propriety of these lines. 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

envied or much desired. since Hermia, whom she considers as possessing it in tbe supreme degree, has found no other effect of it than the loss of happiness.

JOHNSON

Hermia

mu

« AnteriorContinua »