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ACT IV 5. SCENE I.
Enter Titania and Bottom, Fairies attending ;
OBERox behind unseen.
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy 6,
And kiss thy fair large ears, my gentle joy.
Bor. Scratch my head, Peas-blossom.—Where's monsieur Cobweb ?
cord shall subside in a calm, become hushed and quiet. So, in Othello:
· Ha! no more moving ? “ Still as the grave." STEEVENS. s I see no reason why the fourth Act should begin here, when there seems no interruption of the action. In the old quartos of 1600, there is no division of acts, which seems to have been afterwards arbitrarily made in the first folio, and may therefore be altered at pleasure. Johnson.
6 - do cor,] To coy, is to sooth, to stroke. So, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584:
Plays with Amyntas' lusty boy, and coys him in the dales.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 2, book vi. chap. xxx. :
And whilst she coys his sooty cheeks, or curls his sweaty top." Again, in Sir A. Gorges' translation of Lucan, b. ix. :
- his sports to prove, Coying that powerful queen of love." Again, in Golding's translation of the 7th book of Ovid's Metamorphosis :
“Their dangling dewclaps with his hand he coid unfearfully.” Again, ibid.:
and with her hand had coid “ The dragons' reined neckes —," The behaviour of Titania, on this occasion, seems copied from that of the lady in Apuleius, lib. viii. STEEVENS.
Bot. Monsieur Cobweb; good monsieur, get your weapons in your hand, and kill me a red-hipped humble-bee on the top of a thistle; and, good monsieur, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, monsieur; and, good monsieur, have a care the honey-bag break not ; I would be loath to have you overflown with a honeybag, signior.
Where's monsieur Mustard-seed ? Must. Ready.
Bor. Give me your neif', monsieur Mustardseed. Pray you, leave your courtesy, good monsieur.
Must. What's your will?
Bot. Nothing, good monsieur, but to help cavalero Cobweb 8 to scratch. I must to the barber's, monsieur ; for, methinks, I am marvellous hairy about the face : and I am such a tender ass, if my hair do but tickle me, I must scratch. Tita. What, wilt thou hear some musick, my
sweet love? Bot. I have a reasonable good ear in musick : let us have the tongs and the bones. Tita. Or, say, sweet love, what thou desir'st to
eat. Bor. Truly, a peck of provender ; I could munch your good dry oats. Methinks, I have a great desire to a bottle of hay: good hay, sweet hay, hath no fellow.
7 — neif,] i. e. fist. So, in King Henry IV. Act II. Sc. X. :
“Sweet knight, I kiss thy neif." Grey.
- cavalero Cobweb-] Without doubt it should be cavalero Peas-blossom ; as for cavalero Cobweb, he had just been dispatched upon a perilous adventure. Grey.
the tongs-) The old rustick musick of the tongs and key. The folio has this stage direction : “ Musicke Tongs, Rurall Musicke.”
This rough musick is likewise mentioned by Marston, in an address ad rithmum prefixed to the second Book of his Satires, 1598:
“Yee wel-match'd twins (whose like-tund tongs affords
“ Such musical delight,)" &c. Steevens. VOL. V.
Tita. I have a venturous fairy that shall seek The squirrel's hoard', and fetch thee new nuts.
Bot. I had rather have a handful, or two, of dried peas. But, I pray you, let none of your people stir me; I have an exposition of sleep come upon me.
Tita. Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my
Fairies, be gone, and be all ways away?.
1 The squirrel's HOARD,) Hoard is here employed as a dissyllable. STEEVENS.
? - and be ALL WAYS away.) i. e. disperse yourselves, and scout out severally, in your watch, that danger approach us from no quarter. TheoBALD.
The old copies read—“ be always.” Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone. Mr. Upton reads :
And be away-away. Johnson.
STEEVENS. 3 So doth the woodbine, the sweet honeysuckle,
Gently entwist,—the FEMALE ivy so
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm.] What does the woodbine entwist? The honey-suckle. But the woodbine and honeysuckle were, till now, but two names for one and the same plant, Florio, in his Italian Dictionary, interprets Madre Selva by woodbine or honie-suckle. We must therefore find a support for the woodbine as well as for the ivy. Which is done by reading the lines thus :
So doth the woodbine, the sweet honey-suckle,
Enrings the barky fingers of the elm. The corruption might happen by the first blunderer dropping the p in writing the word maple, which word thence became male. A following transcriber, for the sake of a little sense and measure, thought fit to change this male into female ; and then tacked it as an epithet to ivy. WARBURTON. Mr. Upton reads:
So doth the woodrine the sweet honey suckle, for bark of the wood. Shakspeare perhaps only meant, so the leaves involve the flower, using woodbine for the plant, and honeysuckle for the flower; or perhaps Shakspeare made a blunder.
Gently entwist, -the female ivyo so
The thought is Chaucer's. See his Troilus and Cresseide, v. 1236, lib. iii.:
“ And as about a tre with many a twist
“ Gan eche of hem in armis other winde.” What Shakspeare seems to mean, is this--So the woodbine, i. e. the sweet honey-suckle, doth gently entwist the barky fingers of the elm, and so does the female ivy enring the same fingers. It is not unfrequent in the poets, as well as other writers, to explain one word by another which is better known.
The reason why Shakspeare thought woodbine wanted illustration, perhaps is this. In some counties, by woodbine or woodbind would have been generally understood the ivy, which he had occasion to mention in the very next line. In the following instance from Old Fortunatus, 1600, woodbind is used for
“ And, as the running wood-bind, spread her arms
“ To choak thy with’ring boughs in her embrace.” And Barrett in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, enforces the same distinction that Shakspeare thought it necessary to make :
“ Woodbin that beareth the honey-suckle." STEVENS. This passage has given rise to various conjectures. It is certain, that the wood-bine and the honey-suckle were sometimes considered as different plants. In one of Taylor's Poems, we have
“ The woodbine, primrose, and the cowslip fine,
“ The honisuckle, and the daffadill.” But I think Mr. Steevens's interpretation the true one. The old writers did not always carry the auxiliary verb forward, as Mr. Capell seems to suppose by his alteration of enrings to enring. So, Bishop Lowth, in his excellent Introduction to Grammar, p. 126, ha thout reason corrected a similar passage in our translation of St. Matthew. FARMER.
Were any change necessary, I should not scruple to read the weedbind, i. e. similax : a plant that twists round every other that grows in its way.
In a very ancient translation of “ Macer's Herball, practysed by Docter Lynacre," is the following passage : “ Caprifolium is an herbe called woodbynde or withwynde, this groweth in hedges or in woodes, and it wyll beclyp a tre in her growynge, as doth yvye, and hath white flowers.” Steevens.
In Lord Bacon's Nat. Hist. Experiment 496, it is observed, that there are two kinds of "honey-suckles, both the woodbine and trefoil,” i. e. the first is a plant that winds about trees, and O, how I love thee ! how I dote on thee !
the other is a three-leaved grass. Perhaps these are meant in Dr. Farmer's quotation. The distinction, however, may serve to shew why Shakspeare and other authors frequently added woodbine to honey-suckle, when they mean the plant and not the grass,
TOLLET. The interpretation of either Dr. Johnson or Mr. Steevens removes all difficulty. The following passage in Sicily and Naples, or The Fatal Union, 1640, in which the honeysuckle is spoken of as the flower, and the woodbine as the plant, adds some supe port to Dr. Johnson's exposition :
“ The amorous woodbine's offspring.” But Minshieu in v. Woodbinde, supposes them the same: “ Alio nomine nobis Anglis Honysuckle dictus.” If Dr. Johnson's explanation be right, there should be no point after woodbine, honeysuckle, or enrings. Malone.
Mr. Gifford observes that these lines may be illustrated by a passage in Ben Jonson's Vision of Delight :
“ With honeysuckle ! ” “ The woodbine of Shakspeare, (he remarks) is the blue bindweed of Jonson. In many of our counties the woodbine is still the name for the great convolvolus." Boswell.
4 — the FEMALE ivy —] Shakspeare calls it female ivy, because it always requires some support, which is poetically called its husband. So Milton :
— led the vine
“Evincet ulmos.” Hor. STEEVENS. Though the ivy here represents the female, there is, notwithstanding, an evident reference in the words enrings and fingers, to the ring of the marriage rite. HENLEY.
In our ancient marriage ceremony, (or rather, perhaps, contract,) the woman gave the man a ring, as well as received one from him. To this custom the conduct of Olivia (See TwelfthNight, Sc. ult.) bears sufficient testimony:
“A contract of eternal bond of love, &c.