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P. 168, last but one l. This speech, which both the old quartos give to Obcron, is in the edition of 16e3, and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon,

as it appa: Tently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song?

I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to

a song,

which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismisses his fairies to the despatch of the ceremonies.

The songs, I suppose were lost, because they were not inserted in the players' parts, from which the drama was printed. JOHNSON. P. 169, 1. 1. 2. To the best bride - bed will we,

Which by us shall blessed be;} We learn from „Articles ordered by K. Henry VII. for the Regulation of his Household,“ that this ceremony was observed at the Marriage of a Princess, All men at her comming in to bee voided, except woemen, till shee bee brought to her bedd; and the man both; he sittinge in his bedd ių his shirte, with a gowne cast about him. Then the Bishoppe, with the Chaplaines, to come in, and blesse the bedd: then everie man to avoide without any drinke, save the twoc estates, if they liste, priviely. p. 129. STEEVENS. P. 169, 1, 9, hare-lip,] This defect in child.

to have been so much dreaded, that



numerous were the charms applied for its prevention. The following might be as efficacious as any of the rest. „If a woman with chylde 'havo her smocke slyt at the neather ende or skyrt thereof, etc. the same chylde that she then gocth withall, shall be safe from having a cloven ox hare lippe.“ Thomas Lupton's Fourth Book of Notable Thinges, 4to. bl. 1.

STEEVENS. P. 169, 1. 10. Prodigious has here its primitive signification of portentous. STEEVENS.

P. 169, 1, 14. Ever fairy take his gait!] i. e. take his way, or direct his steps.' STELVENS.

By gate, I bclieve is meant, the door of each chamber. M. MASON.

P. 169, 1. 32. If we have unearned luck] i. e. if we have better fortune than we have deserved.

STEEVENS. P. 269, 1. 33. Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,] That is, if we be dismissed without hisses.

JOHNSON, P. 170, 1. 3. Give me your hands,] That is, Clap your hands. Give us your applause.

JOHNSON. P, 170, last 1. Wild and fantastical as this play is, all the parts in their various modes are well written, and give the kind of pleasure which the author designed. Fairies in his time were much

in fashion; common tradition had made them fa· 'miliar, and Spenser's poem had made them great.


See p. 111. and the Note.

Dr. Warburton, whose ingenuity and acuteness have been long admirod, is now, I believe, pretty generally thought to have some times seen noe only what no other persou would ever lave been




able to discover, but what, in reality, unless in his own playful imagination, did not exist. Cri ticism is a talisman, which has, on more than one occasion, dispelled the illusions of this mighty magician. I shall not dispute, that, by the fair vestal, Shakspeare intended compliment to Queen Elizabeth, who, I am willing to believe, at the age of sixiy eight, was no less chaste than beautiful; but whether any other part of Oberon's speech have an allegorical meaning or not, I presume, in direct opposition to Dr. Warburion, contend that it agrees with any other rather than with Mary Queen of Scots. The mixture of sa:ire and panegyrick" I shall examine anon: I only wish to know, for the present, why it would have been „inconvenient for the author to speak openlys in „dispraises of ihc Scotish Queen. If he meant to please „the imperial votress,“ incense could have been half so grateful as the blackest calumny. But, it seems, „her successor would not forgive her satirist.“ Who then was her” „successors when this play was written? Mary's son, James? I am persuaded that, had Dr. Warburton been better read in the hisory of those

he would not have found this monarch's succession quite so certain, at that period, as to have prevented Shakspeare, who was by no means the refined speculatist he would induce one to suppose, from gratifying the „fair vestals. with sentiments so agreeable io her. However, if the poet has so well marked out every distinguishing circumstance of her life and characier, in this beautiful allegory, as will leave no rooin to doubt about his secret meaning," there is an end of all controversy For, though the satire would be cowardly, false and infamous, yet, since it was



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couched under an allegory, which , while perspi. cuous as glass to Elizabeth, would have become opake as a inill-stone to her successor, Shakspeare, lying as snug as his own Ariel in a cowslip's bell, would have had no Teason to apprehend any ill consequences from it. Now, though our speculative bard might not be able to fore:ee the sagacity of the Scotish King in smelling out plot, as I believe it was some years after that he gave any proof of his excellence that way, he could not but have heard of his being an admi. Table witch - finder; and, surely, the skill requisite to detect a witch must be sufficient to develope an allegory; so that I must necde question the propriety of the compliment here paid to the poet's prudence. Queen Mary „is called a Mer. maid, to denote her reign over a kingdom situate in the sea.“ 'In that respect at least Elizabeth was as much a mermaid as berself. „And 2. her beauty and intemperate lust; for as Elizabeth for her chastity is called a Vestal, this unfortunate lady, on a contrary account, is called a mermaid.“ All this is as false as it is foolish: The mermaid was never the emblem of lust; nor was the „gentle Shakspeares of a character or disposition to have insulted the memory of a murdered Princess by so infamous a charge. The most abandoned libeler, Buchanan himself,

never accused her of „intemperate lust; “ and it is pretty well understood at present that, if either of these ladies were remarkable for her purity, it was not Queen Elizabeth. „3. An ancient story may be supposed to be here alluded to; the Emperor Julian cells us that the Sirens (which with all the modern poets are mermaids) contended for precedency with the Muses, who overcoming them took




away their wings." Can any thing be more ridi. culous ? Mermaids are half Women and half fishes: where then are their wings ? or what pos. sible use could they make of them if they had any? The Sirens which Julian speaks of were partly women and partly birds : so that „the pol. lusion," as good-man Dull hath it, by no means „holds in the exchange.“ „The quarrels between Mary and Elizabeth had the same cause and the same issue." That is, they contended for prece dency, and Elizabeth overcoining took away the others wings,

The secret of their contest for precedency should seem to have been confined to Dr. Warburton: It would be in vain to enquire after it in the history of the time. The Queen of Scots, indeed, flew for refuge to her treacherous rival, (who is here again the mermaid of the alle gory, alluring to destruction, by her songs or fair speeches,) and wearing, it should seem, like a cherubim, her wings on her neck, Elizabeth, who was determined she should fy no more,

in her eagerness to tear them away, happened inadvertendly to take off her head. The situation of the poet's mermaid, on a dolpkin's back, „evidently marks

out that distinguishing circumstante in Mary's fortume, her marriage with the dauphin of France.“ A mermaid would seem to have but a strangely aukward seat on the back of a dolphin; but that, to be sure, is the poet's affair, and not the commentator's: the latter, however, is certainly answerable for placing a Queen on the back of her husband : a very extraordinary situation one would think, for a married lady; and of which I nuly recollect a single instance, in the commou print of „a poor man , loaded with mischief.“ Mermaids are supposed to sing , but their dulcec

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