« AnteriorContinua »
To draw dun out of the mire, is a Christmas gambol not yet forgotten in the west of England.
500. Or ( save your reverence ) love,-] The word or obscures the sentence; we should read 0! for or love, Mercutio having called the affectation with which Romeo was entangled, by so disrespectful a word as mire, cries out,
O! save your reverence, love. JOHNSON. Mercutio's meaning is lost if we dismiss the word
« We'll draw thee from the mire (says he) or rather from this love wherein thou stick'st."
Dr. Johnson has imputed a greater share of politeness to Mercutio than he is found to be possessed of in the quarto, 1597. Mercutio, as he passes through different editions, “ Works himself clear, and as he runs refines.”
STEEVENS. Mr. Reed hath omitted the lines from the quarto, as it did not seem material either to quote, explain, or excuse them.
501. -we burn day-light, ho.] To burn day-light is a proverbial expression, used when candles, &c. are lighted in the day time.
STEVENS. 504. -like lamps by day,] Lamps is the reading of the oldest quarto. The folio and subsequent quartos read lights, lights by day.
STEEVENS. 506. Five times in that;---] The quarto, 1597, reads » Three times a day; and right wits, instead of fine wits.
Shakspere is on every occasion so fond of antithesis, that I am persuaded he wrote,
Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
“ Bless thy five wits!"
“ Of all these fine the sense-
“ Three times in that, ere once in our right wits." When the poet altered “ three times” to “ five times," he probably for the sake of the jingle discarded the word right, and substituted five in its place. The alteration, indeed, seems to have been made merely to obtain the antithesis.
MALONE. Fine wits may be the true reading. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “ They would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest-fall’n as a dry'd pear.”
Steevens. 514. In the quarto, 1597, after the first line of Mercutio's speech, Romeo says, Queen Mab, what's she and the Printer, by a blunder, has given all the rest of the speech to the same character.
STEEVENS. 515. O, then, I see, Queen Mab hath been with you. She is the Fairies' midwife;] The fairies' Ciij
midwife does not mean the midwife to the fairies, but that she was the person among the fairies, whose de. partment it was to deliver the fancies of sleeping men of their dreams, those children of an idle brain. When we say the king's judges, we do not mean persons who are to judge the king, but persons appointed by him to judge his subjects.
STEEVENS. 518. On the fore-finger of an alderman,] The quarto, 1597, reads, of a burgo-master. The altera. tion was probably made by the poet himself, as we find it in the succeeding copy, 1599 : but in order to familiarize the idea, he has diininished its propriety. In the pictures of burgo-masters, the ring is generally placed on the fore-finger; and from a passage in The First Part of Honry W. we may suppose the citizens in Shakspere's time to have worn this ornament on the thumb. So again, Glapthorne, in his comedy of Wit in a Constable, 1639 :
and an alderman, “ As I may say to you, he has no more “ Wit than the rest o'the bench; and that lies in his thumb-ring."
STEEVENS. 519. -of little atomies] Atomy is no more than an obsolete substitute for atom. So, in the Two Merry Milkmaids, 1620 :
I can tear thee
« Like dust before the wind.”
" I'll tear thy limbs into more atomies
66 Than in the summer play before the sun."
“ Four nimble Gnats the Horses were,
“ Upon the coach-box getting :
“ So lively was the limning :
“ I trow, 'twas simple trimming :
“ With Thistle-down they shod it." STEVENS.
“ Utilis in cives est ibi lamna suos.” JOHNSON.
STEEVENS. 552. And cakes the elf-locks, &c.] This was a comMon superstition; and seems to have had its rise froin
the horrid disease called the Plica Polonica,
WARBURTON. 554. –when maids, &c.] So, in Drayton's Nymphidia :
" And Mab, his merry Queen, by Night
(In elder times the Mare that hight) “ Which plagues them out of measure.” So, in Gervase of Tilbury, Dec. 1. C. 17. « Vidimus quosdam dæmones tanto zelo mulieres amare, quod ad inaudita prorumpunt ludibria, et cum ad concubitum earuin accedunt, mirâ mole eas opprimunt, nec ab aliis videntur."
556. -of good carriage.] So, in Love's Labour's Lost, act i. « let them be men of good repute and car
riage." Noth. Sampson, master; he was a man of good carriage; great carriage ; for he carried the town.
SreeVENS. 566. -- from thence,] The quarto, 1597, reads, in haste.
STEEVENS 577. Direet my sail !-] I have restored this reading from the elder quarto, as being more congru. ous to the metaphor in the preceding line. Suit is the reading of the folio.
STEEVENS. Direct my suit!] Guide the sequel of the adventure.
JOHNSON. 578. Strike, drum.] Here the folio adds, They