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A LIFE OF THE POET, EXPLANATORY FOOT-NOTES, CRITICAL
REV. HENRY N. HUDSON,
PROFESSOR OF SHAKESPEARE IN BOSTON UNIVERSITY.
IN TWENTY VOLUMES.
PUBLISHED BY GINN & HEATH.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1880, by HENRY N. HUDSON, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
GINN & HEATH:
A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S DREAM.
EGISTERED at the Stationers' October 8, 1600, and two quarto editions of it published in the course of that year. The play is not known to have been printed again till it reappeared in the folio of 1623, where the repetition of certain misprints shows it to have been printed from one of the quarto copies. Few of the Poet's dramas have reached us in a more satisfactory state as regards the text.
The play is first heard of in the list given by Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia, 1598. But it was no doubt written several years before that time; and I am not aware that any editor places the writing later than 1594. This brings it into the same period with King John, King Richard the Second, and the finished Romeo and Juliet ; and the internal marks of style naturally sort it into the same company. Verplanck, however, thinks there are some passages which relish strongly of an earlier time; while, again, there are others that have such an energetic compactness of thought and imagery, mingled occasionally with the deeper tonings of " years that bring the philosophic mind,” as to argue that they were wrought into the structure of the play not long before it came from the press. The part of the Athenian lovers certainly has a good deal that, viewed by itself, would scarce do credit even to such a boyhood as Shakespeare's must have been. On the other hand, there is a large philosophy in Theseus' discourse of "the lunatic, the lover, and the poet," a manly judgment in his reasons for preferring the "tedious brief scene of young Pyramus and his love Thisbe," and a bracing freshness in the short dialogue of the chase, all in the best style of the author's second period.
There is at least a rather curious coincidence, which used to