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The Argument of the Second Act.
"THE witch Maudlin having taken the shape of Marian to abuse Robin Hood, and perplex his guests, cometh forth with her daughter Douce, reporting in what confusion she had left them; defrauded them of their venison, made them suspicious each of the other; but most of all, Robin Hood so jealous of his Marian, as she hopes no effect of love would ever reconcile them: glorying so far in the extent of her mischief, as she confesseth to have surpriz'd Earine, stripp'd her of her garments, to make her daughter appear fine at this feast in them; and to have shut the maiden up in a tree, as her son's prize, if he could win her; or his prey, if he would force her. Her son, a rude brag ging swineherd, comes to the tree to woo her, (his mother and sister stepping aside to over-hear him) and first boasts his wealth to her, and his possessions; which move not. "Then he presents her gifts, such as himself is taken with, but she utterly shows a scorn and lothing both of him and them. His mother is angry, rates him, instructs him what to do the next time, and persuades her daughter to show herself about the bower: tells how she shall know her mother, when she is transform'd, by her broidered belt. "Meanwhile the young shepherdess Amie, being kist by Karolin, Earine's brother, "before, falls in love; but knows not what love is: but describes her disease so innocently, "that Marian pities her. When Robin Hood and the rest of his guests invited, enter to Marian, upbraiding her with sending away their venison to mother Maudlin by Scathlock, "which she denies; Scathlock affirms it; but seeing his mistress weep, and to forswear it, begins to doubt his own understanding, rather than affront her farther; which makes "Robin Hood and the rest to examine themselves better. But Maudlin entering like herself, the witch comes to thank her for her bounty: at which Marian is more angry, " and more denies the deed. Scathlock enters, tells he has brought it again, and delivered "it to the cook. The witch is inwardly vext the venison is so recovered from her by the "rude huntsman, and murmurs and curses; bewitches the cook, mocks poor Amie and "the rest; discovereth her ill nature, and is a means of reconciling them all. For the sage shepherd suspecteth her mischief, if she be not prevented and so persuadeth to seize on her. Whereupon Robin Hood dispatcheth out his woodmen to hunt and take "her. Which ends the act."
"AVE I not left 'em in a brave
Amaz'd their expectation? got their venison?
And jealous of each other! all distracted!
Dou. Did you so distaste him 1?
Mau. As far as her proud scorning him
Or blunt the edge of any lover's temper.
Mau. So like, Douce,
As had she seen me her sel', her sel' had
Whether had been the liker of the twå!
This can your mother do, I tell you,
I ha' but dight ye yet, i' the out-dress,
In view or ken of Eglamour, your form
Hath lotted her to be your brother's mis-
Gif she can be reclaim'd: gif not, his prey!
Did you so DISTATE him?] We have here the same corruption as in the prologue; the true reading is distaste.
Lorel, Earine, Maudlin, Douce.
Lor. Ye kind to others, but ye coy to me, Deft mistress! whiter than the cheese new prest! [curd! Smoother than cream! and softer than the Why start ye from me ere ye hear me tell My wooing errand, and what rents I have? Large herds and pastures! swine and kie mine own!
And though my na'se be camus'd, my lips
Ear. How better 'twere to me, this were
Mau. She likes it not: but it is boasted well!
Lor. An hundred udders for the pail I have, That gi' me milk and curds, that make me cheese
To cloy the markets! twenty swarm of bees,
That mickle mast unto the ferm doth yield.
I look myself, and clear my pleasant eyes,
2 This is true courtship, and becomes his RAY.] All the copies give us the line as it stands above; but it is difficult to know what is the acceptation of the word ray. I can assign it two senses, both which comport well enough with the place it stands in. The first conjecture is, that the poet might possibly have written ra', for rank, or station, and this abbreviature of the word agrees with the rest of the dialect used in the play. The other, which I think most preferable, is this: that ray should be marked with an apostrophe at the beginning, 'ray; as the abbreviation of array, dress. The word occurs în Chaucer, and the glossary interprets it by array, order :
"With ladies faire, in carrolling to gone,
Lor. Ye kind to others, but ye coy to me,
Testament of Creseide, v. 26.
Deft mistress! whiter than the cheese new prest!] There is much natural beauty in these speeches of Lorel; and the rustic cast of the imagery is entirely conformable to the grotesque character of the speaker. I must not omit observing that the whole is sketch'd out from the song of Polyphemus to his mistress Galatea, in Ovid's Metamorphoses, lib. 13. but Jonson hath with great judgment omitted many of the turns of wit which occur in Ovid, and preserved that Doric simplicity which appears in Theocritus, from whom the subject is taken. Mollior & cycni plumis, & lacte coacto, says the Latin poet; but Jonson's whiter than the cheese new prest, is borrowed from the Greek, Atuxolega waxlas wolidei. Theocr. idyll. xi. And in general, he seems more taken with the description in Theocritus, than with the fancies of Ovid.
And though my na'se be camus'd, my lips thick,
And my chin bristled.] Ovid has selected part of these circumstances, but given a very puerile turn to them at the end :
Nec, mea quod duris horrent densissima setis
Corpora, turpe puta; turpis sine frondibus arbor.
The flatness of his nose is wholly from Theocritus:
Πλαίσια δε εις επι χείλει
What follows of his likeness to the god Pan, is inserted with great art; and what Virgil himself, if we may judge from his Alexis, would probably have mentioned, had he touched upon the same subject. The ostentation of his wealth, and number of his cattle, are in both the Latin and the Greek poets.
And bring me wax and honey in BY LIVE.] The two last words have no meaning, and are corrupted from an expression common in the oid English and Scotch poets. The real word is belive, or bilive, for it is variously spelt; the meaning, directly, immediately, or without any more ado.
Is irksome, as are you.
I am a lord of other geer! this fine
Twa tyny urshins, and this ferret gay..
As presents, mistress.
Ear. O the fiend and thee!
Gar take them hence: they fewmand all
Lorel, Maudlin, Douce.
Lor. Did you hear this? she wish'd me at the fiend,
With all my presents!
Mau. A tu lucky end
She wishend thee, foul limmer! drity lown!
Thou woo thy love, thy mistress, with twa
Th' hadst made a present o' thyself, owlDou. Why, mother, I have heard ye bid to give:
And often as the cause calls.
Mau. I know well,
It is a witty part sometimes to give.
But what? to wham? no monsters! nor to
He suld present them with mare pleasant
Things natural, and what all women covet
And do thy turns betimes: or I's gar take
Dou. Gud mother, gif you chide him, he'll do wairs. [devil's eirs. Mau. Hang him I geif him to the But ye, my Douce, I charge ye, shew your L'em, Tu all the shepherds bauldly: gaing aman: Be mickel i' their eye, frequent and fugeand. And gif they ask ye of Earine,
Or of these claithes, say, that I ga' 'em ye,
I' is pu' the world or nature 'bout their ears.
In mony shapes to-day, where-e'er you spy
Upo' your grannam's grave, that very night
Made it her gaing night over the kirk-yard,
Smooth BAWSON'S CUB, the young GRICE of a gray.] A bear's cub, and the young ones of a badger. So likewise Ovid from Theocritus,
Inceni geminos qui tecum ludere possint
Villosa catulos in summis montibus ursæ.
Agrice is properly a sucking pig, and so used by the Scotch poets; for thus bishop Douglas translates the following lines of Virgil;
Littoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus,
Triginta cupitum fætus enixa jacebit.
Æn. 3. ver. 389.
"And under ane aik fyndis into that stede,
hence with 'em, LIMMER LOWN.] i. e. mungrel clown. So Junius interprets the word limmer: but the etymology assigned from Skinner, seems to be wrong. A limmer, or liemer, is a dog for the chace, so called from the leam, or leash, in which he was held, till let loose upon the game. A loro, lyemmer appellatur is, quem levinarium & lorarius latinè nominavimus. Nam lyemme nostrá lingua lorum significat. Caius de Canibus Britain. Limmer lown is common in the Scotch poets.
Th' hadst made a present of thyself, OWL-SPIEGLE.] The same with ulen-spiegle, or owl-glass. The original of the expression is explained in the Poetaster!
With all the BARK AND parish-tikes set at her.] The corruption in this verse, which runs through all the editions, is very easily removed. Bark and parish tikes, should be barkand, the participle with a Saxon termination, for barking. We have several instances in this play, where the author hath chose the old ending in and, for the modern one in ing. The very next line supplies us with one; and it is done with judgment; to throw an an
While I sat whyrland of my brazen spindle :
She stitched in the work, and knit it well.
Marian, Mellifleur, Amie.
Mar. How do you, sweet Amie, yet?
If she could sleep, she says, she should do well.
She feels a hurt, but where, she cannot show
Opprest with cares: but why she cannot say.
Mar. Hath any vermin broke into your
Or any rot seiz'd on your flock? or cold? "Or hath your feiting ram burst his hard
Or any ewe her fleece? or bag hath torn,
Am. Marian, none of these.
tique air upon the piece: especially in this romantic description of the embroidered girdle. Our old authors are frequent in the use of this Saxon ending; and it is generally corrupted at the press. Thus we read in Spenser,
"His glitter and armour shined far away;"
where we have the same mistake with that above, in dividing the participle glitterand. Another of the same nature occurs in the last scene of Shakspeare's Troilus and Cressida. As this was pointed out to me by my friend Mr. Sympson, I beg leave to communicate it, with his remarks and correction. The line is,
"Make wells and Niobes of our maids and wives." Mr. Warburton reads welling Niobes; but he has overlooked the true word, though he has hit the sense. For certainly the old reading was, make welland Niobes. Some ignorant transcriber had wrote, make well and Niobes, which, when it came to the press, not being sense, had an s put to well; and thence came wells and Niobes, &c. The word tike signifies a dog, and is yet used in Yorkshire, and the northern parts of England: indeed all the rustic speeches in this play, are a specimen of the northern dialect. The progress of Hecate over new-made graves, and the barking of the dogs, are taken from the superstitions of antiquity; Theocritus describes her in the same manner:
Εκαλα, ταν και σκύλακες τρομεονί
Ερχόμεναν νεκύων ανατ' ηρία, και μελάαιμα·
10 Unto the sew'ster, who did sit me nigh,
See that you take tent to this.] There is a difficulty in these lines, which at first much perplexed me; but the reader, I hope, will think the following interpretation in some measure gets rid of it. The's w'ster, or spinster, is said to sit under the town turnpike but what is that? the same with what is now more usually called a turn-stile, often placed at the end of towns, for preventing horses from coming into the foot-way. In this sense it occurs in our author's Staple of News,
"I move upon my axle like a turnpike." Act 3.
And so it is at this day used in the neighbouring county, where part of the scene lies. What follows leads us to imagine, that this turnpike, by its whirling motion, served to knit the spell more firmly into the work they were about; just as we see the wheel commonly made use of in twisting the several cords which compose a rope or piece of twine; though we may suppose likewise that the turnpike only ran, or turned round, as the spell was repeating; and served in the nature of the antient Rhombus, which was of constant use in magical incantations. Jonson seems to have alluded likewise to the story of the antient Destinies or Parcæ, one of which held the distaff, whilst another spun the thread. The expressions he here uses are classical, and what the old poets employ, when speaking of these fatal sisters;
-which ran each spell,
She stitched in the work, and knit it well.
In this view the words, ran each spell, which would appear otherwise obscure, are pertinent and clear. Catullus uses the same phrase in the chorus line, where they are singing the future birth and fortunes of Achilles, at the wedding of Peleus :
Currite, ducentes subtemina, currite fusi.
And to this Virgil seems to allude in his Eclogue to Pollio;
Talia secla suis dicebant, currite, fusis
Concordes stabili fatorum numine parcæ.
In the last line, the particle that is superfluous; take tent, is take notice, take heed to it.
I often have been stung too with curst bees,
It enter'd in me, nor least print can see,
The rivers ice-bound, and their currents lost, My thick warm fleece I wore, was my [thence.
Robin Hood, Clarion, Lionel, Alken. Rob. O, are you here, my mistress? Mar. I, my love!
[She seeing him, runs to embrace him. Where should I be but in my Robin's arms? The sphere which I delight in so to move! Rob. What, the rude ranger? and spied spy? hand off: You are for no such rusticks.
[He puts her back. Mar. What means this, [know ye? Thrice worthy Clarion? or wise Alken? Rob. 'Las, no not they! a poor starv'd
In comforting of her. O, here he is!
Scu. 1, gud faith, inadam,
Mur. What ha' you done?
Sca. Obey'd your hests, madam; done your commands.
Mar. Done my commands, dull groom! fetch it again, [arts, Or kennel with the hounds. Are these the Robin, you read " your rude ones o' the
To countenance your quarrels and mistak Or are the sports to entertain your friends Those formed jealousies? ask of Mellifleur, If I were ever from her, here, or Amie, Since I came in with them; or saw this Scathlock
Since I related to you his tale o' the raven? Sca. 1, say you so?
[Scathlock goes out.
Mel. She never left my side Since I came here, nor I hers. Cla. This is strange !
Our best of senses were deceiv'd, our eyes, Lio. And ears too.
Mar. What you have concluded on, Make good, I pray you.
Am. O my heart, my heart! [Amie; Mar. My heart it is, is wounded, pretty Report not you your griefs: I'll tell for all. Mel. Somebody is to blame, there is a fault.
You READ your rude ones?] Read is an old English word signifying to teach, or advise. Hence the substantive read, or rede, for counsel. Thus in the first Psalm by Hopkins,
"The man is blest that hath not lent
"To wicked read his ear."