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Or (fave your reverence) love, wherein thou stick'st Up to the ears. Come, we burn day-light, ho. Rom. Nay, that's not fo.
Mer. I mean, fir, in delay
We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.
Rom. And we mean well, in going to this mask; But 'tis no wit to go.
Again, in the Tavo Merry Milkmaids, 1620:
Of this cant expreffion I cannot determine the precife meaning. It is ufed again in Weftward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607, but apparently in a fenfe different from that which Dr. Warbur ton would affix to it. STEEVENS.
7 Or (fave your reverence) love,] The word or obfcures the fentence; we should read O! for or love. Mercutio having called the affectation with which Romeo was entangled by fo difrefpectful a word as mire, cries out,
O! fave your reverence, love. JOHNSON. Mercutio's meaning is loft if we difmifs the word or. "We'll draw thee from the mire (fays he) or rather from this love wherein thou stick'st."
Dr. Johnson has imputed a greater fhare of politeness to Mercutio than he is found to be poffeffed of in the quarto, 1597. Mercutio, as he paffes through different editions,
"Works himself clear, and as he runs refines."
I have omitted the lines from the 4to as it does not seem ma terial either to quote, explain, or excufe them. EDITOR.
8 we burn day-light, ho.] To burn daylight is a proverbial expreffion, used when candles, &c. are lighted in the day time. See vol. i. p. 285. STEEVENS.
9-like lamps by day.] Lamps is the reading of the oldeft quarto. The folio and subsequent quartos read lights, lights by day, STEEVENS.
Five times in that.] The quarto 1597, reads: "Three times a day;" and right wits, instead of fine wits. STEEVENS.` Shakspeare is on every occafion fo fond of antithefis, that I am perfuaded he wrote :
Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
We meet in K. Lear:
Blefs thy five wits!"
Mer. Why, may one afk?
Mer. And fo did I.
Rom. Well, what was yours?
Mer. That dreamers often lye..
Rom. In bed afleep; while they do dream things true *.
Mer. O, then, I see, queen Mab hath been with
So, in a fubfequent fcene in this play: "Thou haft more of the wild goofe in one of thy wits, than I am fure I have in my whole five."
The fame mistake happened in The Midsummer Night's Dream, where in all the old copies we meet : "Of all thefe fine the fenfe. inftead of- all thefe fiveIn the first quarto the line ftands :
"bree times in that, ere once in our right wits." When the poet altered three times" (6 to five times," he probably for the fake of the jingle, discarded the word right, and subftituted five in its place. The alteration, indeed, feems to have been made merely to obtain the antithefis. MALONE.
Fine wits may be the true reading, So in The Merry Wives of Windfor: "They would whip me with their fine wits till I were as crest fall'n as a dry'd pear. STEEVENS.
In the quarto 1597, after the first line of Mercutio's fpeech, Romeo fays, Queen Mab, what's he? and the printer by a blun der, has given all the reft of the fpeech to the fame character. STEEVENS.
30, then, I fee, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the FAIRIES' midwife,] Thus begins that admirable fpeech upon the effects of the imagination in dreams. But, Queen Mab the fairies' mid-wife? What is the then Queen of? Why, the fairies. What! and their midwife too? but this is not the greatest of the abfurdities. Let us fee upon what occafion the is introduced, and under what quality. It is as a being that has great power over human imagination. But then the title given her muft have reference to the employment fhe is put upon: First then, fhe is called Queen; which is very pertinent, for that designs her power; then she is called the fairies' midwife; but what has that to do with the point in hand? If we would think that Shakspeare wrote fenfe, we must fay, he wrote the FANCY's midwife; and this is a proper title, as it introduces all that is faid afterwards of her vagaries. Belides, it exactly quadrates with thefe lines:
She is the fairies' midwife; and the comes
I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Thefe dreams are begot upon fantafie, and Mab is the midwife to bring them forth. And fancy's midwife is a phrate altogether in the manner of our author. WARBURTON.
All the copies (three of which were published in our author's life-time) concur in reading fairies' midwife, and Dr. Warburton's alteration appears to be quite unneceffary. The fairies' midwife does not mean the midwife to the fairies, but that she was the perfon among the fairies, whofe department it was to deliver the fancies of fleeping men of their dreams, those children of an idle brain. When we fay the king's judges, we do not mean perfons who are to judge the king, but perfons appointed by him to judge his fub. jects. STEEVENS,
On the fore-finger of an alderman,] The quarto. 1597, reads, of a burgo-mafier. The alteration was probably made by the poet himself, as we find it in the fucceeding copy, 1599: but in order to familiarize the idea, he has diminished its propriety. In the pictures of burgo-mafters, the ring is generally placed on the forefinger; and from a paffage in The Firft Part of Henry IV. we may fuppofe the citizens in Shakspeare's time to have worn this orna ment on the thumb. So again, Glapthorne, in his comedy of Wit in a Conflable, 1639:
-and an alderman,
"As I may fay to you, he has no more
"Wit than the reft o' the bench; and that lies in his "thumb-ring" STEEVENS.
of atomies] Atomy is no more than an obfolete fubftitute for atom. So, in the Two Merry Milkmaids, 1620:
"I can tear thee
"As small as atomies, and throw thee off
Four nimble Grats the Horfes were, "Their Harneles of Goffamere,
Again, in Heywood's Brazen Age, 1613:
"I'll tear thy limbs into more atomics "Than in the fummer play before the fun." In Drayton's Nimphidia there is likewife a defcription of Queen Mal's chariot :
-Her waggon-fpokes made of long spinners' legs;
Fly Cranion, her Charioteer,
"So lively was the limning :
"I trow, 'twas fimple trimming: "The wheels compos'd of Cricket's Bones, "And daintily made for the nonce, "For Fear of rattling on the Stones, "With Thistle-down they food it." Sometime she gallops o'er a LAWYER's nofe, And then dreams be of fmelling out a fuit :] The old editions have it, COURTIER's nofe; and this undoubtedly is the true reading and for thefe realons: Firft, In the prefent reading there is a vicious repetition in this fine fpeech; the fame thought having been given in the foregoing line:
O'er lawyers' fingers, who ftraight dream on fees:
And then dreams he of fmelling out a fuit :
Nor can it be objected that there will be the fame fault if we read courtiers', it having been faid before:
On courtiers' knees, that dream on curtfies strait; because they are fhewn in two places under different views in the first, their foppery; in the fecond, their rapacity is ridiculed. Secondly, in our author's time, a court-folicitation was called, fimply, a fuit, and a procefs, a fuit at law, to distinguish it from the. other. "The King" (fays an anonymous cotemporary writer of the life of fir William Cecil)" called him [fir William Cecil] and "after long talk with him, being much delighted with his answers, "willed his father to FIND [i. e. to smell out] A SUIT for him. "Whereupon he became SUITER for the reverfion of the Cuftos"brevium office in the Common Pleas : which the king willingly "granted, it being the first suIT he had in his life." Indeed our poet has very rarely turned his fatire against lawyers and law proceedings, the common topic of later writers: for, to obferve it to the honour of the English judicatures, they preferved the purity. and fimplicity of their first institution, long after chicane had over run all the other laws of Europe. WARBURTON.
The following paffage in The Gul's Hornbook, by T. Decker, 1609, ftill more strongly fupports the old reading :" If you be a courtier, difcourfe of the obtaining of fuits. MALONE.
In these lines Dr. Warburton has very juftly restored' the old reading courtier's nofe, and has explained the paffage with his ufual learning; but I do not think he is so happy in his endeavour to justify Shakspeare from the charge of a vicious repetition in introducing the courtier twice. The fecond folio, I obferve, reads:
On COUNTRIES knees which has led me to conjecture, that the line ought to be read thus:
On COUNTIES knees, that dream on courtfies strait :Counties I understand to fignify noblemen in general. Paris, who, in one place, I think, is called earl, is moft commonly styled the countie in this play.
And fo in Much Ado about Nothing, act iv. we find : "Princes and counties.' ""
And in All's Well that Ends Well, act iii;
"A ring the County wears.'
The Countie Egmond is fo called more than once in Holinfhed, p. 115, and in the Burleigh papers, vol. i. p. 204. See alfo p. 7. The Countie Palatine Lowys. However, perhaps, it is as probable that the repetition of the Courtier, which offends us in this paffage, may be owing (not to any error of the prefs, but) to