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Thefeus, Duke of Athens.
Starveling, the Taylor.
Hippolita, Queen of the Amazons, betrothed to Thefeus. Hermia, Daughter to Egeus, in love with Lyfander. Helena, in love with Demetrius.
Oberon, King of the Fairies.
Puck, or Robin-goodfellow, a Fairy.
Other Fairies attending their King and Queen: Attendants on Thefeus and Hippolita.
SCENE, Athens, and a Wood not far from it.
Characters in the Interlude performed by the Clowns.
1 The enumeration of perfons was first made by Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
The Palace of Thefeus in Athens.
Enter Thefeus, Hippolita, Philoftrate, with attendants.
The. Now, fair Hippolita, our nuptial hour Draws on apace; four happy days bring in
This play was entered at Stationers' Hall, Oct. 8, 1600, by Thomas Fisher. It is probable that the hint for it was received from Chaucer's Knight's Tale. Thence it is, that our author fpeaks of Thefeus as duke of Athens. The tale begins thus: "Whilom as old stories tellen us,
"There was a Duk that highte Thefeus,
"Of Athenes he was lord and governour, &c." Late edit. v. 861. Lidgate too, the monk of Bury, in his tranflation of the Tragedies of John Bochas, calls him by the fame title, chap. xii. 1. 21. "Duke Thefeus had the victorye.”
Creon, in the tragedy of Jocafta, tranflated from Euripides in 1566, is called Duke Creon:
So likewife Skelton:
"Not lyke Duke Hamilcar,
"Nor lyke Duke Afdruball."
Stanyhurst, in his tranflation or Virgil, calls Eneas, Duke Eneas; and in Heywood's Iron Age, 2d Part, 1632, Ajax is ftyled Duke Ajax, Palamedes, Duke Palamedes, and Neftor, Duke Neftor, &c.
There is an old black-letter'd pamphlet by W. Bettie, called Titana and Thefeus, entered at Stationers' Hall, in 1608; but Shakspeare has taken no hints from it. Titania is also the name of the Queen of Fairies in Decker's Whore of Babylon, 1607. STERVENS. Another
Another moon: but, oh, methinks, how flow
Long withering out a young man's revenue'.
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
* New bent in heaven, fhall behold the night Of our folemnities. .
The. Go, Philoftrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
The pale companion is not for our pomp. [Exit Phi.
And won thy love, doing thee injuries;
Enter Egeus, Hermia, Lyfander, and Demetrius. Ege. Happy be Thefeus, our renowned duke! The. Thanks, good Egeus: What's the news with thee?
Ege. Full of vexation, come I, with complaint Against my child, my daughter Hermia.— Stand forth, Demetrius ;-My noble lord, This man hath my confent to marry her :Stand forth, Lyfander;-and my gracious duke,
3 Long WITHERING OUT a young man's revenue.] So, in Chap. man's Tranflation of the 4th B. of Homer:
"there the goodly plant lies withering out his grace." STEEVENS.
-Ut piger annus
Pupillis, quos dura premit cuftodia matrum,
4 New bent in heaven-] The old copies read-Now bent.Mr. Rowe made the change. MALONE.
This man hath witch'd the bofom of my child:
The. What fay you, Hermia? be advis'd, fair maid:
switch'd-] The old copies read bewitch'd. JOHNSON.
"When gain is no grandfier,
And, in Drayton's Mooncalf:
66 and in her lap
"A fort of paper puppets, gauds and toys." The rev. Mr. Lambe in his notes on the ancient metrical history of the Battle of Floddon, obferves that a gawd is a child's toy, and that the children in the North call their play-things gowdys, and their baby-houfe a gowdy-boufe. STEEVENS.
7 Or to her death; according to our law,] By a law of Solon's, parents had an abfolute power of life and death over their children. So it fuited the poet's purpose well enough, to fuppofe the Athenians had it before.-Or perhaps he neither thought nor knew any thing of the matter. WARBURTON.
To you your father should be as a god,
One that compos'd your beauties; yea, and one
The. In himself he is:
But, in this kind, wanting your father's voice,
Her. I would, my father look'd but with my eyes, The, Rather your eyes muft with his judgment. look.
Her. I do intreat your grace to pardon me. I know not by what power I am made bold; Nor how it may concern my modefty, In fuch a prefence here, to plead my thoughts: But I beseech your grace, that I may know The worst that may befal me in this cafe, If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
To whom you are but as a form in wax, By him imprinted, and within his pover To LEAVE the figure, or disfigure it.] We should read:
To 'LEVE the figure, &c.
i. e. releve, to heighten or to add to the beauty of the figure, which is faid to be imprinted by him. 'Tis from the French relever. Thus they fay, Tapifleries relevées d'or. In the fame fenfe they ufe enlever, which Maundeville makes English of in this manner."And all the alles withinne ben covered with gold and fylver, in fyn plates and in the plates ben ftories and batayles of Knyghtes ENLEVED." p. 228. Rabelais, with a strain of buffoon humour, that equals the fober elegance of this paffage in our poet, calls the finall gentry of France, "Gentilhommes de bas relief."
I know not why fo harth a word fhould be admitted with fo little need; a word that, fpoken, could not be understood, and of which no example can be fhown. The fenfe is plain, you owe to your father a being which he may at pleafure continue or deftroy.