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In thape no bigger than an agat-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies,
Athwart mens’ noses as they lie asleep:
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners legs;
The cover, of the wings of grashoppers ;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars, of the moonshine's watry beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
Her waggoner a finall grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm,
• Prickt from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers :
And in this state the gallops night by night,
Thro' lovers' brains, and then they dream of love:
On courtiers' knees, that dreain on curtsies straight :
O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees :
O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kifles dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweet-meats tainted are..
Sometimes she gallops o'er a (2) courtier's nose,
(2) Oer a courtier's nose.] Tho' lawyer's is here used in almost all the modern editions, it is very observable, that in the old ones the word used is, Courtier's; but the modern editors, having no idea what the poet could mean by a courtier's fmclimg out a suit, notwithstanding he had introduced the lawyer's before, gave them another place in his fine speech. Mr. Warburton has very well explained it, by observing that “ in our author's time, a court-folicitation was called simply a suit; and a procefs, a suit at law to distinguish it from the other. The king (says an anonymous cotemporary writer of the life of Sir William Cecil) called him (Sir William Cecil] and after long talk with him, being much delighted with his answers, willed bis father 10 find [i, e. smell out) a slit for him. Whereupon he became fuitor for the reversion of the Custos Brevium office in the Common-pleas. Which the king wilingly granted it, being the first fuit ke bad in his life.” Nor can it be objected, as Mr. W'a'burton also observes, that there will
And then dreains he, of sinelling out a suit :
And sometimes comes she with a tithe pig's tail,
be a repetition in this fine speech, if we read courtiers, as there is, if we read lawyers, it having been said before,
On courtiers knees that dream on curtfies straight. Because they are shewn in two places under different views; in the first their foppery, in the second their rapacity is ridiculed.” Besides, we may add, that in the first line he seems to allude to the court ladies, in these under consideration to the gentlemen. The custom being so much out of use, it is not amiss that in the modern readings of this speech, and also on the stage, we find the doctors introduced,
O'er Doctors fingers, who straight dream on fees. But there seems no doubt of the genuineness of the word in the text.
Tho' the following passages have something similar in general to this celebrated speech, yet they serve only to thew the fuperiority of Shakespear’s fancy, and the vast range of his boundless imagination. If the Reader will consult the 4th book and 959th line of Lucretius, he will find more on the subject than I have quoted : Shakespear has an expression in Othello, concerning dreams, which is conformable to what Lucretius and Petronius observe, and which is an inttance of his great knowledge of nature: here he pronounces, dreams are nothing , there, when Othello's passions are to be raised, 'tis remark'd that they.
Denete a foregone conclusion. See Othello, A. 3. S. 8. Lucretius, Book IV.
Ee quoi quisque fere fiudio, Scc.
Whatever Itudies please, whatever things
The mind pursues, or dwells on with delight,
The same in dreams, engage our chief concern :
The lawyers plead and argue what is law :
The soldiers fight, and thro' the battle rage :
The sailors work and strive against the wind :
Me, an enquiry into nature'slaws,
And writing down my thoughts, constant employs.
Tickling the parson as he lies asleep;
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometimes the driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign-throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ears, at which he ttarts and wakes ;
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,
And sleeps again. This is that very
That plats the manes of horses in the night,
And cakes the elf-locks in foul fluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs;
That preffes them, and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage:
This is she-
Rom. Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace : : Thou talk'st of nothing.
Somnia quæ mentes, &c.
When in our dreams the forms of things arise,
In mimic order plac'd before our eyes,
Nor heav'n, nor hell the airy vision sends,
But every breast its own delusion lends.
For when soft sleep the body lays at ease,
And from the heavy mass the fancy frees :
Whate'er it is in which we take delight,
And think of most by day, we dream at night :-
Thus he who shakes proud ftates, and cities burns,
Sees showers of darts, forc'd lines, disorder'd wings,
Fields drown'd in blood, and obsequies of kings :
The lawyer dreams of terms and double fees,
And trembles when he long vacations sees :
The miser hides his wealth, new treasure finds;
In echoing woods his horn the huntsman winds:
The sailors dream a shipwreck'd chance describes,
The whore writes billet-doux ; th' adult'ress bribes :
The op'ning dog the tim'rous hare pursues,
And misery in Neep its pains renews.
Mer. True, I talk of dreams;
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing, but vain phantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air,
And more unconstant than the wind; who wooes
Ev'n now the frozen bofom of the north,
And being angerd, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.
Scene VI. A Beauty describd.
O she doth teach the torches to burn bright;
Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night,
Like a rich jewel in an Æthiop's ear:
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear!
So shews a snowy dove trooping with crows,
As yonder lady o'er her fellows shows.
(3) The Courtship between Romeo and Juliet in the
Rom. He jests at scars that never felt a woundBut soft, what light thro' yonder window breaks?
(3) Thc, &c.] The elegance and natural simplicity of this scene is enough to recommend it, and must render it agreeable to every reader who hath any taite for tenderness, delicacy, and sincere affection : but when we have feen it so justly performed, and so beautifully graced by some of the best and most judicious actors that ever appeared on any stage, we shall want no comment to enter into its particular excellencies, no chart to guide us to those beauties which all must have sensibly felí, on hearing them so feelingly and pathetically expreft, in their own bofoms. The Reader will find fome remarks in the After on this celebrated scene.
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun !
[Juliet appears above at a window,
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already, fick and pale with grief,
That thou, her inaid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious :
Her vestal livery is but fick and green,
And none but fools do wear it, cast it off-
She speaks, yet she says nothing; what of that?
Her eye discourses, I will answer it-
I am too bold, 'tis not to me the speaks :
Two of the fairest itars of all the heav'n,
Having some business do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head ?
The brightness of her cheek would fame those stars,
As day-light doth a lamp; her eyes in heav'n,
Would through the airy region stream fo bright,
That birds would fing, and think it were not night,
See how she leans her cheek
her hand, O, that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek!
Jul. Ah me!
Rom. She speaks.
Oh speak again, bright angel, for thou art
As glorious to this (4) fight, being o'er my head,
As is a winged messenger from heav'n,
Unto the white up-turn'd wand'ring eyes
Of mortals, that fall back to gaze on him,
When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds,
And fails upon the bofom of the air.
ful. O Romeo, Romeo,--wherefore art thou Romeo !
Deny thy father and refuse thy name:
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.
Rom. Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this?
(4) Sight, Mr. Tkebald, vuilg. Night.