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THESEUS, Duke of Athens.
LYSANDER, in love with Hermia.
Demetrius, in love with Hermia. -
PHILOSTRATE, Master of the Sports to Theseus,
OBERON, King of the Fairies.
Puck, a Fairy.

W O M E N. HIPPOLITA, Princess of the Amazons, betrothed to

Theseus. Hermia, Daughter to Egeus, in love with Lysander. Helena, in love with Demetrius.

A : Midsummer Night's Dream.

Shall not trouble my readers with the Fable of 1 this piece, as I can see no general moral that can be deduced from the Argument; nor, as I hinted before *, is there much sentiment to be collected even from the Dialogue. But whatever harvest can be gleaned from this unfruitful field, I shall endeavour to pick up, as becomes a faithful steward of the farm.

ACT 1. SCENE I.

. Theseus to Hermia. Ta you your father should be as a God, One that composed your beauties; yea, and one To whom you are but as a form in wax By himn imprinted ; and within his power To leave the figure, or disfigure it." In this speech, the pious notion of the Antients, with regard to this relation, while genuine Nature was their role Preceptor, is fully expressed. Here the duty of children to their parents, is indeed car. ried to the height; and yet, methinks, not at all too far. They are the objects of our earliest affections, of our first deference, of our primary obligacions, Even superstition, in this case, as far at least as im. plicit obedience extends, exceeds not true devotion.

The Decalogue was originally written on two tables ; five in each. The first refers solely to Reli. gion ; the second, to Morality, only. To honour our parents, therefore, as falling within the former line of obligations, is, by this distinction, made one

* Preface to the Tempest, paragraph 4th,

-

of our pious duties; as through them we honour the
Creator, who ordained this relation between us. This
precept, then, should seem to have a double tie upon
us, as partaking both of piety and morals ; and there-
fore, however the latter bond may chance to be
cancelled, the first ought never to be dispensed
with.
• In fine, there is something so fond and endearing
in the idea and exercise of a child's obedience and
deference towards a parent, that how rotten must
the root be, or how blighted the branches, if such
a tree should fail of producing its natural fruit !

Thus far, by way of general reflection, only; for I must, notwithstanding, admit, that the particular instance of the daughter's compliance, exacted by the father, in this piece, of resigning an husband of her own choice, upon equal terms, and accepting another, chosen arbitrarily for her, by caprice merely, was too severe a trial of obedience. Egeus here, like Abraham, would sacrifice his child at the altar, not only without the command of God, but contrary to his express purpose, proclaimed aloud by the voice of Nature, and further confirmed from the deductions of virtuous affection, free will, and rational election.

When I said that the duty of a child was natural, I did not mean to invest the parent with an authority which was not so; and I cannot blame Hermia, therefore, upon the severe laws of Athens being declared to her, for the chaste and spirited resolution fhe frames to herself on that occasion.

So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship; to whose unwished yoke
My foul confents not to give sovereignty,

S CE N'E II.
Lysander, the suitor elect of Hermia, here makes
an observation upon the state of love, which is too
often verified in life : That a sympathy of affections,

with other fitness of circumstances, are feldom found
to meet together, so as to compleat an happy
union.
Lyfander. Ab me! for aught that ever I could read,

Could ever hear, by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth;
But either it was different in blood
Or elle misgrafted in respect of years
Or else it ftood upon the choice of friends .,,
Or if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, Death, or Sickness did lay fiege to it;
Making it momentary as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any dream,
Brief as the lightning in the collied night,
That in a spleen * unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say, Behold!
The jaws of darkness do devour it up:

ri
So quick bright things come to confusion! . .

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In this scene we are charmed with that mildness, modesty, and generous eulogium, with which the fond and unhappy Helena accosts a rival beauty, and woo'd by the man she loves.

Hermia. God speed, fair Helena! whither away?
Helena. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay ;

Demetrius loves you, fair-O happy fair !
Your eyes are load-stars t, and your tongue's sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching-Oh! were favour so!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go;
My ear should catch your voice ; my eye your eye ;
My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet melody.
Were the world mine, Demetrius being 'bated,
The reft I'd give to be to you translated

teach me how you look, and with what art You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart !

* Spleen, for a sudden or hafty fit. * The polar far, by which mariners are guided in their course.

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