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Two bosoms interchained3 with an oath;
So, then, two bosoms, and a single troth.
Then, by your side no bed-room me deny;
For, lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.

Her. Lysander riddles very prettily:—
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say, Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty
Such separation, as, may well be said,
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid:

So far be distant; and good night, sweet friend:
Thy love ne'er alter, till thy sweet life end!

Lys. Amen, amen, to that fair prayʼr, say I;
And then end life, when I end loyalty!

Here is my bed: Sleep give thee all his rest!


Her. With half that wish the wisher's eyes be press'd!

Enter PUCK.

Puck. Through the forest have I gone,
But Athenian found I none,5
On whose eyes I might approve
This flower's force in stirring love.
Night and silence! who is here!
Weeds of Athens he doth wear:
This is he, my master said,
Despised the Athenian maid;

[They sleep.

And here the maiden, sleeping sound,
On the dank and dirty ground.

- interchained —] Thus the quartos; the folio interchanged.


4 Now much beshrew, &c.] This word, of which the etymology is not exactly known, implies a sinister wish, and means the same as if she had said "now ill befall my manners," &c. It is used by Heywood in his Iron Age, 1632:


"Beshrew your amorous rhetorick.”

"Well, Paris, I beshrew you with my heart." Steevens. See Minsheu's etymology of it, which seems to be an imprecation or wish of such evil to one, as the venomous biting of the shrew-mouse. Tollet.


5 But Athenian found I none,] Thus the quarto, 1600, printed by Fisher. That by Roberts, and the folio, 1623, read: “— find I none."


Pretty soul! she durst not lie
Near this lack-love, kill-courtesy.6
Churl, upon thy eyes I throw
All the power this charm doth owe:7
When thou wak'st, let love forbid
Sleep his seat on thy eye-lid.
So awake, when I am gone;

For I must now to Oberon.


Enter DEMETRIUS and HELENA, running. Hel. Stay, though thou kill me, sweet Demetrius. Dem. I charge thee, hence, and do not haunt me thus. Hel. O, wilt thou darkling leave me?? do not so. Dem. Stay, on thy peril; I alone will go.

[Exit DEM. Hel. O, I am out of breath in this fond chase! The more my pray'r, the lesser is my grace.1

Near this lack-love, kill-courtesy.] The old copies read:
"Near this lack-love, this kill-courtesy."

Mr. Theobald and Sir T. Hanmer, for the sake of the measure, leave out this lack-love. I have only omitted this. Steevens. Might we not adhere to the old copy, and at the same time preserve the measure, by printing the line thus:

"Near this lack-love, this kill-court'sy.'

We meet with the same abbreviation in our author's Venus and Adonis:

"They all strain court'sy, who shall cope him first."


Court'sy can never be admitted at the end of a verse, the penult being always short. Steevens.

7 All the power this charm doth owe:] i. e. all the power it posSo, in Othello:



"Shall never med'cine thee to that sweet sleep

"Which thou ow'dst yesterday." Steevens.

let love forbid

Sleep his seat on thy eye-lid.] So, in Macbeth:
"Sleep shall neither night nor day

"Hang upon his pent-house lid." Steevens.

wilt thou darkling leave me?] i. e. in the dark. So, in The Two Angry Women of Abington, 1599: “ -we'll run away with the torch, and leave them to fight darkling." The word is likewise used by Milton. Steevens.

Again, in King Lear: " And so the candle went out, and we were left darkling." Ritson.


my grace.] My acceptableness, the favour that I can gain. Johnson.

Happy is Hermia, wheresoe'er she lies;
For she hath blessed and attractive eyes.
How came her eyes so bright? Not with salt tears:
If so, my eyes are oftener wash'd than hers.
No, no, I am as ugly as a bear;

For beasts that meet me, run away for fear:
Therefore, no marvel, though Demetrius
Do, as a monster, fly my presence thus.
What wicked and dissembling glass of mine
Made me compare with Hermia's sphery eyne?—
But who is here?-Lysander! on the ground!
Dead? or asleep? I see no blood, no wound :-
Lysander, if you live, good sir, awake.


Lys. And run through fire I will, for thy sweet sake.

Transparent Helena! Nature here shows art,2

[ Waking.

That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart.
Where is Demetrius? O, how fit a word

Is that vile name, to perish on my sword!

Hel. Do not say so, Lysander; say not so:

What though he love your Hermia? Lord, what though ?
Yet Hermia still loves you: then be content.

Lys. Content with Hermia? No: I do repent
The tedious minutes I with her have spent.
Not Hermia, but Helena I love:

Who will not change a raven for a dove?
The will of man is by his reason sway'd;
And reason says you are the worthier maid.
Things growing are not ripe until their season:
So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason; 3

2 - Nature [here] shows art,] Thus the quartos. The folio reads-Nature her shows art,-perhaps the error of the press for -Nature shows her art. The editor of the second folio changed her to here. Malone.

I admit the word—here, as a judicious correction of the second folio. Here, means-in the present instance. On this occasion, says Lysander, the work of nature resembles that of art, viz. (as our author expresses it in his Lover's Complaint) an object glaz'd with crystal” Steevens.


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- till now ripe not to reason;] i. e. do not ripen to it. Ripe, in the present instance, is a verb. So, in As you like it: "And so, from hour to hour, we ripe, and ripe

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And touching now the point of human skill,4
Reason becomes the marshal to my will,5

And leads me to your eyes; where I o'erlook
Love's stories, written in love's richest book."

Hel. Wherefore was I to this keen mock'ry born?
When, at your hands, did I deserve this scorn?
Is 't not enough, is 't not enough, young man,
That I did never, no, nor never can,
Deserve a sweet look from Demetrius' eye,
But you must flout my insufficiency?

Good troth, you do me wrong, good sooth, you do,
In such disdainful manner me to woo.

But fare you well: perforce I must confess,

I thought you lord of more true gentleness.7.
O, that a lady, of one man refus'd,

Should, of another, therefore, be abus'd!


Lys. She sees not Hermia:-Hermia, sleep thou there

And never may'st thou come Lysander near!

For, as a surfeit of the sweetest things

The deepest loathing to the stomach brings;
Or, as the heresies, that men do leave,
Are hated most of those they did deceive;
So thou, my surfeit, and my heresy,
Of all be hated; but the most of me! ·

And all my pow'rs, address your love and might,
To honour Helen, and to be her knight!
Her. [starting] Help me, Lysander, help me! do thy best,

-touching now the point of human skill,] i. e. my senses being now at the utmost height of perfection. So, in King Henry


"I have touch'd the highest point of all my greatness."


5 Reason becomes the marshal to my will,] That is, My will now follows reason. Johnson.

So, in Macbeth:


“Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going." "Steevens. leads me to your eyes; where I o'erlook

Love's stories, written in love's richest book.] So, in Romeo and Fuliet:



what obscur'd in this fair volume lies,

"Find written in the margin of his eyes,

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true gentleness.] Gentleness is equivalent to what, in modern language, we should call the spirit of a gentleman. Percy.

To pluck this crawling serpent from my breast!
Ah me, for pity!-what a dream was here?
Lysander, look, how I do quake with fear:
Methought a serpent eat my heart away,
And you sat smiling at his cruel prey:-
Lysander! what, remov'd? Lysander! lord!
What, out of hearing? gone? no sound, no word?
Alack, where are you? speak, an if you hear;
Speak, of all loves; I swoon almost with fear.
No?-then I well perceive you are not nigh:
Either death, or you, I'll find_immediately.1


The same.


The Queen of Fairies lying asleep. Enter QUINCE, SNUG, BOTTOM, FLUTE, SNOUT, and STARVELING.

Bot. Are we well met?

Quin. Pat, pat: and here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal: This green plot shall be our

8 And you-] Instead of you, the first folio reads-yet. Mr. Pope first gave the right word from the quarto, 1600. Steevens.

9 Speak, of all loves;] Of all loves is an adjuration more than once used by our author. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, sc. viii :


to send her your little page, of all loves." Steevens. 1 Either death, or you, I'll find immediately.] Thus the ancient copies, and such was Shakspeare's usage. He frequently employs either, and other similar words, as monosyllables. So, in King Henry IV, P. II:

"Either from the king, or in the present time." Again, in King Henry V:

"Either past, or not arriv'd to pith and puissance." Again, in Julius Cæsar:

"Either led or driven, as we point the way."

Again, in Othello:

"Either in discourse of thought, or actual deed." So also, Marlowe in his Edward II, 1598:

"Either banish him that was the cause thereof." The modern editors read-Or death, or you, &c. Malone.

2 In the time of Shakspeare there were many companies of players, sometimes five at the same time, contending for the fayour of the publick. Of these some were undoubtedly very un

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