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The. Either to die the death, or to abjure
For ever the fociety of men.

Therefore, fair Hermia, queftion your defires,
'Know of your youth, examine well your blood
Whether, if you yield not to your father's choice,
You can endure the livery of a nun;


For aye to be in fhady cloifter mew'd,

To live a barren fifter all your life,

Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitlefs moon,
Thrice bleffed they, that mafter fo their blood,
To undergo fuch maiden pilgrimage:
But earthlier happy is the rofe distill'd',
Than that, which withering on the virgin-thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in fingle blessedness.

Her. So will I grow, fo live, fo die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up


Unto his lordship, to whofe unwifh'd yoke
My foul confents not to give fovereignty,

The. Take time to paufe; and, by the next new


(The fealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlafting bond of fellowship)
Upon that day either prepare to die,
For difobedience to your father's will;


9 to die the death-] See notes on Measure for Measure, a& fc. 4. STEEVENS.

1 Know of your youth,] Bring your youth to the question. Confider your youth. JOHNSON.

2 For aye, i. e. for ever.


3 But earthlier happy is the rofe diftill'd,] Thus all the copies : yet earthlier is fo harth a word, and earthlier happy, for happier earthly, a mode of fpeech fo unufual, that I wonder none of the editors have propofed earlier happy. JOHNSON.

It has fince been obferved, that Mr. Pope did propose carlier. We might read, earthly happier. STEEVENS.

This is a thought in which Shakspeare feems to have much delighted. We meet with it more than once in his Sonnets. See 5th, 6th, and 54th Sonnets. MALONE.

4 to whofe unwifh'd yoke] Thus the modern editors; the particle to is wanting in the old copies. STEEVENS.

Or elfe to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or on Diana's altar to proteft,

For aye, aufterity and fingle life.

Dem. Relent, fweet Hermia;-And, Lyfander, yield

Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lyf. You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Let me have Hermia's: do you marry him '.
Ege. Scornful Lyfander! true, he hath my love;
And what is mine, my love fhall render him :
And she is mine; and all my right of her
I do eftate unto Demetrius.

Lyf. I am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he,
As well poffefs'd; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank'd,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius';

And, which is more than all these boasts can be,
I am belov'd of beauteous Hermia :

Why should not I then profecute my right?
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena,
And won her foul; and fhe, fweet lady, dotes,
Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry,

Upon this spotted and inconftant man".

The. I must confefs that I have heard so much, And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof; But, being over-full of felf-affairs,

My mind did lofe it.-But, Demetrius, come;
And come, Egeus; you fhall go with me,
I have fome private fchooling for you both.-
For you fair Hermia, look you arm yourself

5 You have her father's love, Demetrius;

Let me have Hermia's; do you marry him.]

I fufpect that Shakspeare wrote:

"Let me have Hermia; do you marry him."


• Spotted] As fpotlefs is innocent, fo Spotted is wicked.


To fit your fancies to your father's will;
Or elfe the law of Athens yields you up
(Which by no means we may extenuate)
To death, or to a vow of fingle life.-
Come, my Hippolita ; What cheer, my love?-
Demetrius, and Egeus, go along :

I must employ you in fome business
Against our nuptial; and confer with you.
Of fomething, nearly that concerns yourselves.
Ege. With duty, and defire, we follow you.

[Exeunt Thef. Hip. Egeus, Dem. and train. Lyf. How now, my love? Why is your cheek fo pale?

How chance the roses there to fade fo faft?

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Her. Belike, for want of rain; which I could well

7 Beteem them from the tempeft of mine eyes. Lyf. Ah me! for aught that I could ever read, Could ever hear by tale or hiftory,

The course of true love never did run fmooth. But, either it was different in blood;

Her. O crofs! too high to be enthrall'd to low ?!


7 Beteem them-] Give them, bestow upon them. The word is ufed by Spenfer. JOHNSON.

"So would I, faid th' enchanter, glad and fain

"Beteem to you his fword, you to defend." Faery Queen. Again, in The Cafe is Altered. How? Afk Dalio and Milo, 1605: "I could beteeme her a better match."

But I rather think that to beteem in this place fignifies (as in the northern counties) to pour out; from tommer, Danish. STEEVENS. 8 The course of true love &c.] This paffage feems to have been imitated by Milton. Paradife Loft, B. 1c.-896. MALONE.

9 Too bigh to be enthrall'd to love.] This reading poffeffes all the editions, but carries no juft meaning in it. Nor was Hermia difpleas'd at being in love; but regrets the inconveniencies that generally attend the paffion: either, the parties are difproportioned, in degree of blood and quality; or unequal, in refpect of years; or brought together by the appointment of friends, and not by their own choice. Thefe are the complaints reprefented by Lyfander; and Hermia, to answer to the first, as fhe has done to the other two, muft neceffarily fay:

O cross!

Lyf. Or elfe mifgraffed, in refpect of years; Her. Ofpight! too old to be engag'd to young! Lyf. Or else it ftood upon the choice of friends: Her. O hell! to chufe love by another's eye! Lyf. Or, if there were a fympathy in choice, War, death, or ficknefs did lay ficge to it; Making it momentary as a found,


Swift as a fhadow, fhort as any dream;
Brief as the lightning in the colly'd night',
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man hath power to fay,-Behold!
The jaws of darknefs do devour it up;

O crofs!-too high to be enthrall'd to low!

So the antithefis is kept up in the terms; and fo fhe is made to condole the difproportion of blood and quality in lovers.


Sir T. H. adheres to the old reading. STEEVENS.


& The old editions read momentany, which is the old and pro per word. The modern editors, momentary. JOHNSON. The first folio has not momentany but momentary. 9 Brief as the lightning in the colly'd night, That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth, Andere a man bath power to fay,Behold! The jaws of darkness do devour it up :)

I be

Though the word pleen be here employed oddly enough, yet lieve it right. Shakspeare, always hurried on by the grandeur and multitude of his ideas, affumes every now and then, an uncommon licence in the ufe of his words. Particularly in complex moral modes it is ufual with him to employ one, only to exprefs a very few ideas of that number of which it is compofed. Thus wanting here to exprefs the ideas-of a fudden, or-in g trice, he ufes the word pleen; which, partially confidered, fignifying a hafty sudden fit, is enough for him, and he never troubles himself about the further or fuller fignification of the word. Here, he ufes the word fpleen for a fudden hafty fit; fo just the contrary, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona, he ufes fudden for Spleneticfadden quips. And it must be owned this fort of converfation adds a force to the diction. WAR BURTON.

Brief as the lightning in the colly'd night,] colly'd, i. e. black, fmutted with coal, a word ftill ufed in the midland counties. So, in Ben Johnson's Poctafter:

"Thou haft not collied thy face enough." STEEVENS.


So quick bright things come to confufion.

Her. If then true lovers have been ever crofs'd,
It stands as an edict in destiny :

Then let us teach our tryal patience,
Because it is a customary cross;

As due to love, as thoughts, and dreams, and fighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's followers.

Lyf. A good perfuafion; therefore, hear me,

'I have a widow aunt, a dowager


great revenue, and fhe hath no child:


From Athens is her house remote feven leagues;
And the refpects me as her only fon.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the fharp Athenian law
Cannot purfue us: If thou lov'ft me then,
Steal forth thy father's houfe to-morrow night;
And, in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do obfervance to a morn of May,
There will I ftay for thee.

Her. My good Lyfander!

I fwear to thee, by Cupid's ftrongst bow 3;


1 I have a widow aunt, &c.] Thefe lines perhaps might more

properly be regulated thus:

I have a widow aunt, a dowager

Of great revenue, and she hath no child,

And he refpects me as her only fon;

Her houfe from Athens is remov'd feven leagues,

There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee,

And to that place JOHNSON.

remote,-] Remote is the reading of both the quartos; the folio has, remov'd. STEEVENS.

From Athens is her house remote feven leagues.] Remov'd, which is the reading of the folio, was, I believe, the author's word.— He ufes it again in Hamlet, for remote:

"He wafts you to a more removed ground." MALONE.
3 Lyf.. If thou lov'ft me then,

Steal forth thy father's boufe, &c.

Her. My good Lyfander!

I fwear to thee by Cupid's frongeft bow,
By, &c. &c.


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