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Take our good meaning; for our judgment sits
Rom. And we mean well, in going to this mask;
Why, may one ask? .
And so did I.
That dreamers often lie. Rom. In bed, asleep, while they do dream things
5 She is the fairies' midwife ;] I apprehend, and with no violence of interpretation, that by the fairies' midwife," the poet means, the midwife among the fairies, because it was her peculiar employment to steal the new-born babe in the night, and to leave another in its place. The poet here uses her general appellation, and character, which yet has so far a proper reference to the present train of fiction, as that her illusions were practised on persons in bed or asleep; for she not only haunted women in childbed, but was likewise the incubus or night-mare. Shakspeare, by employ, ing her here, alludes at large to her midnight pranks performed on sleepers: but denominates her from the most notorious one, of her personating the drowsy midwife, who was insensibly carried away into some distant water, and substituting a new birth in the bed or cradle. It would clear the appellation to read the
fairy midwife. The poet avails himself of Mab's appropriate province, þy giving her this nocturnal agency. T. WARTÓN.
of little atomies - ] An obsolete substitute for atoms.
Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
? And then dreams he of smelling out a suit, &c.] In our author's time, a court solicitation was called, simply, a suit, and a process, a suit at law, to distinguish it from the other.
- Spanish blades,] A sword is called a toledo, from the excellence of the Toletan steel. 9 And bakes the elf-locks, &c.] This was a common supersti
and seems to have had its rise from the horrid disease called the Plica Polonica.
That presses them, and learns them first to bear,
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace;
True, I talk of dreams; Which are the children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy ; Which is as thin of substance as the air ; And more inconstant than the wind, who wooes Even now the frozen bosom of the north, And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence, Turning his face to the dew-dropping south. Ben. This wind, you talk of, blows us from our
selves; Supper is done, and we shall come too late.
Rom. I fear, too early : for my mind misgives, Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, Shall bitterly begin his fearful date With this night's revels; and expire the term Of a despised life, clos'd in my breast, By some vile forfeit of untimely death : But He, that hath the steerage of my course, Direct my sail !-On, lusty gentlemen. Ben. Strike, drum.
A Hall in Capulet's House,
Musicians waiting. Enter Servants. 1 Seru. Where's Potpan, that he helps not to take away? he shift a trencher! he scrape a trencher!
2 Serv. When good manners shall lie all in one or two men's hands, and they unwashed too, 'tis a foul thing
1 Serv. Away with the joint-stools, remove the court-cupboard, look to the plate :-good thou, save me a piece of marchpane ;2 and, as thou lovest me, let the porter let in Susan Grindstone, and Nell.–Antony! and Potpan!
2 Serv. Ay, boy; ready,
i Sero. You are looked for, and called for, asked for, and sought for, in the great chamber.
2 Serv. We cannot be here and there too. Cheerly, boys; be brisk a while, and the longer liver take all.
[They retire behind. Enter CAPULET, &c. with the Guests, and the
Maskers. Cap. Gentlemen, welcome! ladies, that have
their toes Unplagu'd with corns, will have a bout with you:Ah ha, my mistresses! which of you all Will now deny to dance ? she that makes dainty,
she, I'll swear, hath corns; Am I come near you now? You are welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the
day, That I have worn a visor; and could tell A whispering tale in a fair lady's ear, Such as would please ;—'tis gone, 'tis gone, 'tis
You are welcome, gentlemen!-Come, musicians,
play. i-court-cupboard,] The court-cupboard perhaps served the purpose of what we call at present the side-board. The use which now is made of those cupboards is to display at publick festivals the flaggons, cans, cups, beakers, and other antique silver vessels of the company, some of which, (with the names of the donors inscribed on them are remarkably large.
save me a piece of marchpane ;] Marchpanes were composed of filberts, almonds, pistachoes, pine-kernels, and sugar of roses, with a small proportion of flour.
A hall! a hall!' give room, and foot it, girls.
[Musick plays, and they dance. More light, ye knaves ; and turn the tables up, And quench the fire, the room is grown too hot. Ah, sirrah, this unlook’d-for sport comes well. Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet ; For you and I are past our dancing days: How long is't now, since last yourself and I Were in a mask?
2 Сар. By’r lady, thirty years. i Cap. What, man! 'tis not so much, 'tis not so
much : "Tis since the nuptial of Lucentio, Come pentecost as quickly as it will, Some five and twenty years; and then we mask'd.
2 Cap. 'Tis more, 'tis more: his son is elder, sir; His son is thirty. i Cap.
tell me that? His son was but a ward two years ago. Rom. What lady's that, which doth enrich the
hand Of yonder knight?
Sero. I know not, sir.
3 A hall! a hal!] An exclamation signifying make room.
turn the tables up,] Before this phrase is generally intelligible, it should be observed that ancient tables were flat leaves, joined by hinges, and placed on tressels. When they were to be removed; they were therefore turned up.