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As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs; which, falling in the land,
Have every pelting river made so proud,
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat; and the green corn
Hath rotted, ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drowned field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock;
The nine men's morris is filled up with mud;
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,
For lack of tread, are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here; 3
No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound;
And through this distemperature, we see
The seasons alter. Hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose;
And on old Hyems' chin, and icy crown,
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn,* angry winter, change
Their wonted liveries; and the 'mazed world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which:
And this same progeny of evils comes

From our debate, from our dissension.

We are their parents and original.

Obe. Do you amend it, then; it lies in you.
Why should Titania cross her Oberon?
I do but beg a little changeling boy,
To be my henchman.5

1 i. e. paltry. The folio reads petty.

2 A rural game, played by making holes in the ground in the angles and sides of a square, and placing stones or other things upon them, according to certain rules. These figures are called nine men's morris, or merrils, because each party playing has nine men: they were generally cut upon turf, and were, consequently, choked up with mud in rainy seasons. 3 Theobald proposed to read "their winter cheer."

4 Autumn producing flowers unseasonably upon those of summer. 5 Page of honor.

Set your heart at rest,
The fairy land buys not the child of me.
His mother was a vot'ress of my order;
And, in the spiced Indian air, by night,
Full often hath she gossiped by my side,
And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood;
When we have laughed to see the sails conceive,
And grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind;
Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait
Following, (her womb then rich with my young squire,)
Would imitate; and sail upon the land,

To fetch me trifles, and return again,
As from a voyage, rich with merchandise.
But she, being mortal, of that boy did die;
And, for her sake, I do rear up her boy;
And, for her sake, I will not part with him.


Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay? Tita. Perchance, till after Theseus' wedding-day. you will patiently dance in our round,

And see our moon-light revels, go with us;

If not, shun me, and I will spare your haunts.
Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tita. Not for thy fairy-kingdom.-Fairies, away.
We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.

[Exeunt TITANIA and her Train. Obe. Well, go thy way. Thou shalt not from this


Till I torment thee for this injury.

My gentle Puck, come hither. Thou remember'st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,

And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back,
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song;

And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's music.


I remember.

Obe. That very time I saw, (but thou could'st not,) Flying between the cold moon and the earth,

Cupid all armed. A certain aim he took

At a fair vestal,' throned by the west;

And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon;
And the imperial vot'ress passed on,

In maiden meditation, fancy-free.

Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon a little western flower,-

Before, milk-white; now purple with love's wound,
And maidens call it love-in-idleness.3

Fetch me that flower; the herb I showed thee once;
The juice of it, on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb; and be thou here again,
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

Puck. I'll put a girdle round about the earth
In forty minutes.

Having once this juice,
I'll watch Titania when she is asleep,

And drop the liquor of it in her eyes.

[Exit PUCK.

The next thing then she waking looks upon.
(Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,
On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,)
She shall pursue it with the soul of love.
And ere I take this charm off from her sight,
(As I can take it with another herb,)
I'll make her render up her page to me.
But who comes here? I am invisible;
And I will overhear their conference.

1 It is well known that a compliment to Queen Elizabeth was intended in this very beautiful passage. Warburton has attempted to show, that by the mermaid, in the preceding lines, Mary Queen of Scots was intended. It is argued with his usual fanciful ingenuity, but will not bear the test of examination, and has been satisfactorily controverted. It appears to have been no uncommon practice to introduce a compliment to Elizabeth in the body of a play.

2 Exempt from the power of love.

3 The tricolored violet, commonly called pansies, or hearts' ease, is here meant; one or two of its petals are of a purple color. It has other fanciful and expressive names.

Enter DEMETRIUS, HELENA following him.

Dem. I love thee not, therefore pursue me not. Where is Lysander, and fair Hermia?

The one I'll slay, the other slayeth me.

Thou told'st me, they were stolen into this wood,
And here am I, and wood' within this wood,
Because I cannot meet with Hermia.

Hence, get thee gone, and follow me no more.
Hel. You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant;
But yet you draw not iron, for my heart

Is true as steel. Leave you your power to draw,
And I shall have no power to follow you.

Dem. Do I entice you? Do I speak you fair?
Or rather, do I not in plainest truth

Tell you-I do not, nor I cannot love you?

Hel. And even for that do I love you the more.

I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,

The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.

Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me,
Neglect me, lose me; only give me leave,

Unworthy as I am, to follow you.

What worser place can I beg in your love,

(And yet a place of high respect with me,) Than to be used as you do your dog?

Dem. Tempt not too much the hatred of my spirit;

For I am sick when I do look on thee.

Hel. And I am sick when I look not on you.
Dem. You do impeach3 your modesty too much
To leave the city, and commit yourself

Into the hands of one that loves you not;
To trust the opportunity of night,

1 Mad, raving. Wud is the synonymous Scotch term.

2 "There is now a dayes a kind of adamant which draweth unto it fleshe, and the same so strongly, that it hath power to knit and tie together two mouthes of contrary persons, and draw the heart of a man out of his bodie without offending any part of him." Certaine Secrete Wonders of Nature, by Edward Fenton, 1569.

3 i. e. bring it into question.

And the ill counsel of a desert place,
With the rich worth of your virginity

Hel. Your virtue is my privilege for that.
It is not night when I do see your face;
Therefore I think I am not in the night:
Nor doth this wood lack worlds of company;
For you, in my respect, are all the world.
Then how can it be said, I am alone,
When all the world is here to look on me?

Dem. I'll run from thee, and hide me in the brakes,

And leave thee to the mercy of wild beasts.

Hel. The wildest hath not such a heart as you.
Run when you will, the story shall be changed;
Apollo flies, and Daphne holds the chase.
The dove pursues the griffin; the mild hind
Makes speed to catch the tiger. Bootless speed!
When cowardice pursues, and valor flies.

Dem. I will not stay thy questions. Let me go; Or, if thou follow me, do not believe

But I shall do thee mischief in the wood.

Hel. Ay, in the temple, in the town, the field,
You do me mischief. Fie, Demetrius!
Your wrongs do set a scandal on my sex.
We cannot fight for love, as men may do;

We should be wooed, and were not made to woo.
I'll follow thee, and make a heaven of hell,

To die upon the hand I love so well.

[Exeunt DEM. and HEL. Obe. Fare thee well, nymph. Ere he do leave this


Thou shalt fly him, and he shall seek thy love.

Re-enter PUCK.

Hast thou the flower there? Welcome, wanderer.
Puck. Ay, there it is.


I pray thee, give it me. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows, Where ox-lips' and the nodding violet


1 The greater cowslip.

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