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where the doors of halls and galleries are thrown backward, and seldom or never shut.
391. Through this house give glimmering light,] Milton perhaps had this picture in his thought: "Glowing embers through the room
"Teach light to counterfeit a gloom." Il Penseroso.
So Drayton :
"Hence shadows seeming idle shapes
I think it should be read:
"Through this house in glimmering light.
JOHNSON. 401. Now until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is in the edition of 1623, and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration, that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song ?—I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls his fairies to a song, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismisses his fairies to the dispatch of the ceremonies.
The songs, I suppose, were lost, because they were not inserted in the players' parts, from which the drama was printed. JOHNSON. 412. Nor mark prodigious,] Prodigious has here its primitive signification of portentous. So, in King Richard III.
"If ever he have child, abortive be it,
take his gate;] i. e. take his way, or direct his steps. So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, B. I. c. 8. "And guide his weary gate both to and fro." Again, in a Scottish Proverb:
"A man may speer the gate to Rome."
Again, in the Mercer's Play, among the Chester collection of Whitsun Mysteries :
"Therefore go not through his cuntrey,
"Nor the gate you came to day.”
419. Ever shall it safely rest,] This is an arbitrary deviation (first introduced by Mr. Pope) from the old copies, which read--in safety.
By printing the line thus :
“E'er shall it in safety rest,”
any change becomes unnecessary.
424. [Exeunt King, &c.] Since the former part of this play was printed off, I have been informed that the originals of Shakspere's Oberon and Titania, are to be sought in the ancient French romance of Huon de Bordeaux. STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's informer has left him short of the fact. There is no notice of any MS. of Huon de Bordeaux, prior to the invention of printing; it may be presumed, therefore, to have been but little, if at all, anterior to that æra. The first edition is without date (a small folio); the second in quarto was printed in 1516, Though Oberon plays the most conspicuous part in this romance, he may, nevertheless, be further traced to the Histories of Ogier of Denmark, and Isaiah the sorrowful; the last of which was compiled (probably, for the entertainment of our Henry I. whilst he kept his court in Normandy) between the years 1110 and 1120, by Rusticien de Puisse, from the British chronicles of S. Graal, &c. HENLEY. -unearned luck] i. e. if we have betSTEEVENS. 434. Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,] That is, if
ter fortune than we have deserved.
we be dismissed without hisses.
JOHNSON. So, in J. Markham's English Arcadia, 1607: "But the nymph, after the custom of distrest tragedians, whose first act is entertained with a snaky salutation, &c. STEEVENS.
438. Give me your hands- -] That is, Clap your hands. Give us your applause.
439. [Exit.] Of this play there are two editions in quarto; one printed for Thomas Fisher, the other for James Roberts, both in 1600. I have used the copy of Roberts, very carefully collated, as it seems, with that of Fisher. Neither of the editions approach
to exactness. Fisher is sometimes preferable, but Roberts was followed, though not without some variations, by Heminge and Condel, and they by all the folios that succeeded them.