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Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires,
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 shady cloister mew'd,
To live a barren sister all your life,
Chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon.
Thrice blessed they, that master so their blood,
To undergo such maiden pilgrimage:
But earthlier happy is the rose distilld,
Than that, which, withering on the virgin thorn,
Grows, lives, and dies, in single blessedness.

Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Ere I will yield my virgin patent up
Unto his lordship, whose unwished yoke
My soul consents not to give sovereignty.

The. Take time to pause: and, by the next new


(The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship),
Upon that day either prepare to die,
For disobedience to your father's will;
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would :
Or on Diana's altar to protest,
For aye, austerity and single life.
Dem. Relent, sweet Hermia ;-And, Lysander,

Thy crazed title to my certain right.

Lys. You have her father's love, Demetrius; Let me have Hermia's: do

him. Ege. Scornful Lysander ! true, he hath my love, And what is mine my love shall render him ; And she is mine; and all my right of her I do estate unto Demetrius.

you marry

6 Ever.

? Earthlier happy for earthly happier, which Capel proposed to substitute.

Lys. I am, my lord, as well deriy'd as he, As well possess’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 prosecute my right? Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head, Made love to Nedar's daughter, Helena, And won her soul; and she, sweet lady, dotes, Devoutly dotes, dotes in idolatry, Upon this spotted and inconstant man.

The. I must confess, that I have heard so much, And with Demetrius thought to have spoke thereof; But, being over-full of self-affairs, My mind did lose it. But, Demetrius, come; And come, Egeus; you shall go with me, I have some private schooling for you both.For you, fair Hermia, look you arm yourself To fit your fancies to


father's will; Or else the law of Athens yields you up (Which by no means we may extenuate) To death, or to a vow of single life.Come, my Hippolyta; What cheer, my love?Demetrius, and Egeus, go along : I must employ you in some business Against our nuptial; and confer with you Of something nearly that concerns yourselves. Ege. With duty and desire we follow you. [Exeunt THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, EGEUS,

DEMETRIUS, and Train.

8 As spotless is innocent, so spotted is wicked. So in Caven dish's Metrical Visions :

• The spotted queen causer of all this strife.' and again:

Spotted with pride, viciousnes, and cruelty.'

Lys. How now, my love? Why is your cheek

so pale? How chance the roses there do fade so fast?

Her. Belike, for want of rain; which I could well Beteem9 them from the tempest of mine eyes.

Lys. Ah me! for aught that ever I could read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth:
But, either it was different in blood;

Her. O cross! too high to be enthrall’d to low!
Lys. Or else misgraffed, in respect of years;
Her. O spite! too old to be engaged to young!
Lys. Or else it stood upon the choice of friends :
Her. O hell! to choose love by another's eye!

Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choice,
War, death, or sickness did lay siege to it;
Making it momentany 10 as a sound,
Swift as a shadow, short as any

Brief as the lightning in the collied 11 night,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both heaven and earth,
And ere a man


The jaws of darkness do devour it up;
So quick bright things come to confusion.

Her. If then true lovers have been ever cross'd,
It stands as an edíct in destiny:
Then let us teach our trial patience,
Because it is a customary cross ;

9 Bestow, give, afford, or deign to allow. The word is used by Spenser:

• So would I, said the Enchanter, glad and fain

Beteem to you his sword, you to defend.' Thus also in Hamlet, Act i. Sc. 2:

* That he might not beteeme the winds of heaven

Visit her face too roughly.' 10 Momentary

11 Blackened, as with smut, coal, &c.; figuratively, darkened. See Othello, Act ii. Sc. 3.

to say,

As due to love, as thoughts, and dreams, and sighs,
Wishes, and tears, poor fancy's 12 followers.
Lys. A good persuasion; therefore, hear me,

I have a widow aunt, a dowager
Of great revenue, and she hath no child :
From Athens is her house remote seven leagues;
And she respects me as her only son.
There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee;
And to that place the sharp Athenian law
Cannot pursue us: If thou lov'st me then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did meet thee once with Helena,
To do observance to a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee.

My good Lysander ! I swear to thee, by Cupid's strongest bow; By his best arrow with the golden head; By the simplicity of Venus' doves; By that which knitteth souls, and prospers loves; And by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen 13, When the false Trojan under sail was seen; By all the vows that ever men have broke, In number more than ever women spoke; In that same place thou hast appointed me, To-morrow truly will I meet with thee. Lys. Keep promise, love: Look, here comes, Helena.

Enter HELENA. Her. God speed fair Helena! Whither away? Hel. Call you me fair? that fair again unsay. 12 Funcy is love. So afterwards in this play:

• Fair Helena in fancy following me.' And again in the celebrated passage applied to Q. Elizabeth :

• In maiden meditation fancy-free.' 13 Shakspeare forgot that Theseus performed his exploits before the Trojan war, and consequently long before the death of Dido.

Demetrius loves your fair 14: O happy fair !
Your eyes are lode-stars 15; and your tongue's

sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching; 0, were favour 16 so!
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I

go; My ear should catch your voice, my eye your eye, My tongue should catch your tongue's sweet me

Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
The rest I'll give to be to you translated 17,
0, teach me how you look; and with what art
You sway the motion of Demetrius' heart.

Her. I frown upon him, yet he loves me still.
Hel. O, that your frowns would teach my

smiles such skill ! Her. I give him curses, yet he gives me love. Hel. O, that my prayers could such affection

move! Her. The more I hate, the more he follows me. Hel. The more I love, the more he hateth me. Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine. Hel. None, but your beauty; 'Would that fault

were mine! Her. Take comfort; he no more shall see my


Lysander and myself will fly this place.-
Before the time I did Lysander see,
Seem'd Athens as a paradise to me:

14 Fair for fairness, beauty. Very common in writers of Shakspeare's age.

15 The lode-star is the leading or guiding star, that is the polar star. The magnet is for the same reason called the lodestone. The reader will remember Milton's beauty :

• The cynosure of neighb’ring eyes. 16 Countenance, feature. 17 i. e. changed, transformed.

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