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Enter LYSANDER and HELENA. Lys. Why should you think, that I should woo
In their nativity all truth appears.
Hel. You do advance your cunning more and
When truth kills truth, O devilish holy fray! These vows are Hermia's; Will you give her o'er ?
Weigh oath with oath, and you will nothing weigh: Your vows, to her and me, put in two scales, Will even weigh; and both as light as tales.
Lys. I had no judgment when to her I swore.
fect divine !
Hel. O spite! O hell! I see you all are bent
14 So in Antony and Cleopatra :
My playfellow, your hand; this kingly seal, And plighter of high hearts.'
you must join, in souls 15, to mock me too?
hearts. You both are rivals, and love Hermia; And now both rivals, to mock Helena : A trim exploit, a manly enterprise, To conjure tears up in a poor maid's eyes, With your
derision! none of noble sort 16 Would so offend a virgin; and extort A poor soul's patience, all to make you sport.
Lys. You are unkind, Demetrius; be not so;
you love Hermia: this, you know, I know:
Hel. Never did mockers waste more idle breath.
Dem. Lysander, keep thy Hermia; I will none: If e'er I lov’d her, all that love is gone. My heart with her but, as guest-wise, sojourn’d; And now to Helen is it home return'd, There to remain. Lys.
Helen, it is not so. Dem. Disparage not the faith thou dost not know, Lest, to thy peril, thou abide it dear 17.Look, where thy love comes; yonder is thy dear.
Enter HERMIA. Her. Dark night, that from the eye his function
takes, The ear more quick of apprehension makes;
15 i. e. join heartily, unite in the same mind.
16 Degree, or quality. 17 Pay dearly for it, rue it. VOL. II.
Wherein it doth impair the seeing sense,
ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound. But why unkindly didst thou leave me so? Lys. Why should he stay, whom love doth press
to go? Her. What love could press Lysander from my side?
Lys. Lysander's love, that would not let him bide. Fair Helena, who more engilds the night Than all yon fiery oes 18 and eyes of light. Why seek'st thou me? could not this make thee
know, The hate I bare thee made me leave thee so.
Her. You speak not as you think; it cannot be.
Hel. Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
18 i. e. circles.
Gregory of Nazianzen's poem on his own life contains some beautiful lines (resembling these) which burst from the heart and speak the pangs of injured and lost friendship. Shakspeare had never read the poems of Gregory; he was ignorant of the Greek language; but his mother tongue, the language of nature, is the same in Cappadocia as in Britain.'— Gibbon's Hist. vol. v. p. 17, 8vo. ed.
20 i, e, ingenious, artful. Artificiose, Lat. 21 i. e, needles.
Both warbling of one song, both in one key;
you rent our ancient love asunder, To join with men in scorning your poor
friend? It is not friendly, 'tis not maidenly: Our sex, as well as I, may
you Though I alone do feel the injury.
Her. I am amazed at your passionate words: I scorn you not; it seems that you scorn me.
Hel. Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn, To follow me, and praise my eyes and face? And made your other love, Demetrius (Who even but now did spurn me with his foot), To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare, Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this To her he hates? and wherefore doth Lysander Deny your love, so rich within his soul, And tender me, forsooth, affection; But by your setting on, by your consent? What though I be not so in grace as you, So hung upon with love, so fortunate; But miserable most, to love unlov’d? This you should pity, rather than despise.
22 Mr. Douce thus explains this passage : Helen says, had two seeming bodies, but only one heart. She then exemplifies the position by a simile-'we had two of the first, i.e. bodies, like the double coats in heraldry that belong to man and wife as one person, but which like our single heart, have but one crest.' Malone explains the heraldic allusion differently, but not so clearly nor satisfactorily.
Her. I understand not what you mean by this.
Hel. Ay, do, perséver, counterfeit sad looks, Make mows
upon me when I turn my back;
have any pity, grace, or manners,
Lys. Stay, gentle Helena; hear my excuse;
Hel. O excellent!
Sweet, do not scorn her so.
treat; Thy threats have no more strength, than her weak
prove him false, that says I love thee not. Dem. I
I love thee more than he can do. Lys. If thou say so, withdraw, and
it too. Dem. Quick, come, Her.
Lysander, whereto tends all this? Lys. Away, you Ethiop! Dem.
No, no, he'll—Sir 25, Seem to break loose; take on, as you would follow; But yet come not: You are a tame man, go!
23 Make mouths. See vol. i. p. 46, note 1. 24 i. e, such a subject of light merriment.
25 This arrangement of the text is Malone's, who thus explains it. The words he'll are not in the folio, and sir is not in the quarto. Demetrius I suppose would say, no, no, he'll not have the resolution to disengage himself from Hermia. But turning to Lysander, he addresses him ironically: Sir, seem to break loose;' &c.