Sidor som bilder

the night-time, carrying in their hands tapers of wax, which they dropped on the horses' manes, thereby plaiting them in inextricable knots, to the great annoyance of the poor animals and vexation. of their masters. These hags are mentioned in the works of William of Auvergne, bishop of Paris in the 13th century. There is a very uncommon old print by Hans Burgmair relating to this subject. A witch enters the stable with a lighted torch; and previously to the operation of entangling the horse's mane, practises her enchantments on the groom, who is lying asleep on his back, and apparently influenced by the nightmare. The Belemnites, or elf-stones, were regarded as charms against the last-mentioned disease and against evil spirits of all kinds; but the cerauniæ or batuli, and all perforated flintstones, were not only used for the same purpose, but more particularly for the protection of horses and other cattle, by suspending them in stables, or tying them round the necks of the animals. The next line,

"And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,"

seems to be unconnected with the preceding, and to mark a superstition which, as Dr. Warburton has observed, may have originated from the plica

Polonica, which was supposed to be the operation of wicked elves; whence the clotted hair was called elf-locks and elf-knots. Thus Edgar talks of "elfing all his hair in knots." Lodge, in his Wit's miserie, 1599, 4to, describing a devil whom he names Brawling-contention, says; "his ordinary apparell is a little low-crown'd hat with a fether in it like a forehorse; his haires are curld, and full of elves locks and nitty for want of kembing."


Scene 2. Page 398.

ROM. It is the East, and Juliet is the sun.

This line in particular, and perhaps the whole of the scene, has been imitated by the ingenious author of the Latin comedy of Labyrinthus. In Act iii. Sc. 4, two lovers meet at night, and the Romeo of the piece says to his mistress, "Quid mihi noctem commemoras, mea salus? Splendens nunc subitò illuxit dies, ubi tu primum, mea lux, oculorum radiis hasce dispulisti tenebras." This excellent play was acted before King James I. at Cambridge, and for bustle and contrivance has perhaps never been exceeded.

Sc. 2. p. 398.

JUL. Thou art thyself though, not a Montagu.

Dr. Johnson would have substituted then for though; but without necessity, because in that, sense the latter word was anciently written tho : unskilful printers, deceived by sound, substituted though; whence the ambiguity has arisen. Thus Chaucer in his Canterbury tales, v. 2214,

"Yet sang the larke, and Palamon right tho
With holy herte and with a high corage

He rose."

And again, v. 2392,

"For thilk sorrow that was tho in thyn herte."

Thus much in explanation of though, if put here for then, which is by no means clear. Mr. Malone's quotations on the other side of the question carry great weight with them.

Sc. 2. p. 400.

ROM. When he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds
And sails upon the bosom of the air.

On this occasion Shakspeare recollected the 104th psalm, "Who maketh the clouds his

charet, who walketh upon the wings of the winde."

[blocks in formation]

This Shakspeare found in Ovid's Art of love; perhaps in Marlow's translation; book I.

"For Jove himself sits in the azure skies,
And laughs below at lovers perjuries."

With the following beautiful antithesis to the above lines, every reader of taste will be gratified. It is given memoriter from some old play, the name of which is forgotten;

"When lovers swear true faith, the list'ning angels
Stand on the golden battlements of heaven,

And waft their vows to the eternal throne."

Sc. 2. p. 410.

ROM. How silver-sweet sound lovers tongues by night.

In Pericles, Act v., we have silver-voic'd. Perhaps these epithets have been formed from the common notion that silver mixed with bells softens and improves their tone. We say likewise that a person is silver-tongued.

Sc. 3. p. 414.

FRI. O mickle is the powerful grace, that lies

In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities;
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live,
But to the earth some special good doth give;
Nor aught so good, but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.

Thus all the copies. But in Swan's Speculum mundi, the first edition of which was published in 1635, they are quoted with the following variations;

"O mickle is the powerful good that lies

In herbs, trees, stones, and their true qualities;
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live,
But to the earth some secret good doth give.
And nought so rich on either rock or shelf;
But, if unknown, lies uselesse to itself."

Sc. 4. p. 427.

MER. for this driveling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble

in a hole.

When the physical conformation of idiots is considered, the latent but obscene allusion which this speech conveys will be instantly perceived.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »