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ACT I. SCENE I.
Athens. A Room in the Palace of THESEUS.
Enter THESEUS, HIPPOLYTA, PHILOSTRATE, and Attend
The. Now, fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
1 Four Nights will quickly dream away the time ;] The 4to, by Roberts, has daies instead of " nights :" the 4to. by Fisher, and the folio, give it correctly.
? Now bent in heaven,] The old copies, 4to, and folio, are uniform in this reading: Rowe changed "now" to neu, but surely without necessity. The meaning of Hippolyta is, that “then the moon, which is now bent in heaven like a silver bow, shall behold the night of our solemnities.” Astronomically the alteration does not seem called for ; because, elsewhere in this act, we find that the nights were moonlight at the time when Hippolyta is speaking. In this restoration I am glad to fortify myself by the opinion of Mr. Amyot.
Turn melancholy forth to funerals,
Enter Egeus, with his daughter HERMIA, LYSANDER, and
DEMETRIUS. Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke! The. Thanks, good Egeus : what's the news with
thee? Ege. Full of vexation come I; with complaint Against my child, my daughter Hermia. Stand forth, Demetrius.—My noble lord, This man hath my consent to marry her.Stand forth, Lysander ;—and, my gracious duke, This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child : Thou, thou, Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes, And interchang'd love-tokens with my child : Thou hast by moon-light at her window sung, With feigning voice, verses of feigning love; And stoln the impression of her fantasy With bracelets of thy hair, rings, gawds, conceits, Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweet-meats (messengers Of strong prevailment in unharden'd youth,) With cunning hast thou filch'd my daughter's heart ; Turn'd her obedience, which is due to me, To stubborn harshness.-And, my gracious duke, Be it so, she will not here, before your grace, Consent to marry with Demetrius,
3 Stand forth, Demetrius.-) It ought to be mentioned, that in all the old editions, “ Stand forth, Demetrius," and afterwards, “ Stand forth, Lysander," are printed as stage directions, and not as part of the text, to which they appear to belong, because they form portions of the lines completed in one case by the words, “my noble lord,” and in the other by the words, "and my gracious duke.” Egeus wished them to show themselves separately for greater distinctness.
I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,
The. What say you, Hermia? be advis’d, fair maid. To
you your father should be as a god;
Her. So is Lysander.
In himself he is;
Her. I would, my father look'd but with my eyes !
know The worst that may befal me in this case, If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
The. Either to die the death, or to abjure
But earthly happier is the rose distill’d`,
Her. So will I grow, so live, so die, my lord,
Dem. Relent, sweet Hermia ;-and, Lysander, yield Thy crazed title to my certain right.
Lys. You have her father's love, Demetrius;
Ege. Scornful Lysander! true, he hath my love,
Lys. I am, my lord, as well deriv'd as he,
* But Earthly HAPPIER is the rose distill’d,] The old editions read, carthlier happy; but there can be little doubt that the printer mistook, and made the wrong word in the comparative degree. The change which the sense seems to require was recommended by Capell.
Cnto his lordship, to whose unwish'd yoke] The second folio gives the line as in the text. The sense is incomplete without “to,” which is not found in anterior editions, but had probably dropped out : “ to whose unwish’d yoke” is a very slight, but still important change.
Demetrius, I'll avouch it to his head,
The. I must confess, that I have heard so much,
[Exeunt Thes. HiP. EGE. DEM, and train. 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
Lys. Ah me! for aught that I could ever read?,
6 BETEEM them -) To beteem in its common acceptation is to bestor, but Steevens suggests that it here means pour out.
? Ah me! for aught that I could ever read,] The folio of 1623 omits “ Ah me,” and places the adverb “ever,” before “I could," instead of after it; thus abandoning the 4to. by Roberts, and spoiling one of the most beautiful lines of a most beautiful passage.