From A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan & Co.
2. amiable, lovely; the word is now applied only to the disposition of persons: coy, stroke softly; ultimately from Lat.
quietus, quiet, still.
3. sleek, smooth, glossy.
4. my gentle joy, you gentle one in whom I take such delight.
7. Mounsieur, so the quartos and folios throughout Bottom's
speeches, — a spelling probably intended to represent his pronunciation, though the Camb. Edd. point out that the word was
generally so spelled. Compare Pistol's French in H. V.
11. red-hipped, Marshall points out that many of the bumble-bees have the lower half of the abdomen bright coloured, and one
of the commonest species (Bombus lapidarius) has the last three
abdominal segments bright red.
13. Do not ... action, don't fatigue yourself too much in doing
15. to have you overflown, that you should be smothered by the
honey flowing out of the honey-bag.
18. neaf, or 'neif,' fist; from "Icel. hnefi, the fist." ... (Skeat,
Ety. Dict.). Cp. ii. H. IV, ii. 4. 200, "I kiss thy neaf," Pistol's
19. leave your courtesy, do not trouble yourself to be so
ceremonious; cp. L. L. L. iv. 2. 147, "Stay not to compliment;
I forgive thy duty."
20. What's your will? What do you desire of me? said as
though he were addressing some great personage.
21. Cavalery, Bottom's version of 'Caballero,' Spanish for
cavalier, chevalier, literally a horseman; cp. M. W. ii. 3. 77,
"Cavaleiro Slender," the Hostess' speech; Cobweb, either a
misprint for "Peaseblossom," or Bottom's forgetfulness, Cobweb
having already been despatched on his mission for the honey-bag.
22. must to, must go to, pay a visit to.
23. marvellous, used adverbially.
23, 4. I am such ... scratch. Bottom compliments himself on
his delicate sensitiveness, as he has before done on his various
accomplishments, and does immediately afterwards on his good
ear for music.
26. I have ... music, Bottom was a weaver, and weavers in
Shakespeare's day were famed for their singing; cp. T. N. ii. 3.
61, "shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch that will draw three
souls out of one weaver?"
26, 7. the tongs, a pair of tongs struck with a key or a piece
of iron, something after the way of the modem 'triangle,' were
used by rustics in place of better music. the bones, flat pieces of
bone held between alternate fingers and clacked together.
29. provender, dry food for beasts, hay, corn; from "F. provende ... Lat. proebenda a payment; in late Lat. a daily allowance of provisions"... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): your, that you and
everybody know so well; see Abb. § 221.
30. a desire to, a longing for: bottle, bundle; O. F. botel, a
diminutive of botte a bundle of hay, etc.
31. fellow, equal.
32. venturous, the exploit of stealing his nuts from a creature
so formidable (to fairies) as a squirrel being a dangerous one.
33. thence is Hanmer's insertion for the sake of the metre; Steevens' remedy of treating hoard as a dissyllable is unsatisfactory as involving an undue emphasis on thee.
35, 6. an exposition of sleep, a disposition to sleep.
38. be all ways away, disperse yourselves in every direction to
your several duties; be, perhaps indicating the instantaneous
movements of fairies.
39. woodbine, the greater convolvulus; cp. above, ii. 1. 251.
40. entwist, wind its tendrils about: female ivy, as needing the masculine support of some stronger tree; generally in poetry
represented as married to the elm. In C. E. ii. 2. 176-8, it is
the vine that is so represented, "Thou art an elm, my husband,
I a vine, Whose weakness married to thy stronger state Makes
me with thy strength to communicate."
41. Enrings, Henley sees here and in fingers an allusion to
the ring of the marriage rite; the barky fingers, the sprays covered
with rough bark; for adjectives formed from substantives by the
suffix -y see Abb. § 450.
46. sweet favours ... fool, sweet-scented flowers to decorate
this odious fool; we still use the word 'wedding-favours' in the
sense of knots of ribbon with which the wedding-guests are
decorated. The second quarto and the three first folios read
'savours,' which some editors adopt.
47. upbraid, reproach; Skeat says that the original sense of
the word was probably to lay hands upon, lay hold of, hence to
attack, lay to one's charge, it being derived from A.S. upp, up,
and bregdan, bredan, to braid, weave, also to lay hold of, pull,
48. rounded, encircled; cp. R. II. iii. 2. 161, "the hollow
crown That rounds the mortal temples of a king."
50. that same dew, the very dew: sometime, once upon a
time; see note on ii. 1. 38.
51. orient, bright; the East being the source of light; applied
to a tear, V. A. 981, "an orient drop."
52. eyes, the centre of a flower was called the 'eye.'
53. that did ... bewail, sc. being used for such a purpose.
54. at my pleasure, as long as I pleased, with no one to stop
55. begg'd my patience, begged me not to be angry with her.
57. straight, immediately: her fairy, her personal attendant.
59, 60. And now I have, and now that I have: I will ... eyes, I
will take off from her eyes this deception which prevents her
from seeing things as they really are.
61. this transformed scalp, this transforming head, this head
with which he has been transformed; scalp is properly the skin
of the head on which the hair grows.
63, 4. That, he ... repair, equivalent to 'That they all awaking
together, may,' etc.; for other, used as a plural, see Abb. § 12;
repair, in this sense from Lat. repatriare, to return to one's
65. accidents, incidents; cp. Temp. v. 1. 305, "the story of
my life And the particular accidents gone by Since I came to this
66. But as ... dream, than as the fancies by which one is
tortured in a dream.
70. Dian's bud, Steevens says this is the bud of the Agnus
Castus or Chaste Tree; and quotes Macer's Herball "The
vertue of this herbe is, that he wyll kepe man and woman
chaste." Halpin, in his explanation of Oberon's vision, sees here
an allusion to Elizabeth's maiden purity; she being symbolized
under the title of Diana.
75. year love, he whom you loved.
77. Silence, possibly a reference to the necessity of silence
while a spell was being allowed to work; cp. Temp, iv. 1. 59,
127, Epilogue, 10.
78. music call, summon your fairies to play to you.
78, 9. and strike ... sense, and overpower, more completely
than ordinary sleep would do, the sense of these five, viz.,
Hermia, Helena, Lysander, Demetrius, Bottom.
80. such as ... sleep! i.e. soft music, which acts as a charm in
Stage Direction. Music, still. According to Dyce, with whom
Delius and Staunton agree, these words mean still or soft music;
and in opposition to Collier, who thinks that the music was to
be heard for a while, and to cease before Puck spoke. Dyce
contends that the music was not intended to begin at all till
Oberon had exclaimed "Sound music," 1. 82. "The stage
direction," he says, "(as is often the case with stage directions
in old plays) was placed thus early to warn the musicians to be
81. with thine ... peep, see things with your own foolish eyes,
as you have been wont to do, and not with the eyes of an ass
with which you have lately seen things.
82. take hands, join hands; Dyce points out that here "some
sort of a pas de deux is danced by the fairy king and queen."
83. rock the ground, "like a cradle" (Wright).
84. are new in amity, are newly made friends again.
86. triumphantly, festively, with all signs of joy and gladness.
87. And bless ... prosperity, and shower our blessings upon it
with the result of its being ever prosperous.
89. with, at the same time with.
91. the ... lark, cp. R. J. iii. 5. 6, "It was the lark, the herald
of the morn."
92. sad, sober; as frequently in Shakespeare.
93. Trip we ... shade, let us lightly follow the darkness of the
night to that part of the globe which it will be shadowing.
95. Swifter, see note on "moon's sphere," ii. 1. 7, above.
100. the forester, the huntsman who was to bring the hounds
for the chase.
101. our ... performed, our rites to the May morning have been
duly observed; cp. above i. 1. 167.
102. vaward, forepart; another spelling of 'vanward' (or 'vanguard'), from O. F. avant before and 'ward' (or 'guard').
For the word used in a figurative sense, cp. ii. H. IV. i. 2. 199,
"and we that are in the vaward of our youth, I must confess, are
103. My love, sc. Hippolyta: music, tuneful voices.
104. Uncouple, let the dogs out of the slips. For the sake of
the metre. Pope omits the words let them, and Dyce follows him.
105. Dispatch, make haste.
106. We will ... up, the verb of motion omitted.
107. the musical confusion, the harmonious blending of the
baying of dogs and the echo of that baying.
110. bay'd the bear, brought the bear to a stand-still; "bay
— F. abois, abbois, Cotgrave says — 'a stag is said rendre les
abbois, when, weary of running, he turns upon the hounds, and
holds them at or puts them to a bay',.. The original sense of aboi
is the bark of a dog," ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.): bear was altered by
Hanmer to 'boar,' but bear-hunting is frequently mentioned in
old English literature, and bear-baiting was a pastime common in
111. hounds of Sparta, the Spartan hounds were from early
days a famous breed.
112. chiding, noise made by the hounds giving tongue; used of
the wind in A. Y. L. ii. 1. 7, of the sea in H. VIII. iii. 2. 197,
of the tempest in T. C. i. 3. 54.
113. fountains has been objected to on the around that water
could not give an echo (though Virgil, quoted by Malone, has the
same thought) and 'mountains' proposed in its place; but
Shakespeare in speaking of the whole landscape is not careful
whether each item in his catalogue of particulars would really
give an echo.
114. seem'd ... cry, seemed all to share and re-echo the cry to
115. So musical a discord, properly so harmonious a want of
harmony; a want of concord which at the same time was so
116. kind, breed.
117. So flew'd, with flews like those of the Spartan breed;
'flews' are the large chaps of a hound: so sanded, of the same
sandy colour, a colour "which is one of the true denotements of
a bloodhound" (Steevens).
118. With oars ... dew, i.e. so long that they almost touch the
119. dew-lapp'd ... bulls, with dewlaps as broad as those of,
etc.; cp. Temp, iii. 3. 45, "Dew-lapped like bulls"; and see note
on ii. 1. 50.
120, 1. match'd ... each. A writer in the Edinburgh Review
for October, 1872, points out that in Shakespeare's day the
greatest attention was paid to the musical quality of the cry of a
pack of hounds; and quotes extracts from a contemporary of
Shakespeare's to show by what admixture of breeds 'sweetnesse
of cry,' 'lowdnesse of cry,' and 'deepnesse of cry,' were severally obtained; for mouth, = voice, cp. H. V. ii. 4. 70, "for
coward dogs Most spend their mouths when what they seem to
threaten Runs far before them."
121. tuneable, tuneful; see Abb. § 3.
122. Was never holla'd to, was never answered by the huntsman encouraging his dogs.
128. wonder of, wonder regarding, i.e. wonder at.
131. in grace of, to grace: solemnity, marriage ceremony.
133. That Hermia ... choice, on which Hermia is bound to tell
us which of her two lovers she accepts; for That, = when, see
Abb. § 284.
136. Saint Valentine is past, on Valentine's day, the fourteenth
of February, birds were supposed to pair for the season.
137. Begin... now? are these wood-birds so late in pledging
their faith? wood-birds, because they had been found in the
wood; the figure being kept up in couple.
138. Pardon, my lord, said as he makes obeisance to Theseus.
139. rival enemies, rivals and so enemies.
140-2. How comes ... enmity? How does such gentle concord
prevail in the world that hatred is so completely a stranger to
suspicion as to sleep side by side with hatred without fearing any
injury? i.e. how is it that you and Demetrius, who are known to
hate each other so bitterly, should be found lying close to one another, each without any fear of injury from the other? for
jealousy, = suspicion, cp. H. V. ii. 2. 126, "O, how hast thou
with jealousy infected The sweetness of affiance!" for so ... that,
see Abb. § 281.
143, 4. I shall ... waking, my answer must be made in a bewildered way as by one half asleep, half waking; there seems to
be a confusion of constructions between 'I shall reply half asleep,
half waking,' and 'my reply shall be half sleep, half waking.'
Delius and Staunton read 'sleep,' i.e. asleep: for shall, = must,
see Abb. § 318.
146. for truly ... speak, for I should wish to speak the truth.
147. so it is, this is the state of matters.
149, 50. Was to be ... law, was to escape from Athens to some
place or other beyond the reach of the Athenian law. If the reading is right, the construction seems to be 'Was to be gone without the peril of the Athenian law by going from Athens where we might.' Fisher's quarto puts a dash after law, to signify that
the speech is incomplete; Hanmer gives "Be without peril
of th' Athenian law"; for without, used locally = outside, see
Abb. § 197.
151. you have enough, enough has been admitted by Lysander
to prove their guilt.
152. I beg the law, i.e. the application of the law; cp. M. V.
iv. 1. 141, "I stand here for law."
154. Thereby ... me, so that they might in that way disappoint
both of us; cp. H. V. iv. 1. 175, "Now, if these men have defeated the law and outrun native punishment"; Sonn, xx. 11,
"Till Nature ... fell a-doting And by addition me of thee defeated."
157. their stealth, their stealing away.
158. Of this ... wood, of this intention of theirs to make for
160. in fancy, out of love for me.
163. Melted, being melted. I have followed Dyce in inserting
melts before snow; other conjectures are, "Melteth as does,"
etc.; "All melted as," etc.
164. gawd, toy, bauble; see above, i. 1. 33.
166-8. And all ... Helena, all the firm loyalty of my heart has
Helena for its mark, she is the sole object of delight to my eye.
170-2. But ... wish it, but, just as one in sickness loathes the
most pleasant food, so did I loathe Helena; yet again, just as
one in health desires pleasant food, so I, having now recovered
my natural taste, desire Helena; But and But, if the reading is
correct, may be used as correlatives = as, so.
175. this discourse, this narrative.
176. overbear, bear down by my command, over-rule.
177. by and by, in a short time; see note on iii. 1. 77.
179. for, since: is something worn, has partly gone by.
181. three and three, each of us three with the object of our
184. These things ... undistinguishable, these matters to which
I attached so much importance, now that I am awake and in my
right mind, seem so trifling as to be scarcely perceptible.
185. turned into clouds, which to the physical eye look no
more substantial than clouds.
186. with parted eye, as one would if one's eyes were not in
focus with each other.
188, 9. And I ... own, and as when a man finds a jewel and
does not know whether he may call it his own, or whether he
will have to give it up to some one claiming it, so I, in finding
Demetrius, feel the same uncertainty as to his really belonging
190. That we are awake? Capell and Lettsom both conjecture
'well' before awake; Malone would insert 'now.'
196. by the way, as we go along.
198. next, sc. cue.
200. God's my life, i.e. by God who is my life, or as God is my
202. past the wit ... was, which it is beyond the wisdom of
man to say what its nature was.
203. go about, endeavour.
205. a patched fool, no better than a fool dressed in motley.
206. offer, attempt.
206-9. The eye ... was. Bottom is clumsily parodying Scripture; see i. Corinthians, ii. 9.
210. of this dream, on the subject of this dream.
212. our is Walker's conjecture for 'a.'
213. gracious, pleasing: her death, if the true reading, can
refer to Thisbe only; Theobald conjectured 'after' for at her,
i.e. after he has slain himself in the character of Pyramus.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1891. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/mids_4_1.html >.