A Midsummer Night's Dream arrow Created with Sketch. Appendix

Irregular, Doubtful, and Emended Accidentals in Q1

The following emendations made in the Variorum text correct obvious typographical irregularities in Q1. Mistakes that produce English words are not recorded here, but they are in the historical collation. In each note the lemma is the emended Variorum reading, and the first siglum is that of the source if any from which the emendation is drawn, followed by the rejected Q1 reading.

10 Hip.] not indented Q1
15, 27, 62, 120 The.] the. Q1
61, 179, 192 Her.] her. Q1
66 looke.] Q2;  ~ , Q1
88 Her.] Q2;  ~ , Q1
162 patience] Q2; patienee Q1
269 Quin.] Q2; Qnin. Q1
275 Bott.] not indented Q1
279 Quin.] Quin, (catchword) Q1
307 Flu.] Q2; Fla. Q1
310 cõming.] F1
; cõ- | (ming. (turnover) Q1
319–20 Two lines F1; one line Qq
337 Quin.] Not indented Q1
361 you,]  ~ ‸ (catchword) Q1
363 Moone-light] F1; Moone-| light Qq
372 Enter] ¶ Enter Q1
379 the greene.] the | (greene. (turnunder) Q1
414 of the night.] of | (the night. (turnunder) Q1
529 certaine] Q2; cettaine Q1
552 Pu.] Not indented Q1
690 comfort] Q2; comfor Q1
714 faire prayer] Q2
(faire praier)
; faireprayer Q1
804 thought] Q2
; thoughr Q1
820 Quin.] rowe1; Qnin. Q1; Peter. Q2-F4
845 Sno.] Not indented Q1
863 Bot.] catchword Q1; Bo. (full line) Q1
885 your] Q2; yonr Q1
889, 1456 Ro.] Not indented Q1
922 through bryer:] through | (bryer: (turnunder) Q1
936 trãslated. Exit.] trãslated. | (Exit. (turnover) Q1
1072 mee to.] mee | (to. (turnover) Q1
1190 Hermias] hermias Q1
1266 sweete] Q2; sweeete Q1
1279 Helen] helen Q1
1305 Hermia] hermia Q1
1312 Therefore] Q2; Thefore Q1
1314 Helena] helena Q1
1359 Hel.] Hel. Q1
1362 but] Q2; hut Q1
1368 Deme.] Q2
;  ~ , Q1
1389 should] Q2; shoud Q1
1391 farre blamelesse] Q2; farr eblamelesse Q1
1435 notwithstanding] Q2; notwistanding Q1
[see Press Variants]
1451 for] Q2; [long s]or Q1
1472 shalt] Q2; shat Q1
1523 much] Q2; mueh Q1
1548 Squirils hoord,] Squirils | (hoord, (turnover) Q1
1557 Enrings] Q2; Enríngs Q1
1567 of fresh] Q2; offresh Q1
1594, 1617 Tita.] tita. Q1
1599 Ti.] not indented Q1
1601–2 eyes peepe.] eyes | (peepe. (turnover) Q1
1624, 1666 The.] the. Q1
1633 Hercules] hercules Q1
1659–60 their hornes.] their | (hornes. (turnover) Q1
1670 enmitie.] Q2;  ~ , Q1
1688 Helena] Helena Q1
1696 Helena] helena Q1
1717 found] Q2; fonnd Q1
1749 of doubt] Q2; ofd o ubt Q1
1773 Quin.] Q2; Quin, Q1
1793 Hip.] hip. Q1
1814 Hyp.] hyp. Q1
1827 wee haue,] wee | (haue, (turnover) Q1
1846 Thracian] thracian Q1
1850 Of learning] Q2; Oflearning Q1
1854, 2067, 2106, 2113 Thisby] thisby Q1
1929 Thisby] Q2; Thsby Q1
1939, 1996, 2130 Thysby] thysby Q1
1994 haire] Q2; hayire Q1
1998 Py.] py. Q1
2001 Pyra.] pyra. Q1
2003, 2005 Pyr.] pyr. Q1
2007 Thy.] thy. Q1
2063 Th.] not indented Q1
2051–2 woulde change.] woulde | (change. (turnover) Q1
2064 Lyon.] Q2; Lyon, Q1
2112 Pyramus] pyramus Q1
2180 Tita.] tita. Q1

Unadopted Conjectures

9 withering out] lithering out [= lingering or lingeringly] becket (1815, 1:265); widowing out gould (1881, p. 12); widowing on gould (1884, p. 15)
13 night] height daniel (1870, p. 30)
16 merriments] merriment furness (v1895)
31–4 Two lines ending consent . . . Duke mtby3
36 Thou, thou] Thou gould (1884, p. 15)
46 harshnesse] testiness kellner (1931, p. 14)
53 Immediatly] Immutably kellner (1925, p. 105)
59 leaue] lave [= embellish, beautify] becket (1815, 1:265)
85 earthlyer happy] earthly happy steevens in v1803; eathlier or rathelier happy marsh (1878, p. 243)
85 distild] distol’d [= live together in pairs] gould (1884, p. 56)
97 After 99 wagner & proescholdt (ed. 1881)
101 crazed] razed wilson (1873, p. 242)
103 Hermias] Hermia mtby2
(withdrawn mtby4)
, tyrwhitt (1766, p. 50)
116 Nedars] Nestor’s walker (1860, 2:30); Medon’s kellner (1931, p. 14)
119 Vpon . . . spotted] ’Pon . . . apostate wilson (1873, p. 243)
127 fancies] fancie mtby2, keightley (1867, p. 130)
140 which I could] Yet could I becket (1815, 1:265)
141 Beteeme] Bestream or Bestow wilson (1873, p. 244)
146 crosse! too high to be inthrald to loue] cross, to be enthrall’d! too high, too low becket (1815, 1:265–6)
149 friends] others mcol1
(and withdrawn)
154 a shadowe] an arrow gould (1887, p. 68)
156 spleene] sheen [= brightness, lustre] mhan1; shene [= shining] becket (1815, 1:266)
160 then] that mtby3
161 It stands] If’t stand rann
180–1 bowe . . . heade] craft . . . shaft kalepky (1928, p. 242)
192 God speede] Speed you mgrin
195 lodestarres] lode-stones kellner (1925, p. 36)
199 Your . . . Hermia,] ( ~  . . .  ~ ,) knt1
199 words I] worth I’d mtby2, wagner & proescholdt (ed. 1881)
200 eare . . . voice] fair . . . fair deighton (ed. 1891)
201 tongue] voice cartwright (1866, p. 10)
212 hateth me] follows thee mgrin
214 Hel. . . . would . . . mine] Her. Would . . . Thine! mgrin
217 Lisander] Demetrius clarkes (ed. 1864)
228 Vpon faint] ’Pon sam(i)t [= samite] kellner (1931, p. 14)
231 eyes] feet mtby2
232 strange companions] stranger companions mcal
232 companions] societies mtby2
246 vile] wild wilson (1873, p. 220)
246 quantitie] quality johnson in v1773
278 a] Om. warner in v1778
297 teare a Cat in] tear: à catin [French: like a very drab] becket (1815, 1:267); tear-coat in wh1
298 raging] ragged mtby4, white (1793, in fennell, 1853, p. 30), furness (v1895)
298 in] in and keightley (1867, p. 131)
341 you should] we should mtby3; I should mtby4
345 doue] doe bailey (1866, 2:198–9)
368 obscenely] obscurely grey (1754, 1:47 and withdrawn)
371 cut] break or not mhan1
375–6 Robin. . . . Fa.] Fairy. . . . Puck jourdain (MS c. 1860)
375 How] Why how mcap3
378 moons] Mooned mtheo1
379 And] Fairy. And jourdain (MS c. 1860)
379 orbs] herbs grey (1754, 1:48); cups wilson (1873, p. 246)
384 heere] clear daniel (1870, p. 31)
399 or] in moberly (ed. 1881)
400 square] jar or sparre peck (1740, pp. 223–4); squall anon. in peck (1740, p. 223); quarrel wilson (1873, p. 246)
413 Thou] Indeed, thou schmidt (1881, p. 3); Spirit, thou ard1
413 aright] all aright mtheo1 and wagner & proescholdt (ed. 1881)
420 bob] bab gould (1884, p. 15)
422 aunt] aunct [abbreviation of auncient] becket (1815, 1:268)
425 tailour cryes] Tail over eyes or O Lord, cryes mtby2
(and withdrawn)
; murder cries mtby4
425 tailour] tail-sore anon. in capn; tailloir [= the square stone of the capital of a pillar] becket (1815, 1:268–9); tail her bell (1852–64, 3:194); tail o’er carruthers & chambers (1861, 3:80); traitor perring (1885, pp. 67–72); faitor [= traitor] deighton (ed. 1906, p. 90); tale o’er perring in wright shakespeariana; tailer furness (v1895); hallo! kellner (1931, p. 14)
429 roome Faery] Fairy, roome, for seymour (1805, 1:43); roomer Fairy nicholson (1864, p. 49); room, fair fairy mtby4, ard1; give room or room ho oxf2
436 skippe] keep harness in col1; trip dyce1
457 the middle] this muddy wilson (1873, p. 247)
457 spring] prime wilson (1873, p. 247)
460 in] upon lettsom in dyce2
466 pelting] petling jackson (1819, p. 11)
472 murrion] murrian’d mtby3; murrain’d chedworth (1805, p. 68)
473 Morris] MORTICE anon. in johnson (ed. 1771, addenda 1:12)
475 lacke] want kinnear (1883, p. 86)
476–7 The . . . blest] reline as 484–5 elze (1867, p. 537); reline as 490–1 moberly (ed. 1881)
476 want] wants wood (ed. 1806); chant wh1 (Suppl., 1:xliii, and withdrawn); have keightley (1867, p. 132); wail kinnear (1883, p. 86)
476 winter heere] wonted cheer mtby2; wonted year john1; winter’s chear hutchesson in cam2
476 winter] Winters warburton in theo1; summer keightley (1867, p. 131)
476 heere.] Here. [from HERR . . . HEER . . . a Lord, or Master] anon. (Caribbeana, 1741, 2:75); heer. [= hard, rigorous] becket (1815, 1:270); gere. brae in cam1; hire. wilson (1873, p. 247); hoar. herr (1879, p. 91); clear edgecombe (2000–1, p. 6)
484 Hyems] Adam’s herr (1879, p.93)
484 chinne] chill theobald in mtby2 and mtheo2 (20 May 1729 [fol. 132v]), and grey (1754, 1:49)
484 chinne and Icy] icy cime, a [Cime is . . . French for top] becket (1815, 1:270–1)
487 childing] chilling or churlish herr (1879, pp. 92–3)
489 increase] inverse mhan2
503 embarked traders] traders embarked sprague (ed. 1896)
507 Following (her] Flowing (her mjenn; Fellowing (her mtol; Her fellowing becket (1815, 1:271–2); having her cartwright (1866, p. 10)
510 rich with] with rich mcol1
525 once I] I once mcol1
544 purple] purpled mtby4
557 then] whom kellner (1931, p. 6)
575 draw not Iron. For] draw no truer; for wilson (1873, p. 248); draw, not I run anon. in wilson (1873, p. 248);  ~  ~  ~ ‸ for gould (1887, p. 57)
585 loose] loathe anon. in hal; tose [= teaze, torment] kellner (1931, p. 14)
629 mee] here mtheo1
632 Quite ouercanopi’d] White clover canopied bulloch (1878, pp. 59–60)
635 these] those cartwright (1866, p. 10), wells & taylor (1987, p. 281)
637–8 intervening line lost: Upon her will I steal there as she lies keightley (1867, p. 132)
638 And] Now lettsom in dyce2
648 Cocke crowe] Cock-crow tannenbaum (1933, p. 113)
652 for] in mtby2, heath (1765, p. 51); e’er mtby3, hud2; fly kinnear (1883, p. 88)
652 minute] Minuit warb
666–7 intervening line lost gould (1887, p. 68)
678 Sentinel screams and goes to inform the other fairies parsons (1953, p. 67)
704 For lying so, Hermia] For, Hermia, lying so schmidt (1881, p. 4)
709 humane] common wilson (1873, p. 249)
717 prest] blest mgrin
726 Despised] Who despis’d mgrin
728 and dirty] bedewed gentleman (ed. 1774)
731 Churle, vpon . . . eyes] Upon . . . maiden eyes gentleman (ed. 1774)
734 Sleepe] Keep daniel (1870, p. 32)
734 thy] thine mgrin
759 Helena] Helen walker (1860, 1:230)
759 shewes] owes (owns) the moberly (ed. 1881)
768 Helena] Helen, now, seymour (1805, 1:46); now Helena mgrin; but Helen now walker (1860, 1:230)
773 ripe] rip’d mtby2 and schmidt (1881, p. 8)
777 Loues stories] Love-stories walker (1860, 1:255)
805 And] Yet thiselton (1903, p. 38)
811 Either] Or mgrin
821 things] three things walker (1860, 2:256)
825 feare] feat becket (1815, 1:272)
829 seeme] serve gould (1884, p. 57)
830 swords] sword mcol1
836–7 eight & eight] eighty-eight anon. in hal
839 I feare] I [= Ay], I fear furness (v1895)
848 necke] maske gould (1887, p. 57)
855 them] ’em anon. in cam2; hem thiselton (1903, p. 40)
867–8 great chamber window] great-chamber anon. in cam1
867 leaue] set rid
895 odious ‸] odours, or odorous ‸ col2
897 sauours sweete] savour’s vile schmidt (1881, p. 4)
898–9 intervening two lines missing mal
898 hath] not schmidt (1881, p. 4)
899 but heere a while] a while but here jackson (1819, pp. 13–4)
907 triumphant] a pungent mtby2
908 brisky] frisky clayton (1979, p. 14)
908 Iuuenall] Jew, venal bluestone (1953, p. 326)
908 Jew] jew’ [an abbreviation of jewel] becket (1815, 1:272); Joy thiselton (1904, p. 16); Juv [abbreviation of Latin iuvenum] taylor (1990, p. 61)
917 faire,] so, fair keightley (1867, p. 133); fairer schmidt (1881, p. 4); horse, jackson (2000, p. 70)
921 a Round] around furness (v1895)
922 bogge,] brook, thro’ bog peck (1740, p. 157); bog, through burn ritson in v1793; bog, through bourn ard1
924 headelesse] heedless delius (ed. 1859); curblesse gould (1884, p. 57); herdless kellner (1925, p. 36)
988 eye] tail knt1
(and withdrawn)
989 haue] show gould (1884, p. 15)
1010–1 your patience] your relations mjenn; your passions farmer in mstv1; you passing mason (1785, p. 69); your puissance rann
1022–56 Om. gentleman (ed. 1774)
1031 patches] wretches grey (1754, 1:60 and withdrawn)
1039 nole] cowl mgrin
1041 Minnick] mammock ritson (1783, p. 44)
1047 at our] at one allen in v1895; with one kellner (1931, p. 15)
1058 latcht] bath’d mjenn; lav’d or wash’d mlong; laced anon. in cam1; hatch’d [= ornamented, thinly covered] daniel (1870, pp. 32–4); streak’d or bath’d wilson (1873, p. 249); washed orger (1890, pp. 40–1); hatch’d [= stained, smeared] deighton (ed. 1891); leeched kellner (1931, p. 15)
1071 intervening part line lost schmidt (1881, p. 5)
1071 plunge] wade maginn (1837, p. 378)
1071 the deepe] more deep mlong; thigh-deep kellner (1931, p. 15)
1071 to.] too, nor leave me here to weep cuningham (ed. 1905)
1077 displease] disseise [= dispossess] annandale in irv
1080 dead] lead’n cartwright (1866, p. 10)
1089 him then?] him? Then furness (v1895)
1097 mood] word allen in v1895
1101 and if] And, if furness (v1895)
1103 I: see] I. So, | See furness (v1895)
1107 So] Since deighton (ed. 1891)
1168–9 O, . . . kisse This . . . white, this] This let me kiss, / This princess of pure white–O seal of bliss! becket (1815, pp. 273–4)
1169 Princesse of pure] purest of pure mjenn and lettsom in dyce2; quintessence of bailey (1862, p. 153; withdrawn, 1866, p. 200); essence of pure cartwright (1866, p. 11); priceless purest anon. in moberly (ed. 1881); Empress of pure irv (and withdrawn)
1169 white] whites bailey (1866, p. 200)
1174–5 doe, | But . . . ioyne, in soules,] do‸ | In souls, but . . . join ‸ malone (1780, 1:118)
1175 ioyne in] join, ill tyrwhitt (1766, p. 32)
1175 soules] scoffs or scorns mtby3; scorns or scoffs john1; scouls blackstone in malone (1780, 1:118); shoals white (1785, p. 278); soulk [= wretchedness] becket (1815, 1:274); sooth bailey (1866, p. 202); taunts elze (1867, p. 538); sport wetherell (1867, p. 582); sports wilson (1873, p. 250); insults spedding in cln1; sport gould (1884, p. 57); ieeres oxf2
1188 know I] do, I jackson (1819, p. 14)
1192 do] love cam1
1196 to] be [= by] kellner (1931, p. 15)
1201 aby] abay [= suffer] becket (1815, 1:274)
1201 deare] here walker (1860, 1:307)
1202 deare] fere cartwright (1866, p. 11)
1204 his] its wilson (1873, p. 250)
1215 oes] orbs grey (1754, 1:61)
1228 vs; O] of vs; O mtby2; vs; O, O! mtby4
1228 all] all then keightley (1867, p. 133); all this hud2
1229 All] Our mtby2
1230 two artificial] to artificer wilson (1873, p. 252)
1230 gods] buds wilson (1873, p. 252); girls gould (1884, p. 15)
1245 for it] for’t walker (1860, 3:79)
1247 your] your complaining mtby4
1249 scorne] loue mtby4
1261 vnlou’d)]  ~  . . . keightley (1867, p. 133)
1264 Perseuer,] —perceive you wilson (1873, p. 254)
1278 praise] praier thiselton (1903, p. 53); pleas oxf2
1283 to.] true. anon. in v1895
1286 Ethiop.] Ethiop, you! heath (1765, p. 53)
1287–8 intervening line or part line lost cam1
1287 No, no:] Now, now, bulloch (1878, pp. 60–2); om. rid
1287 heele] sir, no! mjenn; he’ll not stir: jackson (1819, p. 15); hell wilson (1873, p. 255); Sir! Hell’s abyss bulloch (1878, pp. 60–2); he’ll not / Forsake his love. Coward, you fear to fight; furnivall (1880) in wright shakespeariana; sir, no: schmidt (1881, p. 7); thou’lt kinnear (1883, p. 89); sir; still orson (1891, p. 153); heele kiss— anon. in wright shakespeariana; she will let you; perring in wright shakespeariana; you’ll thiselton (1903, p. 53); om. rid; he’ll only ard2
1288 Seeme] Dem. Seem joicey (1893, p. 102); Seems wilson (1873, p. 255)
1288 you would] you’d keightley (1867, p. 134) and anon. in wright shakespeariana
1288 would follow] would, fellow! wilson (1873, p. 255); would flow bulloch (1878, pp. 60–2)
1289 not] on bulloch (1878, p. 62)
1304 newes,] news‸ [= revolutionizes, v. trans.] crook (1914, p. 107)
1312 Therefore be] Therefore, | Be walker (1860, 3:49)
1312 out of hope,] out moberly (ed. 1881)
1312 of question, of doubt:] of question: anon. in cam1; of doubt, of question, schmidt (1881, p. 6); question and doubt anon. in wright shakespeariana
1366 Minimus] You minim, as [= ace] kellner (1931, p. 15)
1366 made] man’d [= maimed] kellner (1925, p. 124)
1388 shadowes] Fairies gould (1884, p. 15)
1409 his] its wilson (1873, p. 252)
1411 derision] division mtby2, guest (1838, 1:130, 147), strachey (1854, p. 680); discision kellner (1931, p. 15)
1427–8 Given to Oberon mtby2 and mtheo2 (20 May 1729 [fol. 133r])
1428 black-brow’d] endless rid
1434 salt] sea tathwell in grey (1754, 1:62)
1434 salt‸]  ~ , white (1854, p. 216)
1437 Pu.] Puck [sings]. anon. in cam1
1439 Goblin, . . . downe] Given to Oberon col1; Goblin-lead-them-up-and-down staunton (1874, p. 863)
1466 why] wherefore schmidt (1881, p. 6)
1472 buy] bide mtby4
1485 Rob.] Puck [sings]. anon. in cam1
1497 Rob.] Puck [sings]. anon. in cam1
1497 sleepe] Sleep you seymour (1805, 1:48)
1499 thou] Then thou mtheo4, mQ2fl7, mjenn, chedworth (1805, p. 70), seymour (1805, 1:48); thou now oxf2
1505 mare] mate gould (1884, p. 15)
1506 well] still steevens (v1793)
1525–6 ouerflowen] over-flow’d malone (1780, 1:118–9)
1542 desirest] desires furnivall (1880) in wright shakespeariana
1545 of hay] of a [= hay, or ale] hunter (1845, 1:296)
1547–9 four verse lines ending Fairy . . . hoard . . . wary . . . board bulloch (1878, pp. 62–3)
1549 thee] thee some mgrin; thee the walker (1860, 2:257); thee in deighton (ed. 1891)
1549 newe] mellow anon. in bullen (1907, 10:408)
1549 nuts] nuts wary To furnish forth thy board bulloch (1878, pp. 62–3)
1552 an exposition] a disposition mgrin
1554 be alwaies away.] be away.—Away! [Seeing them loiter.] upton (1746, p. 241); be always i’ th’ way. heath (1765, p. 55); be always: Away! jackson (1819, p. 15); bear all noise away. kellner (1931, p. 15)
1555–6 So . . . entwist:] given to The First Fairy farzaad (1946, pp. 53–4)
1555 woodbine] wood rine [= bark] upton (1746, pp. 241–2); weedbind steevens (v1778); wood pine gould (1887, p. 68); bindweed wray (–1892) in wright shakespeariana and in cam2
1556–7 the female . . . Elme.] given To chorus Of Fairies farzaad (1946, p. 54)
1557 fingers] fissures gould (1887, p. 68)
1579 transformed] transforming wilson (1873, p. 256)
1582 May all] All may grey (1754, 1:64 [Errata])
1604 rocke] knock whalley (1756, 5:275)
1605 new] anew dey (1901, p. 481)
1613 sad] staid daniel (1870, p. 34)
1628 Vncouple] Uncoupled malone (1780, 1:119)
1641 sanded] sounded col1
1651 Nedars] Nestor’s walker (1860, 2:30)
1691 melted] All melted stau; Immaculate bulloch (1878, pp. 63–4); So melted or Being melted schmidt (1881, p. 7); Has melted perring in wright shakespeariana
1691 as the] away like mjenn; as thaws the kinnear (1883, p.95)
1698 But] Then lettsom in walker (1860, 2:115); And mgrin; When kinnear (1883, p. 96)
1698 But like a] Belike as bulloch (1878, pp. 64–5)
1698 sicknesse] sickman oxf2
1699 But] And kellner (1931, p. 11)
1703 we more will here] more will we hear lettsom in walker (1860, 3:50)
1711 Come] Come, my mgrin; Come me perring in wright shakespeariana
1712 Deme.] Lys. capn (1779, 2:113–4)
1717 like a iewell] likewise double mtby2; like a gimmal [= Ring of double hoops] smith (1803, p. 11); like a Guille [French . . . for deception, trick] becket (1815, 1:276); like a double cartwright (1866, p. 11); like a double [= counterfeit stone] furness (v1895) [misreading batten (1876, p. 12)]
1718+1 Are . . . sure | That we . . . It . . . ] Are . . . sure we . . . it keightley (1867, p. 136)
1718+1 Are] Are well cap; Are now mal; Are yet anon. in cam1
1767 scaped] scraped grey (1754, 1:70)
1770 in] for hal
1783 preferd] proffered mtheo2 (27 May 1729 [fol. 8])
1803 a] the dodd (1752, 1:87)
1806 the formes] a mass seymour (1805, 1:49 and withdrawn)
1812–13 interpolated lines white (1854, pp. 217–9)
1812 Or] For mtby2, anon. in cam2; As taylor in cam2
1839 There] Here mtby2 and anon. in hal
1856 And wõdrous strange snow] a wonder strange enow bullen (1907, 10:408)
1856 wõdrous strange] wind-restraining wetherell (1867, p. 582); ponderous flakes of leo (1880, p. 708)
1856 wõdrous] pond’rous jortin in mtby3
1856 strange] strong mason (1785, p. 71); swarte stau and kinnear (1883, p. 97); warm chaplyn in cam2; raven or orange or azure bailey (1862, pp. 197–9); staining nicholson in cln1; strange, hot or strange, jet perring in cln1; sooty herr (1879, p. 94); scaldinge ebsworth (ed. Q2 1880, p. xviii); red perring (1885, p. 75); fiery orger (1890, p. 41); flaming mtby2 and orson (1891, p. 58); flaring scott (ed. 1898); scathing perring in wright shakespeariana; stranger cuningham (1920, p. 402); tawny kellner (1931, p. 15); flamy macintyre (–1950, fol. 2)
1856 snow] show mtby2; in hue bulloch (1878, pp. 65–6)
1868–9 play it? . . . men,] play’t? . . . men, | My noble Lord (or My gracious Duke) schmidt (1881, p. 7)
1874–5 I haue heard It ouer] as the second half of line 1876 daniel (1870, p. 35)
1874 No . . . you. I . . . heard] No . . . you, daniel (1870, p. 35)
1875–7 reline as 1877, 1875, 1878 daniel (1870, p. 35)
1875 ouer] o’er daniel (1870, p. 35)
1876–7 intervening line lost john1; transpose gould (1884, p. 16)
1877 strecht] wretch’d ulrici in v1895
1877 cond] penn’d kenrick (1765, p. 20)
1878 To . . . seruice] as the first half of line 1876 daniel (1870, p. 35)
1888–9 noble respect Takes it in might, not] respect As noble, taken not in might but richards (1892) in cam2 and in wright shakespeariana; a fault Noble respect takes in might, not lambrechts (1965, p. 164)
1888 duty] duty meaning spedding in cam1
1888 cannot] can but poorly tiessen (1877, p. 6)
1888 doe,] do, yet would or do, tho’ fain mcole; aptly do, bailey (1866, p. 203); do, but would, abbott (1870, p. 419)
1888 doe, noble respect] do aright, Respect seymour (1805, 1:52)
1888 noble] Om. bulloch (1878, p. 66)
1889 it . . . not] not . . . but john1
1889 might] mind bailey (1866, p. 203); right cartwright (1866, p. 11)
1889 might, not merit] merit, not in might seymour (1805, 1:52); noble might, not noble merit bulloch (1878, p. 66)
1895 haue] th’ave wh1
1918–19 A good . . . true.] given To Demetrius mtby4, cam1
1922 Chaine] skein anon. in cam1
1944 slaine] sleyne [= torn into threads] becket (1815, 1:278)
1966 haire] hau(l)m [= straw] kellner (1931, p. 15)
1969 discourse] in discourse farmer in v1773
2000 Helen] Heren blackstone in tomlins (1844, p. 97)
2010 Moon] Mean [= partition] kellner (1931, p. 16)
2010 Moon vsed] moon housed mtby3; monial [= dividing-post] round (1914, p. 287)
2013 heare] sheer [= get away] mhan1 (11 June 1737, fol. 20) and clayton (1979, p. 30); disappear heath (1765, p. 58); leave gould (1884, p. 16)
2020 beasts, in] beasts; e’en malone (1783, p. 11)
2020 man] moon-calf farmer in v1773
2020 and] in jackson (1819, p. 16)
2026 as . . . am] am . . . in daniel (1870, p. 35); as . . . n’am gollancz (ed. 1894)
2027 A] Nor mlong
2027 nor] none cartwright (1866, p. 11); but keightley (1867, p. 136); or daniel (1870, p. 35)
2027 no] a mason (1785, p. 72)
2027 damme] skin daniel (1870, p. 35)
2038 Moone] man anon. in cam1
2071 And] Now lettsom in dyce2
2072 Lyon] lion’s lettsom in dyce2
2090 deflour’d] devour’d mtby2
2095 hoppe] rap gould (1881, p. 12)
2098 Tongue . . . Moone] Eye . . . Moone mtby2 and scott (ed. 1898); Tongue . . . mount, mtby4; Moon . . . | Dog elze (1867, p. 538)
2109 Heere . . . Play.] given To Philostrate mtby2 and mtheo2 (27 May 1729 [fol. 69r])
2113 warnd] ward mjenn and stau
2115 meanes,] mourns mF2fl48
2120 These . . . lippes . . . nose] This . . . brow | . . . mow kinnear (1883, p. 100)
2120 lilly lippes . . . cherry nose] lips lily . . . nose cherry farmer in v1773
2120 lippes] O’s cartwright (1866, p. 12); toes bulloch (1878, pp. 67–8)
2120 this] With gould (1881, p. 12)
2120 nose] nip wh1; tips gould (1881, p. 12)
2154 hungry] Hungarian grey (1754, 1:70, in the lemma)
2175 house giue] house in john1; hall go lettsom in dyce2; hall a cartwright (1866, p. 12); housewives’ wilson (1873, p. 260); house gives kinnear (1883, p. 100–1); house, giv’n orger (1890, p. 42)
2176 By] Gives cartwright (1866, p. 12); Now kinnear (1883, p. 100–1); But orson (1891, p. 58)
2200 his] this colne
2203 Euer shall] Every hall staunton in ingleby (1855, p. 771), and stau (and withdrawn)
2204 And] So rid
2204 owner] owners wilson (1873, p. 260)
2212 more yielding] mere idling wilson (1873, p. 260)
2213 reprehend] reprobate hunter (1845, p. 282)

The Text


There has been less resistance to attributing all of MND to Shakespeare than with other plays in the canon. Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 94): The only presumably pre-Shakespearian play, known to us by name, which might conceivably have formed the basis of the Dream, is the mysterious King of the Fairies, scornfully linked by both Nashe and Greene with another drama called Delfrigus . . . , as part of the stock-in-trade of a travelling company. Wilson refers to Nashe’s The Gentlemen Stvdents of Both Vniversities (ed. R. B. McKerrow, 1904–10, 3:324): a company of taffaty fooles . . . might haue antickt it vntill this time vp and downe the Countrey with the King of Fairies, and dined euery day at the pease porredge ordinary with Delfrigus; and to Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit (ed. A. B. Grosart, 1881–6, 12:131), in which a player says to Roberto why, I am as famous for Delphrigus, and the king of Fairies, as euer was any of my time. Wilson continues, We have not, however, been able to trace any clues to the existence of such a play beneath the Shakespearian text, unless it be its curious connexion, or seeming connexion, with old dramas like Damon and Pythias, 1582, and Heywood’s translation of Seneca’s Hercules Furens, 1581. For the alleged allusion to Damon and Pythias, Wilson (p. 148) cites passages beginning at 2083 and at 2124, and (pp. 109–10) for that to Hercules Furens the passage beginning 297. Wilson opines that (p. 110) there seems no reason why Shakespeare should burlesque a translation ten or a dozen years old and therefore thinks perhaps the text here goes back to some pre-Shakespearian version. de la Mare (1935, pp. xxxii–xlviii), attending to the poor quality of some of the verse given the four lovers and to the absence of the vocabulary of some of these lines from the rest of the Sh. canon, concludes (p. xlvii) that the earliest draft of the Dream was not of [Sh.’s] own workmanship but a play . . . written by some more or less artless scribe. Following de la Mare, Wilson then states unequivocally that (1948, p. 29) the original play was not written by Shakespeare at all. Yet, according to the noted disintegrationist Robertson (1924, 1:440), in MND we can catch the true voice of Shakespeare. Chambers (1924, p. 10) is prepared to credit Sh. with commonplace Elizabethan dramatic carpentry, rather than disintegrate plays by attributing parts of them to other playwrights.

Blumenthal, who finds (1961, p. 116) some seven participants in the authorship of the Shakespeare canon, thinks Robertson’s claim to be (p. 30) uncertain. Among the anti-Stratfordians, Bacon (1857, p. lxxxi) attributes MND to Raleigh, Theobald (1901, passim) attributes it to Bacon, Clark (1930, pp. 435–49) and the Ogburns (1952, chs. 44–5) to Oxford, Brooks (1943, pp. 596–7) to Dyer, Titherley (1952, pp. 71–5) and Evans (1956, p. 59) to Derby, Sweet (1965, p. 71) to Queen Elizabeth, and Hoffman (1955, p. 127) to Marlowe. Ross (1939, pp. 16–17) thinks MND among the works of Anne Whateley written in association with Sh.

The First Quarto (1600)

The printing history of Sh.’s MND starts on 8 Oct. 1600 when a book with its title was approved for publication in the Stationers’ Register (Book C, fol. 65v, as transcribed by Greg, BEPD, 1:16): Tho. fyssher Entred for his copie vnder the hand[es] of mr Rodes / and the Wardens. A booke called A mydsõmer night[es] dreame According to Greg (ibid., 3:1485), this was the only copy for a play licensed by Rodes, who, Greg suggests, may have been Thomas Rhodes. Greg (1962, p. 81): A Thomas Rhodes appears in the index to Hennessy’s Reportorium without a reference. A book called Micrologia; Characters or Essays, by M. R., 1629 (STC 17146), was licensed by E. Martin on 22 Dec. 1628 as Rodes charecters.

The play appeared in print in the same year, with the following title-page: [ornament] | A | Midsommer nights | dreame. | As it hath beene sundry times pub- |lickely acted, by the Right honoura- |ble, the Lord Chamberlaine his |seruants. | Written by William Shakespeare. | [device <McKerrow>321] | ¶ Imprinted at London, for Thomas Fisher, and are to | be soulde at his shoppe, at the Signe of the White Hart, | in Fleetestreete. 1600. This first edition is often called the Fisher Quarto to distinguish it from Q2 also dated 1600 on its title page; Q2 was once known as the Roberts Quarto and is now usually called the Pavier Quarto. Chambers (1930, 1:356): The printer may be [Edward] Allde or [Richard] Bradock. Greg (BEPD, 1:276): The printer [of Q1] appears from the ornaments used to have been probably Richard Bradock. The device is Fisher’s. Turner (1962, p. 33): As far as I have been able to determine, nothing is known of Bradock which would be of significant value to us in our examination of MND Q1. He was admitted to the Livery on 1 July 1598 and for a time was actively engaged in the trade. Around the turn of the century, he probably printed several play quartos: in 1598 [Christopher Marlowe’s] Edward II Q2; in 1600 [Ben Jonson’s] Every Man out of his Humor; in 1601 [Anthony Munday’s] The Downfall and The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington; and in 1602 [John Marston’s] Antonio and Mellida [and] Antonio’s Revenge, and [Jonson’s] Poetaster. Bradock seems to have thrived as a printer between 1598 and 1608, but he also printed plays long before and some time after the turn of the century. Greg (BEPD, 3:1497) records that Bradock printed his first extant play, Nathaniel Woodes’s The Conflict of Conscience, in 1581, and did not print his last until 1616 (Beaumont and Fletcher’s The Scornful Lady). However, Pantzer (STC 3:16) identifies the printer of the latter as John Beale. Thus the last of the extant plays that Bradock printed date from 1608, including A Yorkshire Tragedy from the Shakespeare apocrypha.

Berger (ed. 1995, p. viii): Thomas Fisher’s career as a publisher and bookseller was a short one. He was freed as a draper on 8 November 1596 by Richard Smith and transferred to the Stationers’ Company in 1600. Of the three other titles associated with him, Nicholas Breton’s Pasquil’s Mistress was printed in 1600, perhaps by Richard Bradock, and John Marston’s Antonio and Mellida and Antonio’s Revenge were printed in 1602 by Bradock. In these last two Matthew Lownes appears to have had an interest as well, as his shop in St Dunstan’s Churchyard is cited on the title-pages of both volumes.

Bartlett & Pollard (1939, pp. 70–1) identify and locate eight extant copies of Q1. Modern facsimiles include that by William Griggs, ed. J. W. Ebsworth, 1880; that in Shakespeare’s Plays in Quarto, ed. Michael J. B. Allen & Kenneth Muir, 1981; and Vol. 157 of the Malone Society Reprints, ed. Thomas L. Berger, 1995. For a digital facsimile see the Shakespeare Quartos Archive (www.quartos.org).

MND Q1 was one of a number of Shakespeare’s plays to see print in 1600 with the dramatist’s name on the title-page. The others were 2H4 Q1, MV Q1, and Ado Q1. Earlier printings with Shakespeare’s name on their title-pages were LLL Q1 1598, R2 Q2 and Q3 1598, R3 Q2 1598, and 1H4 Q2 1599. Blayney (1997, p. 388): some of these plays sold very well, R2, R3, and 1H4 being in the list of the top ten best-sellers among early modern English plays. However, like Ado and 2H4 (neither of which ever saw a second quarto edition) and LLL (which was not reprinted in quarto until 1631), MV and MND (without second editions until 1619) did not sell very well, even with Shakespeare’s name on their title-pages. Ibid. (p. 385) identifies May 1600–Oct. 1601, the interval within which MND Q1 was entered, printed, and published, as one of two peak periods for the registration of plays between 1585 and 1604, the other coming at Dec. 1593–May 1595. In each peak period twenty-seven plays were registered, although only 80% of the total of fifty-four registrations issued in books. Ibid. (p. 387): MND was one of eight Lord Chamberlain’s plays registered in the second peak period. See also Blayney (2005), and Farmer and Lesser (2005, Popularity and 2005, Structures).

Quality of Printing in Q1

While on the whole positive, editors and critics exhibit a wide range of opinion about Q1’s quality as a witness to what Sh. wrote. Pope (ed. 1725, 1:xv), not attending to the question of the priority of Q1 to Q2: If any were supervised [at the press] by himself [Sh.], I should fancy the two parts of Henry the 4th, and Midsummer-Night’s Dream might have been so; because I find no other printed with any exactness; and (contrary to the rest) there is very little variation in all the subsequent editions of them. Johnson (ed. 1765, 1:176) unable to establish the priority of Q1 to Q2: Neither of the editions approach to exactness. Building on Capell’s (1783, 2.3:115) inference of Shakespearean authority for the punctuation of the mechanicals’ prologue (see n. 1906–15), Knight (ed. 1839, 1:331) writes, The original of these editions, whichever it might be, was . . . carefully superintended through the press. The text appears to us as perfect as it is possible to be, considering the state of typography in that day. There is one remarkable evidence of this. The prologue to the interlude of the Clowns, in the fifth act [1906–15], is purposely made inaccurate in its punctuation throughout. . . . ; and this is precisely one of those matters of nicety in which a printer would have failed, unless he had followed an extremely clear copy, or his proofs had been corrected by an author or an editor. Compare Hudson (ed. 1851, 2:255) and White (ed. 1857, 4:17), as well as the following writing after Q1’s priority had been demonstrated: Chambers (1930, 1:358), Parrott (ed. 1938, p. 131), Greg (1942; 1954, p. 125), Doran (ed. 1959, p. 27), Holland (ed. 1994, p. 112). Clark and Wright (ed. 1863, 2:viii), guessing right about Q1’s priority, nonetheless regard it carelessly printed. Kittredge (ed. 1936, p. 229) echoes this judgment, describing Q1 as not very carefully printed.

Furness (ed. 1895, pp. x–xii), also guessing right about Q1’s priority: the excellence of the text [of Q1] is counterbalanced by the inferiority of the typography. . . . [A]lthough the entrances of the characters are noted, the exits are often omitted, and spelling throughout is [xi] archaic, for instance, shee [241], bedde [228], dogge [589], &c., betraying merely a compositor’s peculiarity. . . . [F]onts are mixed, and the type old and battered. Believing that the Q1 compositor set type by the ear from dictation, Furness finds such errors as Dians bud, or Cupids flower [1588], instead of Dian’s bud o’er Cupid’s flower the consequence. (P. xii): [I]t is assuredly more likely that such blunders as Eagles [454] for AEgle, or Peregenia [453] for Perigouna . . . are due to the deficient hearing of a compositor. However, Furness (p. xii) concedes that compositors . . . are exposed [to such errors] when with a retentive memory they carry long sentences in their minds, not just when they set from dictation. Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xi), in the main closely following Furness: the text . . . has reached us in a state of comparative correctness and purity, [yet] there are passages which are admittedly corrupt. Ibid. (p. xv): the text is superior, and likewise the punctuation.

Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 79): Q1 is superior to many of the other quartos. . . . The misprints are few, and the literals fewer. The compositors seem to have worked slowly, whether through inexperience or because they found the manuscript difficult to read; for the text contains a number of interesting archaic spellings which almost certainly derive from the copy. . . . On the whole the work must be pronounced as moderately competent. Its chief weaknesses are two. First it is evident that the compositors conceived it as their duty to expand most of the contractions they found in the original. Particularly instructive in this connexion is the misprint Bet it [691] in which we catch the compositor red-handed so to speak. [Wilson also compares 35 (bewitcht), 78 (Whether), 895 (of), 1231 (needles), all of which he suspects to be compositorial expansions of copy forms.] And secondly it is clear that the compositors have introduced a large number of full stops into a text which originally contained very few, and that they have also peppered the dialogue with superfluous commas. Furthermore their pointing is careless, as is shown by the numerous instances of transposition in terminal stops. Nevertheless, apart from commas and periods the punctuation of the Quarto is comparatively good on the whole, at times even beautiful. Wilson’s belief that printer’s copy must have contained few commas and periods is skewed by his thinking that the lightly punctuated Hand-D pages in the MS The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore (BL Harl. 7368) are certainly Sh.’s and that they are typical of his punctuation; see Wilson’s What Follows if Some of the Good Quarto Editions of Shakespeare’s Plays Were Printed from His Autograph Manuscripts, Transactions of the Bibliographical Society 15, 1917–19, p. 136. Evans (ed. 1974, p. 247), following Wilson, cites the excessively heavy use of phrasal commas in Q1. Differing from Wilson, Ridley (ed. 1934, p. viii): It is true that the Quarto is very heavily punctuated, very much more so, for example, than Hamlet. But it is not on the face of it likely that a compositor, who after all is a busy working man, is going to pepper his pages with commas, or any other mark of punctuation, merely for the fun of the thing. To him the insertion of marks of punctuation is merely so much more labour, and prima facie therefore there seems no reason why we should not pay as much attention to the compositor’s commas as to any of his other marks of punctuation. . . . [T]he punctuation of the Quarto very frequently produces interesting results. In a certain number of cases it makes a real difference to the sense; in more cases it makes a real difference in the emphasis which is thrown upon phrases by their becoming more isolated; and, perhaps most important of all, it greatly diversifies the rhythms. However, according to Joseph Moxon in Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing (1683–4) (ed. Herbert Davis & Harry Carter, 2nd ed., 1962, p. 192), it is the compositor’s duty to discern and amend the bad . . . Pointing of his Copy.

Turner (1962, pp. 33–54): There is nothing very striking about the typography; on cursory examination the book seems to be a run-of-the-mine Elizabethan dramatic quarto. Turner’s primary focus is instances of erroneous line-division of dialogue, some few of which he attributes to the compositor. (P. 48): Mislineation [of verse at 490–1, where the last word of the first line is printed as the first word of the second line] may have resulted from the compositor’s carelessness; but . . . just possibly . . . the MS rather than the workman was at fault. . . . Almost certainly the compositor was juggling the text when he set a short speech of Bottom’s and one of Peter Quince’s in a single line of type at the foot of B2 [319–20, in the inner forme (i.e., B1v, 2, 3v, 4) after, Turner thinks (see here), the outer forme (i.e., B1, 2v, 3, 4v) was already set and the] limits of B1v, B2 . . . had been established. At 413–14, the compositor apparently thought he could squeeze the first complete line of verse into the same line of type with the half-line of verse which begins the speech, a calculation which, as the turn-over shows, was none too accurate. The compositor made analogous interventions at (p. 49) 552–3, 1071–2 and (p. 54) 2063–4, but his responsibility [is] doubtful for the line division of 61–2. He set prose as verse at (p. 49) 911–12 and (p. 54) 1986–90. (Werstine [2012, pp. 144–5, n. 24] suspects the compositor was perhaps responsible for further mislineation [see here].) Turner also tabulates dozens of wrong-font errors (such as roman for italic and small capitals for full capitals) both (pp. 40–5) apparently deliberate—because of shortages of type—and (p. 40, n. 8) accidental.

Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxxiii–iv): In the First Quarto an editor has a text of high authority to follow. . . . [I]t is a gratifyingly clean text. . . . In the present edition, it has been found necessary to depart from Q1 in just over fifty verbal readings, besides nine punctuations affecting the sense, one transposition of a pair of lines, a number of line-divisions, and a very few places where verse was set as prose or prose as verse. Apart from the authorial lapses, and the cruces, [xxxiv] the faults are unsurprising errors of the press, almost all of the kinds that compositors are prone to.

For the supposition that Q1 lacks one or more songs, see n. 2175–2206.

Press Variants and Proof-Correction in Q1

Johnson (ed. 1888, p. 39) records the press variants listed below on sig. F1v. Wright (ed. 1891, 2:295) lists only the first of the two on sig. F1v, as does Furness (ed. 1895, p. 166).

Berger (ed. 1995, pp. vi–viii):

Collation of the eight copies reveals five [that is, six] press variants in four of the sixteen formes. . . . The inner forme of sheet A exists in three states.

Copies Collated

  • BL (British Library, C.34.k.29 . . . )
  • Bodl (Bodleian Library; C3 damaged . . . )
  • TCC (Trinity College Cambridge . . . )
  • CSmH (Henry E. Huntington Library . . . )
  • CtYEC (Yale Elizabethan Club . . . )
  • DFo (Folger Shakespeare Library . . . )
  • MB (Boston Public Library . . . )
  • MH (Harvard University; lacks C2, C3, H2, H3 . . . )

Press Variants

Sheet A (inner forme)

  • Corrected:BL, MH
  • Uncorrected:Bodl, TCC, CSmH, CtYEC, DFo, MB

Sig. A2r[4]Now] Now (turned initial N)

  • Corrected:BL, Bodl, TCC, CSmH, CtYEC, MB, MH
  • Uncorrected:DFo

Sig. A2r [18]to funerals:] ro funerals:

Sheet E (outer forme)

  • Corrected:BL, Bodl, TCC, CSmH, CtYEC, DFo, MH
  • Uncorrected:MB

Sig. E3r[1254]he] be

Sheet E (inner forme)

  • Corrected:BL, Bodl, TCC, CSmH, CtYEC, MB, MH
  • Uncorrected:DFo

Sig. E1v[1159]ſwore] fwore

Sheet F (inner forme)

  • First stage [sic] corrected:BL, Bodl, CSmH, CtYEC, DFo, MH
  • Uncorrected:TCC, MB
  • Sig. F1v[1435]notwiſtanding] notwiſtandiug
  • Sig. F1v[1438]them vp & down:] them vp & dowe:
Berger lists no second stage of correction of the inner forme of sheet F; were there such a stage, he presumably would not have stated only of the inner forme of sheet A that it exists in three states.

Ibid. (p. vi, n. 4): Often it is difficult to determine when a press variant exists, and the distinction between deliberate stop-press variants and accidental shifting and bad inking can be vexing to decide. Thus, the h in both at [125] (Sig. A3v) appears to have slipped slightly in the British Library copy, producing bot h, and the space between I and know at [1667] (Sig. F4v) is so loose that the Bodleian, Folger, Huntington, Harvard and Yale Elizabethan Club copies read Iknow. Similarly, O long at [1479] (Sig. F2r) has slipped significantly, producing Ol ong in the British, Huntington, Yale Elizabethan Club, Folger, and Harvard copies. The hyphen in loue-shaft at [536] (Sig. C1r), clear in some copies, is so weakly inked as to appear almost invisible in the British Library, Trinity College Cambridge, and Yale Elizabethan Club copies. At [1159, see above in list of press variants] (Sig. E1v), I agree with W. W. Greg that the Folger copy is variant and reads fwore . . . ; but Richard Kennedy, textual editor of the New Variorum Midsummer Night’s Dream, disagrees. Kennedy and I agree (contra Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion (Oxford, 1987), p. 287) that what appears to be a comma after melody at [201] (Sig. A4v) in the Bodleian copy is an overinked full stop.

Ibid. (p. vi, n. 7): Much of the bottom half of C3 [in the Bodleian copy] has been torn off. It has been repaired with another piece of paper, and the missing quarto text added in a post seventeenth-century hand. The copyist placed a comma after an extant deere at [695], which the Oxford editors mistook for a press variant (Textual Companion, pp. 281, 287).

Compositor Identification and Order of Printing in Q1

Turner (1962, p. 33): Neither variations in spelling nor typographical abnormalities indicate that [Q1] was set up by more than one compositor.

Turner also (pp. 34–5) provides a partial analysis of the headlines or running-titles, which (p. 34) read on both recto and verso A Midsommer nightes dreame, except on H3v where we find A Midsommer nights dreame. Below his analysis is completed in square brackets, with the roman numerals that Turner assigns to each distinctively identifiable headline and with the pages on which each occurs identified by their signatures:

I [B2, C3v, D4, E3v, F3v,] G4, H4
II [B4, C2, D2, E2, F2,] G2, H2, A2v
III [B1v, C1v, D1v, E1v, F1v,] G1v, H1v, A3
IV B3, C3, D4v, E4v, F4v, G4v, H3, A4v
V [B2v,] C1, D2v, [E1, F1,] G3, H4v
VI [B3v, C4, D3v, E4, F4,] G3v
VII B4v, C4v, D3, E2v, F3, G2v, H1, A3v
VIII [B1, C2v, D1, E3, F2v,] G1, H2v, A4
IX H3v
From this analysis Turner can establish incontrovertibly that (p. 34) the book was worked in two skeleton-formes, one regularly imposing the inner [1v, 2, 3v, 4] and the other the outer forme [1, 2v, 3, 4v] and that sheet A . . . was the last sheet to go through the press. His demonstration of the latter proposition consists of observation of significant changes [that] were made in two [running-]titles during the course of printing: (1) The g appearing in the title used on B3 and C3 (IV in the [chart above]) was replaced at D4v, and the new type appears on E4v, F4v, G4v, H3, and A4v. (2) The title used on B4v and C4v (VII) is characterized by a broken r and a defective e in dreame. At D3 a break in the M also appears, and the three defects are found together on E2v and F3 (where the e’s of dreame were exchanged in position). At G2v the r seems to have been replaced, and the e prints somewhat better than usual. When the title appears on H1, only the break in the M and the new r are evident, and only these two characteristics can be observed in the title as it appears on A3v. It is clear that sheet A was printed after sheet H.

Furthermore, according to Turner, it can be shown that the outer forme of sheet H was the first of its formes to go to press and that it is possible to generalize from this practice with sheet H and to infer that the (p. 35) outer formes of all sheets but A regularly preceded inner formes through the press. The grounds provided for these two conclusions make them far from certain. The alleged priority of presswork on the outer forme of sheet H depends initially for Turner on the pattern of reappearance of headlines from sheet H in sheet A. Both of the headlines (namely VII and VIII) used for the only two pages of the inner forme of sheet A that require headlines (namely A3v and A4, because A1v is blank and A2 bears the head title) come from the outer forme of sheet H. Then a third headline from H outer (IV)—together with two headlines from H inner (II, III)—supply the three pages of A outer needing headlines (excluding the title page, A1). Knowing that H(o) was sent to press before H(i) [and thus was returned to the compositor before H(i) so that its headlines were available for use in A(i), the first forme of sheet A to be set into type] and that earlier in the book all the outer formes were imposed in the same skeleton used for H(o), we can infer that outer formes of all sheets but A regularly preceded inner formes through the press.

This demonstration of Turner’s depends not just on the evidence he presents but also on questionable assumptions that he makes—one explicit, the others not. He implicitly assumes that Bradock printed MND Q1 by itself, rather than concurrently with other books, or (Blayney, 1982, p. 92) that MND was the only work available for composition. However, McKenzie (1969, p. 18), studying the records of Cambridge University Press from the late 17th c., discovers that concurrent printing is frequent, and Blayney (1982, pp. 45, 264 n.) finds evidence of the practice among books printed in London in the decade immediately following Bradock’s work on MND Q1. Turner also implicitly assumes that (Blayney 1982, p. 92) one of Richard Bradock’s two presses was not in use. The explicit assumption underlying Turner’s analysis is that, in terms of the production of the single book Q1 on a single press, (Turner 1962, p. 46) composition and presswork could stay more-or-less in balance. . . . [The compositor planned] to compose two formes, distribute the first, set the third, distribute the second, and so on. . . . Thus the speed of the press, which barring accidents would have remained fairly constant, is established as the rate at which about four type pages could be composed. Examination of the CUP records by McKenzie (1969, pp. 8–10) shows a wide variation in the speed of both composition and presswork not only by different workmen but also by the same workmen at different times and therefore calls into question the likelihood of compositors or pressmen maintaining the balance supposed by Turner. Only by applying these assumptions can it be assumed that the single press was still occupied printing the second forme of Q1’s sheet H as the compositor was setting and then imposing the first forme of Q1’s sheet A and further assumed that the investigator’s task at this juncture is thus simply to determine which forme of sheet H supplied headlines to the first sheet-A forme to be set. With these assumptions in place, Turner concludes H(o) was the first forme of that sheet to be wrought off the press because headlines from it appear in A(i), whereas headlines from both formes of sheet H appear in A(o). If any of Turner’s assumptions fail, then his demonstration becomes inconclusive. There is no evidence that can be adduced for any of the assumptions, which therefore have the status only of hypotheses, two of which are falsified by the evidence against them provided by McKenzie and Blayney.

Proceeding on these assumptions Turner plots the recurrence of distinctively damaged individual pieces of types in Q1, using this evidence to argue that the book was generally set into type by formes and not seriatim (that is, in the order in which pages are to be read). According to Turner, a forme that contains types only from one of the formes of a preceding sheet must have been set into type before a forme that contains type from both formes of that preceding sheet. This judgment is constructed by analogy to the one about headlines already discussed. It yields the following results concerning the order in which the pages of Q1 were set into type:

  • Sheet B (p. 41): not necessarily set by formes: It is a safe guess that all of B(o) was set before work began on B(i), but we cannot absolutely rule out such an order as B1–B1v-B2v-B3–B4v-B2[–B3v, B4];
  • Sheet C (p. 41): initial seriatim setting gave way to setting by formes: C1 (B[o] was almost certainly distributed by the time C2v was set and possibly before much of C1 was set [on the dubious evidence of the k at C1, 8] [But see also (p. 35): h B3,19–C1,1.]), 1v, 2, 2v, 3, 4v (distribution of B[i]), 3v, 4;
  • Sheet D (p. 41): D1 (distribution of C[o]), 2v, 3, 4v, 1v, 2 (distribution of C[i]), 3v, 4;
  • Sheet E (p. 42): E1, 2v, 3, 4v (D[o] distributed at line 12 or 13 of E4v), (D[i] distributed) E1v, 2, 3v, 4;
  • Sheet F (p. 43): F1, 2v, 3 (E[o] distributed), 4v, 1v, 2, 3v (Perhaps partway through setting F3v the compositor distributed E1v, but the rest of the standing type [in E(i)] seems to have been distributed after F(i) was imposed.), 4;
  • Sheet G (p. 44): G1, 2v, 3 (F1 and 3 distributed), 4v (F2v and 4v distributed), Iv, 2 (F1v and 2 distributed), 3v, 4 (F3v and 4 distributed);
  • Sheet H (p. 45): H1, 2v, 3, 4v (G[o] distributed), 1v, 2, 3v, 4
  • Sheet A (p. 45): A1v (blank) (G[i] distributed), 2, 3v, 4, 1 (title page; H[o] distributed at [i.e., before the setting of] A1 or A2v), 2v, 3, 4v.

Blayney (1982, pp. 92–3), explaining and questioning Turner’s analysis, focuses on the recurrence of individually distinctive types from sheet B in sheet C (question marks indicate types [described by Turner] as doubtful):

C1r 1v 2r 2v 3r 3v 4r 4v
From B(o) 1+? 4 2 2 ?
From B(i) 4 2
It is stated that when type reappears in this manner, composition cannot have been seriatim. The statement (which also applies to the similar evidence in sheet D) is completely untrue. The evidence is perfectly consistent with seriatim setting, with B(o) distributed before or during C1r and B(i) distributed after C3r. And in fact Turner then suggested that most of the sheet was set seriatim, except that C4v preceded C3v. The difficulty is that the evidence shows almost nothing. No matter what order is suggested, the failure to detect B(i) evidence in certain pages has to be trusted to indicate that no such evidence exists, whereas the absence of B(o) evidence has to be ascribed to a failure to detect what is really present. But if types from B(o) can be present but undetected in three (or four) pages, so can types from B(i). Because according to Turner’s assumptions (presented above) it is improbable that type from B(o) could have appeared in C1r, the evidence from that page was rejected. By rejecting different parts, and by filling in the gaps in other ways, the supposed evidence could be made to agree with almost any order of setting.

I do not suggest that Turner’s conclusions are wrong, since they may be right. The point is simply that the setting-order of sheets B-D of A Midsummer Night’s [93] Dream remains unestablished and that not enough evidence has been presented. Typographical evidence which is equally consistent with seriatim setting, setting by formes, and other possible methods; which can be supplemented by guesswork in selected pages from which it is absent; and which can be ignored selectively to suit the needs of an unsupported theory of work-flow, cannot be considered adequate. Nonetheless, Hinman (1965, p. 31) reported that a very general investigation of setting by formes . . . indicate[s] . . . pretty surely . . . MND was set in this manner, but he presented no evidence for his judgment.

In addition to the recurrence of distinctively damaged types, Turner also had recourse to type shortages indicated by the substitution of roman font for italic and small capitals for full capitals. Yet he lacked confidence in type shortages as a guide to establishing setting-order of pages (p. 40): By itself the testimony of shortages is, I believe, less reliable than that of any other bibliographical technique, and explained his reasons at length. He also anticipated Blayney’s criticism: However, the reliability of type shortage evidence can be increased when we evaluate it in the light of type reappearances, but even here we can be forced away from the most desirable position by occasionally having to take into account the evidence of only one or two reappearing types and sometimes having to argue from the non-appearance of type. Both are bad policies because mistakes in individual type identifications are easy to make and reappearances are easy to miss.

Turner used (1962, p. 35 n.) photostats of the Huntington Library copy of MND Q1 to identify distinctively damaged types. Weiss (1988, pp. 239–42) demonstrates the short-comings of this use of such a photostat. Checking Turner’s type identifications against the Folger copy of Q1, Weiss (p. 240) can confirm only 46% of the identifications. Replicating Turner’s analysis (with its questionable assumptions discussed above) using the reliable fraction of his type identifications together with new ones discovered in the examination of the Folger copy, Weiss revises Turner’s account of when during the composition of later formes earlier formes were distributed (pp. 241–2): No contradictions occurred with respect to the distributions of sigs. B and C. The appearance of ligature ft6 from D1:6 at E3.11 is one type-page before the suggested distribution of D(o) after E3. Similarly, k5 from E(o) (E4v:23) appears at F3:2, one page early. More significant differences occur in later sheets[:] the appearance of W4 from the last page of F(i) (F4:33) in the first page of G(o) (G1:8), a full gathering prior to the suggested distribution after the imposition of [242] G(i). . . . With respect to the claims that both formes of sheet G and H(o) were delayed four pages each . . . , r1 from G(o) (G2v:19) appears at H1:9, four pages before the suggested G(o) distribution point at H1v, and the appearance of w4 from G2:19 at H1:25, N2 from G3v:29 at H1:28, d16 from G2:12 at H1:31, ligature sh4 from G2:29 at H1v:1, and d12 from G2:29 at H2:24 indicate that G(i) was distributed before the composition of sig. H rather than after the imposition of H(i). Finally, the implication that sig. A was set in type from G(i) and H(o) without a distribution of H(i) seems incorrect. Appearing in A(o) (the second forme of sig. A to be set) are the following types from H(i): y4 from H2:32 at A2v:20, h7 from H1v:18 at A2v:8, and W4 from H2:32 at A4v:32 (and possibly h8 from H2:20, which may appear in A(i) at A2:19). In short, the evidence suggests a more or less normal sequence of distributions following the completion of each of the later sheets.

Valuable though Weiss’s study is for the quality of its type-identification evidence, it still does not free itself from the assumptions identified in Turner’s work by Blayney and McKenzie. While evidence of type shortages is consistent with the setting-order of the pages suggested to Turner by the type-recurrence, shortages cannot be used to establish setting-order. My inspection of the leaves of the Folger copy of Q1 under raking light fails to reveal any indentations in them such as might have been made by the type metal when the sheets were perfected, and thus fails to establish the order in which formes of sheets were printed. Holland (ed. 1994, p. 113): there is insufficient evidence as yet to establish the setting order.

Revision in Q1

Beginning in the middle of the 19th c., there arises a claim that Sh. revised the text of Q1 one or more times; the narrative of such revision remains somewhat consistent as it is elaborated by successive proponents, with the dialogue associated with the four lovers imagined to survive from Sh.’s earliest version of the play. Verplanck (ed. 1847, 2: Introductory Remarks [to MND], 6 [new pagination for each play and its accessories]): It seems . . . very probable . . . that [MND] was originally written in a very different form from that in which we now have it, several years before the date of the drama in its present shape—that it was subsequently remoulded after a long interval, with the addition of the heroic personages, and all the dialogue between Oberon and Titania, perhaps some alteration of the lower comedy; the rhyming dialogue and the whole perplexity of the Athenian lovers being retained, with slight change, from the more boyish comedy. White (ed. 1857, 4:16–17): It seems that [MND] was produced, in part at least, at an earlier period of Shakespeare’s life than his twenty-ninth year [i.e., 1593]. Although as a whole it . . . abounds in passages worthy even of Shakespeare in his full maturity, it also contains whole Scenes which are hardly worthy of his ’prentice hand . . . [17] and which yet seem to bear the unmistakeable marks of his unmistakeable pen. These scenes are the various interviews between Demetrius and Lysander, Hermia and Helen, in Acts II and III. . . . There seems, therefore, warrant for the opinion that this Dream was one of the very first conceptions of the young poet; . . . perhaps . . . he . . . went from Stratford up to London with it partly written; . . . when there, he found it necessary at first to forego completion of it for labor that would find readier acceptance at the theatre; and . . . afterward, when he had more freedom of choice, he reverted to his early production, and in 1594 worked it up into the form in which it was produced. . . . At least some of the additions might have been made . . . for a performance at Court. . . . Except in the play itself I have no support for this opinion, but I am willing to be alone in it.

Fleay (1878, p. 61): MND probably was recast previously to publication. Idem (1886, pp. 181–6) dates the version for the public stage to (p. 183) the winter of 1592, (p. 181) its present form to 1595. January 26, . . . the date of the marriage of William Stanley, Earl of Derby, and subsequent modifications to produce the court version to (p. 182) the winter of 1594–5. (P. 182): the traces of the play having been altered . . . are numerous. There is a double ending. Robin’s final speech [2207–22] is palpably a stage epilogue, while what precedes from Enter Puck [2153] to [2206] is very appropriate for a marriage entertainment, but scarcely suited to the stage. In Acts iv. and v., again, we find in the speech-prefixes Duke, Duchess, Clown, for Theseus, Hippolita, Bottom: such variations are nearly always marks of alteration, the unnamed characters being anterior in date. In the prose scenes speeches are several times assigned to wrong speakers, another common mark of alteration. (P. 183): wherever Robin occurs in the stage-directions or speech-prefixes scarcely any, if any, alteration has been made; Puck, on the contrary, indicates change. (P. 185): The time-analysis . . . has probably been disturbed by omissions in producing the Court version. [138–265] ought to form, and probably did, in the original play, a separate scene; it certainly does not take place in the palace. To the same cause must be attributed the confusion as to the moon’s age; cf. [222–3] with the opening lines [5–14]: the new moon was an afterthought, and evidently derived from a form of the story in which the first day of the month and the new moon were coincident after the Greek time-reckoning. Idem (1891, 2:194): The play has certainly alternative endings: one a song by Oberon for a marriage, and then Exeunt, with no mark of Puck’s remaining on the stage; the other an Epilogue by Puck, apparently for the Court (cf. gentles in [2213]). It might seem, as the Epilogue is placed last, that the marriage version was the earlier, and so I took it to be when I wrote my Life of Shakespeare [1886, quoted above]; but the compliment to Elizabeth [524–45] was certainly written for the Court; and this passage is essential to the original conduct of the play, which may have been printed from the marriage-version copy, with additions from the Court copy. This would require a date for the marriage subsequent to the Court performance. One version must date 1596, for the weather description [463–92], which can be omitted without in any way affecting the progress of the play, requires that date. I believe this passage was inserted for the Court performance in 1596, that on the public stage having taken place in 1595; but that the marriage presentation, being subsequent to this, was most likely at the union of Southampton and Elizabeth Vernon in 1598–9. Chambers (ed. 1897, pp. 14–15): There are certain indications which make me think that [MND] was also at some period [after its composition in 1594–5] slightly retouched. Two passages, [1204–1384+1] and [1793–1902], show a markedly larger proportion of feminine endings than the rest of the play. In the earlier passages, this may be due merely to the excited state of the speakers, but I cannot resist the suspicion that the opening of act v. shows some traces of later work. See also Luce (1906, p. 157). Noble (1923, p. 58 n. 1): The Quarto did not use italics for songs. My own belief is that the whole of the fairy part in the final episode is a comparatively late addition. Witness the fact that Oberon can sing and lead a chorus in Act V, a faculty of which he evinces no sign in the rest of the play.

Wilson (ed. 1924, pp. 80–153): The Q1 text emerges from three distinct episodes of Shn. composition in 1592–3, 1594–5, and 1598. What remains in Q1 of the 1592 version are the (p. 91) lovers’ scenes—those featuring Helena, Hermia, Demetrius, and Lysander—wherein the psychology is generally as crude as the verse (p. 92) is stiff and antithetical. Wilson dates these scenes to 1592–3 because they include 1849–50, which he, like Fleay (1886, p. 183) reads as an allusion to [Robert] Greene’s death [on 3 September 1592] (p. 94). To Sh.’s 1594–5 revision belong Q1’s mechanicals and Bottom scenes, most of the passages in which Robin is used in stage directions and speech prefixes to designate the character otherwise called Puck (including the epilogue—2207–22), parts of the fairy scenes (Wilson, ed. 1924, pp. 95–6), and the introduction of Hippolyta into 1.1 and 4.1. This revision includes the mechanicals’ concern over frightening the ladies with too realistic a representation of a lion (838–56), which Wilson, again like Fleay (1886, p. 185), takes to be an allusion to a spectacle from the celebration in the Scottish court of Prince Henry’s baptism (30 August 1594) for which it was prudently decided to substitute a blackamoor (Wilson ed. 1924, p. 95) for the lion that was initially to have drawn a triumphal car (ibid.). The revision also includes a description (463–92) of what Wilson takes to be the wet and chilly summer of 1594 (ibid.). Sh.’s final handling of MND in 1598 gives Q1 its mature Shakespearian verse, in which the masterly diction and vigorous sweep . . . introduce a note of intellectual energy that makes the whole glow with poetic genius (p. 183). Some such verse Wilson imagines to have been added in short passages written in the margin of the 1594–5 version, with other longer passages interpolated on additional leaves. For Wilson, as for Fleay, the use of Puck for Robin in stage directions and speech prefixes is peculiar to the 1598 revision and is the clue to its purpose, namely the introduction of the little western flower. All but two occurrences of Puck (1028 and 2153–4 being the exceptions) are associated with references to the flower, which functions as a compliment and representation of Elizabeth Vernon, daughter of Sir John Vernon of Hodnet Hall, Shropshire (p. 100) on the occasion of her marriage to the Earl of Southampton in 1598—the occasion for which Sh. added the wedding masque at 2153–206. Wilson (1962, p. 206) substitutes the wedding of Thomas Berkeley to Elizabeth Carey at Blackfriars on 19th February 1596 for the Southampton-Vernon wedding as the occasion for the second revision.

According to Wilson, the following derive from the 1592–3 version: most of 1.1 (2–265) including Helena’s entry at 24–5; 566–625 in 2.1; 686–717 and 737–811 in 2.2; 1063–1124 and 1146–1221 in 3.2; 1792–1881 (although with additions from 1598) in 5.1. To the 1594–5 belong 3–23, 131–5, and the splicing together of two 1592–3 scenes at 136–7 in 1.1; 1.2 (266–371); the beginning of 2.1 (373–523); all but one line of 3.1 (813–1020); 1021–62 (although this passage was later revised in part) and 1440–1506 in 3.2; 4.1 (1509–1745) though certain parts look like first draft material recopied (p. 131)—Wilson specifies 1624–48, 1711, and 1722–3 as 1594 additions—and three more additions were made in 1598; 4.2 (1746–89); 1882–1985 (but 1890–1904 were added in 1598), 1986–2152 (with three minor additions from 1598), and 2207–22 in 5.1. The 1598 revision consists of 153–9 in 1.1; 524–65 and 626–49 in 2.1; 650–85 and 718–36 in 2.2; 901 in 3.1; 1125–45 and 1222–1439 (which was partially recopied and revised in 1598 [p. 125]) in 3.2; 1586–90, 1604–10, 1690–2 in 4.1; 1797–1800, 1804–9, 1822–5, 1828–31, 1855–7, 1863–7, 1874–5, 1879–80, 1890–1902, 2015–16, 2138–40, 2143–4, and 2153–206 in 5.1. Craig (1931, p. 335): Revision of some sort is unmistakable in the case of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (See also Craig 1961, p. 108.)

Wilson’s revision hypothesis is not left to collapse under the burden of its accumulated speculation. Reviewing his ed., Chambers (1925, pp. 342–4) finds the case for revision to contain inconsistencies: Professor Wilson . . . thinks that, while I.1 and IV.1 belong substantially to the [earliest version], certain awkwardnesses in the introduction of Hippolyta suggest that she was an afterthought, connected in some obscure way with the indication in [4–5] of a four-day period for the action, which is not consistent with the time-analysis. I do not suppose that he would lay much stress on this, especially as he accepts Hipployta as part of his [earliest-version] substratum of V.1. Wilson, Chambers notes (p. 344), makes much of the variation in the naming of Robin-Puck, but nothing of that of Bottom-Clown. Yet Chambers does agree that 5.1 was revised and compliments Wilson on (p. 343) a valuable bibliographical contribution in his attention to the persistent mislining by the printer of passages in [1798–1800, 1804–9, 1822–5, 1828–31, 1855–7, 1863–7, 1874–5, 1879–80], which suggests that these passages were taken in from cramped marginal alterations in the copy. However, unlike Wilson, Chambers does not think the alleged marginal alterations can be dated years later than the context into which they have been supposedly interpolated. I agree again that the fairy-mask of V.1 [2153–206] and the epilogue of [2207–22] are probably duplicate endings. Still Chambers refuses to acknowledge that the adaptation issuing in this duplication need date from as late as 1598. (See also Chambers 1930, 1:360–1.)

Greg (1942, pp. 124–5), though, altogether rejects Wilson’s theory of revision, and subsequent editors join Greg both in this rejection and in his substitution of so-called foul papers (see here for Greg’s definition of this term) as the explanation for any discrepancies in Q1. According to Greg, whether or no the two endings were written at the same time, it would not be surprising to find both in the foul papers in their present order. Nonetheless, Greg does preserve, with modifications, Wilson’s conception of revision at the beginning of 5.1 (p. 125): On the whole I think the copy for Q must have been the author’s manuscript. . . . The most important piece of evidence is at the beginning of the last act where eight passages of verse are mislined [1798–1800, 1804–9, 1822–5, 1828–31, 1855–7, 1863–7, 1874–5, 1879–80]. Wilson has pointed out that if these are removed what remains is perfectly regular and consecutive, and he argues that they represent marginal additions in the copy. . . . It seems to me quite possible that Shakespeare, coming back to his work in a fresher mood, found what he had written rather flat and sought to brighten it up. And I cannot believe there was anything like the amount of revision Wilson imagines [elsewhere in Q1]: it would certainly have left other traces of the sort, whereas the text is elsewhere particularly clean. Greg later (1955, p. 243) is even more dismissive of Wilson’s theory, calling it all very ingenious; the difficulty is to believe that this refashioning would not have left plainer bibliographical traces than are now apparent. Nonetheless Greg adheres to Wilson’s theory of alleged marginal alteration. Spencer (1930, pp. 24–5) does not agree that, if the eight mislined passages are removed what remains is perfectly regular and consecutive, as Greg put it. Instead, Spencer notes that what remains does not cohere as well as the whole existing text does with the eight passages in place. He argues that it is hardly conceivable that a reviser, expanding certain speeches, should make the new joints less conspicuous than the old, since the new represent elaboration, while the old represent the flow of his thought as originally conceived. For example (p. 25), the description of the interlude in the schedule read by Theseus [1852–3] specifies four qualities: the piece is tedious, brief, tragical, and merry, all these qualities lying within the original text as segregated by Professor Wilson. But in the next speech, which contains Philostrate’s explanation, only tedious and brief lie within Mr Wilson’s [original text: 1858–61]. For tragical and merry we must subjoin . . . one of the additions [1863–7]. Kirschbaum (1946, p. 48) supports with another example Spencer’s supposition that what Wilson calls the original text and what he calls the additions were written at the same time: it will be noticed that in [1796] the sequence is Louers first, mad men second. Omitting the so-called addition [1797–1800], we see that the sequence in [1801–3] is mad man first, louer second. Why the shift in sequence if Shakespeare wrote [1796–1803] originally without . . . [1797–1800]? But when we look at [1799–1800, a supposed addition] . . . we see that the sequence lunatics first, louer second, Poet third is the sequence followed in [the allegedly original 1801–3] . . . and [the allegedly later addition 1804–9]. . . . In other words, the sequence followed in the supposedly original version in [1801–3] is not the sequence first indicated in the supposedly original version at [1796] but the sequence indicated in the supposed marginal addition at [1799–1800]. Thus, the ensuing hypothesis is that both [alleged original and alleged later addition] were written at one and the same time and that the [allegedly additional 1799–1800] . . . was written before and not after the [the allegedly original 1801–3]. And since the sequence indicated in [1799–1800] is followed in [1801–9], it may be suggested that [1804–9], the lines on the poet [a supposed addition], were not an afterthought but were written immediately after [1801–3]. See also Lull (1998) on these alleged Shn. revisions.

Turner (1962, pp. 49–50) seeks to corroborate Wilson’s revision theory in a number of places in Q1, including where the eight passages of verse are mislined. Noting that sigs. C1–3, which, according to Turner, are unusual in being set seriatim, contain, on Wilson’s theory, passages from all three stages of composition (497–681), Turner thinks it possible that the workman was confronted here with particularly nightmarish copy. Again, on Turner’s analysis, work on F(o) and the first two pages of F(i) went slowly; and this is another part of [50] the text ([1371–1506], ending near the foot of F2v) which Wilson thinks to have been considerably worked over. Problems with Turner’s method (discussed above, here) compromise any possibility of his analysis buttressing Wilson’s theory. Other problems obtrude in Turner’s justification of Wilson’s interpretation of the eight mislined passages in sig. G (5.1) as evidence of revision. Werstine (2012, p. 145) both summarizes and criticizes this justification: Close bibliographical analysis of the quarto by Robert K. Turner, Jr., shows that quire G is peculiar not only for the frequency with which its verse is mislined, but also for containing four pages with fewer lines of type than is normal. Usually each page has 35 lines, but sigs. G1r, 1v, and 2v have only thirty-four lines each, and G2r only thirty-two ([Turner] 1962, 39). In all, then, quire G is short six lines of type. Six is also the number of lines of type that are saved as an apparently accidental consequence of the mislining of five of the eight passages of verse that are erroneously divided; three of the mislined passages occupy the same space as they would if they were properly set. No one, including Turner, has remarked on this coincidence or attempted to account for it. Turner attempts to explain away the four short pages as follows: in casting off copy for quire G, the compositor, who, he assumes, cast off his own copy, evidently counted in some material that he later did not set[;] . . . he may have failed to notice that some lines here and there were supposed to be cancelled ([ibid.], 54). Such an explanation fails to convince because throughout Q Turner can find only two other places where there may have been errors in casting off so that the compositor had to juggle the lineation of the text in order to fit copy to a predetermined space (ibid., 55)—B2r, [319–20] and H2r, [2063–4]. His explanation then forces us to believe that Quire G is the unique site not only of a considerable amount of mislined verse and short pages (which, according to Turner, bear no relation whatsoever to the mislined verse) but also of a considerable number of misleadingly cancelled lines in its copy (for which there can be, in the nature of the case, no surviving evidence). Without any adequate explanation for the short pages of quire G, Wilson’s theory about the source of the mislined verse in the quire must remain shrouded in doubt. It is instead possible that whoever cast off copy for quire G found no difficulty in printer’s copy and counted off the lines with the same meticulous accuracy found in almost all the rest of his work, and then the compositor, who sometimes unaccountably, if only occasionally, mislined the text elsewhere (e.g., . . . H1r-H1v [1986–9] . . . ), made the mistakes in dividing verse that Wilson attributes to printer’s copy. Such an explanation may not be the right one, but at least it relates the bibliographical anomaly of the short pages to the textual anomaly of the frequently mislined verse.

After Greg’s dismissal of Wilson’s revision hypothesis, Smidt (1986, pp. 123, 128, 130–4, 140, 210) is reluctant to develop in any detail a theory of revision on the basis of so-called unconformities in Q1: One might suppose that the little Indian is left as a residue from an early attempt to work out an appropriate fairy plot, before the fairies became involved with Duke Theseus and his bride. He has lost his raison d’être as a cause of the fairies’ quarrel, but he is still useful as a means of providing a solution to it. (P. 128): The variation between the names Robin and Puck may well be a sign of different stages of composition, as some scholars have thought, but there may have been merely an expansion of Puck’s character as the writing of the play advanced, not a substitution of a spirit for a gnome. And this may have occurred during a continuous process of composition, so that the fairy Puck is not necessarily a sign of revision. (P. 130): The most interesting phenomenon as far as unconformities are concerned is the fitful appearance of the moon during the night in the wood. . . . [132] It is darkness . . . , only lightened for a while by the stars, that prevails while the lovers are in the wood. . . . There is no reference to present moonlight in the rehearsal scene [813–936]. Yet (p. 133) there is in fact enough indication of a moon in the fairy scenes to make the mention of a new moon on the wedding night [by Hippolyta at 12] well-nigh impossible, in spite of our expectations. . . . [134] If the inconsistency was accidental, was it brought about by the merging of different plot components, Theseus and Hippolyta on the one hand, the fairies on the other hand, the young lovers and the artisans in between? (P. 140): The contradictions in this comedy were not brought about by changes of mind, and, with one possible exception, not by inadvertence. The exception is the moonlit fairy scenes. Only (p. 210) the repetition of Theseus’s order to Demetrius and Egeus to accompany him [123–5 and 132–5] suggests some kind of textual disturbance. For reengagement with Wilson’s theory of revision, see Hunter (1998 and 2002, pp. 3–6).

Printer’s Copy for Q1

Speculation on this question has given rise to four suggestions, all of them testifying to perceptions of the high authority of the Q1 text: (1) Sh.’s own MS; (2) Sh.’s own MS as marked up by his company for production; (3) a transcript of Sh.’s MS made and used in the playhouse; (4) a non-theatrical transcript. The cautious commentators have found language to avoid or at least to qualify precise identification.

Discussion begins with Capell, who seems to opt for the third alternative. He (ed. 1768, 1:3 ff.) identifies fourteen quarto texts, including MND, that ought to be excluded from Heminge and Condell’s characterization of all the Shakespeare quartos as diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious imposters (p. 10): Let it then be granted, that these quarto’s [sic] are the Poet’s own copies, however they were come by; hastily written at first, and issuing from presses most of them as corrupt and licentious as can any where be produc’d, and not overseen by himself, nor by [11] any of his friends. . . . It may be true, that they were stoln; but stoln from the Author’s copies, by transcribers who found means to get at them: and maim’d they must needs be, in respect of their many alterations after the first performance. . . . [12] The very errors and faults of these quarto’s . . . are, with the editor [Capell], proofs of their genuineness; For from what hand, but that of the Author himself, could come those seemingly-strange repetitions [of passages in LLL and Tro.], . . . those imperfect entries . . . ? Capell’s use of transcribers suggests that he thinks copy to have been scribal transcripts, and his reference to their many alterations after the first performance locates transcription in the playhouse, where copy would be subject to theatrical adaptation.

Similarly Malone (in Boswell, ed. 1821, 1:203) in general recognizes the superiority of the early quartos to counterpart F1 texts, except for Wiv. and H5 (Q1 Ham. was not discovered until 1823), yet does not attempt to specify just what kind of MSS served as printer’s copy: With respect to the other thirteen copies [quartos, including MND] . . . , they in general are preferable to the exhibition of the same plays in the folio; for this plain reason, because, instead of printing these plays from a manuscript, the editors of the folio . . . printed the greater part of them from the very copies which they represented as maimed and imperfect, and frequently from a late, instead of the earliest, edition; in some instances with additions and alterations of their own.

Clark and Wright (ed. 1863, 2:viii), cautiously subjunctive: Fisher’s edition . . . may have been taken from the author’s manuscript. Furness (ed. 1895, p. xii) takes pains to imagine that Heminge and Condell may not have been guilty of a wilful untruth, as alleged by Malone, when they implied that they provided for F1 only his [Sh.’s] papers as printer’s copy, but, in fact, provided quarto copy for such plays as MND if they knew that this [quarto] text was [originally] printed directly from his manuscript. Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 8), leaving open all alternatives for printer’s copy: Q1 has been printed from a clear and authentic manuscript. Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xiii) adds to the alternatives the possible use of actors’ parts in the creation of printer’s copy, an idea apparently borrowed ultimately from Johnson’s 1756 Proposals for Printing . . . the Dramatick Works of William Shakespeare (ed. Arthur Sherbo, 1968, 7:52): Q1 was printed in all probability, either from the authentic MS. of Shakespeare himself, or at least from an accurate copy or, perhaps, copies of the actors’ parts, transcribed in the theatre from the original MS.

Furness (ed. 1895, p. xi) misleads a number of his successors with the observation that in both Q1 and Q2 the stage directions are, as in copies used on the stage, in the imperative, such as wind horns, [1622] sleep [1484]. So Cuningham (ed. 1905, xv) notes stage-directions . . . in the imperative, as is customary in stage copies as his ground for suggesting the possible playhouse provenance of printer’s copy. And Pollard (1909, p. 72) declares that The imperative form of the stage directions, Ly doune ([1110]) and Winde hornes ([1622]) may be taken as indicating its origin from a playhouse copy. (See Idem 1920, p. 64.) Greg (1942, p. 37) properly questions the assumption that the prompter can be identified by the use of the imperative: The prompter writes directions for his own use; they are generally terse and to the point. Chambers [1930, 1:118] questions whether they are usually in the imperative. They are not: but being short and curt they tend to imperative and participial constructions. Wilson (1945, p. 67) provides examples of the imperative in Anthony Munday’s hand, not the hands of the theatrical annotator(s), in the theatrical MS of Iohn A kent & Iohn a Cumber; Werstine (2012, p. 229) gives examples of imperative SDD in authorial hands from MSS of Thomas Heywood’s The Captives and the anonymous The Waspe. Greg (1942, p. 125), contradicting himself, follows Pollard in identifying the hand of the prompter in the appearance of imperative SDD: There are however [in Q1] a few directions that suggest the prompter, such as Lie down and Wind horn. In the palpable duplication, Enter Lovers; Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena ([1819–20]), we may see the book-keeper expanding a typically brief direction of the author’s. (Werstine [2012, p. 131] notes that actual theatrical texts rarely show a bookkeeper specifying a group in terms of their proper names, finding only one example, from the annotated quarto of Thomas Lodge and Robert Greene’s A Looking Glasse, for London and England.) Greg differs from Pollard, though, in judging printer’s copy to be, not a playhouse copy, but so-called foul papers (see here for Greg’s definition of this term) containing (1942, p. 125) notes made in preparation for the prompt-book. Greg’s belief in the possibility of such a document once having existed arises from his interpretation of a single extant MS, Thomas Heywood’s transcription of The Captives, as such a document, but as Werstine (2012, pp. 300–9) observes, this interpretation is at odds with features of the MS. Greg rules out (1942, 125) a playhouse transcript to be printer’s copy only because he believes that there could only ever have been one such transcript and that it was used to annotate printer’s copy for F, which differs from Q1 chiefly in terms of such annotations.

Pollard (1920, p. 63), while not setting aside his belief in theatrical annotation of printer’s copy, anticipated Greg in arguing as well for the possibility that such annotated copy could originally have been inscribed by Sh.: Possibly in some cases, if [a dramatist] were familiar with the theatre, he might use the same technical language as a prompter, so that Shakespeare himself, in the scene in the wood in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, may have written the directions, Enter a Faerie at one doore and Robin goodfellow at another, Enter the King of Fairies at one doore, with his traine; and the Queen at another with hers, the doors, of course, being those of the stage, not of the wood. Adams (1923, p. 519) states an opinion that can be interpreted to be identical to Pollard’s but need not necessarily be: MND is printed from authentic playhouse copy; compare Neilson & Hill, ed. 1942, p. 88. Pollard (1923, p. 7): some of the flaws in these Good Quartos [including MND Q1] are the result of imperfections in Shakespeare’s own work, and I have ventured to claim that some of these Good Quartos may actually have been set up from Shakespeare’s autograph manuscripts. Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 80) is of Pollard’s mind: beyond doubt [Q1 is] printed from a theatrical prompt-book, . . . [with] the managerial voice giving real directions to the players; he quotes 1110, 1484, and 1622. Printer’s copy also contains irregularities strongly suggestive of an author’s manuscript, and so it is both Shakespeare’s autograph manuscript and the prompt-book just as Shakespeare left it. Kittredge (ed. 1936, p. 229) and Parrott (ed. 1938, p. 131) follow Wilson. Chambers (1930, 1:358), persuaded to be more specific than in 1897: Q1 may be from the author’s manuscript. Kirschbaum (1955, pp. 172–3) stands out against the idea of theatrical annotation of a Sh. MS: Greg’s evidence for prompter’s additions does not pass muster. The directions could just as well come from the author, and there is no reason why they should not be copied by a scribe. (P. 173): The nomenclature [variation in naming of characters in SPP and SDD] . . . does not show the author in the heat of composition—does not cause the reader to assume foul papers behind the print. . . . There is little evidence of foul papers or playhouse in Q. Nothing in it rules out printing from transcript. . . . There is neither internal nor external evidence to show that the copy came to the publisher from Shakespeare’s fellows.

In 1955 Greg establishes what becomes a virtual consensus among 20th-c. editors that printer’s copy for Q1 is authorial foul papers defined as (1955, pp. 106, 142) a copy representing the play more or less as the author intended it to stand, but not itself clear or tidy enough to serve as a prompt-book, that is, a theatrical MS used to guide performance, because it contained (p. 142) loose ends and false starts and unresolved confusions. Greg presumed that book-keepers necessarily tidied away from prompt-books certain features of foul papers, including seven features still to be found in Q1 (ibid., pp. 240–2):

  • (1)multiple designations of the same character (p. 241): Oberon is King of Fairies (or simply King) or Oberon indifferently; Titania is of course named in the text [i.e., dialogue and SPP], but in directions [the proper name] appears only at [650] on her second entry [otherwise she is named Queene in SDD]; Bottom, on his most important appearance [1509] is merely Clowne; Theseus and Hippolyta, after long appearing by name, become as a rule Duke and Duchess after the play begins in Act V; lastly Robin (Goodfellow) and the generic Puck alternate;
  • (2)indefinite entrances involving speakers (p. 240): after carefully naming the rude mechanicals in I.ii, the author later contents himself with the description the Clownes (III.i) or the rabble (IV.ii); the young couples, having been named in I.i, become simply Louers at V.i . . . , for here the names [i.e., Lysander, Demetrius, Hermia, and Helena] are a palpable addition; the fairies are quite indefinite, except for the foure at [980]. Greg also quotes as allegedly bearing the characteristics of the author and thereby implicitly needing the bookkeeper’s attention SDD containing the term traine to refer to speakers attending royalty (p. 240: her [i.e., Titania’s] traine (650); all his [i.e., Theseus’s] traine (1622);
  • (3)other indefinite SDD: Greg’s characteristically authorial SDD include (p. 240) Enter Theseus, Hippolita, with others (2), where others refers to supers, rather than speakers, including Philostrate, addressed by name in this scene;
  • (4)inclusion of an unnecessary character in a SD (p. 241): Pucke is made to enter with Oberon at [1021], though in fact he only does so three lines later;
  • (5)missing entrances and exits;
  • (6)descriptive SDD: characteristic of the author, according to Greg, are, for example (p. 240), Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia . . . and Enter Quince, the Carpenter; and Snugge, the Ioyner . . . ;
  • (7)marginal insertions of dialogue (pp. 241–2): Greg fully endorses the theory of J. Dover Wilson’s that some passages of verse at the beginning of the play’s last scene are wrongly divided in Q1 because they were marginal additions to the dialogue, their position in the margins forbidding their writer from dividing them properly as verse and the compositor following his copy in this error (see here).

Greg also mentions the following incidental features of Quarto MND as characteristic of foul papers: erroneous SPP—for Greg, one of Shakespeare’s (ibid., p. 247 Note A) oversights in composition, the author having written consecutive speeches for Flute and Thisbe, forgetting that they were the same; double entrance (p. 240): Helena enters in 1.1 both at 25 and at 191; a dialogue error in naming (ibid., p. 246 Note A): Flute for Snout at 1957; and an erroneous SD (ibid., 240): Enter Quince, Flute, Thisby and the rabble (1746)—in this scene Shakespeare had forgotten that Flute and Thisbe are one.

Werstine (2012, p. 132): The appearance of these features in the earliest printing of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads Greg to conclude that we can hardly imagine that Q represents a finished prompt-book [1955, p. 241] and therefore, by this process of elimination of what he regards . . . as the only possible alternative, Quarto Dream must represent Shakespeare’s foul papers—in spite of the persistence of the same features in the actual theatrical texts that he calls promptbooks, which destroys his argument. Werstine reviews each of Greg’s features and compares them to what is found in the twenty-one extant texts (both MS and annotated quartos) that bear theatrical annotation and thereby show what book-keepers actually did and did not do to their playbooks (these texts are described in Werstine 2012, pp. 234–57). In these twenty-one Werstine finds (1) multiple designations of the same character (pp. 359–64), (2) indefinite entrances involving speakers, including the very terms cited by Greg to discount a theatrical MS—crewe, trayne, the rest (pp. 375–9), (3) other indefinite SDD, including uses of others identical to those cited from MND by Greg (pp. 379–82), (4) inclusion of an unnecessary character in a SD (p. 384), (5) missing entrances (pp. 374–5) and exits (pp. 386–8), (6) descriptive SDD such as, from the scribal MS Ironside: Enter Edmond and Alfricke the generall vnder the kinge:/ (1.3.332) and Enter Edricke a poore man . . . (2.2.461). (Needlessly explanatory SDD, like those that Greg quotes from the MND quarto, are also frequent in The Second Maidens Tragedy [also called The Lady’s Tragedy], another scribal MS, in further indication that such SDD are by no means peculiar to authorial MSS: Enter the new Vsurping Tirant; The Nobles of his faction, Memphonius, Sophonirus, Heluetius with others, The right heire Gouianus depos’de [1.1.1–3]; Enter L Anselmus the deposde kinges brother, wth | his Frend Votarius [1.2.257–8]; Enter the ladye of Gouianus . . . [2.1.636]; Enter Tirant wondrous discontedly: Nobles afarr of [4.2.1655–6]; Enter Votarius with Anselmus the Husband [5.1.1984]); (7) marginal insertions of dialogue (pp. 388–9). Even the minor features cited by Greg to identify foul papers as printer’s copy are located in theatrical MSS by Werstine: erroneous SPP (pp. 371–2), double entrances (pp. 385–6), a dialogue error in naming (p. 371), and erroneous SDD (p. 385).

Greg himself showed his awareness of the flaw in his reasoning when he wrote (1955, p. 142) It must, however, be recognized that owing to the casual ways of book-keepers these characteristics may persist, to some extent at least, in the prompt-book. In reproducing his argument and conclusions about copy for MND Q1, editors fail to attend to this caveat: Doran (ed. 1959, p. 174); Wells (ed. 1967, p. 165); Evans (ed. 1974, p. 247); Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxii–v); Foakes (ed. 1984, pp. 135–6); Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 279); Holland (ed. 1994, pp. 113–14); Berger (ed. 1995, p. ix). Horwood (ed. 1939, p. 10) accepts what would become Greg’s argument and conclusion in the form in which it was first presented in McKerrow (1935)—Greg’s inspiration—with reference only to variation in naming in SPP and SDD. Greg’s definition of foul papers has also been overturned in Werstine (2009, pp. 44–5).

A significant problem with Greg’s use of variation in naming of characters in SPP in MND Q1 and other texts as evidence of so-called foul papers had already been identified by Kennedy (1998, pp. 178–9): There may, however, be another explanation for the variation in SP’s in some of Shakespeare’s early texts. The change may not be authorial at all, but compositorial. It seems to have been a printing-house convention that a compositor did not have to follow copy in the matter of SP’s, but could choose to call characters by their first names or last names, or [179] generic names or personal names, or by their functions or peculiarities. If he needed to, he could vary the SP from Quin. to Pet[er], from The[seus] to Duke, . . . and so on. Most of the time, variant SP’s do not point to authorial foul papers, but signify compositorial change. And most of the time, variant SP’s are not signs of an author’s revising, or of an author in the heat of composition, but are rather indications of a compositor switching SP’s because of type shortage. Kennedy applies this theory in detail to the variation in naming in MND Q1’s SPP (179–90).

To support the view that printer’s copy is in Sh.’s own hand, some recent editors have followed Wilson (ed. 1924, pp. 112, 116, 121, 148) in adducing certain spellings in MND Q1 as the same as or somewhat analogous to spellings in the Hand-D pages of MS The Booke of Sir Thomas Moore (BL Harl. 7368), in the belief that Hand D is Sh.: Evans (ed. 1974, p. 247), Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxv–vi), Foakes (ed. 1984, p. 136), Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 279), Holland (ed. 1994, p. 114); Berger (ed. 1995, p. ix). However, recent review of Hand D’s spelling by Jackson (2007) shows that only a half-dozen are sufficiently rare to constitute acceptable evidence for attribution, and none of these is in MND Q1.

There is no evidence for a rational choice among the following alternatives for MND Q1 printer’s copy: (1) Sh.’s own MS; (2) Sh.’s own MS as marked up by his company for production; (3) a transcript of Sh.’s MS made and used in the playhouse; (4) a non-theatrical transcript. While there is nothing in the way of playhouse notes in the quarto to demonstrate alternatives 2 and 3, Werstine (2012, p. 4) shows that in some actual playhouse MSS there is so little annotation that it is possible that MSS with no annotation could have been used in production.

The Second Quarto (1619)

There is no entry for Q2 in the Stationers’ Register, as is the case with a great many books published in the late 16th and early 17th c. (see Blayney 1997, pp. 400–5). Erne (2003, pp. 255–8) suggests that Heminge and Condell were referring specifically to the whole series of plays among which MND Q2 appeared in 1619 when the two actors wrote of the stolne, and surreptitious copies in their prefatory remarks to the First Folio (1623)—if these remarks were of their composition. However, Heminge and Condell fail to supply any justification for Erne’s specification, and they provide MND Q2 as copy for the Folio printing.

Q2’s title page, as transcribed by Greg (BEPD, 1:169), reads as follows: [ornament] | A | Midsommer nights | dreame. | As it hath beene sundry times pub- |likely acted, by the Right Honoura- |ble, the Lord Chamberlaine his |seruants. | VVritten by VVilliam Shakespeare. | [device <McKerrow>283] | Printed by Iames Roberts, 1600.

Bartlett & Pollard (1939, pp. 71–3) identify and locate thirty extant copies of Q2. Modern facsimiles include that of William Griggs, ed. J. W. Ebsworth, 1880. For a digital facsimile see the Shakespeare Quartos Archive (www.quartos.org).

The Printing of Q2

Except for its slightly different top lace border, its altogether different mid-page printer’s ornament, and its substitution of reference to Roberts for that to Fisher, the wording and even the alternation of roman and italic fonts of Q2’s title page duplicate Q1’s. Thus it falsifies its date of printing and its printer, and thereby created uncertainty (see above here) and gave rise to dispute (see below). Three centuries passed before the discovery that Q2 was in fact printed in 1619 by William Jaggard for Thomas Pavier. Pollard (1909, p. 93): the mid-page printer’s ornament William Jaggard was using . . . in other books both before and after 1619. The resemblance between Q1 and Q2 title pages continues on sig. A2, the first page of the play’s text. In both quartos that page is surmounted by A | MIDSOMMER NIGHTS | DREAME. followed by a centered SD and then by a centered SP.

Because the states of formes in Q1 differ only by typographical errors that are easily noticed and corrected, it is impossible to identify the states of the formes in the copy of Q1 used as printer’s copy for Q2. Pollard (1923, p. 5): Taking each intermediate edition [like this 1619 Pavier quarto of MND] by itself, in no single instance do we find evidence of the sort of care which could lead us to believe that its overseer had obtained access to any authoritative source. . . . As evidence of the words which Shakespeare wrote or of the words which were spoken by the actors engaged in his plays these intermediate editions are absolutely worthless, except where we possess only one or two copies of the First Edition. . . . A Second Edition might . . . be printed from a copy of the First in which a correction had been made which does not appear in any copy of the First now extant. Pollard’s only one or two is optimistic; even when there are eight extant copies of Q1, we may not expect to find among them all the different states of correction of their formes and therefore all the states that may have been present in the copy of Q1 used to print Q2.

The Pavier quarto of 1619 is, for the most part, a page-for-page reprint of Q1. Clark & Wright (ed. 1863, 2:viii): On comparing these two Quartos we find that they correspond page for page, though not line for line, except in the first five pages of sheet G. In Q1 the first four pages of this sheet contain fewer typographical lines than the thirty-five found on the rest of the pages. In Q2 these four pages each contain 35 typographical lines. This regularization is effected sometimes by the transfer of lines from later pages to earlier ones, sometimes by the chopping up of verse into shorter lines, sometimes by the correct division of verse that is mislined in Q1, and sometimes by the addition of white space around SDD. Like Q1, Q2 is divided into neither acts nor scenes. Q2 has a different tailpiece on H4v from Q1’s; Greg (BEPD 1:169): The ornament on H4v [of Q2] is a copy of device 179.

Dyce (ed. 1857, 1:clxiii): Roberts’s [Q2] is the less accurate quarto. Clark & Wright (ed. 1863, 2:viii): The printer’s errors in Fisher’s [Q1] edition are corrected in that issued by Roberts [Q2], and . . . in the Roberts Quarto the Exits are more frequently marked. Ebsworth (ed. Q2 1880, pp. ix–xiii): In Fisher’s [Q1], the business [i.e., the SDD] is given (as usual) in Italic type, with exception of the proper names of the characters; which are in Roman type. But in Roberts’s [Q2], the whole line is in Italic type, names and all. (P. x): Roberts’s page [is] wider than Fisher’s to the extent of about two letters’ breadth [The measure in Q1 is 82 mm; that in Q2 87 mm.]. And it is remarkable that when . . . difference [in line-for-line reproduction] ensued . . . a recurrence has been speedily made to the former agreement. (P. xiii): The spelling of Q2 is more modern than Q1’s: We give a brief sample of these differences in corresponding places; but they are innumerable throughout: — Roberts’s Quarto: tell — Snug — else — home-spuns — perhaps — hue — eke — Iew — Snowt — do — hog — Finch — Sparrow — answer — lye — he, etc. . . . Fisher’s Quarto: tel — Snugge — els — homespunnes — perhappes — hewe — eeke — Iewe — Snowte — doe — hogge — Fynch — Sparrowe — answere — ly — hee etc. [845–952]. Ebsworth also notes some contractions such as trēble, for tremble [852]; lātern, for lantern [871]; chābre, for chamber [873]; vnderstād, for vnderstand [903]; trāslated, for translated [935–6] in Q1 that are expanded in Q2. It is by no means difficult to understand the improved clearness in typography of Roberts over that of Fisher (supposing, as we do, that Roberts had Fisher’s printed book before his eyes). For there was the additional space gained—1. By the excision of redundant letters; 2. By having a wider platform of type in his page; 3. By his gaining an occasional line in prose passages, and thus being able to afford extra leads at entrance of characters. Despite this improvement in typographical clearness, there is a marked deterioration in the minute divisions of the verse by punctuation. Commas are less frequent, either from negligence or from systematic repugnance to the scholarly and grammatical breaking-up of sentences. Furness (ed. 1895, p. xi–xv), comparing Q2 to Q1: The Second Quarto . . . has the fairer page, with type fresh and clear. (P. xv): In . . . Q1 there are about fifty-six stage-directions; in . . . Q2 about seventy-four. Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 168): Q2 is printed from Q1. . . . it is set up with greater attention to typographical details. . . . And where the typographical correspondence of the two editions gets out, the spacing of Q2 is always arranged so as to recover it as soon as possible. The printer is evidently working from a model. Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xi): Q 2 corrects some of the mistakes in Q 1; but, on the other hand, it commits more than it corrects. Rhodes (1923, p. 64): the additions in Roberts’ are of small importance, being commonly the mark of Exit when it is quite clear from what the actor said that he was leaving the stage.

Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxvii–viii) cites further bibliographical evidence of [Q2’s] derivation [from Q1]: reproduction of such peculiarities as the spelling wodde for wood [261; here Brooks appears to be in error; unless there is an unrecorded press variant, Q2 reads wood] and the omission of Enter before Robin and Demetrius [1465]; its printing of The. In himselfe he is [62], Enter Snout [929], Enter Lysander [1440], Enter Thisbie [1989], and Lyon. Oh [2064] just as Q1 has them, tucked in on the same line as the end of the preceding speech; [Q2’s] agreement with Q1 in capitalizations which are not simply those to be expected; and above all its concurrence in thirty-five of the speech-prefixes where Q1 varies the form of the abbreviation. In II.i, for example, where Q1 has Ob. three times, then Oberon, Ob. four times more, then Oberon again; and, also exceptionally, for Demetrius’ sixth speech, Demet. Q2 follows suit. Full collation shows that it repeats all but thirteen of the verbal errors made in Q1. It corrects prose set as verse at [911–12], but not at [1986–9]. A [xxviii] half-hearted attempt is made to rectify some of the misdivided verse in V.i between [1797] and [1880], but most of it, like the misdivided [490–1] in II.I, is reprinted as it stands.

. . . Of [Q2’s] thirteen corrections, four eliminate obvious literal misprints. In the remainder the errors announce themselves: the misreading of waves for wanes [7], and of Cet. for Bot. [867]; the displacement of t from comfor to bet [691], the omission of an o from good [695], and of to before expound [1734] where the sense requires it; a mistake of number in gentleman [1333]; a failure to repeat is after this [1649]; an assimilation of is to knit [699]; and a catching of yet from earlier in the phrase [2104]. They needed nothing beyond the context in Q1 itself either to draw attention to them or to indicate the proper correction. Apart from the accidentals of spelling and the like, Q2 differs from Q1 only through the guesswork which furnished these corrections, and by over sixty new errors of the printing-house. Since it derives from the author only through Q1, its readings have no independent authority.

See the textual notes of this edition for all significant differences between Q1 and Q2, including SPP, SDD, lineation, punctuation, and verbal variants.

Date and Auspices of Q2

Editors struggled to determine the priority of the two editions, both dated 1600 on their title-pages. (See here.) Although most judged correctly that Fisher’s edition was the earlier, disputes arose. Halliwell-Phillipps (ed. 1856, 5:11): Perhaps Fisher’s edition, which on the whole, seems to be more correct than the other, was printed from a corrected copy of that published by Roberts. Fleay (1891, 2:178–9): The consensus of critical opinion is that Roberts pirated his copy from the earlier Fisher edition; but it would be a unique phenomenon had this been allowed to pass without inhibition or, at least, protest. All the evidence lies the other way. Better readings are usually found in later editions, whenever these are produced in the lifetime of the author. Printer’s errors are far more likely to have been introduced than corrected in a second edition. . . . It seems to me far more likely that Roberts printed the play for Fisher, who did not, for some reason unknown to us, care to put his name on the first issue; but finding the edition quickly exhausted, and the play popular, he then appended his name as publisher.

Only in the early 20th c. was Q2 MND correctly dated. Knowles (2020, pp. 1116–18): it was identified as part of a group of plays printed in the same year (1619) though bearing title pages dated from 1600 to 1619. That curious and rather shabby collection (Greg, 1955, p. 12) of plays known or sometimes thought to be by Shakespeare—Parts 1 and 2 of The Whole Contention betweene . . . Lancaster and York (2H6 and 3H6), Per., A Yorkshire Tragedy, MV, Wiv., MND, Lr., H5, and 1 Sir John Oldcastle—had been reprinted in 1619 from earlier quartos or octavos originally issued by a variety of printers and publishers; this new collection, now known as the Pavier Quartos, was printed by William Jaggard (whose shop would soon print F1) for the publisher Thomas Pavier, who was apparently planning to bring out a collection of Shakespeare’s plays. Several bound collections of these ten plays have in fact survived. The brilliant literary sleuthing that revealed the truth behind their several falsified title pages has been recounted by Richard Altick in The Scholar Adventurers (1950, pp. 189–95).

Greg (1908, pp. 113–31, 381–409) first proposed that the ten quartos bound together in a 17th-c. binding were not remainders—three were dated 1600, two 1608, three 1619—but were all actually printed in 1619 despite the differing dates on their title-pages. Eight had a printer’s device and numerals not used until 1610 and a type font not used until 1617, and all were printed on the same papers, bearing the same group of watermarks, which would not have been available over a span of nineteen years. (On rare Pavier watermarks bearing dates of either 1617 or 1619, see Stevenson [1951–2]). In each quarto the printer imitated an original edition. Greg inferred that initially three of these editions were printed in and dated 1619, but that when Pavier for some reason got nervous about his undertaking he issued others under their original dates, possibly seeming to sell off the remainders of editions printed years before by other publishers in order to avoid challenges to copyright. Pollard (1909, pp. 81–104) reports that he and Greg became suspicious of the quartos because they did not specify the printer, publisher, and publisher’s address, but rather the initials T. P. (for Thomas Pavier) on five of the title-pages; because around 1619 William Jaggard was using two of the printer’s devices appearing repeatedly in this group of quartos; because a font of Roman type used in the suspect quartos was a new kind also used in F1 in 1623; and because the spelling in each suspect quarto was generally more modern than in its (older) counterpart, evidently reflecting the habits of Jaggard’s compositors. The clinching proof was provided by Neidig (1910, pp. 145 ff.), who showed by photographic overlays that seven of the nine title-pages were printed in part from the same setting of type, parts of which were transferred from one title-page to another; these therefore were (p. 154) not printed nineteen years apart, but within a few days of each other. The order of printing that he established for these title-pages—WC, YT, Per., MV, Wiv., Lr., H5, and SJO—has been generally accepted as the order of printing of the plays themselves, with the exception that Per. follows WC, with which it shares continuous signatures. On the evidence of watermarks Blayney (1972, pp. 196–7) provisionally places MND before Lr., and Knowles (1982, p. 195) has found the supporting evidence that a number of distinctive types in the last three sheets of MND appear in the first three sheets of Lr. Wiv. is printed in a larger and different font than that used in Lr.

Chambers (1930, 1:134–7): The Contention and Pericles have continuous signatures and were clearly designed for issue together. . . . William Jaggard succeeded to the printing business of James Roberts about 1608, and by 1617 had associated in it his son Isaac Jaggard. . . . The reprinting of 1619 was no doubt done in concert with Pavier, who owned the copyright of five of the plays. . . . Presumably licence was obtained from Johnson for the use of Merry Wives of Windsor, and from Butter for that of King Lear. Of the other three, Midsummer-Night’s Dream was probably derelict, and Merchant of Venice may have been believed to be so. Blount’s registration of Pericles had already been overlooked, and there is nothing to show that Gosson had any copyright. The shortened imprints suggest that the title-pages were originally meant for half-titles in a comprehensive volume, which would naturally begin with a general and more explicit title-page. . . . It was nothing to Pavier and Jaggard that they were reprinting bad texts and ascribing to Shakespeare plays that were not his. Perhaps Shakespeare’s fellows viewed [136] such proceedings with less equanimity. On May 1619 a letter was addressed by the Lord Chamberlain to the Stationers’ Company directing that none of the King’s men’s plays should be printed without some of their consents. Its exact terms are not preserved. But they appear to be recited in a letter of similar import written on 10 June 1637 by Philip Earl of Pembroke, then Lord Chamberlain, and brother of William Earl of Pembroke, who was Lord Chamberlain in 1619, asking the Stationers to stay publication of any King’s men plays without their consents. Pavier and Jaggard [137] may have issued all the ten plays. It is perhaps more likely that they had already abandoned the continuous signatures and perhaps the idea of a comprehensive volume, had separately issued those dated 1619, and had the rest ready in print. . . . Whatever the events of 1619, they can have left no enduring malice between the King’s men and the Jaggards, since it was again from their press that the collection . . . the First Folio came. From the facts of Pavier’s life—that he was at the time publishing religious books rather than plays and was just entering the governing councils of the Stationers’ Company—Johnson (1992, pp. 35–40) concludes that Jaggard, not Pavier, was the instigator of a straightforward scheme to put into print a collection of as many plays as were available, not a complete collection, and that Pavier collaborated by lending the copyrights on the plays he owned (WC, YT, SJO, H5, apparently Per.), by negotiating permissions for Lr. and Wiv., and by assuming or appropriating rights to the more-or-less derelict MV and MND. The faked imprints, Johnson suspects, were intended not to deceive the copyright holders but to avoid protest by the acting company or their agents, who ultimately may have concluded that plays being offered as old goods offered no competition to their planned new and improved Folio. Whether Pavier and Jaggard had conceived of their enterprise as a straightforward business venture, exactly why and when and how the players and other publishers may have objected to the project, what effect Pembroke’s letter may have had, and how William Jaggard and his son Isaac were persuaded to transfer their attentions to the larger project of the First Folio of 1623 have been much speculated upon and discussed; see Pollard (1909, pp. 100–4), Greg (1924, pp. 139–44), Greg (1955, pp. 9–17), . . . Greg (BEPD, 1957, 3:1107–8). Blayney (privately): Since Jaggard’s name did not appear on any of the 1619 quartos, there’s no reason to suppose that any of the players ever guessed that the culprit was the printer they knew best (because of his playbill monopoly). So that even if it had been the players who chose Jaggard to print the Folio (as it almost certainly wasn’t), we can’t assume that they’d forgiven him for a known transgression. . . . We shouldn’t credit them with knowing all that we know.

Kirschbaum (1955, 240–1) speculates about Jaggard’s particular circumstances and strategy in printing MND Q2: The play was derelict copy [Fisher, publisher of Q1, having disappeared from the Stationers’ Company without transferring his right to publish the book to any other member]; in order to publish such copy, it was necessary to obtain the Stationers’ Company’s permission. For the stationers’ guild to grant Jaggard the right to print this play in 1619 might be construed by King’s men as an act in direct defiance of their interests. [Greg (1955, p. 24) quotes the Stationers’ Court-Book C: vppon a letter from the right honorable the Lord Chamberleyne It is thought fit & so ordered That no playes that his Maiestyes players do play shalbe printed without consent of somme of them.] (P. 241): Jaggard decided not to try to establish copyright in [MND] at Stationers’ Hall but to print the derelict copy with a false publisher and a false date. This was the only alternative to issuing it with a 1619 date, a procedure which might have led to some kind of trouble. Jaggard’s apprehensions may perhaps be gauged by the supposition that his edition of [MND] purports to be not an edition different from another published in 1600 . . . but a second issue of the edition bearing Fisher’s name. It was not uncommon for a single edition to be sold by two or more publishers, each publisher having his name only on the title page of the issue he sold. How fortunate, therefore, for Jaggard to find in his shop a large stock of unsold copies of [MND] published in 1600 by his predecessor, Roberts! According to Kirschbaum (ibid., p. 250), Jaggard made his MND look like a different issue of the authentic Fisher edition or like an edition closely copying and closely succeeding the Fisher edition. However, Kirschbaum’s speculation, like Johnson’s above, casts Jaggard in the role of Q2’s publisher, rather than, as he was, only its printer, who may therefore have had no concerns about rights in the copy or about the King’s Men.

Massai (2007, pp. 112–19), departing from earlier scholars’ emphasis on Pavier and Jaggard’s deception of their fellow stationers and the King’s Men, instead proposes that publication of the Pavier quartos may have been part of a larger marketing scheme devised by these two stationers for their mutual benefit in selling first these quartos and then, if successful, the 1623 Folio. Massai associates the Pavier quartos with several other 17th-c. nonce collections of plays by single dramatists that brought together previously published editions of plays with editions just published for the collection. For example, (p. 116) the 1607 re-issue of Sir William Alexander’s The Monarchicke Tragedies (STC 344) includes two additional plays, . . . both dated 1607, and two plays originally issued in the 1604 edition of The Monarchick Tragedies (STC 343). While one of these two plays has no individual title page, the other retains the original one and the date in the imprint is unchanged. With some title pages dated 1619 and others earlier, the 1619 Pavier quartos may resemble such collections. Jaggard’s (p. 118) advantage in leading Pavier’s prospective readers to believe that they were [119] offered the scattered remains of a recently deceased playwright whose works had not been published since 1615 can probably best be described as a pre-publicity stunt. . . . Pavier’s marketing strategy was aimed at arousing rather than satisfying a specific demand for a product that was still relatively new to the English book market—a collection in folio of plays by a dramatist writing for the commercial playhouses. Isaac Jaggard may eventually have succeeded in finding an investor for his project [the 1623 Folio] because Pavier had paved the way for it in 1619 by significantly reviving the fortunes of Shakespeare in print. . . . What would Pavier gain from it? . . . Selling his quartos both individually and as a nonce collection would minimize Pavier’s financial risk, [and] . . . Pavier would gain additional revenue from lending the right to reprint his Shakespeare plays to other stationers [namely, those in the syndicate bringing out the Folio].

Compositor Identification and Order of Printing in Q2

Kable (1970, pp. 7–18) identifies Compositor B of the 1623 Folio as the single compositor who set all the Pavier quartos. Andrews (1971, p. 320) identifies the compositor of MND Q2 as the fellow workman of Compositor B on the Pavier quartos: Compositor F alone set up the type for four plays [including] . . . A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Andrews employs the following criteria for discriminating between the two compositors: spelling, capitalization of I will contractions, punctuation of the text, placement and punctuation of marginal stage directions, and consistency in the use of italic type for proper nouns. He attributes the marked changes in punctuation between Q1 and Q2 to Compositor F (pp. 395–6): with Midsummer Night’s Dream . . . Compositor F’s average number of punctuation changes . . . jumps dramatically upward, this time to 17.0 punctuation changes per page (1050 changes in 62 pages). . . . [396] It is difficult to judge the extent to which the dramatic increase in punctuation changes . . . was affected by the nature of the punctuation in the Q1 Midusmmer copy-text. . . . however, it would appear that the increase is largely to be explained as resulting from a new degree of aggressiveness on the part of the compositor. Andrews (1973, Two Compositors, p. 5) subsequently renames his Compositor F Compositor G.

In the course of compositor identification, Andrews (1971, pp. 331–2) provides a headline analysis of MND Q2: the set of running-titles [headlines] that appear on pages B1, B2v, B3, and B4v reappear on pages B2, B1v, B4, and B3v, respectively. They then reappear on the following pages: D1, D2v, D3, D4v and D2, D1v, D4, D3v; E1, E2v, E3, E4v and E2, E1v, E4, E3v; G1, G2v, G3, G4v and G2, G1v, G4, G3v. Another set of running-titles appear in parallel sequence: C1, C2v, C3, C4v and C2, C1v, C4, C3v; F1, F2v, F3, F4v and F2, F1v, F4, F3v; H1, H2v, H3, H4v and H2, H1v, H4, H3v. It is obvious that two different skeleton frames were employed in the printing of Midsummer, one frame being used to print both the outer and inner formes of quires B, D, E, and G and a second frame being used to print both the outer and inner formes of quires A, C, F, and H. (I omitted quire A from the initial part of this discussion because it contains only five pages with running-titles; it should be noted, however, that the running-titles for these pages are identical with, and in the same relationships to each other as, the running-titles for quires C, F, and H.

While Andrews sees no significance in such headline analysis for compositor identification, Blayney (1972, 197–205) does. Andrews (1973, Supplement to Two Compositors, p. 11) summarizes Blayney’s position, while departing from it: Blayney adopts as a working hypothesis the idea that the alternating skeletons reflect alternating compositorial stints. While the idea, according to Andrews, has some application to MV, Blayney’s working hypothesis runs into difficulties when he tries to apply it to the remaining Pavier Quartos, including MND. It is at variance with the most compelling evidence based on spellings, punctuation, and other differentiae. Andrews (1973, Supplement to Unresolved Bibliographical Problems, pp. 1–5) expands these differentiae to include the spacing of medial commas and periods and of periods after SPP.

Andrews and Blayney also differ concerning when in the sequence of Pavier quartos MND Q2 was printed. Andrews (1971, p. 328), noting that MND’s title-page contains no typographical associations with other Pavier quarto title-pages, writes that MND was the very last Pavier quarto to be printed. Blayney (1972, pp. 196–7), relying on watermarks, places MND Q2 just before Lr.

Knowles (1982, pp. 191–206), accepting Blayney’s location of MND Q2, analyzes the recurrence of distinctively damaged types from the last three quires of MND Q2 in Lr. Q2 before focusing on such recurrences within the latter. He discovers that quires at the beginning of Lr. were set by two compositors at two different type cases; (p. 202) he refuses to speculate on the relation of these two Jaggard workmen to the ones who set type for F1. Although Knowles’s primary interest is Lr., he does advance a hypothetical explanation of the typographical relations of Q2 MND and Q2 Lr. Since the last three sheets of MND seem to have been set from two type cases [197], and, as Peter Blayney has shown . . . , with two skeletons used for the most part in the same unusual pattern of alternation as is found in Lr., one may safely suppose that the last three sheets of MND were set by two compositors working more or less concurrently; since the type cases are the same for both plays, one may even think it likely that the same two compositors who set the last sheets of MND continued at their cases to begin setting the early sheets of the next Pavier quarto, Q2 Lr. It looks as if Compositor 1 [at case x], after setting MND G(i), distributes the long-standing type pages from E(i) and begins to set H(o) sometime before his fellow compositor at case y begins to set H(i), the last forme for this play. He finishes while Compositor 2 is distributing types from G(o) in order to set H(i). Apparently Compositor 1 begins work right away on the first forme of the next play, A(o) of Lr., before G(i) has been unlocked. . . . Meanwhile Compositor 2 has finished H(i) and is about to begin Lr. B(o). . . . The precise details of these speculations will have to await further confirmation from the study of types throughout the whole of Q2 MND, but I think that there is already sufficient evidence from types to support Peter Blayney’s assignment of MND just prior to Lr. in the Pavier series.

Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxviii–xxix) notes an abnormal prefix [Peter for Quin 820] . . . on D1r. Bottom’s Peter quince [819] supports Dover Wilson’s diagnosis of the cause [Wilson, ed. 1924, p. 154], a shortage of [italic] capital Q’s; undoubtedly it prompted the resort to Peter, Pet., which continues on D2v. These are two pp. of the outer forme; in between them, D1v, D2r, belonging to the inner forme, have Quin. (eight times). Sheet D, then, was set by formes, D2v [xxix] after D1r, and not seriatim [or in reading order]. So, no doubt, was the whole of Q2; an easy method with a page-for-page reprint.

Annotated Q1 Copy for Q2

Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xv), speculatively: In respect of the superior stage-directions of Q 2, it may not be unlawful to conjecture that Roberts [i.e., Pavier] had taken a copy of Fisher’s Quarto to a theatrical representation, or had otherwise procured a prompter’s copy and improved the stage-directions of his edition accordingly. Massai (2007, 122–9) identifies certain patterns of very occasional editorial attention across the Pavier quartos, including MND Q2.

The First Folio (1623)

On 8 Nov. 1623 the first collection of Sh.’s plays, now known as the First Folio, was entered in the Stationers’ Register (Book D, p. 69), as here transcribed in Greg (BEPD, 1:33; cf. 3:1109–12): Mr. Blounte Isaak Iaggard. Entred for their Copie vnder the hands of Mr. Dor. Worrall and Mr. Cole warden Mr. William Shakspeers Comedyes Histories, & Tragedyes soe manie of the said Copies as are not formerly entred to other men. vizt. [Here follows a list of half the plays]. Edward Blount and Isaac Jaggard were co-publishers; Isaac Jaggard had just recently inherited the printing business of his late father William. The Dor. Worrall who granted official license to publish was Thomas Worrall, chaplain to the Bishop of London, and George Cole was then Upper Warden for the Stationers. MND is not explicitly included in the entry because it had already been entred to other men, namely, Thomas Fisher, in 1600. In F1 MND is found on sigs. N1v-O3v, pp. 145–62 of the first section, the comedies. Lee’s (1902) census of extant copies has been replaced by West (2003). All earlier facsimiles, such as those of Lee (1902), Methuen (1910), and Kökeritz-Prouty (Yale, 1954), are surpassed by Hinman’s (1968; 1996) facsimile compiled from the best pages of copies in the Folger Library. For a facsimile of MND alone see West (c. 2008).

Press Variants

Hinman (1963, 1:260–1) identifies sigs. N2, N6v, and O3 as certainly or possibly indicating stop-press corrections. However, his claims that sig. N2 (where in some copies for in 331 is unevenly inked) (p. 261) almost certainly reflects proof correction; that sig. N6v (where in some copies a space prints after day-light, in 1481) thus contains a possible stop-press variant; and that sig. O3 (where a space prints after sent. in 2040) also exhibits stop-press correction have all been silently set aside by Rasmussen & West (2012, p. 875). Sig. O2 is variant (Hinman, p. 261): O2 (page 159, MND)—one non-textual variant only, as in O5v [where the page no. also varies].

1. page no. 165] 1 copy only (Folg. 60)
159] all others; Lee and Yale [facsimiles].

Compositor Identification and Order of Printing in F

Drawing upon variations in the spelling of frequently occurring words (e.g., do/doe and go/goe), Satchell (1920, p. 352) distinguishes between two compositors setting type in F1 Mac.; Willoughby (1932, pp. 56–8), applying Satchell’s method more widely in F1, concludes that these two compositors, now called Compositor A and Compositor B, must have been assisted by at least another pair, for MND, MV, and Rom. (p. 58) show no evidence . . . of having been composed by either A or B. Hinman (1957, p. 4), announcing his discovery of a new compositor in the F1 Tragedies, designates the newcomer Compositor E because not all of the material before the Tragedies was set by A and B, and C and D may later be required to designate compositors in the Comedies. Then, in his masterly study of the printing of F1, Hinman (1963, 1:193–200) uses evidence of the recurrence of distinctively damaged types as well as spellings to separate Compositors C and D from Compositors A and B. While (ibid., 2:518) Compositor D worked only on the Comedies (MM, Err., Ado, LLL, MND, MV, and AYL), Compositor C worked only most frequently on the Comedies, for Hinman finds it possible that C might be identified as Compositor B’s partner on plays in the Histories and Tragedies, particularly R2 and Ham. Hinman employs typographical evidence, rules, headlines and spellings to determine the order in which the pages of F1, including (ibid., 2:414–26) those in quires N and O (all of MND and the beginning of MV), were set into type and their compositors. Cairncross (1971, pp. 44, 47), in a rather unsystematic study, disputes a number of Hinman’s compositor attributions of particular pages. Howard-Hill (1973, pp. 83, 98) and O’Connor (1975, pp. 93–9, 117), in more thorough and orderly examinations, confirm Cairncross’s reassignment of four quire-O pages from Compositor A, to whom Hinman assigned them, to Compositor D, while disproving Cairncross’s (1971, p. 47; 1972, pp. 379, 406) other reattributions of pages from Compositor C to Compositor B and from the latter to Compositor E. It is the combined work of Hinman, Howard-Hill, and O’Connor that is now widely accepted—see, e.g., Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 149).

Hinman demonstrated that MND, like all the other F plays, was set into type by formes from cast-off copy, or copy marked up to indicate exactly which lines were to fit on each page of the quire, so that the pages could be set out of order. He identified three different compositors, each at a different case—Compositor B at case y, Compositor C at case x, and Compositor D at case z. The order of printing of the formes and the division of work among the compositors discovered by Hinman follows, but the pages marked with an asterisk are those confirmed or reassigned to Compositor D by, in succession, Cairncross, Howard-Hill, and O’Connor:

Cx Dz Cx Dz By Dz Cx Cx By Dz By Dz Dz By By Cx Cx Dz Cx By Cx Cx Dz Cx Dz Cx Dz
N3v: N4 N3: N4v N2v: N5 N2: N5v N1v: N6 N1: N6va *N6vb O3: (O4va) (O4vb) O2v: (*O5) O3v: (O4a1–50) (O4a51-b) O2: (*O5v) O1v: (*O6) O1: (*O6v)

Mistakes in casting could force compositors to alter the line division of their copy. All three of the F MND compositors change line division, but few of these changes evidently compensate for faulty casting-off. Werstine (1984, p. 114): Compositor B splits in two Q verse lines at 413–14 (correction of a Q error of running the initial half-line of speech together with the next line), 430–1, and 434–5; Compositor C at 1560–1; and Compositor D at 1441–2. Compositor B may deliberately stretch his copy for sig. N2v when he divides in two the pentameters on each side of a mid-line SD above and below which he creates white space. Both Compositor C and D, though, are simply dividing the first lines of speeches that, combined with SPP, are each too wide for the F column (p. 79). When B twice prints prose as verse on sig. O3 (2068–9, 2108–9) he neither saves nor loses space (p. 116). When he sets verse as prose at 2044–5, he is (pp. 87–8) faced with a verse line too long for his composing stick and therefore runs the end of the line together with the following verse line to set both lines as [88] prose. While the lines appear on sig. O3 in the first half of a quire, where he may need to adjust his copy to available space, his deliberately saving a line of type seems unlikely because elsewhere in the same column he allows for lavish white space around SDD. (P. 92): Compositor D divides off the last sentence of a prose speech at 999–1002 on sig. N5, thereby using an extra line of type, but because he is setting a page in the second half of a quire, space is not a factor. Instead the relineation seems designed to mark a change of address or topic and seems to be associated with other such changes he made in LLL at 128–30 and 800–2.

Most, but not all, the verbal variants between Q2 and F have been recognized and classified as corrections or errors introduced by the three compositors: for Compositor B see Werstine (1978); for Compositors C and D O’Connor (1977).

Features of F

Collier (ed. 1842, 2:cc2): The chief difference between the two quartos and the folio is, that in the latter the Acts, but not the Scenes, are distinguished. (Rhodes [1923, p. 120] addresses the possibility that the divisions [into acts in F] . . . were made in consonance with theatrical practice and connoted pauses [between acts at the Blackfriars or the new Globe]. . . . [T]he division into five acts necessitates two pauses during the game of blind man’s bluff in the woods, which is marked into three acts. Although it shows execrable stage-management, at the end of Actus Tertius is a note They sleepe all that act, meaning that the four lovers would have to lie, feigning sleep, in view of the audience while the act is playing [the act being the music between the acts]. . . . [I]t is indisputable that the division . . . was made by the prompter in consonance with theatrical practice. It cannot be entertained for a moment that They sleepe through the act [sic] was a literary or editorial note, to assist a reader in visualising the action. Foakes [ed. 1984, p. 151] believes that the act in this SD refers to the next act—Act 4.) Furness (ed. 1895, p. xv): In Roberts’s (Q2) [there are] about seventy-four [SDD]; and in the Folio, about ninety-seven.

Q2 Copy For F

Johnson (ed. 1765, 1:176): Roberts [i.e., Q2] was followed, though not without some variations, by Hemings and Condel [i.e., F]. Furness (ed. 1895, pp. xiii–xiv) demonstrates how the failure of the Q2 compositor to follow his copy precisely and set the word and in roman type in Titania’s line 979 in turn led the F compositor to create the redundant SD at 979–80: Enter Pease-blossome, Cobweb, Moth, Mustard-|seede and foure Fairies. Ebsworth (ed. Q2 1880, pp. xx–xxi) cites as proof of F’s use of Q2 as copy common errors at 183, 481, 482, 552, 1199, 213, 532, 557, 1652, 1688. Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 154): In 1619 . . . Jaggard . . . followed [his copy the Fisher Q] with suspicious exactitude. Apparently, however, the constant occurrence of Queene and Quince in dialogue, stage-direction and speech-heading, strained the resources of his compositors’ type. In any event, the italic Q seems to have given out on sig. D1r. and D2v., and accordingly the name Peter had to be resorted to in place of Quince. The fact that the F. also reads Peter in this same section of the text is a proof that it was set up from the Q. of 1619 and not from the Fisher Q. of 1600. Another proof is the reappearance in 1623 of nearly all the sixty to seventy misprints first introduced into the text in 1619. When we observe, moreover, that to these transmitted misprints the F. compositors added another sixty to seventy of their own, it will be evident that the F. version cannot claim much textual authority.

Only Craig (1961, pp. 108–9) appears to dissent from the view that F was printed from a copy of Q2: As a printed version of the same manuscript from which the fair copy had been made, Q1 would resemble the theatrical version very closely, and this may be said of both of the quarto and the folio as they stand. It does not seem necessary therefore, in view of this identity of origin, to imagine that the folio has been set from the quarto. Printing of the folio from the playhouse copy is a simpler and more satisfactory way in which to account for resemblances between these two texts. . . . [109] Although [F] has some features that may be derived from Q2, [it] actually resembles Q1 more closely than it does Q2. There are of course passages in which F differs from both Q1 and Q2. . . . In this perplexity one has to content oneself with a moderate position: the official playbook was in the hands of Jaggard and Blount and served them as copy for the body of the play, although there are in F some minor resemblances to Q2.

Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxviii–xix) cites evidence . . . of several kinds for the use of Q2 as F’s copy: At [1170] both [Q2 and F] have the abbreviation Hell. (Q1 Hel.), unique in each. On fifteen further occasions they have identical abbreviations in speech-prefixes, differing from Q1’s and from some of their own. Hence we can be confident that the tucking-in of Enter Snowt [929], rather than giving it the normal line of its own, and the printing of prose as verse at [1986–8], come in F from Q2, even though they originated in Q1. The Folio has several instances of progressive corruption. At [253] Q1 reads is so oft; Q2 inadvertently omitted so; F, lamely attempting to mend the metre, miscorrects to is often. Q2, at [1703], undoes the Q1 inversion more will hear, reading will hear more; F worsens the corruption with shall hear more. There are less striking instances at [1415, 1420]. Lysander’s sentence at [1677–8] is left incomplete because Egeus interrupts him; not realizing this, Q2 completes it by supplying a verb: be. The Folio repeats this and over fifty of its other corruptions: good examples are Q2’s silly foal for filly foal (misreading long s) [417], . . . and hearken for listen (a compositor’s synonym) [2038].

See the textual notes of this edition for all significant differences between Q2 and F, including SPP, SDD, lineation, punctuation, and verbal variants.

Annotation of Q2 Copy for F

Capell (1783, 2:3:111 ff.) identifies some F-only SDD as playhouse interpolations (see here). White (ed. 1857, 4:17): Printed copy [for F] had been used at the theatre for stage purposes and corrected with some care. Ebsworth (ed. Q2 1880, p. xix) dissents: It is idle to talk of the Folio editors having access to any manuscript authority for [MND]. We hold it indisputable that they used Roberts’s printed Quarto, sometimes increasing the defects, sometimes guessing commonplace variations; but they give absolutely nothing of such improvements as would have been gained from a genuine manuscript, or even from a certified revised and corrected prompt-book. Halliwell-Phillipps (1884, p. 255) confirms the theatrical provenance of the copy of Q2 or the MS used to annotate that copy by identifying Tawyer (1924) as a subordinate actor in the Globe Theatre in the pay of Heminge’s [sic]. For more on Tawyer, see G. E. Bentley, Jacobean and Caroline Stage, 2:590. Furness (ed. 1895, pp. xiv–xv) traces the appearance of Egeus for Philostrate in F’s Act 5 to the doubling of their parts and identifies the Asse head (927) as a prompter’s term: (p. xv) the prompter of Shakespeare’s stage, knowing well enough that there was among the scanty properties but one Asse-head, inserted in the text with the Asse head—the only one they had. Brooks (ed. 1979, p. xxxii n. 1), objecting to the possibility of doubling Egeus and Philostrate, points out that there is no time for an actor to re-enter as Egeus just after he has exited as Philostrate in 1.1. See also Greg, 1955, p. 243, imagining Philostrate unavailable for Act 5 because he doubled another role that also needed to be performed then, and Hodgdon, 1986, p. 536. Smidt (1986, pp. 121–2) also disagrees about the doubling: When the Folio substitutes Egeus for Philostrate as master of ceremonies at the wedding feast this could be explained as a way of saving an actor’s part, but there are no great number of men’s parts in [MND], and it is more likely that at some point in the stage history of the play someone objected to the absence of Egeus at the feast and thought he ought to join the party once he had been admitted to the comedy. Brooks seems right. More likely the appearance of Egeus for Philostrate in Act 5 arises from the telescoping of the roles. When bookkeepers subsumed one role under another in actual playhouse MSS, they often failed systematically to record the disappearance of the subsumed role in SDD and SPP; hence perhaps the persistence of Philostrate in Act 1 and once in a SP in Act 5 (1874) in F (see Werstine 2012, pp. 164–72). For the idea that Egeus, rather than Philostrate, appeared in 5.1 in the allegedly earliest (1594) version of the play, see Hunter (1998, pp. 8–9, and 2002, p, 6). For the idea that John Heminge annotated the copy of Q2 with notes in which he recalled a 1594 performance of the play, see Hunter (2002, pp. 7–10). For the application of literary and/or performance criticism to the Q1/F variants, particularly Philostrate/Egeus, see Hodgdon (1986), Wells (1991, MND Revisited, p. 22), Calderwood (1991, p. 428, n. 40), Wiles (1993, p. 174), Holland (ed. 1994, pp. 265–8), McGuire (1988, 1989), Pollack-Pelzner (2009). Taylor (2002, p. 52, n. 31) contends that F’s substitution of Egeus for Philostrate in Act 5 is inexplicable and therefore certainly wrong.

Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xvi): the text of the Folio has its direct origin in a stage copy of Q 2. He cites as evidence ll. 1924, 927, and 2107, alleging in connection with the last that the early entrance of Thisby is an indication that printer’s copy was a stage copy . . . indicating that the actor was to be ready before he has to make his actual appearance on stage. Such an observation about the F SD as a warning direction is fanciful because Flute as Thisby comes onstage fewer than a half-dozen lines later; actual theatrical texts almost always mark warnings much earlier.

By the 1920s confidence that the copy of Q2 used in the playhouse must also have served as printer’s copy for F begins to slip. Adams (1923, pp. 538–9): MND, like R2, 1H4, Tit., and Ado, was printed in F from the actors’ special copies of . . . quartos which had been converted at the theatre into prompt-books or from (p. 539) the most available editions of these quartos [after they had been compared to] . . . the actors’ prompt-books . . . ; these collated quartos [would have been placed] in the hands of the [F] compositors. Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 78), in addition to suggesting an annotated quarto that served as printer’s copy may have served as a playhouse promptbook also allows only that Q2 copy for F could have been corrected for the purpose of publication, by some scribe working with the prompt-book before him. Wilson is led to suggest such an alternative by his belief that a copy of Q1 may have served the acting company in the playhouse; the Q1 punctuation of Theseus’s speech at 1841–57 is the slender reed on which he builds: (p. 157, n. 1) Now each item in the brief [read by Lysander in F] in Q. 1600 is followed by a question-mark, as if it were a query put to some one who replies with the comments [the only parts of the speech given Theseus in F], and it looks very probable that it was these queries which suggested the F. arrangement. If so, then the theatre prompt-book was almost certainly a copy of Q. 1600 seeing that all the queries but two towards the end of the speech, have been eliminated in Q. 1619. Acquainted as he is with playhouse MSS, Wilson also attempts to locate SDD first printed in F in particular places on the pages of the quarto prompt-book, suggesting (p. 156) that shifting places [1460] appeared in the margin of sig. F2, where it governed the action represented on the page as a whole, rather than simply in the line opposite which it is printed in F, to which it is irrelevant. He also imagines (p. 157) that Enter Pucke, printed in F over twenty lines before he needs to enter [865], was in the playhouse quarto a warning SD, noted atop sig. D2. Although Greg (1942, pp. 125–6) accepts the tradition that F’s new directions undoubtedly originated in the playhouse, he denies that the copy of Q2 from which F was printed could have served to guide performance because F is not sufficiently consistent and correct (p. 126): I should have expected to find more of the book-keeper’s notes in the original prompt-book, and therefore in Q; and if Q had itself been used as a prompt-book I should have expected to find certain anomalies removed in F. If the book-keeper found it necessary to specify the Lovers in v.i [see above, here] in the original prompt-book, why did he not the Clowns in III.i [813] either there or in the prompt quarto, especially since in the latter he took the trouble to translate the rabble into Snout and Starveling in IV.ii [1746]? Surely the errors in I.i whereby two half-lines of text appear as stage directions [30, 33] would have been corrected. Why does the entrance of the translated Bottom appear out of place [927]? The duplication in V.i, whereby we have Exit all but Wall [1951] followed three lines later by the exit of Lion, Thisbe, and Moonshine [1955], could hardly have been overlooked in performance. The second is the original direction of Q; the first must have been introduced from a manuscript. No doubt some confusion might have occurred in transferring the prompter’s notes from the copy Q1 to one of Q2; but on the whole the theory that a quarto was used as prompt copy seems to raise more difficulties than it solves. Idem (1955, pp. 244–5) also cites as additional examples of the incompetence and clumsiness of his imagined editor of Q2 copy for F: 865, 888, 1385, 1509, 1541, 1559, 1661–2, 1746, 1819, 2009, as they appear in F. Greg’s idea that Q2 copy for F was not itself annotated and used in the playhouse is followed by Doran (ed. 1959, p. 174), Wells (ed. 1967, p. 165); Evans (ed. 1974, p. 247); Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxix–xxx); Foakes (ed. 1984, p. 147); Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 279); Holland (ed. 1994, p. 115); Berger (ed. 1995, pp. x–xi). Nonetheless, quartos were annotated for playhouse use (see Werstine 2012, pp. 314–17, 335–42) and continued to be throughout the 17th c., and Greg’s expectations of thoroughness, consistency, and correctness of annotation in early modern theatrical texts are denied by the contents of such actual texts (see Werstine 2012, pp. 107–99, 234–391).

Authority and Revision in F

To judge from Capell’s comments on particular variants in F’s dialogue and SDD, he attributes no authority to F, but Malone has somewhat higher regard for F, and by the latter half of the 19th c., a number of editors are prepared to grant Shn. authority to readings in it. The New Bibliographers return to Capell’s positon, but near the end of the 20th c. there is a revival of the 19th-c. belief in F.

Capell (1783, 2:3:111) thinks F’s SD Musicke Tongs, Rurall Musicke (1541) simply wrong: it is certainly an interpolation of the players; as no such direction appears in either quarto, and Titania’s reply is a clear exclusion of it. He denies (2.3:113–14) the authority of F’s cut at 1718+1 of Are you sure / That we are awake? He is equally dismissive of (2.3:115) F’s redistribution of some of 1841–57 to Lysander— this reading and commenting of two persons, alternately, has something aukward in it: and seems a change of the players, calculated for the ease of the actor who presented the latter character—and of the player editors’ error in making Egeus enter in an act [Act 5] he has no concern in . . . (probably) from their laying Philostrate’s character in this act upon the player who had finish’d that of Egeus. It is not clear if Capell is suggesting that the Egeus actor doubled the role of Philostrate throughout the play or only in the last act. (Capell [1783, 2.3:116] thinks Sh.’s own revision can be recovered in small part from F2, in particular in the reading streames at 2076.)

Malone (in Boswell, ed. 1821, 1:203), though, calls for more respect for F: Thus therefore the first folio, as far as respects the plays above enumerated [including MND], labours under the disadvantage of being at least a second, and in some cases a third, edition of these quartos. I do not, however, mean to say, that many valuable corrections of passages undoubtedly corrupt in the quartos are not found in the folio copy; or that a single line of these plays should be printed by a careful editor without a minute examination, and collation of both copies [i.e., Q and F].

For White (ed. 1857, 4:17) though, Neither quarto . . . is to be regarded in any other light than as an assistant in eliminating such corruptions as may have crept into the folio itself; though Fisher’s enables us to correct some errors which were passed over in the copy of the quarto furnished to the printers by Heminge and Condell. The quartos sometimes concur in a reading different from that in the folio; but this is of little moment: it merely shows (unless in the case of a palpable corruption of the press) that in the copy from which the folio was printed, an error is corrected which had appeared in both the previous editions. The presumption is especially in favor of the authorized edition [i.e., F], when we know that it was printed from a copy that had been corrected in Shakespeare’s theatre, and probably under his own eye, if not by his own hand. (In particular White cites the F readings at 700, 1247, 1384+, 1718+1, 1994 [corrected by Shakespeare or someone else in his theatre], and 2010 as authoritative; however, he thinks 1812–13, which are common to Q and F, an interpolation and the substitution of Egeus for Philostrate in Act 5 wrong, both not Sh.’s.) So Furness (ed. 1895, p. xii): It may be that in using a printed text [for F, namely Q2, Heminge and Condell] were virtually using Shakespeare’s manuscript if they knew that this text . . . had been for years used in their theatre as a stage copy, with possible additional stage-business marked on the margin for the use of the prompter, and here and there sundry emendations, noted possibly by the author’s own hand, who, by these changes, theoretically authenticated all the rest of the text. Adams (1923, pp. 539): These printed prompt-copies [such as the copy of Q2 used to print F MND] would receive corrections (from the author, or from the actors), alterations, and additions and such stage-directions as were found necessary.

However, the New Bibliographer Wilson (ed. 1924, p. 159), generalizing about the changes in SDD and SPP introduced into F, returns to Capell’s position: it should not be necessary to argue that Shakespeare himself had nothing whatever to do with them. Even less easy is it to imagine him in any way responsible for the F. corrections in the dialogue. [He lists those unlikely to be due to the compositors: 759, 1247, 1287, 1719, 1829, 1994, 2010.] These variants are almost certainly due to the scribe who gave us the F. stage-directions. Some of them are good, some indifferent, and some definitely bad; but all are assuredly guesses. Greg (1942, p. 125–6) on F’s text: The new directions undoubtedly originated in the playhouse. (P. 126): Such changes in the text as are not either misprints or corrections of misprints seem to be the editor’s and do not imply any independent source.

Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxx–xxxiii), following Greg’s questionable presumption that the copy of Q2 from which F was set could not itself have been the playhouse text used to guide performance: The promptbook consulted in preparing copy for the Folio was clearly not without alterations from the text in the prompt-copy as [xxxi] originally transcribed from Shakespeare’s autograph [assuming without grounds that that Shn. copy could not itself have been used in the playhouse]. Theoretically, some changes may have been authorized by him; but at least the majority were no doubt made without authority, whether in the original prompt-book or in a new one, if a new one was transcribed from it. But whatever unauthentic changes had accumulated in it, the prompt-copy which supplied some Folio readings did derive by a process of transcription from Shakespeare’s autograph. That process was independent of Q1. Accordingly, in respect of readings which the Folio can be presumed to have taken from the prompt-copy, F is an independent witness to what may have stood in the autograph. In the line of descent described it is the earliest extant witness, and in respect of those readings, and of those alone, it is therefore a substantive (that is, an evidential) text—as Q1 is for the play as a whole. Such authority as F therefore has is weakened, however, by the annotator’s demonstrable negligence and clumsiness. He cites the misplaced SD at 927 and the duplicate SDD introduced at 865 and 1951. His neglect of dialogue further limits the possible authority of F. This is significant for F’s readings at [1247 and 1994]: passionate where Q1 has a palpable omission, and knit up in thee where Q1 has the impossible knit now againe. . . . Yet if they are retrievals from prompt-copy, why are there not more? That the annotator’s eye might fall upon dialogue may be suggested by F’s choise of merit for the Quartos’ choise of friends [149]. Brooks (pp. 154–5) makes a case that merit could have been Sh.’s first choice of reading in his initial composition, one that he later replaced with friends but one that nonetheless found its way into the playhouse text from Sh.’s own papers. In spite of his confidence in the authority of this single F-only reading, Brooks thinks that his annotator of Q2 (p. xxxii) was perfectly prepared to guess, even when he could have consulted the prompt-book, and passionate and up in thee may be other guesses of his, though there the contexts offered little hint.

A further subtraction has to be made from the authority of F’s text, even where its source is prompt-copy. The prompt-copy itself is unlikely still to have represented in all respects the kind of performance for which Shakespeare designed the play, or to which he may have adapted it. The substitution of Egeus for Philostrate in Act V, at odds with Theseus’ enquiry for our usual manager of mirth and damaging the metre at [1833] was made apparently to save a speaking part (Philostrate is mute in I.i): it is a change Shakespeare cannot have wished for, though he might acquiesce in it as an expedient. The same may be said of the one or more intervals [at the ends of acts] introduced in a play conceived and originally performed as a continuous action. . . . [xxxiii] If the revival of the Dream matched by the prompt-book was in 1609 or later [the approximate date at which Sh.’s company began to perform at the Blackfriars and observe intervals between acts for the first time], Shakespeare may not have been closely associated with it.

With Foakes (ed. 1984, p. 148), Wells & Taylor (1987, pp. 279–80), and Holland (ed. 1994, pp. 115–17, 257–68) the 19th-c. understanding of F’s authority makes a return. Foakes interprets as Sh.’s revisions the few corrections made to Q2’s dialogue in F: 149, 1041, 1247, 1994, and 2010. He also thinks that Puck’s early entrance in F at 865 in 3.1 records prompt-copy, suggesting that Puck should overhear rather more of the dialogue between Quince and his crew than his entry in the quartos would permit. Wells and Taylor present the F text’s possible censorship as a consequence of the 1606 Acte to Restraine Abuses, shown by the loss of 2113–2113+1 as further evidence of its theatrical provenance. They adopt the following editorial policy: Without strong evidence to the contrary, one must therefore assume that the prompt-book is the authority for all added or substantially altered Folio directions and speech prefixes. Some of these variants might derive from late revivals, over which Shakespeare had no control; but none certainly do [sic], and only the act divisions and Tawyer’s name can be confidently associated with performances later than those in the mid 1590s. Although each direction has been considered on its merits, we have found no reason to doubt that the bulk of the Folio directions represent the play as originally and authoritatively staged. Those directions which clearly envisage a different staging from that implied by Q seem to us to be dramatic improvements for which Shakespeare was probably responsible. Such an editorial policy forces justification of F SDD that were long thought to be erroneous, such as the F entrance of Pucke in 3.1. [at 865] over twenty lines before Q1’s entrance for him (which is also reproduced in F, 888) and twenty lines before, for all one can tell, he has business onstage: (p. 281) an editor committed to entertain possible authorial revision must consider the F alternative. (Pp. 281–2): Following Greg’s unwarranted assumption that F had to have been printed from a copy of Q2 annotated with reference to a playhouse MS (rather than from a copy of Q2 annotated for use in the playhouse), Wells and Taylor also assume that the annotator must have been right to add the F SD from the playhouse MS. They justify this second assumption by imagining that F records accurately a production in which Puck entered silently and unnoticed to supply Quince with the almanac he was requesting at the point of the F SD. (Werstine [2012, pp. 173–6], however, shows that there is no reason to suppose bookkeepers’ additions of entrances necessarily inerrant because in actual theatrical texts some such additions can be shown to be erroneous in context; consequently, playhouse texts, such as the one inferred to lie behind F MND, need not be reliable records of any performance.) Holland (ed. 1994, p. 117) attributes to some other authority than the compositor’s or editor’s ingenuity the five readings adopted by Foakes as Shn. revisions. He writes (pp. 257–68) of Shakespeare’s Revisions of Act 5, accepting Wilson’s account of the mislined verse at 1798–1880 and counting as a second revision the substitution of Egeus for Philostrate and the hiving off of pieces of Theseus’s 1841–57 speech for Lysander. Ioppolo (1991, p. 113) had associated Sh.’s alleged revision of 1824–5 in Q1’s printer’s copy with the transfer of some of Theseus’s lines to Lysander in the F printer’s copy, but Holland (ed. 1994, p. 266) demurred.

The Date of Composition

The current consensus of scholarly opinion is that MND was written around 1595–96, during the same period as LLL, R2, and Rom.

The latest date for the composition and first performance of MND is set by the reference to it in Francis Meres’s Palladis Tamia (1598, f. 282r), which was entered in the Stationers’ Register 7 Sept. 1598. MND was entered in the Stationers’ Register 8 Oct. 1600, reaching print in the same year, when, according to the title page of Q1, it had been sundry times publickely acted, by the Right honourable, the Lord Chamberlaine his seruants. There are no such clear indications of the earliest date for composition or performance.

Efforts to determine an earliest date are guided by opinions (mostly impressionistic and subjective) of the development of Sh.’s style and artistry, and by attempts to link perceived allusions in the text to other works and to external events. The most popular area in the latter for the exercise of ingenuity is the identification of the wedding for which it is supposed, without evidence, that MND was composed, but various other circumstances have also claimed attention.

Style and Development

Chetwood (1750, pp. 12–13) exercises his best Endeavours to place the Dramatic Works of our Author, in the order of Time they were acted; but he gives no reasons for his order, dating MND 1595, 1600, 1610, and placing it ninth, after Rom. (fourth) and Tmp. (seventh). Griffith (1775, p. 2), while rejecting the notion which she believes prevalent that Tmp. and MND were the first and second of his writing, articulates the most common opinion as to why MND was written early in Sh.’s career, an opinion founded . . . on the idea, that his youthful imagination must naturally be thought to have been more sportive and exuberant, than his riper judgment might have permitted the indulgence of. Malone’s oft reprinted Attempt was influential not only in recognizing the prevalence of rhyme and the embellished style as marks of early work, but also in condemning the meagre and uninteresting fable and insignificance of the chief characters as attributable to Sh.’s genius being in its minority (in Steevens ed. 1778, 1:285–7; see also here, here). In 1778, and in 1785, this opinion led to his placing MND tenth in the canon, with Rom. at eleventh, both in 1595; Tmp. he placed next to last in 1612. However, in his own edition of 1790, believing the mourning muses (1849–50) to refer to Spenser’s poem The Tears of the Muses (1591) rather than to the poet’s death, he moved MND back to fourth, in 1592. The variorum edds. of 1793, 1803, and 1813 followed suit, but after Malone’s death the variorum of 1821 changed the date to 1594. Hurdis (1792, p. 17) finds Malone’s date of 1592 very reasonable but rates the play more highly, thinking it to have been the production of a judgment considerably matured and that there were undoubtedly many plays written before it. Tieck ([1793] 1796; in Bate, 1992, pp. 62, 565), while questioning Malone’s 17-year gap between MND and Tmp. (1595/1612) is nevertheless certain that the latter was written a great deal later than the former, for one might say that The Tempest is a lovelier and more perfect reprise of MND. Dibdin ([1797–1800], 3:29) adopts Malone’s 1778 chronology as generally admitted to be correct; though I cannot help confessing that I have seen no authority by which I am convinced that it is so.

Drake (1817, 2:261, 298–302) objects to Malone’s date of 1592 (in ed. 1790) because he considers it [2:298] a gross violation of probability to place three or four plays in the same year; he therefore dates MND 1593 (together with Rom., after Err. and LLL both in 1591, but before Shr., TGV, R3 and R2 in 1594–6). Though he repeats Malone’s strictures on the play (assigning them to Meres, either mistakenly or writing carelessly), he nevertheless refutes them vigorously in his subsequent analysis; (see, in part, here). Hallam (1839, 2:387, 390): MND’s superiority to [Err., TGV, and LLL] affords some presumption that it was written after them. But it evidently belongs to the earlier period of Shakspeare’s genius; poetical as we account it, more than dramatic, . . . [though not] from any deficiency of dramatic excellence. (2:390) Were I to judge by internal evidence, I should be inclined to date [Rom.] before MND. Knight (ed. 1839, pp. 331–2), presumably using Boswell (ed. 1821), believes that Malone’s date of 1594 has pretty exactly indicated the precise year. . . . But we entirely object to the reasons upon which Malone attempts to show that it was one of our author’s earliest attempts in comedy. He considers MND vastly superior to TGV, LLL, and Err. He answers Malone’s strictures point by point, concluding (p. 332): If any single composition were required to exhibit the power of the English language for the purposes of poetry, that composition would be MND. In 1849 (p. 39) he places MND in Sh.’s Second Period, 1594–1600, listed after KJ and before Rom.; in a second list (p. 40) he puts MND last of the Second early period comedies, 1589–93, and finally (p. 208) he repeats the opinion of his ed. 1839. Verplanck (ed. 1845, 2:6) believes the play, as it first appeared in print, must belong to a period about 1595, or 1596. While conceding that some stylistic features associated with the lovers deserve Malone’s strictures, yet in the other poetic scenes, the strain we hear is of a higher mood, and belongs to a period of fuller and more conscious power than the more juvenile comedies LLL and TGV. He therefore believes it was originally written in a very different form from that in which we now have it, several years before the date of the drama in its present shape. Hudson (ed. 1851, 2:257): The best conclusion we can form is, that the play was written somewhere between 1594 and 1598. Yet we have to concur with Mr. Verplanck, that there are some passages which relish strongly of an earlier period; . . . Perhaps, however, what seem the defects of [the part of the Athenian lovers], the far-fetched conceits and artificial elegances, were wisely designed, in order to invest the part with such an air of dreaminess and unreality as would better sort with the scope and spirit of the piece, . . . So that we cannot quite go along with the judicious critic last mentioned, in thinking the part in question to be the remains of a juvenile effort. Lloyd (in Singer (ed. 1856, 2:436): I cannot admit for a moment that this play exhibits the slightest signs of juvenility, as implying inferiority, as compared with [MV and H4]. Comparing it with [Rom.], I think there are some marks of a more perfectly developed taste, and of more free as well as skilful execution. Staunton (ed. 1857, 1:339): MND was written in the full vigour of Shakespeare’s youthful genius, and subsequent, there is every probability, to TGV, LLL, Err., Shr., and Rom. White (ed. 1858, 4:15–17) believes the play (4:16) produced, in part at least, at an earlier period than 1593, thinking such passages as 763–4 and 780–1 unworthy of the author even of LLL, TGV, Err., and Ven. Sh. (4:17) went from Stratford up to London with it partly written; [later] he reverted to his early production, and in 1594 worked it up into the form in which it was produced. It seems to me that, in spite of the silence of the quarto title-page on the subject, this might have been done, or at least that some additions might have been made to the play, for a performance at Court. Ulrici (1868–9; 1876, 1:223, 2:81): 1592 to 1597–98 . . . may . . . be termed the second period, or, so to say, the adolescence of Shakspeare’s genius. If we assume that during this time [R3, AWW, Rom., Shr., KJ, R2, MND, H4, and MV] were all brought to light in the above succession, . . . it seems astounding with what rapid, powerful, and safe steps Shakspeare proceeded through his career. (2:81): From internal evidence I am inclined to assume that 1596–97 was the year in which the piece was composed. For, in spirit and character, it agrees so entirely with the works belonging to the close of the second period of Shakspeare’s career that it would be difficult for any one to separate it from these. The great number of passages in rhyme, . . . as well as the many interspersed poems and songs are naturally explained by the lyrical character of the whole and by the subject of the conversations. Fleay’s (1874, pp. 10–16) attempts to apply scientific tests to versification to determine chronology, which led to his placing MND in 1592, second in the canon following LLL, elicited objections from his Shakspere Society audience as well as ridicule from others (cf. pp. 17–23, and Murphy (2003, pp. 210–11); on the uses and difficulties of metrical tests in determining chronology cf. Chambers, (1930, 1:255–69, 2:397–408). In 1876 (p. 26), echoing Malone’s opinion of poetry, plot and characterization, Fleay adheres to 1592, but in 1877 (p. 20) he lists MND c. 1593, claiming: This play as we have it, is a revised edition made for publication in 1600. It may have been added to, as well as revised; his later shifts to accommodate lunar or wedding theories are recorded below. In 1881 (pp. 50–1, 100), he attacks critics of his metrical tests; he presents his table for MND, describing it as (p. 100) Written 1592: revised as in Q 1, 2, 1600. Ward (1875, 1:380): The general character of the piece allows the supposition that it was written somewhere between 1593 and 1597; the abundance of rhymes and the paucity of feminine endings point to an early date; the construction of the play is likewise slight; yet there is an obvious growth of dramatic power beyond the very earliest period of Shakspere’s dramatic activity. Stokes (1878, pp. 53–4) believes MND contemporary with Rom. and should be dated about 1595. He agrees with Hallam that it is superior to LLL, Err., and TGV. Ebsworth (ed. Q1 1880, p. xi) rejects what are called verse tests, but remarks on the absence of light-ending or weak-ending and run-on lines, and comments: The continuity of rhyme . . . in Titania’s and Oberon’s speeches adds to their musical impressiveness; he dates MND probably 1593–94, at earliest; and not later than 1596. Finkenbrink (1884, pp. 4–20) dates MND about 1594 partly because of its similarities with LLL, Err., and TGV, which he dates 1590–93, and partly through (p. 17) the peculiarities of verse and metre, style and diction, specifying the great progress made over the earlier plays in the latter, defending the use of rhyme and of alliteration as appropriate dramatically, and praising the development in the structure of verse, and even in the use of classical allusion, characterization, and plot design. White (1886, p. 14): MND was written, or at least completed, some three or four years later than [LLL and Err.]. . . . [I]n its execution it shows, both in thought and in structure, and no less in poetical form, a marked mental development. Barnett (1887, p. 10): A critical examination of the play, and a comparison with others proves that M.N.D. is amongst Shakespeare’s earlier plays, and was most probably written between 1591 and 1593. Rolfe (1889, pp. 185–7): (p. 186) The internal evidence of style etc., is in favor of two dates, . . . though . . . I doubt whether the play was revised for a nuptial ceremony. In its present form it must be at least a year or two earlier than [MV] (which can hardly have been written before 1596 or 1597); and portions of it appear to be considerably earlier than the rest. He quotes 763–4 and 780–1 as instances of crudity. Chambers (ed. 1897, pp. 8–15): (p. 11) 1594–5 seems to me to suit admirably with the character and style of the play. It clearly belongs to the earliest group of Shakespeare’s comedies. It abounds with rhyme, with strained conceits, with antithesis and other rhetorical devices. The blank verse is far more regular and monotonous than that of any of the later plays; . . . Then, again, the interest of character is very slight. However, he considers MND betrays in many ways a notable advance over LLL, Err., and TGV, suggesting (p. 12) it is the last of that group, and that the chief advantage of dating it 1594–5 is that it brings it into closer neighbourhood to R2 and Rom. Craig (ed. 1903, pp. vi–vii) finds MND stylistically later than Err., LLL, and TGV, but earlier than MV. Ainger (1905, pp. 20–1) places both MND and Rom. in Sh’s first period together with LLL on stylistic grounds, but dates MND 1591–93 and Rom. 1595 or 1596. Brooke (1905, p. 1): MND belongs, probably, to the winter of 1595, . . . About four years before, in 1591, Shakespeare had written Rom. Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xxii): It is noteworthy . . . that the play stands fifth in Meres’s list of comedies, affording some slight indication of Meres’s belief, knowledge, or recollection that it was not amongst the very earliest of Sh.’s plays. He believes the play was composed in the autumn of 1594–95. Furnivall (ed. 1908, p. vii): MND is his (probably) third comedy following LLL and Err. Structurally and metrically the comedy belongs to Shakspere’s early time of mistaken identity and cross purposes, of more than two sets of lovers, of ryme and of doggerel. Black (in Hudson & Black, ed. 1910, pp. xxvi–xxxi): (p. xxvii) The weight of evidence is in favor of 1594–1595. Placing it among the earliest plays (p. xxx) does not allow for the marked growth of dramatic and formative power, the imaginative insight, the spontaneity, and the mastery of expression both sympathetic and creative, which the play shows as compared with [LLL, Err., and TGV]. . . . [xxxi] It is possible that what seem defects and immaturities, the fanciful quirks and far-fetched conceits, and the seeming weakness and juvenility in characterization, were designed to invest the play with such an air of dreaminess and unreality as would better sort with its general scope and spirit; nevertheless the play is marked as early by the puns, etc., the prevalence of rhyme, and the monotonously regular blank verse, though the prose of the dialogue in the comic passages indicates growth and development. Hemingway (1911, pp. 78–80) believes (p. 79) the first version of [Rom.] appeared about 1591 and the first version of the Dream was written soon, perhaps immediately, after Rom., in 1592–3. He suggests that Sh. finds the emotionalism and sentimentalism of his tragedy . . . a trifle exaggerated and ridiculous, . . . and so, shaking himself free of romantic ideals of love, he somewhat quizzically allies lovers, lunatics, and poets; (p. 80) the Queen Mab speech was added to Rom. after MND was written. MacCracken et al. (1912, p. 151): Stylistic features argue an earlier date than students who notice only the skillful plot structure are willing to assign. Perhaps 1593–5 would indicate this variation in authorities. Armstrong (1913, p. 33): MND was probably the first play that followed the sonnets, and its first production is assigned to the winter of 1595. Cunliffe (in Brooke ed. 1914, p. 2) stylistically assigns it to 1594 or 1595: There are curious echoes from [Rom. to MND], as if Shakespeare had both in mind, or was actually engaged in writing both, at the same time. Rickert (1923, pp. 143–6) analyses metrical and other peculiarities reaching the conclusion (p. 144) that the greater part of the first three acts belongs to an early play revised, and the greater part of Act IV and practically all of Act V are later work. Through comparison with TGV and MV, she assigns a date of 1592 to the former and 1595 to the latter part. Therefore MND (p. 147) was begun early, finished hastily for a special purpose several years later, and later still [for public performance before 1598] revised to avoid possible offense. Robertson (1923, p. 13) considers MND’s versification so far developed that it might be doubted whether as it stands it can be even so early as 1594. Noble (1923, p. 52), believing that singing children are necessary in MND, associates the play with Wiv. and AYL: To my mind if it is maintained that [MND], as we have it now, was first produced in a public theatre, then 1595 is an impossibly early date; he prefers 1598. Thorndike (1929, p. 101): It was probably written at nearly the same time as Rom. Kittredge (ed. 1936, p. 229): So far as style and metre testify, the play might be dated anywhere from 1594 to 1596. Muir (1937, p. 77): MND was written immediately after [Rom.], though the New Cambridge editors (as everywhere) see evidence of subsequent revision. Holzknecht & McLure (ed. 1937, p. 197): Scholars generally date the play somewhat uncertainly 1594–8, with the majority leaning to an early date. Whether it preceded or followed [Rom.] is not known, though the parallels between the plays suggest that it came after. de la Mare (1940, pp. 296–305), noting that scholars have suggested dates of composition from 1590 to 1598, provisionally endorses the suggestion that the Dream, as we have it now, was composed at different times . . . ; or that, having been completed, it was redrafted and revised. He argues further from the lovers’ verse, (p. 300) odd little errors, varying speech headings, bad jokes and unusual vocabulary, that the play as we have it is primarily not Sh.’s. (P. 303): Surely, to accept as Shakespeare’s, at any age, what is provably not merely scamped or heedless but poverty-stricken verse . . . is more extravagant than to discredit its being his at [304] all? Brooke (1948, p. 35) believes Rom.’s Queen Mab speech preceded [MND] and contains the germ of that play. Schanzer (Midsummer, 1955, pp. 13–14) as evidence that Rom. preceded MND (both written in 1595), cites the reconciliation of the fathers (2135–6), a feature lacking in most source versions; writing with Rom. in mind, Sh. (p. 14) unwittingly added this touch to the traditional story. Brunner (1957, p. 66) believes MND belongs to the period 1594–6, a possible parody of Rom. in the interlude suggesting a later date for MND (Ger.). Munro (ed. 1957, p. 340) finds the versification, style, [and] plot . . . suited by a tentative date of 1595. Baldwin (1959, pp. 472–92): MND is the last probable representative of early work. (P. 477): The external fifth act parallels the structure of LLL. (P. 492): There are minor touches of staging, etc. which apparently came in later, but there was clearly no fundamental revision. Wells (ed. 1967, pp. 11–12): It is generally thought of as more mature, and therefore probably later, than four other comedies [TGV, Shr., Err., LLL]. . . . [MV] is reasonably thought of as later in date. Certainty would perhaps be most welcome as to whether [MND] came before or after [Rom.]. . . . [12] The richness and complexity of [Rom.] cause it to be more usually regarded as the later work. Waller (1966, pp. 4–6) tabulates selected linguistic features such as frequency of doth/does, hath/has; MND is placed with R2 in 1595–6, after Rom. in 1594–5. Fergusson (1977, p. 122): It is probable that [MND] is the closest in time to [MV]; perhaps it was written directly after it. Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xlii–liii) presents stylistic evidence for dating the Dream c. 1595, in close proximity to plays which in style it resembles. He dates MV, 1 and 2H4, and Wiv. between 1596 and 1598, claiming that only the Belmont scene shows the lyricism characteristic of (pp. xliii–xlv) R2, Rom., and LLL, which he dates c. 1594–5. (P. xliii) I have found more parallels in the Dream with [LLL] and [Rom.] than with any other plays. Whether [Rom.] precedes or follows the Dream cannot be firmly determined, though there are signs that it is the earlier. (P. xlv): Stylistically, the group is linked not only by the lyricism from which the critics have named it . . . but also by its rhetoric, the art of which is not concealed but displayed. He proceeds to give examples of rhetorical figures from MND, with footnotes providing parallels in R2, Rom. and LLL. (P. liii): There is every reason to suppose that the formal rhetoric in the Dream was seen by Shakespeare and those for whom he wrote as the right partner for the lyricism. . . . Together, they characterize his style in the mid-1590s. Foakes (ed. 1984, pp. 1–4): The best evidence for dating this play remains . . . its nature and style, for it shares with a group of plays written about 1594–7 the mastery of lyrical drama achieved by Shakespeare in the mid 1590s. He lists LLL 1594–5, R2 1595, Rom. 1595–6, MND 1595–6, MV 1596–7. In all of these plays there is a conscious display of poetic and rhetorical skills and devices. Wells & Taylor (1987, pp. 118–19) date MND 1595. (P. 119): Most scholars would agree that, given the extraordinary parallels between them at every level of style and structure, Dream and Romeo were written at about the same time, though there is no consensus about which came first: . . . More generally, Dream belongs stylistically to a group of plays which includes Rom., LLL, and R2. Knutson (1991, pp. 60, 143, 196) places MND in the Chamberlain’s Men repertory in 1595–6, after Err., LLL and Rom., though also assigning its composition to 1594–5, when there was (p. 143) a flurry of interest in plays using magic. Riess & Williams (1992, pp. 214–18) argue that Rom. predates MND, and that in writing the latter, Sh. used the events and the language of tragedy to increase the mirth of comedy especially in the Interlude. Holland (ed. 1994, pp. 110–12): MND was written and first performed in 1595 or 1596. . . . Stylistically the play fits with other plays of the same date, especially Romeo and Juliet. Though he leans towards believing Rom. the earlier, [i]n the final analysis, all that matters is that the two plays were clearly being worked on at roughly the same moment. Kermode (2000, p. 52): Rom. is a kind of twin to MND; both of them are fairly securely dated 1595. Others pointing to affinities with the lyrical group of plays as best evidence of date include Kittredge & Ribner (ed. 1966, pp. ix–x), Traversi (1968, 1:109, 139), Bevington (ed. 1988, pp. 81–2), Halio (1996, pp. 155–6), and Greenblatt (ed. 1997, p. 805).

Too delightful to ignore is Bather (1887, pp. 69–75), who divides Sh.’s works into four periods, (p. 72) I, the period of apprenticeship; II, a period of manly vigour; III, a gloom-period; IV, a period of final calm. He orders the plays by percentage of puns, by which measure MND, at 0.53, comes 24th. Neither gloom nor calm seeming entirely suitable, Bather hedges (p. 75): Yet all critics, except Chalmers, give it a very early date, 1592–4. The play is however very different in character from any other play of Shakespeare’s. It is more in the style of a masque; it is a poem, and written in rhyme for the most part. The rhymes can be no argument for a very early date. In any case the play is so anomalous that we need not regard it as upsetting any of our results. Perhaps the eminent biologist should have stuck to fossil echinoderms.

Allusions to Other Writings and to Topical Events

Attempts to determine the play’s date through perceived (or imagined) references in the text to writings of other authors or to current events have been tied to particular lines or speeches, to the Pyramus and Thisbe interlude, or to the general impression of the play as a whole. Of particular lines the most frequently commented are 337–9, 376, 385, 463–489, 841–2, 1849–50 (see nn. 376–7, 384–5, 456–92, 841–2, 1849–50). On possible references to other writings in the interlude, see also here. Most voluminous is the debate arising from the effort to attach the play to a specific occasion, especially that of a noble wedding. As with the supposed unevenness of the style of the play, pursuing links to external references often necessitates positing rewriting, revisions, or additions.

Often taken as an important indicator is the possibility that Titania’s lament on destructive weather refers to actual conditions. Halliwell (1841, pp. 6–10): We suppose this play to have been written in the autumn of [1594], and we believe we can bring better evidence than has yet been adduced. He quotes Simon Forman’s observations on the rain and floods of summer 1594 (Ashm. 384), drawing attention not only to the bad weather, but to Forman’s mention of the plenty of small nuts, which may have suggested Titania’s offer to Bottom of new nuts (1549); in support he quotes Stowe and Churchyard. In 1855 (pp. 17–23; repeated in ed. 1856, 5:4–7) he adds Dr. King’s description of the weather (first noticed by Blakeway in Boswell ed. 1821, 5:342). Cf. n. 456–92. At this later date he slightly modifies his position, believing it first produced either towards the close of . . . 1594, or early in 1595. He also takes into account Greene’s death in 1592 and Nashe’s Greenes Funeralls (1594) probably supporting this date, but dismisses any reference to Spenser’s death (see n. 1849–50). In 1879 (pp. 6–7), influenced by the possible echo at 375–6 of Spenser’s FQ Bk 6 which was entered on the Stationers’ Register January 20, 1596, he suggests that MND must have been composed later that year.

Others taking the reports of 1594 bad weather as evidence to date MND at the end of 1594 or possibly 1595 or early 1596 include Collier (ed. 1842, 2:387–8), Verplanck (ed. 1845, 2:6), Delius (ed. 1859, 5:II [2]), Hudson (ed. 1851, 2:255–6), White (ed. 1858, 4:15–17) but only in the play’s revised form, and Fleay (1886, p. 126) who believes the date should be fixed in the winter of 1594–5 . . . the allusions to the remarkable weather of 1594 being too marked to be put aside contemptuously. Finkenbrink (1884, pp. 14–15) also finds the similarity too remarkable to be accidental, countering Wright’s (ed. 1877, p. vi) objection by claiming that the fair harvest mentioned by Stow refers only to local pockets of favorable weather. Morley (ed. 1886, pp. 5–7) finds the connection (p. 7) quite possible. Boas (1896, p. 182) sees a very probable reference. Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 10) avers the speech primarily suggests a date of 1594. Cuningham (ed. 1905, pp. xxii–xxvi) gives weight to this indicator for 1594–5. For Cunliffe (in Brooke ed. 1914, p. 2) it is a plausible conjecture. Chambers (1930, 1:246): Despite tempests being common phenomena an allusion is fairly plausible . . . to the rather unusual bad weather of 1594–5. Kittredge (ed. 1936, p. 229) calls the weather the only topical allusion that has any probability. Harrison (ed. 1937, p. 12) cites the weather as support for his estimate of composition between the autumn of 1594 and the spring of 1595. Alexander (1939, p. 105) concurs. Neilson & Hill (ed. 1942, p. 88): The speech reflects in all probability the weather of 1594. Thomas (1949, pp. 319–21) argues that the weather in 1596 was worse than 1594, and therefore the play belongs to the later year. Arnold (1955, p. 100; 1977, p. 93) cites Stow on the bad weather of 1594 (Fr.). Halliday (1961, pp. 120–1) suggests Sh. invented the fairy story of MND to cheer everyone up after the summer of 1596 repeated the bad weather of 1594.

Some are unconvinced. Dyce (ed. 1857, 1:clxiii) dismisses the suggestion as ridiculous. Ward (1875, 1:379–80) is dismissive of attempts to fix MND’s date by references to the weather, or to the death of learning. Wright (ed. 1877, pp. iv–vi) after quoting King and Stowe and citing Forman, points out that Stowe declares (p. vi) a faire haruest followed the bad summer weather of 1594, which contradicts Titania’s words and negates efforts to assign MND to 1594. I am even sceptical enough to think that Titania’s speech not only does not describe the events of the year 1594, but that it is purely the product of the poet’s own imagination. Barnett (1887, p. 10) dismisses such claims as suppositious. Craig (ed. 1903, p. vi): To lay much stress on such things as these in a climate like ours is, I think, injudicious. Wells (ed. 1967, p. 12) dismisses topical allusion to weather as a guide to date. Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 19): The allusion to unseasonable weather [456–92] would fit the second half of 1594, 1595, or 1596, and hence is of little value in narrowing the range of composition. Similarly, Bevington (ed. 1988, p. 81–2): The description of unruly weather [463–89] has been related to the bad summer of 1594, but complaints about the weather are perennial. Greenblatt (ed. 1997, p. 805) concludes that attempts to fix date by royal Progresses or bad weather have been defeated by the frequency of both; similarly Holland (ed. 1994, p. 111).

Meteorological evidence of date is also sought through references to the moon. Apart from a couple of unconvincing and contradictory suggestions by Fleay (1879, pp. 56–7), as reported in Robinson’s Epitome, and Sarrazin (1900, pp. 67–8; see below), the first detailed effort to use astrology to date the play is by Draper (1938, pp. 266–8). Citing 1084 and 1421, he computes that Venus as the morning star was at its brightest on (p. 267) May 2 according to the Julian calendar in 1595, when it was bright and very obvious . . . from the latter part of April into June, the only year between 1592 and 1598 when this was the case. Noting other references in the play to May Day (1653–4), to the new moon (12, 92), and to moonlight, sometimes faint (cf. 222–3, 434–5, 861–73), he calculates (p. 268) that there was an astronomical new moon on April 29, 1595, O. S.; and the thin crescent might be dimly visible on the following evening and more clearly on May first. He concludes that the play was written for an occasion on May 1, 1595. Cambillard (1939, pp. 118–26) is concerned with an esoteric theory of astrological myth rather than date of composition, but an editorial footnote on the first page assures the reader that nothing he argues contradicts Draper’s conclusions (Fr.). (Cf. Richer, 1974.) Wood (1966, pp. 128–30) argues that references to the position of the moon and the planet Venus agree with astrological data only for the year 1595 of the years between 1592 and 1598. Objections to Wood’s interpretations of the play’s references to the moon or moonshine, and to some of his astronomical findings are raised by Stevenson (1968, pp. 131–2) and Taylor (1971, pp. 134–6), leading to an exchange between Wood and Taylor (1971, pp. 464–5); no objection is raised to Wood’s initial speculation about date. The subject is revisited by Brown (1980, pp. 162–5), who feels that the astronomical references support the supposition (p. 164) that the play was written in 1595, probably in the Spring of the year, to be performed on or to celebrate a marriage on 1 May 1595, and designed so that specific reference is made to that date and to astronomical midsummer day of the previous year, 1594. Moreover, Sh.’s use of calendar symbolism may have been suggested by the appearance, early in 1595, of Spenser’s Amoretti and Epithalamion. He concludes that MND’s explicit and numerous astronomical references are intended to point Sh’s audience to associate the midsummer night of the title and the May Day mentioned in the text with specific dates in particular years, 11 June 1594 and 1 May 1595. For Hunter (1983, p. 96) and Honigmann (1985, p. 151) see below, here, here. The title of Wiles’s 1993 book Shakespeare’s Almanac: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marriage and the Elizabethan Calendar proclaims its main preoccupation, and Ch. 8, Weddings and Popular Astrology examines other poems and plays shaped by association with the almanac; the whole work is dedicated to connecting MND with 19 February 1596, the date of the Carey/Berkeley wedding (see further below). Holland (ed. 1994, p. 111) is dismissive of attempts to fix on the exact date of the first performance by . . . the play’s references to the phases of the moon.

The lines on the mourning muses lamenting the death of learning in beggary (see 1849–50 and n.) have also been taken as a guide to date of composition, which sometimes serves as an earliest date but is seldom considered precise. Warburton’s (ed. 1747) belief that the allusion is to Spenser’s The Teares of the Muses (in Complaints, 1591) was often taken as suggesting a date for MND close to that time, but Wright (ed. 1877, p. viii) represents the position now still held: I am inclined to think that Spenser’s poem may have suggested a title for the piece submitted to Theseus, and that we need not press for any closer parallel between them. Cf. Brooks (ed. 1979, p. 107). who believes Sh. may have had it in mind without necessarily intending a recognizable allusion.

Some have also sought a guide to date in the death of an actual poet (see n. 1849–50). Spenser was an early favorite, but when it was ascertained that he died in 1599, it was conceded that either the reference was not to him, or the lines were inserted between 1599 and 1600 (cf. Malone in Steevens ed. 1778, 1:288). Greene (d. 1592) was an even more popular candidate, but there is disagreement over whether the possible allusion necessarily means a date of composition close to the date of death. The suggestion of Marlowe (d. 1593) has not garnered much support. Tasso (d. 1595) is a late entrant, but his death date corresponds more attractively with the most widely accepted date of composition for MND.

The topical event now considered the most reliable indicator is the baptism of Prince Henry at the Scottish court in 1594 (see n. 841–2). Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. xxxiv–xxxv) relies solely on this incident to determine the terminus a quo, thinking it highly probable that Sh. knew of it. If so, . . . the Dream could not be earlier than the baptismal feast of Prince Henry, 30 August 1594, and probably not than the account of it in A True Reportarie, registered with the Stationers on 24 October. Among those who agree with finding this an acceptable indicator (besides Knight ed. 1839 and Rickert 1923, p. 67) are Chambers (ed. 1897, pp. 10–11, and 1930, 1:247), Cuningham (ed. 1905, p. xxxi), Black in Hudson & Black (ed. 1910, p. xxviii), Harrison (ed. 1937, p. 12 and ed. 1948, p. 269), Alexander (1939, pp. 105–6), Bednarz (1983, p. 82), Honigmann (1985, p. 153), Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 118); expressing reservations are Neilson & Hill (ed. 1942, p. 88) followed by Munro (ed. 1957, p. 339); entirely unconvinced is Foakes (ed. 1984, p. 125 n.). Furness (ed. 1895, p. 248) does not include this episode in his list of lines and allusions furnishing evidence of date, apparently endorsing Malone’s characterization of it as an odd coincidence.

Similarities between individual lines in MND and other literary works have also been advanced as indicators of date. Unfortunately these suggestions are often rendered dubious either by the commonplace nature of the thought expressed, or by mistaken or doubtful dating of the supposedly earlier work, or a date of publication that is at odds with other indications of MND’s date. Of the first kind are the echo of Spenser’s FQ 6.8.32 (see n. 376–7), and of The Wisdom of Dr. Dodypoll (see n. 384–5). The anonymous play is also misdated by for example Chalmers (1799, pp. 360–7), who calls several other writings in evidence for his preferred date of early 1598: Lodge’s Wits Miserie (see n. 1801), Gale’s Pyramus and Thisbe (see here), and a parliamentary report concerning (p. 367) the stealing away of men’s children without the assent of their parents. Lawrence (1920, p. 826) finds echoes of Dekker’s Hercules plays, of a lost play of Phaeton and of the university play Lingua to suggest a date of late 1597. Acheson (1922, pp. 188–93) argues through references to the bad weather of 1594, and through claimed links to Chapman’s Hymns to the Shadow of Night (1594) and to the second edition of Roydon’s Willobie his Avisa (1594) in 1596, that MND was revised in 1596 to incorporate satire of Roydon as Peter Quince and was published in 1600 to answer Roydon’s attack on him in the third edition of Willobie his Avisa. McCloskey (1931, pp. 389–91), arguing for a lost edition of The Arbour of Amorous Devices in 1594, claims that possible echoes of A poem of a Mayde forsaken (see n. 942–50) support a date of composition in 1595. More plausibly, Stokes (1878, p. 52) speculates that the reissue of North’s Plutarch in 1595 may have directed Sh.’s attention to it; the speculation gains credibility from the fact of the reissue being published by Richard Field, formerly of Stratford-on-Avon (see here).

Weddings Etc.

It would be agreeable to limit this section to the words of Holland (ed. 1994, p. 112): The wedding occasion theory appeals to critics who like the concept of a site-specific play, with fairies running through the noble house to bless the real wedding of members of the audience, and to those who wish to rescue the play from the clutches of the popular theatre audience. I fail to see the need to want either. However, it seems a necessary duty to trace the way conjecture has hardened into dogma.

Some critics have made valiant attempts to dispatch the hydra. Wells (ed. 1967, pp. 12–14): The suggestion has been offered that the play as we have it is a revision made for public performance, and even that Theseus and Hippolyta are stand-ins for the pair whose wedding is supposed to be celebrated. The belief that the wedding blessing of the last Act had [13] some extra-dramatic significance encourages a loose assumption that it is superfluous. . . .

[The play] is, certainly, much concerned with marriage; but so are many comedies. . . . [A]n allusion to [the Queen] does not imply that she was . . . present at the play’s first, or any other performance. . . . If Shakespeare’s company could at any time muster enough boys for public performances, we have no reason to doubt that it could have done so from the start. Thus the suggestion that the roles of the fairies were intended to be taken by children of the hypothetical noble house seems purely whimsical. The stage directions of the first edition . . . show no essential differences from [14] those in his other plays. . . . Furthermore, . . . the first play certainly known to have been written for such an occasion is Samuel Daniel’s Hymen’s Triumph [1614]. Price (1983, pp. 17–18) Many critics . . . assume . . . that it was written for performance at an aristocratic wedding celebration—without, perhaps, fully realising that this notion originated as a tentative conjecture by . . . Tieck, . . . and that it was much disputed in his own country and century. The principal difficulty is that it has never been possible to decide which particular wedding . . . the play was designed to celebrate. Nevertheless, the majority of recent critics concludes that . . . the play certainly owes its genesis to some such courtly occasion. . . .

[This] . . . has been disputed by [18] Stanley Wells, and Alfred Harbage [Harbage 1962, pp. 19–20], on the grounds of the complete lack of evidence that any play was written for a special private performance before 1614, and that the costs, time and effort involved in writing, rehearsing and performing a new play exclusively for such an audience would not have been worth the company’s while. Williams (Moonlight, 1997, pp. 1–18, 263–5) provides an extensive review of The Wedding-play Myth and some of the arguments against it.

Despite such herculean efforts, wedding theories and their proponents keep raising their heads, even to the point that some well-reputed scholars continue to present the theory as undisputed fact; cf., for example, Bloom (1998, pp. 148, 152–3), Duncan-Jones (2001, pp. 10, 87–9.).

Following is a list of the weddings proposed, with a short form, and the name of the first proposer:

  • 1.Robert Devereux Earl of Essex and Frances Lady Sidney, April or May 1590; Essex/Sidney; Elze 1868; 1874.
  • 2.Robert Carey, later Earl of Monmouth and Elizabeth Trevannion, 1592; Carey/Trevannion; Fleay 1876.
  • 3.Sir Thomas Heneage and Mary Countess of Southampton, 2 May 1594; Heneage/Southampton; Sarrazin 1900.
  • 4.Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland and Lady Dorothy Devereux, May 1595(?); Percy/Devereux; Draper 1972.
  • 5.William Stanley Earl of Derby and Elizabeth Vere, 26(?) January 1595; Stanley/Vere; Fleay 1876.
  • 6.Edward Russell Earl of Bedford and Lucy Harrington, 1595; Russell/Harrington; Fleay 1876.
  • 7.Thomas Berkeley, Lord Hunsdon-to-be and Elizabeth Carey, 19 February 1596; Berkeley/Carey; Chambers, Occasion, 1916.
  • 8.Henry Guildford and William Petre [or Peter, or Petrie] to Lady Elizabeth and Lady Katherine Somerset, daughters of the Earl of Worcester, 8 November 1596; Guildford/Petre/Somerset (Spenser’s Prothalamion.); Martin 1935.
  • 9.Henry Wriothesley Earl of Southampton and Elizabeth Vernon, February or August 1598; Southampton/Vernon; Tieck (in Schlegel 1830).
  • 10.Roger Manners Earl of Rutland and Elizabeth Sidney, 1599; Manners/Sidney; Acheson 1922.
  • 11.Henry Herbert and Anne Russell, 16 June 1600; Herbert/Russell; Lawrence 1922, see also Chambers Occasion, 1916.

Tieck (in Schlegel’s Shakespeare’s dramatische Werke, 1830, 3:353; tr. Furness, ed. 1895, pp. 259–60): In 1598, the friend of the poet, the Earl of Southampton, espoused his beloved Mistress Vernon, to whom he had been long betrothed. Perhaps the germ, or the first sketch, of the drama was a felicitation to the newly-married pair, in the shape of a so-called Mask, in which Oberon, Titania, and their fairies wished and prophesied health and happiness to the bridal couple. The comic antistrophe, the scene with the rude mechan-[260]icals, formed what was termed the anti-mask. . . . Thus to this Occasional Poem there were added subsequently the other scenes of the comedy.

Ulrici (1839; 1846, p. 275): Tieck . . . conjectures, I think without reason, that the piece did not receive its present form before 1600, when it was first printed. It is not easy to see how the title of Midsummer Night’s Dream . . . could ever have suited The Mask of Oberon and Titania, with its anti-mask—the play of the artizans—in short, a mere piece composed for a marriage festival. Nevertheless, Tieck’s suggestion is supported by Mézières (1860, pp. 432–3), who believes it plausible given the practices of the nobility that MND was commissioned for wedding festivities, and asks what could be more natural than to attach Sh.’s work to an event [the marriage of the poet’s best friend] which must have touched him so keenly? (Fr.); and Massey (1866, p. 481) who has no doubts, but adds: The play was probably composed some time before the marriage took place, at a period when it may have been thought the Queen’s consent could be obtained, but not so early as the commentators have imagined. I have ventured the date of 1595.

Tieck had opened the door, and the first to respond with a counterproposal is Elze (1868; tr. 1874, pp. 40–60): All indications point to the fact that the Midsummer Night’s Dream was written for and performed at the marriage of the Earl of Essex in the year 1590. . . . [MND] is evidently the production of that happy period of life when fancy is most lively and unrestrained in its creations; everything in it is lyrical effusion, unclouded cheerfulness, exempt from reflection; in a word, all is youth. He traces the interrelationships of the Essex and Sidney families, the connections with Leicester and with Sh., and endorses Halpin’s explication of Oberon’s Vision (see here). Ulrici in his third edition (1868–9; tr. 1876, 2:82–3) takes issue with Elze’s proposal, objecting that the date is unlikely on the grounds of style, and that since both the Southampton and Essex marriages took place clandestinely the queen could not have been present. He rejects Elze’s interpretation of the concluding remarks, and Halpin’s (2:83) frosty and forced allegory, and reasserts that the connection between MND and the so-called masques . . . seems to me . . . to be a very distant one, from which little or nothing can be deduced in favour of the marriage-hypothesis. In 1874 in an addendum to the MND essay as revised for Schmitz’s translation (pp. 61–6), Elze dismisses Ulrici’s recent criticism of his hypothesis (see above) and expands upon the support he has received from Kurz (1869, pp. 268 ff.). Kurz gives as a reason for believing that the festive occasion at which MND was performed must have been before 1591 that the play could not have appeared after Spenser’s FQ which in that year had presented an idealized Queen Elizabeth (p. 278): After that could Shakespeare let his fairy queen, albeit called Titania and the spouse of Oberon, fall in love with an ass? A question not to be lightly tossed aside. This translation of Kurz is from Furness (ed. 1895, pp. 261–2), who warns that a vein of quiet humour running through his Essay . . . makes it difficult to say whether or not he is anywhere really in earnest; Furness summarizes (p. 262): In short, Kurz reaches the positive conclusion (p. 289) that [MND] was performed, for the first time, at a banquet on the occasion of the unheralded festivities accompanying the marriage of Essex, and in conjunction with the observances of May in 1590, as a masque with significant characters, or as a masque-like comedy with a masque especially introduced, and all of it designed to conceal the object for which the festivities were given.

Dowden (1875, p. 67) confidently asserts that MND was written on the occasion of the marriage of some noble couple but offers no new supposition, satisfied with the possibility of either Southampton/Vernon or the earlier date of the Essex/Sidney wedding. In the introduction to MND in Craig (ed. 1911–12, 2:246), the wedding theory (attributed to Dowden) is doubted because no evidence is forthcoming to support any of the weddings proposed. Neil (ed. 1878, p. 34) does not claim a wedding occasion, but promotes the notion that MND was composed as a masque for Court at Christmas 1590, and after a run of a winter or two, it was revised about 1596, and reintroduced to the stage in a more developed form.

Fleay (1886, pp. 18–19, 26, 126, 181–6): MND was produced in its first form c. June 1592; he believes it was produced while Sh. (p. 19) worked as a journeyman or with a coadjutor and was later revised. (P. 26): On 26th January 1594–5, [MND] was, I conjecture, acted at Greenwich at the marriage of W. Stanley, Earl of Derby, and afterwards on the public stage; it was evidently written for a marriage, but . . . had been altered for this special occasion. Its original production was probably in 1592, at the marriage of Robert Carey, afterwards Earl of Monmouth. (P. 181): 1595. January 26 was the date of the marriage of William Stanley, Earl of Derby, . . . . About the same time Edward Russel, Earl of Bedford, married Lucy Harrington. Both marriages may have been enlivened by this performance. . . . [182] The date of the Court performance must be in the winter of 1594–5. But the traces of the play having been altered from a version for the stage are numerous. (1891, 2:194): [T]he weather description [463–93], which can be omitted without in any way affecting the progress of the play, . . . I believe . . . . was inserted for the Court performance in 1596, that on the public stage having taken place in 1595; but . . . the marriage presentation, being subsequent to this, was most likely at the union of Southampton and Elizabeth Vernon in 1598–9. See also Krauss (1876, p. 241).

Initial reactions were at best skeptical. Wright (ed. 1877, pp. ix–xi), prefacing his remarks by saying that in seeking a specific occasion we embark upon a wide sea of conjecture, with neither star nor compass to guide us, discusses skeptically the theories of Massey, Elze, and Kurz, concluding (p. xi): In such questions it would be well to remember the maxim of the ancient rabbis, Teach thy tongue to say, I do not know. Brink (1877–9, p. 55) is inclined to believe in a wedding occasion, but without speculating on which. Stokes (1878, p. 48): It has frequently been suggested that [MND] was composed to grace some marriage festivities; and the supposition has been supported by referring to its lyrical and almost operatic tone, to its masque-like form, and to Oberon’s song at the conclusion. But this suggestion may perhaps be answered by noting the difficulty that has been experienced in finding any nuptial event to tally with the supposed date of its composition, by the unlikelihood of so unique an undertaking on Shakespeare’s part being unrecorded, by the inappropriateness of such phrases as Bottom’s statement in [quotes 960–1], and by the promise in Puck’s epilogue that we will make amends ere long. Halliwell (1879, pp. 7–8) endorses Stokes, calling such conjectures (p. 8) gratuitous and silly. Finkenbrink (1884, pp. 4–14) argues forcefully against wedding theorists, (pp. 4–11) engaging particularly with Kreyssig (Vorlesungen über Shakspere, Berlin, 1880, 3:81 ff.), Massey (1866), Elze (1868), and Kurz, (1869). He dismisses the claim that MND is a masque (see here), or occasional play. Wedding conjectures (p. 11) are to be rejected, and withal that by which they are principally suggested, viz. that our comedy is a mask. See also Rolfe (1889, p. 186) above. Gollancz (ed. 1894, pp. v–vii) mentions that the Southampton/Vernon and the Essex/Sidney marriages have been proposed as the occasion of the play; (p. vi) there is, however, absolutely no authority for the statement, and the probabilities are strongly opposed to the supposition. However, in the highly fanciful introduction to the 1895 ed. with illustrations by Robert Anning Bell, Gollancz (p. xxxv) imagines that Sh., circa 1594–5, while working on Rom., was invited to write a new play to grace some grand wedding. From approximately this time acceptance of some form of wedding theory becomes increasingly common, though dissenters are still to be found, such as Craig (ed. 1903, p. vi) who cannot find any evidence . . . of the least value for wedding claims; more dissenting voices are again raised in the later 20th c., especially from Wells’s 1967 ed. (see above) on.

Chambers (ed. 1897, pp. 12–14, 179–80) seeks to determine the precise occasion [13] on which it was first presented. He approves Fleay’s suggestion of the Stanley/Vere wedding, 26 January 1595 (p. 14): Lord Derby, like all the Stanleys, was interested in the drama . . . , and it is worth noting that the very company to which Shakespeare belonged had been . . . the servants of his elder brother and predecessor, Ferdinando. He devotes a brief appendix to detailing William Stanley’s career and associations with plays. Lee (1898, p. 161) supports either Russell/Harrington or Stanley/Vere. Sarrazin (1900, pp. 67–71) believes that MND was written for a noble wedding on 2 May 1594 (i.e. the Heneage/Southampton marriage). He engages with the dating through the moon references, concluding that the poet may not have been overly strict with the calendar and that possibly new moon refers to the months rather than the heavenly body. On 2 or 4 May 1594, the actors would have played under a waning moon, which agrees with Theseus’s exclamation 6–7. He thinks it obvious that the scenery and setting refer to a night performance at a great house or castle, at which the Queen was present. He argues against claims for the Stanley/Vere wedding (Ger.).

Cuningham (ed. 1905, pp. xxix–xxxi) It is not improbable that it was, at least eventually, intended for the celebration of the marriage of some nobleman of Elizabeth’s court; but I rather incline to the belief that it was not so in the first instance; and that, marriage or no marriage, we should have had [MND], though, perhaps, not exactly in its present form. He discusses and tentatively approves Fleay’s claim that the play was performed on 26 January 1595 at the Stanley/Vere wedding. So too Rothschild (1906, pp. 82–3). Furnivall (ed. 1908, p. ix) demurs, believing that if the play had been performed at the Stanley/Vere wedding, Stowe (Annales, p. 1279) would have taken note of it.

Among those at this period prepared to accept the idea of a wedding occasion but without believing it can be identified, and so provide a firm date of composition, are Baker (1907, pp. 182–6), Black (in Hudson & Black, ed. 1910, pp. xxix–xxxi), Gordon (ed. 1910, p.xxvii) and Herford (1912, p. 31). Armstrong (1913, p. 33) would fain believe it was written for the Russell/Harrington match.

Chambers (Occasion, 1916, pp. 154–60), though he reviews and expands arguments for the Stanley/Vere wedding, believes the more likely occasion is the Berkeley/Carey wedding of February 1596, an opinion that he is the first to propose and that has gained significant support in recent decades. Nevertheless (1923, 1:214 n. 2, 4:109), he lists the Stanley/Vere wedding as an occasion at which Elizabeth might have been present. Later (1930, 1:358–62) he returns to the wedding question, reviewing six proposed, and again giving his judgment that the Berkeley/Carey wedding is more likely than the Stanley/Vere. Durham (ed. 1918, p. 89): Some have attempted, without conspicuous success, to determine whose wedding MND was written to honor. Lawrence (1920, p. 826) argues against MND having been commissioned for a noble wedding: This idea of the acceptance of a commission outside the playhouse by a workaday actor-dramatist is highly questionable. There was absolutely no precedent for such a course. Nevertheless, later (1922, pp. 836–40), still maintaining late 1597 as the original date of composition, he argues that MND was extensively revised for the Herbert/Russell wedding in 1600. Still later (1927, p. 138) he dismisses arguments for some noble wedding about the year 1595 as contemptible guesswork. Mathew (1922, p. 122) asserts that MND celebrated the Russell/Harrington wedding on 12 Dec. 1594 and was performed for the Queen at Greenwich later that month.

Acheson (1922, pp. 186–97) dismisses (p. 187) arguments for the 1590 Essex/Sidney and Southampton/Vernon matches as mere guesses that show lamentable ignorance of easily ascertainable historical facts. Despite possible later performances at weddings (p. 188) and however it may have been later revised, I am satisfied that it was first produced for the occasion of the marriage of Sir Thomas Heneage to Lady Southampton, mother of Shakespeare’s friend and patron, in the year 1594. He claims that this date not only coincides with the strongest internal evidence advanced by past commentators, but gives us also a bridal couple that match the advanced ages and social dignity of Theseus and Hippolyta. He gives arguments for inferring that (p. 199) the Queen graced this marriage with her presence. He sees further revisions to MND when (as he surmises, p. 195) the services of Shakespeare and his company were retained for the marriage festivities of the Earl of Rutland’s proposed marriage in the spring of [1599] and not long after the death of Spenser. So also Stopes (1922, p. 75).

Wilson (ed. 1924, pp. ix–x, 85–100) and his co-editor Quiller-Couch are convinced that MND at whatever date written, . . . was composed to celebrate a marriage—possibly for private performance at some great house, possibly even at Court, but most certainly for a wedding somewhere. Their suggestions for date(s) and occasion(s) are influenced by their belief that the play underwent several stages of revision. (P. 99): It has, of course, long been recognised that [MND] is a wedding play, while its length—it . . . is the fourth shortest play in the canon—suggests that it was intended primarily for a private rather than a public performance. . . . For instance, the marriage of the Earl of Essex in 1590 . . . was proposed by Elze and supported by Kurz. This date is not now seriously entertained in any quarter, though, if parts of the text go back to some year before 1592, it cannot be dismissed as impossible. Curiously enough, no one, as far as we know, has quoted a wedding from 1592 or 1593 to fall in with the allusion to Robert Greene’s death, and it may be that in his first draft Shakespeare had no particular wedding in view; certainly that draft did not contain the wedding-masque with which the transmitted text concludes. Nevertheless, even without the masque, the fable, as Dr Johnson would say, is so appropriate to a wedding-celebration, that it is hard to believe the play was not originally plotted to that end. And if so the revision of 1594 is likely to have been undertaken for a similar purpose. Now Jan. 26, 1595, the date of the marriage of William Stanley, Earl of Derby, to Elizabeth Vere, daughter of the Earl of Oxford, fits in very well with the 1594 allusions, and since Fleay first put it forward this match has been commonly regarded by critics as the most likely occasion for the composition of the play. We have nothing better to offer for the revision of 1594, but we do not ourselves favour the Stanley [100] wedding, since the Queen is reputed to have been present at it, and we very much doubt whether the Dream, in any form, can have been played before her.

Finally, there is the marriage of the Earl of Southampton in 1598 to Elizabeth Vernon, . . . an occasion which . . . has of late found few supporters. Indeed an apparently insuperable obstacle has hitherto stood in the way of its acceptance, namely the patent absurdity, as it would seem to anyone in the least acquainted with the development of Shakespeare’s powers and style, of supposing that he could be writing this play, as a whole, so late as the year 1598. But this obstacle vanishes directly the fact of revision be admitted. It seems to us, therefore, at least possible that Shakespeare undertook the last revision, to which we owe nearly all the finest poetry of the play, in celebration of his friend and patron’s marriage. Some chronological difficulties attached to this supposition are not regarded as fatal to the possibility. The editors hope to have established a presumption in favour of [MND] having been first handled by Shakespeare in 1592 or before, rehandled in 1594, and rehandled once again in 1598. Empson (1994, pp. 198–201), in a posthumously published essay, is influenced by Wilson’s theories, considering MND first drafted in the period of plague closures in 1592–4 for the entertainment of Southampton, revised after 1594 probably for the Berkeley/Carey wedding, and revised yet again for public performance.

Chambers (Rev., 1925, pp. 341–2) reviewing Wilson (ed. 1924): M. N. D. has generally been regarded in recent years as a play of 1594 or 1595, probably written for some great wedding, which can only be conjecturally identified. He rejects the suggestion of a version revised for the Southampton wedding as not . . . at all plausible. (P. 342): [W]hether in January or August, the marriage was a desperately secret affair, . . . and it is incredible that it should have been advertised by a hymeneal pageant.

Harrison (1927, p. 25): MND is written for private performance for some wedding. This meant . . . there was probably adequate scenery, good music, and . . . a company of young children to act the parts of the fairies; elsewhere (1933, p. 82; ed. 1937, pp. 12–13) he asserts it was for the Stanley/Vere wedding, but later (ed. 1948, p. 270) temporizes, saying this occasion best fits the probable date of writing; but there is no evidence, and the title page of the quarto definitely states that the play was sundry times publicly acted. Constantin-Weyer (1929, p. 39) imagines that at Southampton’s home Sh. had met Lucy Harrington, who asked the poet to write for her wedding to the earl of Bedford a light comedy, something like Lyly’s Endymion, something fantastic, fairy-like, airy! (Fr.) Brandl ([1929], pp. 190–2) believes MND written for the Heneage/Southampton wedding (Ger.). Ridley (ed. 1934, p. x) endorses Wilson’s (ed. 1924) revision theories, including that the final revision of 1598 was perhaps for the Southampton/Vernon wedding. So also Messiaen (1945, p. 502) (Fr.).

Martin, (1935 p. 48): It is strange . . . that no one has suggested the double marriage of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Katherine Somerset to Henry Guildford of Hemstead in Kent and William (later second Baron) Petre, respectively. The date was November 8, 1596. The brides’ father was the Earl of Worcester. . . . For this marriage Spenser wrote his Prothalamion. The ceremony took place at Essex House; Essex, to whom Shakespeare was probably known through Southampton, had returned from Cadiz in August. . . .

It may be objected that since Worcester had a company of players, Shakespeare’s services would not be required. But there seems to be no trace of Worcester’s men in London before January, 1602, although they can be followed through the provinces in the nineties. See also Thomas (1949, pp. 321–2); Dawson (1950, p. 631).

Kittredge (ed. 1936, p. 229) concedes the play may have been specially composed for any of six marriages suggested by ingenious scholars from 1590–1600: The first of these is certainly too early; the last is certainly too late. Even more hesitant is Murry (1936, p. 217), who comments on wedding theories: It may well be so. But there is no telling. He warns against the inclination to say to ourselves that the dewy beauty which pearls [MND] can never have been intended for a popular audience. Holzknecht & McLure (ed. 1937, pp. 196–7) are almost certain that it was written for some court wedding, most likely the Stanley/Vere or the Berkeley/Carey marriage. Parrott (ed. 1938; 1953, p. 131) believes it was written late in 1594 or early in 1595, quite probably [for] a noble wedding. . . . To fix the date of composition about 1595 does not, however, exclude the possibility of revision. . . . The text as it has come down to us preserves the form of presentation at the private performance. Alexander (1939, p. 105) finds the Berkeley/Carey marriage the most likely guess, but there are no details of the ceremony now available to confirm or refute this conjecture; he suggests the singing boys he believes were supplied by the Carey family for the fairies in Wiv. would have been available for MND. See also Idem (1964, pp. 133–4). Neilson & Hill (ed. 1942, p. 88) find the Stanley/Vere wedding the most plausible. Chambrun (1947, tr. 1957, pp. 82–3): This comedy, many times corrected and altered, . . . was often acted at Elizabeth’s court on festive [83] occasions, especially when important marriages were celebrated; she instances the Essex/Sidney, Heneage/Southampton and Stanley/Vere weddings. Boas (1950, p. 21): There is good reason to believe that [MND] was performed in honour of some great noble’s wedding at which the Queen was present; he does not give any reason. Gui (1952, pp. 300–1) argues that MND was commissioned by Sir George Carey for the marriage proposed in 1595 of his daughter to William Lord Herbert, and that the commission persisted for the marriage that actually took place between Elizabeth and Thomas Berkeley in Feb. 1596. He argues that it was at this time that Sh. developed (p. 301) a personal [homosexual] interest in William Herbert. Siegel (1953, p. 139): The manner in which the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta is made the setting of [MND], the music, dancing and spectacle with which it is filled, and the virtual epithalamium at the conclusion testify, it is generally agreed, that the play was written as part of the festivities of some aristocratic wedding; his essay is devoted to reading the play as if a wedding guest at that occasion.

Sisson (ed. 1954, p. 207): It is generally agreed that it was composed to celebrate some marriage among the great, and occasions are offered from 1590 to 1600. For various reasons that of Elizabeth Carey and Thomas Berkeley in 1596 has found most favour. And the lyric quality of the play seems to fit it into the trend of Shakespeare’s work at this time. Yet many feel it to be less mature than other plays of this date, and it is possible that it was originally written earlier, and revised for some such later occasion. Hammerle (Laubenmotiv, 1953, pp. 327–9) argues for the Berkeley/Carey marriage on the basis of Spenserian connections both literary and familial (Ger.). Arnold (1955, p. 100): It is not impossible to hold that the newly composed work was presented for the first time on the 26 January 1595 before the Court at Greenwich, on the occasion of the Stanley/Vere wedding (Fr.). Brunner (1957, p. 66) believes the play is clearly a festivity for a wedding, but makes no attempt to identify or decide among the six or seven suggested between 1591 and 1597 (Ger.). Munro (ed. 1957, pp. 338–9): The theme of the play has led to the view that it was probably composed for the festivities of a particular wedding. Various weddings have been suggested, . . . None can with certainty be associated with the play. Bullough (1957, 1:367): The emphasis on weddings suggests that it was originally written for the marriage of some noble (cf. Chambers W. Sh. 1.358–63). Several names have been proposed inconclusively. Internal evidence, including style, points to composition between [Tit. and MV] . . . It was probably written in 1594 or 1595, though additions may have been made later, possibly for another wedding. . . . In keeping with the hymeneal occasion Shakespeare treats the play as a merry prank. . . . Surely it was written for a summer wedding.

The argument of Olson’s (1957, pp. 95–119) influential essay depends on his belief that it was written for the solemn nuptials of a noble house, perhaps for those of the Earl of Derby or the Earl of Essex. . . . [96] The ceremony for which it was written probably took place about 1595. Its audience would have included, from the intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals of the court, men who knew the recently published enigmatic works of Spenser, Fraunce, and Sidney. In a footnote (p. 95) he cites Chambers, Occasion, 1916, Welsford 1927, Wilson ed. 1924, Siegel 1953: These references might be multiplied. My essay does not propose to deal with the problem of topical allusions in MND. Barber (1959, pp. 87, 119–25, 149–50) asserts there can be no doubt that MND was commissioned for performance at a noble entertainment . . . though just what noble wedding was graced by Shakespeare’s dramatic epithalamium no one has been able to determine. His argument proceeds on that assumption, to the point of claiming that Theseus and Hippolyta are (p. 125) stand-ins for the noble couple whose marriage the play originally honored. More cautiously Doran (ed. 1959, pp. 14–16) finds the ending suggests the play may have been written as an entertainment for a great wedding, . . . the one [15] most favored being Stanley/Vere 1595. Baldwin (1959, pp. 472–92) believes (p. 477) the ending was made for the play, not the play for the ending. That is, it is not at all likely that the play was constructed for such an occasion as is represented in the fifth act, but rather that such an occasion was invented to round out the play; he concludes that MND (p. 492) was constructed about the first half of 1594 and received some addition or change for court performance the Christmas of 1594. Savage (1961, pp. 65–71) declaring almost universal agreement among scholars on MND’s occasional nature, argues for the Berkeley/Carey wedding, mainly on the grounds of the groom’s father’s predilection for hunting. Halliday (1961, pp. 120–1) suggests the play presented at the Berkeley/Carey wedding was LLL, and that possibly Sh. was commissioned to write a play for the Guildford/Petre/Somerset wedding. Wilson (1962, pp. 191–207), aging but combative, presents yet another argument on the nature of the play: No scholar seems to doubt that [MND] is a marriage play and was written to be performed at a grand wedding in some nobleman’s house. There seems no reason why for Shakespeare and his company, it should not have been the marriage play which could be brought out, after a little touching up, whenever they were called upon to provide the evening’s entertainment that normally terminated the festivities on such occasions . . . [192] That the play . . . was originally written or re-written for a wedding at a house with a hall large enough for its proper performance and not for some other occasion at court or elsewhere, needs no arguing. He lists six possible weddings, as in Chambers, 1930, 1:358, and finds arguments in favor of all three of Heneage/Southampton, Stanley/Vere, and Berkeley/Carey, concluding that MND was performed at both the latter two. Harbage (1962, pp. 19–20) seems to be fighting a losing battle against the swelling list of plays for which private auspices of production are hypothesized: . . . The trouble is that there is nothing to support any of these hypotheses except the other hypotheses, now functioning as ghostly precedents. There is no supporting [20] external evidence to prove that any regular play performed by any regular company, juvenile or adult, was originally written for a special occasion during the whole reign of Elizabeth and lifetime of Shakespeare. This total absence of evidence would be rather remarkable if such plays were as common in fact as they have become in theory. Dent (1964, p. 123 n. 16) ripostes to Harbage: [T]he internal evidence that [MND] was either written or adapted for a courtly wedding seems to me, as to most, overwhelming.

Rowse (1963, pp. 204–7) asserts (p. 205): We have no reason to doubt that [MND] was produced to grace the occasion of the Heneage/Southampton wedding in 1594. He argues that references to bad weather, the baptism of Prince Henry of Scotland, and the death of Robert Greene were added later (p. 207) to strengthen what was in essence a private play with the general public. Bullough (1964, p. 124) instances MND as evidence that Sh. wrote for performance in noble houses. Nosworthy (1965, p. 3), while emphatically rejecting the category of nuptial occasional play, believes it reasonably safe to conclude that the surviving texts [of MND, AYL and Tmp.] preserve versions specially adapted for use at weddings, but there is no good reason for supposing [they] were originally anything other than contributions to the company’s general repertory. Campbell (in Campbell, Rothschild, & Vaughan ed. 1965, pp. 1–3) believes the existing text of MND was (p. 3) most likely written for the Stanley/Vere wedding. Kittredge & Ribner (ed. 1966, p. x) consider it fairly certain MND was written for a wedding, most likely Heneage/Souhampton but possibly Stanley/Vere. Akrigg (1968, pp. 240–1): Sh. would hardly have been such a tactless blunderer [241] as to put in a play written for [the Heneage/Southampton wedding] lines which could be taken as a palpable hit at the bride: [quotes 8–9]; more probable is the Stanley/Vere wedding. Draper (1972, p. 67) maintains the play celebrates the Percy/Devereux wedding.

Schoenbaum (1975, pp. 138–9): By virtue of its brevity, special casting requirements, and (in Sir Edmund Chambers’s phrase) the hymeneal character of the theme, [MND] would appear to be well suited to grace a wedding celebration. . . . The text seemingly provides alternative endings . . .

But the suggestion, at first so beguiling, becomes less appealing under rigorous scrutiny. Dr. Stanley Wells puts the negative case most cogently: [139] [quotes Wells ed. 1967, pp. 13–14; see here].

Bradbrook (1978, pp. 112–13): If [MND] were not intended solely for some great wedding, the compliment to the Queen suggests that it was used on one such occasion when she was present—the most probable being the Stanley/Vere or Berkeley/Carey marriages. Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. liii–lvii, lxxxix): Most scholars are agreed that the Dream was designed to grace a wedding in a noble household. The one or two sceptics provide a useful reminder that . . . there is no proof of this. But so long as the distinction between fact and probability is made clear, there is nothing unscholarly in giving proportionable credence to probability. Of the weddings commonly proposed he dismisses some as too early and some too late to fit his arguments concerning topical references and style, concluding (p. lvii): The hypothesis which fits the largest number of facts and probabilities—though it must remain a hypothesis—is that MND was written 1595–6 for the Berkeley/Carey wedding, and later acted on the public stage. In any event, it can be dated with confidence between autumn 1954 and spring 1596, and with certainty before 1598. (P. lxxxix): That [MND] was designed to grace a wedding is a presumption as strong as it can be in default of the direct evidence which would make it certain. Wickham (1980, p. 178): MND is generally acknowledged to have been written to celebrate a wedding. Hunter (1983, pp. 95–101): Apart from a few unromantic dissidents, critics have seen [MND] as originally written to celebrate a wedding; he consults G. Frende’s Almanack (1588) to demonstrate to his own satisfaction that it was for the Berkeley/Carey marriage of 1596. Because of his complicated astronomical calculations, he finds it not (p. 100) clear whether [Sh.] adapted a text already under way or had conceived of the play all along as especially designed for [these festivities] and made a few necessary late changes in some of its details. However, in 1985 (pp. 45–7), Hunter argues that Sh. (p. 47) wrote the play in the expectation that it would actually be performed on May Day 1594 at the Heneage/Southampton wedding, and that it was revived with some changes for the Berkeley/Carey wedding; it seems probable that Dream had not been presented in the public theatres before this date. See also Hunter (1998, pp. 9–10 and 2002, p. 3). Hartman (1983, p. 355), in order to pursue a Freudian analysis of the play, asserts that it was written to honor the Heneage/Southampton wedding. Montrose (1983, p. 62) claims that MND’s affinities with Elizabethan courtly entertainments have long been recognized, and that Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. liii, lv) cautiously endorses the familiar notion that it was written for a wedding at which the Queen was present. Although attractive and plausible, such topical connections must remain wholly conjectural. The perspective of my own analysis of the play’s court connection is dialectical rather than causal, ideological rather than occasional. For, whether or not Queen Elizabeth was physically present at the first performance of [MND], her pervasive cultural presence was a condition of the play’s imaginative possibility. Later (1996, p. 160) he seems more definitely negative: Although attractive, the widely accepted general hypothesis of the play’s occasion is without substantiation.

Bednarz (1983, pp. 81–94) argues from Spenserian connections that the Stanley/Vere match (p. 82) establishes the terminus ad quem of the play’s composition. Foakes (ed. 1984, pp. 2–4) is sceptical of wedding theories; of possible occasions he names the Stanley/Vere and Berkeley/Carey weddings, finding the latter (p. 3) more plausible in terms of date, but there is no evidence to connect the play with either ceremony. He cites Wells’s (ed. 1967, p. 14) mention of Daniel’s 1614 wedding play as evidence against MND being so regarded. He finds Ringler’s (1968) conclusions about casting (p. 4) more plausible than to suppose that Shakespeare wrote for a special occasion on the assumption that a private patron would provide several boys to swell the company. At any rate, it is pointless to speculate further about a possible occasion for the play, and it does not affect the dating of its composition in 1595–6. Strong (1985, p. 51): The first night of [MND] must have been a great aristocratic marriage to which Queen Elizabeth the First came. Honigmann (1985, pp. 129, 150–3) claims the Stanley/Vere wedding as the first performance of MND, calling on the date of new moons as determinant (p. 151): [T]here was a new moon on 30 January 1595, exactly four days after Earl William’s wedding; . . . the emphatic statement that a new moon is due in precisely four days [5–11] . . . would alert spectators to expect other topical allusions, and that would be as far as it would be prudent to go. Mahood (1986, p. 136): MND was written . . . for a happy occasion. There is general agreement that it is a wedding play; the most convincing argument so far advanced is that it formed part of the celebration of the Berkeley/Carey wedding.

Colthorpe (1987, pp. 205–7) argues convincingly against the conjecture that Elizabeth was present at the Berkeley/Carey wedding in February 1596, chiefly by citing the negative evidence of the lack of any reference to the presence of Elizabeth, or of any players or great festivities, in the description of the event in The Berkeley Manuscripts (ed. J. McLean, Gloucester, 1883). Wells & Taylor (1987, p. 119): Many scholars have believed that Dream was written to celebrate a particular aristocratic wedding. This hypothesis seems to us unnecessary: see Wells (ed. 1967, pp. 12–14). . . . However, . . . plays were sometimes performed at private houses during the 1590s, and it is not inconceivable that a new play might have been requested for such a performance by a company’s patron. If such an occasion is sought, the only two likely candidates are the Stanley/Vere or Berkeley/Carey weddings. Bevington (ed. 1988, pp. 81–2) dates the play in the mid 1590s: On the assumption that the play celebrates some noble wedding, scholars have come up with a number of suitable marriages. . . . [82] No one has ever proved convincingly, however, that the play was written for any occasion other than commercial public performance; but earlier (1968, p. 10) he had thought it may have been written for a private occasion with public performance also foreseen. Laroque (1989, p. 116) Much has been said of the circumstances which could have led Sh. to write MND for the celebration of an aristocratic marriage, either the Stanley/Vere wedding of 26 January 1595 or the Berkeley/ Carey wedding, 26 February 1596. This hypothesis remains unverifiable because no document has been found to support it (Fr.). Dutton (1989, pp. 45–9): [T]he suggestion is that a play which revolves so conspicuously around a number of weddings may well have been written—or at least adapted—to celebrate a particular wedding. . . . [T]his hypothesis of more exclusive origins has met with such remarkable agreement that the question has become not whether it was so, but whose wedding. (P. 46): The sheer proliferation of theories must, of itself, give us pause. How plausible is it, by verifiable criteria, that any of these covert meanings or special contexts existed? . . . There is no evidence that any professional playwright ever wrote a full-scale stage play during Shakespeare’s career other than with public, commercial performance in mind. Despite the examples of Lyly and Daniel, (p. 48) there is no evidence (apart from the equivocal nature of the plays themselves) to associate Shakespeare with either the kinds of theatre or the kinds of dramatic patronage that these writers exploited. So it remains at every point a matter of interpretation or intuition to determine which weighed the more heavily with him—the interests of wealthy patrons or [49] those of a broad-based public audience. Williams (1990, p. 44) argues that evidence for design for court presentation is weak, and that the urge to find a courtly occasion stems from the politics of the scholarly right in a genteel academic tradition. Hollindale (1992, pp. 18–19): There is in fact no firm evidence of any kind to link [MND] with any courtly wedding, except what can be inferred from the text itself. (P. 19): However, most students of the play continue to believe that this is how it began. But everything is conjecture, nothing is proven fact, and whatever private courtly origins the play may have had, it undeniably made a rapid and successful crossing to the public theatres. Kay (1992, pp. 191–2): Scholars have looked at a range of possible specific occasions for the play, including the Heneage/Southampton, Stanley/Vere, and Berkeley/ Carey weddings. (P. 192): There are two explanations of this scholarly quest. At one level, it is a response to the centrality of the idea of marriage in the play. But on another, it is a reaction to the quite extraordinary density of its literary texture. The argument is essentially that its language is so artful, its allusions so wide-ranging, its potential for opening up areas of philosophical speculation (especially neoplatonic speculation) so inexhaustible, that it cannot have been written primarily for the public stage. Only those steeped in the latest literature, in high culture, and in arcane thought, the argument runs, can possibly have been expected to respond intelligently to it.

Despite increasing academic skepticism, wedding theories continue to be put forward. Tobin (1992, pp. 309–11) argues that the contemporary wedding for which MND was composed is most likely the Berkeley/Carey match because of the dedication to Elizabeth Carey of Nashe’s The Terrors of the Night and the echoes in MND of Nashe’s work, later (2003, pp. 32–5) repeating this theory. Wiles (1993, pp. ix–xvii, 137–75), quoting 2185–93, claims: There is an obvious and literal way to read these lines. This house is not a theatre but a house in which a marriage is about to be consummated. The best bride bed is distinguished from the fictional bride-beds of Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena, Theseus and Hippolyta. There is a real bed in a real house that needs to be blessed. The time is really past midnight, and not the afternoon of a public performance. Is this obvious reading legitimate?

This book examines a wealth of historical and literary evidence which supports the idea that [MND] was indeed written for an aristocratic wedding. In its final chapters, it argues that one specific wedding is the obvious candidate, the wedding of the granddaughter of Shakespeare’s patron to the heir to the Berkeley barony, a wedding which took place in February 1596. He attempts to rebut opponents such as Wells (ed. 1967) and Richard L. Levin (New Readings vs. Old Plays, Chicago, 1979, pp. 167–71), and calls for support on Kott (1964), Brooks (ed. 1979), and the production of Peter Brooks. (P. xvii): We shall begin by looking at the genre of the occasional play, . . . We shall then turn to masques, to epithalamia and to festive practices associated with courtship. . . . In the final chapters we will consider the reasons for associating [MND] with one particular marriage. David Lindley (ShS 48, 1995, p. 246) is sympathetic to Wiles’s stance, but demurs: It seems to me that the book is at its strongest in its more general exploration of festive rites . . . that the play echoes and in its demonstration of the significance of astronomy to Elizabethan habits of mind than in identifying a particular occasion. Mark Thornton Burnett (ibid., p. 261), less sympathetically: Wiles’ method is to pursue such allusions relentlessly, and while the breadth of evidence is impressive, eventually it is not clear . . . how many of his connections are coincidental. In his review, Gary Jay Williams (1996, pp. 192–3) makes a similar point: Wiles is learned but relentlessly presses arguments and evidence, sometimes beyond the point where prudent readers will follow; he gives a number of specific examples of dubious interpretations. None of these three critics observes that Wiles’s obvious and literal way of reading sounds remarkably like Quince and company approaching the problems of dramatic presentation.

Gurr (1995, p. 174): None of the wedding celebration theories fits very well, . . . and in any case Shakespeare always wrote his plays as multi-purpose entertainments. Halio (1996, pp. 155–6) reviews wedding theories via Chambers, but concludes (p. 156): There is no compelling reason . . . to believe the Dream was not originally intended for the public stage. See also Idem, 2003, pp. 13–15. Greenblatt (ed. 1997, p. 805): Scholars have told and retold this story of the aristocratic wedding for which Shakespeare wrote his most enchanting comedy until it has come to seem like an established truth, one of the few things we actually know about the composition of the plays. But while the story is both charming and at least plausible, there is not a shred of actual evidence that [MND] was ever performed at, let alone written expressly for, such a wedding; he places composition around 1594–96. Honan (1998, p. 213) expresses cautious skepticism that the play was written for a wedding. Bloom (1998, p. 148): In the midst of the winter of 1595–96, Shakespeare visualized an ideal summer, and he composed [MND], probably on commission for a noble marriage, where first it was played. Hopkins (1998, p. 10): There were certainly some really spectacular cases of marital breakdown amongst the aristocracy, and it is a telling irony that scholars who suggest particular aristocratic marriages as the probable occasion of [MND] so consistently point out the extent to which the political rather than the personal predominated in the formation of these alliances. She instances the Berkeley/Carey and Percy/Devereux marriages, and cites Draper (1972) and May (1984). Leggatt (1999, p. 46): There is not a shred of evidence, internal or external, to support [the wedding] theory; it is a self-perpetuating tradition with no basis in fact. Prior (Occasion, 2000, pp. 56–64) argues for the Heneage/Southampton wedding on the grounds that Sh. used as a source a MS poem by Thomas Pound celebrating the Countess’s wedding to the second Earl of Southampton in 1566. Barton (2001, p. 126) declares that all attempts to associate MND with a specific noble wedding, at which the queen was present, have so far failed. Dupas (2001, p. 79): Whatever the exact date of the first presentation of MND may be, . . . it is assumed that this piece was played on the occasion of a marriage in a noble family, the text having been composed between the autumn of 1594 and 1596 (Fr.). Duncan-Jones (2001, pp. 10–12, 87–9) suggests that Sh. saw the festivities at Kenilworth 1575 and showed his knowledge of it in MND which was performed at the Berkeley/Carey wedding. She asserts (p. 87): At some time during the Christmas season [of 1595–6] the Chamberlain’s Men, and their leading poet, [88] Shakespeare, were commanded to prepare a festive play for the Carey Berkeley marriage. She draws various parallels between MND and the circumstances of the wedding. She makes no mention of Wiles (1993), who presents similar arguments. Hackett (2003, pp. 338–57), calling the question whether MND was written to celebrate a particular wedding an intriguing idea, examines arguments in favor of the Carey/Berkeley wedding, focusing particularly on Elizabeth Carey’s known tastes.

Burke (Lecture 1972; 2006, p. 301): Probably commissioned as a kind of masque, to celebrate a wedding among persons of nobility. Editor’s note: Burke’s inference that [MND] had its origin in private performance, with later revision for public performance, was at the time arguable, but no longer reflects a consensus of opinion among Shakespeare scholars.

Odds and Ends

Lefranc (1919), Titherley (1952), and Evans (1956) claim MND was written by William Stanley, Earl of Derby for his own 1595 wedding. Clark (1930) claims it was written in 1584 by Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford. Brooks (1943) sees several versions (c. 1587–93) reworked by various hands, that of c. 1593 by Edward Dyer. For Rickert’s (1923) theories of political allegory see Appendix on Criticism; Chambers (1930, 1:362): The notion is worked out with great ingenuity, and is quite incredible.

Sources, Influences, and Analogues

There is no clear main source for MND, as for example Lodge’s Rosalynde is the source for AYL. Attitudes towards the play’s origins range from emphasis on its unique inventiveness, to claims that seem to embrace not only nearly every literary work that might have been known in 16th-c. England, but also a wide range of folk customs and beliefs, and of courtly and popular entertainments. Even works that most commentators accept as partial sources are by others granted but slight influence or none. The question is complicated by multiple possible sources for the same element in the play. So Theseus may come from Chaucer or Plutarch or Ovid, the young lovers from Chaucer or Ovid or Montemayor or Sh.’s own earlier plays, the fairies from medieval romance or folk beliefs or Scot or early English drama or classical mythology, Bottom from Scot or Lyly or Ovid or Apuleius,—and these are only a few of the suggested possibilities. Early comment focused on perceived links to names, verbal echoes, or similar situations, but later expanded, with gathering momentum in recent years, to consider broader connections and affinities, extending even to the ramifications of submerged allusions. This appendix offers representative commentary on the play’s originality, on each of the most usually accepted probable sources, and on possible sources that have garnered significant critical support. The commentary on probable sources is followed in each case by selections from the works discussed as generous as space allows.


The view of the genesis of MND expressed by Gildon (1710, 7:320): Whence Shakespear took the Hint of it I know not, but believe it to be his own Invention, has persisted through the centuries. So Duff (1770, p. 130): In these inimitable productions [Tmp. and MND] most of the events at least, and especially such as are any way extraordinary, are the invention of the poet. Hippisley (1837, p. 284): In the magic of the Tempest, in the fairy scenes of the Midsummer Night’s Dream, and, generally, in all his comic passages and dialogues, the poet is the creator, not merely of the structure, but of the very materials of which that structure is composed. Keightley (1867, p. 24): Purely and absolutely the whole the poet’s own invention. He was well read in Chaucer, in Golding’s Ovid, and in North’s Plutarch, where he got the names of his characters and some circumstances. Lang (1895. p. 327): There is no play more absolutely Shakespeare’s own, in plot and invention, character and color. Chambers (1930, 1:362): There is no comprehensive source. Bradbrook (1951, p. 154): Shakespeare did not rely either on old stories or old plays. . . . [T]he whole thing is virtually his own.

The emphasis on the play’s essential originality coexisted with acknowledgement of borrowings from other works, and modulated into praise of his unique achievement in blending so many disparate materials. Capell (ed. 1768, 1:64–5): If that pretty fantastical poem of Drayton’s, call’d—Nymphidia, or, The Court of Fairy, be early enough in time, . . . [65] it is not improbable, that Shakespeare took from thence the hint of his fairies: . . . The rest of the play is, doubtless, invention: the names only of Theseus, Hippolita, and Theseus’ former loves, Antiopa and others, being historical; and taken from the translated Plutarch, in the article—Theseus. Halliwell (1841, p. 11): Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale has long been considered as the source whence Shakespeare derived the hint of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We have a few general observations to offer on the sources of this play, at the same time expressing our firm conviction, that the plot as a whole, was one of the heirs of his own invention. Halliwell (ed. 1856, pp. 7–8): As far as is at present known, the plot of the Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of the very few invented by Shakespeare himself. It is true that a few slight portions of the ground-work are derived from other sources, but the tale and its construction are believed to be original; he grudgingly admits Golding for the interlude, but allows only minor details to KnT and LGW. Staunton (ed. 1857, 1:340), conceding borrowings from Golding’s Ovid and North’s Plutarch: But that which constitutes the charm and essence of the play, the union of those gross materials with the delicate, benign, and sportive beings of fairy-land, lighter than the gossamer, and smaller than a cowslip’s bell was the pure creation of Shakespeare’s own illimitable and delightful fancy. Hall (1871, p. 249), denying influence of Chaucer and Plutarch: There cannot be a doubt that the source of this comedy, is to be attributed to Shakspere’s great knowledge of folk lore, his complete acquaintance with the superstitions of the day, and from his own luxuriant imagination sprang the conception and the development of this lovely dream, which is a splendid poetic effort of a great poet’s brain. Furness (ed. 1895, p. xxii): The present play is one of the very few whereof no trace of the whole Plot has been found in any preceding play or story; but that there was such a play—and it is more likely to have been a play than a story which Shakespeare touched with his heavenly alchemy—is, I think, more probable than improbable. Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 17): So far as we know, Shakespeare was not indebted to any single model for the plot. . . . It combines situations and motives gathered from widely different sources, and welded together by the incomparable art of the poet. Schelling (1910, p. 157): No source has been found for the major plot, . . . [MND] marks the very acme of the difficult Renaissance art of agglomeration. Cunliffe (ed. 1912, p. ix), listing Chaucer, Plutarch, Ovid, Golding: In all these cases, the debt is slight, for there is no play in which Shakespeare worked with greater originality. Sisson (ed. 1954, p. 207): A great tossing of books, indeed, preceded the rolling of the poet’s eye here. But no play ever smelt less of the lamp, or was more irradiated by the white moonlight of imagination. Barber (1959, p. 88): Shakespeare, [in LLL and MND], and nowhere else, makes up everything himself, because he is making up action on the model of games and pastimes. Black (1965, p. 15): Twentieth-century investigation of Shakespeare’s sources has tended in ever-increasing measure to reveal the scope and variety of his reading, the speed with which he could select what was relevant to his purpose, and the retentiveness of his memory. A play so composite as A Midsummer Night’s Dream provides a striking example of these processes and qualities. The stories which comprise it are not found together in any previous work, so that the play is in a very real sense original. The . . . attempt to examine separately the four stories involved . . . throws into sharp relief the inventiveness with which they have been rounded out and the ingenuity with which they have been interwoven. For the heart of the mystery, the transmutation from commonplace to unforgettable, no analysis is adequate and no praise too high.

Others who share Bradbrook’s (1951, p. 161) conviction that MND is sui generis despite the multitude of literary and other influences adduced as contributing to its parts, or who draw attention to the lack of a main source, include: Daniel (ed. 1828, pp. 6–7), The Clarkes (ed. 1864, 1:323), Hudson (ed. 1880, pp. 4–5), White (1886, pp. 14–15), Verity (ed. 1893, pp. xxi, xxiii), Boas (1896, p. 182), Mabie (1900, p. 204), Rolfe (1904, pp. 189–90), Seccombe & Allen (1904, 2:73), Lathrop (1906, p. 173), Gordon (ed. 1910, p. v), Stopes (1916, pp. 173–4), Semper (1931, p. 85), Ridley (ed. 1934, p. ix), Parrott (ed. 1938; 1953, p. 132), Bonnard (1956, pp. 268–9), Muir (1957, p. 31), Bullough (1957, 1:368), Doran (ed. 1959, pp. 21–3), Bonazza (1966, p. 116), Weiss (1971, p. 25), Wells (1972, p. 58), Evans (ed. 1974, p. 51), Draper (1980, p. 10), Hibbard (1981, p. 144), Nosworthy (1982, p. 102), Daniell (1986, p. 109), Barkan (1986, p. 252), Hollindale (1992, pp. 2 ff.), Brown (ed. 1996, pp. xviii–xix).

Some recent critics address the effect of the multiplicity of sources. Foakes (ed. 1984, pp. 4–5, 12): The range of reference underlying [MND] deserves attention . . . because it helps to explain something of the archetypal force of the comedy, showing the dramatist’s instinct for seizing on whatever might articulate and enrich the web of meanings and relationships developed in it.

A play so much concerned with transformation transforms its sources. . . . [12] At the same time it is important to ask continually whether Shakespeare needed to go to a source for what was common property, . . . what was, so to speak, in the air, the common materials of the culture and discourse of his age. Greenblatt (ed. 1997, p. 806): Shakespeare’s visionary poetic drama appeals to an unusually broad spectrum of spectators. . . . This breadth [of educational background of spectators, and of rhetorical devices] also reflects the very wide range of cultural materials that the playwright has cunningly woven together, from the classical heritage of the educated elite to popular ballads and folk customs, from refined and sophisticated entertainments to the coarser delights of farce. Hackett (2003, p. 339): Any attempt to list the derivations of its various components . . . quickly becomes encyclopedic. . . . Yet the experience of watching or reading the play is very far indeed from suffocation under a heap of erudition or archaic folklore. Quoting Young (1966, p. 33) on the wedding of elements previously considered incompatible, she concludes: In this metaphorical, aesthetic sense the Dream is certainly a marriage-play.

This tension between on the one hand conviction of the play’s originality, and on the other recognition of the multiplicity of materials upon which it draws, is apparent in many commentators. Nevertheless, from the earliest days of critical inquiry some debts have been widely acknowledged, especially to Chaucer, Ovid (both in Latin and in Golding’s translation), and North’s Plutarch; to a lesser extent to Huon of Burdeux, Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft, Apuleius, and Montemayor; to a wide range of contemporary and earlier writers, including especially Lyly, Greene, Spenser, and Seneca; to festivities both courtly and popular; to the Bible; and to commonly held beliefs and superstitions.

Geoffrey Chaucer

Comments on Shakespeare’s Use of Chaucer

Grey (1754, 1:40–3, 45–7, 53, 57, 60, 62–6, 68, 73–4) is the first to state the most frequently acknowledged Chaucerian debt: Some part of this play was borrow’d probably from the Knight’s Tale, in Chaucer; and the Legende of Thisbe of Babylon. He notes the similar situations at the beginning of KnT and MND, quoting KnT 859–88, and providing a footnote from Plutarch to the title Duke, in the combats of the two pairs of male lovers, and in the Theseus and Hippolyta hunting scene, quoting KnT 1673–1702. He also notes the borrowing of the name Philostrate, quoting KnT 1426–40, the references to May time rituals, and several other details from KnT and other of Chaucer’s works, especially the Legend of Thisbe, quoting LGW 737–51, 784–5, 805–22. Steevens (ed. 1773) notes the KnT link in the title Duke. Tyrwhitt (1775, 4:161) initiates the suggestion that Oberon and Titania derive from Pluto and Proserpina in MerT. Connections with Thop. are early perceived by Thirlby (MS 1725–33; see n. 942–50), and by Steevens (ed. 1778; see n. 436), who also first notes a parallel with WBT. Hippisley (1837, pp. 60–7) further explores connections with KnT, and discusses MerT, WBT and SqT in relation to the fairy scenes. Later critics have pursued the influence of Chaucer’s dream vision poems, and various other of his works, including the first fabliaux in CT, and the Boece.

It is convenient to review critical commentary on Shakespeare’s possible use of Chaucerian material under separate headings for the different works, beginning with the largest debt, to The Knight’s Tale.

a) The Knight’s Tale

Grey (1754, 1:40–1), see above. Hippisley (1837, pp. 61–2): The part which Duke Theseus acts, as an arbiter in the affairs of love, is the same both in the poem [KnT] and the drama [MND]. . . . In both instances . . . he is the husband of Hippolita, and in both he preserves his well-known passion for the chase. Hippisley makes some distinctions in the nature of the parallels: (p. 62) The manners of the Knight’s Tale are strictly feudal; those of the introduction to the Midsummer Night’s Dream in some measure classical. In the latter the old father pleads the ancient law of Athens, as giving him a power of life and death over his child: in the former the disputes are to be settled by combat alone; in both May rituals are observed. The mythology of the poem is altogether classical, while that of the drama is founded on the popular superstitions of the middle ages. Halliwell (1841, p. 11) suggests that the funeral games for Arcite may have furnished Shakespeare with the idea of introducing an interlude at the end of his play. Lloyd (in Singer, ed. 1856, 2:433): MND corresponds with the tale of Palamon and Arcite, the Knight’s Tale of Chaucer, in associating a story of love rivalry with the state and pageantry of the court of Theseus, . . . As regards detail, both play and poem open with the arrival of Theseus at Athens, with Hippolyta his bride; at the crisis in either story, he appears with his ladies in a hunting party in an opening of the forest and surprises the rival lovers, and, lastly, the common conclusion is with solemnity and celebration at his ducal court. Shakespeare further borrowed the name of Philostrate from Chaucer, who also supplies a precedent for making Maying excursions to the forest an Athenian custom.

But it is in the general spirit of the description of Theseus, with all the colour and circumstance of feudality, that the suggestiveness of Chaucer’s work is most apparent. Hugo (ed. 1865, 2:284–5) cites the Chaucerian precedent for turning Theseus from a classical hero to a medieval knight (Fr.). Hales (1873, pp. 248–9), citing Hippisley, adds: (p. 249) In both pieces we have two lovers devoted to one lady. In the play this position is repeated twice. Proescholdt (1878, pp. 7–8, 13, 15, 34), partly anticipated by Walker (1860, 2:32), suggests that the names Demetrius and Lysander may be prompted by the names of the kings Emetrius and Licurge (see also notes on the DP); he notes a parallel in the functions of Mars/Venus/Saturn and Oberon/Puck; he adds (p. 34) The characters of Theseus, Hippolyta, Lysander, Demetrius and Hermia have no doubt been derived from Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, which also suggested to Shakespeare the person of Egeus. Only the character of Helena is due to Shakespeare’s own invention. Brink (1878, pp. 99–103) summarizes KnT, and asks: (p. 101) Did not Chaucer provide the model for the main plot . . . ? Did the narrative not represent the mysterious power of love, and did it not have a comical tint . . . ? . . . In Shakespeare’s eyes, [102] unrequited love is not much more than imagination or a sickness. . . . The tale of Palamon and Arcite appeared too comical to Shakespeare to have him consider it tragic yet simultaneously too serious for a comedy. . . . Two men love the same woman; how can you find a satisfactory solution: So the poet shouted, like his Puck when he found two male Athenians and one female sleeping in the woods: [quotes in German 1485–6]. He created two couples in love; this change provided not only the possibility of a happy ending, but also the possibility of a more complex plot and the representation of the fickleness of love. . . . Shakespeare transferred to these women the motif that Chaucer links to the men: the motif of jealousy undermining love (Ger.). Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 17) notes that the theme of friendship broken across by love is illustrated in Palamon and Arcite, as here, though differently, in Hermia and Helena. Lanier (1891, p. 1402; 1898, pp. 192–3) sets out the strands of each plot by letter to show a similar caprice and criss-cross in both. Vollhardt (1899, p. 3), taking issue with Brink, denies any comic element in the love of Chaucer’s heroes, and objects that their constancy, unlike that of Sh’s young men, is inviolable; he finds it implausible that Sh. would have used this essentially tragic tale in such an irreverent way as to change these characters almost into their opposites (Ger.). Porter & Clarke (ed. 1903, pp. 84–5) concede allusions and echoes from KnT, and draw attention to these in their annotations. Sidgwick (1908, pp. 10–25) recapitulates the points made by his predecessors, adding the detail (p. 25) that Sh.’s Theseus refers to his conquest of Thebes, which . . . is described in The Knightes Tale; however, he questions Sh.’s debt to KnT for what he considers (p. 24) the main plot: (p. 25) It is conceivable that the story of Palamon and Arcite affected, but did not supply, the plot of the four lovers in A Midsummer-Night’s Dream; but Shakespeare has added a second woman.

Bethurum (1945, pp. 85–94), partly anticipated by Brink, marks an important shift in the approach to considering the links between Chaucer and Sh.’s MND, moving from cataloguing details to assessing tone: (p. 86) I believe that the story of Palamon and Arcite did supply the only suggestion for the four lovers that Shakespeare needed, and that M N D heightens the irony implicit in Chaucer’s story to produce the lightest and gayest satire on mediaeval romance.

To the list of borrowings which Sidgwick truly and faithfully recorded might be added certain matters of tone less easy to catalogue and more telling in an analysis of the play’s mood. The whole conception of Theseus is Chaucer’s. In both stories he is the benevolent ruler, aware of the duties of kingship, aware also of the follies of love and sympathetic to them. In both he furnishes the common sense norm in a world of amorous aberrations. His kindly sympathy is equally apparent when he undertakes the war against Creon out of pity for the queens whose husbands lie unburied, when he spares the lives of Palamon and Arcite, when he gives the [87] lenient rules for the tournament, and when, in Shakespeare’s play, he views with generous tolerance the Lamentable Brief Comedy of Pyramus and Thisbe. In both stories it is against his normal humanity that the frantic lovers play out their passionate roles.

When we come to the story of the lovers, Chaucer’s footprints are not quite so clear, and yet I think they can be traced there. Shakespeare approached the story certainly not in the tradition of Boccaccio and Chaucer. . . . [E]ven Chaucer cannot quite surrender himself to the mediaeval romance without ironic overtones on its extravagance, . . . and Shakespeare needed only to follow out these hints of satire to produce his own burlesque. He describes the situation in KnT 1649–1805 and quotes 1806–14. (P. 88): Who may been a fole but if he love is his summary of it—that is, it takes a lover to reveal what folly really is—words which state quite accurately the theme of M N D and are not far from Puck’s famous judgment on mankind [1139].

What Shakespeare does to the story is to heighten the satire he found in Chaucer. . . . Shakespeare raises the comedy to farce by having them contend, not for one girl, but for two. . . . The merit of the joke lies in his humorous reversal of the situation in the K T. Emily’s neutrality toward Palamon and Arcite is delightfully parodied in Helena’s and Hermia’s unshakable preferences in lovers, her prayer to Diana mocked in their immodest pursuit of the men, and her desired state of single-blessedness turned to the harshest threat Theseus can devise . . . [quotes 98–9, 81–2]. The love-versus-friendship theme is transferred to the women [1228–46], and to them also much of Palamon’s and Arcite’s intense preoccupation in the matter. The tone of [89] Chaucer’s lively pictures of impetuous hot youth in the quarrel scenes (K T, 1128–1186 and 1574–1620; 1649–1652), especially that of Palamon’s outburst to Theseus (ll. 1714–1741), . . . is reproduced in the quarrels of Lysander and Demetrius in the third act of M N D, with the same kind of amused tolerance at this youthful intensity.

The turn in the fortunes of the lovers comes in scenes remarkably similar in tone in both stories, when Theseus comes upon them on his hunting expedition in the wood and in M N D wakens the bewildered lovers from their strange dream. In both cases the human conquers the official Theseus and he forgives Palamon and Arcite in K T and Lysander and Hermia in M N D. In both stories too the resolution is brought about by supernatural aid, by planetary intervention in the K T and by Puck and Oberon in M N D.

In both the play and the romance there is the same effect of a play-within-a-play, illusion within illusion. Chaucer gets it by the contrast of Theseus’ real humanity with the stock figures of the two lovers, Shakespeare by the dream. Donaldson (1985, p. 30) adds: The principal theme the two poets share, the irresponsibility of romantic love, leads them to speculate on and illustrate love’s obsessiveness and its randomness; how quickly lovers surrender themselves to it, and how completely, unable to regard as worthy of consideration any matter not connected with their love; yet how haphazard the process of love is. . . . Also, in these works the lovers are assisted or hindered in their affairs—or [31] simply tampered with—by supernatural powers who are as irresponsible as the mortals they interfere with, of whom, indeed, they are only distorted images. Love’s responsibility thus takes on in both writers cosmic as well as comic dimensions.

Other critics who comment on relationships between KnT and MND include: Ballmann (1902, pp. 5–9); Bonnard (1956, p. 268), sharing Bethurum’s view of the lovers but not of Theseus; Muir (1957, p. 31); Doran (1960, pp. 116–17); Bullough (1957, 1:368–9); Alexander (1964, p. 135); Coghill (Shakespeare’s Reading, 1959, pp. 90–1) challenging Bethurum’s view, but later (1964, p. 53) adopting it; Bush (1959, p. 70) on the atmosphere of the court; Bradbrook (1965, p. 79 n. 11); Fender (1968, pp. 16–20, 25–6) on KnT as providing a notable precedent for th[e] practice of defining rather than developing character; Warren (1969, p. 133); Biswas (1971, pp. 46–8); Farrow (ed. 1972, p. 213); Brooks (ed. 1979, pp. lxxvii–lxxviii); Rudd (1979, pp. 178–9) on certain aspects of Theseus; Roberts (1983, pp. 108–12) on the (p. 109) pagan worlds of both, and (pp. 111–12) on the breaking of the feyr chaine of love by Titania and Oberon’s quarrel; Mowat (1989, pp. 338–41); Brunetti (1991, pp. 82–3) comparing especially Theseus in each (It.); Gearin-Tosh (1991, pp. 52–5) on the exotic richness of the setting in each; Wiles (1993, pp. 75–6) on astrological implications and (p. 78) the reconciliation of Venus and Diana; Holland (1994, p. 139); Hale (1996, pp. 37–8); Scragg (1996, pp. 60, 64–8) on friendship; Hackett (1997, pp. 34–5, 42).

Some critics have commented on parallels in structure: Baldwin (1959, pp. 480–3): Fixing their eyes upon details, many critics have failed to see the significance of Chaucer’s story for the structure of the play. He instances the importance to the plot of May day observances, and of Theseus’s hunting. Chaucer’s mythological machinery is parallelled in the fairies. The rivalry of lovers and the breaking of friendship by love in KnT, combined with the introduction of a second woman, as in TGV, results in (p. 482) a complication into the plot of the Athenian lovers in Midsummer-Night’s Dream. These various pieces of machinery are adapted, therefore, from [483] Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, and in fact give us the over-all framework of the play. Champion (1968, pp. 14–15): Shakespeare in A Midsummer Night’s Dream was not creating a structural masterpiece by fusing three or four disparate strands of action but was, rather, adapting The Knight’s Tale—the prototype of these narrative lines—to the purposes of romantic comedy. . . . [15] The basic structure and sequence of events in the two stories run parallel from end to end, and these parallels have not been examined in the detail they deserve; he devotes a further four pages to enumerating and commenting on parallel devices. Thompson (1978, p. 90): It is hardly an exaggeration to call A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare’s first dramatization of [KnT] in some respects. Hollindale (1992, p. 9): One can see in Chaucer’s tale a model of interactive content and form, of symmetrical organization, which Shakespeare was able to use and replicate for his own . . . purposes. Others who recognize some structural resemblance include Dowden (1875, p. 67); Chambers (ed. 1897, p. 17); Lanier (1902, 2:298–9); Baldwin (1959, pp. 482–3); Herbert (1962, pp. 33–4); Black (1965, pp. 15–17); Wright (1968, pp. 8–10); Salingar (1974, p. 226); Sorelius (1993, pp. 178, 181); Cooper (1998, pp. 203–4).

Perceived affinities in the development of the plot are used by some critics to further particular theses: Olson (1957, pp. 101, 117) associates what he sees as the play’s movement toward an orderly subordination of the female and her passions to the more reasonable male with Chaucer’s Theseus, . . . [who] had conquered all the regne of Femenye with his wisdom (KnT, 865–66); (p. 117) he sees this movement culminating in the bond of love speech which Theseus gives in . . . the Knight’s Tale [2987–3069] paralleled in the two plots of the play by the appropriate dramatic symbols. The song of the lark, the music, and dance symbolize the fayre cheyne in the fairy plot; in the other plot Theseus appears at dawn to remark the same effects: How comes this gentle concord in the worlde, That hatred is so farre from iealousie To sleepe by hate, and feare no enmitie [1668–70]. Andreas (1980, pp. 20–1): The touch and darkness of Chaucer’s Boethian tale of woe and fortune have been softened in the play. . . . [In] the comedic Dream, . . . Shakespeare limits his presentation of Chaucer’s pre-emptive, disciplinarian Theseus to a demand that Hermia follow her father’s wishes in choosing Demetrius for a mate, either to die the death, or to abjure forever the society of men [74–5]. This is, of course, precisely the [21] fate Emily prays Diana to grant her in the Knight’s Tale. . . .

The plots of both the tale and the play involve the confusions of young lovers who are hardly distinguishable one from the other. Shakespeare adds a second female to complicate the chaos which uncontrolled passion obviously introduces into society. Mebane (1982, pp. 256–8): We may extend the implications of Champion’s insight that the basic structure and sequence of events in the two stories run parallel from end to end by showing that both works are literary microcosms whose form reflects the structure of the cosmos. Each reveals a principle of harmony which lies beneath the apparent discord of earthly history, and both of them thus affirm, on more than one level, the goodness of creation. (P. 257): [T]he two works share numerous structural characteristics, as well as the frequently noted similarities in character and setting. (P. 258): One of the most suggestive similarities between the two works is the significance in each of them of the principle of discordia concors. McAlindon (1991, p. 45) uses discordia concors as a clue to what this most ingenious and ambitious of comic artefacts is all about. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is alone among the comedies in having a comprehensive sense of nature’s unstable, confusing, contrarious order. Andreas (1991, p. 49) argues that there is progressive desacralization of . . . an essentially religious fable from KnT through MND to TNK. Labriola (1992, pp. 67–70), accepting KnT as a principal source of MND, considers Sh. as interpreter rather than debtor, concluding (p. 70) the transforming or translating eye of an artist can make joy out of woe, as Chaucer achieved and Sh. perfected. Wallace (1997, pp. 114–16) compares the treatment of Hippolyta in each to define Thesian polity. Richmond (2000, pp. 101, 111 ff.): Just as Chaucer lived in a Catholic world and tried to understand pagan antiquity as an alternate culture, so Shakespeare tried to understand living in an Elizabethan world in which Catholic identity was challenged. [111] Direct reliance upon Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale is obvious in several ways. She reviews the main parallels with KnT and some other sources, then addresses aspects of parallels that she believes show Sh.’s interest in Catholic elements: the continuation of Chaucer’s transforming a (p. 112) flawed Theseus into a mature chivalric knight who is the voice of order, best symbolized in marriage, a joining of the one and the other and a key subject for both Chaucer and Shakespeare; (p. 113) Sh.’s increasing the number of marriages—Matrimony is the sacrament he shows most frequently, one no longer identified by the Established Church of England; Theseus’s praise of conventual life [83–4], a very Catholic sentiment; see also n. 161–3. Edwards (2003, pp. 31–2) suggests that the presence of seasonal festive rituals in both works indicates a shared vision of England (as expressed by John of Gaunt in R2), and that in recalling Chaucer, Sh. is uniting in poetic kinship with him (Fr.).

A few critics have denied the influence of KnT, or expressed reservations about its extent, but their views have gained little support. Daniel (ed. 1828, p. 7): The mutual use of one term, Duke Theseus . . . is all the obligation that [MND] owes to Palemon and Arcite. Dyce (ed. 1857, 1:clxiii): I can find little resemblance between the tale and the play, except that Theseus and Hippolyta are characters in both, and that Philostrate is Arcite’s assumed name in the tale, while it is the name of the Master of the Revels in the play. Staunton (ed. 1857, 1:339): Commentators’ persistence in assigning the ground-work of the fable to Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale, is a remarkable instance of the docility with which succeeding writers will adopt . . . an assertion that has really little or no foundation in fact. There is scarcely any resemblance whatever between Chaucer’s tale and Shakespeare’s play. Staunton is approvingly quoted by Furness (ed. 1895, p. 271–2), but called completely wrong by Baldwin (1959, pp. 481–2). Verity (ed. 1893, p. xxi) dismisses the indebtedness as very slight. Gordon (ed. 1910, p. ix): For anything we can see, he need not have read even KnT. Thomson (1952, p. 77) asserts: There is no evidence that he used the Knight’s Tale.

A complicating factor in assessing the influence of KnT is the lost play by Richard Edwardes, Palamon and Arcite (1566). It is described by Anders (1904, p. 78): This play . . . was acted before the Queen in Oxford in the same year [1566]. Detailed accounts of the play . . . and its performance are preserved to us in contemporary MS. reports of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Oxford, published partly by Nichols (Progresses of Q. Eliz., 2nd ed.) and partly by Plummer (Elizabethan Oxford, 1887). The name Philostrate, . . . which has been claimed as a striking proof for Shakespeare’s use of Chaucer, was in that play. Theseus was the dux Athenarum, according to a Latin account [Plummer, p. 128]. But what is more important, in the said play was acted a cry of hounds in the Quadrant, upon the train of a fox in the hunting of Theseus [Nichols, 1823, 1:212]. This part . . . proved extremely popular and successful. The same scene was repeated in Oxford on another occasion in 1583 [in William Gager’s Dido; see Nichols, 2:409] and again acted or imitated before the Queen in 1572 (cp. Malone, [in Boswell, ed. 1821, 3:369], Hunters [see also Feuillerat, 1908, p. 141]). Thus, I conclude, it came about, owing to theatrical tradition, that Shakespeare introduced into his play . . . the hunting of Theseus and the music of the hounds, which was probably really mimicked behind the scenes. [fn. 3: A cry of hounds, and horns winded in peal is a stage-direction in Titus Andron., [2.2.11 (712, 711)]; Cp., too, [2.3.17–20 (752–6); see Dessen & Thomson, 1999, p. 116]. No doubt Edwardes’s play was performed on the London stage. What relation The Two Noble Kinsmen bears to it and to the Palamon and Arsett, mentioned as a play by Henslowe in 1594, it is impossible to say with certainty. The surviving documents relating to the performances are discussed by Ros King, The Works of Richard Edwards, Manchester, 2001, pp. 63–87. See also Coghill (Shakespeare’s Reading, 1959, pp. 89–90), Conlan (2004, p. 128).

b) The Merchant’s Tale and The Wife of Bath’s Tale

The earliest references to MerT and WBT by Tyrwhitt and Steevens connecting Chaucer’s fairies with Sh.’s were somewhat hesitantly developed over the next nearly two centuries.

Hippisley (1837, pp. 65–6): In the Merchant’s Tale, Pluto and Proserpine are introduced as the king and queen of Fairy, and exercise their powers in restoring the sight of January at a very critical moment. But the Tale of Chaucer, most strictly to be called a fairy tale, is that of the Wife of Bathe, in which the offending bachelor is instructed by a fairy (who [66] afterwards becomes his wife) that the love of sway, rather than that of pleasure, is the ruling passion of women; . . . The fairies of Chaucer are of a race entirely distinct from those of Shakspeare: . . . The only characteristic of the popular fairies which is observable in those of Chaucer, is the circumstance of their dancing on the grene (WBT 861, cf. 991–3). Halliwell (1845, p. xiii), quoting WBT 857–80: But the jolie compaignie did not consist of the little dancers on the green. These were a later introduction. Spenser was contented with the fairies of romance; but Shakespeare founded his elfin world on the prettiest of the people’s traditions. Lloyd (in Singer, ed. 1856, pp. 430–2): Next to nature and his own inspired genius, Shakespeare is under obligations for his elfin ideal to Chaucer, in the Canterbury tales, in that of The Merchant, and that of The Wife of Bath. Thus the latter commences in the tone of jovial irony, of which our earliest poet was so great a master: [quotes WBT 859–81; see here]. . . . In The Merchant’s Tale, we have a scene from the Fairy Court still more definite, and combining the agency most fantastically with Christendom on one [431] hand and Heathenesse on the other. . . .

Chaucer . . . furnished precedent and suggestion for Shakespeare, in combining with the sovereignty of faërie high-sounding titles, unlimited pretensions, sententious rhetoric, the true heroic of the capricious, the gigantic of the infinitesimal: [quotes MerT 2219–36; see here].

His Highness lectures right roundly on the lightness of the sex, [432] provoked thereto by the peril of a blind husband, and announcing his intent to give him critical aid by restoration of his sight, does not spare to glance at the application of the lesson, in a tone which finds playful echo in Titania’s allusion to Oberon’s credit with Hippolyta. Proescholdt (1878, pp. 18–22): The relations between Chaucer’s Wife of Bathes Tale and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream . . . are very slight; nor does it appear that Shakespeare followed that tale in his description of fairy life. Sh. possibly derived from MerT the outlines of his Oberon and Titania; (p. 21) Pluto and Proserpine are at variance . . . on conjugal fidelity. The only difference between Shakespeare’s Oberon and Chaucer’s Pluto . . . is that Oberon states in plain terms and full particulars Titania’s misdemeanours in that respect, whilst Pluto speaks about women’s falsehood only in general expressions which Proserpine then interprets as an aspersion upon her own honour. . . . Should it not be more than accident that both Pluto and Oberon have a full power over human sight? Should not Shakespeare, on the contrary, have imitated Chaucer in this respect? Pluto is able to remove blindness; and thus he intends to grant the blind old knight the recovery of his eyesight at the right moment, in order to be able to convict his wife of the breach of her marriage-vow. Oberon, on the other hand, is endowed with the power of fascinating every eye; he knows the quality of the herb Love-in-Idleness, whose juice squeezed out on sleeping eyelids makes both man and woman madly dote upon the next live creature that it sees [548–9], . . . At the same time it depends upon Oberon to break this charm by another [22] herb, and thus to give back again a sound sight to the enchanted person. Chambers (ed. 1897, pp. 153–4) in Appendix A, a lengthy examination of the history and characteristics of fairies, quotes WBT 857–77 to demonstrate that Chaucer identifies elves and fairies, and MerT 2227–9 for the identification of fairies with classical divinities. Chambers (1930, 1:363); A hint for the love-juice might have been taken from Chaucer, Merchant’s Tale, 2258, where the fairies are Pluto and Proserpina, or from Montemayor, Diana. . . . The Merchant’s Tale, 2128, happens also to have one of many allusions to the well-known story of Pyramus and Thisbe. On the latter, see also Porter & Clarke (ed. 1903, p. 88). To Chambers’s suggestion that the love-juice may come from MerT, Black (1965, p. 20) objects: Since no actual substance is used [in MerT], . . . the analogy seems farfetched. A few others express reservations. Anders (1904, pp. 78–9): Shakespeare is said to have borrowed the motif of the quarrel among supernatural beings (Pluto vers. Proserpine—Oberon vers. Titania). [79] But Pluto and Proserpine do not quarrel. They debate in perfect friendship. Gordon (ed. 1910, pp. viii–xi) argues against Tyrwhitt’s deriving Oberon and Titania from MerT Pluto and Proserpine, suggesting that although Tyrwhitt may have been struck by the connection between Pluto as King of Shades and the description of Oberon as King of Shadows, the name Titania was chosen because it is an alternate name for Diana, and Sh. (p. x) wished to make play with Diana in her other characters; . . . [xi] [Sh.] reached his finished conception of the fairy world, not by way of Pluto and Proserpine, but by way of Diana, the triple Hecate.

A broader consideration of the affinities between play and tale is suggested by Bethurum (1945, pp. 89–90); she links trenchant satire on the conventions of courtly love in the play with MerT, which provides [Sh.] in Pluto and [90] Perserpina with the closest parallel to Oberon and Titania. . . . Oberon, with the aid of Puck, opened the eyes of the lovers, as Pluto opened January’s eyes [quotes in fn. 1410; MerT 2356], and in both cases a domestic quarrel is going on in the royal household. In both cases the fairies act to reveal mortal folly.

Bullough (1957, 1:370) notes the prominence of the theme of marriage in both play and tale. Andreas (1980, p. 22) suggests that the synthesis of romantic and comic motifs in MerT and other similar stories in CT affords Shakespeare a model for combining rather than juxtaposing serious and parodic materials in most of his comedies. Shakespeare’s fairies not only intervene, but are themselves intertwined in the human affairs they determine. And Titania, a fairy goddess, plays the unfaithful wife, the role of May or even Alison in the Miller’s Tale, although her husband can hardly be considered a cuckold since he himself arranges the whole tawdry but delightful business. Roberts (1983, pp. 108–10) compares the ideal characteristics of a Garden of Love in MerT with the magical, vernal setting of MND to argue that ironic reversals of convention cynically contradict romantic expectations. This approach has been most fully explored by Donaldson (1985, pp. 43–8): The surplus of cynicism in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale has also bequeathed a portion to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. . . . As Tyrwhitt first suggested, Pluto and Proserpina provided Shakespeare with the models for Oberon and Titania. Chaucer demoted the ancient mythic couple to the status of quarrelsome English fairies. . . . [44] Oberon and Titania are a more actively unhappy married couple than their Chaucerian forebears, and are, unlike them, guilty of marital infidelity—at least they accuse each other of amorous dalliance. . . . [45] Oberon’s interference in the love story is not free of the malice he shows to Titania. Though he professes to be moved by pity for Helena when he instructs Puck to put the drops in Demetrius’ eyes, his action remains a by-product of his spitefulness toward another woman. . . . Like Pluto’s pity for January in The Merchant’s Tale, Oberon’s pity for Helena is mixed with a malicious desire to get back at his wife. . . . [47] In blessing (if that is the right word) the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta [Oberon and Titania] are doing a very special favor to a couple that has shared their own promiscuity. It is delightful that immortals should be so thoughtful in regard to their mortal former loves, but the delight is not untinged with cynicism.

From The Merchant’s Tale there comes to the play the shadow of another cynical proposition—an implicit question whether the interference of the supernatural beings in mortal affairs is not, at times, redundant: . . . [Pluto’s] gift [to January] of restored sight instead of curing his real blindness [in love], merely reinforces it: before he did not see what he could not see; now he cannot see what he does see. The gift that May receives from Proserpina may be equally redundant. . . . [48] May needs [no] supernatural assistance. . . .

Something of this cynicism underlies the surface of the action of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when Oberon tampers with the eyesights of Lysander and Demetrius. Demetrius had loved Helena previously; but since it needed no application of Love-in-Idleness to make him abandon Helena and love Hermia, one may properly wonder whether he is not perfectly capable of abandoning Hermia and reverting to Helena without supernatural assistance. And it is possible to take the faithful Lysander’s abandonment of Hermia and pursuit of Helena because of Puck’s mistake as an image of what might happen without Puck’s interference. The magic drops made him love Helena, but the fact that his undying love for Hermia turns into abusive hatred seems to have been his own fault, suggesting that love’s enchantment, whether literal or figurative, causes complete loss of control as well as of discrimination.

Cox (1991, p. 149) believes many of the main features of Shakespearean comedy are prefigured in [WBT]: two settings . . . ; stories within stories . . . ; the importance of self-knowledge . . . ; gentilesse; . . . neatly juxtaposed transformations; and the echoing of the word amend (WBT 1097–8; see here) in Puck’s epilogue.

Others who acknowledge some debt to either MerT or WBT or both include: Douce (1807, 1:183, 204); Delius (ed. 1859 p. II); Verity (ed. 1893, p. xxvi); Porter & Clarke (ed. 1903, pp. 87–8); Muir (1957, p. 32); Green (1962, pp. 90–1); Coghill (1964, pp. 54–5); Wright (1968, p. 10); Cole (1973, p. 316); Thompson (1978, pp. 92–3); Brooks (ed. 1979, p. lxi); Muir (1985, pp. 44–5); Wiles (1993, pp. 73–4, 119, 163); Cooper (1998, p. 204); Lynch (1999, p. 104).

c) The Tale of Sir Thopas

Apart from scattered comment on the mention of an elf-queen and of birdsong in both tale and play (see nn. 436, 942–50), no critical attention was paid to Chaucer’s rime of sir Thopas until Bethurum (1945, pp. 90–1): As for the enamourment of Titania for sweet bully Bottom, Sidgwick doubtless does well to cite as parallels famous cases of the love of mortal man and fairy queens—Thomas Rymer, Sir Launfal, and Sir Orfeo—and all of these Shakespeare doubtless knew. But actually the only suggestion he could have got for this amazing mésalliance is from the equally extravagant love of the doughty Sir Thopas for his unknown elf queen. What Harry Bailly would not stay to hear Shakespeare let his imagination play upon, creating a world where the medieval queene of Fairye might hold her court with harpe, and pipe, and symphonie. [91] And here, as in the case of the lovers, the initiative passes to the women in the case, for that is the joke in Shakespeare’s burlesque. Chaucer’s stories were going through his mind when he wrote this play. Coghill (1964, pp. 56–7), acknowledging Bethurum: Bottom’s adventure with Titania, like his impersonation of Pyramus, may also have been prompted by Chaucer; his most preposterous character, Sir Thopas, had just such a dream as Bottom had: [quotes Thop. 787–9; see here] [57] It is thus that Bottom is linked in depth with the fairy world: not simply part of a conjuror’s prank, as Turnop is in John a Kent, but as the chief instrument for the restoration of concord in the world of nature; for that is how the translation of Bottom by an ass-head works upon the story; he is the root of the reconciliation as Oberon perceives: [quotes 1416–18]. Barthel (1977, p. 76): The mechanicals’ interlude is, like Sir Thopas, both a burlesque of an earlier literary form and an ironic self-parody. . . . As the hero of a fairy romance, Bottom, like the bourgeois Thopas, is out of his class. . . . Satisfied with himself, he, unlike Thopas, does not aspire to be Lancelot. Donaldson (1985, pp. 9–18): That the play of Pyramus is the moral equivalent—an inspired re-creation—of Chaucer’s Tale of Sir Thopas has not been generally noticed, though it was hinted at many years ago by G. K. Chesterton. Discussing the irony of Chaucer’s assignment to his own surrogate of the worst tale told on the Canterbury pilgrimage, Chesterton quotes Theseus The best in this kind are but shadows [2015], but then moves away from the Shakespearean connection [Chaucer, 1932, pp. 21–2]. . . . Dorothy Bethurum . . . first pointed out that Shakespeare actually awarded to Bottom the elf-queen that Chaucer’s Sir Thopas only dreamed of possessing. . . . But there are larger connections between the burlesque romance and the burlesque play. In either case, a master of literary form makes fun of old-fashioned and primitive examples of that form while he is him-[10] self engaged in writing in it, and then assigns his parody to the most naive and most naively self-confident of artists. Yet at the same time that each is asserting by example his superiority in the form, he acknowledges that his own art—or all art—may be equally insubstantial, equally absurd. For all art relies as confidently and in a way as naively on certain conventions as Peter Quince and his associates do and as Chaucer the pilgrim does. Donaldson devotes nine pages to detailing parallels between Thop. and MND: see for examples nn. 354–7, 355, 906–7, 908, 942–50, 1929, 2074, 2094–5. See also idem, ed. Chaucer’s Poetry (New York, [1958] 2nd. ed. 1975, p. 1100). Wallace (1997, pp. 119–24, 429), citing Donaldson on the connections between the artisans’ play and Thop., suggests political overtones (p. 120): Such poetic archaism comes coupled with . . . a social archaism: for these Athenian artisans are guildsmen without a guild. . . . The . . . speech, spoken by Thisbe over the body of Pyramus, recalls Sir Thopas not only in its rhyming but also by mixing masculine and feminine canons of physical description: [quotes 2120–7]. [121] Shakespeare, the author of these lines, avoids identification as the poet of Bottom-Pyramus by a suggestive transfer of paternity (through his evocation of Sir Thopas) to Chaucer. . . . Chaucer can be seen as the poet who writes for Bottom; more precisely, he can be seen as Bottom, the poet who wears the ass’s head as he steps forward to speak his self-made doggerel and then acclaim it as the beste rym I kan (928). Wallace connects the influence of Thop. with that of KnT: (p. 122) In refashioning Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale . . . Shakespeare undermines the medieval poet’s pretensions to neoclassical seriousness by associating him with the neoclassical foolishness of Bottomian Pyramus. He pins him to a tale—Sir Thopas—that Wyatt, half a century earlier, had recognized as the very antithesis of the Knight’s noble story. (P. 429): I am not he, Wyatt tells his fellow-courtier John Poyntz, to Praise Sir Thopas for a noble tale / And scorn the story that the Knight told [Myne owne John Poyntz, ll. 43, 50–51, ed. Muir and Thomson, 1969, p. 89]. (P. 123): From the perspective of the Canterbury Tales, Shakespeare’s play seems politically pusillanimous. . . . Shakespeare slips from the company of artisans—leaving Chaucer and Bottom in his place—to view proceedings from the external perspective of a courtly circle. Leggatt (1999, p. 63) also draws on Donaldson’s perception of the parallel Chaucer/Thop. with Sh./Quince in discussing hints of identification between Quince’s company and Shakespeare’s work . . . There is self-deprecating humour, as when Chaucer the poet shows Chaucer the pilgrim telling the worst of the Canterbury Tales. But there may also be a warning not to be too quick to dismiss the actors’ show as merely feeble, drawing only condescending laughter. We are watching not just Athens’s worst actors, but England’s best, and the latter group may well be up to something.

Taylor (1989, pp. 318–20) takes issue with Donaldson’s claims for Thop.’s influence on the description of Pyramus, pointing instead to Ovid and Elizabethan Ovidian poems.

d) The Book of the Duchess, The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls, and The Legend of Good Women

Critical interest in the possible influence of Chaucer’s dream vision poems was late developing. Chambers (ed. 1897, at 249) notes the mention of blind Cupid in HF 137–8. Sarrazin (1900, p. 73) suggests that the dreamer’s encounter with Alceste in the Prologue to LGW may have been the inspiration for Bottom’s encounter with the Fairy Queen (Ger.). Bethurum (1945, p. 91 n. 13) connects the mention of Valentine’s Day at 1663 with PF. Doran (1960, pp. 122–3), comparing Sh.’s Theseus with Chaucer’s in KnT, distinguishes both from the false lover of Ariadne in The Legende of Good Women, or the perjurer who [123] takes his place with all the other perjured lovers in The House of Fame [388–426]. Bradbrook (1965, p. 73) compares the narrator in BD: Like Chaucer’s Dreamer, Shakespeare here found his way to an enchanted wood where he was to return again and again, satisfying at once the impulse to retreat and the impulse to explore. Fender (1968, p. 60) suggests MND has an element of parody of medieval dream vision as exemplified by PF; see n. 976. He might also have noted the presence of Pyramus and Thisbe among the lovers supplicating Venus in the temple in the garden (PF 289). Hale (1985, pp. 219–20) draws parallels with BD; see nn. 1732–3, 1740–1.

The first extended discussion of links between MND and Chaucer’s dream vision poems is by Garber (1974, pp. 12, 64–5): In BD, as in Shakespeare, it is precisely through the dreamer’s confusion that a richer understanding of the dream experience is communicated to the audience. . . . [MND] . . . is in its way both of the dream vision tradition and about it, making particular use of such standard elements as the seeking lovers, the May morning, and the mischievous god of love. And the special quality of dream logic, which compresses time and space and seems to make sense of the most improbable circumstances, is accurately and brilliantly portrayed by Chaucer as it is by Shakespeare. Of these elements, to which she adds the enchanted garden, she finds the most important for MND is (p. 64) the traditional figure of the god of love, who acts as intermediary between the lover and the beloved. This role is taken . . . by Oberon . . . [65] structurally complemented by Peter Quince . . . both . . . made parallel to Theseus. Scott (1986–7, pp. 26, 30–1) uses Chaucer’s poems to examine the ambiguity of dream . . . compounded by the ambiguity of fiction, and thence (p. 30) Shakespeare on dreams and thereby on lying and art. . . . [31] Yet although, as far as the characters are concerned, Shakespeare may even outdo Chaucer in the ambiguity of the experience, we as audience seem to have clearer bearings: we know what happened in the woods at night. However, the magical and fairy element of those events as seen by us is even more wondrous than a divinely-prompted dream would have been. The apparent dream is enclosed by a fiction, and the characters’ acceptance of dream wonders is a model for our own acceptance of the fiction. . . . There is a dizzying succession of frames: dream is enclosed by fiction which is enclosed by dream (or perhaps fiction encloses dream which encloses fiction). If there is a closure it must be provided by us; but the experience, founded on a liar or dreamer or fabulist or ironist paradox as it is, does not encourage us to close it. In the fading dream are traces of the medieval vision and the precariously-existent fable; and the actor as presenter of shows and as obvious ironist shows us the magical relics of his art.

The fullest study is by Lynch (1999, pp. 100, 104–21): The tradition of medieval dream visions [was] itself shaped by late antique and medieval theories of the psyche and of the role of the imagination in dreams. . . . Shakespeare was an astute reader of this tradition, especially as it was used in Chaucer’s early poems, and . . . he parodies and revises the medieval dream-vision tradition in his play as surely as he plays with romance. (P. 104): The link between Shakespeare’s and Chaucer’s visionary practice should come as no surprise to readers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who have frequently noted that it is Shakespeare’s most Chaucerian play . . . [but] Chaucer’s . . . dream visions are not generally cited as major sources for the play’s overall meaning. To suggested local borrowings such as the reference to St. Valentine’s (see Bethurum above) and those put forward by Hale (1985, see above), she adds (p. 105): The conclusion of a hunt and the riding homeward of a king ends the dream in the Book of the Duchess (called by Thynne [ed. 1532] The Dreame of Chaucer), just as Theseus sets aside his purpos’d hunting [1708] in favour of returning home to feast. Indeed, in both poem and play, the sounds of hunting figure thematically, and there may be an echo of Chaucer’s This harte roused and stale away (381) in Egeus’ complaint, They would have stol’n away [1681], reinforced by the fact that both texts are in a sense about heart-hunting. To study Sh.’s larger debt to the structure of the Chaucerian dream vision, she turns to LGW: Not only could this poem have served as the source for Theseus’ reference to St Valentine’s Day (Prologue, Text F, 145) and the association of that holiday with the month of May; it is also generally acknowledged to have furnished several details from the story of Pyramus and Thisbe. There can be little doubt that Shakespeare had it in mind, if not before his eyes, while writing the play. . . . Here is a poem that provides precedent for the May dream alfresco (Prologue, Text F, 108–9); the inclusion of the Ovidian story of Pyramus and Thisbe in a part of the poem structurally set off from the dream; the arbitrary and meddling God of Love . . . ; the self-conscious reversal of gender roles; and even for Theseus’ misbehaviour, glancingly alluded to in [MND 452–5]. She does not propose LGW (p. 107) as a source for the literal narrative, but suggests that Sh.’s recasting of the conventional dream narrative permits [him] to manipulate the frame narrative in order to juxtapose perspectives in a way that is more radical than [108] anything Chaucer had attempted, although Chaucer’s dream visions, with their ambiguous authorities, had already moved the form in this direction. She describes the multiple perspectives of the boxed narratives of BD: Sh. (p. 118) seems to be using the layered form of the dream vision in a like way. . . . Like a dream vision, the play, with its multiplication of voyeuristic readers within the text, points outward to the reader—or the audience—outside the poem so that we watch Theseus and Hippolyta watch the lovers, all watched [119] over by the fairies, who in turn watch each other. The arrangement suggests a complex and disorienting series of dramatic ironies. . . . The form becomes both literally and metaphorically labyrinthine. See also Wiles (1993, p. 112).

e) Other

Aspects of CT other than the tales discussed above have caught critics’ attention. Miskimin (1975, pp. 112–13) examines the framework of CT, and especially the Pilgrim narrator, suggesting parallel effects in MND: The invented audience within the fiction provides a deceptive picture of the subordinate poet at the mercy of the facts . . . and of the pilgrims themselves, in constant verbal contest for maistrye, on a sharper and clearer level within the Tales. The Pilgrim suggests a critique of the Tales, but is himself subject in turn to the greater freedom of the audience outside the narrative, which, like the one within, agrees to grant the fiction more than face value. It is left to us, as in all forms of irony, to err or to see, in making ultimately private judgments. . . .

In one of his most Chaucerian comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakspere extends the three-dimensionality of the imagined audience, and burlesques the role of the playwright-maker, in Peter Quince the carpenter’s production of Pyramus’s tragedy. . . . Shakspere’s extended dramatic illusion can enclose the dream world and the satyr play within the real world of Athens by a series of tacit agreements as to the fictionality of all speakers, which the audience in complicity accepts. As in the Canterbury Tales, the complicity of the audience then is the given, and [113] while the poet has the power to fabricate, abbreviate, or distort the illusory reality—be he Peter Quince or Shakspere—he must share control over the meaning of his fiction with the audience.

Andreas (1980, pp. 23–4) notes a structural affinity between the play and Fragment I of CT: The three concluding fabliaux, MilT, ReT, CkT, represent parodies of the action and structure of the Knight’s Tale. . . .

Shakespeare also concludes his entertainment with a grotesque parody of the elitist elements in the play. Once again menials are allowed to disrupt courtly proceedings, and speak their piece. Instead of a Miller, Reeve, and Cook we have a carpenter (recalling, in fact, the Reeve), a joiner, weaver, tinker, and so forth. . . . [24] It is interesting to note that the Host addresses the Miller as Robyn, my leeve brother, thus suggesting that the Miller, consistent with the historical tradition of the lord of misrule, is spontaneously appointed the master of revels, a function Shakespeare assigns the supernatural master of revels, Robin Goodfellow who directs events from the top down, under orders from Oberon. Andreas notes also parallel references to amateur acting, in the Miller crying out in Pilates voys (MilT Pro 3124) and Absolon who pleyeth Herodes upon a scaffold hye (MilT 3384). Economou (1990, p. 248) also notes a Bottom/Absolon connection; see n. 296–7. Steevens (ed. 1793) quotes MilT 3479–85 in illustration of 2200–1, but Douce (1807, 1:204–5) demurs, quoting rather WBT 863–74 (see n. 2199–201). Purdon (1974, pp. 192–3) sees a farfetched connection: A further monstrosity in the kingdom of love ungoverned by reason and chastity now occurs, as the votaress of Diana, Titania herself, is stricken with lust for what Shakespeare suggests is in fact the same as that part which Alison sticks out of the window to be [193] kissed in the Miller’s Tale. Engle (1993, pp. 131, 137–43) approaches the question of influence through a consideration of Chaucer’s reception in Shakespeare’s time, especially in the relation between KnT and MilT, concluding: (p. 142) Shakespeare may well have seen in Chaucer an example of how to treat explosive social materials without being held responsible for them, especially since Chaucer seems to have been invoked by Shakespeare’s contemporaries in order to justify potentially obscene writing. Certainly the comically accidental-looking obscenity of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which generations of critics have filtered out of their descriptions of the play, picks up a pragmatic Chaucerian interest in juxtaposing different social types and playing their vocabularies against one another in a comedy of social groups. Seen in this Chaucerian light, A Midsummer Night’s Dream says as much about how a Renaissance elite would have heard, not heard, and thus (in a Foucauldian vein) regulated sexual discourses as it says about how [143] an imagined group of low-life comics would have naively emulated such discourses. See also Wallace (1997, p. 123), quoted above.

There are a few comments on connections with Troilus and Criseyde. Anders (1904, p. 283) quotes Tr. 3.1230–2 among many parallels to 1555–7. Adolf (1950, pp. 49–54) explores the proverb and fable of the ass and the harp, both as used by Chaucer (Tr. 1.731), and in its implications for an understanding of Bottom’s musical and histrionic tastes. Donaldson (1985, pp. 22–31) connects the near parody of the Pyramus and Thisbe story in Tr. 4.736 ff., 1128 ff. with the excesses and absurdities of the reactions to Juliet’s supposed death (Rom. 4.5 [2576–2721]), and hence with the overwrought lamentations and absurdly prolonged deaths of Pyramus and Thisbe in MND; (p. 29) Troilus and Criseyde and Romeo and Juliet are in danger, as Chaucer and Shakespeare were well aware, of becoming the quick bright things who come to the confusion of Pyramus and Thisbe in Peter Quince’s play. Gertz (2001, p. 200) discusses Sir Orfeo, Chaucer’s Tr., and MND separately, because they offer quite different perspectives on literary love, yet are recognizably Ovidian. Sir Orfeo portrays passionate married love; Troilus and Criseyde portrays what at first appears to be the literary love couple sine qua non; and A Midsummer Night’s Dream [in the Pyramus and Thisbe story] portrays illiterate literary love. All three, then, communicate myriad different strands that lock into different arcs as they tell their stories in a highly conventionalized, highly rhetorical sub-system—love’s literary system—in which communication is so heightened, a poet could convey meanings only through nods and signs.

Porter & Clarke (ed. 1903, pp. xxiii–xxv) argue that Dian’s bud and Cupid’s flower are derived from the Chaucerian The Flower and the Leaf, and analyze similarities of theme. Although the sole authority for this poem is Speght’s 1598 edition of Chaucer, Pearsall (The Floure and the Leafe, ed. 1962, p. 3) suggests the probability that the missing quire of MS Longleat 258 contained the poem and was copied and circulated freely.

The Canterbury Tales and The Legend of Good Women (1561)

The edition of Chaucer’s works printed most recently before the probable 1595 date of MND is the 1561 folio. For the choice of this edition as the basis of the following selections see Waith (ed. TNK, 1989, p. 26), apparently relying on Donaldson (1985), who says on p. 141 that quotations from Chaucer in Ch. 1 of his study are from 1561, on p. 75 that Sh. read 1532 or 1542, or 1550, or 1561, or 1598, and on p. 148 n. 2 that quotations in this chapter are from 1598 but since Shakespeare may have had an older copy, I have compared Speght’s text with Stow’s (1561) and Thynne’s (1532), but have found no startling differences. For the relationship of the printed editions of Chaucer’s works 1532–1602, see Walter William Skeat, The Chaucer Canon, 1900, pp. 94–5.

The text below is a modified diplomatic reprint based on STC 5076, UMI Reel 190 Huntington Library copy 84667, checked against the Harmsworth copy of STC 5076 in the Folger Shakespeare Library. The folio’s black letter is reproduced as roman. The beginning of each page in 1561 is indicated by a bracketed signature number in the right margin. Ornamental initials have been replaced by regular capitals, and the capitals that conventionally follow display letters reduced. Long s is printed s. The character for abbreviated quod is expanded. Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Substantive variants in the Clare College, Cambridge copy (ed. D.S. Brewer, Scolar Press Facsimile, 1969) of 1532 (STC 5068), the British Library’s copy of 1542 (STC 5069; UMI I-2) and of ?1550 (STC 5071; UMI I-2), each checked against copies in the Folger Shakespeare Library, are recorded in the notes. Occasional reference is made to Caxton’s editions of 1477 (STC 5082; UMI 1–4) and 1483 (STC 5083; UMI 1–1) and Wynkyn de Worde’s of 1498 (STC 5085; UMI 1–4). Variations in spelling, punctuation, indentation and spacing are not recorded, except where the 1561 spelling may cause misreading: e.g. KnT 913, 2943 where sowned, souned are not recorded in OED as variant spellings of swoon. 1550 is listed only where it disagrees with 1561. Line numberings correspond with those in The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry D. Benson, 1987; in Sir Thopas this causes some anomalous numbering, since the 1561 edition does not set off tail-rhyme.

The beginnings of passages corresponding with MND are marked by TLNs. The following parallels have been found (MND TLNs are listed, with Chaucer line numbers in parentheses):

KnT: 4 (859–69), 14 (868–70, 2700–2), 15 (1428), 18–19 (893–951), 20 (859–88), 26 (860–1), 55–9 (1785–1818), 74 (1220), 98 (2329–30), 131 (1748–9), 161–3 (1084–6), 164–5 (1918–23), 175 (1478), 177 (1033–45, 1497–1500, 1510–12), 195 (2059), 246–7 (2987–93), 249 (1964–5), 299 (1493), 445 (880–2), 466–7 (2991–3), 538 (1564), 541 (2304–11), 558 (1640), 651 (1529), 749 (2056–9), 758 (1078), 771–2 (1804–5), 1082 (1079), 1087 (941–7), 1139 (1806–14), 1162 (1078, 1101–2), 1200–1 (1128–43), [1225–41 (1011–19)] 1253–4 (1078, 1101–2), 1282 (1115–16), 1368–78 (1128–43, 1845–71), 1395–9 (1663–1865, 2537–64), 1431 (1505, 1688), 1432–3 (1491–6), 1449 (1517), 1463 (1492), 1612 (1491), 1622–7 (1673–95), 1630 (1685), 1632 (1546–7), 1634 (978–800, 1640, 2018, 2150), 1648 (1703), 1653–4 (1042–5, 1500, 1673–5), 1663–4 (1785–6, 1798, 1801), 1665–6 (1781), 1668 (2987–3105), 1679–80 (1706–7, 1744–5), 1702–4 (1772–4, 1818, 3094–5), 1709–10 (2700–2), 1815 (1104–6), 1822–3 (3097), 1831–2 (2959–64), 1848 (1025–8), 2146 (2987 ff.).

MerT: 14 (1709), 57 (1430), 154 (1315), 279–80 (2125–31), 432–6 (2038–40, 2227–9), 439–56 (2237–67), 482–3 (1738, 2042–52), 699 (1391), 700 (1336), 1087 (1438), 1124 (1673), 1239 (1336), 1410 (2356), 1706 (1391), 1710 (1709–10), 1821–31 (1712–3), 1828–32 (1814–17), 1853–4 (2125–31), 2187–8 (1819–20).

WBT and Pro: 432–6 (857–62), 516 (860–1), 1514 (951–76), 2201 (863–74), 2203–4 (869), 2208–22 (1097–9).

Thop.: 354–7 (727, 730–1), 452–6 (788–814), 841 (908), 906–7 (725–7), 908 (769, 778, 796, 850, 852, 855, 859), 942–4 (766–71), 1929 (729), 2074 (879–80), 2094–5 (836), 2120 (725–9).

LGW: 38–41 (1273–5), 39 (1266–7, 1556), 185–7 (1254–66), 259 (1259), 279–80 (706 ff.), 322–6 (900), 455 (2226–7), 607 (2192), 608 (2198), 693–4 (2211–12), 806–9 (2185–92), 897–8 (750–2), 910 (778), 910–11 (784–5), 1930 (765), 1937 (784–5), 1941 (813), 1942 (807, 820), 1959 (740, 744), 1964 (750–1), 1982 (756), 1993, 2003–4 (760–1, 768), 2075–7 (825), 2117–18 (880).

The woorkes | of Geffrey Chaucer, newlie printed, | with diuers addicions, whiche | were neuer in print before: | With the siege and | destruccion of | the wor- | thy | Citee of Thebes, compiled | by Ihon Lidgate, | Monke of | Berie. | As in the table more | plainly doeth | appere. | 1561. [Colophon:] Imprinted at Lon: | don, by Iohn Kyngston, for Ihon | Wight, dwellyng in Poules | Churchyards. | Anno 1561.

[In the 1561 edition The Knight’s Tale begins Fol.i.r, headed by a woodcut of a knight in full armour on a prancing steed with a castle in the background. The woodcut is flanked by vertical type ornaments of classical columns wreathed with acanthus. The illustration takes up the top third of the page across both columns of text.]
Whylom, as olde stories tellen vs
There was a Duke that hight Theseus
Of Athenes he was lorde and gouernour
And in his tyme suche a conquerour
That greater was non vnder the son
Full many a riche countrey had he won
What with his wisedome, and his cheualry
He conquered all the reigne of Feminy
That whylom was icleped Cythea
And wedded the quene Ipolita
And brought her home wt him into his cōtre
With mykell glory and solempnyte
And eke her yonge suster Emely.
And thus with victory and melody
Let I this worthy duke to Athenes ride
And all his host, in armes him beside.
And certes, if it nere to longe to here
I woulde haue tolde fully the manere
How wonnen was the reigne of Feminy
By Theseus, and by his cheualry
And of the great bataile for the nones
Betwene Athenes and Amasones
And howe beseged was Ipolita
The yonge hardy quene of Cithea
And of the feest, that was at her wedding
And of the tempest at her home comming
But all yt thing, I mote as nowe forbere
I haue god wotte, a large felde to ere
And weked ben the oxen in the plowe
The remenant of my tale is longe ynowe
I will nat letten eke, non of this rout
Let euery fellowe tell his tale about
And let se nowe, who shall the supper wyn
And there I lefte, I will againe begyn.
This duke, of whom I make mencioune
Whon he was come, almost to the towne
In all his wele and his most pride
He was ware, as he caste his eye aside
Where that there kneled in the highe wey
A company of ladys, twey and twey
Eche after other, cladde in clothes blacke
But suche a crie, and suche a wo they make
That in this worlde, nys creature liuing
That euer herde suche a waymenting
And of this crie, they nolde neuer stenten
Tyll thei the reines of his bridell henten
What folke be ye, yt at myn home comming
Perturben so my feest with cryeng
Quod Theseus? Haue ye so great enuy
Of mine honour, that thus complaine & cry?
Or who hath you misbode, or offended?
Nowe telleth me, if it maie be amended
And why that ye be clothed thus in blacke?
The oldest lady of them all spake
Whan she had sowned with a deedly chere
That it was ruthe for to se and here
She saide lorde, to whom fortune hath yeue
Victory, and as a conquerour to lyue
Nought greueth vs your glory and honour
But we beseke you of mercy and socour.
And haue mercy on our wo and distresse
Some drope of pyte, through thy gentilnesse
Vpon vs wretched wymen, let thou fall
For certes lorde, there nys none of vs all
That she ne hath be a duchesse or a quene
Nowe be we caytifes, as it is well isene
Thanked be fortune, and her false whele
That non estate assureth for to be wele.
Nowe certes lord, to abyde your presence
Here in this temple of the goddesse Clemence
We haue be waiting all this fourtenight
Helpe vs lorde, sythe it lieth in thy mighte.
I wretche, that wepe and waile thus
Whylom wife to king Campaneus
That starfe at Thebes, cursed be yt day
And all we that ben in this aray
And maken all this lamentacion
We losten all oure husbondes at that town
Whyle that the siege there aboute laie
And yet the olde Creon (wel awaie)
That Lorde is nowe of Thebes cite
Fulfilled of yre and of iniquite
He for dispite, and for his tiranny
To done the deed bodies villany
Of all our lordes, whiche that ben slawe
Hath al the bodies on an heape ydrawe
And will nat suffre hem, by none assent
Neither to be buried, ne to be brent
But maketh houndes to eate hem in dispite
And with that worde, without more respite
They fallen [groflynge], and crien pitously
Haue on vs wretched wymen some mercy
And let our sorowe sinke in thine hert.
This gētle duke downe frō his horse stert
With hert pitous, whan he herde hem speke
Him thought that his hert wolde breke
Whan he sawe hem so pitous and so mate
That whylom were of so great astate
And in his armes, he hem all vp hent
And hem comforted in full good entent
And swore his othe, as he was true knight
He wolde don so ferforthly his might
Vpon the tirante Creon hem to wreake
That al the people of Grece shulde speake
Howe Creon was of Theseus yserued
As he that hath his deth full well deserued
And right anon withouten more abode
His baner he displayed, and forth rode
To Thebes warde, and al his hoost beside
No nere Athenes nolde he go ne ride
Ne take his ease fully halfe a daye
But onward on his way that night he laye
And sent anone Ipolita the quene
And Emely her yonge sister shene
Vnto the towne of Athenes to dwell
And forth he rideth, ther nys no more to tel
The red statu of Mars with spere & targe
So shineth in his white baner large
That al the feldes glyttren vp and doun
And by his baner, borne is his penon
Of golde ful riche, in which there was ybete
The mynotaure, that he wan in Crete
Thus rideth this duke, this conquerour
And in his hoste of chiualry the flour
Till that he came to Thebes, and alight
Fayre in a felde, ther as he thought to fight
But shortly for to speken of this thing
With Creon, whiche was of Thebes king
He faught, and slewe him manly as a knight
In plaine bataile, and put his folke to flight
And at a saute he wan the cite after
And rente adowne wall, sparre, and rafter
And to the ladies he restored agayn
The bodies of her husbandes that were slain
To done obsequies, as tho was the gise
But it were all to longe for to deuise
The great clamour, and the weymenting
That the ladies made at the brenning
Of the bodies, and the great honour
That Theseus, the noble conquerour
Doth to ye ladies, whan they from him went
But shortly to tellen is mine entent
Whan yt this worthy duke, this Theseus
Hath Creon slaine, and wan Thebes thus
Still in the felde he toke all night his rest
And did with al the countre as him lest
To ransake in the taas of bodies dede
(Hem for to stripe of harneys and of wede)
The pillours did her businesse and cure
After the bataile and the discomfiture
And so befel, that in the taas they founde
Through girt with many a greuous woūde
Two yonge knigtes lyeng by and by
Both in armes same, wrought full richely
Of whiche two, Arcite hight that one
And that other hight Palamon
Not fully, quicke, ne fully deed they were
But by her cote armours, and by her gere
The heraudes knewe hem best in speciall
As tho that weren of the bloode riall
Of Thebes, and of sistren two yborne
Out of the taas the pillours hath hem torne
And han hem caried softe in to the tent
Of Theseus, and he ful sone hem sent
To Athenes, to dwellen there in prison
Perpetuell, he nolde hem not raunson
And whan this worthy duke had thus idon
He toke his hooste, and home he gothe anon
With laurer crouned, as a conquerour
And there he liueth in ioye and honour
Terme of his life, what nedeth wordes mo?
And in a toure, in anguishe and in wo
Dwelleth Palamon, and his felowe Arcite
For euermore, there may no gold hem quite.
Thus passeth yere by yere, & day by day
Till it fell ones in a morowe of May
That Emely, that fayrer was to sene
Than is the lylly, vpon the stalke grene
And fresher than May, with floures newe
For with the rose colour strofe her hewe
I not whiche was the fayrer of them two
Er it was day, as was her won to do
She was arisen, and all redy dight
For May woll haue no slogardy a night
The season pricketh euery gentell herte
And maketh it out of ther slepe sterte
And saythe arise, and do May obseruaunce
This maketh Emely to haue remembraūce
To done honour to May, and for to rise
Iclothed was she fresshe for to deuise
Her yelowe heare was broided in a tresse
Behinde her backe, a yerde longe I gesse
And in the gardyn at sonne vprist
She walketh vp and downe as her list
She gathereth floures, party white and reed
To make a subtell garlande for her heed
And as an angell, heuenly she song
The great tour, that was so thicke & strong
Whiche of the castell was the chefe dungeon
Wherin the knightes were in prison
Of whiche I tolde you, and tell shall
Was euyn ioynaunt to the garden wall
There as this Emely had her playeng
Brighte was the son, & clere the morning
And Palomon this wofull prisoner
As was his won, by leaue of his gayler
Was risen, and romed in a chambre on highe
In whiche he all the noble cite sighe
And eke the gardyn, full of braunches grene
There as this fresshe Emely the shene
Was in her walke, and romed vp and doun.
This sorowfull prisoner, this Palamon
Gothe in his chambre roming to and fro
And to him selfe complayning of his wo
That he was borne, full ofte said alas
And so befell by auenture or caas
That through a wīdow thick of many a bar
Of yren great, and square as any spar
He cast his eyen vpon Emilia
And therwith he blent and cried, ha.
As though he stongen were to the herte.
And with that crie Arcite anon vp sterte
And sayd, cosyn myne, what eyleth the
That art so pale and deedly for to se?
Why criest thou? who hath do the offence?
For goddes loue, take all in pacience
Our prison, for it maie none other be
Fortune hath yeuen vs this aduersite
Some wicked aspect or disposicion
Of Saturne, by some constellacion
Hath yeuen vs this, altho we had it sworn
So stode the heuen, when that we were born
We mote endure this is short and playn.
This Palamon answered, & sayde agayn:
Cosyn forsoth, of this opinion
Thou hast a vaine imaginacion
This prison caused me not to crye
But I was hurt right now through myn ey
Into mine hert, that woll my bane be
The fayrnesse of a lady that I se
Yonde in the gardyn, roming to and fro
Is cause of all my cryeng and wo
I not wher she be woman or goddesse
But Venus it is, sothly as I gesse
And therwith all on knees down he fyll
And said: Venus, if it be thy wyll
You in this garden, thus to transfigure
Beforne me, sorowfull wretched creature
Out of this prison helpe that we may scape
And if our desteny be so ishape
By eterne worde, to dyen in prison
Of our lynage haue some compassion
That is so lowe ybrought by tiranny.
And with that worde Arcite gan espy
Where as the lady romed to and fro
And with that sight her bewte hurt him so
That if that Palamon were wounded sore
Arcite was hurt as moche as he, or more
And with a sighe he said pitously
The freshe beutie sleeth me sodenly
Of her that rometh in yonder place
And but I haue her mercy and her grace
That I may seen her at the leste way
I nam but deed, there nys no more to say.
This Palamon, whā he these wordes herd
Dispitously he loked, and answerd:
Whether sayest thou this in ernest or in play
Nay quod Arcite, in ernest by my fay
God helpe me so, me list ful yuell to pley
This Palamon gan knit his browes twey
It were (quod he) to the no great honour
To be false, ne for to be traytour
To me, that am thy cosyn and thy brother
Isworne full depe, and eche of vs to other
That neuer for to dyen in the payne
Till that the deth departe vs twayne
Neither of vs in loue to hindre other
Ne in none other case my leue brother
But that thou shuldest truly further me
In euery case, as I shulde further the
This was thyn othe, and myn also certayn
I wote it well, thou darst it not withsayn
Thus art thou of my counsell out of doubte
And nowe thou woldest falsly ben aboute
To loue my lady, whom I loue and serue
And euer shall, till that myn herte sterue.
Now certes false Arcite thou shalte not so
I loued her first, and tolde the my wo
As to my counsell, and to my brother sworne
To further me, as I haue tolde beforne
For whiche thou art ibounden, as a knight
To helpen me, if it lye in thy might
Or els arte thou false, I dare well saine.
This Arcite full proudly spake againe,
Thou shalt (quod he) be rather false than I
And thou arte false I tell the vtterly,
For paramour I loued her first or thou
What wilte yu sain, thou wist it nat or now
Whether she be woman or goddesse
Thyne is affection of holinesse
And mine is loue, as to a creature
For whiche I tolde the myn auenture
As to my cosyn, and my brother sworne.
Suppose that thou louedst her byforne
Wost thou not well the olde clerkes sawe?
That who shal giue a louer any lawe?
Loue is a gretter lawe by my pan
Than may be yeuen to any erthly man
And therfore posityfe lawe, and suche decre
Is broken all day for loue in eche degre
A man mote nedes loue maugre his heed
He may nat fleen it though he shuld be deed
All be she mayde, widowe, or wife
And eke it is not lykely all thy life
To stonden in her grace, nomore shall I
For well thou wost thy selfe verely
That thou and I be dampned to prison
Perpetuell, vs gayneth no raunson.
We striuen, as did the houndes for the bone
That foughtē al day, & yet her part was non
Ther came a cur, while yt they wer so wroth
And bare away the bone from hem both
And therfore, at kinges court my brother
Eche man for him selfe, there is none other
Loue if thou list, for I loue and ay shall
And sothly lefe brother this is all
Here in this prison mote we endure
And eueriche of vs taken his auenture.
Great was the strife betwix hem twey
If that I had leyser for to sey
But to theffect, it happed on a day
To tell it you shortly as I may.
A worthy duke that hight Perithous.
That felowe was to duke Theseus
Syth thilke day that they were children lite
Was come to Athenes, his felowe to visite
And for to play, as he was wonte to do
For in this worlde he loued no man so
And he loued him as tenderly agayne
So well thei loued, as olde bokes sayne
That whan that one was deed, sothly to tell
His felow went & sought him down in hell
But of that story list me not to write.
Duke Perithous loued well Arcite
And had him know at Thebes yere by yere
And finally at request and prayere
Of Perithous, withouten any raunson
Duke Thebes let him out of prison
Frely to gon, whither him list ouer all
In suche a gyse, as I you tellen shall.
This was the forwarde, plainly to endite
Betwix duke Theseus and him Arcite
That if so were, that Arcite were yfounde
Euer in his life, by day, night or stounde
In any countre of this duke Theseus
And he were caught it was acorded thus
That with a swerde he shuld lese his heed
There was none other remedy ne reed
But taketh his leaue, & homward him sped
Let him beware, his necke lieth to wedde
Howe great sorowe suffreth nowe Arcite?
The dethe he feleth through his hert smite
He wepeth, waileth, and crieth pitously
To sleen him selfe he waiteth priuely
And said, alas the day that I was borne
Now is my prison worse than biforne
Now is me shappen eternally to dwell
Nought in purgatory, but in hell
Alas that euer I knewe Perithous
For els had I dwelt with Theseus
Ifetered in his prison euermo
Then had I be in blisse, and nat in wo
Onely the sight of her, whom that I serue
Though that I neuer her grace may deserue
Wolde haue suffised righte ynough for me
O dere cosyn Palamon (quod he)
Thine is the victorie of this auenture
Ful blisful in prison mayst thou endure
In prison, Nay certes but in paradise
Well hath fortune to the turned the dise
That hast the sight of her, and I thabsence
For possible is, sithens thou hast her presence
And arte a knight, a worthy man and able
That by sum case, syn fortune is chaūgeable
Thou maist somtime to thy desire attaine
But I that am exiled, and baraine
Of all grace, and in so great dispeyre
That ther nys water, erthe, fyre, ne eyre
Ne creature, that of hem maked is
That may me heale, or done comfort in this
Well oughte I sterue in wāhope and distresse
Farwell my life, my lust, and my gladnesse.
Alas, why playnen men so in commune
Of purueyaunce of god, or of fortune
That yeueth hem full ofte in many agise
Well bette than hem selfe can deuise
Some man desireth to haue richesse
That cause is of her murdre or sicknesse
And some man wold out of his prison faine
That in his house, is of his meyne slaine
Infinite harmes bene in this matere
We wote not what thing we prayen here
We faren as he that dronke is as a mouse
A drōken man woten well, he hath an house
But he wot not, which the right way thider
And to a dronken man the way is slider
And certes in this worlde so faren we
We seken fast after felicite
But we go wrong full ofte truely
Thus we may saie all, and namely I
That wenden, and had a great opinion
That if I might scape fro prison
Than had I ben in ioye and parfite hele
There now I am exiled fro my wele
Sith that I may nat seen you Emely
I nam but deed, there nys no remedy.
¶Vpon that other side Palamon
Whan that he wist Arcite was gon
Such sorowe he maketh, that the great tour
Resowned of his yelling and clamour
The pure fetters on his shinnes grete
Were of his bitter salte teares wete
Alas (quod he) Arcite cosyn mine
Of all our strife, god wot the frute is thine
Thou walkest now in Thebes at large
And of my wo, thou yeuest litell charge
Thou maist, sith yu hast wisedom and māhede
Assemble all the folke of our kinrede
And make warre so sharpe in this countre
That by some auenture, or by some treate
Thou maist haue her to lady and to wife
For whom I must nedes lese my life
For as by way of possibilite.
Sithe thou arte at thy large of prison fre
And art a lorde, great is thine auauntage
More than is myn, that sterue here in a cage
For I may wepe & wayle, whiles that I lyue
With all the wo that prison may me yeue
And eke with paine, that loue yeueth me also
That doubleth all my tourment and my wo
Therwith the fire of ielousy vp stert
Within his brest, and hent him by the hert
So woodly, that he likely was to beholde
The boxe tree, or the assen deed and colde
Than said he. O cruell goddes that gouerne
This worlde with your worde eterne
And writen in the table of Athamant
Your parliament and eterne graunt
What is mankinde more vnto you yholde
Than is the shepe, that rouketh in the folde?
For slaine is man, right as another beest
And dwelleth eke in prison, and in arrest
And hath sicknesse, and great aduersite
And oft time giltlesse parde.
What gouernance is in this prescience
That giltlesse turmenteth innocence?
And encreaseth thus all my penaunce
That man is bounden to his obseruaunce
For gods sake to leten of his will
There as a beest maie all his lustes fulfyll
And whan a beest is deed, he hath no payn
But after his deth man mote wepe & playn:
Though in this world he haue care and wo
Without doute it may stonden so.
The answere of this lete I to diuines
But well I wote, in this world gret pine is
Alas I se a serpent or a thefe
That many a true man hath do mischefe
Gon at his large, & where him list maye turn
But I mote ben in prison through Saturn
And eke through Iuno, ialous and eke wood
That hath stroied wel nye al the blood
Of Thebes, with his wast walles wide
And Venus sleeth me on that other side
For ielousie, and feare of him Arcite.
Nowe wil I stinte of Palamon alite
And let him in his prison still dwell
And of Arcite forth woll I you tell.
The sommer passeth, and the nightes long
Encreseth double wise the paines strong
Both of the louer, and of the prisoner
I not which hathe the wofuller mister
For shortly to say, this Palamon
Perpetuell is dampned to prison
In chaines and feters to the deed
And Arcite is exiled on his heed
For euermore as out of that countre
Ne neuer more shall his lady se
You louers aske I nowe this question
Who hath the worse, Arcite or Palamon?
That one may se his lady day by day
But in prison mote he dwell alway
That other where him list may ride or go
But sene his lady shall he neuer mo
Nowe demeth as ye list, ye that can
For I woll tell forth my tale as I began.
¶Whan that Arcite to Thebes comen was
Full ofte a day he swelte and said alas
For sene his lady shall [he] neuer mo
And shortely to conclude, all his wo
So mikell sorowe made neuer creature
That is or shalbe, while the world may dure
His slepe, his meate, his drinke is him byraft
That leane he waxeth, and drye as a shaft
His eyen holow, and grisly to beholde
His hewe pale, and falowe as asshen colde
And solitary he was, and euer alone
And wailing all the night, making mone
And if he hearde songe or instrument
Then woulde he wepe, he might not stent
So feble were his spirites, and so lowe
And chaūged so, yt no man coude him knowe
His speche ne his voice, though men it herde
As in his gyre, for al the worlde it ferde
Nought comly like to louers malady
Of Hereos, but rather like many
Engendred of humours melancolike
Beforne his fell fantastike
And shortely was turned all vp so doun
Bothe habite and disposicion
Of him, this wofull louer Arcite
What shulde I all day of his wo endite?
Whan he endured had a yere or two
This cruell torment, and this paine and wo
At Thebes in his countre, as I saide
Vpon a night in slepe as he him laide
Him thought how that the winged Mercury
Beforne him stode, and bad him be mery
His slepy yerde in hande he bare vpright
An hatte he wered vpon his heares bright
Arayed was this god, as he toke kepe
As he was, whan Argus toke his slepe
And said him thus: to Athenes shalt yu wende
There is the shapen of thy wo an ende
And with that word Arcite awoke & stert
Now truely how sore that me smert
Quod he, to Athenes right now wol I fare
Ne for no drede of death shal I spare
To se my lady, that I loue and serue
In her presence recke I not to sterue.
And wt that word he caught a gret mirrour
And sawe that chaunged was all his colour
And sawe his visage all in a nother kinde
And right anon it ran him in his minde
That sith his face was so disfigured
Of malady, the whiche he had indured
He might well, if that he bare him lowe
Liue in Athenes euermore vnknowe
And sene his Lady welnigh day by day
And righte anon he chaunged his aray
And clad him as a pore labourer
And all alone, saue onely a squier
That knewe his priuitie and al his caas
Whiche was disgised porely as he was
To Athenes is he gon the next way
And to the court he went vpon a day
And at the gate he profered his seruice
To drugge & draw, what men wold deuise
And shortly of this matter for to sayne
He fell in office with a chamberlayne
The whiche was dwelling with Emelye
For he was wise, and soone couth espye
Of euery seruaunt, which that serued here
Well couth he hewen wode, and water bere
For he was yong and mighty for the nones
And therto he was strong and bigge of bones
To done that any wight gan him deuise
A yere or two he was in this seruice
Page of the chamber, of Emelye the bright
And Philostrate he saied that he hight
But halfe so welbeloued man as he
Ne was there none in court of his degre
He was so gentill of condicion
That through all the court was his renon
Thei said that it were a charitie
That Theseus wold enhauncen his degre
And put him in a wurshipfull seruice
There as he might his vertue exercise
And thus within a while his name is sprōg
Both of his dedes, and of his good tong
That Theseus hath taken him so nere
That of his chamber he made him squiere
And yaue him gold to maintaine his degre
And eke men brought him out of his contre
Fro yere to yere full priuely his rent
But honestly and slyly he it spent
That no man wondered how he it had
And thre yere in this wise his life he ladde
And bare him so in peace and eke in werre
Ther was no man that Theseus hath der
And in this blisse let I nowe Arcite
And speake I woll of Palamon a lite
In darkenesse horrible and strong prison
This seuen yere hath sitten this Palamon
Forpined, what for wo and distresse
Who feleth double sore and heuinesse
But Palamon: that loue distraineth so
That wode out of his wit, he goeth for wo
And eke therto he is a prisonere
Perpetuel, and not onely for a yere.
Who coud rime in englishe properly
His martirdome? forsoth it am nat I
Therfore I passe as lightlye as I may.
It befel that in the seuenth yere in may
The thirde night, as olde bokes sayne
(That all this story tellen more playne)
Were it by aduenture or by destine
As when a thing is shapen, it shalbe
That soone after midnight, Palamon
By helping of a frende brake his prison
And fleeth the cite, as fast as he may go
For he had yeuen the gailer drinke so
Of a clarrie, made of certain wine
With Narcotise and Opie, of Thebes fine
That al yt night though mē would him shake
The gailer slept, he nugh not awake
And thus he fleeth as fast as he maie
The night was short, and fast by the daie
That nedes cost he mote hymself hide
And to a groue fast there beside
With dredfull foote than stalketh Palamon
For shortly this was his opinion
That in the groue he would him hide all daie
And in the night then wold he take his waie
To Thebes warde, his friendes for to prie
On Theseus to helpe hym to warrie
And shortly, either he would lese his life
Or winne Emelie vnto his wife
This is the effect, and his entent plain.
Now will I tourne to Arcite again
That little wist how nie was his care
Till yt fortune had brought him in her snare
The merie Larke, messanger of the daie
Saleweth in her song the morowe graie
And firie Phebus riseth vp so bright
That all the orisont laugheth of the sight
And with his stremes, drieth in the greues
The siluer droppes, hangyng in the leues,
And Arcite, that in the court reall
With Theseus his squier principall
Is risen, and looketh on the merie daie
And for to doen his obseruaunces to Maie
Remembryng on the poinct of his desire
He on his courser, startlyng as the fire
Is riden into the fieldes hym to plaie
Out of the court, were it a mile or tweie
And to the groue of whiche I you tolde
By aduenture, his waie he gan holde
To maken hym a garlonde of the greues
Were it of Wodbind or Hauthorn leues
And loud he song ayenst the Sonne shene
Maie, with all thy floures and thy grene
Welcome be thou faire freshe Maie
I hope that I some grene get maie
And from his courser, with a lustie hert
Into the groue full hastely he stert
And in a pathe he romed vp and doun
There, as by aduenture this Palamon
Was in a bushe, that no man might hym se
For sore afraied of death was he
Nothyng ne knewe he that it was Arcite
God wote he would haue trowed full lite
Bothe soth is saied, go sithen many yeres
That field hath iyen, and wodde hath eres
It is full faire a man to beare hym euin
For all daie men mete at vnset steuin
Full little wote Arcite of this felawe
That was so nigh to herken of his sawe
For in the bushe sitteth he now full still
When that Arcite had romed all his fill
And songen all the roundell lustely
Into a studie he fell sodenly
As doen these louers in their queint gires
Now in the crop, and now doun in the brires
Now vp now doune, as boket in a well
Right as the fridaie, sothly for to tell
Now it raineth now it shineth fast
Right so gan gerie Venus ouercast
The hartes of her folke, right as her daie
Is gerifull, right so chaungeth she araie
Selde is the Fridaie all the weke ilike
When that Arcite had song, he gan to sike
And set hym doune withouten any more
Alas (quod he) the daie that I was bore
How long Iuno through thy crueltee
Wilt thou waren Thebes the citee?
Alas ibrought is to confusion
The blood reall of Cadmus and Amphion
Of Cadmus, whiche was the first man
That Thebes builte, or first the toune began
And of the citee first was crouned kyng
Of his linage am I, and of his spryng
By very line, as of the stocke riall
And now I am so caitife and so thrall
That he that is my mortall enemie
I serue hym, as his squire poorely
And yet doeth me Iuno well more shame
For I dare nat be knowe myne owne name
But there as I was wont to hight Arcite
Now hight I Philostrat nat worth a mite
Alas thou fell Mars, alas thou Iuno
Thus hath your ire our linage all fordo
Saue onely me, and wretched Palamon
That Theseus martreth in prison
And ouer all this, to slean me vtterly
Loue hath his firie dart so brennyngly
Isticked through my true carefull hart
That shapen was my death erst my shert
Ye slean me with your iyen Emelie
Ye been the cause wherefore I die
Of all the remenaunt of myne other care
Ne set I nat the mountaunce of a Tare
So that I coud do ought to your pleasaunce
And with yt worde he fell doune in a traunce
A long tyme, and afterward he vp stert
This Palamō thought yt through his hert
He felt a colde sworde sodenly glide
For ire he quoke, no lenger would he abide
And when that he had heard Arcites tale
As he were wode, with face dedde and pale
He stert hym vp, out of the bushes thicke
And saied: Arcite false traitour wicke
Now art thou hent, that louest my ladie so
For whom that I haue this pain and wo
And art my blood, and to my counsell sworn
As I haue full oft tolde thee here beforn
And hast be iaped here duke Theseus
And falsely hast chaunged thy name thus
I will be dedde, or els thou shalt die
Thou shalt not loue my ladie Emelie
But I woll loue her onely and no mo
For I am Palamon thy mortall fo
Though that I haue no weapē in this place
But out of prison am astert by grace
I dred nat, that either thou shalt die
Or thou ne shalt nat louen Emelie
Chese whiche thou wilt, or yu shalt not astert
This Arcite, with full dispitous hert
When he hym knewe, and had his tale heard
As fers as a Lion, pulled out his sweard
And saied: By God that sitteth aboue
Ne wer that thou art sicke, and wod for loue
And eke yt thou no weapen hast in this place
Thou shouldest neuer out this groue pace
That thou ne shouldest dien of myne honde
For I defie the suertie and the bonde
Whiche yt thou saist that I haue made to thee
What very foole, thinke well that loue is free
And I will loue her maugre all thy might
But for asmoche as thou art a knight
And wilnest to daren here by battaile
Haue here mi truth, to morow I wil not faile
Without wittyng of any other wight
That here I will be founden as a knight
And bringen harneis, right inough for thee
And chese the best, and leaue the worst for me
And meate & drinke, this night will I bryng
Inough for thee, and clothes for thy bedding
And if so be that thou my ladie win
And slea me in this wodde, there I am in
Thou maiest well haue thy ladie as for me.
This Palamon answerd, I graunt it thee
And thus thei been departed till a morowe
Whē ech of hem had laied his faith to borow
O Cupide out of all charitee
O reigne, yt wouldest haue no felow with the
Full soth is saied, that loue ne lordship
Woll nat his thankes haue any feliship
We finde that of Arcite and Palamon
Arcite is ridden anon into the toun
And on the morowe or it were daie light
Full priuely twoo harneis had he dight
Bothe sufficient and mete to darreigne
The battail in the field betwixt hem tweine
And on his horse, alone as he was borne
He carieth all his harneis hym beforne
And in the groue, at tyme and place iset
That Arcite and this Palamon been met
To chaungen gan the colour in her face
Right as the hunter in the reigne of Trace
That standeth at a gappe, with a speare
When hunted is the Lion or the Beare
And hereth hym rushyng in the leues
And breaketh the bowes in the greues
And thinketh, here cometh my mortal enemy
Without faile, he must be dedde or I
For either I mote slea hym at the gap
Or he mote slea me, if me mishap
So ferden thei, in chaungyng of her hewe
As farre as eueriche of other knewe
There nas no good daie, ne no saluyng
But streight, without worde or rehersyng
Eueriche of hem helped for to arme other
As frendly, as he were his owne brother
And after that, with sharpe speares strong
Thei foinen eche at other wonder long
Thou mightest wenen, that this Palamon
In his fightyng, were a wodde Lion
And as a cruell Tygre was Arcite
As wilde Bores gan thei fight and smite
That frothen white as fome for ire woode
Vp to the ancle foughten thei in her bloode
And in this wise, I let hem fightyng dwell
As foorth I woll of Theseus you tell
The destenie and the minister generall
That executeth in the worlde ouer all
The purueiaūce, that God hath said beforne
So strong it is, yt though ye world had sworne
The contrary of thyng be ye and naie
Yet sometyme it shall fall on a daie
That fell neuer yet in a thousande yere
For certainly our appetites here
Be it of warre, peace, hate, or loue
All is ruled by the sight aboue
This meane I now by mightie Theseus
That for to hunt is so desirous
And namely at the greate Hart in Maie
That in his bedde there daweth hym daie
That he nis clad, and redy for to ride
With hunt and horne, and hoūdes him beside
For in his huntyng hath he soche delite
That it is all his ioie and appetite
To been hymself the greate Hartes bane
For after Mars, he serueth now Diane
Clere was the daie, as I haue tolde or this
And Theseus, with all ioie and blis
With his Ipolita, the faire quene
And Emelie, iclothen all in grene
In huntyng been thei ridden rially
And to the groue, that stoode there fast by
In which ther was an Hart, as mē him told
Duke Theseus the streight waie hath holde
And to the launde, he rideth hym full right
For thither was yt hart wōt to haue his flight
And ouer a broke, and so foorth on his weie
This duke woll haue a cours at him or tweie
With houndes, soche as him list commaunde
And whē the duke was comen into the laūde
Vnder the soonne he looked, and that anon
He was ware of Arcite and Palamon
That foughten breme, as it were bulles two
The bright swordes wenten to and fro
So hodiously, that with the lest stroke
It semed that it would haue fellen an oke
But what thei weren, nothyng he ne wote
This duke wt his sporres his courser smote
And at a start he was betwixt hem two
And pulled out his sworde, and cried, ho
No more, on paine of lesyng your hedde
By mightie Mars, he shall anone be dedde
That smiteth any stroke, that I maie seen
But telleth me, what mister men ye been
That been so hardie for to fighten here
Without iudge or other officere
As though it were in listes riall
This Palamon aunswered hastely
And saied: sir, what nedeth wordes mo
We haue the death deserued bothe two
Two wofull wretches been we and caitiues
That been encombred of our own liues
And as thou art a rightfull lorde and iudge
Ne yeue vs neither mercie ne refuge
But slea me first, for sainct charitee
But slea my felowe as well as me
Or slea him first, for though yu knowe it lite
This is thy mortall foe, this is Arcite
That fro thy lande is banished on his hedde
For whiche he hath deserued to be dedde
For this is he, that came vnto thy yate
And saied, that he hight Philostrate
Thus hath he iaped full many a yere
And thou hast made hym thy chief squiere
And this is he, that loueth Emelie.
For sith the daie is come that I shall die
I make plainly my confession
I am thilke wofull Palamon
That hath thy prison broke wickedly
I am thy mortall foe, and he am I
That loueth so hotte Emelie the bright
That I woll die here present in her sight
Wherefore I aske death and my iewise
But slea my felowe in thesame wise
For bothe we haue deserued to be slain.
This worthy duke aunswered anon again
And saied, this is a short conclusion
Your owne mouthe, by your confession
Hath damned you, and I woll it recorde
It nedeth not to pine you with a corde
Ye shall be dedde by mightie Mars the redde.
The quene anon for very woman hedde
Gan for to wepe, and so did Emelie
And all the ladies in the companie
Greate pitie was it, as thought hem all
That euer soche a chaunce should befall
For gentilmen thei were of greate estate
And nothyng but for loue was this debate
And sawe her bloody woundes wide and sore
And all criden bothe lesse and more
Haue mercie lorde vpon vs wemen all
And on her bare knees doune thei fall
And would haue kist his fete there he stode
Till at the last, aslaked was his mode
For pitie renneth sone in gentle hert
And though he first for ire quoke and stert
He hath considered shortly in a clause
The trespasses of hem both, and eke the cause
And although his ire her gilt accused
Yet in his reason he hem bothe excused
As thus: he thought well that euery man
Woll helpe hymself in loue all that he can
And eke deliuer hymself out of prison
And eke his harte had compassion
Of wemen, for thei wepen euery in one
And in his gentle harte he thought anone
And soft vnto hymself he saied: fie
Vpon a lorde that woll haue no mercie
But be a Lion, bothe in worde and deede
To hem that been in repentaunce and dreede
As well as to a proude dispitous man
That will maintain that he first began
That lorde hath little of discrecion
That in soche case can no diffinicion
But waieth pride and humblenesse after one
And shortly, when his ire was thus a gone
He gan to looken vp with iyen light
And spake these wordes all one hight
The God of loue, ah benedicite
How mightie, and how greate a lorde is he
Again his might there gaineth no obstacles
He maie be cleaped a God for his miracles
For he can maken at his owne gise
Of euerich harte, as hym list deuise
Lo here this Arcite, and this Palamon
That quietly were out of my prison gon
And might haue liued in Thebes rially
And knowen I am her mortall enemie
And that her death is in my power also
And yet hath loue, maugre her iyen two
Brought hem hither bothe for to die
Now loketh, is not this a greate folie?
Who maie be a foole, but if he loue?
Beholde for Goddes sake, that sitteth aboue
See how thei blede, be thei nat well araied
Thus hath her lorde, ye god of loue hem paied
Her wager, and her fees for her seruice
And yet thei wenen to be full wise
That serue loue, for ought that maie befall
But yet is this the best game of all
That she, for whom thei haue this ioilite
Can hem therefore, as moche thanke as me
She wote no more of all this hote fare
By God, than wote a Cokowe or an Hare
But all mote been assaied hote and cold
A man mote been a foole other yong or old
I wotte it by my self full yore agone
For in my tyme, a seruaunt was I one
And therefore sith I knowe of loues pain
I wote how sore it can a man distrain
As he that oft hath be caught in her laas
I you foryeue all hooly this trespaas.
At the request of the quene, that kneleth here
And eke of Emely, my sister dere
And ye shall bothe anon vnto me swere
That ye shall neuer more my countre dere
Ne make warre vpon me night ne daie
But been my frendes in all that ye maie
I you foryeue this trespas euery dele
And thei hem sware his asking faire & wele
And hym of lordship and of mercie praied
And he hem graunted grace, and thus he said
To speake of worthie linage and richesse
Though that she were a quene or a princesse
Ilke of you bothe is worthy doubtles
To wed when tyme is, but netheles
I speake, as for my sister Emely
For whom ye haue this strief and ielosy
Ye wote your self, she maie not wedde two
At ones, though ye fighten euer mo
But one of you, all be him lothe or lefe
He mote go pipe in an Iue lefe
This is to saie, she maie not haue bothe
Ne been ye neuer so ielous, ne so wrothe
And therefore, I you put in this degre
That eche of you shall haue his destine
As him is shape, and herken in what wise
Lo here your ende, of that I shall deuise.
My will is this, for plat conclusion
Without any replicacion.
If that you liketh, taketh it for the best
That euerich of you shall go where hym lest
Frely, without raunsome or daunger
And this daie fiftie wekes, ferre ne nere
Euerich of you shall bryng an .C. knightes
Armed for the listes vpon all rightes
Alredy to darrein here by battaile
And this behote I you withouten faile
Vpon my truthe, as I am true knight
That whether of you bothe hath that might
That is to saie, that whether he or thou
Maie with his hundred, as I spake of now
Slea his contrary, or out of listes driue
Hym shall I yeue Emely to wiue
To whō that fortune yeueth so faire a grace
The lestes shall I make in this place
And God so wisely on my soule rewe
As I shall euen iudge be, and trewe
Ye shall non other ende with me make
That one of you shall be dedde or take
And ye thinken this is well isaied
Saith your aduise, and hold you well apaied
This is your ende, and your conclusion
Who loketh lightly now but Palamon?
Who springeth vp for ioie but Arcite?
Who coud tell, or who coud endite?
The ioie that is made in this place
When Theseus had doen so faire a grace
But doun on knees went euery maner wight
And thanked hym, with all her hert & might
And namely these Thebanes many a sithe
And thus with good hope and hert blithe
Thei takē her leue, & homward gan thei ride
To Thebes ward, with old walles wide
I trawe men would deme it negligence
If I foryetten to tell the dispence
Of Theseus, that goeth busely
To maken vp the listes rially
That soche a noble Theatre, as it was
I dare well saie, in this worlde there nas
The circute a mile was about
Walled with stone, and diched all about
Round was the shape, in maner of a compas
Full of degrees, the hight of sixtie paas
That when a man was set on one degree
He letted not his felowe for to see
Eastward there stoode a gate of marble Wite
Westward right soche an other in thopposite
And shortly to conclude, soche a place
Was none in yearth, as in so litell space
For in the londe, there nas no craftes man
That Geometrie, or Arithmetike can
Ne purtreiture, ne caruer of Images
That Theseus ne gaue him mete and wages
That Theatre to make and deuise
And for to doe his Rite and Sacrifice
He Eastward hath vpon the yate aboue
In worship of Venus, the Godes of loue
Doe make an auter, and an oratorie
And on the Westside, in memorie
Of Mars he maked soche an other
That cost of golde largely a fother
And Northward, in a turrret in the wall
Of Alabaster white and redde Corrall
An oratorie riche for to see
In worship of Diane the Godes of chastite
Hath Theseus doe wrought in noble wise
But yet had I foryetten to deuise
The noble caruinges and the purtreitures
The shape, the countnaunce and the figures
That were in the oratories three
First in the temple of Venus thou maist se
Wrought on the wall, full pitously to behold
The broken slepes, and the sighes cold
The sault teares and the weimentyng
The fire strokes, and the desiryng
That loues seruauntes in this life enduren
The othes, that her couenauntes assuren
Pleasaunce and hope, desire foolehardinesse
Beautie and youth, baudrie and richesse
Charmes and sorcerie leasinges and flattery
Dispence, businesse, and ielousie
That weared of yelowe goldes a garlande
And a Cokowe sityng on her hande.
Feastes, instrumentes, carolles, and daunces
Justes and araie, and all the circumstaunces
Of loue, whiche I reken and reken shall
By order, were painted on the wall
And mo than I can make of mencion
For sothly all the mount of Citheron
Where Venus hath her principall dwellyng
Was shewed on the wall in purtreyng
With all the ioie, and the lustinesse
Nought was foryetten the portresse idlenesse
Ne Narcessus the faire of yore agone
Ne yet the folie of kyng Salomon
Ne yet the greate strength of Hercules
Thenchauntment of Medea and Circes
Ne of Turnus, with his hardie fers corage
The riche Cresus caitife in seruage
Thus maie you sen, that wisedom ne richesse
Beutie ne sleight, strength ne hardinesse
Ne maie with Venus hold champartie
For as her list the worlde maie she gie
Lo, all these folke so cought were in her laas
Till thei for wo full oft saied alas
Suffiseth here one example or two
And though I coud reken a thousande mo
The statue of Venus glorious to see
Was maked fletyng in the large see
And fro the nauell doune all couered was
With waues grene, and bright as any glas
A citriole in her right hande had she
And on her hedde, full semely for to se
A rose garlande freshe, and well smellyng
Aboue her hedde Doues flitteryng
Before her stoode her soonne Cupido
Vpon his shoulders winges had he two
And blinde he was, as it is oft seen
A bowe he had and arrowes bright and kene
Why should I not as well tellen all
The purgatorie that was ther about ouer al
Within the temple of mightie Mars the rede
All painted was ye wall in length & in brede
Like to the Estris of the grisly place
That hight ye greate tēple of Mars in Trace
In thilke colde frostie region
There Mars hath his soueraine mancion
First on the wall was painted a forest
In whiche there wōneth nother man ne best
With knottie and knarie trees old
Of stubbes sharpe and hidous to behold
In whiche there was a romble and a shwow
As though a storme should breake euery bow
And dounward vnder an hill vnder a bent
There stode the temple of Mars armipotent
Wrought all of burned stele, of whiche thētre
Was long and streight, and gastly for to see
And therout cam soche a rage and soch a vise
That it made all the gates for to rise
The Northernlight in at the dores shone
For windowe on the wall was there none
Through which mē might any light discerne
The dores were all of athamant eterne
Yclenched ouerthwart and hedlong
With Iron tough, for to maken it strong
Euery piller, the temple to susteine
Was tonne greate, of yren bright and shene
There sawe I first the darke ymaginyng
Of felonie, and eke the compassyng:
The cruell ire, redde as any glede
The pickpurse, and eke the pale drede
The smiler, with the knife vnder the cloke
The shepen brennyng with the blacke smoke
The treason of the murdryng in the bedde
The open warre, with woundes all bebledde
Conteke with blody kniues, & sharpe manace
All full of chirkyng was that sory place
The slear of him self yet sawe I there
His hart blode hath bathed all his here
The naile ydriuen in the shode on hight
With colde death, wt mouthe gapyng vpright
A middes of the temple sate Mischaunce
With Discomfort, and sory Countenaunce
Yet sawe I Wodnesse laghyng in his rage
Armed complaint on theft and firs courage
The carraine in the bushe, with throt ycorue
A thousande slain, and nat of qualme istorue
The tiraunt, with the praie by force iraft
The toune destroied, there was nothing ilaft
Yet sawe I brent the shippes hoppesteres
The hunter istrangled with the wilde beres
The Sowe frettyng the child in cradell
The Coke is scalded, for all his long ladell
Nought was foryeten the infortune of Mart
The Carter ouer ridden by his owne carte
Vnder the whele, full lowe he laie a doune
There were also of Martes deuision
The Barbour, the Botcher, and the Smith
That forgeth sharpe swordes on the stith
And all aboue depainted in a toure
Sawe I Conquest, sittyng in greate honour
With the sharpe sworde ouer his hedde
Hangyng by a subtill twined thredde
Depainted was there, the slaughter of Iulius
Of greate Nero and of Antonius
All be that thilke tyme thei were vnborne
Yet was her death depainted there beforne
By manacyng of Mars, right by figure
So was it shewed in that portreiture
As is depainted in the [sterres] aboue
Who shall be dead or els slain for loue
Sufficeth one ensample in stories old
I maie not reken them all, though I would
The statue of Mars vpon a carte stode
Armed, and loked grim as he were wode
And ouer his head there shinen twoo figures
Of sterres, that been cleped in scriptures
That one (Puella) hight, that other (Rubeus)
This God of armes was araied thus
A wolfe there stode beforne him at his fete
With iyen redde, and of a man he ete
With subtell pensill was painted this storie
In redoutyng of Marce and of his glorie
Now to the temple of Diane the chaste
As shortly as I can I woll me haste
To tell you all the discripcion
Depainted been the walles vp and doune
Of huntyng and of shamfast chastite
There sawe I how wofull Calistope
When that Diane greued was with her
Was tourned fro a woman to a bere
And afterward was she made the lode sterre
Thus was it painted, I can saie no ferre
Her soonne is eke a sterre as men maie see
There sawe I Dane tourned vnto a tree
I meane not the godesse Diane
But Venus doughter, whiche yt hight Dane
There sawe I Atheon an hert ymaked
For vēgeaunce that he sawe Diane all naked
I sawe how yt his houndes haue hym cought
And freten him, for thei knewe him nought
Yet ypainted was a litell ferthermore
How Athalant hunted the wilde Bore
And Meliager, and many other mo
For which Diane wrought him care and wo
There sawe I many a nother wonder storie
Whiche me list not to drawe in memorie
This goddesse full well vpon an hert shete
With small houndes all about her fete
And vnderneth her fete, she had a Moone
Wexyng it was, and should wane soone
In gaudie grene, her statue clothed was
With bowe in hande, and arrowes in caas
Her iyen she cast full lowe a doune
There Pluto hath his darke region
A woman trauelyng was her before
But for her childe, so long was vnbore
Full pitously Lucina gan she call
And saied helpe, for thou maiest best of all
Well coud he paint liuely that it wrought
With many a florein he the hewes bought.
Now been these listes made, and Theseus
That at his great cost hath arayed thus
The temples, and the theatre euerydel
Whan it was done, it liked him wonder wel
But stinte I wol of Theseus alite
And speake of Palamon and of Arcite
The day approcheth of her returning
That euerich shuld an .C. knightes bring
The battayle to darreyne, as I you tolde
And to Ataenes, her couenaūtes to holde
Hath euerich of hem brought an .C. knightes
Well armed for the warre, at all rightes
And sikerly, there trowed many a man
That neuer sithens the world began
As for to speke of knighthode, of her honde
As farre as god hath made see or londe
Nas of so fewe, so noble a company
For euery weight, that loued chiualry
And wold his thankes haue a passing name
Hath praied, that he mighte be of that game
And wel was him, that therto chosen was
For if there fell to morowe suche a caas
Ye knowe well, that euery lusty knight
That loueth paramours, & hath his might
Were it in Englande, or els wheere
They wolde faine willen to be there
To fight for a lady, ah, benedicite
It were a lusty sight for to se.
And right so farden they with Palamon
With him there went knightes many on
Some wold ben armed in an habergeon
And in a brest plate, with a light gippion
And some wold haue a paire of plates large
And some wold haue a pruce sheld or a targe
Some wold be armed on his legges wele
And haue an axe, and some a mace of stele
There nas non newe gyse, that it nas olde
Armed were they, as I haue you tolde
Eueriche after his opinion.
¶Ther maist thou se coming wt Palamon
Ligurge him selfe, the great king of Trace
Blacke was his berd, & manly was his face
The sercles of his eyen in his heed
They glouden betwixt yelowe and reed
And like a Lion loked he aboute
With kemped heares on his browes stoute
His limmes great, his brawnes strong
His shoulders brode, his armes round & long
And as the gise was in his countre
Full hie vpon a chare of golde stode he
With foure white bulles in the trays
In stede of a cote armure, ouer his harnays
With nailes yelowe, and bright as any golde
He hath a beares skyn, cole blacke for olde
His long heare was kempt behind his backe
As any rauens fether it shone for blacke
A wrethe of gold arme gret, of huge weight
Vpon his heed set full of stones bright
Of fine rubies and diamandes
About his chare ther went white allaundes
Twenty and mo, as great as any stere
To hunten at the lion, or at the wilde bere
And folowed him, with mosell fast ybounde
Colers of gold, and torrettes yfiled rounde
An hundred lordes had he in his route
Armed ful well, with hertes sterne & stoute.
With Arcite, in stories as men fynde
The great Emetrius the king of Inde
Vpon a stede bay, trapped in stele
Couered with a cloth of gold diapred wele
Came riding like the god of Armes Marce
His cote armure was of clothe of Trace
Couched with perle, white, rounde and gret
His sadle was of brent gold newe ybet
A mantel vpon his shoulders honging
Brette full of rubies, reed as fyre sparkling
His crispe heare like ringes was yronne
And yt was yelow, and gletering as the sonne
His nose was hie, his eyen bright cytryn
His lippes ruddy, his colour was sanguyn
A fewe frekles in his face yspente
Betwixt yelow, and somdele blacke ymeynte
And as a Lion he his eyen keste
Of fiue and twenty yere his age I geste
His berde was well begonne for to spring
His voice was as a trompet sowning
Vpon his heed he weared of laurer grene
A garlande fresshe and lusty for to sene
Vpon his hande he bare for his delite
An Egle tame, as any lylly white
An hundred lordes had he with him there
All armed saue her heades in her gere
Full richely in all maner thinges
For trusteth well, that erles, dukes, & kinges
Were gathered in this noble company
For loue, and for encrease of chiualry
About this king ther ran on euery parte
Ful many a tame Lion and libarte
And in this wise, these lordes al and some
Ben on the sonday to the cite come
Aboute prime, and in the toune a light.
This Theseus, this duke this worthy knight
Whan he had brought hem into his cite
And inned hem, euerych after his degre
He feesteth hem, and doth so great laboure
To easen hem, and don hem all honoure
That yet men wenen that no mans wit
Of none estate coude amende it
The minstralcie, the seruice at the feest
The great yeftes, to the most and leest
The rich array, throughout Theseus paleis
Ne who sate first ne last vpon the deys
What ladies fayrest ben or best dauncing
Or whiche of hem can best daunce or sing
Ne who moste felyngly speketh of loue
Ne what haukes sitten on perchen aboue
Ne what houndes liggen on the flour adoun
Of all this now make I no mencion
But all the effecte, that thinketh me the beste
Now cometh ye point, harkeneth if you leste.
The sonday at night, or day begā to spring
Whan Palamon the larke herde sing
Although it were nat day by houres two
Yet song the larke, and Palamon right tho
With holy hert, and with an hie corage
He rose vp, to wenden on his pilgrimage
Vnto the blisfull Citherea benigne
I meane Venus, honourable and digne
And in her hour, he walketh forth a paas
Vnto the listes, there the temple was
And doune he kneleth, & with humble chere
And herte sore he said, as ye shall here.
¶Fayrest of fayre: O lady mine Venus
Doughter of Ioue, and spouse to Vulcanus
Thou glader of the mounte of Citheron
For thilke loue thau haddest to Adon
Haue pite of my bitter teares smerte
And take my humble praier at thyn herte.
Alas, I ne haue no langage to tell
The effect, ne the turment of mine hell
Myn herte may not myn harmes bewraie
I am so confused, that I can not saie
But mercy lady bright, that woste wele
My thought, & seest what harmes that I fele
Consider al this, and rue vpon my sore
As wisly as I shall for euermore
Emforth my might, thy true seruaunt be
And holde warre alway with chastite
That make I myn auowe, so ye me helpe
I kepe not of armes for to yelpe
Ne I ne aske to morowe to haue victory
Ne renome in this case, ne vaine glory
Of prise of armes, to blowen vp and doun
But wolde haue fully possessioun
Of Emelye, and dye in her seruice
Finde thou the maner howe, & in what wise
I retche not, but it may better be
To haue victory of hem, or they of me
So that I haue my lady in myn armes
For though so be that Mars is god of Armes
Your vertue is so great in heauen aboue
That if you list, I shall wel haue my loue
Thy temple shall I worship euer mo
And on thine aulter, where I ride or go
I woll don sacrifice, and fires bete
And if ye wol not so, my lady swete
Than pray I you, to morowe with a spere
That Arcite me through the hert bere
Than recke I not, whan I haue lost my life
Though Arcite winne her to wife
This is the effecte and ende of my prayere
Yeue me my lady, thou blisfull lady dere.
Whan the orison was done of Palamon
His sacrifice he did, and that anon
Ful pitously, with all circumstaunces
All tell I nat as now his obseruaunces.
But at the last, the statu of Venus shoke
And made a signe, wherby that he toke
That his prayer accepted was that day
For though the signe shewed a delay
Yet wist he well, that graunted was his bone
And wt glad hert he went him hom ful sone.
The third houre in equall that Palamon
Began to Venus temple for to gon
Vp rose the sonne, and vp rose Emelie
And vnto the temple of Diane gan hie
Her maidens, the whiche thider were lad
Ful redily with hem the fyre they had
The encense, the clothes, & the remenaūt all
That to the sacrifice longen shall
The hornes full of meethe as was the gise
There lacked nought to don her sacrifice
Smoking the temple, full of clothes fayre
This Emely, with herte debonayre
Her body wisshe, with water of a well
But howe she did right I dare not tell
But it be any thing in generall
And yet it were a game to here it all
To him that meaneth wel, it were no charge
But it is good a man be at his large
Her bright heare was vnkēpt & vntressed all
A crowne of a grene oke vnseriall
Vpon her heed set ful fayre and mete
Two fyres on the aulter gan she bete
And did her thinges, as men may beholde
In Stace of Thebes, and these bokes olde
Whā kendled was the fire, wt pitous chere
Vnto Diane she spake as ye may here.
O chaste goddesse of the woddes grene
To whom bothe heuē and yearth & see is sene
Quene of the reigne of Pluto, derke and low
Goddesse of maidēs, yt myn hert hathe know
Ful many a yere, and woste what I desire
As kepe me fro the vengeaunce of thyn yre
That Acteon abought cruelly
Chaste goddesse, well woste thou that I
Desyre to ben a mayde al my life
Ne neuer woll I be loue ne wife
I am thou (woste well) of thy company
A maide, and loue hunting and venery
And for to walken in the woddes wilde
And not for to ben a wife, & ben with childe
Nought will I knowe company of man
Now helpe me lady sithe you may and can
For tho thre formes that thou hast in the
And Palamon, that hath such a loue to me
And eke Arcite, that loueth me so sore
This grace I pray the, withouten more
And send loue and peace betwixt hem two
And fro me turne awaye her hertes so
That al her hotte loue, and her desire
And al her busy turment, and all her fire
Be queynt, or turned in an other place
And if so be thou wolte not do me that grace
Or if so be my desteny be shapen so
That I shal nedes haue one of hem two
As sende me him that most desireth me
Beholde goddesse of clene chastite
The bitter teares, that on my chekes fall
Syn thou art a maide, and keper of vs all
My maidenhede thou kepe, and wel conserue
And while I liue, a maiden woll I the serue.
The fyres brenne vpon the auter clere
While Emely was thus in her prayere
But sodenly she sawe a thing queynte
For right anon, one of the fyres queynte
And quicked again, and after that anon
That other fyre was queynte, and al agon
And as it queinte it made a whistling
As done these wete brondes in her brenning
And at the brondes ende, out ran anone
As it were bloddy droppes many one
For whiche so sore agaste was Emelye
That she was well nye madde, & gan to crye
For she ne wiste what it signified
But onely for the feare thus she cried
And wepte, that it was pyte for to here
And therwithal Diane gan to apere
With bowe in honde, right as an hunteresse
And said doughter, stinte thine heuinesse
Amonge the goddes hie it is affirmed
And by eterne worde, written and confirmed
Thou shalt ben wedded to one of tho
That haue for the so moche care and wo
But vnto whiche of hem I may not tell
Farewell, for I maie no lenger dwell
The fyres, whiche on myn auter brenne
Shall declaren, er that thou gon henne
This auenture of loue, as in this case
And with that word, the arowes in ye case
Of the goddesse, clateren faste and ring
And forth she went, and made vaneshing
For whiche this Emelye astonied was
And said: what mounteth this, alas
I put me vnder thy proteccion
Diane, and vnder thy disposicion
And home she goth the next way
This is the effecte there is no more to say.
The next houre of Mars folowing this
Arcite vnto the temple walked is
Of fiers Mars, to done his sacrifise
With all the might of his paynem wise
With pitous herte and hye deuocion
Right thus to Mars he said his orison.
O stronge god, that in the reignes colde
Of Trace honoured arte, and lorde yholde
And haste in euery reigne and euery londe
Of armes, al the bridle in thyn honde
And hem fortunest, as the liste deuise
Accepte of me my pitous sacrifice
If so be my thought may deserue
And that my might be worthy for to serue
Thy godhede, that I may ben one of thine
Than pray I the, that thou rue on my pine
For thilke paine, and thilke hotte fire
In which thou brentest whilom for desire
Whan thou vsedest the faire beaute
Of fayre yonge freshe Venus fre
And haddest her in thin armes, at thy will
Although thou ones on a time misfill
Whan Vulcanus had caught the in his laas
And founde the ligging by his wife alas
For thilke sorow, that was in thine herte
Haue ruthe as well on my paines smerte
I am yong and vnconning, as thou wost
And as I trowe, with loue offended most
That euer was any liues creature
For she that doth me all this wo endure
Ne retcheth neuer, where I sinke or flete
And well I wote, or she me mercy hete
I mote with strēgth winne her in this place
And wel I wote, without helpe or grace
Of the, ne may my strenght not auayle
Thā helpe me lord to morow in my battaile
For thilke fire, that whylom brent the
As well as the fyre now brenneth me
And do, that I to morowe haue the victory
Myn be the trauaile, and thine be the glory
Thy soueraine temple wol I most honouren
Of any place, and alway most labouren
In thy plesaunce and in thy craftes strong
And in thy temple, I woll my baner hong
And all the armes of my companie
And euermore, vntill the day I dye
Eterne fyre I wol beforne the finde
And eke to this auowe I wol me binde
My berde, my heare, yt hongeth lowe adoun
That neuer yet felte offencioun
Of rasour ne of shere, I wol the yeue
And ben thy true seruaunt while I liue
Now lord haue ruthe vpon my sorowes sore
Yeue me the victory, I aske the no more.
The praier stinte of Arcite the strong
The ringes on the temple dore thei rong
And eke the dores clatren full faste
Of whiche Arcite somwhat him agaste.
The fyres brennen vpon the auter bright
That it gan all the temple light
A swete smel anon the grounde vp yafe
And Arcite anon his honde vp hafe
And more ensence into the fyre he caste
With other rites mo, and at the laste
The statu of Mars began his hauberke ring
And with that sounde he herd a murmuring
Ful lowe and dym, that said thus: victory
For which he yafe to Mars honour and glory
And thus with ioye, and hope well to fare
Arcite anon into his inne is fare
As fayne as foule is of the bright sonne
And right anon suche a strife is begonne
For thilke graunting, in the heuen aboue
Bytwixt Venus, the goddesse of loue
And Mars the sterne god armipotent
That Iupiter was busy it to stente
Til that the pale Saturnus the colde
That knewe so many auentures olde
Founde in his experience and arte
That he ful sone hath pleased euery parte
And sothe is said, elde hath gret auauntage
In elde is both wisedome and vsage
Men may the olde out ren, but not oute rede
Saturne anon, to stinten strife and drede
Al be it that it be againe his kinde
Of al this strife he can remedy finde
My dere doughter Venus, quod Saturne
My course that hath so wide for to turne
Hath more power than wote any man
Myn is the drenching in the see so wan
Myn is the prison in the derke cote
Myn is ye strāgling & the honging by ye throte
The murmure, and the churles rebelling
The groning, and the priuy enpoysoning
I do vengeaunce and plaine correccion
While I dwell in the signe of the Lion
Myn is the ruyne of the hie halles
The fallyng of the toures and of the walles
Vpon the mynor, or vpon the carpenters
I slewe Sampson, shaking the pillers
And myn ben the maladies colde
The derke treasons, and the castels olde
My loking is the father of pestilence
Now wepe no more, I shal do my diligence
That Palamon, that is thin owne knight
Shall haue his lady, as thou him behight
Though mars shal help his knight natheles
Betwixt you it mote somtime be pees
Al be ye not of one compleccion
That causeth al day suche deuision
I am thyn ayle, redy at thy will
Wepe no more, I wol thy lust fulfill.
Now wol I stinten of these goddes aboue
Of Mars, and of Venus goddesse of loue
And plainly I wol tellen you as I can
The great effect, of which that I began.
Great was the feast in Athenes that day
And eke that lusty season in May
Made every wight to ben in such pleasaunce
That al that day iusten they and daunce
And spenten it in Venus hye seruise
But bicause that they shulden arise
Erly, for to se the great sight
Vnto her rest went they at night
And on the morow whan day gan spring
Of horse and harneys, noise and clateryng
There was in the hostelries al aboute
And to the palays rode there many a route
Of lordes, vpon stedes and palfreys.
There mayest thou see deuising of harneis
So vncouthe, so riche, and wrought so wele
Of goldsmythry, of braudry, and of stele
The shildes bright, testers, and trappers
Gold hewē helmes, hauberkes & cot armers
Lordes in paramentes, on her coursers
Knightes of retenue, and eke squiers
Nayling the speres, and helmes bokeling
Gigging of sheldes with lainers lacing
There as nede is, they were nothing ydell
The foming stedes on the golden bridell
Gnawing, and faste the armurers also
With file, and hammer, riding to and fro
Yemen on foote, and comunes many one
With short staues, thicke as they may gone
Pipes, trompes, nakoners, and clarions
That in the batayle blowen blody sowns
The palais full of people vp and doun
Here thre, there ten, holding her question
Deuining of these Theban knightes two
Some said thus, some said it shuld be so
Some helde with him with the blacke berde
Some wt the balled, some wt the thick herde
Some said he loked grim, and wolde fight
He hath a sparth of twenty poūd of weight.
Thus was the hall full of deuining
Longe after the sonne gan to spring
The great Theseus of his slepe gan wake
With minstralcie and noyse that they make
Helde yet the chambre of his palays riche
Til that the Theban knightes, bothe yliche
Honoured weren, and in to the place ifette.
Duke Theseus is at the window sette
Arayed right as he were a god in trone
The people preased thyderwarde full sone
Him for to sene, and done him hye reuerence
And eke for to here his hest and his sentence
An heraude on a scaffolde made on oo
Tyl all the noise of the people was ydo
And whan he saw the people of noise still
Thus shewed he the migty dukes will.
The lorde hath of his hye discrecion
Considred, that it were distruccion
To gentle bloode, to fighten in this gise
Of mortall battaile, now in this emprise
Wherefore to shapen that they shall not dye
He wol his first purpose modifie
No man therfore, vp paine of losse of life
No maner shotte, polax, ne shorte knife
In to the listes sende, or thyder bring
Ne short sworde to sticke with point byting
No man ne drawe, ne beare it by his side
Ne no man shall to his felowe ride
But one course, with a sharpe groūden spere
Foine if him list on fote, him selfe to were
And he that is at mischefe, shal be take
And not slaine, but brought to the stake
That shal ben ordained on either side
But thider he shal byforce, and there abyde
And if so fal, that the chieftaine be take
On either side, or els sleen his make
No lenger shall the turnament laste
God spede you, gothe and layeth on faste
With swordes & long mases fighten your fill
Goth now your way, this is the lordes will.
The voice of the people touched heuen
So loude cried they with mery steuen
God saue suche a lorde, that is so good
He willeth no distruccion of blood
Vp gothe the trompes and the melody
And to the listes, rideth so the company
By ordinaunce, throughout the cite large
Honged with cloth of gold, & not with sarge
Ful like a lord this noble duke gan ride
These two Thebans on euery side
And after rode the quene and Emelye
And after that an other companye
Of one and other, after her degre
And thus they passen throughout the cite
And to the listes comen they be by time
It nas not of the day yet fully prime
Whan set was Theseus ful riche and hye
Ipolita the quene, and Emelye
And other ladies in degrees aboute
Vnto the setes preaseth all the route
And westward, thrugh ye yates under marte
Arcite, and eke an hundred of his parte
With baner reed, is entred right anon
And in the selue momēt entred Palamon
As, vnder Venus, estwarde in that place
With baner white, and hardy chere and face
And in al the world, to seken vp and doun
So euen without variacion
There nas suche companies twey
For there nas none so wise that coude sey
That any had of other auauntage
Of worthines, ne of estate, ne age
So euen were they chose to gesse
And into the renges fayre they hem dresse
Whan that her names red were euerichone
That in her nombre, gile were there none
Tho were the gates shit, and cried was loude
Do nowe your deuer yong knightes proude
The heraudes left her priking vp & doun
Now ryngen trompes loude and clarioun
There is no more to say, este and west
In goth the sharpe speres sadly in the arrest
In goth the sharpe spurres into the side
There se men who can iust, and who can ride
There shiueren shaftes, vpon sheldes thicke
He feleth through the hert spoune the pricke
Vp springeth the speres, twēty fote on hight
Out goth the swordes, as the siluer bright
The helmes they to heawe, and to shrede
Out burst the blood, with sterne stremes rede
With mighty maces, the bones they to breke
He through ye thickest of the thrōg gan threke
Ther stōblen stedes strong, and doun gon all
He rolled vnder the foote as dothe a ball
He foyneth on his fete with a tronchoun
And he hurleth with his horse adoun
He through the body is hurte, and sith ytake
Maugre his heed, & brought vnto the stake
As forward was, right there he must abide
An other is ladde on that other side
And somtime doeth hem Theseus to reste
Hem to refreshe, and drinke if hem leste.
Full ofte a day haue these Thebans two
To gither met, and don eche other wo
Vnhorsed hath eche other of hem twey
Ther was no tigre, in the vale of Galaphey
Whan her whelpe is stole, whan it is lite
So cruell on the hunte, as is Arcite
For ielous herte, vpon this Palamon
Ne in Belmarye, there is no fel Lion
That hunted is, or for his hungre woode
Ne of his prey, desireth so the bloode
As Palamon to slee his foe Arcite
The ielous strokes on her helmes bite
Out rēneth ye bloode on both her sides rede
Somtime an ende there is of euery dede
For er the sonne vnto the rest wente
The strong king Emetrius gan hente
This Palamon, as he faught wt this Arcite
And made his sworde depe in his fleshe bite
And by force of twenty is he take
Vnyolden, and drawen to the stake
And in the rescous of this Palamon
The strong king Ligurge is borne adoun
And king Emetrius, for all his strength
Is borne out of his sadle a swordes length
So hurt him Palamon or he were take
But al for naught, he was broght to ye stake
His hardy herte might him helpe naught
He must abide, whan that he was caught
By force, and eke by composicion
Who soroweth now but woful Palamon?
That mote no more gon againe to fight.
And whan yt Theseus had sene that sight
He cried hoe: no more, for it is don
Ne none shall lenger to his felowe gon
I woll be true iuge, and not party
Arcite of Thebes shall haue Emely
That by his fortune hath her fayre ywonne
Anon there is a noyse of people bygonne
For ioye of this, so loude and hie withall
It semed that the listes should fall.
What can now faire Venus done aboue?
What saith she now? what doth the quene of loue
But wepeth so, for wanting of her will
Till that her teares on the listes fell
She sayd: I am ashamed doutles
Saturne saide: doughter holde thy pees
mars hath al his wil his kniȝt hath his bone
And by mine heed, thou shalte be eased sone.
The trompes with the loude minstralcye
The heraudes, that so loude yel and crye
Ben in her wele, for loue of dan Arcite
But herkeneth me, and stinteth noise a lite
Whiche a miracle there bifell anon.
The fiers Arcite hath his helme of ydon
And on a courser, for to shewe his face
He pricketh endlong the large place
Loking vpwarde vpon Emelie
And she ayen him cast a frendly eye
(For women as to speke in commune
They folowen al the fauour of fortune)
And was al his chere, as in his herte
Out of the ground a fyre infernall sterte
From Pluto sent, at the request of Saturne
For which his horse for feare gan to turne
And lepe a side, and foundred as he lepe
And er that Arcite may taken kepe
He pight him of on the pomel of his heed
That in the place he lay, as he were deed
His brest to brosten with his sadel bowe
As blacke he lay as any cole or crowe
So was the blood yronne in his face
Anon he was brought out of the place
With hert sore, to Theseus paleis
Tho was he coruen out of his harneis
And in a bedde ybrought ful fayre and bliue
For he was yet in memory, and on liue
And alway crieng after Emely.
Duke Theseus, withall his company
Is comen home to Athenes his cite
With all blisse and great solempnite
Al be it that this auenture was fall
He would not discomforte hem all
Men said eke, that Arcite should not die
He should ben yhealed of his maladie
And of an other thing they were as faine
That of hem all there was none slaine
All were they sore hurte, and namely one
That wt a spere was thronled his brest bone
Two other woundes, and two broken armes
Some had salues, and some had charmes
Fermaces of herbes, and eke saue
They dronken, for they would her liues haue
For which this noble duke, as he well can
Comforteth and honoureth euery man
And made reuel al the longe night
Vnto the straunge lordes, as it was right
Ne there nas holde no discomforting
But as iustes or at turneying
For sothly ther nas no discomfiture
For falling is holde but an auenture
Ne to be lood by force vnto a stake
Vnyolden, and with twenty knightes take
One person a lone, withouten any mo
And haried forth, by arme, fote, and too
And eke his stede driuen forth with staues
With footemen, bothe yemen and knaues
It was aretted him no vilanie
There may no man cleape it cowardie
For whiche anon, duke Theseus did cry
To stinten all rancour and enuy
The grete as well of one side as of other
And either side ylke, as others brother
And yaue hem rightes after her degre
And fully helde a fest daies thre
And conueyed the knightes worthely
Out of his toune, a daies iorney largely
And home went euery man the right waie
Ther nas no more but fare well & haue good daie
Of this battaile, I wol no more endite
But speake of Palamon and Arcite
Swelleth the brest of Arcite, and the sore
Encreaseth at his hert more and more
The clotered blode, for any liche crafte
Corrumped, and is in his body lafte
That neither veineblode, ne ventousing
Ne drinke of herbes, may be helping
By vertue expulsed, or anymall
For thilke vertue cleaped naturall
Ne may the venim voide, ne expell
The pipes of his longes began to swell
And euery lacerte, in his brest adoun
Is shent with venim and corrupcion
Him gaineth neither, for to get his life
Vomite vpwarde, ne dounwarde laxatife
All is to brust thilke region
Nature hath no dominacion
And certainly ther as nature wol nat wirch
Farwel phisike, go beare the corse to chirch
This is all and some, that Arcite must die
For whiche he sendeth after Emelie
And Palamon his cosyn dere
Than said he thus, as ye shall after here
Nought may my wofull spirite in my hert
Declare a point of all my sorowes smert
To you my lady, that I loue most
But I bequeth the seruice of my gost
To you abouen any creature
Sin that my life may no lenger dure
Alas the wo, alas my paines strong
That I for you haue suffered, and so long
Alas the dethe, alas myn Emely
Alas departing of our company
Alas myn hertes quene, alas my liues wife
Myn hertes lady, ender of my life
What is the world, what asken men to haue?
Now with his loue, now in his cold graue
Alone withouten any company
Farwel my swete foe, myn Emely
And soft take me in your armes twey
For the loue of God, herkeneth what I sey.
I haue here with my cosin Palamon
Had strief and rancour, many a daie agon
For loue of you, and for my ielousie
And Iupiter so wisely my soule gie
To speaken of a seruaunt properlie
With circumstaunces, all trulie
That is to say, trouth, honour, & knighthede
Wisedome, humblesse, estate, and hie kinrede
Fredome, and all that longeth to that art
So Iupiter haue of my soule part
As in this worlde, right now knowe I non
So worth to be loued as Palamon
That serueth you, and woll doen all his life
And if that you shall euer been a wife
Foryet not Palamon, the gentle man
And with that worde his speche faile began
For from his feete vnto his brest was come
The colde death, that had hym nome
And yet more ouer, for in his armes two
The vitall strength is lost, and all a go
Saue onely the intellect, without more
That dwelleth in his harte sicke and sore
Gan failen, when the harte felt death
Dusked his iyen two, and failed breath
But on his Ladie, yet cast he his iye
His last worde was mercie Emelie
His spirite chaunged, and out went there
Whether warde I can not tell, ne where
Therefore I stint, I am no diuinistre
Of soules finde I not in this registre
Ne me leste not thilke opinion to tell
Of hem, though thei writē where thei dwell
Arcite is cold, that Mars his soule gie
Now woll I speke foorth of Emelie
Shright Emelie, and houlen Palamon
And Theseus his suster vp toke anon
Swouning, and bare her fro his corse awaie
What helpeth it to tary forth the daie
To tellen how she wept bothe euen & morow
For in soche case women haue moche sorowe
When that her husbandes been fro hem go
That for the more partie thei sorowen so
Or els fallen in soche maladie
That at the last, certainly thei die
Infinite been the sorowe and the teres
Of old folke, and folke of tender yeres
In all the toune for death of this Theban
For hym there wepeth bothe child and man
So greate wepyng was there not certain
When Hector was brought, all freshe islain
To Troie alas, the pite that was there
Cratchyng of chekes, rentyng eke here
Why woldest thou be dedde, thus womē crie?
And haddest gold inough, and Emelie.
No man maie glad Theseus
Sauyng his old father Egeus
That knewe this worldes transmutacion
As he had seen it, bothe vp and doun
Ioie after wo, and wo after gladnesse
And shewed hym ensamples and likenesse
Right as there died neuer man, quod he
That he ne liued in yearth in some degree
Right so there liued neuer man, he saied
In this worlde, that somtyme he ne deied
This worlde is but a throughfare full of wo
And we been pilgrimes, passying to and fro
Death is an ende of euery worldes sore
And ouer all this yet saied he moche more
To this effect, full wisely to exhort
The people, that thei should hem recomfort.
Duke Theseus with all his busie cure
Casteth now, where that the sepulture
Of good Arcite, shall best imaked bee
And eke moste honourable of degree
And at the last he tooke conclusion
That there as Arcite and Palamon
Had for loue the battaile hem betwene
That in thesame selue groue, swete & grene
There as he had his amerous desires
His complaint, and for loue his hote fires
He would make a fire, in whiche the offis
Funerall he might hem all accomplis
He hath anon commaunded to hacke & hew
The okes old, and laie hem all on a rew
In culpons, well araied for to brenne
His officers with swift foote thei renne
And right anon at his commaundement.
And after Theseus hath he isent
After a beare, and it all ouer sprad
With clothe of gold, the richest that he had
And of thesame sute he clothed Arcite
Vpon his handes his gloues white
Eke on his hedde a croune of Laurell grene
And in his hand a sworde full bright & kene
He laied hym bare the visage on the bere
Therewith he wept that pite was to here
And for the people should seen hym all
When it was daie he brought him to the hall
That rorreth of ye crie & of the sorowes soun
Tho gan this wofull Theban Palamon
With glitering beard, & ruddie shinyng heres
In clothes blacke, dropped all with teres
And passyng other of wepyng Emelie
The rufullest of all the companie.
And in as moche as the seruice should bee
The more noble, and riche in his degre
Duke Theseus let foorth the stedes bryng
That trapped were in stele all gliteryng
And couered with the armes of Dan Arcite
Vpon these stedes greate and white
There saten folk, of which one bare his sheld
An other his speare, in his hande held
The third bare with hym a bowe Turkes
Of brēt gold was the case and eke the harnes
And ridden foorth a pace with sorie chere
Toward the groue, as ye shall after here.
The noblest of the Grekes, that there were
Vpon her shoulders caried the bere
With slake pace, and iyen redde and white
Throughout the citee, by the maister strete
That sprad was al wt blak, & that wonder hie
Right of the same is the strete iwrie
Vpon the right hande went Egeus
And on the other side duke Theseus
With vessels in her hande of golde full fine
All full of honie, milke, blode, and wine
Eke Palamon, with full greate companie
And after that, came wofull Emelie
With fire in hande, as was that time the gise
To doen the office of funerall seruice
Hie labour, and full greate apparailyng
Was at seruice, and at fire makyng
That with his grene top the heauen raught
And twentie fadome of bred armes straught
This is to sain, the bowes were so brode
Of strawe first there was laied many a lode.
But how the fire was maken vp on height
And eke the names, how the trees height
As oke, firre, beche, aspe, elder, elme, popelere
Willowe, Holm, Plane, Boxe, Chesten, laure
Maple, thorne, beche, ewe, hasell, Whipultre
How thei were felde, shall not be tolde for me
Ne how the goddes ronne vp and doun
Disherited of her habitacion
In whiche thei wonned in rest and pees
Nimphes, Faunie, and Amadriades
Ne how the beastes, ne the birdes all
Fledden for feare, when the trees fall
Ne how the ground agast was of the light
That was nat wont to see the Sunne bright
Ne how the fire was couched first with stre
And than with drie stickes clouen a thre
And than with grene wodde, and spicerie
And than with clothe of golde and perrie
And garlondes hangyng with many a floure
The mirre, the ensence, with swete odoure
Ne how Arcite laie emong all this
Ne what richesse about his bodie is
Ne how that Emelie, as was the gise
Put in the fire of funerall seruice
Ne how she souned, whā maked was the fire
Ne what she spake, ne what was her desire
Ne what iewelles men in the fire cast
Whan that the fire was greate and brent fast
Ne how sum cast her shield, and sum her spere
And of her vestemētes, whiche that thei were
And cuppes full of wine, milke, and blood
Into the fire, that brent as it were wood
Ne how the Grekes with a huge route
Thrise ridden all the fire aboute
Vpon the left hande, with a loude shoutyng
And thrise with her speres clateryng
And thrise how the ladies gan crie
Ne how that ladde was homward Emelie
Ne how that Arcite is brent to ashen cold
Ne how the liche wake was hold
All that night, ne how the Grekes plaie
The wake plaies, kepe I nat to saie
Who wrestled best naked, with oile anoint
Ne who bare hym best in euery poinct
I woll not tellen how thei gone
Whom to Athenes, whan the plaie is doen
But shortly to the poinct than woll I wende
And make of my long tale an ende.
By processe and by length of yeres
All stinten is the murnyng and the teres
Of Grekes, by one generall assent
Than semed me there was a Parlement
At Athenes, vpon a certain poinct and caas
Emong the whiche poinctes ispoken was
To haue with certain countres aliaunce
And haue of Thebans fullie obeisaunce
For whiche this noble Theseus anon
Let sende after this gentle Palamon
Vnwiste of hym what was the cause & why:
But in his blacke clothes sorowfully
He came at his commaundement on hie
Tho sent Theseus after Emelie.
Whā thei wer set, and husht was the place
And Theseus abidden hath a space
Or any worde came from his wise brest
His iyen sette he there hym lest
And with soche a sadde visage, he siked still
And after that, right thus he saied his will
The first mouer of the cause aboue
Whan he first made the faire chaine of loue
Greate was theffect, and hie was his entente
Well wist he why, and what therof he mente
For with that faire chaine of loue he bonde
The fire, the aire, the water, and the londe
In certain bondes, that thei maie nat fle
Thesame prince and that mouer, quod he
Hath stablished in this wretched world adon
Certen daies and duracion
To all that are engendred in this place
Ouer the whiche daie thei maie nat pace
All mowe thei yet the daies abredge
There nedeth non aucthorite to ledge
For it is proued by experience
But that me list declare my sentence
Then maie men by this order discerne
That thilke mouer stable is and eterne
Well maie men knowe, but he be a foole
That euery partie is deriued from his hoole
For nature hath nat taken his beginnyng
Of one parte or cantell of a thyng
But of a thing that perfite is and stable
Discendyng so, till it be corrumpable
And therefore of his wise purueiaunce
He hath so well beset his ordinaunce
That spaces of thinges and progressions
Shullen endure by successions
And not eterne, without any lye
Thus maiest thou vnderstande and see at iye
Lo the oke, that hath so long a norishyng
Fro the time that it beginneth first to spring
And hath so long a life, as ye maie see
Yet at the last, wasted is the tree
Considereth eke, how that the harde stone
Vnder our feete, on whiche we treade & gone
Yet wasteth it, as it lieth in the weie
The brode riuer sumtyme wexeth drie
The greate tounes, se we wane and wende
Than ye see that all this thyng hath ende
And man and woman see shall we also
That nedeth in one of the termes two
That is to sain, in youth or els in age
He mote be dedde, a kyng as well as a page
Some in his bedde, some in the depe see
Some in the large field, as ye maie see
It helpeth not, all goeth that ilke weie
Than maie you see that all thyng mote deie
What maketh this, but Iupiter the kyng
That is prince, and cause of all thyng
Conuertyng all to his proper will
From whiche it is deriued soth to tell
And here again, no creature on liue
Of no degree auaileth for to striue
Than is it wisedome, as thinketh me
To make vertue of necessite
And take it well, that we maie not eschewe
And namely that to vs all is dewe
And who so grutcheth aught, he doeth folie
And rebell is to hym that all maie gie
And certainly, a man hath moste honour
To dien in his excellence and flour
When he is siker of his good name
Thā hath he don his frēdes ne him no shame
And glader ought his friēdes be of his death
When with honour iyolde is vp the breath
Than whan his name apaled is for age
For all foryetten in his vassellage
Than it is best, as for a worthie fame
To dien, when he is best of name
The contrarie of al this is wilfulnesse
Why grutchen we? why haue we heuinesse
That good Arcite of cheualrie the flour
Departed is, with duetie and with honour
Out of this foule prison, of this life?
Why grutchen here his cosyn and his wife
Of his welfare, that loueth hym so wele
Can he hem thāk? naie god wote neuer a dele
That bothe his soule, and eke hem offende
And yet thei mowe not her lustes amende?
What maie conclude of this long storie
But after sorowe, I rede vs be merie
And thanke Iupiter of all his grace
And er we departen from this place
I rede we maken of sorowes two
One parfite ioie, lastyng euer mo
And looke now where moste sorowe is herin
There woll I first amende and begin
Suster quod he this is my full assent
With all the people of my parlement
That gentle Palamon, your owne knight
That serueth you, with wil, hert, and might
And euer hath doen, sith ye first hym knewe
That ye shall of your grace vpon hym rewe
And take hym for husbonde and for Lorde
Lene me your hande, for this is our accorde.
Let see now of your womanly pite
He is a kynges brother soonne parde
And though he were a poore bachelere
Sin he hath serued you so many a yere
And had for you so greate aduersite
It must been considered, leueth me
For gentle mercie ought to passen right.
Than saied he thus to Palamō the knight
I trowe there nede litle sarmonyng
To make you assenten to this thyng
Cometh nere, & taketh your lady by the hond
Bitwixt hem was maked anon the bond
That hight Matrimonie or mariage
By all the counsaile of the baronage
And thus with all blisse and melodie
Hath Palamon iwedded Emelie.
And God yt all this worlde hath wrought
Sende him his loue, yt it hath so dere bought
For now is Palamon in all wele
Liuyng in blisse, in richesse, and in hele
And Emelie hym loueth so tenderlie
And he her serueth so gentellie
That neuer was ther no word hem bitwene.
Of ielousie, or of any other tene
Thus endeth Palamon and Emelie
And God saue all this faire companie.
¶Here endeth the knightes tale,
and here foloweth the Mil-
lers Prologue.
[In The Merchant’s Tale, January, at the age of sixty, decides to end his lecherous bachelor way of life by marrying (1245–66). The narrator ironically expatiates on the joys of wedded life (1267–1392).]
A wife is goddes yefte verely
All other maner yeftes hardely
As londes, rentes, pasture, or commune
Or mouables, all ben yeftes of fortune
That passen, as a shadow on a wall
But dred nat, if plainly speke I shall
A wife wol last and in thin house endure
Wel lenger than the list parauenture
Mariage is a full great sacrament
He whiche hath no wife I holde him shent
He liueth helples, and all desolate
I speke of folke, in seculer estate.
And herkeneth why, I say not this for nouȝt
A woman is for mannes helpe ywrought
The hye God, when he had Adam maked
And saw him alone bely naked
God of his great goodnesse said than
Lette vs maken an helpe to this man
Like to him selfe, and than he made Eue
Here may ye se, and hereby may ye preue
That a wife is mans helpe and conforte
His paradise terrestre and his disporte
So buxome and so vertuous is she
Thei must nedes liue in vnite
One fleshe they ben, & two soules as I gesse
Nat but one hart in wele and in distresse . . .
Husbond and wife, what so men iape or play
Of worldly folke hold the seker waie
Thei be so knit, there maie non harme betide
And namely vpon the wiues side
[January summons his friends to explain his reasons for marrying a young woman (1393–1468).]
But one thing warne I you my frēdes dere
I woll non old wife haue in no manere
She shall not passe fiftene yere certain
Old fishe and yong fleshe woll I haue fain
Better is (quod he) a Pike then a Pikereell
And better than old Befe is the tender Veell
I woll no woman of thirtie Winter age
It nis but Beanstrawe and great forage
And eke these old widowes (God it wote)
Thei connen so moche craft in Wades bote
So moche broken harme whan hem list
That with hem should I neuer liue in rest
For sondrie scholes maketh subtell clerkes
A woman of many scholes halfe a clerke is
But certainly, a yong thing maie men gie
Right as mē maie warm Waxe wt hādes plie
Wherefore I saie you plainly in a clause
I nill non old wife haue for this cause.
For if so were that I had mischaunce
And in her couth haue no pleasaunce
Than should I lede my life in aduoutrie
And so streight to the deuill whan I die
Ne children should I non vpon her geten
Yet had I leuer houndes had me eaten
Than that mine heritage should fall
In straunge hondes: and thus I tell you all
[He is encouraged by his brother Placebo, and warned by his brother Justinus. Dismissing the warning, January indulges his fantasie (1577) in deliberating his choice, which falls on a young and beautiful maiden of small degre (1625); he again consults his brothers, and is again warned by Justinus (1469–1688).]
Ye maie repent of wedded mannes life
In whiche ye sain is neither wo ne strife
And els God forbede, but if he sent
A wedded man grace him to repent
Well after, rather than a single man
And therefore sir, the best rede that I can
Despeireth you not, but haue in memorie
Parauenture she maie be your purgatorie
She maie by Goddes meane & Goddes whip
Than shall your soule vp to heauen skip
Swifter than doeth an arowe out of a bowe.
[Ignoring Justinus, January hastens to marriage (1689–1705).]
Thus been thei wedded with solempnite
And at feast sitteth he and she
With other worthy folke vpon the deies
All full of ioie and blisse is the palaies
And full of instrumentes and of vitaile
The most deintes of all Itaile
Beforne him stode instrumentes of soch soun
That Orpheus, ne of Thebes Amphion
Ne made neuer soche a melodie.
At euery cours came loude minstralcie
That neuer Ioab tromped for to here
Neither Theodomas yet halfe so clere
At Thebes, whan the citee was in dout
Bacchus the wine hem skinketh all about
And Venus laugheth on euery wight
For Ianuarie was become her knight
And would bothe assain his corage
In liberte, and eke in mariage
And with her fire bronde in her hond about
Daunceth before the bride and all the rout
And certainly, I dare well saie right this
Emenius that God of weddyng is
Saw neuer in his life, so mery a wedded mā
Hold thou thy peace thou poet Marcian
That writest vs that ilke weddyng merie
Of Philologie and hym Mercurie
And of the songes that the Muses song
To small is bothe thy penne and eke thy tong
For to discriuen of this mariage
Whā tēder youth hath iwedded stouping age
Ther is soche mirth, yt it maie not be written
Assaieth your self, than maie ye witten
If that I lacke or non in this matere
Maie that sitte, with so benigne a chere
Her to behold, it semed fairie
Quene Hester loked neuer with soche an iye
On Assuere, so meke a looke hath she
I maie you nat deuise all her beaute
But thus moche of her beautie tell I maie
That she was like the bright morow of May
Fulfilde of al beautie, and of pleasaunce
[During the festivities, the young squire Damyan is so rauished on his Lady Maie That for very pain he was nye wode (1774–5); January is impatient for bedtime (1750–1822).]
For Goddes loue, as sone as it maie be
Let voied all this house in curteis wise sone
Men drinken, and the trauers drue anon
So hasted Ianuarie, it must be doen
The bride was brought to bed as still as ston
And whā the bed was with the priest iblessed
Out of ye chāber hath euery wight hē dressed
And Ianuarie hath fast in armes take
His freshe Maie, his paradise, his make
[January is unaware of his own sexual shortcomings, and of May’s interest in his young squire, with whom by various sleights she comes to terms without arousing January’s suspicions (1823–2020).]
Some clerkes holden that felicite
Stont in delite, and therfore certain he
This noble Ianuarie with all his might
In honest wise as longeth to a knight
Shope hym to liue full deliciously
His housing, his array, as honestly
To his degre, was made as a kinges
Among other of his honest thinges
He had a garden walled all with stone
So faire a garden was there neuer none
For out of dout, I verily suppose
That he that wrote the Romant of the Rose
Ne couth of it the beaute wel deuise
Ne Priapus, ne might not suffise
Thoughe he be god of gardens, for to tell
The beaute of the garden, and of the well
That stont vnder a laurer alway grene
Ful oft time king Pluto and his quene
Proserpina, and al her fayrie
Disporten hem, and maken melody
About that well, and daunced as men tolde
This noble knight, this Ianuary the olde
Such deynte hath, in it to walke and play
That he wol suffre no wight to bere the kaye
Saue he him selfe, for the smal wicket
He bare alway of siluer a clicket
With which, whan that him list vnshet
And whan that he wold pay his wife her det
In somer season, thider would he go
And May his wife, & no wight but they two
And thīges which that were not don a bedde
He in ye garden perfourmed hem and spedde
And in this wise, many a mery day
Liued this Ianuary and this freshe May
But worldly ioye may nat alway endure
To Ianuary, ne to no liuing creature. . . .
[2057–68 Lament against unstable fortune.]
Alas, this noble Ianuary that is so fre
Amidde his lust and his prosperite
Is woxen blind, and all sodainly
His dethe therfore desireth he vtterly
And therwithal, the fire of ielousy
(Lest that his wife should fall in some foly)
So brent his hert, that he would faine
That some man, both him and her had slaine
For neuer after his death, ne in his life
Ne would he that she were loue ne wife
But euer liue a widowe in clothes blacke
Sole, as the turtle doth yt hath lost her make
[2081–2106 January accepts his adversity, but becomes so outrageously jealous that he always has his hand on May. Nevertheless she and Damian communicate their intentions by writing and by preuy signes (2105)]
O Ianuary, what might the it auaile?
Tho thou mightest se, as fer as shippes saile
For as good is a blinde man disceiued be
As to be disceiued, whan that a man may se.
Lo Argus, which had an hundred eyen
For al that euer he couth pore and prien
Yet was he blent, and god wot so ben mo
That wenen wisely that it is not so
Passe ouer is an ease, I say no more.
The fresh May, of which I spake of yore
In warme waxe hath printed this clicket
That Ianuary bare of that small wicket
By which vnto his garden oft he went
And Damian that knew her entent
The clicket counterfaited priuely
There nis no more to say, but hastely
Some wonder by this clicket shall betide
Which ye shall heren, if ye wol abide.
O noble Ouide, soth sayest thou god wote
What slight is it, though it be long and hote
That he nil finde it out in some manere
By Pyramus and Thisbe, may men lere
Thouȝ they were kept ful long streit ouer all
They ben accorded, rowning through a wal
Ther nis no wight couth finde such a sleight
But now to purpose, er the daies eight
Were passed, er the moneth Iule befill
That Ianuary hath caught so great a will
Through eggyng of his wife him for to play
In his garden, and no wight but thei tway
That in a morow, vnto this May said he
Rise vp my wife, my loue, my lady fre
The turtell voice is herde my lady swete
The winter is gon, with al his raines wete
Come forth now with thin eyen columbine
Now fayrer ben thy brestes than is wine
The garden is enclosed all about
Come forth my white spouse out of dout
Thou hast me wounded in my hert, o, wife
No spotte in the nas in all thy life
Come forth and let vs taken our disport
I chese the for my wife and my confort
Such olde leude wordes vsed he
On Damian a signe made she
That he shuld go before with his clicket
This Damian hath opened this wicket
And in he stert, and that in suche manere
That no wight might it se ne here
And stil he sat vnder a bushe anon.
This Ianuary, as blinde as is a ston
With May in his hande, and no wight mo
Into his fresh garden is he go
And clapte to the wicket sodainly.
Now wife (quod he) here nis but thou and I
That arte the creature that I best loue
[2162–2216 January begs May to be true to him. She tearfully protests her undying loyalty, while at the same time making signs to Damian to climb into a pear tree, as she had previously instructed him in a letter.]
And thus I let him sitte in the pery
And January and May roming full mery.
Bright was the day, & blew the firmamēt
Phebus of gold doun hath his stremes sente
To gladen euery flour with his warmenesse
He was that time in Geminy, as I gesse
But litle fro his declinacion
The causer of Iouis exaltacion
And so befil that bright morow tide
That in the garden, on the farther side
Pluto, that is the king of Fayrie
And many a lady in his company
Folowing his wife, the quene Proserpine
Eche after other right as a line
Whiles she gadred floures in a mede
In Claudian ye may the story rede
How in his grisely carte he her fette
This king of Fayry doun him sette
Vpon a benche of turues freshe and grene
And right anon thus said he to his quene.
My wife (quod he) that may nat say nay
The experience so proueth euery day
The treason, which that women doth to mā
Ten hundred thousande tel I can
Notable, of your vntrouth and brotelnesse
O Salomon, richest of all richesse
Fulfilde of sapience, and of worldly glory
Full worthy ben thy wordes in memory
To euery wight, that wit and reason can
Thus praiseth he the bounte of man
Among a thousande men yet fonde I one
But of all women fonde I neuer none
Thus saith ye king, yt knoweth your wickednesse
And Iesus Filius Sirach, as I gesse
Ne speketh of you but selde reuerence
A wilde fire, a corrupt pestilence
So fall vpon your bodies yet to night
Ne se ye not this honorable knight?
Bicause (alas) that he is blinde and olde
His owne man shall maken him cokolde
Lo where he sitte, the lechour in the tre
Now wol I graunt of my maieste
Vnto this olde blinde worthy knight
That he shal haue againe his eye sight
Whan that his wife would done him villany
Than shal he know al her harlotry
Both in reprefe of her and other mo.
Ye shal (quod Proserpine) and woll ye so?
Now be my mothers soule sir I swere
That I shal yeuen her sufficient answere
And al women after for her sake
That though they ben in any gilte itake
With face bolde, they shullen hem selue excuse
And bere hem doun, that wold hem accuse
For lacke of answere, non of hem shull dien
All had he sey a thing with both his eyen
Yet should we women so visage it hardely
And wepe and swere, and chide subtelly
That ye shal ben as leude as gees
What recketh me of your auctoritees?
[2277–2308 She claims that other men have borne witness to women both Christian and Roman who were martyrs and true wives. She dismisses Solomon as a lechour, and an idolaster who in his elde, very god forsoke (2298–9).]
I shall nat spare for no curtesy
To speke hem harme, that wolde vs villany.
Dame (quod this Pluto) be no lenger wrothe
I giue it vp: but sithe I swore myn othe
That I would graunt him his sight ayen
My word shal stand, yt warne I you certeyn
I am a king, it set me not to lye.
And I (quod she) a quene of Fayrie
Her answere she shall haue I vndertake
Let vs no mo wordes herof make
Forsoth I wol no lenger you contrary.
[2320–53 May claims to have a craving for pears, and because (being blind) January cannot pick them for her, she asks him to let her climb up on his back into the tree, where Damian awaits her. He takes instant action. In the 1532–61 texts there follow eight lines describing Damian’s and January’s privy members, and May’s opinion of them.]
And whan that Pluto saw this wrong
To Ianuary he gaue again his sight
And made him se as well as euer he might
And whan he had caught his sight againe
Ne was there neuer man of thing so faine
But on his wife his thought was euer mo
Vp to the tree he cast his eyen two
And saw how Damian his wife had dressed
In suche manere, it may not be expressed
But if I would speke vncurtesly
And vp he yaf a roring and a crie
As doth the mother whan the childe shall dye
Out helpe, alas (harowe) he gan to crye
For sorow almost he gan to dye
That his wife was swiued in the pery
O stronge lady hore what dost thou?
And she answered: sir what ayleth you?
Haue pacience and reason in your minde
I haue you holpen of both your eyen blinde
Vp peril of my soule, I shal nat lien
As me was taught to helpe with your eyen
Was nothing bette for to make you see
Than strogle with a man vpon a tree
God wot I did it in ful good entent
Strogle (quod he) ye algate in it went
Stiffe and rounde as any bell
It is no wonder though thy bely swell
The smocke on his brest lay so theche
And euer me thought he pointed on ye breche
God giue you both on shames deth to dien
He swiued the, I sawe it with mine eyen
And els I be honged by the halse
Than is (quod she) my medicin false
For certain, if that ye might se
Ye would nat say theke wordes to me
Ye haue some glimsing, and no parfite sight
I se (quod he) as wel as euer I might
Thanked be god, with bothe mine eyen two
And by my trouth me thought he did so
Ye mase ye mase, good sir (quod she)
This thanke haue I for that I made you se
Alas (quod she) that euer I was so kinde
Now dame (quod he) let all passe out of minde
Come doun my lefe, and if I haue missaide
God helpe me so, as I am yuel apaide
But by my fathers soule, I wende haue seyn
How that this Damian had by the lyen
And that thy smocke had lien vpon his brest
Ye sir (quod she) ye may wene as ye lest
But sir, a man that waketh out of his slepe
He may not sodainly wel taken kepe
Vpon a thing, ne se it parfitely
Till that he be adawed verily
Right so a man that longe hath blinde be
Ne may not sodainly so wel yse
First whan the sight is newe comen again
As he that hath a day or two ysain
Till that your sight istabled be a while
There may full many a sight you begile
Beware I pray you, for by heuen king
Ful many a man weneth to se a thing
And it is al another than it semeth
He that misconceiueth ofte misdemeth
And with that worde she lept doun fro ye tre
This Ianuary, who is gladde but he?
He kisseth her, he clippeth her full ofte
And on her wombe he stroketh her ful softe
And to his paleis home he hath her lad
Now good men I pray you, beth ye al glad
Thus endeth here my tale of Ianuary
God blesse vs al, and his mother Mary.
¶Thus endeth the Marchauntes tale
and here foloweth the wife
of Bathes prologue.
Experience, thoughe none authorite
Were in this worlde, is right ynow for me
To speke of wo that is in mariage
[In her Prologue, the Wife of Bath sets experience of life against the authority of book-learning, and even of the Book, the Bible. Her theme is developed through the story of her five marriages. The Friar scoffs at her long preamble of a tale (831), and an altercation develops between him and the Summoner. When they are called to order by the Host, the Wife is ready to resume, If I haue licence of this worthy Frere (855).]
¶Here endeth the wife of Bathes
Prologue, and here begin-
neth her Tale.
In the olde daies of Kyng Artoure
(Of whiche the Bretons speaken great honour)
All was this londe fulfilled of fairie
The Elfe quene, with her ioly companie
Daunsed full oft in many a grene mede
This was the old opinion as I rede
I speake of many an hundred yere a go
But now can no man se none elfes mo
For now the great charite and praiers
Of limitours and other holy Freres
That serchen euery lande and euery streme
As thicke as motes in the Sunne beme
Blissing halles, chambers, kichens, & boures
Citees, borowes, castelles, and hie toures
Thropes, Bernes, shepens, and Deiries
This maketh, that there been no fairies
For there as wont to walke was an Elfe
There walketh now the limitour hymself
In vndermeles, and in mornynges
And saieth his Mattins, & his holy thinges
As he goeth in his limitacioun
Women maie go safely vp and doun
In euery bushe, and vnder euery tre
There nis none other incubus but he
And he ne will doen hem no dishonour.
And so fell it, that this kyng Artour
Had in his house a lustie bacheler
That on a daie come ridyng fro the riuer
And happed, that alone as he was borne
He sawe a maide walkyng him biforne
Of whiche maide anon, maugre her hed
(By very force) he beraft her maidenhed
For whiche oppression was soche clamour
And soche pursute vnto king Artour
That dampned was this knight to be dedde
By course of lawe, & should haue lost his hed
Perauenture soche was the statute tho
But that the Quene, and other ladies mo
So long praiden the king of grace
Till he his life graunted in that place
And yaue him to the quene, al at her will
To chese where yt she wuld him saue or spill
The quene thāketh ye king wt all her might
And after this, thus spake she to the knight
Whan she sey her time on a day.
Thou standeth yet (quod she) in such aray
That of thy life yet hast thou no suerte
I graunt the thy life, if that thou cāst tell me
What thing is it, that women most desiren
Beware, and kepe thy necke bone from yren
And if thou canst not tel it me anon
Yet wol I yeue the leue for to gon
A twelue moneth and a day, to seke and lere
An answere sufficient in this matere
And suertie wol I haue, er that thou passe
Thy body for to yelde in this place.
Wo was the knight, & sorowfully he siketh
But what? he may not don al as him liketh
And at last he chese him for to wende
And come ayen, right at the yeres ende
With such answer, as god wold him puruay
And taketh his leue, & wēdeth forth his way
He seketh euery house and euery place
Where as he hopeth for to finde grace
To lerne, what thing women louen most
But he ne couth ariuen in no coost
Where as he might finde in this matere
Two creatures acordyng yfere
Some said, women loued best richesse
Some said honour, some said iolynesse
Some said riche aray, some said lust a bed
And ofte time to ben widowe and wed
Some said, that our herte is moste y esed
Whan that we ben flatered and yplesed
He goeth ful nye the sothe, I wol not lye
A man shall winne vs best with flaterye
And with attendaunce, and with businesse
Ben we ilymed both more and lesse.
And some men sain, how yt we louen best
For to ben fre, and do right as vs lest
And that no man repreue vs of our vice
But say that we be wise, and nothing nice
For trewly there nis none of vs all
If any wight wol clawe vs on the gall
That we nil kike, for that he saith vs sothe
Assaye, and he shal finde it, that so dothe
For be we neuer so vicious within
We woll be holden wise and cleane of sin.
And some men sain, yt great delite haue we
For to ben holde stable and eke secre
And in o purpose stedfastly to dwell
And nat bewray thing that men vs tell
But that tale is not worth a rake stele
Parde we women can nothing hele
Witnesse of Midas, woll ye here the tale?
Ouide, among other thinges smale
Said, Midas had vnder his long heeres
Growing on his heed, two asses eeres
The which vice he hidde, as he best might
Ful subtelly from euery mannes sight
That saue his wife, there wiste of it no mo
He loued her most, and trusted her also
He praied her, that to no creature
She nolde tellen of his disfigure.
She swore him, nat for all ye world to win
She nolde do that villany, ne that sin
To makē her husbonde haue so foule a name
She nold nat tel it for her owne shame
But natheles, her thought that she dide
That she so long should a counsaile hide
Her thought it swol so sore about her hert
That nedely some word she must a stert
And sith she durst tellen it to no man
Doun to a marris fast by she ran
Til she came there, her hert was on a fyre
And as a bittour bumbeth in the myre
She laid her mouth vnto the water adoun
Bewray me not thou water with thy soun
Quod she, to the I tell it, and to no mo
My husbonde hath long Asses eres two
Now is myn hert al hole, nowe it is out
I might no lenger kepe it out of dout.
Here mowe ye se, though we a time abide
Yet out it mote, we can no counsaile hide
The remnaunt of the tale, if ye wil here
Redeth Ouide, and there ye may it lere.
This knight, of which my tale is specially
Whā that he sawe, he might not come therby
This is to say, what women louen moste
Within his herte sorouful was his goste
But home he goth, he might not soiourne
The day was come, he must home returne
And in his way, it happed him to ride
In al his care, vnder a forest side
Where he sawe vpon a daunce go
Of ladies foure and twenty, and yet mo
Toward the daunce, he drowe him, & yt yerne
In hope that some wisdome shoulde he lerne
But certainly, er that he came fully there
Vanisshed was the daunce, he nist not where
No creature saw he that bare life
Saue in ye grene, he saw sitting an olde wife
A fouler wight there may no man deuise
[Upon the knight’s promise to perform what she may require, the old wife gives him the answer that satisfies all the women at court, that women desire sovereignty. She then insists he marry her. When they are a bedde ibrought He waloweth, and turneth to and fro (1084–5).]
Why fare ye thus with me the first night
Ye faren like a man that had loste his wit
Fy, what is my gilt? for gods loue tel me it
And it shal be amended if I may.
Amended (quod this knight) alas nay nay
That wol not ben amended neuer mo
Thou art so lothly, and so olde also
And therto comen of so lowe a kinde
That litle wōder is thouȝ I walowe & winde
So would god (quod he) mine hert would breste.
[She gives him two options: she will be old and ugly, but a true and humble wife; or young and fair, and he can take his chances of her being sought by others. When he surrenders the choice to her, she becomes young and fair, but also obedient and willing to please him in all things.]
[Following the Prioress’s tale, Chaucer the pilgrim responds to the Host’s request for a tale of mirthe (706) by saying that all he knows is a rime, I lerned yore agone (709) and proceeds to tell the rime of Sir Thopas]
Listeneth lordinges in good intent
And I wol tell verament
Of Mirthe and of solas
All of a knight was faire and gent
In batayle and in turnament
His name was sir Thopas.
I borne he was in ferre countre
In Flaunders, al beyonde the see
At Popering in the place.
His father was a man ful fre
And a lorde he was of that countre
As it was goddes grace.
Sir Thopas was a doughty swaine
White was his face as paine maine
His lippes reed as rose
His rudde is like scarlet in graine
And I you tell in good certaine
He had a semely nose.
His heer, his berde was like safroun
That to his girdel raught adoun
His shone of cordewane.
Of Bruges were his hosen broun
His robe was of chekelatoun
That cost many a iane
He couthe hunt at the wilde dere
And ride an hauking for by the riuere
With grey goshake on honde
Therto he was a good archere
Of wrastling was there none his pere
There any Ram should stonde.
Full many a maide bright in boure
They mourne for him paramoure
Whan hem were bet to slepe.
But he was chast, and no lechoure
And swete as is the Bramble floure
That beareth the redde hipe.
And so befell vpon a daie
Forsoth, as I you tell maie
Sir Thopas would out ride.
He worth vpon his stede graie
And in his honde a launce gaie
A long sworde by his side.
He pricketh through a faire forest
Therein was many a wilde beest
Ye bothe Bucke and Hare.
And as he pricked North and Este
I tell you, him had almeste
Betide a sorie care.
There springen herbes greate and small
The Licores and the Setuall
And many a clowe Gelofer
And Nutmiges, to put in ale
Whither it be newe or stale
Or for to lie in cofer.
The birdes singen, it is no naie
The Sperhauke and the Popingaie
That ioie it was to here.
The Throstell eke made his laie
The Wodcocke vpon the spraie
She song full loude and clere.
Sir Thopas fill in loue longing
And whan he heard the Throstill sing
He pricketh as he were wood
His faire stede in his pricking
So swette, that men might him wring
His sides were all blood.
Sir Thopas eke so wearie was
For pricking on the soft graas
So fiers was his corage
That doune he laied him in that place
To maken his stede some solace
And gaue him good forage.
Oh, sainct Mary, benedicite
What aileth this loue at me
To blinde me so sore?
Me dreamed all this night parde
An elfe quene shall my lemman be
And slepe vnder my gore.
An Elfe Quene woll I loue iwis
For in this worlde no woman is
Worthy to be my make in toune
All other women I forsake
And to an Elfe Quene I me take
By dale and eke by doune.
Into his sadell he clombe anone
And pricked ouer stile and stone
An Elfe Quene for to espie.
Till he so long hath ridden and gone
That he fonde in a priuie wone
The countre of Fairie. So wilde
For in that countre nas there none
[line 805 missing in 1561 ed.]
Neither wife ne childe
Till him there came a great Giaunt
His name was called sir Oliphaunt
A perillous man of deede.
He saied childe, by Termagaunt
But if thou pricke out of my haunt
Anon I slea thy stede with mace.
Or euer I go out of this place [this line not in Riv.]
Here is the Quene of Fairie.
With Harpe and Pipe, and Simphonie
Dwelling in this place.
The child saied, als so mote I thee
To morowe woll I meten thee
Whan I haue mine armoure.
And yet I hope par ma faie
That thou shalt with this launce gaie
Abien it full sore: Through thy mawe
Shall I perce, if I maie
Or it be fully prime of the daie
For here thou shalt be slawe.
Sir Thopas drowe abacke full fast
This Giaunt at him stones cast
Out of a fell staffe sling.
But faire escaped sir Thopace
And all was through Gods grace
And through his faire bering.
Yet listeneth lordinges to my tale
Merier than the Nightingale
For now I woll ye roune.
How sir Thopas, with sides smale
Pricking ouer doune and dale
Is comen ayen to toune.
His mery men commaunded he
To maken him bothe game and gle
For nedes must he fight.
With a Giaunt, with heddes thre
For paramoures and iolite
Of one that shone full bright.
Doe come he saied my minstrales
And iestors, for to tellen vs tales
Anon in mine arming.
Of Romaunces that been roials
Of Popes and of Cardinals
And eke of loue longing.
Thei fet him first the swete wine
And Meede eke in a Mazeline
And roiall spicerie.
Of Ginger bread that was full fine
Of Licores and eke Comine
With Suger that is trie.
He did next his white lere
Of cloth of lake fine and clere
A breche and eke a sherte.
And next his shert an haketon
And ouer that an haberion
For percing of his herte.
And ouer that a fine hauberke
Was all iwrought of Iewes werke
Full strong it was of plate.
And ouer that his cote armoure
As white as is the Lilly floure
In whiche he would debate.
His shilde was all of gold so redde
And therin was a Bores hedde
A carbocle by his side.
And there he swore on ale and bread
How that the Giaunt should be dead
Betide what betide.
His iambeux were of cure buly
His sworde shethe of Iuorie
His helme of Laton bright.
His sadell was rof ruel bone
His bridle as the Sunne shone
Or as the Moone light.
His speare was of fine Sypres
That biddeth warre, and nothing peace
The hedde full sharpe igrounde.
His stede was all dapple graie
He goth an aumble by the waie
Full softly and round in londe.
Lo Lordes mine, here is a fit
If ye woll any more of it
To tellen it woll I fonde.
Now hold your mouth for charite
Bothe knight and Ladie fre
And herkeneth to my spell.
Of battaile and of cheualrie
And of Ladies loue drerie
Anon I woll you tell.
Men speken of Romaunces of pris
Of Hornechild, and of Ipotis
Of Beuis, and of sir Gie
Of sir Libeaux, and Blaindamoure
But sir Thopas, he beareth the floure
Of riall cheualrie.
His good stede he bestrode
And forth vpon his waie glode
As sparke out of the bronde.
Vpon his creste he bare a toure
And therin sticked a Lilly floure
God shilde his cors fro shonde.
And for he was a knight auentrous
He nolde slepen in none hous
But ligge in his hood.
His bright helme was his wanger
And by him fedde his destrer
Of herbes finde and good.
Himself dronke water of the well
As did the [knight] sir Persiuell
So worthy vnder wede.
¶Here endeth the rime of sir Tho-
pas, and beginneth the wor-
des of our Hoste.
No more of this for Goddes dignite
(Quod our hoste) for yu makest me
So wery of thy very leudenes
That also wisly God my soule blesse
Mine eares aken of thy draftie speache
Now soche a rime, the deuill I beteache
This maie well be clepe rime Dogrell (quod he)
Why so (quod I) why wolt thou let me
More of my tale, than any other man
Sens that it is the best rime I can?
By God (quod he) plainly at o worde
Thy draftie riming is not worth a torde
Thou doest nought els but spendest time
Sir at one worde, thou shalt no lenger rime
[H]ere foloweth the legende of Tisbe of Babilone.
At Babiloine whilom fil it thus
The whiche toun the quene Simiramus
Let dichen al about, and walles make
Full hie, of harde tiles wel ibake
There were dwelling in this noble toun
Two lordes, which yt were of great renoun
And woneden so nigh vpon a grene
That there nas but a stone wal hem bitwene
As oft in great tounes is the wonne
And sothe to saine, that one man had a sonne
Of al that londe, one of the lustiest
That other had a doughter, the fairest
That estward in ye world was tho dwelling
The name of eueriche, gan to other spring
By women that were neighbours aboute
For in that countre yet withouten doute
Maidens ben ikepte for ielousie
Ful straite, lest thei didden some folie
This yonge man was cleped Piramus
Tisbe hight the maide (Naso saith thus)
And thus by reporte, was her name ishoue
That as thei woxe in age, so woxe her loue
And certaine, as by reason of her age
Ther might haue ben betwixt hem mariage
But that her fathers nolde it nat assent
And bothe in loue ilike sore thei brent
That none of al her frendes might it lette
But priuely somtime yet thei mette
By sleight, and spaken some of her desire
As wrie the glede, and hotter is the fire
Forbid a loue, and it is ten times so wode
This wal, which yt bitwixt hem both stode
Was clouen a two, right fro the top adoun
Of olde time, of his foundacioun
But yet this clifte was so narow and lite
It was nat sene, dere inough a mitte
But what is that, that loue can not espie
Ye louers two, if that I shal nat lie
Ye founden first this litle narowe clifte
And with a sounde, as softe as any shrifte
Thei let her wordes through the clifte pace
And tolden, while that thei stodē in the place
Al her complaint of loue, and al her wo
At euery time whan thei durst so
On that one side of the wal stode he
And on that other side stode Tisbe
The swete soune of other to receiue
And thus her wardeins would thei disceiue
And euery daie this wal thei would threte
And wishe to God, that it were doun ibete
Thus wold thei saine, alas thou wicked wal
Through thine enuie, thou vs lettest al
Why nilt thou cleaue, or fallen al a two
Or at the lest, but thou wouldest so
Yet wouldest thou but ones let vs mete
Or ones that we might kissen swete
Than were we cured of our cares colde
But nathelesse, yet be we to the holde
In as muche as thou suffrest for to gone
Our wordes throuȝ thy lime & eke thy stone
Yet ought we with the ben wel apaide
And whan these idel wordes weren saide
The colde wal thei wolden kisse of stone
And take her leaue, & forth thei wolden gone
And this was gladly in the euentide
Or wonder erly, lest men it espide
And long time thei wrought in this manere
Til on a daie, whan Phebus gan to clere
Aurora with the stremes of her hete
Had dried vp the dewe of herbes wete
Vnto this clifte, as it was wonte to be
Come Piramus, and after come Tisbe
And plighten trouth, fully in her faie
That ilke same night to steale awaie
And to begile her wardeins euerichone
And forth out of the Cite for to gone
And for the feldes ben so brode and wide
For to mete in o place at o tide
Thei set markes, her metinges should be
There king Ninus was grauen, vnder a tre
For olde painems, that idolles heried
Vseden tho in feldes to ben buried
And faste by his graue was a wel
And shortely of this tale for to tel
This couenaunt was affirmed wonder fast
And longe hem thought that the sonne last
That it nere gone vnder the see adoun
This Tisbe hath so great affectioun
And so great liking Piramus to se
That whan she saw her time might be
At night she stale awaie ful priuely
With her face iwimpled subtelly
For al her frendes (for to saue her trouthe)
She hath forsake alas, and that is routhe
That euer woman would be so trewe
To trusten man, but she the bet him knewe
And to the tre she goeth a ful good pace
For loue made her so hardy in this case
And by the welle, adoun she gan her dresse
Alas, than cometh a wilde Lionesse
Out of the wode, withouten more areest
With blody mouthe, of strangling of a beest
To drinken of the wel there as she sat
And whan that Tisbe had espied that
She rist her vp, with a ful drery harte
And in a caue, with dredful fote she starte
For by the moone she sawe it wel withall
And as she ran, her wimple let she fall
And toke none hede, so sore she was a whaped
And eke so glad that she was escaped
And thus she sat, and lurketh wonder still
Whan that this Lionesse hath dronke her fill
About the well gan she for to winde
And right anon the wimple gan she finde
And with her blody mouth it al to rente
Whan this was done, no lenger she ne stente
But to the wodde her way thā hath she nome
And at the last this Piramus is come
But al to longe (alas) at home was he
The moone shone, men might wel ise
And in his waie, as that he come ful fast
His eyen to the grounde adoun he cast
And in the sonde, as he behelde adoun
He saw the steppes brode of a Lioun
And in his hart he sodainly agrose
And pale he wexte, therwith his hart arose
And nere he came, & founde the wimple torne
Alas (quod he) the daie that I was borne
This o night wol both vs louers slee
How should I asken mercy of Tisbee
Whan I am he that haue you slaine, alas
My bidding hath you slaine in this caas
Alas, to bidde a woman gone by night
In place there as perill fallen might
And I so slowe, alas I ne had be
Here in this place, a furlonge waie er ye
Now what Lioun that is in this forest
My body mote he rente, or what best
That wilde is, gnawen mote he mine harte
And with that worde, he to the wimple starte
And kiste it ofte, and wepte on it ful sore
And said wimple alas, there nis no more
But thou shalt fele as wel the blode of me
As thou hast felte the bleding of Tisbe
And wt that worde, he smote him to the harte
The blode out of the wounde as brode starte
As water, whan the conduite broken is
Now Tisbe, whiche that wiste nat this
But sitting in her drede, she thought thus
Yf it so fall that my Piramus
Be comen hither, and may me nat ifinde
He maie me holden false, and eke vnkinde
And out she cometh, & after him gan espien
Bothe with her hart, and with her eien
And thought, I wol him tellen of my drede
Both of the lionesse and of my dede
And at the last her loue than hath she founde
Beating with his heeles on the grounde
Al blody, and therwithal abacke she starte
And like the wawes, quappe gan her harte
And pale as boxe she woxe, and in a throwe
Auised her, and gan hem wel to knowe
That it was Piramus her harte dere
Who could write which a deedly chere
Hath Tisbe now, and how her heere she rent
And how she gan her selfe to turment
And how she lieth & swouneth on the ground
And how she wept of teeres ful his wounde
How medleth she his blod, wt her complaint
How with her blod, her seluen gan she paint
How clippeth she the reed corse, alas
How doth this woful Tisbe in this caas
How kisseth she his frosty mouth so colde
Who hath don this? & who hath ben so bolde?
To sleen my lefe, o speke Piramus
I am thy Tisbe, that the calleth thus
And therwithal she lifteth vp his heed
This wofull man that was nat fully deed
Whan that he herde the name of Tisbe crien
On her he cast his heuy deedly eyen
And doun againe, and yeldeth vp the gost
Tisbe rist vp, without noise or bost
And saw her wimple and his empty sheth
And eke his swerde, yt him hath don to deth
Than spake she thus, thy woful hande (quod she)
Is stronge inough in suche a werke to me
For loue shal yeue me strength and hardinesse
To make my wounde large inough I gesse
I wol the folowen deed, and I wol be
Felawe, and cause eke of thy deth (quod she)
And though that nothing saue the deth only
Might the fro me departe trewly
Thou shalt no more departe now fro me
Than fro the death, for I wol go with the
And now ye wretched ielouse fathers our
We that weren whilom children your
We praien you, withouten more enuie
That in o graue we moten lie
Sens loue hath brought vs this pitous ende
And rightwise God, to [euery] louer sende
That loueth trewly more prosperite
Than euer had Piramus and Tisbe
And let no gentil woman her assure
To putten her in suche an auenture
But God forbid but a woman can
Ben as true and louing as a man
And for my parte, I shal anon it kith
And with yt word, his swerd she toke swith
That warme was of her loues blood, & hote
And to the hart she her seluen smote
And thus are Tisbe and Piramus ago
Of trewe men I finde but fewe mo
In al my bokes, saue this Piramus
And therfore haue I spoken of him thus
For it is deintie to vs men to finde
A man that can in loue be trewe and kinde
Here maie ye sene, what louer so he be
A woman dare, and can as wel as he.
¶Here endeth the legende of Tisbe of
Babilone, and here foloweth
the legende of Dido
quene of Cartage.
[When Eneas has won Dido’s love, the narrator laments her trustfulness, and warns her against the fained wo (1257), of This Troian, . . . That faineth hym so true and obeising (1265–6), who woos her with many wiles:]
O selie woman, full of innocence
Full of pite, of truthe, and continence
What maked you to men to trusten so?
Haue ye soche routhe vpon her fained wo
And haue soche old ensamples you beforne
Se ye nat all how thei been forsworne
Where se ye one, that he ne hath lafte his lefe
Or been vnkinde, or doen her some mischefe
Or pilled her, or bosted of his dede
Ye maie as well it seen, as ye maie rede
Take hede now of this greate gentilman
This Troian, that so well her please can
That faineth him so true and obeising
So gentill, and so priuie of his doing
And can so well doen all his obeisaunce
To her, at feastes and at daunce
And whan she goeth to temple, & home again
And fasten till he hath his ladie sein
And bearen in his deuises for her sake
Not I nat what, and songes would he make
Iusten, and doen of armes many thinges
Sende her letters, tokens, broches, & ringes.
[In the following legend of Hypsipyle and Medea, Jason woos Hypsipyle With faining, and with euery subtell dede (1556; cf. TLN 39). Following the legend of Lucrece, that of Ariadne is told for to cleape ayen vnto memorie Of Theseus the great vntrouthe of love (1889–90). Ariadne awakes to find herself abandoned.]
Right in the dawning a waketh she
And gropeth in the bed, & fond right nought
Alas (quod she) that euer I was wrought
I am betrayed, and her heere to rente
And to the stronde barefote fast she wente
And cryed: Theseus myn hert swete
Where be ye, that I may nat with you mete?
And might thus with beestes ben yslaine
The halowe rockes answerde her againe
No man she sawe, and yet shone the moone
And hye vpon a rocke she went soone
And sawe his barge, sailing in the see
Colde woxe her hert, and right thus said she
Meker than ye, finde I the beestes wylde
Hath he nat synne, that he her thus begylde
She cried, o turne againe for routhe & sinne
Thy barge hath nat al his meine inne
Her kerchefe on a pole stycked she
Ascaunce he shulde it wele yse
And him remembre that she was behinde
And turne againe, & on the stronde her finde
But all for naught, his way he is gone
And downe she fel a swowne on astone
And vp she riste, and kyssed in all her care
The steppes of his fete, there he hath fare
And to her bed right thus she speketh tho
Thou bed (quod she) that hast receiued two
Thou shalt answere of two, and not of one
Where is the greater parte, away gone
Alas, wher shal I wretched wight become?
For though so be that bote none here come
Home to my countrey dare I nat for drede
I can my selfe in this case nat rede
What should I tel more here complaining
It is so long? it were an heauy thing
In her epistle, Naso telleth all
But shortly to the ende tel I shall
The goddes haue her holpen for pyte
And in the sygne of Taurus men may se
The stones of her crowne shyne clere
I will no more speke of this matere
But thus this false louer can begile
His trew loue, the diuel quit him his while.

Ovid and Arthur Golding

Comments on Shakespeare’s Use of Ovid

The nature and extent of Sh.’s indebtedness to Ovid in MND is obscured by the ubiquitous popularity of the Roman poet. Even where the source seems obvious, as with the derivation of the tale of Pyramus and Thisbe from Book Four of the Metamorphoses, the various channels through which the story could have reached him and influenced his treatment of it complicate assessments. While most editors and scholars of the late 19th and earlier 20th c. acknowledged some connection at least with Golding’s Ovid, it was not until the second half of the 20th c. that critics began to agree in seeing MND as profoundly Ovidian, and in exploring the ramifications of the affinities between the two poets.

Early comment on the relationship between MND and Ovid focussed on particular passages such as the mention of Cupid’s arrows (180–5) or Titania’s lament over the unseasonable weather (456 ff.), and gave rise to disputes over the extent of Sh.’s classical learning. So Gildon’s (1710, 7:316) claim for Sh.’s acquaintance with Ovid is mocked by Farmer (1767, p. 32), who points out that translations were available, and that the fables of antiquity were easily known without the help of either the originals or the translations, since they were widely disseminated in the works of earlier English poets. Similarly Warton (1781, 3:417) notes possible English intermediaries for the tales of Pyramus and Thisbe, and Procris and Cephalus. Halliwell (1841, pp. 11–20) also acknowledges (p. 20) the popular manner in which the mythological tales of the ancients were then made current among all classes, but is the first to give prominence as a source to Golding’s Ovid, a book with which Shakespeare was, beyond all doubt, very intimately acquainted, and which (p. 11) furnished materials for the basis of this play; he quotes Golding’s translation of the Pyramus and Thisbe story, and discusses the tale of Midas’s ass ears, though not claiming necessarily a direct Ovidian source (but see Forey, 1998, p. 322 for detailed claims of Golding’s influence in Sh.’s use of the tale of Midas).

The first persuasive argument for Sh.’s knowledge of Ovid’s Met. in the original, and the first extended critical assessment of the importance of the relationship for MND, come from Baynes (1880, pp. 101–2). Keightley (1833, 2:127 n.) had observed: The Shakspearean commentators have not thought fit to inform us why the poet designates the Fairy-queen Titania. It, however, presents no difficulty. It was the belief of those days that the Fairies were the same as the classic Nymphs, the attendants of Diana: The fourth kind of spritis, says King James, quhilk be the gentilis was called Diana, and her wandering court, and amongs us called the Phairie. The Fairy-queen was therefore the same as Diana, whom Ovid frequently styles Titania. (See also Steevens, ed. 1793, 1:195 n.) Baynes, noting that Keightley omitted to bring out (p. 101) the meaning and value of the fact, expatiates: The name occurs . . . several times, not as the designation of a single goddess, but of several female deities, supreme or subordinate, descended from the Titans. On this ground it is applied to Diana, to Latona, to Circe, to Pyrrha, and Hecate. [For example, to Diana at Met. 3.173; to Latona at 6.346; to Circe at 14.382; to Pyrrha at 1.395. Hecate, sister of Latona, is not styled Titania in Met.] As Juno is called by the poets Saturnia, on account of her descent from Saturn, and Minerva, on less obvious or more disputed grounds, is termed Tritonia, so Diana, Latona, and Circe are each styled by Ovid Titania. This designation illustrates, indeed, Ovid’s marked power of so employing names as to increase both the musical flow and imaginative effect of his verse. The name Titania, as thus used, embodies rich and complex associations connected with the silver bow, the magic cup, and the triple crown. It may be said, indeed, to embrace in one comprehensive symbol the whole female empire of mystery and night belonging to classical mythology. Diana, Latona, Hecate are all goddesses of night, queens of the shadowy world, ruling over its mystic elements and spectral powers. The common name thus awakens recollections of gleaming huntresses in dim and dewy woods, of dark rites and potent incantations under moonlit skies, of strange aërial voyages, and ghostly apparitions from the under-world. It was, therefore, of all possible names the one best fitted to designate the queen of the same shadowy empire, with its phantom troops and activities, in the Northern mythology. And since Shakespeare, with prescient inspiration, selected it for this purpose, it has naturally come to represent the whole world of fairy beauty, elfin adventure, and goblin sport connected with lunar influences, with enchanted herbs, and muttered spells. The Titania of Shakespeare’s fairy mythology may thus be regarded as the successor of Diana and other regents of the night belonging to the Greek Pantheon. . . .

The deities of the Greek mythology were instruments of destiny or fate, in other words, of the ultimate powers of the universe. In the [102] current belief of the Middle Ages, still firmly held in Shakespeare’s day, the beings of the Northern mythology were the representatives and successors of the old Greek divinities. Shakespeare indirectly favours this relation not only by the selection of the name Titania for the fairy queen, but in giving to Oberon the designation consecrated by Ovid to Pluto. Umbrarum dominus, umbrarum rex, are Ovid’s phrases for the monarch of the lower world [Met. 10.16], and Oberon is by Shakespeare styled King of Shadows [1388]. . . .

Reverting to the name Titania, however, the important point to be noted is that Shakespeare clearly derived it from his study of Ovid in the original. It must have struck him in reading the text of the Metamorphoses, as it is not to be found in the only translation which existed in his day. Golding, instead of transferring the term Titania, alway