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Out of a box made of a fayre topace,
Like to a flameinge barre of iron, and
“ Like as the sunne darts forth his ruddy beames,
Unable longer to hold up his head,
So light it was that one might plainely see,
“ The floore whereon they trode, it was of jett
And mother of pearle, pollished and cutt,
To see th' reflection from the roofe to the table,
“ Like to a heaven directly was that table,
And these bright wormes they doe resemble starres,
Hung out in heaven by th' allseeinge eye,
“Soe this great light appeard amongst the rest.
But now it grew towards suppertyme apace,
Disperse themselves immediately, and
“ Others dive downe to th' bottome of the deepe;
Another mounts up to the lofty skye,
Who can the best accepted present bringe,
“One gathers grapes ripe from the lusty vine,
And with his little hands hee squeazeth out
Another loaden with an eare of wheate,
We have been favoured by a friend with the following copy of the title-page of a little volume, which would doubtlessly afford some illustration of this subject, * but we have not been able to see a copy ;-“A description of the King and Queene of Fayries, their habit, fare, abode, pompe, and state, being very delightful to the sense, and full of mirth. London, printed for Richard Harper, and are to be sold at his shop at the Hospital Gate, 1635.”
Mr. Thorpe, of Piccadilly, possesses an old printed ballad, entitled The King and Queen of Fairie, in Latin and English, commencing thus
Upon a time the fairy elves,
If we have said too much on the subject of these aerial beings, we trust that the pardon of our readers will be extended to us; for although the minutiæ of the inhabitants of the mushroom world may be too trivial to interest some, yet it ought to be remembered that
* Perhaps one of the most popular fairy songs is that printed by Percy and others, commencing
Come, follow, follow me," &c.
This was sung to the tune of the Spanish Gypsie, which began very similarly :
“ () follow, follow me,
The tune is, we are told, to be found in the English Duncing Master, 1651. See Thorpe's Catalogue of Manuscripts for 1831,
“ Another sort there be, that will
As they were wedded to them :
Knew they the way to do them.”
So much for the Fairies.
“ Is there no play,
WE agree with Mr. Heraud in his opinion, that
the alleged unfitness of the Midsummer Night's Dream for representation on the stage is founded on incorrect data. In fact, the success that has attended its recent production at Covent Garden Theatre entirely controverts Mr. Knight's assertion, that “ this play, with all its harmony of dramatic arrangement, is not for the stage-at least, for the modern stage.
It must, however, be admitted, that for a length of time the revivals of this drama have not been by any means eminently successful; but to attribute this to the play itself being too etherially poetic for the stage, is, we conceive, adopting too hasty a conclusion. “ There is no drama," observes Mr. Heraud, “ but what is so strictly considered ;” and does not the poet himself say—“The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse if our imagination amend them.”
It is most probable, that the extreme difficulty of personating the characters of Oberon and the four lovers with advantage, and of procuring, at the same time, actors fitted by their peculiar talents for those parts, are the principal causes of failure.
Even in the present unrivalled cast of the play as performed at Covent Garden Theatre, where Oberon is very charmingly represented by Mrs. Charles Mathews, one of the most distinguished actresses of our time; yet it is no disparagement to say of the four who personate the lovers, and who are all in excellent repute, that only one is really fitted for the complete realization of Shakespeare's ideas.*
We have few early notices of the representation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mr. Collier, in his elaborate work on the stage, has given us, from a manuscript at Lambeth Palace, a very singular account of a play represented at the Bishop of Lincoln's house on the night of Sunday, September 27th, 1631. The piece chosen for this occasion was the Midsummer Night's Dream, and it was got up as a private amusement. Laud, however, exerted his influence to punish this breach of the due observ
* We will here give the cast of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as revived at Covent Garden Theatre on the 16th November, 1840, which has already had a run of nearly sixty nights, nor do the public yet appear to be tired of it. Theseus=Cooper ; Egeus=Diddear; Lysander=Vining; Demetrius=Brindal; Philostrate=Hemming; Quince=Bartley; Bottom=Harley; Flute =Keeley ; Snout=Meadows; Snug=F. Matthews; Starveling =Payne; Hippolyta=Mrs. Brougham; Hermia=Mrs. Nisbett; Helena= Miss Cooper; Oberon=Madame Vestris ; Titania= Mrs. Walter Lacy; Puck=Miss Marshall; First Fairy=Miss Rainforth; Second Fairy=Miss Grant.
ance of the Sabbath ; and the following extraordinary order is extracted from a decree made by a selfconstituted court among the Puritans, for the censure and punishment of offences of this nature :
“ Likewise wee doe order, that Mr. Wilson, because hee was a speciall plotter and contriver of this business, and did in such a brutishe manner acte the same with an asses head, and therefore hee shall, uppon Tuisday next, from six of the clocke in the morning till six of the clocke at night, sitt in the Porter's Lodge at my Lords Bishopps House, with his feete in the stocks, and attyred with his asse head, and a bottle of hay sett before him, and this subscription on his breast :
“Good people I have played the beast,
And brought ill things to passe :
Myselfe a silly asse.” Bottom appears to have been then considered the most prominent character in the play; and “the merry conceited humors of Bottom the Weaver" were extracted from the Midsummer Night's Dream, and made into a farce or droll,* which was very frequently played “ on the sly,” after the suppression of the theatres. “ When the publique theatres were shut up,” observes Kirkman, " and the actors forbidden to present us with any of their tragedies, because we had enough of that in ernest; and comedies, because the vices of the age were too lively and smartly represented; then all that we could divert
* “ The merry conceited humors of Bottom the Weaver, as it hath been often publikely acted by some of his Majesties comedians, and lately privately presented by several apprentices for their harmless recreation, with great applause,” 4to. Lond. 1661.