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Lys. Hang off, thou cat, thou burr: vile thing,
let loose; Or I will shake thee from me like a serpent. Her. Why are you grown so rude? what change
is this, Sweet love?
Lys. Thy love! out, tawny Tartar, out! Out, loathed medicine! hated potion, hence!
Her. Do you not jest?
you. Lys. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.
Dem. I would, I had your bond; for, I perceive, A weak bond holds you; I'll not trust your word. Lys. What, should I hurt her, strike her, kill her
dead? Although I hate her, I'll not harm her so. Her. What, can you do me greater harm than
hate? Hate me! wherefore ? O me! what
news, my love? Am not I Hermia ? Are not you Lysander? I am as fair now as was erewhile. Since night you lov'd me; yet since night you left
me: Why, then
you left me,–0, the gods forbid !-
Ay, by my life;
Her. O me, you juggler! you canker-blossom 26 ! You thief of love! what, have you come by night, And stoln my love's heart from him?
26 A worm that preys on the leaves or buds of flowers, always beginning in the middle. So before in this play: *Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds.'
Fine, i’faith! Have you no modesty, no maiden shame, No touch of bashfulness? What, will you tear Impatient answers from my gentle tongue ? Fie, fie! you counterfeit, you puppet you!
Her. Puppet! why so? Ay,that way goes the game. Now I perceive that she hath made compare Between our statures, she hath urg'd her height; And with her personage, her tall personage, Her height, forsooth, she hath prevail'd with him.And are you grown so high in his esteem, Because I am so dwarfish, and so low? How low am I, thou painted maypole ? speak; How low am I? I am not yet so low, But that my nails can reach unto thine eyes.
Hel. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen, Let her not hurt me: I was never curst 27; I have no gift at all in shrewishness; I am a right maid for my cowardice; Let her not strike me: You, perhaps, may think, Because she's something lower than myself, That I can match her. Her.
Lower! hark, again. Hel. Good Hermia, do not be so bitter with me. I evermore did love
you, Hermia, Did ever keep your counsels, never wrong’d you; Save that, in love unto Demetrius, I told him of your stealth unto this wood: He follow'd you; for love, I follow'd him. But he hath chid me hence: and threatend me To strike me, spurn me, nay, to kill me too: And now, so you will let me quiet go, To Athens will I bear my folly back, And follow you no further: Let me go: You see how simple and how fond28 I am.
2 i. e. froward, cross, ill-conditioned, or ill-spoken. 28 Foolish.
Her. Why, get you gone: Who is't that hinders
With Demetrius. Lys. Be not afraid: she shall not harm thee, Helená. Dem. No,sir; she shall not, though you take her
part. Hel. 7, when she's angry, she is keen and shrewd: She was a vixen, when she went to school; And, though she be but little, she is fierce.
Her. Little again ? nothing but low and little !-Why will
suffer her to flout me thus? Let me come to her. Lys.
Get you gone, you dwarf; You minimus of hind'ring knot-grass 29 made; You bead,
you acorn. Dem.
You are too officious,
Now she holds me not;
[Exeunt Lys. and Dem. Her. You, mistress, all this coil is ’long of you: Nay, go not back. Hel.
I will not trust you, I; Nor longer stay in your curst company.
29 Anciently knot-grass was believed to prevent the growth of children.
Your hands, than mine, are quicker for a fray;
[Exit, pursuing HELENA. Obe. This is thy negligence: still thou mistak'st, Or else committ'st thy knaveries wilfully.
Puck. Believe me, king of shadows, I mistook. Did not
I should know the man
I glad it so did sort 32,
Obe. Thou seest, these lovers seek a place to fight: Hie, therefore, Robin, overcast the night; The starry welkin cover thou anon With drooping fog, as black as Acheron; And lead these testy rivals so astray, As one come not within another's
way. Like to Lysander sometime frame thy tongue, Then stir Demetrius
with bitter wrong; And sometime rail thou like Demetrius : And from each other look thou lead them thus, Till o'er their brows death-counterfeiting sleep With leaden legs and batty wings doth creep: Then crush this herb into Lysander's eye: Whose liquor hath this virtuous property, To take from thence all error with his might, And make his eye-balls roll with wonted sight. When they next wake, all this derision Shall seem a dream, and fruitless vision; And back to Athens shall the lovers wend 33 With league whose date till death shall never end. Whiles I in this affair do thee employ, I'll to my queen, and beg her Indian boy;
32 Chance, fall out, from sort, French.
And then I will her charmed
release From monster's view, and all things shall be peace.
Puck. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste; For night's swift dragons 34 cut the clouds full fast, And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger; At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, Troop home to church-yards: damned spirits all, That in cross-ways and floods have burial 35, Already to their wormy are gone; For fear lest day should look their shames upon, They wilfully themselves exile from light, And must for aye consort with black-brow'd night.
Obe. But we are spirits of another sort:
Goblin, lead them up and down. Here comes one. 34 So in Cymbeline, Act ii. Sc. 11 :
•Swift, swift, ye dragons of the night.' See note on that passage.
35 The ghosts of self-murderers, who are buried in crossroads; and of those who being drowned were condemned (according to the opinion of the ancients) to wander for a hundred years, as the rites of sepulture had never been regularly bestowed on their bodies.
36 Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed.'-Milton's Ode on the Death of a fair Infant.
37 Cephalus, the mighty hunter, and paramour of Aurora, was here probably meant.
38 Oberon here boasts that he was not compelled, like meaner spirits, to vanish at the first dawn.