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Fai. Either I mistake your shape and making


Or elfe you are that fhrewd and knavish sprite,
Call'd Robin Good-fellow': Are you not he,
That frights the maidens of the villag'ry;
Skim milk; and fometimes labour in the quern",
And bootless make the breathlefs hufwife churn;

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"That thus I feem to fquare with modefty."
"pray let ine go, for he'll begin to square, &c."

Again, in Promos and Caffandra, 1578:

"Marry the knew you and I were at fquare,
"And left we fell to blowes, fhe did prepare.'

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It is fomewhat whimfical, that the glaziers ufe the words fquare and quarrel as fynonymous terms, for a pane of glass. See vol. ii. p. 269. BLACKSTONE.

Robin Good-fellow; ] This account of Robin Good-fellow correfponds, in every article, with that given of him in Harfenet's Declaration, ch. xx. p. 135: "And if that the bowle of curds and creame were not duly fet out for Robin Good-fellow, the frier, and Siffe the dairy-maid, why then either the pottage was burnt to next day in the pot, or the cheeses would not curdle, or the butter would not come, or the ale in the fat never would have got head. But if a pater-nofter, or an houfle egge were beturned, or a patch of tythe unpaid--then beware of bull-beggars, fpirits, &c." He is mentioned by Cartwright as a spirit particularly fond of difconcerting and disturbing domeftic peace and oeconomy. Saint Francis and Saint Benedight

Bleffe this houfe from wicked wight;
From the night-mare and the goblin,
That is hight good-fellow Robin.
Keep it, &c.

Cartwright's Ordinary, act III. fc. i. v. 8. WARTON. Reginald Scot gives the fame account of this frolick fome fpirit, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, Lond. 1588. 4to. p. 66. "Your grandames, maids, were wont to fet a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in grinding of malt and muftard, and fweeping the houfe at midnight-this white bread and bread and milk, was his standing fee." STEEVENS.


7 Skim milk; and sometimes labour in the And bootlefs make the breathless bufwife churn;] The fense of these lines is confufed. Are not you be, fays the fairy, that fright the country girls, that skim milk, work in the handmill, and make the tired dairy-woman churn without effect? The men

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And fometime make the drink to bear no barm; Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm? Thofe that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,


tion of the mill feems out of place, for fhe is not now telling the good, but the evil that he does. I would regulate the lines thus: And fometimes make the breathlefs housewife churn Skim milk, and brotlefs labour in the quern.

Or, by a fimple tranfpofition of the lines:

And bootlefs, make the breathless housewife churn
Skim milk, and fometimes labour in the quern.

Yet there is no neceflity of alteration. JOHNSON.

A Quern is a hand-mill, kuerna, mola. Ilandic. So in Stanyburft's tranflation of the first book of Virgil, 1582, quern-ftones are mill-ftones :

"Theyre corne in quern-floans they do grind, &c." Again, in The More the Merrier, a collection of epigrams, 1608: "Which like a querne can grind more in an hour." Again, in the old Song of Robin Goodfellow, printed in the 3d volume of Dr. Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry:

"I grind at mill,

"Their malt up ftill, &c. STEEVENS.

8 -no barm;] Barme is a name for yeast, yet ufed in our midland counties, and univerfally in Ireland. So, in Mother Bombie, a comedy, 1594: It behoveth my wits to work like barme, alias yeast." Again, in the Humourous Lieutenant of Beaumont and Fletcher:

"I think my brains will work yet without barm," See Verstegan, p. 61. STEEVENS.

9 Thofe that Hobgoblin call you, and feet Puck,

You do their work,]

To thofe traditionary opinions Milton has reference in L'Allegra

Then to the fpicy nut-brown ale,
With flories told of many a feat,
How Fairy Mab the junkets eat;
She was pinch'd and pull'd the faid,
And be by frier's lanthorn led;
Tell how the drudging goblin fweat
To earn his cream-bowl duly fet,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His fhadowy flail bad thref'd the corn
Which ten day-labourers cou'd not end;
Then lies him down the lubber fiend.

A like account of Puck is given by Drayton, in his Nymphidia:

He meeteth Puck, which most men call

Hobgoblin, and on him doth fall,

You do their work, and they fhall have good luck :

Are not you he?

This Puck feems but a dreaming delt,
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bed doth bolt,
Of purpofe to deceive us;

And leading us makes us to fray,
Long winters' nights out of the way,
And when we flick in mire and clay,
He doth with laughter leave us.


It will be apparent to him that fhall compare Drayton's poem with this play, that either one of the poets copied the other, or, as I rather believe, that there was then fome fyftem of the fairy empire generally received, which they both reprefented as accurately as they could. Whether Drayton or Shakspeare wrote firft, I cannot discover. JOHNSON.

The editor of the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, in 4 vols. 8vo. 1775, has incontrovertibly proved Drayton to have been the follower of Shakspeare; for, fays he, Don Qiuxot (which was not publifhed till 1605.) is cited in the Nymphidia, whereas we have an edition of the Midfummer Night's Dream in rбco."

In this century fome of our poets have been as little fcrupul ous in adopting the ideas of their predeceffors. In Gay's ballad, inferted in the What d'ye call It, is the following stanza:/ How can they say that nature "Has nothing made in vain; "Why then beneath the water

"Should hideous rocks remain? &c. &c.

Compare this with a paffage in Chaucer's Frankeleines Tale, late edit. v. i. 11179, &c.

"In idel, as men fain, ye nothing make,

"But, lord, thife grifly fendly rockes blake, &c. &c." And Mr. Pope is more indebted to the fame author for beauties in his Eloifa to Abelard, than he has been willing to acknowledge. STEEVENS.

If Drayton wrote the Nymphidia after the Midfummer Night's Dream had been acted, he could with very little propriety fay, Then fince no muse hath bin fo bold,

Or of the later or the ould,

Thofe elvish fecrets to unfold

Which lye from others reading;
My active mufe to light fhail bring
The court of that proud fayry king
And tell there of the revelling,

Jove profper my proceeding. T. H. W.

fweet Puck,] The epithet is by no means fuperfluous; as Pack alone was far from being an endearing appellation. It fig.

Puck. Thou fpeak'ft aright';

I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jeft to Oberon, and make him fmile,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal:
And fometime lurk I in a goffip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roafted crab';
And, when the drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale.
The wifeft aunt*, telling the faddeft tale,


nified nothing better than fiend, or devil. So, the author of Pierce Ploughman puts the pouk for the devil, fol. lxxxx. b. v. penult. See also fol. lxvii. v. 15. none helle powke."


It seems to have been an old Gothic word. Puke, puken; Sathanas. Gudm. And. Lexicon land. TYRWHITT.

In the Bugbears, an ancient MS. comedy in the poffeffion of the Earl of Shelburne, I likewife met with this appellation of a` fiend :

"Puckes, puckerels, hob howlard, bygorn and Robin Goodfelow. Again, in The Scourge of Venus, or the Wanton Lady, with the rare Birth of Adonis, 1614:

"Their bed doth shake and quaver as they lie,

"As if it groan'd to beare the weight of finne;
"The fatal night-crowes at their windowes flee,
"And crie out at the fhame they do live in :
"And that they may perceive the heavens frown,
"The poukes and goblins pul the coverings down."

Again, in Spenfer's Epithal, 1595:

"Ne let houfe-fyres, nor lightning's helpeleffe harms, "Ne let the pouke, nor other evil fpright,

"Ne let mifchievous witches with their charmes

"Ne let hobgoblins, &c." STEEVENS.

2 Puck. Thou Speak'ft aright;] I would fill up the verse which I fuppofe the author left complete:

I am, thou speak'st aright;

It seems that in the Fairy mythology, Puck, or Hobgoblin, was the trufty fervant of Oberon, and always employed to watch or detect the intrigues of Queen Mab, called by Shakspeare Titania. For in Drayton's Nymphidia, the fame fairies are engaged in the fame bufinefs. Mab has an amour with Pigwiggen; Oberon being jealous, fends Hobgoblin to catch them, and one of Mab's nymphs oppofes him by a fpell. JOHNSON.

3a roafted crab;] See vol. ii. p. 550. STEEVENS.

The wifeft aunt,-] Aunt is procurefs. In Gafcoigne's Glafs of Government, 1575, the bawl Pandarina is always called aunt.


Sometime for three-foot ftool mistaketh me;
Then flip I from her bum, down topples fhe,
And taylor cries, and falls into a coughs:
And then the whole quire hold their hips, and

And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and fwear
A merrier hour was never wafted there.-•

But room, Faery, here comes Oberon.

Fai. And here my miftrefs:-'Would that he were gone!

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Enter Oberon', king of Fairies, at one door with his train, and the queen at another with hers.

Ob. Ill met by moon-light, proud Titania.


"Thefe are aunts of Antwerp, which can make twenty marriages in one week for their kinfwomen." See Winter's Tale, a&t IV. fc. i. Among Ray's proverbial phrafes is the following. "She is one of mine aunts that made mine uncle to go a begging." The wifeft aunt may mean the most fentimental bard. STEEVENS.

The author of THE REMARKS fays, "This conjecture is much too wanton and injurious to the word aunt, which in this place at least certainly means no other than an innocent old woman. EDITOR.

5 And taylor cries,] The cuftom of crying taylor at a sudden fall backwards, I think I remember to have obferved. He that flips befide his chair, falls as a taylor fquats upon his board. The Oxford editor, and Dr. Warburton after him, read and rails or cries, plaufibly, but I believe not rightly. Befides, the trick of the fairy is reprefented as producing rather merriment than anger. JOHNSON.

-hold their hips, and loffe,]

"And laughter holding both his fides." Milton. STEEVENS. 7 And waxen,] And encreafe, as the moon waxes. JOHNSON. * But make room, faery,] Thus the moderns. All the old copies read-But room Fairy. The word Fairy or Faery, was fometimes of three fyllables, as often in Spenfer. JOHNSON.

9 Enter Oberon,] Oberon had been introduced on the stage in 1594, by fome other author. In the Stationers' books is entered The Scottishe ftory of James the fourthe, flain at Floddon ; intermixed with a pleafant comedie prefented by Oberon, King of



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