Supplementary Appendix 334.1

Shakespeare’s Midsummer-Night’s Dream, act iii, scene 2:
Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius
(Shakespeare Complete Works, ed. W. J. Craig [London 1965], 182–83)

Henriette Meyer had performed the title role in the Berlin performances of Schiller’s play Die Jungfrau von Orleans. Eine romantische Tragödie (Berlin: Unger, 1801) (Eng. The Maid of Orleans), which had premiered in Leipzig on 17 September 1801 and in Berlin on 23 November 1801. Friederike Unzelmann was enormously vexed at Henriette Meyer being assigned the title role instead of Friederike herself, and even wrote to Schiller about the matter.

Caroline mused on how this scene from A Midsummer-Night’s Dream might be performed with Friederike Unzelmann as Hermia and Henriette Meyer as Helena, with the attendant pique deriving from real life (Frank Howard, The Spirit of the Plays of Shakspeare exhibited in a Series of Outline Plates Illustrative of the Story of Each Play, vol. 1 [London 1833], plate 12 to A Midsummer Night’s Dream):


Enter Hermia.

Hermia. . . . Mine ear, I thank it, brought me to thy sound.
But why unkindly didst thou leave me so?

Lysander. Why should he stay, whom love doth press to go?

Hermia. What love could press Lysander from my side?

Lysander. Lysander’s love, that would not let him bide,
Fair Helena, who more engilds the night
Than all yon fiery oes and eyes of light.
Why seek’st thou me? Could not this make thee know,
The hate I bare thee made me leave thee so?

Hermia. You speak not as you think; it cannot be.

Helena. Lo, she is one of this confederacy!
Now I perceive they have conjoin’d all three
To fashion this false sport in spite of me.
Injurious Hermia! most ungrateful maid!
Have you conspir’d, have you with these contriv’d,
To bait me with this foul derision?
Is all the counsel that we two have shar’d,
The sister-vows, the hours that we have spent,
When we have chid the hasty-footed time
For parting us, O, is all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our neelds created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key;
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition;
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Due but to one, and crowned with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ’tis not maidenly:
Our sex, as well as I, may chide you for it,
Though I alone do feel the injury.

Hermia. I am amazed at your passionate words;
I scorn you not: it seems that you scorn me.

Helena. Have you not set Lysander, as in scorn,
To follow me and praise my eyes and face?
And made your other love, Demetrius, —
Who even but now did spurn me with his foot, —
To call me goddess, nymph, divine, and rare,
Precious, celestial? Wherefore speaks he this
To her he hates? And wherefore doth Lysander
Deny your love, so rich within his soul,
And tender me, forsooth, affection,
But by your setting on, by your consent?
What though I be not so in grace as you,
So hung upon with love, so fortunate,
But miserable most, to love unlov’d?
This you should pity rather than despise.

Hermia. I understand not what you mean by this.

Helena. Ay, do, persever, counterfeit sad looks,
Make mouths upon me when I turn my back,
Wink each at other; hold the sweet jest up;
This sport, well carried, shall be chronicled.
If you have any pity, grace, or manners,
You would not make me such an argument.
But fare ye well; ’tis partly mine own fault,
Which death, or absence, soon shall remedy.

Lysander. Stay, gentle Helena! hear my excuse;
My love, my life, my soul, fair Helena!

Helena. O excellent!

Hermia. Sweet, do not scorn her so.

Demetrius. If she cannot entreat, I can compel.

Lysander. Thou canst compel no more than she entreat;
Thy threats have no more strength than her weak prayers
Helena, I love thee, by my life I do:
I swear by that which I will lose for thee,
To prove him false that says I love thee not.

Demetrius. I say I love thee more than he can do.

Lysander. If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it too.

Demetrius. Quick, come.

Hermia. Lysander, whereto tends all this?

Lysander. Away, you Ethiop!

Demetrius. No, no, he’ll . . .
Seem to break loose; take on, as you would follow,
But yet come not: you are a tame man, go!

Lysander [To Hermia.] Hang off, thou cat, thou burr! vile thing, let loose,
Or I will shaWhy are you grown so rude? what change is this,
Sweet love, —

Lysander. Thy love! Out, tawny Tartar, out!
Out, loathed medicine! hated poison, hence!

Hermia. Do you not jest?

Helena. Yes, sooth: and so do you.

Lysander. Demetrius, I will keep my word with thee.

Demetrius. I would I had your bond; for I perceive
A weak bond holds you: I’ll not trust your word.

Lysander. What! should I hurt her, strike her, kill her dead?
Although I hate her, I’ll not harm her so.

Hermia. 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 I was erewhile.
Since night you lov’d me; yet, since night you left me:
Why, then you left me, — O, the gods forbid —
In earnest, shall I say?

Lysander. Ay, by my life;
And never did desire to see thee more.
Therefore be out of hope, of question, doubt;
Be certain, nothing truer; ’tis no jest
That I do hate thee and love Helena.

Hermia. O me! you juggler! you canker-blossom!
You thief of love! what! have you come by night
And stol’n my love’s heart from him?

Helena. 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!

Hermia. 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.

Helena. A. I pray you, though you mock me, gentlemen,
Let her not hurt me: I was never curst;
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 is something lower than myself,
That I can match her.

Hermia. Lower! hark, again.

Helena. 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 threat’ned 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 fond I am.

Hermia. Why, get you gone. Who is’t that hinders you?

Helena.A foolish heart that I leave here behind.

Hermia. What! with Lysander?

Helena. With Demetrius.

Lysander.Be not afraid: she shall not harm thee, Helena.

Demetrius. No, sir; she shall not, though you take her part.

Helena. O, 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.

Hermia. ‘Little’ again! Nothing but ‘low’ and ‘little’!
Why will you suffer her to flout me thus?
Let me come to her.

Lysander. Get you gone, you dwarf;
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass made;
You bead, you acorn!

Demetrius. You are too officious
In her behalf that scorns your services.
Let her alone; speak not of Helena;
Take not her part; for if thou dost intend
Never so little show of love to her,
Thou shalt aby it.

Lysander. Now she holds me not.
Now follow, if thou dar’st, to try whose right,
Of thine or mine, is most in Helena.

Demetrius. Follow! nay, I’ll go with thee, cheek by jole.

[Exeunt Lysander and Demetrius.]

Hermia. You, mistress, all this coil is ‘long of you:
Nay, go not back.

Helena. I will not trust you, I,
Nor longer stay in your curst company.
Your hands than mine are quicker for a fray,
My legs are longer though, to run away. [Exit.]

Hermia. I am amaz’d, and know not what to say. [Exit.]