Puck thinks all mortals are fools.
He terrifies them…..
……and laughs at them….
But in the end he blesses them….
When thou wakest,
In the sight
Of thy former lady’s eye:
And the country proverb known,
That every man should take his own,
In your waking shall be shown:
Jack shall have Jill;
Nought shall go ill;
The man shall have his mare again,
And all shall be well.
Shakespeare here gives Puck the same words that God Himself used when he spoke to Mother Julian of Norwich….
All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well….
At the end of the play, the iron tongue of midnight tolls twelve.
Theseus and Hippolyta…
…….Lysander and Hermia…….
…….. and Demetrius and Helena……
…….. leave the wedding feast to consummate their love in their bedchambers.
Puck then enters, lit by the dying embers of the fire….
……broom in hand, to cleanse the Hall and prepare it for magic….
Now the hungry lion roars,
And the wolf behowls the moon;
Whilst the heavy ploughman snores,
All with weary task fordone.
Now the wasted brands do glow….
Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud,
Puts the wretch that lies in woe
In remembrance of a shroud.
Now it is the time of night
That the graves all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies, that do run
By the triple Hecate’s team,
From the presence of the sun,
Following darkness like a dream,
Now are frolic: not a mouse
Shall disturb this hallow’d house:
I am sent with broom before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.
Oberon then enters with Titania followed by the fairy band…..
….with, the original stage directions say…..
……waxen tapers on their heads…..
Queen Elizabeth might have banned candles from her subjects’ altars….
But King Oberon floods Theseus’s palace with living light…..
Through the house give glimmering light
By the dead and drowsy fire
Every elf and every sprite
Hop as light as bird from briar…
We can be sure that when Mary married the Second Earl of Southampton, Catholic priests were in secret attendance…..
(Mary’s father kept them on his payroll, disguised as liveried servants and gardeners)
One of them would have said the ‘Benedictio Thalami’…….
…..the traditional blessing on the wedding bed…..
Benedicto domine thalamum hunc….
Bless o Lord this bed. May all who dwell in it remain in Thy peace, abide in Thy will, grow to old age, and be multiplied to the length of days and attain at last to the kingdom of heaven.
Per Christum dominum nostrum. Amen
The priest then sprinkles holy water over the bed……
……and over the bride and groom……
……in the form of a cross…
Shakespeare gives Oberon a fairy version of this blessing.…
To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be;
And the issue there create
Ever shall be fortunate.
So shall all the couples three
Ever true in loving be;
And the blots of Nature’s hand
Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Shall upon their children be.
But instead of using holy water for the consecration, Oberon uses dew from the fields….
With this field-dew consecrate,
Every fairy take his gait;
And each several chamber bless….
Through this palace, with sweet peace;
And the owner of it blest
Ever shall in safety rest.
Trip away; make no stay;
Meet me all by break of day…
Puck, left alone, addresses the audience directly……
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream…..
But nothing is ever straightforward with Puck…
The rest of his speech is filled, if not with the equivocation of the fiend, then certainly with ambiguity….
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
Does he mean ‘If you pardon our failings as actors, we will improve as performers….’?
Or does he mean ‘If you pardon our failing as fairies we will make your lives better for you…..’?
And, as I am an honest Puck…..
…..which clearly he isn’t….
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long….
Is ‘the serpent’s tongue’ the hiss of a displeased audience?
Or is it the tongue of Satan himself, tempting figures of light – as he tempted Eve – to become figures of darkness like himself?
And what are these ‘amends’?
Else the Puck a liar call…..
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
What does Puck mean by ‘Give me your hands’?
Does he mean: ‘Applaud’?
Or does he mean: ‘Take your hands in mine’?
And what does he mean by ‘Robin shall restore amends’?
Does he mean he will make amends for what he has done?
Or does he mean he will make amends for what has been done to you?
Is Puck saying:
Applaud us and we will produce better plays for you in the future….
Or is he saying:
Reach out and grasp my hands and I will make up for all you have suffered…..
I will heal the past….
Puck means both……
………and Shakespeare is directing these last lines at his patron, the Countess Mary…..
Did she reach out to grasp the hands of Puck?
Did the reconciling magic of the play work ?
We are in the extraordinary position of knowing that it did…
Heneage, sadly, died the year after the play was performed……
….but Mary went on to marry a third, much younger husband ….
When, however, she finally came to write her will in 1607, she asked to be interred at St. Peter’s, Titchfield…..
….as near as may be unto the body of my honorable and dearly beloved Lord and husband, Henry, late Earl of Southampton…..
The Fairies had done their work well…….
……AND FAIRY POSTLUDE…..
When The Shakespeare Code first announced these Posts……
…… the Rev. Canon Tony Dickinson…..
…..Vicar of Giles Gilbert Scot’s St. Francis of Assisi Church, High Wycombe…
…..contacted The Code’s Chief Agent…..
…and asked him if he planned to quote from….
THE FAIRIES’ FAREWELL
This was written by Bishop Robert Corbett (1582-1635)
…..who would have been twelve years old when A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed.
Stewart could not believe his eyes when he read the poem!!!
It entirely corroborates The Shakespeare Code’s theory…..
That magic and spirituality fled England in the reign of Elizabeth…..
….and that the Fairy World was equated completely with…..
‘The Old Profession’….
Here is the poem, with thanks again to Rev. Canon Dickinson….
FAREWELL rewards and Fairies!
Good housewives now may say;
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they;
And though they sweep their hearths no less
Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late for cleanliness
Finds sixpence in her shoe?
Lament, lament old Abbeys,
The fairies lost command;
They did but change priests’ babies,
But some have chang’d your land;
And all your children stol’n from thence
Are now grown Puritans,
Who live as changelings ever since,
For love of your demaines.
At morning and at evening both
You merry were and glad,
So little care of sleep and sloth
These pretty ladies had.
When Tom came home from labour,
Or Ciss to milking rose,
Then merrily went their tabour,
And nimbly went their toes.
Witness those rings and roundelayes
Of theirs, which yet remain;
Were footed in Queen Mary’s days
On many a grassy plain.
But since of late Elizabeth
And later James came in;
They never danc’d on any heath,
As when the time hath been
By which we note the fairies
Were of the old profession:
Their songs were Ave Maries,
Their dances were procession.
But now, alas! they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas,
Or farther for religion fled,
Or else they take their ease.
The Shakespeare Code would also like to acknowledge the work of Richard Simpson, M. A. (1820-76)
….an Oxford Graduate and Anglican Priest who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1844.
He was the first to advance the theory that William Shakespeare was a Catholic…….
….and met with howls of derision from the Victorian Academic Establishment.
They needed their Bard to be a Protestant…..
…..in the way our own Establishment once needed him to be Straight!!!
THE SHAKESPEARE CODE WOULD LIKE TO POUR….
…. FAIRY BLESSINGS….
… ON ITS BROTHERS AND SISTERS….
- FROM ALL ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO NATIONS –
….AT THIS CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL…