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Mary Queen of Scots

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Shakespeare being under the patronage of Queen Elizabeth, and knowing her jealousy, would not, of course, praise openly her rival queen; but in the Midsummer Night’s Dream, composed in 1592, that is, five years after the execution of Mary, he wrote these exquisite lines:—

“Thou rememberest

Since once I sat upon a promontory,

And heard a mermaid (1) on a dolphin’s back (2)

Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,

That the rude sea (3) grew civil at her song;

And certain stars (4) shot madly from their spheres (5),

To hear the sea-maid’s music.”


Act ii. 1.


(1) Mermaid and sea-maid, that is, Mary; (2) on the dolphin’s back, she married the Dolphin or Dauphin of France; (3) the rude sea grew civil, the Scotch rebels; (4) certain stars, the Earl of Northumberland, the Earl of Westmoreland, and the Duke of Norfolk; (5) shot madly from their spheres, that is, revolted from Queen Elizabeth, bewitched by the sea-maid’s sweetness.

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ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ

Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Martyr (Greek
Marvedie (A)
Marvellous
Mary
Mary
Mary
Marys
Mary Anne or Marianne
Mary Anne Associations
Mary Magdalene (St.)
Mary Queen of Scots
Marybuds
Marygold or Marigold
Maryland
Marylebone
Mas (plural, Masse)
Masaniello
Masche-croute [gnaw-crust]
Mascotte
Masdeu (Catalan for God’s field)
Masetto

See Also:

Mary, Queen of Scots