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Line 825. A station like the herald Mercury, &c.] Station, in this instance, does not mean the spot where any one is placed, but the act of standing. STEEVENS.
Line 832. like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother.] This alludes to
Pharaoh's Dream, in the 41st chapter of Genesis. batten-] i. e. to grow fat.
852. Could not so mope.] i. e. could not exhibit such marks of stupidity. STEEVENS.
-grained-] Died in grain. JOHNSON. -enseamed bed ;] Thus the folio: i. e. greasy JOHNSON, Line 873. —vice of kings:] A low mimick of kings. The vice is the fool of a farce; from whence the modern punch is descended. JOHNSON.
Line 878. A king
Of shreds and patches:] This is said, pursuing the idea of the vice of kings. The vice was dressed as a fool, in a coat of party-coloured patches. Line 885.
laps'd in time and passion,] That,
fered time to slip,
-like life in excrements,] The hairs are excre mentitious, that is, without life or sensation; yet those very hairs, as if they had life, start up, &c. POPE. Line 924.
This is the very coinage of your brain:
Is very cunning in.] Ecstasy in this place, and many others, means a temporary alienation of mind, a fit.
Line 936. do not spread the compost &c.] Do nct, by any new indulgence, heighten your former offences. JOHNSON. Line 977. -a gib,] Gib was a common name for a cat. STEEVENS. 982. To try conclusions,] i. e. experiments. STEEV. ·993. adders fang'd,] That is, adders with their fangs or poisonous teeth, undrawn. It has been the practice of mountebanks to boast the efficacy of their antidotes by playing with vipers, but they first disabled their fangs.
Line 1000. When in one line two crafts directly meet.] Still alluding to a countermine. MALONE.
Line 1002. I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room :] Guts was used where we now use entrails, and the word was not formerly considered as gross or indelicate.
Line 1006. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you:] Shakspeare has been unfortunate in his management of the story of this play, the most striking circumstances of which arise so early in its formation, as not to leave him room for a conclusion suitable to the importance of its beginning. After this last interview with the Ghost, the character of Hamlet has lost all its consequence. STEEVENS.
Line 70. like an ape,] It is the way of monkeys in eating, to throw that part of their food, which they take up first, into a pouch they are provided with on each side of their jaw, and there they keep it, till they have done with the rest. HANMER.
ACT IV. SCENE IV.
chief good, and market of his time, &c.] If and that for which he sells his time, be to sleep JOHNSON.
Line 206. large discourse,] Such latitude of comprehension, such power of reviewing the past, and anticipating the fuJOHNSON. -some craven scruple-] Some cowardly scruple. MALONE.
Line 204. his highest good, and feed.
-Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without &c.] The sentiment of Shakspeare is partly just, and partly romantick. -Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without great argument ;
is exactly philosophical.
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw,
When honour's at the stake.
is the idea of a modern hero. But then, says he, honour is an
argument, or subject of debate, sufficiently great, and when ho nour is at stake, we must find cause of quarrel in a straw. JOHNS.
Line 229. Excitements of my reason, and my blood,] Provocations which, excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance. JOHNSON. Line 235. -continent,] Continent, in our author, means that which comprehends or encloses. STEEVENS.
ACT IV. SCENE V.
Line 249. -to collection ;] i. e. to deduce consequences from such premises. STEEVENS. Line 255. Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.] i. e. though her meaning cannot be certainly collected, yet there is enough to put a mischievous interpretation to it. WARBURTON.
Line 267. How should I your true love &c.] There is no part of this play in its representation on the stage, more pathetick than this scene; which, I suppose, proceeds from the utter insensibility Ophelia has to her own misfortunes. A great sensibility, or none at all, seems to produce the same effect. In the latter the audience supply what she wants, and with the former they sympathize. Sir J. REYNOLDS. Line 286. Well, God'ield you !] i. e. Heaven reward you! THEOBALD. 297. -don'd his clothes,] To don, is to do on, to put on, as doff is to do off, put off. STEEVENS. Line 298. And dupp'd the chamber door ;] To dup, is to do up; to lift the latch. JOHNSON.
Line 304. By Gis, and by Saint Charity,] I believe the word gis, to be a corrupted abbreviation of Jesus, the letters J. H. S. being anciently all that was set down to denote that sacred name, on altars, the covers of books, &c. RIDLEY. Saint Charity is a known saint among the Roman Catholicks. STEEVENS.
Line 307. By Cock,] This is likewise a corruption of the sacred name. STEEVENS. Line 332. In hugger-mugger to inter him :] All the modern editions that I have consulted, give it:
In private to inter him ;
That the words now replaced are better, I do not undertake to prove; it is sufficient that they are Shakspeare's: if phraseology is to be changed as words grow uncouth by disuse, or gross by vulgarity, the history of every language will be lost; we shall no longer have the words of any author; and, as these alterations, will be often unskilfully made, we shall in time have very little of his meaning. JOHNSON.
Line 340. Wherein necessity, &c.] Wherein, that is, in which pestilent speeches, neceffity, or the obligation of an accuser to support his charge, will nothing stick, &c. JOHNSON.
Line 343. Like to a murdering piece,] Such a piece as assassins use, with many barrels. It is necessary to apprehend this, to see the justness of the similitude. WARBURTON.
Line 350. The ocean, overpecring of his list,] The lists are, the barriers which the spectators of a tournament must not pass. JOHNSON.
Line 356. The ratifiers and props of every word,] By word is here meant a declaration, or proposal. HEATH.
Line 362. 0, this is counter, you false Danish dogs.] Hounds run counter, when they trace the trail backwards. JOHNSON. Line 376. unsmirched brow,] i. e. clean, not defiled. To besmirch, our author uses, Act I. sc. v. STEEVENS.
-to your judgment 'pear,] i. e. appear. 431. Nature is fine in love: and, where 'tis fine, It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.] Love (says Laertes) is the passion by which nature is most exalted and refined; and as substances, refined and subtilised, easily obey any impulse, or follow any attraction, some part of nature, so purified and refined, flies off after the attracting object, after the thing it loves.
Line 442. O, how the wheel becomes it ! &c.] The story alluded to I do not know; but perhaps the lady stolen by the steward was reduced to spin. JOHNSON.
. Line 446. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance;—and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.] There is probably some mythology in the choice of these herbs, but I cannot explain it.
Pansies is for thoughts, because of its name, Pensees; but why rosemary indicates remembrance, except that it is an ever-green, and carried at funerals, I have not discovered. JOHNSON.
Line 487. No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,] It was the custom, in the times of our author, to hang a sword ever the grave of a knight. JOHNSON.
This practice is uniformly kept up to this day. Not only the sword, but the helmet, gauntlet, spurs, and tabard (i. e. a coat whereon the armorial ensigns were anciently depicted, from whence the term coat of armour,) are hung over the grave of every knight. Sir J. HAWKINS.
ACT IV. SCENE VI.
Line 519. for the bore of the matter.] The bore is the caliber of a gun, or the capacity of the barrel. The matter (says Hamlet) would carry heavier words. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE VII.
. Line 548. people.
-the general gender-] The common race of the JOHNSON. Line 550. Work like the spring &c.] This simile is neither very seasonable in the deep interest of this conversation, nor very accurately applied. If the spring had changed base metals to gold, the thought had been more proper. JOHNSON. Line 557.-if praises may go back again,] If I may praise what has been, but is now to be found no more. JOHNSON.
Line 616. Of the unworthiest siege.] Of the lowest rank. Siege, for seat, place. JOHNSON.
Line 622. Importing health and graveness.] Importing here may be, not inferring by logical consequence, but producing by physical effect. A young man regards show in his dress, an old man, health. JOHNSON.
Line 631. in forgery of shapes and tricks,] I could not contrive so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform.
the scrimers-] The fencers.
Line 645. 669. love is begun by time;] This is obscure. The meaning may be, love is not innate in us, and co-essential to our