Skip to main content

Full text of "The plays of William Shakespeare; in twenty-one volumes, with the corrections and illustrations of various commentators, to which are added notes"

See other formats


wits*. ^ 

u ^ ^ 

'v7vy^\|\ ] ]\\V 

^ 4s; 






Printed by S. Hamilton, Weybridge, Surry. 









Printed for J. Nichols and Son; F. C. and J. Rivington; J. Stock dale; 
W. Lowndes; G. Wilkie and J. Robinson; T. Egerton; J. Walker; 
Scatcherd and Letterman ; W. Clarke and Sons; J. Barker; J. Cuthell; 
R. Lea; Lackington and Co. ; J. Deighton ; J. White and Co.; B. Crosby 
and Co. ; W. Earle ; J. Gray and Son ; Longman and Co. ; Cadell and 
Davies ; J. Harding; R. H. Evans ; J. Booker; S. Bagster ; J. Mawman; 
Black and Co. ; J. Black ; J. Richardson ; J. Booth ; Newman and 
Co.; R. Pheney; R. Scholey ; J.Murray; J. Asperne; J. Faulder; 
R. Baldwin; Cradock and Joy; Sharpe and Hailes; Johnson and Co. ; 
Gale and Co.; G. Robinson; C. Brown ; and Wilson and Son, York. 


Jd 3 
v. 1$ 



* HAMLET, PRINCE or DENMARK.] The original story on 
which this play is built, may be found in Saxo Grammaticus the 
Danish historian. From thence Belleforest adopted it in his 
collection of novels, in seven volumes, which he began in 1564, 
and continued to publish through succeeding years. From this 
work, The Historic of Hamblett, quarto, bl. 1. was translated. 
I have hitherto met with no earlier edition of the play than one 
in the year 1604, though it must have been performed before 
that time, as I have seen a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, 
which formerly belonged to Dr. Gabriel Harvey, ( the antagonist 
of Nash ) who, in his own hand-writing, has set down Hamlet, 
as a performance with which he was well acquainted, in the 
year 1598. His words are these : " The younger sort take much 
delight in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis ; but his Lucrece, and 
his tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to 
please the wiser sort, 1598." 

In the books of the Stationers' Company, this play was en- 
tered by James Roberts, July 26, 1602, under the title of " A 
booke called The Revenge of Hamlett, Prince of Denmarke, as 
it was lately acted by the Lord Chamberlain his servantes." 

In Eastward Hoe, by George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and 
John Marston, 1605, is a fling at the hero of this tragedy. A 
footman named Hamlet enters, and a tankard-bearer asks him 
'* 'Sfoote, Hamlet, are you mad?" 

The frequent allusions of contemporary authors to this play 
sufficiently show its popularity. Thus, in Decker's Bel-man's 
NightwalJces, 4to. 1612, we have " But if any mad Hamlet, 
hearing this, smell villainie, and rush in by violence to see what 
the tawny diuels [gypsies] are dooing, then they excuse the 
fact" &c. Again, in an old collection of Satirical Poems, called 
The Night-Raven, is this couplet : 

" I will not cry Hamlet, Revenge my greeves, 
" But I will call Hangman, Revenge on thieves." 


Surely no satire was intended in Eastward Hoe, which was 
acted at Shakspeare's own playhouse, (Blackfriers,) by the 
children of the revels, in 1605. MALONE. 

The following particulars relative to the date of this piece, are 
borrowed from Dr. Farmer's Essay on the Learning of S/iak- 
speare, p. 85, 86, second edition : 

" Greene, in the Epistle prefixed to his Arcadia, hath a lash 
at some * vaine glorious tragedians,' and very plainly at Shak- 
speare in particular. * I leave all these to the mercy of their 
mother-tongue, that feed on nought but the crunis that fall from 
the translators trencher. That could scarcely latinize their neck 

verse if they should have neede, yet English Seneca, read by 
candlelight yeelds many good sentences hee will afford you 
whole Hamlets, I should say, handfuls of tragicall speeches.' 
I cannot determine exactly when this Epistle was first published ; 
but, I fancy, it will carry the original Hamlet somewhat further 
back than we have hitherto done : and it may be observed, that 
the oldest copy now extant, is said to be ' enlarged to almost as 
much againe as it was.' Gabriel Harvey printed at the end of 
the year 1592, ' Foure Letters and certaine Sonnetts, especially 
touching Robert Greene:' in one of which his Arcadia is men- 
tioned. Now Nash's Epistle must have been previous to these, 
as Gabriel is quoted in it with applause ; and the Foure Letters 
were the beginning of a quarrel. Nash replied in * Strange 
News of the intercepting certaine Letters, and a Convoy of 
Verses, as they were going privilie to victual the Low Countries, 
1593.' Harvey rejoined the same year in * Pierce's Superero- 
gation, or a new Praise of the old Asse.' And Nash again, in 
* Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriell Harvey's Hunt 
is up ;' containing a full answer to the eldest sonne of the halter- 
maker, 1596." Nash died before 1606, as appears from an old 
comedy called The Return from Parnassus. STEEVENS. 

A play on the subject of Hamlet had been exhibited on the 
stage before the year 1589, of which Thomas Kyd was, I 
believe, the author. On that play, and on the bl. 1. Historic of 
Hamblet, our poet, I conjecture, constructed the tragedy before 
us. The earliest edition of the prose-narrative which I have seen, 
was printed in 1608, but it undoubtedly was a republication. 

Shakspeare's Hamlet was written, if my conjecture be well 
founded, in 1596. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of his 
Plays, Vol. II. MALONE. 

B 2 


Claudius, King o/'Denmark. 

Hamlet, 1 Son to the former, and Nephew to the 

present King. 

Polonius, Lord Chamberlain. 
Horatio, Friend to Hamlet. 
Laertes, Son to Polonius. 
Osric, a Courtier. 
Another Courtier. 
A Priest. 
Marcellus, > 
Bernardo, f 
Francisco, a Soldier. 
Reynaldo, Servant to Polonius. 
A Captain. An Ambassador. 
Ghost of Hamlet's Father. 
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway. 

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother of 

Ophelia, Daughter of Polonius. 

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, Grave- 
Diggers, Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants. 

SCENE, Elsinore. 

1 Hamlet,'] i. e. Amletk. The h transferred from the end to 
the beginning of the name. STEEVENS. 



Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle. 

FRANCISCO on his Post. Enter to him BERNARDO. 

BER. Who's there ? 

FRAN. Nay, answer me : 2 stand, and unfold 


BER. Long li ve the king ! 3 
FRAN. Bernardo ? 

BER. He. 

FRAN. You come most carefully upon your hour. 

BER. J Tis now struck twelve ; 4 get thee to bed, 

a me:~] i. e. me who am already on the watch, and have 

at right to demand the watch-word. STEEVENS. 

3 Long live the king /] This sentence appears to have been 
the watch-word. MALONE. 

* 'Tis now struck twelves'] I strongly suspect that the true 
reading is nevo struck, &c. So, in Romeo and Juliety Act I, 
pc. i: 

" But neixt struck nine." STEEVENS. 


FRAN. For this relief, much thanks : 'tis bitter 

And I am sick at heart. 

BER. Have you had quiet guard ? 

FRAN. Not a mouse stirring. 

BER. Well, good night. 
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, 
The rivals of my watch, 5 bid them make haste. 

* The rivals of my watch,'] Rivals for partners. 


So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1636: 
" Tullia. Aruns, associate him. 
" Aruns. A rival with my brother," &c. 
Again, in The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1637: 

" And make thee rival in. those governments." 
Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. sc. v : 

" having made use of him in the wars against Pompey, 

presently deny'd him rivality" STE EVENS. 

By rivals the speaker certainly means partners (according to 
Dr. Warburton's explanation,) or those whom he expected to 
watch with him. Marcellus had watched with him before ;. 
whether as a centinel, a volunteer, or from mere curiosity, we 
do not learn : but, whichever it was, it seems evident that his 
station was on the same spot with Bernardo, and that there is no 
other centinel by them relieved. Possibly Marcelius was an 
officer, whose business it was to visit each watch, and perhaps to 
continue with it some time. Horatio, as it appears, watches out 
of curiosity. But in Act II. sc. i. to Hamlet's question, 
" Hold you the watch to-night ?" Horatio, Marcellus, and Ber- 
nardo, all answer, " We do, my honour 'd lord." The folio 
indeed, reads both, which one may with great propriety refer 
to Marcellus and Bernardo. If we did not find the latter gen- 
tleman in such good company, we might have taken him to have 
been like Francisco whom he relieves, an honest but common 
soldier. The strange indiscriminate use of Italian and Roman 
names in this and other plays, makes it obvious that the author 
was very little conversant in even the rudiments of either lan- 
guage. RITSON. 

Rival is constantly used by Shakspeare for a partner or as- 
sociate. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, it is de- 



FRAN. I think, I hear them. Stand, ho ! Who 
is there ? 

HOR. Friends to this ground. 

MAR. And liegemen to the Dane. 

FRAN. Give you good night. 

MAR. O, farewell, honest soldier : 

Who hath reliev'd you? 

FRAN. Bernardo hath my place. 

Give you good night. \_JLxit FRANCISCO. 

MAR. Holla! Bernardo! 

BER. Say. 

What, is Horatio there ? 

fined " One that sueth for the same thing with another;" and 
hence Shakspeare, with his usual licence, always uses it in the 
same sense of one engaged in the same employment or office with 
another. Competitor, which is explained by Bullokar by the 
very same words which he has employed in the definition of 
rival, is in like manner (as Mr. M. Mason has observed,) always 
used by Shakspeare for associate. See Vol. IV. p. 233, n. 6. 
Mr. Warner would read and point thus : 

If you do meet Horatio, and Marcellus 

*/ U ' 

The rival of my watch, 

because Horatio is a gentleman of no profession, and because, as 
he conceived, there was but one person on each watch. But 
there is no need of change. Horatio is certainly not an officer, 
but Hamlet's fellow-student at Wittenberg : but as he accom- 
panied Marcellus and Bernardo on the watch from a motive of 
curiosity, our poet considers him very properly as an associate 
with them. Horatio himself says to Hamlet in a subsequent 

" This to me 

" In dreadful secrecy impart they did, 

" And / with them the third night kept the watch." 



HOR. A piece of him. 6 

BER. Welcome, Horatio ; welcome, good Mar- 

HOR. What, 7 has this thing appear' d again to- 
night ? 

BER. I have seen nothing. 

MAR. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy ; 
And will not let belief take hold of him, 
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us : 
Therefore I have entreated him along, 
With us to watch the minutes of this night ; 8 
That, if again this apparition come, 
He may approve our eyes, 9 and speak to it. 

* Hor. A piece ofhim,~\ But why a piece? He says this as he 
gives his hand. Which direction should be marked. 


Apiece of him, is, I believe, no more than a cant expression. 
It is used, however, on a serious occasion in Pericles : 

** Take in your arms this piece of your dead queen." 


7 Hor. What, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604-. STEEVENS. 
These words are in the folip given to Marcellus. MALONE. 

* the minutes of this night;"] This seems to have been 

an expression common in Shakspeare's time. I found it in one 
of Ford's plays, The Fancies chaste and noble, Act V : 

" I promise ere the minutes of the night." 


9 approve our eyes,~\ Add a new testimony to that of our 

eyes. JOHNSON. 

So, in King Lear: 

" this approves her letter, 

" That she would soon be here." 
See Vol. XVII. p. 12, n. 4. STEEVENS. 

He may approve our eyes,] He may make good the testimony 
of our eyes; be assured by his own experience of the truth of 
that which we have related, in consequence of having been eye- 
tvitnesses to it. To approve in Shakspeare's age, signified ta 


HOR. Tush ! tush ! 'twill not appear. 

BER. Sit down awhile j 

And let us once again assail your ears, 
That are so fortified against our story, 
What we two nights have seen. 1 

HOR. Well, sit we down, 

And let us hear Bernardo speak of this. 

BER. Last night of all, 

When yon same star, that's westward from the pole, 
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven 
Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself, 
The bell then beating one, 

MAR. Peace, break thee off; look, where it 
comes again ! 

Enter Ghost. 

BER. In the same figure, like the king that's 

MAR. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio. 2 

make good, or establish, and is so defined in Cawdrey's Alpha- 
betical Table of hard English Words, 8vo. 1604. So, in King 
Lear : 

" Good king that must approve the common saw ! 

" Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st 

" To the warm sun." MALONE. 

1 What we two nights have seen."] This line is by Sir Thomas 
Hanmer given to Marcellus, but without necessity. JOHNSON. 

8 Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.~] It has always 
been a vulgar notion that spirits and supernatural beings can 
only be spoken to with propriety or effect by persons of learning. 
Thus, Toby, in The Night-walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher, 

" It grows still longer, 

" 'Tis steeple-high now ; and it sails away, nurse. 

" Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin, 

" And that will daunt the devil." 

10 HAMLET, ACT i. 

BER. Looks it not like the king ? mark it, Ho- 

HOR. Most like: it harrows me 3 with fear, and 

BER. It would be spoke to. 

MAR. Speak to it, Horatio. 

HOR. What art thou, that usurp'st this time of 


Together with that fair and warlike form 
In which the majesty of buried Denmark 
Did sometimes march ? by heaven 1 charge thee, 


MAR. It is offended. 

BER. See ! it stalks away. 

HOR. Stay ; speak : speak I charge thee, speak. 

[Exit Ghost. 
MAR. 'Tis gone, and will not answer. 

BER. How now, Horatio ? you tremble, and look 

pale : 

Is not this something more than fantasy ? 
What think you of it ? 

HOR. Before my God, I might not this believe, 
Without the sensible and true avouch 
Of mine own eyes. 

In like manner the honest Butler in Mr. Addison's Drummer, 
recommends the Steward to speak Latin to the Ghost in that 
play. REED. 

3 it harrows me &c.] To harroiu is to conquer, to sub- 
due. The word is of Saxon origin. So, in the old black letter 
romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys : 

" He swore by him that harrowed hell." 
Milton has adopted this phrase in his Comus : 

" Amaz'd I stood, harrow* d with grief andyear." 



MAR. Is it not like the king ? 

HOR. As thou art to thyself: 
Such was the very armour he had on, 
When he the ambitious Norway combated ; 
So frown' d he once, when, in an angry parle, 4 
He smote the sledded 5 Polack on the ice. 6 
'Tis strange, 

4 -an angry parle,] This is one of the affected words in* 

troduced by Lyly- So, in The Two wise Men, and all the rest 

" that you told me at our last parle." STEEVENS. 

4 sledded ] A sled, or sledge, is a carriage without 

wheels, made use of in the cold countries. So, in Tamburlaine t 
or the Scythian Shepherd, 1590 : 

" upon an ivory sled 

" Thou shalt be drawn among the frozen poles.'* 


6 He smote the sledded Polack on the ice."] Pole-ax in the com- 
mon editions. He epeaks of a Prince of Poland whom he slew 
in battle. He uses the word Polack again, Act II. sc. iv. 


Polack was, in that age, the term for an inhabitant of Poland: 
Polaque, French. As in F. Davison's translation of Passeratius's 
epitaph on Henry III. of France, published by Camden: 

" Whether thy chance or choice thee hither brings, 

** Stay, passenger, and wail the hap of kings. 

" This little stone a great king's heart doth hold, 

" Who rul'd the fickle French and Polacks bold : 

" Whom, with a mighty warlike host attended, 

" With trait'rous knife a cowled monster ended. 

" So frail are even the highest earthly things! 

" Go, passenger, and wail the hap of kings." JOHNSON. 

Again, in The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona, &c. 
1612 : 

" 1 scorn him 

" Like a shav'd Polack ." STEEVENS. 

All the old copies have Polax. Mr. Pope and the subsequent 
editors read Polack ; but the corrupted word shows, I think, 
that Shakspeare wrote Polacks. MALONE. 

With Polack for Polander, the transcriber, or printer, plight 


MAR. Thus, twice before, and jump at this dead 

hour, 7 
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. 

HOR. In what particular thought to work, 8 I 

know not ; 

But, in the gross and scope 9 of mine opinion, 
This bodes some strange eruption to our state. 

MAR. Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that 


Why this same strict and most observant watch 
So nightly toils the subject of the land ? 

have no acquaintance ; he therefore substituted pole-ax as the 
only word of like sound that was familiar to his ear. Unluckily, 
however, it happened that the singular of the latter has the same 
sound as the plural of the former. Hence it has been supposed 
that Shakspeare meant to write Polacks, We cannot well sup- 
pose that in a parley the King belaboured many, as it is not 
likely that provocation was given by more than one, or that on 
such an occasion he would have condescended to strike a meaner 
person than a prince. STEEVENS. 

7 jump at this dead hour,"] So, the 4to. 1604. The folio 

just. STEEVENS. 

The correction was probably made by the author. JOHNSON. 

In the folio we sometimes find a familiar word substituted for 
one more ancient. MALONE. 

Jump and just were synonymous in the time of Shakspeare. 
Ben Jonson speaks of verses made on jump names, i. e. name* 
that suit exactly. Nash says " and jumpe imitating a verse in 
As in praesenti." So, in Chapman's May Day, 1611 : 

" Your appointment was jumpe at three, with me." 
Again, in M. Kyffin's translation of the Andria of Terence, 

" Comes he this day so jump in the very time of this 
marriage ?" STEEVENS. 

' In uhat particular thought to ivork,] i. e. What particular 
train of thinking to follow. STEEVENS. 

9 gross and scope ] General thoughts, and tendency at 

largo. JOHNSON. 


And why such daily cast 1 of brazen cannon, 
And foreign mart for implements of war ; 
Why such impress of shipwrights, 2 whose sore task 
Does not divide the Sunday from the week : 
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste 
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day; 
Who is't, that can inform me ? 

HOR. That can I ; 

At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, 
Whose image even but now appear* d to us, 
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, 
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, 
Dar'd to the combat ; in which our valiant Hamlet 
(For so this side of our known world esteem'd him,) 
Did slay this Fortinbras j who, by a seaPd com- 
Well ratified by law, and heraldry, 3 

1 daily cast ] The quartos read cost. STEEVENS. 

" Why such impress of shipwrights,'} Judge Barrington, Ob- 
servations on the more ancient Statutes, p. 300, having observed 
that Shakspeare gives English manners to every country where 
his scene lies, infers from this passage, that in the time even of 
Queen Elizabeth, shipwrights as well as seamen were forced to 
serve. WHALLEY. 

Impress signifies only the act of retaining shipwrights by giving 
them what was called prest money (from pret, Fr.) for holding 
themselves in readiness to be employed. Thus, Chapman, in hia 
version of the second Book of Homer's Odyssey: 

" I, from the people straight, will press for you 
" Free voluntaries; ." 
See Mr. Douce's note on King Lear, Act IV. sc. vi. 


3 by laiv, and heraldry,"] Mr. Upton says, that Shak- 
speare sometimes expresses one thing by two substantives, and 
that laiv and heraldry means, by the herald laws. So, in Antony 
and Cleopatra, Act IV : 

" Where rather I expect victorious life, 

" Than death and honour." 
i. e. honourable death. STEEVENS. 


iDid forfeit, with his life, all those his lands, 

Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror : 

Against the which, a moiety competent 

Was gaged by our king; which had return'd 

To the inheritance of Fortinbras, 

Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same co-mart, 

And carriage of the article design'd, 4 

Puttenham, in his Art of Poesie, speaks of The Figure of 
Twynnes: " horses and barbes, for barbed horses, vcntm and 
dartes, for venitnous dartes," &c. FARMER. 

law, and heraldry] That is, according to the forms of 

law and heraldry. When the right of property was to be deter- 
mined by combat, the rules of heraldry were to be attended to, 
as well as those of law. M. MASON. 

i. e. to be well ratified by the rules of law, and the forms pre- 
scribed jurefeciali; such as proclamation, &c. MALONE. 

4 as, by the same co-mart, 

And carriage of the article design'd,] Co-mart signifies a 
bargain, and carrying of the article, the covenant entered into 
to confirm that bargain. Hence we see the common reading 
[covenant] makes a tautology. WARBURTON. 

Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio reads as by the same co- 
venant : for which the late editions have given us as by that 

Co-mart is, I suppose, a joint bargain, a word perhaps of our 
poet's coinage. A mart signifying a great fair or market, he 
would not have scrupled to have written to mart, in the sense 
of to make a bargain. In the preceding speech we find mart 
used for bargain or purchase. MALONE. 

He has not scrupled so to write in Cymbeline, Act I. sc, vii : 

'* to mart, 

. " As in a Romish stew," &c. STEEVENS. 

And carriage of the article design'd,] Carriage is import : 
design'd, i&Jbnned, drawn up between them. JOHNSON. 

Cawdrey in his Alphabetical Table, 1604, defines the verb 
design thus : ** To marke out or appoint for any purpose." See 
also Minsheu's Diet. 1617 : " To designe or shew by a token." 
Designed is yet used in this sense in Scotland. The old copies 
have deseigne. The correction was made by the editor of the 
second folio. MALONE. 


His fell to Hamlet : Now, sir, young Fortinbras, 

Of unimproved mettle hot and full, 5 

Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, 

Shark' d up a list of landless resolutes, 6 

For food and diet, to some enterprize 

That hath a stomach in't : 7 which is no other 

(As it doth well appear unto our state,) 

But to recover of us, by strong hand, 

And terms compulsatory, 8 those 'foresaid lands 

So by his father lost : And this, I take it, 

Is the main motive of our preparations ; 

The source of this our watch ; and the chief head 

Of this post-haste and romage 9 in the land. 

4 Of unimproved &c.] Full of unimproved mettle, is full of 
spirit not regulated or guided by knowledge or experience. 


Shark'd up a list &c.] I believe, to shark up means to pick 
up without distinction, as the shark-fish collects his prey. The 
quartos read lawless instead of landless. STEEVENS. 

7 That hath a stomach in't ] Stomach, in the time of our 
author, was used for constancy, resolution. JOHNSON. 

8 And terms compulsatory,] Thus the quarto, 1604. The 
folio compulsative. STEEVENS. 

9 romage ] Tumultuous hurry. JOHNSON. 

Commonly written rummage. I am not, however, certain 
that the word romage has been properly explained. The fol^ 
lowing passage in Hackluyt's Voyages, 1599, Vol. II. Ppp 3, 
seems indicative of a different meaning: " the ships growne 
foule, unroomaged, and scarcely able to beare any saile" &c. 
Again, Vol. III. 88 : " the mariners were romaging their 
shippes" &c. 

Romage, on shipboard, must have signified a scrupulous ex- 
amination into the state of the vessel and its stores. Respecting 
land-service, the same term implied a strict enquiry into the 
kingdom, that means of defence might be supplied where they 
were wanted. STEEVENS. 

Rummage, is properly explained by Johnson himself in his 
Dictionary, as it is at present daily used, to search for any 
thing. HARRIS, 

16 HAMLET, ACT t. 

\_BER. I think, 1 it be no other, but even so : 
Well may it sort, 2 that this portentous figure 
Comes armed through our watch ; so like the king 
That was, and is, the question of these wars. 3 

HOR. A mote it is,* to trouble the mind*s eye. 
In the most high and palmy state of Rome, 5 

1 [/ think, &c.] These, and all other lines, confined within 
crotchets, throughout this play, are omitted in the folio edition 
of 1623. The omissions leave the play sometimes better and 
sometimes worse, and seem made only for the sake of abbrevia- 
tion. JOHNSON. 

It may be worth while to observe, that the title pages of the 
first quartos in 1604- and 1605, declare this play to be enlarged 
to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and per- 
fect copy. 

Perhaps, therefore, many of its absurdities, as well as beauties, 
arose from the quantity added after it was first written. Our 
poet might have been more attentive to the amplification than 
the coherence of his fable. 

The degree of credit due to the title-page that styles the MS. 
from which the quartos 1604? and 1605 were printed, the true 
and perfect copy, may also be disputable. I cannot help suppo- 
sing this publication to contain all Shakspeare rejected, as well 
as all he supplied. By restorations like the former, contending 
booksellers or theatres might have gained some temporary ad- 
vantage over each other, which at this distance of time is not 
to be understood. The patience of our ancestors exceeded our 
own, could it have out-lasted the tragedy of Hamlet as it is now 
printed ; for it must have occupied almost five hours in repre- 
sentation. If, however, it was too much dilated on the ancient 
stage, it is as injudiciously contracted on the modern one. 


* Well may it sort,"] The cause and effect are proportionate 
and suitable. JOHNSON. 

3 the question of these tears.] The theme or subject. So, 

in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" You were the word of war." MALONE. 

4 A mote it ,] The first quarto reads a moth. STEEVENS. 
A moth was only the old spelling of mote, as I suspected in 
revising a passage in King John, Vol. X. p. 466, n. 1, where we 
certainly should read mote. MALONE. 

'* palmy state of Rome,'} Palmy, for victorious. POPE. 


A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, 

The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead 

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets. 

As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, 
Disasters in the sun; 6 and the moist star, 7 

6 As, stars with trains ofjire and dews of blood, 

Disasters in the sun;] Mr. Rowe altered these lines, be- 
cause they have insufficient connection with the preceding ones, 

Stars shone with trains of fire, dews of blood fell, 

Disasters veil'd the sun, . 

This passage is not in the folio. By the quartos therefore our 
imperfect text is supplied ; for an intermediate verse being evi- 
dently lost, it were idle to attempt a union that never was in- 
tended. I have therefore signified the supposed deficiency by 
a vacan^space. 

When Shakspeare had told us that the graves stood tenantless, 
&c. which are wonders confined to the earth, he naturally pro- 
ceeded to say (in the line now lost) that yet oilier prodigies ap- 
peared in the sky; and these phoenomena he exemplified by add- 
ing,- As [i. e. as for instance] Stars with trains of fire, &c. 

So, in King Henry IV. P. II: " to bear the inventory of 
thy shirts ; as, one for superfluity," &c. 
Again, in King Henry VI. P. Ill : 

" Two Cliffords, as the father and the son, 
" And two Northumberlands ; " 
Again, in The Comedy of Errors: 

" They say, this town is full of cozenage ; 
" As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye" &c. 
Disasters dimm'd the sun ;~\ The quarto, 1604, reads : 

Disasters in the sun ; . 

For the emendation I am responsible. It is strongly supported 
not only by Plutarch's account in The Life ofCcesar, [" also 
the brightness of the sunne was darkened, the which, all that 
yeare through, rose very pale, and shined not ow,"] but by va- 
rious passages in our author's works. So, in The Tempest: 

" I have be-dhnm'd 

" The noon-tide stin." 
Again, in King Richard II: 

" As doth the blushing discontented sun, 
" When he perceives the envious clouds are bent 
" To dim his glory." 


Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, 
Was sick almost to dooms-day with eclipse. 

Again, in our author's 18th Sonnet: 

" Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines, 
" And often is his gold complexion dimm'd." 
I suspect that the words As stars are a corruption, and have 
no doubt that either a line preceding or following the first of 
those quoted at the head of this note, has been lost ; or that the 
beginning of one line has been joined to the end of another, the 
intervening words being omitted. That such conjectures are 
not merely chimerical, I have already proved. See Vol. XI. 
p. 376, &c. n. 3; and Vol. XIV. p. 351, n. 8. 

The following lines in Julius C&sar, in which the prodigies 
that are said to have preceded his death, are recounted, may 
throw some light on the passage before us : 

" There is one within, 

" Besides the things that we have heard and seen, 
" Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch. 
" A lioness hath whelped in the streets ; 
" And graves have yawn'd and yielded up their dead : 
" Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds, 
" In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war, 
" Which drizzled blood upon the capitol : 
" The noise of battle hurtled in the air, 
" Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan ; 
" And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets." 
The lost words perhaps contained a description ofjiery war- 
riors fighting on the clouds, or of brands burning bright beneath 
the stars. 

The 15th Book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, translated by Gold- 
ing, in which an account is given of the prodigies that preceded 
Csesar's death, furnished Shakspeare with some of the images in 
both these passages : 

" battels fighting in the clouds with crashing armour 

" And dreadful trumpets sounded in the ayre, and homes 

eke blew, 
** As warning men beforehand of the mischiefe that did 


" And Phoebus also looking dim did cast a drowsie light, 
" Uppon the earth, which seemde likewise to be in sory 

plighte : 

" From underneath beneath the starres brandes oft 
seemde burning bright, 


And even 8 the like precurse of fierce events, 9 
As harbingers preceding still the fates, 

" It often rain'd drops of blood. The morning star look'd 

" And was bespotted here and there with specks of rustic 


" The moone had also spots of blood. 
" Salt teares from ivorie images in sundry places fell ; 
" The dogges did howle, and every where appeared 

ghastly sprights, 

" And with an earthquake shaken was the towne." 
Plutarch only says, that " the sunne was darkened," that 
" diverse men were seen going up and down in fire ;" there were 
" fires in the element ; sprites were scene running up and downe 
in the night, and solitarie birds sitting in the great market- 

The disagreeable recurrence of the word stars in the second 
line induces me to believe that As stars in that which precedes, 
is a corruption. Perhaps Shakspeare wrote : 

Astres with trains of fire, 

and dews of blood 

Disasterous dimmed the sun. 

The word astre is used in an old collection of poems entitled 
Diana, addressed to the Earl of Oxenforde, a book of which I 
know not the date, but believe it was printed about 1580. In 
Othello we have antres, a word exactly of a similar formation. 


The word astre, (which is no where else to be found) was 
affectedly taken from the French by John Southern, author of 
the poems cited by Mr. Malone. This wretched plagiarist 
stands indebted both for his verbiage and his imagery to Ron- 
sard. See the European Magazine, for June, 1788, p. 389. 


7 and the moist star, &c.] i. e. the moon. So, in Mar- 
lowe's Hero and Leander, 1598 : 

" Not that night-wand'ring, pale, and ixatry star," &c. 


8 And even ] Not only such prodigies have been seen in 
Rome, but the elements have shown our countrymen like fore- 
runners and foretokens of violent events. JOHNSON. 

9 precurse of fierce events,"] Fierce, for terrible. 

C 2 

20 HAMLET, ACT r. 

And prologue to the omen coming on, 1 
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated 
Unto our climatures and countrymen. 3 

I rather believe that fierce signifies conspicuous, glaring. It 
is used in a somewhat similar sense in Timon of Athens: 
" O the fierce wretchedness that glory brings !" 
Again, in King Henry VIII. we have "fierce vanities.*' 


1 And prologue to the omen coming on,"] But prologue and 
omen are merely synonymous here. The poet means, that these 
strange phcenomena are prologues and forerunners of the events 
presag'a: and such sense the slight alteration which I have ven- 
tured to make, by changing omen to omen'd, very aptly gives. 


Omen, for fate. WARBURTON. 

Hanmer follows Theobald. 

A distich from the life of Merlin, by Heywood, however, will 
show that there is no occasion for correction : 

" Merlin well vers'd in many a hidden spell, 

" His countries omen did long since foretell." FARMER. 

Again, in The Voicbreaker: 

" And much I fear the weakness of her braine 
" Should draw her to some ominous exigent." 
Omen, I believe, is danger. STEEVEXS. 

And even the like precurse offeree events, 
As harbingers preceding still the Jhtes, 

And prologue to the omen coming o,] So, in one of our au- 
thor's poems : 

" But thou shrieking harbinger 
" Foul precurrer of the fiend, 
" Augur of the fever's end," &c. 

The omen coming on is, the approaching dreadful and porten- 
tous event. So, in King Richard III: 

" Thy name is ominous to children." 
i. e. (not boding ill fortune, but) destructive to children. 
Again, ibidem: 

" O Pomfret, Pomfret, O, thou bloody prison, 
" Fatal and ominous to noble peers." MALONE. 


Re-enter Ghost. 

But, soft ; behold ! lo, where it comes again ! 
I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion ! 
If thou hast any sound, 2 or use of voice, 
Speak to me : 

If there be any good thing to be done, 
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, 
Speak to me : 

If thou art privy to thy country's fate, 
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, 
O, speak! 

Or, if thou hast uphoarded 3 in thy life 
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth, 
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death, 

\_Cock crows. 
Speak of it : stay, and speak. Stop it, Marcellus. 

MAR. Shall I strike at it with my partizan ? 

HOR. Do, if it will not stand. 4 

BER. >Tis here ! 

HOR. 'Tis here ! 

* If thou hast any sound,] The speech of Horatio to the 
spectre is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the com- 
mon traditions of the causes of apparitions. JOHNSON. 

3 Or, if thou hast uphoarded &c.] So, in Decker's Knight's 
Conjuring, &c. " If any of them had bound the spirit of gold 
by any charmes in canes, or in iron fetters under the ground, 
they should for their own soules quiet (which questionlesse else 
would "whine up and down} if not for the good of their children, 
release it." STEEVENS. 

Stop it, Marcellus.- 

Hor. Do, if it will not stand.~\ I am unwilling to suppose 
that Shakspeare could appropriate these absurd effusions to Ho- 
ratio y who is a scholar, and has sufficiently proved his good un- 


MAR. 'Tis gone ! [Exit Ghost. 

We do it wrong, being so majestical, 
To offer it the show of violence ; 
For it is, as the air, invulnerable, 5 
And our vain blows malicious mockery. 

BER. It was about to speak, when the cock crew. 

HOR. And then it started like a guilty thing 
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard, 

derstanding by the propriety of his addresses to the phantom. 
Such a man therefore must have known that 
" As easy might he the intrenchant air 
" With his keen sword impress," 

as commit any act of violence on the royal shadow. The words 
Stop it, Marcellus. and Do, if it will not stand better suit 
the next speaker, Bernardo, who, in the true spirit of an unlet- 
tered officer, nihil non arroget arniis. Perhaps the first idea 
that occurs to a man of this description, is to strike at what 
offends him. Nicholas Poussin, in his celebrated picture of the 
Crucifixion, has introduced a similar occurrence. While lots 
are casting for the sacred vesture, the graves are giving up their 
dead. This prodigy is perceived by one of the soldiers, who 
instantly grasps his sword, as if preparing to defend himself, or 
resent such an invasion from the other world. 

The two next speeches * Tis here ! * Tis here ! may be al- 
lotted to Marcellus and Bernardo; and the third ' Tis gone! 
&c. to Horatio, whose superiority of character indeed seems to 
demand it. As the text now stands, Marcellus proposes to 
strike the Ghost with his partizan, and yet afterwards is made 
to descant on the indecorum and impotence of such an attempt. 

The names of speakers have so often been confounded by the 
first publishers of our author, that I suggest this change with 
less hesitation than I should express concerning any conjecture 
that could operate to the disadvantage of his words or meaning. 
Had the assignment of the old copies been such, would it have 
been thought liable to objection ? STEEVENS. 

3 it is, as the air, invulnerable,] So, in Macbeth: 

" As easy may'st thou the intrenchant air 
" With thy keen sword impress." 
Again, in King John : 

" Against the invulnerable clouds of heaven." 



The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 6 
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat 
Awake the god of day ; and, at his warning, 
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, 7 

fi The cocky that is the trumpet to the morn,] So, the quarto, 
1604. Folio to the day. 

In England's Parnassus, 8vo. 1600, I find the two following 
lines ascribed to Drayton, but know not in whieh of his poems 
they are found : 

" And now the cocke, the morning's trumpeter, 
" Play'd huntsup for the day-star to appear." 
Mr. Gray has imitated our poet : 

" The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, 
" No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed." 


Our Cambridge poet was more immediately indebted to 
Philips's Cider, B. I. 753 : 

" When Chanticleer, with clarion shrill, recalls 
" The tardy day,." 

Thus also, Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, B. I. c. ii. s. 1 : 
" And cheerful Chanticleer uith his note shrill.'* 


7 Whether in sea &c.] According to the pneumatology of that 
time, every element was inhabited by its peculiar order of spirits, 
who had dispositions different, according to their various places of 
abode. The meaning therefore is, that all spirits extravagant, 
wandering out of their element, whether aerial spirits visiting 
earth, or earthly spirits ranging the air, return to their station, to 
their proper limits in which they are confined. We might read : 

" And at his warning 

" Th* extravagant and erring spirit hies 

" To his confine, whether in sea or air, 

*? Or earth, or fire. And of," &e. 

But this change, though it would smooth the construction, is not 
necessary, and, being unnecessary, should not be made against 
authority. JOHNSON. 

A Chorus in Andreini's drama, called Adamo, written in 1613, 
consists of spirits of fire, air, water, and hell, or subterraneous, 
being the exiled angels. " Choro di Spiriti ignei, aerei, acqua- 
tici, ed infernali," &c. These are the demons to which Shak- 
speare alludes. These spirits were supposed to controul the ele- 
ments in which they respectively resided ; and when formally in- 
yoked or commanded by a magician, to produce tempests, con- 

24 . HAMLET, ACT i. 

The extravagant 8 and erring spirit 9 hies 

flagrations, floods, and earthquakes. For thus says The Spanish 
Mandeville of Miracles, &c. 1600: " Those which are in the 
middle region of the ayre, and those that are under them nearer 
the earth, are those, which sometimes out of the ordinary ope- 
ration of nature doe moove the windes with greater fury than 
they are accustomed; and do, out of season, congeele the 
cloudes, causing it to thunder, lighten, hayle, and to destroy 

the grasse, corne, &c. &c. Witches and negromancers worke 

many such like things by the help of those spirits," &c. Ibid. 
Of this school therefore was Shakspeare's rroepero in The 
Tempest. T. WARTON. 

Bourne of Newcastle, in his Antiquities of the common People, 
informs us, ** It is a received tradition among the vulgar, that 
at the time of cock-crowing, the midnight spirits forsake these 
lower regions, and go to their proper places. Hence it is, (says 
he) that in country places, where the way of life requires more 
early labour, they always go chearfully to work at that time ; 
whereas if they are called abroad sooner, they imagine every 
thing they see a wandering ghost." And he quotes on this oc- 
casion, as all his predecessors had done, the well-known lines 
from the first hymn of Prudentius. I know not whose transla- 
tion he gives us, but there is an old one by Heywood. The 
pious chansons, the hymns and carrols, which Shakspeare men- 
tions presently, were usually copied from the elder Christian 
poets. FARMER. 

8 The extravagant ] i. e. got out of his bounds. 


So, in Nobody and Somebody,, 1598 : " they took me up 

for a 'stravagant." 

Shakspeare imputes the same effect to Aurora's harbinger in 
the last scene of the third Act of the Midsummer-Night's Dream. 
See Vol. IV. p. 432, n. 9. STEEVENS. 

9 erring spirit,] Erring is here used in the sense of 

wandering. Ihus, in Chapman's version of the fourth Book of 
Homer's Odyssey, Telemachus calls Ulysses 

" My erring father : " 

And in the ninth Book, Ulysses describing himself and his com- 
panions to the Cyclop, says 

" Erring Grecians we, 

" From Troy were turning homewards " 
Erring, in short, is erraticns. STEEVENS. 


To his confine : and of the truth herein 
This present object made probation. 

MAR. It faded on the crowing of the cock. 1 
Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes 
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, 
This bird of dawning singeth all night long : 
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad ; * 
The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike, 
No fairy takes, 3 nor witch hath power to charm, 
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time. 

HOR. So have I heard, and do in part believe it. 
But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, 

1 It Jaded on the crowing of the cock.'] This is a very ancient 
superstition. Philostratus giving an account of the apparition of 
Achilles' shade to Apollonius Tyaneus, says that it vanished with 
a little glimmer as soon as the cock crowed. Vit. Apol. iv. 16. 


Faded has here its original sense ; it vanished. Vado, Lat. 
So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book I. c. v. st. 15 : 

" He stands amazed how he thence should Jade." 
That our author uses the word in this sense, appears from the 
following lines : 

" The morning cock crew loud ; 

" And at the sound it shrunk in haste away, 
" And vanish'd from our sight." MALONE. 

dares stir abroad;] Thus the quarto. The folio 

reads can walk. STEEVENS. 

Spirit was formerly used as a monosyllable : sprite. The 
quarto, 1604, has dare stir abroad. Perhaps Shakspeare 
wrote no spirits dare stir abroad. The necessary correction 
was made in a late quarto of no authority, printed in 1637. 


3 No fairy takes,] No fairy strikes with lameness or diseases. 
This sense of take is frequent in this author. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : 

" And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle." 


26 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill :* 
Break we our watch up ; and, by my advice, 
Let us impart what we have seen to-night 
Unto young Hamlet : for, upon my life, 
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him : 
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, 
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty ? 

MAR. Let's do't, I pray ; and I this morning 

Where we shall find him most convenient. 


4 high eastern hill:'] The old quarto has it better east- 

The superiority of the latter of these readings is not, to me 
at least, very apparent. I find the former used in Lingua, &c. 

" and overclirabs 

" Yonder gilt eastern hills." 

Again, in Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, Book IV. Sat. iv. 
p. 75, edit. 1616 : 

" And ere the sunne had clymb'd the eastern hils." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the thirteenth Book of Ho- 
mer's Odyssey: 

" Ulysses still 

" An eye directed to the eastern hill." 
Eastern and eastward, alike signify toward the east. 


sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 27 

The same. A Room of State in the same. 

Enter the King, Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS, 

KING. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's 


The memory be green ; and that it us befitted 5 
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom 
To be contracted in one brow of woe ; 
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature, 
That we with wisest sorrow think on him, 
Together with remembrance of ourselves. 
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, 
The imperial jointress of this warlike state, 
Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy, 
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye ; 6 

3 and that it us befitted 3 Perhaps our author ellipti- 

cally wrote 

and us befitted 

i. e. and that it befitted us. STEEVENS. 

With one auspicious, and one dropping eye;] Thus the folio. 
The quarto, with somewhat less of quaintness : 
With an auspicious and a dropping eye. 

The same thought, however, occurs inThe Winter's Tale: " She 
had one eye declined for the loss of her husband ; another ele- 
vated that the oracle was fulfilled." 

After all, perhaps, we have here only the ancient proverbial 
phrase " To cry with one eye and laugh with the other," 
buckram'd by our author for the service of tragedy. See Ray's 
Collection, edit. 1768, p. 188. STEEVENS. 

Dropping in this line probably means depressed or cast down- 
wards: an interpretation which is strongly supported by the 

28 HAMLET, ACT i. 

With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage, 
In equal scale weighing delight and dole, 
Taken to wife : nor have we herein barr'd 
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone 
With this affair along: For all, our thanks. 

Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras, 
Holding a weak supposal of our worth ; 
Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death, 
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, 
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage, 7 
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message, 
Importing the surrender of those lands 
Lost by his father, with all bands of law, 
To our most valiant brother. So much for him. 
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting. 
Thus much the business is : We have here writ 
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras, 
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears 
Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress 

passage already quoted from The Winter's Tale. It may, how- 
ever, signify 'weeping. " Dropping of the eyes" was a technical 
expression in our author's time. " If the spring be wet with 
much south wind, the next summer will happen agues and 
blearness, dropping of the eyes, and pains of the bowels." Hop- 
ton's Concordance of Years, 8vo. 1616. 

Again, in Montaigne's Essaies, 1603: " they never saw 
any man there with eyes dropping, or crooked and stooping 
through age." MALONE. 

7 Colleagued ivith this dream of his advantage,"] The meaning 
is, He goes to war so indiscreetly, and unprepared, that he has 
no allies to support him but a dream, with which he is Colleagued 
or confederated. WARBURTON. 

Mr. Theobald in his Shakspeare Restored, proposed to read 
collogued, but in his edition very properly adhered to the ancient 
copies. MALONE. 

This dream of his advantage (as Mr. Mason observes) means 
only " this imaginary advantage, which Fortinbras hoped to de- 
rive from the unsettled state of the kingdom." STEE VENS. 

sc.ii. PRINCE' OF DENMARK. 29 

His further gait herein ; 8 in that the levies, 

The lists, and full proportions, are all made 

Out of his subject: and we here despatch 

You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand, 

For bearers of this greeting to old Norway ; 

Giving to you no further personal power 

To business with the king, more than the scope 9 

Of these dilated articles l allow. 

Farewell ; and let your haste commend your duty. 

COR. VOL. In that, and all things, will we show 
our duty. 

KING. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewell. 

And now, Laertes, what's the news with you ? 
You told us of some suit ; What is't, Laertes ? 
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, 
And lose your voice : What would' st thou beg, 

8 to suppress 

His further gait herein;'] Gate or gait is here used in the 
northern sense, for proceeding, passage; from the A. S. verb gae. 
A gate for a path, passage, or street, is still current in the north. 


So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act V. sc. ii : 
" Every fairy take his gait." HARRIS. 

9 more than the scope ] More than is comprized in the 

general design of these articles, which you may explain in a more 
diffused and dilated style. JOHNSON. 

1 these dilated articles &c.] i. e. the articles when 

dilated. MUSGRAVE. 

The poet should have written allows. Many writers fall into 
this error, when a plural noun immediately precedes the verb ; as 
I have had occasion to observe in a note on a controverted pas- 
sage in Love's Labour's Lost. So, in Julius Ccssar : 
" The posture of your bloius are yet unknown." 

Again, in Cymbeline: " and the approbation of those are 

wonderfully to extend him," &c. MALONE. 

Surely, all such defects in our author, were merely the errors 
of illiterate transcribers or printers. STEEVENIS, 

30 HAMLET, ACT i. 

That shall not be my offer, not thy asking ? 
The head is not more native to the heart, 
The hand more instrumental to the mouth, 
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. 2 
What would'st thou have, Laertes ? 

LAER. My dread lord, 

Your leave and favour to return to France ; 
From whence though willingly I came to Den- 

To show my duty in your coronation ; 
Yet now, I must confess, that duty done, 
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France, 
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon. 

KING. Have you your father's leave ? What says 
Polonius ? 

POL. He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow 

leave, 3 

By laboursome petition ; and, at last, 
Upon his will I seaPd my hard consent:] 
I do beseech you, give him leave to go. 

KING. Take thy fair hour, Laertes j time be thine, 

* The head is not more native to the heart, 

The hand more instrumental to the mouth, 

Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.'] The sense 
seems to be this : The head is not formed to be more useful to 
the heart, the hand is not more at the service of the mouth, than 
my power is at your father's service. That is, he may command 
me to the utmost, he may do what he pleases with my kingly 
authority. STEEVENS. 

By native to the heart Dr. Johnson understands, " natural and 
congenial to it, born with it, and co-operating with it." 

Formerly the heart was supposed the seat of wisdom ; and 
hence the poet speaks of the close connection between the heart 
and head. See Vol. XVI. p. 12, n. 7. MALONE. 

3 wrung from me my slow leave,"] These words and the 

two following lines are omitted in the folio. MALONE. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 31 

And thy best graces : spend it at thy will. 4 
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son, 

HAM. A little more than kin, and less than kind. 5 


4 Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine, 

And thy best graces: spend it at thy iuill.~\ The sense is, 
You have my leave to go, Laertes ; make the fairest use you 
please of your time, and spend it at your will with the fairest 
graces you are master of. THEOBALD. 

So, in King Henry VIII: 

" and bear the inventory 

" Of your best graces in your mind." STEE YENS. 

I rather think this line is in want of emendation. I read : 

. time is thine. 

And my best graces: spend it at thy fuill. JOHNSON. 

5 Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.] Kind is 
the Teutonick word for child. Hamlet therefore answers with 
propriety, to the titles of cousin and son, which the king had 
given him, that he was somewhat more than cousin, and less than 
son. JOHNSON. 

In this line, with which Shakspeare introduces Hamlet, Dr. 
Johnson has perhaps pointed out a nicer distinction than it can 
justly boast of. To establish the sense contended for, it should 
have been proved that kind was ever used by any English writer 
for child. A little more than kin, is a little more than a common 
relation. The King was certainly something less than kind, by 
having betrayed the mother of Hamlet into an indecent and in- 
cestuous marriage, and obtained the crown by means which he 
suspects to be unjustifiable. In the fifth Act, the prince accuses 
his uncle of having popp'd in between the election and his hopes, 
which obviates Dr. Warburton's objection to the old reading, viz. 
that " the king had given no occasion for such a reflection." 

A jingle of the same sort is found in Mother Bombie, 1594, 
and seems to have been proverbial, as I have met with it more 
than once : ** the nearer we are in blood, the further we must 
be from love ; the greater the kindred is, the less the kindness 
must be." 

Again, in Gorboduc, a tragedy, 1561 : 

" In kinde a father, but not kindelyness" 

In the Battle of Alcazar, 1594, Muly Mahomet is called 
" Traitor to kinne and kinde. 1 * 

As kind, however, signifies nature, Hamlet may mean that 

32 HAMLET, ACT i. 

KING. How is it that the clouds still hang on 
you ? 

HAM. Not so, my lord, I am too much i'the sun. 6 

QUEEN. Good Hamlet, cast thy nigh ted colour 


And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. 
Do not, for ever, with thy vailed lids 7 

his relationship was become an unnatural one, as it was partly 
founded upon incest. Our author's Julius Ctesar, Antony and 
Cleopatra, King Richard II. and Titus Andronicus, exhibit 
instances of kind being used for nature; and so too in this play 
of Hamlet, Act II. sc. the last : 

" Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain." 
Dr. Farmer, however, observes that kin is still used for 
cousin in the midland counties. STEEVENS. 

Hamlet does not, I think, mean to say, as Mr. Steevens sup- 
poses, that his uncle is a little more than kin, &c. The King 
had called the Prince " My cousin Hamlet, and my son." 
His reply, therefore, is, ** I am a little more than thy kinsman, 
[for I am thy step-son ;] and somewhat less than kind to thee, 
[for I hate thee, as being the person who has entered into an in- 
cestuous marriage with my mother.]" Or, if we understand kind 
in its ancient sense, then the meaning will be, / am more than 
thy kinsman, for I am thy step-son; being such, I am less near 
to thee than thy natural offspring, and therefore not entitled to 
the appellation of son, which you have now given me. 


6 too much i't/ie sun."] He perhaps alludes to the proverb, 

" Out of heaven's blessing into the warm sun." JOHNSON. 

Meaning probably his being sent for from his studies to be 
exposed at his uncle's marriage as his chiefest courtier, &c. 


I question whether a quibble between sun and son be not here 
intended. FARMER. 

vailed lids ] With lowering eyes, cast down eyes. 


So, in The Merchant of Venice: 

" Vailing her high-top lower than her ribs." 

See Vol. XII. p. 17, n. 9. MA LONE. 


Seek for thy noble father in the dust : 

Thou know'st, 'tis common ; all, that live, must 

die, 8 
Passing through nature to eternity. 

HAM. Ay, madam, it is common. 
QUEEN. If it be, 

Why seems it so particular with thee ? 

HAM. Seems, madam ! nay, it is ; I know not 


'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, 
Nor customary suits of solemn black, 
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath, 
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, 
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage, 
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief," 
That can denote me truly : These, indeed, seem, 
For they are actions that a man might play : 
But I have that within, which passeth show ; 
These, but the trappings and the suits of woe. 1 

XING. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your na- 
ture, Hamlet, 

8 Thou knoiu'st, 'tis common ; all, that live, must die,~\ Perhaps 
the semicolon placed in this line, is improper. The sense, ellip- 
tically expressed, is, Thou knowest it is common that all that 
live, must die. The first that is omitted for the sake of metre, a 
practice often followed by Shakspeare. STEEVENS. 

9 shows of grief,"] Thus the folio. The first quarto 

reads chapes I suppose, for shapes. STEEVENS. 

1 But I have that tvithin, "which passeth show ; 

These, but the trappings and the suits oftvoe.^ So, in King 
Richard II: 

" my grief lies all within ; 

" And these external manners of lament 

" Are merely shadows to the unseen grief 

" That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.*' 



34 tiAMLET, ACT i. 

To give these mourning duties to your father : 

But, you must know, your father lost a father ; 

That father lost, lost his ; 2 and the survivor bound 

In filial obligation, for some term 

To do obsequious sorrow : 3 But to persever 

In obstinate condolement, 4 is a course 

Of impious stubbornness ; 'tis unmanly grief: 

It shows a will most incorrect 5 to heaven ; 

* your father lost a father; 

That father lost, lost his ;~] Mr. Pope judiciously corrected 
the faulty copies thus : 

your father lost a father ; 

That father, his ; . 

On which the editor Mr. Theobald thus descants: This sup- 
posed refinement is from Mr. Pope, but all the editions else, that I 
have met with, old and modern, read : 

That father lost, lost his ; 

The reduplication of which word here gives an energy and an 
EXPLAINED IN TERMS. I believe so : for when explained in terms 
it conies to this : That father after he had lost himself, lost his 
father. But the reading is ex fide codicis, and that is enough. 


I do not admire the repetition of the word, but it has so much 
of our author's manner, that I find no temptation to recede 
from the old copies. JOHNSON. 

The meaning of the passage is no more than this, Your fa- 
ther lost a father, i. e. your grandfather, which lost grandfather, 
also lost his father. 

The metre, however, in my opinion, shows that Mr. Pope's 
correction should be adopted. The sense, though elliptically 
'expressed, will still be the same. STKEVENS. 

3 obsequious sorrow :] Obsequious is here from obsequies, 

or funeral ceremonies. JOHNSON. 

So, in Titus Andronicus : 

" To shed obsequious tears upon his trunk." 
See Vol. XIV. p. 282, u. 4-. STEEVENS. 

4 In obstinate condolement, ] Condolement, for sorrow. 


4 a will most incorrect ] Incorrect, for untutored. 



A heart unfortified, or mind impatient ; 

An understanding simple and unschool'd . 

For what, we know, must be, and is as common 

As any the most vulgar thing to sense, 

Why should we, in our peevish opposition, 

Take it to heart ? Fye ! 'tis a fault to heaven, 

A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, 

To reason most absurd; 6 whose common theme 

Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried, 

From the first corse, till he that died to-day, 

This must be so. We pray you, throw to earth 

This unprevailing woe ; and think of us 

As of a father : for let the world take note, 

You are the most immediate to our throne ; 

And, with no less nobility of love, 7 

Than that which dearest father bears his son, 

Do I impart toward you. 8 For your intent 

Incorrect does not mean untutored, as Warburton explains it 
but ill-regulated, not sufficiently subdued. M. MASON. 

Not sufficiently regulated by a sense of duty and submission to 
the dispensations of Providence. MALONE. 

6 To reason most absurd ;~\ Reason is here used in its common 
sense, for the faculty by which we form conclusions from argu- 
ments. JOHNSON. 

7 And, with no less nobility of love,"] Nobility, for magnitude 

Nobility is rather generosity. JOHNSON. 

By nobility of love, Mr. Heath understands, eminence and 
distinction of love. MALONE. 

So, afterwards, the Ghost, describing his affection for the 
Queen : 

" To me, whose love was of that dignity" &c. 


8 Do I impart toward you."] I believe impart is, impart my- 
self, communicate whatever I can bestow. JOHNSON. 

The crown of Denmark was elective. So, in Syr Clyomon, 
Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599 : 

D 2 


In going back to school in Wittenberg, 9 
It is most retrograde to our desire : 

" And me possess for spoused wife, who in election am 
" To have the crown of Denmark here, as heir unto the 


The King means, that as Hamlet stands the fairest chance to be 
next elected, he will strive with as much love to ensure the 
crown to him, as a father would show in the continuance of heir- 
dom to a son. STEEVEXS. 

I agree with Mr. Steevens, that the crown of Denmark (as in 
most of the Gothick kingdoms) was elective, and not here- 
ditary ; though it must be customary, in elections, to pay some 
attention to the royal blood, which by degrees produced heredi- 
tary succession. Why then do the rest of the commentators so 
often treat Claudius as an usurper, who had deprived young 
Hamlet of his right by heirship ,to his father's crown ? Hamlet 
calls him drunkard, murderer, and villain ; one who had carried 
the election by low and mean practices; had 

" Popp'd in between the election and my hopes ." 

" From a shelf the precious diadem stole, 

" And put it in his pocket :" 

but never hints at his being an usurper. His discontent arose 
from his uncle's being preferred before him, not from any legal 
right which he pretended to set up to the crown. Some regard 
was probably had to the recommendation of the preceding prince, 
in electing the successor. And therefore young Hamlet had 
*' the voice of the king himself for his succession in Denmark ;" 
and he at his own death prophecies that " the election would 
light on Fortinbras, who had his dying voice," conceiving that 
by the death of his uncle, he himself had been king for an in- 
stant, and had therefore a right to recommend. When, in the 
fourth Act, the rabble wished to choose Laertes king, I under- 
stand that antiquity was forgot, and custom violated, by electing 
a new king in the life-time of the old one, and perhaps also by 
the calling in a stranger to the royal blood. BLACKSTONE. 

9 to school in Wittenberg,~\ In Shakspeare's time there 

was an university at Wittenberg, to which he has made Hamlet 
propose to return. 

The university of Wittenberg was not founded till 1502, con- 
sequently did not exist in the time to which this play is referred. 


Our author may have derived his knowledge of this famous 

ac. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 37 

And, we beseech you, bend you to remain 1 
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye, 
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son. 

QUEEN. Let not thy mother lose her prayers, 

Hamlet ; 
I pray thee, stay with us, go not to Wittenberg. 

HAM. I shall in all my best obey you, madam. 

KING. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply ; 
Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come ; 
This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet 
Sits smiling to my heart : 2 in grace whereof, 
No jocund health, 3 that Denmark drinks to-day, 
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell ; 
And the king's rouse 4 the heaven shall bruit again, 
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away. 

[Exeunt King, Queen, Lords, fyc. POLONIUS, 

university from The Life of lacks Wilton, 1594, or The History 
of Doctor Faustus, of whom the second report (printed in the 
same year) is said to be " written by an English gentleman, 
student at Wittenberg, an University of Germany in Saxouy." 


1 bend you to remain ] i. e. subdue your inclination to 

go from hence, and remain, &c. STEEVENS. 

8 Sits smiling to my heart :"] Thus, the dying Lothario : 
" That sweet revenge comes smiling to my thoughts." 


Sits smiling to my heart:"] Surely it should be : 
Sits smiling on my heart. RITSON. 

To my heart, I believe, signifies near to, close, next to, my 
heart. STEEVENS. 

3 No jocund health,'] The King's intemperance is very strongly 
impressed ; every thing that happens to him gives him occasion 
to drink. JOHNSON. 

* the king's rouse ] i. e. the King's draught of jollity. 

See Othello, Act II. sc. iii. STEEVENS. 

38 HAMLET, ACT i. 

HAM. O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, 
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! 5 
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd 
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter ! 6 O God ! O God ! 
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable 

So, in Marlowe's Tragical Historic of Doctor Faustus: 
" He tooke his rouse with stoopes of Rhennish wine." 


4 'resolve itself into a dew /] Resolve means the same as 

dissolve. Ben Jonson uses the word in his Volpone, and in the 
same sense : 

" Forth the resolved corners of his eyes." 
Again, in The Country Girl, 1647 : 

" my swoln grief, resolved in these tears." 

Pope has employed the same word in his version of the second 
Iliad, 44: 

" Resolves to air, and mixes with the night." 


Again, in Giles Fletcher's Russe Commonivealth, 1591 : " In 
winter time, when all is covered with snow, the dead bodies ( so 
many as die all the winter time) are piled up in a house in the 
suburbs, like billets on a woodstack, as hard with the frost as a 
very stone, 'till the spring tide come and resolve the frost, what 
time every man taketh his dead friend and committeth him to 
the ground." REED. 

Or that the Everlasting had notjtx'd 

His canon ' 'gainst self-slaughter!'] The generality of the 
editions read ^-cannon, as if the poet's thought were, Or that 
the Almighty had not planted his artillery, or arms o/Vengeance, 
against self-murder. But the word which I restored (and which 
was espoused by the accurate Mr. Hughes, who gave an edition 
of this play) is the true reading, i. e. that he had not restrained 
suicide by his express law and peremptory prohibition. 


There are yet those who suppose the old reading to be the true 
one, as they say the -wotdjijce d seems to decide very strongly in 
its favour. I would advise such to recollect Virgil's expression: 
" fixit leges pretio, atque refixit" STEEVEXS. 

If the true reading wanted any support, it might be found in 
Cymbeline : 

#7. //. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 39 

Seem to me all the uses of this world ! 

Fye on't ! O fye ! 'tis an unweeded garden, 

That grows to seed ; things rank, and gross in na- 

Possess it merely. 7 That it should come to this ! 

But two months dead! nay, not so much, not 

So excellent a king ; that was, to this, 

Hyperion to a satyr : 8 so loving to my mother, 

" 'gainst self-slaughter 

" There is a. prohibition so divine, 
" That cravens my weak hand." 

In Shakspeare's time cawow (normct.) was commonly spelt cannon. 


7 merely.'] is entirely, absolutely. See Vol. IV. p. 9, 

n. 3 ; and Vol. XVI. p. 139, n. 8. STEEVENS. 

8 So excellent a king ; that ivas, to this, 

Hyperion to a satyr .-] This similitude at first sight seems to 
be a little far-fetched ; but it has an exquisite beauty. By the 
Satyr is meant Pan, as by Hyperion, Apollo. Pan and Apollo 
were brothers, and the allusion is to the contention between those 
gods for the preference in musick. WARBURTON. 

All our English poets are guilty of the same false quantity, and 
call Hyperion Hyperion ; at least the only instance I have met. 
with to the contrary, is in the old play of Fuimus Troes, 1633 : 

" Blow gentle Africus, 

" Play on our poops, when Hyperion's son 
*' Shall couch in west." 

Shakspeare, I believe, has no allusion in the present instance, 
except to the beauty of Apollo, and its immediate opposite, the 
deformity of a Satyr. STEEVENS. 

Hyperion or Apollo is represented in all the ancient statues, 
&c. as exquisitely beautiful, the satyrs hideously ugly. Shak- 
speare may surely be pardoned for not attending to the quantity 
of Latin t names, here and in Cymbeline; when we find Henry 
Parrot, the author of a collection of Epigrams printed in 1613, 
to which a Latin preface is prefixed, writing thus : 
" Posthumus, not the last of many more, 
" Asks why I write in such an idle vaine," &c. 
Laquei ridiculosi, or Springes for Woodcocks, 16mo. sign. c. 3. 


40 HAMLET, ACT i. 

That he might not beteem the winds of heaven 9 
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth ! 

9 That he might not beteem the winds of heaven ] In former 
editions : 

That he permitted not the winds of heaven . 
This is a sophisticated reading, copied from the players in some 
of the modern editions, for want of understanding the poet, whose 
text is corrupt in the old impressions : all of which that I have 
had the fortune to see, concur in reading : 

so loving to my mother, 

That he might not oeteene the winds of heaven 

Visit her face too roughly. 

Beteene is a corruption without doubt, but not so inveterate a 
one, but that, by the change of a single letter, and the separation 
6f two words mistakenly jumbled together, I am verily persuaded, 
I have retrieved the poet's reading 

That he might not let e'en the winds of heaven &c. 


The obsolete and corrupted verb beteene, (in the first folio) 
which should be written (as in all the quartos) beteeme, was 
changed, as above, by Mr. Theobald ; and with the aptitude of 
his conjecture succeeding criticks appear to have been satisfied. 
Beteeme, however, occurs in the tenth Book of Arthur Gold- 
ing's version of Ovid's Metamorphosis, 4-to. 1587 ; and, from 
the corresponding Latin, must necessarily signify, to vouchsafe, 
deign, permit, or stiffer: 

" Yet could he not beteeme 

" The shape of anie other bird than egle for to seeme." 

Sign. R. l.b. 

" nulla tamen alite verti 

" Dignatur, nisi quae possit sua fulmina ferre." V. 157. 
Jupiter (though anxious for the possession of Ganymede) would 
not deign to assume a meaner form, or suffer change into an 
humbler shape, than that of the august ana* vigorous fowl who 
bears the thunder in his pounces. 

The existence and signification of the verb beteem being thus 
established, it follows, that the attention of Hamlet's father to 
his queen was exactly such as is described in the Enterlude of 
the Life and Repentaunce of Marie Magdalaine, &c. by Lewis 
Wager, 4to. 1567: 

" But evermore they were unto me very tender, 

" They -would not stiffer the wynde on me to blowe." 
I have therefore replacea the ancient reading, without the 
slightest hesitation, in the text. 


Must I remember ? why, she would hang on him, 
As if increase of appetite had grown 
By what it fed on : And yet, within a month, 
Let me not think on't ; Frailty, thy name is wo- 

A little month ; or ere those shoes were old, 
With which she followed my poor father's body, 
Like Niobe, all tears j 1 why she, even she, 
O heaven ! a beast, that wants discourse of reason, 
Would have mourn'd longer, married with my 


My father's brother ; but no more like my father, 
Than I to Hercules : Within a month ; 
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears 

This note was inserted by me in The Gentleman's Magazine, 
some years before Mr. Malone's edition of our author ( in which 
the same justification of the old reading beteeme, occurs,) had 
made its appearance. STEEVENS. 

This passage ought to be a perpetual memento to all future 
editors and commentators to proceed with the utmost caution in 
emendation, and never to discard a word from the text, merely 
because it is not the language of the present day. 

Mr. Hughes or Mr. Rowe, supposing the text to be unintel- 
ligible, for beteem boldly substituted permitted. Mr. Theobald, 
in order to favour his own emendation, stated untruly that all 
the old copies which he had seen, read beteene. His emenda- 
tion appearing uncommonly happy, was adopted by all the sub- 
sequent editors. 

We find a sentiment similar to that before us, in Marston's 
Insatiate Countess, 1613: 

" she had a lord, 

" Jealous that air should ravish her chaste looks." 


1 Like Niobe, all tears;~\ Shakspeare might have caught this 
iuea from an ancient ballad intitled The falling out of Lovers is 
the renewing of Love: 

" Now I, like weeping Niobe, 
" May wash my handes in teares," &c. 
Of this ballad Amantium irce &c. is the burden. STEEVENS. 

42 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, 

She married : O most wicked speed, to post 

With such dexterity to incestuous sheets ! 

It is not, nor it cannot come to, good ; 

But break, my heart ; for I must hold my tongue! 


Hon. Hail to your lordship ! 

HAM. I am glad to see you well : 

\^ Horatio, or I do forget myself. 

HOR. The same, my lord, and your poor servant 

f /HAM. Sir, my good friend; I'll change that 

-A SJ^/ VI 

name^ with you. 

'And what make you 3 from Wittenberg, Horatio? 
Marcellus ? 

MAR. My good lord, 

HAM. I am very glad to see you ; good even, 

sir. 4 
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg ? 

I'll change that name ] I'll be your servant, you 

shall be my friend. JOHNSON. 

3 -what make you ] A familiar phrase for what are yon 
doing. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. VIII. p. 4-, n. 7. STEEVENS. 

4 good even, sir.'] So the copies. Sir Thomas Hanmer 

and Dr. Warburton put it good morning. The alteration is of 
no importance, but all licence is dangerous. There is no need 
of any change. Between the first and eighth scene of this Act 
it is apparent, that a natural day must pass, and how much of 
it is already over, there is nothing that can determine. The 
King has held a council. It may now as well be evening as 
morning. JOHNSON. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 43 

Hon. A truant disposition, good my lord. 

HAM. I would not hear your enemy say so ; 
Nor shall you do mine ear that violence, 
To make it truster of your own report 
Against yourself: I know, you are no truant. 
But what is your affair in Elsinore ? 
We'll teach you to drink deep, ere you depart. 

HOR. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral. 

HAM. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow- 
student ; 
I think, it was to see my mother's wedding. 

Hon. Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon. 

HAM. Thrift, thrift, Horatio ! the funeral bak'd 

meats 5 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. 

The change made by Sir T. Hanmer might be justified by 
what Marcellus said of Hamlet at the conclusion of sc. i : 

" and I this morning know 

" Where we shall find him most convenient." 


* the funeral bak'd meats ] It was anciently the ge- 
neral custom to give a cold entertainment to mourners at a fu- 
neral. In distant counties this practice is continued among the 
yeomanry. See The Tragique Historic of the Faire Valeria of 
London, 1598 : "His corpes was with funerall pompe conveyed 
to the church, and there sollemnly enterred, nothing omitted 
which necessitie or custom could claime ; a sermon, a banquet, 
and like observations." Again, in the old romance of Syr De- 
gore, bl. 1. no date : 

" A great feaste would he holde 

" Upon his queues mornynge day, 

" That was buryed in an abbay." COLLINS. 

See also, Hayward's Life and Raigne of King Henrie the 
Fourth, 4to. 1599, p. 135 : " Then hee [King Richard II.] was 
conveyed to Langley Abby in Buckinghamshire, and there ob- 
scurely interred, without the charge of a dinner for celebrating 
the funeral." MALONE. 

44 HAMLET, ACT r. 

'Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven 6 
Or ever 7 I had seen that day, Horatio ! 
My father, Methinks, I see my father. 

HOR. Where, 

My lord ? 

HAM. In my mind's eye, 8 Horatio. 

8 dearest foe in heaven ] Dearest for direst, most 

dreadful, most dangerous. JOHNSON. 

Dearest is most immediate, consequential, important. So, in 
Romeo and Juliet : 

" a ring that I must use 

" In dear employment." 
Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid in the Mill: 

" You meet your dearest enemy in love, 

" With all his hate about him." STEEVENS. 

See Timon of Athens, Act V. sc. ii. Vol. XIX. MALONE, 

7 Or ever ] Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio reads ere 
ever. This is not the only instance in which a familiar phrase- 
ology has been substituted for one more ancient, in that valuable 
copy. MALONE. 

' In my mind's eye,"] This expression occurs again in our 
author's Rape of ' Lucrece: 

" himself behind 

" Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind." 
Again, in Chaucer's Man of Lawes Tale: 

" But it were with thilke eyen of his minde, 

" With which men mowen see whan they ben blinde." 
JBen Jonson has borrowed it in his Masque called Love's Tri- 
'umph through Callipolis: 

" As only by the mind's eye may be seen." 
Again, in the Microcosmos of John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 

" And through their closed eies their mind's eye peeps." 
Telemachus lamenting the absence of Ulysses, is represented in 
like manner: 

" *Ocr<ro|W,evo? irareg e<r9Xov Ixi pfetnv." Odyss. L. I. 115. 


This expression occurs again in our author's 113th Sonnet: 
" Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind." 


sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 45 

HOR. I saw him once, he was a goodly king. 

HAM. He was a man, take him for all in all, 
I shall not look upon his like again. 9 

HOR. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight. 

HAM. Saw! who? 

HOR. My lord, the king your father. 

HAM. The king my father ! 

HOR. Season your admiration 1 for a while 
With an attent ear; 2 till I may deliver, 
Upon the witness of these gentlemen, 
This marvel to you. 

HAM. For God's love, let me hear. 

HOR. Two nights together had these gentlemen, 
Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch, 
In the dead waist and middle of the night, 3 

9 I shall not look upon his like again."] Mr. Holt proposes 
to read, from an emendation of Sir Thomas Samwell, Bart, of 
Upton, near Northampton : 

Eye shall not look upon his like again ; 

and thinks it is more in the true spirit of Shakspeare than the 
other. So, in Stowe's Chronicle, p. 746 : " In the greatest pomp 
that euer eye behelde." Again, in Sandys's Travels, p. 150 : 
" We went this day through the most pregnant and pleasant 
valley that ever eye beheld." 

Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. III. p. 293, edit. 1633 : 

" as cruell a fight as eye did ever see." 


1 Season your admiration ] That is, temper it. JOHNSON. 

* With an attent ear ;"] Spenser, as well as our poet, uses 
attent for attentive. MALONE. 

3 In the dead waist and middle of the night, ~\ This strange 
phraseology seems to have been common in the time of Shak- 
speare. By waist is meant nothing more than middle; and 
hence the epithet dead did not appear incongruous to our poet. 
So, in Marston's Malecontent, 1604 : 

" 'Tis now about the immodest toaist of night." 


Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father, 
Armed at point, 4 exactly, cap-a-p, 
Appears before them, and, with solemn inarch, 
Goes slow and stately by them : thrice he walk'd, 
By their oppressed and fear-surprized eyes, 
Within his truncheon's length ; whilst they, di- 


Almost to jelly with the act of fear, 5 
Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me 
In dreadful secrecy impart they did ; 
And I with them, the third night kept the watch : 
Where, as they had delivered, both in time, 
Form of the thing, each word made true and good, 
The apparition comes : I knew your father ; 
These hands are not more like. 

HAM. But where was this? 

MAR. My lord, upon the platform where we 

i.e. midnight. Again, in The Piiriian, a comedy, 1607: 
" ere the clay be spent to the girdle, ." 

In the old copies the word is spelt tvast, as it is in the second 
Act, sc. ii : " Then you live about her tcast, or in the middle of 
her favours." The same spelling is found in King Lear, Act IV. 
sc. vi: " Down from the wast, they are centaurs." See also, 
Minsheu's Diet. 1617 : " Wast, middle, or girdle-steed." We 
have the same pleonasm in another line in this, play: 

" And given my heart a working mute and dumb." 

All the modern editors read In the dead waste &c. 


Dead zvastc may be the true reading. See Vol. IV. p. 39, n. 4. 

4 Armed at point,'] Thus the quartos. The folio: 
Arm'd at all points. STEEVEXS. 

' - with the act o/*fear,] Fear was the cause, the active 
cause that distilled them by the force of operation which we 
strictly call act m voluntary, and power in involuntary ngenfs, 
but popularly call act in both. JOHNSON. 

The folio reads icstil'd. STEEVEXS. 


HAM. Did you not speak to it ? 6 

HOR. My lord, I did ; 

6 Did you not speak to it?~] Fielding, who was well ac- 
quainted with vulgar superstitions, in his Tom Jones, B. XI. 
ch. ii. observes that Mrs. Fitzpatrick, " like a ghost, only wanted 
to be spoke to," but then very readily answered. It seems from 
this passage, as well as from others in books too mean to be form- 
ally quoted, that spectres were supposed to maintain an ob- 
durate silence, till interrogated by the people to whom they ap- 

The drift therefore of Hamlet's question is, whether his fa- 
ther's shade had been spoken to ; and not whether Horatio, as 
a particular or privileged person, was the speaker to it. Horatio 
tells us he had seen the late King but once, and therefore can- 
not be imagined to have any particular interest with his appa- 

The vulgar notion that a ghost could only be spoken to with 
propriety and effect by a scholar, agrees very well with the cha- 
racter of Marcellus, a common officer ; but it would have dis- 
graced the Prince of Denmark to have supposed the spectre 
would more readily comply with Horatio's solicitation, merely 
because it was that of a man who had been studying at a uni- 

We are at liberty to think the Ghost would have replied to 
Francisco, Bernardo, or Marcellus, had either of them ventured 
to question it. It was actually preparing to address Horatio, 
when the cock crew. The convenience of Shakspeare's play, 
however, required that the phantom should continue dumb, till 
Hamlet could be introduced to hear what was to remain con- 
cealed in his own breast, or to be communicated by him to some 
intelligent friend, like Horatio, in whom he could implicitly 

By what particular person therefore an apparition which ex- 
hibits itself only for the purpose of being urged to speak, was 
addressed, could be of no consequence. 

Be it remembered likewise, that the words are not as lately 
pronounced on the stage,- " Did not you Speak to it ?" but 
" Did you not speak to it ?" How aukward will the innovated 
sense appear, if attempted to be produced from the passage as 
it really stands in the true copies ! 

Did you not speak to it ? 
The emphasis, therefore, should most certainly rest on speak. 

48 HAMLET, ACT i. 

But answer made it none : yet once, methought, 

It lifted up its head, and did address 

Itself to motion, like as it would speak : 

But, even then, the morning cock crew loud ; 7 

And at the sound it shrunk in haste away, 

And vanish'd from our sight. 

HAM. J Tis very strange. 

HOR. As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true ; 
And we did think it writ down in our duty, 
To let you know of it. 

HAM. Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me. 
Hold you the watch to-night ? 

ALL. We do, my lord. 

HAM. Arm'd, say you ? 

ALL. Arm'd, my lord. 

HAM. From top to toe ? 

ALL. My lord, from head to foot. 

HAM. Then saw you not 

His face. 

7 the morning cock crew loud;'] The moment of the 

evanescence of spirits was supposed to be limited to the crowing 
of the cock. This belief is mentioned so early as by Prudentius, 
Cathem. Hymn. I. v. 40. But some of his commentators prove 
it to be of much higher antiquity. 

It is a most inimitable circumstance in Shakspeare, so to have 
managed this popular idea, as to make the Ghost, which has 
been so long obstinately silent, and of course must be dismissed 
by the morning, begin or rather prepare to speak, and to be in- 
terrupted, at the very critical time of the crowing of a cock. 

Another poet, according to custom, would .have suffered his 
Ghost tamely to vanish, without contriving this start, which is 
like a start of guilt. To say nothing of the aggravation of the 
future suspence, occasioned by this preparation to speak, and to 
impart some mysterious secret. Less would have been expected, 
had nothing been promised. T. WARTON. 


HOR. O, yes, my lord ; he wore his beaver up. 8 
HAM. What, look'd he frowningly ? 

HOR. A countenance more 

In sorrow than in anger. 

HAM. Pale, or red ? 

HOR. Nay, very pale. 

HAM. And fix'd his eyes upon you ? 

HOR. Most constantly. 

HAM. I would, I had been there. 

HOR. It would have much amaz'd you. 

HAM. Very like, 

Very like : Stay'd it long ? . 

HOR. While one with moderate haste might tell 
a hundred. 

MAR. BER. Longer, longer. 

HOR. Not when I saw it. 

HAM. His beard was grizzl'd ? no ? 

HOR. It was, as I have seen it in his life, 
A sable silver'd. 9 

9 wore his beaver up.] Though beaver properly signified 

that part of the helmet which was let doivn, to enable the wearer 
to drink, Shakspeare always uses the word as denoting that part 
of the helmet which, when raised up, exposed the face of the 
wearer : and such was the popular signification of the word in 
his time. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, beaver is 
defined thus : " In armour it signifies that part of the helmet 
which may be lifted up, to take breath the more freely." 


So, in Laud's Diary: " The Lord Broke shot in the left eye, 
and killed in the place at Lichfield his bever up, and armed to 
the knee, so that a musket at that distance could have done him 
little harm." FARMER. 

9 A sable silver'd.'] So, in our poet's 12th Sonnet: 
" And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white." 

VOL. xvm. E 

50 HAMLET, ACT i. 

HAM. I will watch to-night ; 

Perchance, 'twill walk again. 

HOR. I warrant, it will. 

HAM. If it assume my noble father's person, 
I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape, 
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all, 
If you have hitherto conceaPd this sight, 
Let it be tenable in your silence still ; ' 
And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, 
Give it an understanding, but no tongue ; 
I will requite your loves : So, fare you well : 
Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve, 
I'll visit you. 

ALL. Our duty to your honour. 

HAM. Your loves, as mine to you : Farewell. 

My father's spirit in arms ! 2 all is not well ; 
I doubt some foul play : 'would, the night were 

come ! 

Till then sit still, my soul : Foul deeds will rise, 
Though all the earth overwhelm them, to men's 
eyes. [Exit. 

1 Let it be tenable in your silence still ;] Thus the quartos, 
and rightly. The folio, 1623, reads treble. STEEVENS. 

* My father's spirit in arms /] From what went before, I 
once hinted to Mr. Garrick, that these words might be spoken 
in this manner : 

My father's spirit ! in arms ! all is not tuell; 




A Room in Polonius* House. 

LAER. My necessaries are embark'd ; farewell : 
And, sister, as the winds give benefit, 
And convoy is assistant, do not sleep, 
But let me hear from you. 

OPH. Do you doubt that ? 

LAER. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his fa- 

Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood ; 
A violet in the youth of primy nature, 
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, 
The perfume and suppliance of a minute ; 3 
No more. 

3 The perfume and suppliance of a minute ;~\ Thus the quarto, 
the folio has it : 

sweet, not lasting, 

The suppliance of a minute. 

It is plain that perfume is necessary to exemplify the idea of stveet, 
not lasting. With the word suppliance I am not satisfied, and 
yet dare hardly offer what I imagine to be right. I suspect that 
soffiance, or some such word, formed from the Italian, was then 
used for the act of fumigating with sweet scents. JOHNSON. 

The perfume and suppliance of a minute ;~\ i. e. what was sup- 
plied to us for a minute ; or, as Mr. M. Mason supposes, " an 
amusement to fill up a vacant moment, and render it agreeable/' 
This word occurs in Chapman's version of the ninth Iliad, of 
Homer : 

" by my suppliance given." STEEVENS. 

The words perfume and, which are found in the quarto, 
1604-, were omitted in the folio. MALONE. 

E 2 

/ / 


No more but so ? 

LAER. Think it no more : 

For nature, crescent, does not grow alone 
In thews,* and bulk ; but, as this' temple waxes, 
The inward service of the mind and soul 
Grows wide withal. Perhaps, he loves you now ; 
And now no soil, nor cautel, doth besmirch 
The virtue of his will : 5 but, you must fear, 
His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own ; 
For he himself is subject to his birth : 6 
He may not, as unvalued persons do, 
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends 

4 In thews,] i. e. in sinews, muscular strength. So, in King 
Henry IV. P. II : " Care I for the limb, the thewes, the stature," 
&c. See Vol. XII. p. 141, n. 6. STEEVENS. 
* And noto no soil, nor cautel, doth besmirch 

The virtue of his will;'] From cantela, which signifies only 
a prudent foresight or caution ; but, passing through French 
hands, it lost its innocence, and now signifies fraud, deceit. 
And so he uses the adjective in Julius Ccesar: 

" Swear priests and cowards, and men cautelous" 


So, in the second part of Greene's Art of Coneycatching, 
1592 : " and their subtill cautels to amend the statute." To 
amend the statute, was the cant phrase for evading the law. 


Cautel is subtlety or deceit. Minsheu in his Dictionary, 
1617, defines it, " A crafty way to deceive." The word is 
again used by Shakspeare, in A Lover's Complaint : 
" In him a plenitude of subtle matter, 
" Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives." 


Virtue seems here to comprise both excellence and power, and 
may be explained the pure effect. JOHNSON. 

The virtue of his will means, his virtuous intentions. Cautel 
means crafi. So, Coriolanus says : 

" - be caught by cautelous baits and practice." 


For he himself &c.] This line is not in the quarto. 


ac. in. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 53 

The safety and the health of the whole state ; 7 
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed 
Unto the voice and yielding of that body, 
Whereof he is the head : Then if he says he loves 


It fits your wisdom so far to believe it, 
As he in his particular act and place 
May give his saying deed ; 8 which is no further, 
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal. 
Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain, 
If with too credent ear you list his songs ; 
Or lose your heart ; or your chaste treasure open 
To his unmaster'd 9 importunity. 
Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister ; 
And keep you in the rear of your affection, 1 
Out of the shot and danger of desire. 
The chariest maid 2 is prodigal enough, 
If she unmask her beauty to the moon : 

7 The safety and the health of the mhole states'] Thus the 
quarto, 1604, except that it has this whole state, and the second 
the is inadvertently omitted. The folio reads : 

The sanctity and health of the whole state. 
This is another proof of arbitrary alterations being sometimes 
made in the folio. The editor, finding the metre defective, in 
consequence of the article being omitted before health, instead 
of supplying it, for safety substituted a word of three syllables. 


8 May give his saying deed;] So, in Timon of Athens: 
" the deed of saying is quite out of use." Again, in Troilus 
and Cressida: 

" Speaking in deeds, and deedless in his tongue." 


9 unmaster'd ] i. e. licentious. JOHNSON. 

1 keep you in the rear &c.J That is, do not advance so 

far as your affection would lead you. JOHNSON. 

2 The chariest maid ] Chary is cautious. So, in Greene's 
Never too Late, 1616: "Love requires not chastity, but that 
her soldiers be chary." Again : " She liveth chastly enough, 
that liveth charily." STEEVENS, 

54 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes: 
The canker galls the infants of the spring, 
Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd ; 
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth 
Contagious blastments are most imminent. 
Be wary then : best safety lies in fear ; 
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near. 

OPH. I shall the effect of this good lesson keep, 
As watchman to my heart : But, good my brother, 
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, 
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven ; 
Whilst, like a pufPd and reckless libertine, 
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, 
And recks not his own read. 3 

LAER. O fear me not. 

I stay too long ; But here my father comes. 

3 recks not his oivn read.] That his, heeds not his own 

lessons. POPE. 

So, in the old Morality of Hycke Scorner: 

" 1 reck not a feder." 

Again, ibidem : 

" And of thy living, I reed amend thee." 
Ben Jonson uses the word reed in his Catiline: 

" So that thou could'st not move 

" Against a publick reed" 

Again, in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch : " Dis- 
patch, I read you, for your enterprize is betrayed." Again, the 
old proverb, in The Tioo angry Women of Abington, 1599: 

" Take heed, is a good reed" 
i. e. good counsel, good advice. STEEVENS. 

So, Sternhold, Psalm i : 

" that hath not lent 

" To wicked rede his ear." BLACKSTONE. 

sc. in. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 55 


A double blessing is a double grace ; 
Occasion smiles upon a second leave. 

POL. Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for 

shame ; 

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail, 4 
And you are staid for : There, my blessing with 


[Laying his Hand on LAERTES' Head. 
And these few precepts in thy memory 
Look thou character. 5 Give thy thoughts no tongue, 
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act. 
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. 
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, 
Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel; 6 

the shoulder of your sail,'} This is a common sea phrase. 

5 And these Jew precepts in thy memory 

Look thou character.] i. e. write, strongly infix. The same 
phrase is again used by our author in his 122d Sonnet: 
thy tables are within my brain 


Full charactered with lasting memory" 
in The T'voo Gentlemen of Verona; 
I do conjure thee, 

' ~Who art the table wherein all my thoughts 

' Are visibly charactered and engrav'd." MALONE. 

6 Grapple them to thy soul ixith hooks of steel ;] The old 
copies read with hoops of steel. I have no doubt that this was 
a corruption in the original quarto of 1604, arising, like many 
others, from similitude of sounds. The emendation, which was 
made by Mr. Pope, and adopted by three subsequent editors, is 
strongly supported by the word grapple. See Minsheu's Diet. 
1617 : " To hook or grapple, viz. to grapple and to board a ship." 

A grapple is an instrument with several hooks to lay hold of a 
ship, in order to board it. 

This correction is also justified by our poet's 137th Sonnet: 

56 HAMLET, ACT i. 

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. 7 Beware 
Of entrance to a quarrel : but, being in, 
Bear it that the opposer may beware of thee. 
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice : 
Take each man's censure, 3 but reserve thy judge- 

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, 
But not expressed in iancy ; rich, not gaudy :^ 
For the apparel oft proclaims the man ; 9 
And they in France, of the best rank and station, 
Are most select and generous, chief in that. 1 

" Why of eyes' falshood hast thou forged hooks, 
" Whereto the judgement of my heart is ty'd ?" 
It may be also observed, that hooks are sometimes made of 
steel, but hoops never. MA LONE. 

We have, however, in King Henry IV. P. II : 
" A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in." 
The former part of the phrase occurs also in Macbeth : 
" Grapples you to the heart and love of us." 


7 But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 

Of each nciv-hatch'd, unjladg'd comrade.] The literal sense 
is, Do not make thy palm callous by shaking every man by the 
hand. The figurative meaning may be, Do not by promiscuous 
conversation make thy mind insensible to the difference of cha~ 
racier s. JOHNSON. 

8 each man's censure,] Censure is opinion. So, in King 

Henry VI. P. II : 

" The king is old enough to give his censure." 


For the apparel oft proclaims the man;] " A man's attire, 
excessive laughter, and gait, shevi what he is." I'.ccus XIX. 



ver. 30. TODD. 

1 Are most select and generous, chief in that.~\ I think the 
whole design of the precept shows that we should read : 
Are most select, and generous chief, in that. 

Chief may be an adjective used adverbially, a practice common 
to our author: chiefly generous. Yet it must be owned that the 
punctuation recommended is very stiff and harsh. 


Neither a borrower, nor a lender be : 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend ; 

I would, however, more willingly read : 

And they in France, of the best rank and station, 
Select and generous, are most choice in that. 
Let the reader, who can discover the slightest approach to- 
wards sense, harmony, or metre, in the original line, 
Are of a most select and generous chief, in that, 
adhere to the old copies. STEEVENS. 

The genuine meaning of the passage requires us to point the 
line thus : 

Are most select and generous, chief in that. 
i. e. the nobility of France are select and generous above all 
other nations, and chiefly in the point of apparel ; the richness 
and elegance of their dress. RITSON. 

Are of a most select and generous chief, in that."] Thus the 
quarto, 1604, and the folio, except that, in that copy the word 
chief is spelt clieff. The substantive chief, which signifies in 
heraldry the upper part of the shield, appears to have been in 
common use in Shakspeare's time, being found in Minsheu's 
Dictionary, 1617. He defines it thus : Est superior el scuti no- 
iilior pars ; tertiam partem ejus obtinet ; ante Christi adventum 
dabatur in maximi honoris signum; senatoribus et honor atis viris." 
B. Jonson has used the word in his Poetaster. 

The meaning then seems to be, They in France approve them- 
selves of a most select and generous escutcheon by their dress. 
Generous is used with the signification of generosus. So, in 
Othello : " The generous islanders," &c. 

Chief, however, may have been used as a substantive, for 
note or estimation, without any allusion to heraldry, though the 
word was perhaps originally heraldick. So, in Bacon's Colours 
of Good and Evil, 16mo. 1597: " In the warmer climates the 
people are generally more wise, but in the northern climates the 
wits of chief are greater." 

If chief in this sense had not been familiarly understood, the 
editor of the folio must have considered the line as unintelligible, 
and would have probably omitted the words of a in the begin- 
ning of it, or attempted some other correction. That not having 
been done, I have adhered to the old copies. 

Our poet from various passages in his works, appears to have 
been accurately acquainted with all the terms of heraldry. 


58 HAMLET, ACT i. 

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. 2 
This above all, To thine ownself be true; 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 3 
Thou canst not then be false to any man. 
Farewell ; my blessing season this in thee !* 

LAER. Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord. 

POL. The time invites you ; 5 go, your servants 
tend. 6 

LAER. Farewell, Ophelia ; and remember well 
What I have said to you. 

OPH. 'Tis in my memory lock'd, 

And you yourself shall keep the key of it. 7 

Of chief, in the passage quoted from Bacon, is, I believe, a 
bald translation of the old French phrase de chef, whatever, in 
the present instance, might be its intended meaning. 


* of husbandry.] i. e. of thrift; economical prudence. 

See Vol. X. p. 93, n. 5. MALONE. 

3 And it must follow, as the night the day,] So, in the 145th 
Sonnet of Shakspeare : 

" That follow'd it as gentle day 

" Doth follow night," &c. STEEVENS. 

4 my blessing season this in thee I'] Season, for infuse. 


It is more than to infuse, it is to infix it in such a manner aa 
that it never may wear out. JOHNSON. 

So, in the mock tragedy represented before the king: 

" who in want a hollow friend doth try, 

" Directly seasons him his enemy.'* STEEVENS. 

* The t ime invites you;"} So, m Macbeth: 

" I go, and it is done, the bell invites me." STEEVENS. 
Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, reads The time invests 
you : which Mr. Theobald preferred, supposing that it meant, 
" the time besieges, presses upon you on every side." But to 
invest, in Shakspeare's time, only signified, to clothe, or give 
possession. MALONE. 

6 your servants tend.] i. e. your servants arc waiting for 

you. JOHNSON. 

7 yourself shall keep the key of */.] The meaning is, 


LAER. Farewell. [Exit LAERTES. 

POL. What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you ? 

OPH. So please you, something touching the lord 

POL. Marry, well bethought : 
'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late 
Given private time to you : and you yourself 
Have of your audience been most free and boun- 
teous : 

If it be so, (as so 'tis put on me, 
And that in way of caution,) I must tell you, 
You do not understand yourself so clearly, 
As it behoves my daughter, and your honour : 
What is between you ? give me up the truth. 

OPH. He hath, my lord, of late, made many 

Of his affection to me. 

POL. Affection ? puh ! you speak like a green 

Unsifted in such perilous circumstance. 8 

that your counsels are as sure of remaining locked up in my me- 
mory, as if yourself carried the key of it. So, in Northward 
Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607 : " You shall close it up like 
a treasure of your own, and yourself shall keep the key of it." 


8 Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.'] Unsifted for un- 
tried. Untried signifies either not tempted, or not refined; 
unsifted signifies the latter only, though the sense requires the 
former. WARBURTON. 

It means, I believe, one who has not sufficiently considered, 
or thoroughly sifted such matters. M. MASON. 

I do not think that the sense requires us to understand un- 
tempted. " Unsifted in," &c. means, I think, one who has not 
nicely canvassed and examined the peril of her situation. 


That sifted means tempted may be seen in the 31st verse of 
the 22d chapter of St. Luke's gospel. HARRIS. 

60 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Do you believe his tenders, as you call them ? 

OPH. I do not know, my lord, what I should 

POL. Many, I'll teach you : think yourself a 

baby ; 

That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay, 
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more 

dearly ; 

Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, 
Wronging it thus,) you'll tender me a fool. 9 

Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, 
Wronging it thus,) you'll tender me a Jool.~\ The paren- 
thesis is closed at the wrong place ; and we must have likewise 
a slight correction in the last verse. [Wringing it, &c.] Polonius 
is racking and playing on the word tender, till he thinks proper 
to correct himself for the licence ; and then he would say not 
farther to crack the wind of the phrase, by twisting it and con- 
torting it, as I have done. WARBURTON. 

I believe the word wronging has reference, not to the phrase, 
but to Ophelia; if you go on wronging it thus, that is, if you 
continue to go on thus wrong. This is a mode of speaking per- 
haps not very grammatical, but very common ; nor have the best 
writers refused it. 

" To sinner it or saint it," 
is in Pope. And Rowe, 

" Thus to coy it, 

" With one who knows you too." 

The folio has it Roaming it thus. That is, letting yourself 
loose to such improper liberty. But wronging seems to be more 
proper. JOHNSON. 

" See you do not coy it," is in Massinger's Neva Way to pay 
old Debts. STEEVENS. 

I have followed the punctuation of the first quarto, 1604-, 
where the parenthesis is extended to the word tnus t to which 
word the context in my apprehension clearly shows it should be 
carried. " Or (not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, playing 
upon it, and abusing it thus,") &c. So, in The Rape of Lucrecet 
" To wrong the wronger, till he render right." 


OPH. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love, 
In honourable fashion. 

POL. Ay, fashion you may call it ;* go to, go to. 

OPH. And hath given countenance to his speech, 

my lord, 
With almost all the holy vows of heaven. 

POL. Ay, springes to catch w r oodcocks. 2 I do 


When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul 
Lends the tongue^fows : these blazes, daughter, 3 
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both, 
Even in their promise, as it is a making, 
You must not take for fire. From this time, 
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence ; 
Set your entreatments 4 at a higher rate, 

The quarto, by the mistake of the compositor, reads Wrong 
it thus. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. 

Tender yourself more dearly ;] To tender is to regard 

with affection. So, in King Richard II: 

; And so betide me, 

" As well I tender you and all of yours.'* 
Again, in The Maydes Metamorphosis, by Lyly, 1601: 

" if you account us for the same 

" That tender thee, and love Apollo's name." MALONE. 

1 fashion you may call it ; ] She uses fashion for manner ', 

and he for a transient practice. JOHNSON. 

1 springes to catch woodcocks.'} A proverbial saying,, 

" Every woman has a springe to catch a woodcock.'" STEEVENS. 

3 these blazes, daughter,} Some epithet to blazes was 

probably omitted, by the carelessness of the transcriber or com- 
positor, in the first quarto, in consequence of which the metre is 
defective. MALONE. 

4 Set your entreatments ~\ Entreatments here mean com- 
pany, conversation, from the French entretien. JOHNSON. 

Entreatments, I rather think, means the objects of entreaty; 
the favours for which lovers sue. In the next scene we have a 
word of a similar formation : 

" As if it some impartment did desire," &c. MALONE. 


Than a command to parley. For lord Hamlet, 
Believe so much in him, That he is young ; 
And with a larger tether 5 may he walk, 
Than may be given you : In few, Ophelia, 
Do not believe his vows : for they are brokers 6 
Not of that die which their investments show, 
But mere implorators of unholy suits, 
Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds, 7 

larger tether ] A string to tie horses. POPE. 

Tether is that string by which an animal, set to graze in 
grounds uninclosed, is confined within the proper limits. 


So, in Greene's Card of Fancy, 1601 : " To tye the ape and 
the bear in one tedder" Tether is a string by which any ani- 
mal is fastened, whether for the sake of feeding or the air. 


6 Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers ~] A broker 
in old English meant a bawd or pimp. See the Glossary to 
Gawin Douglass's translation of Virgil. So, in King John : 

'* This bawd, this broker," &c. 

See also, Vol. XV. p. 478, n. 2. In our author's Lover's Com- 
plaint we again meet with the same expression, applied in the 
same manner : 

" Know, vows are ever brokers to defiling." MA LONE. 

7 Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds,] On which the 
editor, Mr. Theobald, remarks, Though all the editors have 
swallowed this reading implicitly, it is certainly corrupt ; and 
I have been surprized how men of genius and learning could let 
it pass without some suspicion. What idea can we frame to our- 
selves of a breathing bond, or of its being sanctified and pious, &c. 
But he was too hasty in framing ideas before he understood 
those already framed by the poet, and expressed in very plain 
words. Do not believe (says Polonius to his daughter) Hamlet's 
amorous vows made to you; which pretend religion in them (the 
better to beguile} like those sanctified and pious vows [or bonds] 
made to heaven. And why should not this pass without suspicion? 


Theobald for bonds substitutes bawds. JOHNSON. 
Notwithstanding Warburton's elaborate explanation of this 
passage, I have not the least doubt but Theobald is right, and 

sc. in. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 63 

The better to beguile. This is for all, 
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, 
Have you so slander any moment's leisure, 8 
As to give words or talk with the lord Hamlet. 
Look to't, I charge you ; come your ways. 

OPH. I shall obey, my lord. [Exeunt. 

that we ought to read Lauds instead of bonds. Indeed the pre- 
sent reading is little better than nonsense. 

Polonius had called Hamlet's vows, brokers, but two lines be- 
fore, a synonymous word to bawds, and the very title that Shak- 
speare gives to Pandarus, in his Troilus and Cressida. The 
words implorators of unholy suits, are an exact description of a 
bawd; and all such of them as are crafty in their trade, put on 
the appearance of sanctity, and are " not of that die which their 
investments show." M. MASON. 

The old reading is undoubtedly the true one. Do not, says 
Polonius, believe his vows, for they are merely uttered for the 
purpose of persuading you to yield to a criminal passion, though 
they appear only the genuine effusions of a pure and lawful af- 
fection, and assume the semblance of those sacred engagements 
entered into at the altar of wedlock. The bonds here in our 
poet's thoughts were bonds of love. So, in his 142d Sonnet: 
those lips of thine, 


That have profan'd their scarlet ornaments, 
And seal'd false bonds of love, as oft as mine.' 

n The Merchant of Venice : 

O, ten times faster Venus' pigeons fly, 
To seal love's bonds new made, than they are wont 
To keep obliged faith unforfeited." 
" Sanctified and pious bonds," are the true bonds of love, or, 
as our poet has elsewhere expressed it : 

" A contract and eternal bond of love." 

Dr. Warburton certainly misunderstood this passage ; and 
when he triumphantly asks " why may not this pass without sus- 
picion?" if he means his own comment, the answer is, because 
it is not perfectly accurate. MALONE. 

8 / would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, 

Have you so slander any moment's leisure, ~] Polonius says, in 
plain terms, that is, not in language less elevated or embellished 
than before, but in terms that cannot be misunderstood: I would 
not have you so disgrace your most idle moments, as not to find 
better employment for them than lord Hamlet's conversation. 


64- HAMLET, ACT z. 


The Platform. 

HAM. The air bites shrewdly ; it is very cold. 
HOR. It is a nipping and an eager air. 9 
HAM. What hour now ? 

HOR. I think, it lacks of twelve. 

MAR. No, it is struck. 

HOR. Indeed ? I heard it not ; it then draws 

near the season, 
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk. 

\_A Flourish of Trumpets, and Ordnance shot 
off, within. 

\j * 

What does this mean, my lord ? 

HAM. The king doth wake to-night, and takes 

his rouse, 1 
Keeps wassel, 2 and the swaggering up-spring 3 reels ; 

9 an eager air.'] That is, a sharp air, aigre, Fr. So, in 

a subsequent scene : 

" And curd, like eager droppings into milk." 


1 takes his rouse,] A rouse is a large dose of liquor, a 

debauch. So, in Othello: " they have given me a rouse al- 
ready." It should seem from the following passage in Decker's 
Gul's Hornbook, 1609, that the word rouse was of Danish ex- 
traction : " Teach me, thou soveraigne skinker, how to take the 
German's upsy freeze, the Danish rousa, the Switzer's stoop of 
rhenish," &c. STEEVENS. 

* Keeps wassel,] See Vol. X. p. 88, n. 4. Again, in The 
Hog hath lost ftis Pearl, 1G14-: 

to. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 65 

And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down, 
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out 4 
The triumph of his pledge. 

HOR. Is it a custom ? 

HAM. Ay, marry, is't : 
But to my mind, though I am native here, 
And to the manner born, it is a custom 
More honour* d in the breach, than the observance. 
This heavy-headed revel, east and west, 5 

" By Croesus name and by his castle, 
" Where winter nights he keepeth tvassel." 
i. e. devotes his nights to jollity. STEEVENS. 

3 - the swaggering up-spring ] The blustering upstart. 


It appears from the following passage in Alphonsus, Emperor 
of Germany, by Chapman, that the up-spring was a German 

" We Germans have no changes in our dances ; 
" An almain and an up-spring, that is all." 
Spring was anciently the name of a tune : so in Beaumont and 
Fletcher's Prophetess; 

" - we will meet him, 
" And strike him such new springs ." 

This word is used by G. Douglas in his translation of Virgil, 
and, I think, by Chaucer. Again, in an old Scots proverb: 
" Another would play a spring, ere you tune your pipes." 

thus bray out 1 So, in Chapman's version of the 5th 

Tf J 


" - he laid out such a throat 

" As if nine or ten thousand men had brayd out all their 

" In one confusion." STEEVENS. 

* This heavy-headed revel, east and west,] This heavy-headed 
revel makes us traduced east and west, and taxed of other 
nations. JOHNSON. 

By east and west, as Mr. Edwards has observed, is meant, 
throughout the world ; from one end of it to the other. This 
and the following twenty-one lines have been restored from the 
quarto. MALONE. 



Makes us traduc'd, and tax'd of other nations ; 

They clepe us, drunkards, 6 and with swinish phrase 

Soil our addition ; and, indeed it takes 

From our achievements, though perform'dat height, 

The pith and marrow of our attribute. 7 

So, oft it chances in particular men, 

That, for some vicious mole of nature in them, 

As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty, 

Since nature cannot choose his origin,) 8 

' They chpe. us, drunkards,~\ And well our Englishmen might; 
for in Queen Elizabeth's time there was a Dane in London, of 
whom the following mention is made in a collection of characters 
entitled, Looks to it, for lie stab ye, no date : 

" You that will drinke Keynaldo unto deth, 

** The Dane that would carowse out of his boote." 

Mr. M. Mason adds, that " it appears from one of Howell's 
letters, dated at Hamburgh in the year 1632, that the then King 
of Denmark had not degenerated from his jovial predecessor. 
In his account of an entertainment given by his majesty to the 
Earl of Leicester^ he tells us, that the king, after beginning 
thirty-five toasts, was carried away in his chair, and that all the 
officers of the court were drunk." STEEVENS. 

See also the Nugce Antigua!, Vol. II. p. 133, for the scene of 
drunkenness introduced into the court of James I. by the King 
of Denmark, in 1606. 

Roger Ascham in one of his Letters, mentions being present 
at an entertainment where the Emperor of Germany seemed in 
drinking to rival the King of Denmark : " The Emperor, (says 
he) drank the best that ever I saw ; he had his head in the glass 
five times as long as any of us, and never drank less than a good 
quart at once of Rhenish tvine." REED. 

7 The pith and marrow of our attribute.^ The best and most 
valuable part of the praise that would be otherwise attributed to 

8 That, for some vicious mole of nature in them, 
As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty, 

Since nature cannot choose his origin,)'} We have the same 
uenthnent in The Rape of Lucrece : 

" For marks descried in man's nativity 

" Are nature's fault, not their own infamy." 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 67 

By the o'ergrowth of some complexion, 9 
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason ; 
Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens 
The form of plausive manners; 1 that these men, 
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect ; 
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star, 2 

Mr. Theobald, without necessity, altered mole to mould. The 
reading of the old copies is fully supported by a passage in King 
John ; 

"- Patch' d with foul moles, and eye-offending marks.'* 


9 complexion,"] i. e. humour ; as sanguine, melancholy, 

phlegmatick, &c. WARBURTON. 

The quarto, 1604, for the has their ; as a few lines lower it has 
his virtues, instead of their virtues. The correction was made 
by Mr. Theobald. MALONE. 

1 that too much o'er-leavens 

The form of plausive manners /] That intermingles too 
much with their manners ; infects and corrupts them. See Cym- 
beline, Act III. sc. iv. Plausive in our poet's age signified gra- 
cious, pleasing, popular. So, in All's well that ends well: 

" . his plausive words 

" He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them, 
" To grow there, and to bear." 

Plausible, in which sense plausive is here used, is defined by 
Cawdrey, in his Alphabetical Table, &c. 1604: "Pleasing, or 
received joyfully and willingly." MALONE. 

2 fortune's star,] The word star in the text signifies a 

scar of that appearance. It is a term of farriery: the white star 
or mark so common on the forehead of a dark coloured horse, is 
usually produced by making a scar on the place. RITSOX. 

fortune's star,] Some accidental blemish, the consequence 

of the overgrowth of some complexion or humour allotted to us by 
fortune at our birth, or some vicious habit accidentally acquired 

Theobald, plausibly enough, would read fortune's scar. The 
emendation may be supported by a passage in Antony and Cleo- 
patra : 

" The scars upon your honour therefore he 
" Does pity as constrained blemishes, 
" Not as deserv'd." MALONE. 

p o, 


Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace, 
As infinite as man may undergo,) 3 
Shall in the general censure take corruption 
From that particular fault : The dram of base 
Doth all the noble substance often dout, 
To his own scandal. 4 

* As infinite as man may undergo,)} A* large as can be ac- 
cumulated upon man. JOHNSON. 

So, in Measure for Measure: 

" To undergo such ample grace and honour, ." 


4 The dram of base 

Doth all the noble substance often dout, 
To his own scandal.] I once proposed to read Dot k all the 
noble substance (i. e. the sum of good qualities) oft do out. We 
should now say, To its own scandal ; but his and its are per- 
petually confounded in the old copies. 

As I understand the passage, there is little difficulty in it. 

This is one of the phrases which at present are neither employed 

in writing, nor perhaps are reconcileable to propriety of language. 

To do a thing out, is to extinguish it, or to efface or obliterate 

any thing painted or written. 

In the first of these significations it is used by Drayton, in the 
5th Canto of his Barons' Wars: 

" Was ta'en in battle, and his eyes out-done" 
My conjecture do out, instead of doubt, might have received 
support from the pronunciation of this verb in Warwickshire, 
where they always say " dout the candle," " dout the fire ;" 
i. e. put out or extinguish them. The forfex by which a candle 
is extinguished is also there called a douter. 

Dout, however, is a word formed by the coalescence of two 
others, (do and out) like don for do on, dqjffor do off, both of 
which are used by Shakspeare. 

The word in question (and with the same blunder in spell ing) 
has already occurred in the ancient copies in King Henry Vi 

" make incision in their hides, 

" That their hot blood may spin in English eyes, 
*' And doubt them with superfluous courage:" 
i. e. put or do them out. I therefore now think we should read; 

Doth all the noble substance often dout, #c. 
for surely it is needless to say 

the noble substance of worth dottt, 


Enter Ghost. 
HOR. Look, my lord, it comes ! 

because the idea of txtorth is comprehended in the epithet 

N.B. The improvement which my former note on this passage 
has received, I owed, about four years ago, to the late Rev. 
Henry Homer, a native of Warwickshire. But as Mr. Malone 
appears to have been furnished with almost the same intelligence, 
I shall not suppress his mode of communicating it, as he may 
fairly plead priority in having laid it before the publick. This is 
the sole cause why our readers are here presented with two an- 
notations, of almost similar tendency, on the same subject : for 
unwilling as I am to withhold justice from a dead friend, I 
should with equal reluctance defraud a living critick of his due. 


The quarto, where alone this passage is found, exhibits it thus : 

the dram o/'eale 

Doth all the noble substance of a. doubt, 
To his own scandal. 

To dout, as I have already observed in a note on King Henry 
V. Vol. XII. p. 444, n. 1, signified in Shakspeare's time, and yet 
signifies in Devonshire and other western counties, to do out, to 
efface, to extinguish. Thus they say, " dout the candle," 
" dout the fire," &c. It is exactly formed in the same manner 
as to don (or do on,] which occurs so often in the writings of 
our poet and his contemporaries. 

I have no doubt that the corruption of the text arose in the 
following manner. Dout, which I have nowprinted in the text, 
having been written by the mistake of the transcriber, doubt, 
and the word worth having been inadvertently omitted, the line, 
in the copy that went to the press, stood 

Doth all the noble substance of doubt, 

The editor or printer of the quarto copy, finding the line too 
short, and thinking doubt must want an article, inserted it, with- 
out attending to the context ; and instead of correcting the erro- 
neous, and supplying the true word, printed 

Doth all the noble substance of' a doubt, fyc. 
The very same error has happened in King Henry V ; 
" That their hot blood may spin in English eyes, 
" And doubt them with superfluous courage :" 
where doubt is again printed instead of dout. 

70 HAMLET, ACT i. 

HAM. Angels and ministers of grace defend 
us! 5 

That 'worth (which was supplied first by Mr. Theobald) was 
the word omitted originally in the hurry of transcription, may 
be fairly collected from a passage in Cymbdine, which fully jus- 
tifies the correction made : 

" Is she with Posthumus ? 

** From whose so many weights of baseness cannot 
" A dram of worth be drawn." 

This passage also adds support to the correction of the word 
eale in the first of these lines, which was likewise made by Mr. 
Theobald. Base is used substantively for baseness: a practice 
not uncommon in Shakspeare. So, in Measure for Measure : 
" Say what thou canst, my false outweighs your true." 
Shakspeare, however, might have written the dram of ill. 
This is nearer the corrupted word eale, but the passage in Cym- 
beline is in favour of the other emendation. 

The meaning of the passage thus corrected is, The smallest 
particle of vice so blemishes the whole mass of virtue, as to erase 
from the minds of mankind the recollection of the numerous 
good qualities possessed by him who is thus blemished by a sin- 
gle stain, and taints his general character. 

To his oivn scandal, means, so as to reduce the whole mass of 
iKorth to its own vicious and unsightly appearance ; to translate 
his virtue to the likeness of vice. 

His for its, is so common in Shakspeare, that every play fur- 
nishes us with examples. So, in a subsequent scene in this 
play: " than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his 

Again, in Timon of Athens : 

" When every feather sticks in his own wing, ." 

Again, in A Midsummer- Night's Dream t 

" Whose liquor hath this virtuous property, 
" To take from thence all error with his might." 
Again, in King Richard II: 

" That it may show me what a face I have, 
" Since it is bankrupt of his majesty." 
So, in Grim, the Collier of Croydon : 

Contented life, that gives the heart his ease,- 

We meet with a sentiment somewhat similar to that before us, 
in King Henry IV. P. I. 

" oftentimes it doth present harsh rage, 
" Defect of manners, want of government, 
" Pride, haughtiness, opinion, and disdain: 

ac. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 71 

Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd, 6 
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from 

Be thy intents wicked, or charitable, 

" The least of which, haunting a nobleman, 

" Loseth men's hearts, and leaves behind a stain 

" Upon the beauty of all parts besides, 

" Beguiling them of commendation " MALONE. 

* Angels and ministers of grace defend us! &c.] Hamlet's 
speech to the apparition of his father seems to consist of three 
parts. When first he sees the spectre, he fortifies himself with 
an invocation : 

Angels and ministers of grace defend us! 
As the spectre approaches, he deliberates with himself, and 
determines, that whatever it be he will venture to address it. 
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd, 
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell, 
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable, 
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape, 
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee, &c. 
This he says while his father is advancing ; he then, as he had 
determined, speaks to him, and calls him Hamlet, King, Father, 
Royal Dane : ! answer me. JOHNSON. 

6 Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd, &c.~] So, in 
Acolastus his After-wit, 1600: 

" Art thou a god, a man, or else a ghost ? 
" Com'st thou from heaven, where bliss and solace dwell ? 
" Or from the airie cold-engendering coast? 
" Or from the darksome dungeonrhold of hell ?" 
The first known edition of this play is in 1604. 
The same question occurs also in the MS. known by the title 
of William and the Werwolf, in the Library of King's College, 
Cambridge : 

" Whether thou be a gode gost in goddis name that 


" Or any foul fiend fourmed in this wise, 
" And if we schul of the hent harme or gode." p. 36. 
Again, in Barnaby Googe's Fourth Eglog : 

" What soever thou art y l thus dost com, 

" Ghoost, hagge, or fende of hell, 
" I the comaunde by him that lyves 

" Thy name and case to tell." STEEVENS. 

73 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Thou com'st in such a questionable shape, 7 
That I will speak to thee ; I'll call thee, Hamlet, 
King, father, royal Dane : O, answer me : 
Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell, 
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death, 
Have burst their cerements ! 8 why the sepulchre, 

7 questionable shape,"] By questionable is meant pro- 

Toking question. HANMER. 

So, in Macbeth : 

" Live you, or are you aught 

" That man may question ?" JOHNSON. 

Questionable, I believe, means only projntious to conversa- 
tion, easy and loitting to be conversed with. So, in As you like it: 
" An unquestionable spirit, which you have not." unquestion- 
able in this last instance certainly signifies unwilling to be talked 
with. STEEVENS. 

Questionable perhaps only means capable of being conversed 
with. To question, certainly in our author's time signified to 
converse. So, in his Rape of Lucrece, 1594? : 
" For after supper long he questioned 
" With modest Lucrece ." 
Again, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" Out of our question wipe him." 
See also King Lear, Act V. sc. iii. MALONE. 


Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death, 

Have burst their cerements /] Hamlet, amazed at an appa- 
rition, which, though in all ages credited, has in all ages been 
considered as the most wonderful and most dreadful operation of 
supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in themost empha- 
tick terms, why he breaks the order of nature, by returning from 
the dead ; this he asks in a very confused circumlocution, con- 
founding in his fright the soul and body. Why, says he, have 
thy bones, which with due ceremonies have been entombed in 
death, in the common state of departed mortals, burst the folds in 
which they were embalmed ? Why has the tomb, in which we 
saw thee quietly laid, opened Ms mouth, that mouth which, by 
its weight and stability, seemed closed for ever? The whole 
sentence is this ; Why dott thou appear, whom we know to be 
dead? JOHNSON. 

ac. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 73 

Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd, 9 
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws, 
To cast thee up again ! What may this mean, 
That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel, l 
Revisit' st thus the glimpses of the moon, 

By the expression hearsed in death is meant, shut up and se- 
cured with all those precautions which are usually practised in 
preparing dead bodies for sepulture, such as the winding-sheet, 
shrowd, coffin, &c. perhaps embalming into the bargain. So 
that death is here used, by a metonymy of the antecedent for 
the consequents, for the rites of death, such as are generally 
esteemed due, and practised with regard to dead bodies. Con- 
sequently, I understand by cerements, the waxed winding-sheet 
or winding-sheets, in which the corpse was enclosed and sown 
up, in order to preserve it the longer from external impressions 
from the humidity of the sepulchre, as embalming was intended 
to preserve it from internal corruption. HEATH. 

By hearsed in death, the poet seems to mean, reposited and 

confined in the place of the dead. In his Rape ofLucrece he has 

again used this uncommon participle in nearly the same sense : 

" Thy sea within a puddle's womb is hearsed, 

" And not the puddle in thy sea dispersed." MALONE. 

9 quietly in-urn'd,] The quartos read interred. 


1 That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel,~] Thus also 
is the adjective complete accented by Chapman in his version of 
the fifth Iliad: 

" And made his complete armour cast a far more complete 

Again, in the nineteenth Iliad : 

" Grave silence strook the complete court." 

It is probable, that Shakspeare introduced his'Ghost in armour, 
that it might appear more .solemn by such a discrimination from 
the other characters ; though it was really the custom of the 
Danish kings to be buried in that manner. Vide Olaus Wor- 
mius, cap. vii : 

** Struem regi nee vestibus, nee odoribus cumulant, sua cui- 
que arma, quorundam igni et equus adjicitur." 

" sed postquam magnanimus ille Danorum rex collem 

sibi magnitudinis conspicuae extruxisset, ( cui post obitum regio 
diademate exornatum, armis indutum, inferendum esset cada- 
ver," &c. STEEVENS. 

74 HAMLET, ACT r r 

Making night hideous ; and we fools of nature, 2 
So horridly to shake our disposition, 3 
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls ? 
Say, why is this ? wherefore ? what should we do ? 

HOR. It beckons you to go away with it, 
As if it some impartment did desire 
To you alone. 

MAR. Look, with what courteous action 

It waves you to a more removed ground :* 
But do not go with it. 

HOR. No, by no means. 

HAM. It will not speak ; then I will follow it. 
HOR. Do not, my lord. 

HAM. Why, what should be the fear ? 

I do not set my life at a pin's fee ; 5 
And, for my soul, what can it do to that, 
Being a thing immortal as itself? 
It waves me forth again ; I'll follow it. 

* "we fools of nature,"] The expression is fine, as intima- 
ting we were only kept (as formerly, fools in a great family,) to 
make sport for nature, who lay hid only to mock and laugh at 
us, for our vain searches into her mysteries. WARBURTON. 

"we fools of nature,"] i. e. making us, who are the sport 

of nature, whose mysterious operations are beyond the reaches 
of our souls, &c. So, in Romeo and Juliet : 
" 0, I am fortune's fool." MALONE. 

fools of nature,"] This phrase is used by Davenant, in 

the Cruel Brother, 1630, Act V. sc. i. REED. 

3 to shake our disposition,] Disposition for frame. 


4 a more removed ground :"] i. e. remote. So, in A Mid- 
summer 'Night's Dream : 

" From Athens is her house remov'd seven leagues." 
The first folio reads remote. STEEVENS. 

* pin's foe ;] The value of a pin. JOHNSON. 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 75 

Hon. What, if it tempt you toward the flood, 

my lord, 

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff, 
That beetles o'er his base 6 into the sea ? 
And there assume some other horrible form, 
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, 7 
And draw you into madness ? think of it : 
The very place 8 puts toys of desperation, 9 

c That beetles o'er his base ] So, in Sidney's Arcadia, 
B. I : " Hills lifted up their beetle brows, as if they would over- 
looke pleasantnesse of their under prospect." STEEVENS. 

That beetles o'er his base ] That hangs o'er his' base, like 
what is called a beetle-brow. This verb is, I believe, of our au- 
thor's coinage. MALONE. 

7 deprive your sovereignty of reason,"] i. e. your ruling 

power of reason. When poets wish to invest any quality or 
virtue with uncommon splendor, they do it by some allusion to 
regal eminence. Thus, among the excellencies of Banquo's 
character, our author distinguishes " his royalty of nature," 
i. e. his natural superiority over others, his independent dignity 
of mind. I have selected this instance to explain the former, 
because I am told that " royalty of nature" has been idly sup- 
posed to bear some allusion to Banquo's distant prospect of the 

To deprive your sovereignty of reason, therefore, does not 
signify, to deprive your princely mind of rational powers, but, to 
take away from you the command of reason, by which man is 

So, in Chapman's version of the first Iliad: 

" I come from heaven to see 

" Thy anger settled : if thy soul will use her soveraigntie 
In fit reflection." 

Dr. Warburton would read deprave ; but several proofs are 
given in a note to King Lear, Vol. XVII. Act I. sc. ii. of Shak- 
speare's use of the word deprive, which is the true reading. 


I believe, deprive in this place signifies simply to take away. 


8 The very place ] The four following lines added from the 
first edition. POPE. 

9 puts toys of desperation,"] Toys, for whims. 


76 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Without more motive, into every brain, 
That looks so many fathoms to the sea, 
And hears it roar beneath. 

HAM. It waves me still : 

Go on, I'll follow thee. 

MAR. You shall not go, my lord. 
HAM. Hold off your hands. 

HOR. Be rul'd, you shall not go. 
HAM. My fate cries out, 

And makes each petty artery in this body 
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve. ' 

[Ghost beckons. 
Still am I call'd ; unhand me, gentlemen; 

\_Breaki7igJrom them. 
By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets 

me : 2 
I say, away : Go on, I'll follow thee. 

[Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET. 

1 As hardy as the "Nemean lion's neroe.~\ Shakspeare has again 
accented the word Nemean in this manner, in Love't Labour's 
Lost : 

" Thus dost tliou hear the N6mean lion roar." 

Spenser, however, wrote Nenaean, Fairy Queen, B. V. c. i : 
" Into the great Nemean lion's grove." 

Our poet's conforming in this instance to Latin prosody was 
certainly accidental, for he, and almost all the poets of his time, 
disregarded the quantity of Latin names. So, in Locrine, 1595, 
(though undoubtedly the production of a scholar,) we have Am- 
phion instead of Amphion, &c. See also, p. 39, n. 8. 


The true quantity of this word was rendered obvious to Shak- 
speare by Twine's translation of part of the JEneid, and Gold- 
ing's version of Ovid's Metamorphosis. STEEVENS. 

* that lets me :] To let among our old authors signifies 

to prevent, to hinder. It is still a word current in the law, and 
to be found in almost all leases. STEEVENS. 

So, in No Wit like a Woman's, a comedy, by Middleton, 

'* That lets her not to be your daughter now.'* MALONE. 


HOR. He waxes desperate with imagination. 
MAR. Let's follow ; 'tis not fit thus to obey him. 
HOR. Have after: To what issue will this come? 

MAR. Something is rotten in the state of Den- 

HOR. Heaven will direct it. 3 

MAR. Nay, let's follow him. 



A more remote Part of the Platform. 
Re-enter Ghost and HAMLET. 

HAM. Whither wilt thou lead me ? Speak, I'll 
go no further. 

GHOST. Mark me. 
HAM. I will. 

GHOST. My hour is almost come, 

When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames 
Must render up myself. 

HAM. Alas, poor ghost ! 

GHOST. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing 
To what I shall unfold. 

HAM. Speak, I am bound to hear. 

3 Heaven tvill direct it."] Perhaps it may be more apposite to 
read, " Heaven will detect it." FARMER. 

Marcellus answers Horatio's question, " To what issue will 
this come?" and Horatio also answers it himself with a pious 
resignation, " Heaven will direct it," BLACKSTQNE. 

19 HAMLET, ACT r. 

GHOST. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt 

HAM. What? 

GHOST. I am thy father's spirit ; 
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night ; 
And, for the day, confin'd to fast in fires, 4 
Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature, 
Are burnt and purg'd away. 5 But that I am forbid 

4 Doom'd for a certain term to lualk the night ; 

And, for the day, confin'd to fast inf,res,~] Chaucer has a 
similar passage with regard to the punishments of hell, Parson's 
Tale, p. 193, Mr. Urry's edition. " And moreover the misese 
of hell, shall be in defaute of mete and drinke." SMITH. 

Nash, in his Pierce Penniless his Supplication to the Devil, 
1595, has the same idea: " Whether it be a place of horror, 
stench and darkness, where men see meat, but can get none, and 
are ever thirsty," &c. Before I had read the Persones Tale of 
Chaucer, I supposed that he meant rather to drop a stroke of 
satire on sacerdotal luxury, than to give a serious account of the 
place of future torment. Chaucer, however, is as grave as 
Shakspeare. So, likewise at the conclusion of an ancient pam- 
phlet called The Wyll of the Devyll, bl. 1. no date : 
" Thou shalt lye in frost and^re 
" With sicknesse and hunger;" &c. 
Again, in Love's Labour's Lost : 

" \Q\e?jasting pain." 

It is observable, that in the statutes of our religious houses, 
most of the punishments affect the diet of the offenders. 

But for the foregoing examples, I should have supposed we 
ought to read " confin'd to ivaste in fires." STEEVENS. 

This passage requires no amendment. As spirits were sup- 
posed to feel the same desires and appetites that they had on 
earth, tofast might be considered as one of the punishments in- 
flicted on the wicked. M. MASON. 

.* Are burnt and purg'd atco?/.] Gawin Douglas really changes 
the Platonic hell into the " punytion of saulis in purgatory:" 
and it is observable, that when the Ghost informs Hamlet of his 
doom there 

' Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature 
" Are burnt and purg'd away" 


To tell the secrets of my prison-house, 
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word 
Would harrow up thy soul ; freeze thy young blood ; 
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their 

spheres ; 6 

Thy knotted and combined locks to part, 
And each particular hair to stand on end, 
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine : 7 

The expression is very similar to the Bishop's. I will give you 
his version as concisely as I can : " It is a nedeful thyng to 
suffer panis and torment ; Sum in the wyndis, sum under the 
waiter, and in the fire uthir sum : thus the mony vices 
" Contrakkit in the corpis be done away 

" Andpurgit." Sixte Book of Eneados, fol. p. 191. 


Shakspeare might have found this expression in The Hystorie 
of Hamblet, bl. 1. F. 2," edit. 1608 : " He set fire in the foure 
corners of the hal, in such sort, that of all that were as then 
therein not one escaped away, but were forced to purge their 
shines byjire" MALONE. 

Shakspeare talks more like a Papist, than a Platonist; but 
the language of Bishop Douglas is that of a good Protestant : 

" Thus the mony vices 

" Contrakkit in the corpis be done away 

" And purgit." 

These are the very words of our Liturgy, in the commendatory 
prayer for a sick person at the point of departure, in the office 
for the visitation of the sick: " Whatsoever defilements it may 
have contracted being purged and done away." WHALLEY. 

6 Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres ;] So, 
in our poet's 108th Sonnet : 

" How have mine eyes out of their spheres beenjitted, 
" In the distraction of this madding fever !" MALONE. 

13 fretful porcupine :] The quartos read -fearful &c. 

Either epithet may serve. This animal is at once irascible and 
timid. The same image occurs in The Romaunt of the Rose, 
where Chaucer is describing the personage of danger: 

" Like sharpe urchons his heere was grow." 
An urchin is a hedge-hog. 

The old copies, however, have porpentine, which is fr&- 


But this eternal blazon must not be 

To ears of flesh and blood : List, list, O list ! 

If thou didst ever thy dear father love, 

HAM. O heaven ! 

GHOST. Revenge his foul and most unnatural 
murder. 8 

HAM. Murder ? 

GHOST. Murder most foul, as in the best it is ; 
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural. 

HAM. Haste me to know it ; that I, with wings 

as swift 
As meditation, or the thoughts of love, 9 

quently written by our ancient poets instead of porcupine. So, 
in Skialetheia, a collection of Epigrams, Satires, &c. 1598: 
" Porpentine-bzcked, for he lies on thornes." 


* Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.'} As a proof 
that this play was written before 1597, of which the contrary 
has been asserted by Mr. Holt in Dr. Johnson's Appendix, I must 
borrow, as usual, from Dr. Farmer : " Shakspeare is said to have 
been no extraordinary actor ; and thatthe top of his performance 
was the Ghost in his own Hamlet. Yet this chefd'oeuvre did not 

E lease : I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr. Lodge pub- 
shed in the year 1596, a pamphlet called Wit's Miserie, or the 
World's Madness, discovering the incarnate Devils of the Age y 
quarto. One of these devils is, Hate-virtue, or sorrow for ono- 
ther man's good, successe, who, says the doctor, is a Joule lubber, 
and looks as pale as the vizard of the Ghost, which cried so mi- 
serably at the theatre, Hamlet revenge." STEEVENS. 

I suspect that this stroke was levelled not at Shakspeare, but 
at the performer of the Ghost in an older play on this subject, 
exhibited before 1589. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order 
of Shakspeare' s Plays, Vol. II. MALONE. 

9 As meditation, or the thoughts of love, ~] This similitude is 
extremely beautiful. The word meditation is consecrated, by 
the mysticks, to signify that stretch and flight of mind which 
aspires to the enjoyment of the supreme good. So that Hamlet, 
considering with what to compare the swiftness of his revenge, 


May sweep to my revenge. 

GHOST. I find thee apt ; 

And duller should* st thou be than the fat weed 
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, 1 

chooses two of the most rapid things in nature, the ardency of 
divine and human passion, in an enthusiast and a lover. 


The comment on the word meditation is so ingenious, that I 
hope it is just. JOHNSON. 

1 And duller should' st thou be than the fat 'weed 

That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, ] Shakspeare, ap- 
parently through ignorance, makes Roman Catholicks of these 
Pagan Danes ; and here gives a description of purgatory ; but 
yet mixes it with the Pagan fable of Lethe's wharf. Whether 
he did it to insinuate to the zealous Protestants of his time, that 
the Pagan and Popish purgatory stood both upon the same footing 
of credibility, or whether it was by the same kind of licentious in- 
advertence that Michael Angelo brought Charon's bark into his 
picture of the Last Judgment, is not easy to decide. WARBURTON. 

That rots itself in ease &c.] The quarto reads That roots 
itself. Mr. Pope follows it. Otway has the same thought : 

" like a coarse and useless dunghill weed 

" Fix'd to one spot, and rot just as I grow." 
Mr. Cowper also, in his version of the seventh Iliad, v. 100, 
has adopted this phrase of Shakspeare, to express 
""H.asvo; a0 EKOS~OL a'jojp<o/, " 
" Rot where you sit." v. 112. 

In Pope's Essay on Man, Ep. II. 64, we meet with a similar 
comparison : 

" Fix'd like a plant on his peculiar spot, 
" To draw nutrition, propagate, and rot" 
The superiority of the reading of the folio is to me apparent : 
to be in a crescent state (i. e. to root itself) affords an idea of 
activity; to rot better suits with the dulness and inaction to 
which the Ghost refers. Beaumont and Fletcher have a thought 
somewhat similar in The Humorous Lieutenant: 

" This dull root pluck'd from Lethe's flood." 


That roots itself in ease &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604. The 
folio reads That rols itself &c. I have preferred the reading of 
the original copy, because to root itself is a natural and easy 
phrase, but " to rot itself," not English. Indeed in general the 


82 HAMLET, ACT i. 

Would'st thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear : 
'Tis given out, that sleeping in mine orchard, 
A serpent stung me ; so the whole ear of Denmark 
Is by a forged process of my death 
Rankly abus'd : but know, thou noble youth, 
The serpent that did sting thy father's life, 
Now wears his crown. 

HAM. O, my prophetick soul ! my uncle ! 

GHOST. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, 
With witchcraft of his wit, 2 with traitorous gifts, 
(O wicked wit, and gifts, that have the power 
So to seduce !) won to his shameful lust 
The will of my most seeming virtuous queen : 
O, Hamlet, what a falling-ofF was there ! 
From me, whose love was of that dignity, 
That it went hand in hand even with the vow 
I made to her in marriage ; and to decline 
Upon a wretch, whose natural gifts were poor 
To those of mine ! 
But virtue, as it never will be mov'd, 

readings of the original copies, when not corrupt, ought, in my 
opinion, not to be departed from, without very strong reason. 
That roots itself in ease, means, whose sluggish root is idly ex- 

The modern editors read Lethe's wharf; but the reading of 
the old copy is right. So, in Sir Aston Cockain's Poems, 1658, 
p. 177: 

" fearing these great actions might die, 

" Neglected cast all into Lethe lake." MALONE. 

That Shakspeare, or his first editors, supposed rots itself, to 
be English, is evident from the same phrase being used in Antony 
and Cleopatra: 

" lackeying the varying tide, 

" To rot itself with motion." 
See Vol. XVII. p. 4-7. STEEVENS. 

8 his wit,] The old copies have wits. The subsequent 

line shows that it was a misprint. MALOXE. 


Though; lewdness court it in a shape of heaven; 

So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd, 

Will sate itself in a celestial bed, 

And prey on garbage. 3 

But, soft ! methinks, I scent the morning air ; 

Brief let me be : Sleeping within mine orchard, 4 

My custom always of the afternoon, 5 

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole, 

With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial, 6 

* - sate itself in a celestial bed, 

And prey on garbage.] The same image occurs again in 

" - ravening first 

" The lamb, longs after for the garbage.'' 1 STEEVENS. 

The same sentiment is expressed in a fragment of Euripides, 
Antiope, v. 86, edit. Barnes : 

" Kopo; SB Ttcnvtuv, no.} yoip IK 
" AeKfeotg kv aCupypois slSov 

s TfXyptoes H?, a<rjj,evof 


* - mine orchard,] Orchard for garden. So, in Romeo 
and Juliet : 

" The orchard walls are high, and hard to climb." 


Sleeping - 

My custom always of the afternoon,] See the Paston Let-' 
ters, Vol. III. p. 282: " Written in my sleeping time, at after* 
noon" &c. See note on this passage. STEEVENS. x - 

6 With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,"] The word here 
used was more probably designed by a metathesis, either of the 
poet or transcriber, for henebon, that is, henbane; of which the 
most ; common kind (hyoscyamus niger] is certainly narcoticJc t 
and perhaps, if taken in a considerable quantity, might prove 
poisonous. Galen calls it cold in the third degree ; by which in 
this, as well as opium, he seems not to mean an actual coldness, 
but the power it has of benumbing the faculties. Dioscorides 
ascribes to it the property of producing madness ("votrr.-jocfjt.of 
pavjcw^f ). These qualities have been confirmed by several cases 
related in modern observations. In Wepfer we have a good ac- 
count of the various effects of this root upon most of the mem- 

e 2 

84 HAMLET, ACT i. 

And in the porches of mine ears did pour 

The leperous distilment; 7 whose effect 

Holds such an enmity with blood of man, 

That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through 

The natural gates and alleys of the body ; 

And, with a sudden vigour, it doth posset 

And curd, like eager droppings into milk, 

The thin and wholesome blood : so did it mine ; 

And a most instant tetter bark'd about, 

Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust, 

All my smooth body. 

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand, 

Of life, of crown, of queen, at once despatched: 8 

Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, 9 

bers of a convent in Germany, who eat of it for supper by mis- 
take, mixed with succory ; heat in the throat, giddiness, dim- 
ness of sight, and delirium. Cicut. Aquatic, c. xviii. GREY. 

So, in Drayton's Barons' Wars, p. 51 : 

" The pois'ning henbane, and the mandrake drad." 
Again, in the Philosopher's 4th Satire of Mars, by Robert Anton, 

" The poison'd henbane, whose cold juice doth kill." 
In Marlowe's Jew of Malta, 1633, the word is written in a 
different manner : 

" the blood of Hydra, Lerna's bane, 

" The juice of hebon, and Cocytus* breath." 


7 The leperous distilment;] So, in Painter's Palace of Plea- 
sure, Vol. II. p. 142 : " which being once possessed, never 
leaveth the patient till it hath enfeebled his state, like the qualitie 
of poison distilling through the veins even to the heart." 


Surely, the leperous distilment signifies the water distilled 
from henbane, that subsequently occasioned leprosy. 


" at once despatch'd:] Despatched ', for bereft. 


9 Cut off" even in the blossoms ofniu sin, &c.] The very words 
of this part of the speech are taken (as I have been informed by 


UnhousePd, disappointed, unanel'd; 1 

No reckoning made, but sent to my account 

a gentleman of undoubted veracity) from an old Legend of Saint s, 
where a man, who was accidentally drowned, is introduced as 
making the same complaint. STEEVENS. 

1 Unhpusel'd, disappointed, unanel'd;~\ Unhousel'd is without 
having received the sacrament. 

Disappointed, as Dr. Johnson observes, " is the same as unap- 
pointed, and may be properly explained unprepared. A man 
well furnished with things necessary for an enterprise, was said 
to be well appointed." 

This explanation of disappointed may be countenanced by a 
quotation of Mr. Upton's from Measure for Measure : 

" Therefore your best appointment make with speed." 
Isabella, as Mr. Malone remarks, is the speaker, and her brother, 
who was condemned to die, is the person addressed. 

Unanel'd is without extreme unction. 

I shall now subjoin as many notes as are necessary for the sup- 
port of the first and third of these explanations. I administer 
the bark only, not supposing any reader will be found who is 
desirous to swallow the whole tree. 

In the Textus Roffensis we meet with two of these words 
" The monks offering themselves to perform all priestly func- 
tions of houseling, and aveyling." Aveyling is misprinted for 
aneyling. STEEVENS. 

See Mori d* Arthur, p. iii. c. 175 : " So when he was houseled 
and aneled, and had all that a Christian man ought to have," &c. 


The subsequent extract from a very scarce and curious copy of 
Fabian's Chronicle, printed by Pynson, 1516, seems to remove 
every possibility of doubt concerning the true signification of the 
words unhou,sel'd and unanei'd. The historian, speaking of 
Pope Innocent's having laid the whole kingdom of England under 
an interdict, has these words: " Of the manner of this inter- 
diccion of this lande have I seen dyverse opynyons, as some ther 
be that saye that the lande was interdyted thorwly and the 
churchis and housys of relygyon closyd, that no where was used 
mase, nor dyvyne servyce, by whiche reason none of the VII sa- 
cramentis all this terme should be mynystred or occupyed, nor 
chyld crystened, nor man confessed nor marryed; but it was not 
so strayght. For there were dyverse placys in Englond, which 
were occupyed with dyvyne servyce all that season by lycence 
purchased than orbefore,also chyldrenwere chrystenyd throughe 

86 HAMLET, ACT i. 

With all my imperfections on my head : 
O, horrible ! O, horrible ! most horrible I 2 
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not ; 
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be 
A couch for luxury 3 and damned incest. 
But, howsoever thou pursu'st this act, 
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive 
Against thy mother aught ; leave her to heaven, 
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, 
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once ! 
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near, 

all the lande and men houselyd and anelyd." Fol. 14-, Septima 
Pars Johannis. 

The Anglo-Saxon noun-substantives husel, (the eucharist) 
and ele (oil) are plainly the roots of these last-quoted compound 
adjectives. For the meaning of the affix an to the last, I quote 
Spelman's Gloss, in loco : " Quin et dictionibus (an) adjungitur, 
siquidem vel majoris notaiionis gratia, vel ad singulare aliquid, 
vcl unicum demonstrandum." Hence anelyd should seem to 
signify oiled or anointed by way of eminence, i. e. having re- 
ceived extreme unction. For the confirmation of the sense given 
here, there is the strongest internal evidence in the passage. The 
historian is speaking of the VII sacraments, and he expressly 
names five of them, viz. baptism, marriage, auricular confession, 
the eucharist, and extreme unction. 

The antiquary is desired to consult the edition of Fabian, 
printed by Pynson, 1516, because there are others, and I remem- 
ber to have seen one in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, with a 
continuation to the end of Queen Mary, London, 1559, in 
which the language is much modernized. BRAND. 

* O, horrible! 0, horrible! most horrible /] It was ingeniously 
hinted to me by a very learned lady, that this line seems to be- 
long to Hamlet, in whose mouth it is a proper and natural ex- 
clamation ; and who, according to the practice of the stage, 
may be supposed to interrupt so long a speech. JOHNSON. 

3 A couch for luxury ] i. e. for Icwdness. So, in K. Lear: 
" To't luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers." 


See Vol. XV. p. 436 and 482. MALONE. 


And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire : 4 

Adieu, adieu, adieu ! remember me. 5 [Exit. 

HAM. O all you host of heaven ! O earth ! What 

else ? 
And shall I couple hell? O fye! 6 Hold, hold, my 

heart j 

And you, my sinews, grow not instant old, 
But bear me stiffly up ! Remember thee ? 
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat 
In this distracted globe. 7 Remember thee ? 

4 pale Ms uneffectual Jlre :] i. e. shining without heat. 


To pale is a verb used by Lady Elizabeth Carew, in her 
Tragedy of Mariam, 1613: 

" Death can pale as well 

" A cheek of roses, as a cheek less bright." 
Again, in Urry's Chaucer, p. 368 : " The sterre paleth her 
white cheres by the flambes of the sonne," &c. 

Uneffectual Jlre, I believe, rather means, fire that is no longer 
seen when the light of morning approaches. So, in Pericles, 
Prince of Tyre, 1609: 

" like a glow-ivorm, 

" The which hath tire in darkness, none in light." 


Adieu, adieu, adieu ! &c.] The folio reads 

Adieu, adieu, Hamlet : remember me. STEEVENS. 

6 Of ye!'] These words (which hurt the measure, and 

from that circumstance, and their almost ludicrous turn, may be 
suspected as an interpolation, ) are found only in the two earliest 

" Ofye '" however, might have been the marginal reprehen- 
sion of some scrupulous reader, to whom the MS. had been com- 
municated before it found its way to the press. STEEVENS. 

7 Remember thee ? 

Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat 

In this distracted globe.] So, in our poet's 122d Sonnet: 

" Which shall above that idle rank remain, 

" Beyond all dates, even to eternity ; 

" Or at the least, so long as brain and heart 

" Have faculty by nature to subsist." MALONE. 


Yea, from the table of my memory 8 

I'll wipe away all trivial fond records, 

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past, 

That youth and observation copied there ; 

And thy commandment all alone shall live 

Within the book and volume of my brain, 

Unmix'd with baser matter : yes, by heaven. 

O most pernicious woman ! 

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain ! 

My tables,- meet it is, I set it down, 9 

this distracted globe. ~\ i. e. in this head confused with 

thought. STEEVEKS. 

8 Yea, from the table of my memory ] This expression is 
used by Sir Philip Sidney in his Defence ofPoesie. MALONE. 

from the table of my memory I'll wipe away &c.~] This 

phrase will remind the reader of Chaeria's exclamation in the 
Eunuch of Terence: " ; O faciem pulchram! deleo omnes de- 
hinc ex animo mulieres." STEEVENS. 

9 My tables, meet it is, I set it down,'] This is a ridicule on 
the practice of the time. Hall says, in his character of the 
Hypocrite, " He will ever sit where he may be scene best, and 
in the midst of the sermon pulles out his tables in haste, as if he 
feared to loose that note," &c. FARMER. 

No ridicule on the practice of the time could with propriety 
be introduced on this occasion. Hamlet avails himself of the 
same caution observed by the Doctor in the fifth act of Macbeth : 
" I will set down whatever comes from her, to satisfy my re- 
membrance the more strongly." 

Dr. Farmer's remark, however, as to the frequent use of 
table-books, may be supported by many instances. So, in the 
Induction to The Malcontent, 1604: " I tell you I am one that 
hath seen this play often, and give them intelligence for their 
action : I have most of the jests of it here in my table-book." 
Again, in Love's Sacrifice, 1633: 
" You are one loves courtship : 

" You had some change of words ; 'twere no lost labour 
" To stuff your table-books." 

Again, in Antonio's Revenge, 1602: Balurdo draws out his 
writing-tables and writes 

" Retort and obtuse, good words, very good words." 


That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain ; 
At least, I am sure, it may be so in Denmark : 

[ Writing. 

So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word j l 
It is, Adieu, adieu ! remember me. 
I have sworn't. 

HOR. \_Wiiliin.~\ My lord, my lord, 

MAR. \_Within.~\ Lord Hamlet, 

HOR. [_Within.~] Heaven secure him! 

HAM. So be it ! 

MAR. \_Wtthin.~\ Illo, ho, ho, my lord! 
HAM. Hillo, 2 ho, ho, boy ! come, bird, come. 3 

Again, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609 : 

" Let your tables befriend your memory ; write," &c. 


See also The Second Part of Henry IV : 

" And therefore will he wipe his tables clean, 
" And keep no tell-tale to his memory" 

York is here speaking of the King. Table-books in the time of 
our author appear to have been used by all ranks of people. In 
the church they were filled with short notes of the sermon, and 
at the theatre with the sparkling sentences of the play. 


1 Not*) to my iKord;~\ Hamlet alludes to the watch-word 

given every day in military service, which at this time he says 
is, Adieu, adieu ! remember me. So, in The Devil's Charter, a 
tragedy, 1607 : 

" Now to my watch-ivord ." STEEVENS. 

8 Hillo,~] This exclamation is of French origin. So, in 
the Venerie de Jacques Fouilloux, 1635, 4to. p. 12: " Ty a 
hillaut," &c. See Vol. V. p. 296. STEEVENS. 

come, bird, come.'] This is the call which falconers 
use to their hawk in the air, when they would have him come 
down to them. HANMER. 

This expression is used in Mar ston' s Dutch -Court cxan, and by 
many others among the old dramatick writer^. 

It appears from all these passages, that it was.lhe falconer's 
call, as Sir T. Hanmer has observed. 



MAR. How is't, my noble lord ? 
HOR. What news, my lord ? 

HAM. O, wonderful ! 

HOR. Good my lord, tell it. 

HAM. No ; 

You will reveal it. 

HOR. Not I, my lord, by heaven. 

MAR. Nor I, my lord. 

HAM. How say you then ; would heart of man 

once think it ? 
But you'll be secret, 

HOR. MAR. . Ay, by heaven, my lord. 

HAM. There's ne'er a villain, dwelling in all 

Denmark, - 
But he's an arrant knave. 

HOR. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from 

the grave, 
To tell us this. 

HAM. Why, right ; you are in the right ; 

And so, without more circumstance at all, 
I hold it fit, that we shake hands, and part : 
You, as your business, and desire, shall point you ; 
For every man hath business, and desire, 
Such as it is, and, for my own poor part, 
Look you, I will go pray. 

Again, in Tyro 1 s Roaring Mcggc, planted against the Walls of 
Melancholy, &c. 4to. 1598 : 

" Y et, ere I iournie, He go see the kyte : 
" Come, come bird, come.- pox on you, can you mute ?" 



HOR. These are but wild and whirling words, my 

HAM. I am sorry they offend you, heartily ; yes, 
'Faith, heartily. 

HOR. There's no offence, my lord. 

HAM. Yes, by Saint Patrick, 4 but there is, Ho- 

o; ' ratio, 

And much offence too. Touching this vision here, 
It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you ; 
For your desire to know what is between us, 
O'er-master it as you may. And now, good friends, 
As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers, 
Give me one poor request. 

HOR. What is't, my lord ? 

We will. 

HAM. Never make known what you have seen 

HOR. MAR. My lord, we will not. 

HAM. Nay, but swear J t. 

HOR. In faith, 

My lord, not I. 

MAR. Nor I, my lord, in faith. 

HAM. Upon my sword. 

MAR. We have sworn, my lord, already. 

4 6y Saint Patrick,] How the poet comes to make 

Hamlet swear by St. Patrick, I know not. However, at this 
time all the whole northern world had their learning from 
Ireland ; to which place it had retired, and there flourished under 
the auspices of this saint. But it was, I suppose, only said at 
random ; for he makes Hamlet a student at Wittenberg. 


Dean Swift's " Verses on the sudden drying-up of St. Patrick's 
Well, 1726," contain many learned allusions to the early culti- 
vation of literature in Ireland. NICHOLS. 

92 HAMLET, ACT i. 

HAM. Indeed, upon my sword, indeed. 
GHOST. [_Eeneath.~] Swear. 

HAM. Ha, ha, boy ! say'st thou so ? art thou there, 

true-penny ? 5 

Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage, 
Consent to swear. 

HOR. Propose the oath, my lord. 

HAM. Never to speak of this that you have seen, 
Swear by my sword. 6 

* true-penny ?~\ This word, as well as some of Hamlet's 

former exclamations, we find in The Malcontent, 1604- : 

" Illo, ho, ho, ho ; art thou there old True-penny ?" 


6 Swear by my sword.] Here the poet has preserved the 
manners of the ancient Danes, with whom it was religion to 
swear upon their swords. See Barkholinus, De causis contempt, 
mort. apud Dan. WARBURTON. 

I was once inclinable to this opinion, which is likewise well 
defended by Mr. Upton ; bat Mr. Garrick produced me a pas- 
sage, I think, in Brantome, from which it appeared that it was 
common to swear upon the sword, that is, upon the cross, which 
the old swords always had upon the hilt. JOHNSON. 

Shakspeare, it is more than probable, knew nothing of the 
ancient Danes, or their manners. Every extract from Dr. 
Farmer's pamphlet must prove as instructive to the reader as 
the following : 

" In the Passus Primus of Pierce Plowman, 
David in his daies dubbed knightes, 
' And did them swere on her sword to serve truth ever.' 
*' And in Hieronymo, the common butt of our author, and 
the wits of the time, says Lorenzo to Pedringano : 

* Swear on this cross, that what thou say'st is true : 
' But if I prove thee perjur'd and unjust, 

' This very sword, whereon thou took'st thine oath, 

* Shall be a worker of thy tragedy." 

To the authorities produced by Dr. Farmer, the following may 
be added from Holinshed, p. 664' : " Warwick kissed the cross 
of King Edward's sword, as it were a vow to his promise." 

Again, p. 1038, it is said " that Warwick drew out his 
sword, which other of the honourable and worshipful that were 


GHOST. \_Beneath.~] Swear. 

HAM. Hie fy ubique? then we'll shift our 

ground : 

Come hither, gentlemen, 
And lay your hands again upon my sword : 
Swear by my sword, 
Never to speak of this that you have heard. 

GHOST. [_Beneatli.~] Swear by his sword. 

HAM. Well said, old mole ! can'st work i'the 
earth so fast ? 

then present likewise did, when he commanded that each one 
should kiss other's sword, according to an ancient custom 
amongst men of war in time of great danger ; and herewith they 
made a solemn vow." &c. 

Again, in Decker's comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1600: 

" He has sworn to me on the cross of his pure Toledo." 

Again, in his Satiromastix : " By the cross of this sword and 
dagger, captain, you shall take it." 

In the soliloquy of Roland addressed to his sword, the cross on 

it is not forgotten : " capulo eburneo candidissime, cruce 

aurea splendidissime," c. Turpini Hist, de Gestis Caroli Mag. 
cap. 22. 

Again, in an ancient MS. of which some account is given in 
a note on the first scene of the first Act of The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, the oath taken by a master of defence when his degree 
was conferred on him, is preserved, and runs as follows : " First 
you shall sweare (so help you God and halidome, and by all the 
christendome which God gave you at the fount-stone, and by the 
crosse of this sivord "which doth represent unto you the crosse "which 
our Saviour suffered his most payneful deathe upon,) that you 
shall upholde, maynteyne, and kepe to your power all soch arti- 
cles as shall be heare declared unto you, and receve in the pre- 
sence of me your maister, and these the rest of the maisters my 
brethren heare with me at this tyme." STEEVENS. 

Spenser observes that the Irish in his time used commonly to 
swear by their sword. See his View of the State of Ireland, 
written in 1596. This custom, indeed, is of the highest anti- 
quity ; having prevailed, as we team from Lucian, among the 
Scythians. MALONE. 

94 HAMLET, ACT /. 

A worthy pioneer! Once more remove, good 

HOR. O day and night, but this is wondrous 
strange ! 

HAM. And therefore as a stranger give it wel- 
come. 7 

There are more things in heaven andearth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 

But come ; 

Here, as before, never, so help you mercy ! 

How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, 

As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet 

To put an antick disposition on, 

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, 

"With arms encumber* d thus, or this head-shake, 

Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase, 

As, Well, well, we know; or, We could, an if we 

would; or, If we list to speak; or, There be, an 

if they might; 8 

Or such ambiguous giving out, to note 

That you know aught of me : 9 This do you swear, 1 

7 And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.'] i. e. receive it 
to yourself; take it under your own roof; as much as to say, 
Keep it secret. Alluding to the laws of hospitality. 


Warburton refines too much on this passage. Hamlet means 
merely to. request that they would seem not to know it to be 
unacquainted with it. M. MASON. 

9 an if they might ;"] Thus the quarto. The folio reads 

an if there might. MALONE. 

9 Or such ambiguous giving out, to note 

That you kno'vo aught ofmc:~\ The construction is irregular 
and elliptical. Swear as before, savs Hamlet, that you never 
shall by folded arms or shaking of your head intimate that a 
secret is lodged in your breasts; and by no ambiguous phrases 
denote that you know aught of me. 

Shakspeare has in many other places begun to construct a 


So grace and mercy at your most need help you ! 
GHOST. \_Beneath.~] Swear. 
HAM. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit ! 2 So, gentle- 

sentence in one form, and ended it in another. So, in All's ivell 
that ends 'well: ' " I .would the cutting of my garments would 
serve the turn, or the baring of my beard ; and to say it was in 

Again, in the same play : " No more of this, Helena ; lest 
it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have:" where 
he ought to have written than that you have : or, lest you rather 
be thought to affect a sorrow, than to have. 
Again, ibidem: 

" I bade her if her fortunes ever stood 
".Necessitied to help, that by this token 
" I would relieve her." 
Again, in The Tempest: 

" I have with such provision in mine art 
" So safely order'd, that there is no soul~ 
" No, not so much perdition as an hair 
" Betid to any creature in the vessel." 
See Vol. IV. p. 13, n. 6 ; and Vol. IX. p. 268, n. 9 ; and 
p. 3D6, n. 4. 

Having used the word never in the preceding part of the sen- 
tence, [that you never shall ] the poet considered the negative 
implied in what follows ; and hence he wrote " or to note," 
instead of nor. MALONE. 

1 This do you sivear, &c.] The folio reads, this not ta 

do, swear, Sfc. STEEVENS. 

Swear is used here, as in many other places, as a dissyllable. 


Here again my untutored ears'reyolt from a new dissyllable ; 
nor have I scrupled, like my predecessors, to supply the pronoun 
you, which must accidentally have dropped out of a line that 
is imperfect without it. STEEVENS. 

s Rest, rest, perturbed spirit /] The skill displayed in Shak- 
speare's management of his Ghost, is too considerable to be 
overlooked. He has rivetted our attention to it by a succession 
of forcible circumstances : by the previous report of the terrified 
centinels, by the solemnity of the hour at which the phantom 
walks, by its martial stride and discriminating armour, visible 
only per incertam lunam, by the glimpses of the moon, by its 
long taciturnity, by its preparation to speak, when interrupted 

96 HAMLET, ACT i. 

With all my love I do commend me to you : 

And what so poor a man as Hamlet is 

May do, to express his love and friending to you, 

God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together ; 

And still your fingers on your lips, I pray. 

The time is out of joint ; O cursed spite ! 

That ever I was born to set it right ! 

Nay, come, let's go together. \_Exeunt. 

by the morning cock, by its mysterious reserve throughout its 
first scene with Hamlet, by his resolute departure with it, and 
the subsequent anxiety of his attendants, by its conducting him 
to a solitary angle of the platform, by its voice from beneath 
the earth, and by its unexpected burst on us in the closet. 

Hamlet's late interview with the spectre, must in particular be 
regarded as a stroke of dramatick artifice. The phantom might 
have told his story in the presence of the Officers and Horatio, 
and yet have rendered itself as inaudible to them, as afterwards 
to the Queen. But suspense was our poet's object ; and never 
was it more effectually created, than in the present instance. Six 
tiroes has the royal semblance appeared, but till now has been 
withheld from speaking. For this event we have waited with 
impatient curiosity, unaccompanied by lassitude, or remitted 

The Ghost in this tragedy, is allowed to be the genuine product 
of Shakspeare's strong imagination. When he afterwards avails 
himself of traditional phantoms, as in Julius Ccesar, and King 
Richard III. they are but inefficacious pageants ; nay, the appa- 
rition of Banquo is a mute exhibitor. Perhaps our poet despaired 
to equal the vigour of his early conceptions on the subject of 
preter-natural beings, and therefore allotted them no further 
eminence in his dramas ; or was unwilling to diminish the power 
of his principal shade, by an injudicious repetition of congenial 
images. STEEVENS. 

The verb perturb is used by Holinshed, and by Bacon in his 
Essay on Superstition : " therefore atheism did never perturb 
states." M ALONE. 



A Room in Polonius's House. 

POL. Give him this money, and these notes, Rey- 

REY. I will, my lord. 

POL. You shall do marvellous wisely, good Rey- 


Before you visit him, to make inquiry 
Of his behaviour. 

REY. My lord, I did intend it. 

POL. Marry, well said : very well said. 4 Look 

you, sir, 

Inquire me first what Danskers 5 are in Paris ; 
And how, and who, what means, and where they 


What company, at what expence ; and finding, 
By this encompassment and drift of question, 
That they do know my son, come you more nearer 

3 Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.] The quartos read Enter old 
Polonius -with his man or two. STEEVENS. 

4 txell said: very well said.'} Thus also, the weak and 

tedious Shallow says to Bardolph, in The Second Part of King 
Henry IV. Act III. sc. ii : " It is well said, sir ; and it is well said 
indeed too." STEEVENS. 

Danskers ] Danskc (in Warner's Albion's England] 

is the ancient name of Denmark. STEEVENS. 

98 HAMLET, ACT n. 

Than your particular demands will touch it : 6 
Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him ; 
As thus, / know his father, and his friends, 
And, in part, him ; Do you mark this, Reynaldo ? 
REY. Ay, very well, my lord. 

POL. And, in part, him ; but, you may say, not 


But, if't be he I mean, he's very mid; 
Addicted so and so ; and there put on him 
What forgeries you please ; marry, none so rank 
As may dishonour him ; take heed of that ; 
But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips, 
As are companions noted and most known 
To youth and liberty. 

REY. As gaming, my lord. 

POL. Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, 7 quar- 
Drabbing : You may go so far. 

come you more nearer 

Than your particular demands will touch it:"] The late edi- 
tions read, ana point, thus : 

come you more nearer; 

Then your particular demands will touch it: 
Throughout the old copies the word which we now write 
than, is constantly written then. I have therefore printed 
than, which the context seems to me to require, though the old 
copies have then. There is no point after the word nearer, 
either in the original quarto, 1604, or the folio. MALONE. 

7 --drinking, fencing, shearing,'] I suppose, by fencing is 
meant a too diligent frequentation of the fencing-school, n re- 
sort of violent and lawless young men. JOHNSON. 

Fencing, I suppose, means piquing himself on his skill in the 
Use of the sword, and quarrelling and brawling, in consequence 
of that skill. " The cunning of fencers, says Gosson, in his 
Schoole of Abuse, 1579, is now applied to quarreling: they thinke 
themselves no men, if for stirring of a straw, they prove not 
their valure uppon some bodies fleshe." MALONE. 

so.- r. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 99 

REY. My lord, that would dishonour him. 

POL. 'Faith, no ; as you may season it in the 

charge. 8 

You must not put another scandal on him, 9 
That he is open to incontinency ; 
That's not my meaning : ' but breathe his faults so 


That they may seem the taints of liberty : 
The flash and out-break of a fiery mind j 
A savageness 2 in unreclaimed blood, 
Of general assault. 3 

REY. But, my good lord, 

POL. Wherefore should you do this ? 

REY. Ay, my lord, 

I would know that. 

POL. Marry, sir, here's my drift j 

And, I believe, it is a fetch of warrant: 4 
You laying these slight sullies on my son, 
As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i'the working, 
Mark you, 

8 'Faith, no ; as you may season it &c.] The quarto reads 
Faith, as you may season it in the charge. MALONE. 

-another scandal on him,~\ Thus the old editions. Mr. 

Theobald reads an utter. JOHNSON. 

another scandal ] i. e. a very different and more scan- 
dalous failing, namely habitual incontinency. Mr. Theobald 
in his Shakspeare Restored proposed to read an utter scandal on 
him ; but did not admit the emendation into his edition. 


1 That's not my meaning:'] That is not what I mean when I 
permit you to accuse him of drabbing. M. MASON. 

* A savageness ] Savageness, for wUdness. WARBURTON. 

3 Of general assault."] i. e. such as youth in general is liable to. 


* And, I believe, it is a fetch of warrant :] So the folio. The 
quarto reads a fetch of wit. STEEVENS. 

H 2 

ioo HAMLET, ACT n. 

Your party in converse, him you would sound, 
Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes, 5 
The youth you breathe of, guilty, be assur'd, 
He closes with you in this consequence ; 
Good sir, or so ; 6 or friend, or gentleman^ 
According to the phrase, or the addition, 
Of man, and country. 

REY. Very good, my lord. 

POL. And then, sir, does he this, He does 
What was I about to say? By the mass, I was about 
to say something : Where did I leave ? 

REY. At, closes in the consequence. 

POL. At,closes in the consequence, 7 Ay, marry ; 
He closes with you thus : / know the gentleman; 
I saw him yesterday, or t'other day, 
Or then, or then; with such, or such ; and, as you 


There was he gaming; there o'er took in his rouse; 
There Jailing out at tennis : or, perchance, 
I saw him enter such a house of sale, 
(Videlicet, a brothel,) or so forth. 
See you now; 

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth : 
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach, 
With windlaces, and with assays of bias, 
By indirections find directions out ; 

5 prenominate crimes,'] i. e. crimes already named. 


Good sir, or so;] I suspect, (with Mr. Tyrwhitt,) that the 
poet wrote Good sir, or sir, or friend, &c. In the last Act of 
this play, so is used for so forth: " six French rapiers and 
poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hanger, and so." 


7 At, closes in the consequence, ~\ Thus the quarto. The folio 
adds At friend, or so, or gentleman. MALONE. 

sc. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 101 

So, by my former lecture and advice, 

Shall you my son : You have me, have you not ? 

REY. My lord, I have. 

POL. God be wi* you ; fare you well. 

REY. Good my lord, 

POL. Observe his inclination in yourself. 8 

REY. I shall, my lord. 

POL. And let him ply his musick. 

REY. Well, my lord. 



POL. Farewell! How now, Ophelia? What's 
the matter ? 

OPH. O, my lord, my lord, I have been so af- 
frighted ! 

POL. With what, in the name of heaven ? 

OPH. My lord, as I was sewing in my closet, 
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac'd ; 
No hat upon his head ; his stockings foul'd, 
Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle ; 9 

* in yourself."] Sir T. Hanmer reads e'en yourself, and 

is followed by Dr. Warburton ; but perhaps in yourself, means, 
in your own person, not by spies JOHNSON. 

The meaning seems to be The temptations you feel, suspect 
in him, and be watchful of them. So in a subsequent scene : 

" For by the image of my cause, I see 

" The portraiture of his." 
Again, in Timon : 

" I weigh my friend's affection with my own." C. 

9 Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle ;~\ Down-gyved 
means, hanging down like the loose cincture which confines the 
fetters round the ancles. STEEVENS. 

102 HAMLET, ACT n. 

Pale as his shirt ; his knees knocking each other ; 

And with a look so piteous in purport, 

As if he had been loosed out of hell, 

To speak of horrors, he comes before me. 

POL. Mad for thy love ? 

OPH. My lord, I do not know ; 

But, truly, I do fear it. 
POL. What said he ? 

OPH. He took me by the wrist, and held me hard ; 
Then goes he to the length of all his arm ; 
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow, 
He falls to such perusal of my face, 
As he would draw it. Long staid he so ; 
At last, a little shaking of mine arm, 
And thrice his head thus waving up and down, 
He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound, 
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk, 1 
And end his being : That done, he lets me go : 
And, with his head over his shoulder turn'd, 
He seem'd to find his way without his eyes ; 
For out o'doors he went without their helps, 
And, to the last, bended their light on me. 

POL. Come, go with me ; I will go seek the king. 
This is the very ecstasy of love ; 
Whose violent property foredoes itself, 2 

Thus the quartos, 1604, and 1605, and the fdlio. In the 
quarto of 1611, the word gyved was changed to gyred' 


1 all his bulk,] i. e. all his body. So, in The Rape of 


*' her heart 

" Beating her bulk, that his hand shakes with all." 
See Vol. XIV. p. 324, n. 8. MALONE. 

* foredoes itself,] Toforccfo is to destroy. So, in Othello : 

" That either makes me, or foredoes me quite." 



And leads the will to desperate undertakings, 
As oft as any passion under heaven, 
That does afflict our natures. I am sorry, 
What, have you given him any hard words of late ? 

OPH. No, my good lord ; but, as you did com- 

I did repel his letters, and denied 
His access to me. 

POL. That hath made him mad. 

I am sorry, that with better heed and judgment, 
I had not quoted him : 3 I fear'd, he did but trifle, 

3 / had not quoted him :] To quote is, I believe, to reckon, 
to take an account of, to take the quotient or result of a compu- 
tation. JOHNSON. 

I find a passage in The Isle of Gulls, a comedy, by John Day, 
1606, which proves Dr. Johnson's sense of tte word to be not far 
from the true one: 

" 'twill be a scene of mirth 

" For me to quote his passions, and his smiles.*' 
To quote on this occasion undoubtedly means to observe* 
Again, in Drayton's Mooncalf: 

" This honest man the prophecy that noted, 
" And things therein most curiously had quoted, 
" Found all these signs," &c. 

Again, in The Woman Hater, by Beaumont and Fletcher, the 
intelligencer says, " I'll quote him to a tittle," i. e. I will mark 
or observe him. 

To quote, as Mr. M. Mason observes, is invariably used by 
Shakspeare in this sense. STEEVENS. 

So, in The Rape of Lucrece: 
" Yea, the illiterate 
" Will quote my loathed trespass in my looks." 

In this passage, in the original edition of 1594, the word is 
written cote, as it is in the quarto copy of this play. It is merely 
the old or corrupt spelling of the word. See Vol. VII. p. 107, 
n. 8; and p. 202, n. 6; Vol. VIII. p. 400, n. 2; and Vol. X. 
p. 483, n. 8. In Minsheu's Diet. 1617, we find, " To quote, 
mark, or note, a quotus. Numeris enim scribentes sententias 
suas notant et distinguunt." See also Cotgrave's Diet. 1611 : 
" Quoter. To quote or mar he in the margent; to note by the 
way." MALONE. 

104 HAMLET, ACT n. 

And meant to wreck thee; but,beshrew myjealousy! 

It seems, it is as proper to our age 

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions, 

As it is common for the younger sort 

To lack discretion. 4 Come, go we to the king : 

This must be known ; which, being kept close, 

might move 

More grief to hide, than hate to utter love. 5 


it is as proper to our age 

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions. 

As it is common for the younger sort 

To lack discretion.'] This is not the remark of a weak man. 
The vice of age is too much suspicion. Men long accustomed 
to the wiles of life cast commonly beyond themselves, let their 
cunning go farther than reason can attend it. This is always the 
fault of a little mind, made artful by long commerce with the 
world. JOHNSON. 

The quartos read By heaven it is as proper &c. STEEVENS. 

In Decker's Wonderful Yeare, 4to. 1603, we find an expression 
similar to that in the text : " Now the thirstie citizen casts be- 
yond the moone." MALONE. 

The same phrase occurs also in Titus Andronicus. REED. 

* This must be known ; which, being kept close, might move 

More grief to hide, than hate to utter love.] i. e. this must 
be made known to the King, for (being kept secret) the hiding 
Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us froni him and 
the Queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate 
and resentment from Hamlet. The poet's ill and obscure ex- 
pression seems to have been caused by his affectation of conclu- 
ding the scene with a couplet. 

Sir T. Hanmer reads : 

Moregriejto hide hate, than to utter love. JOHNSON. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 105 


A Room in the Castle. 

STERN, and Attendants. 

KING. Welcome, dear Rosencrantz, and Guil- 

denstern ! 

Moreover that we much did long to see you, 
The need, we have to use you, did provoke 
Our hasty sending. Something have you heard 
Of Hamlet's transformation ; so I call it, 
Since not the exterior nor the inward man 
Resembles that it was : What it should be, 
More than his father's death, that thus hath put 


So much from the understanding of himself, 
I cannot dream of: I entreat you both, 
That, being of so young days brought up with 

him : 

And, since, so neighbour'd to his youth and hu- 
mour, 6 

That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court 
Some little time : so by your companies 
To draw him on to pleasures ; and to gather, 
So much as from occasion you may glean, 
Whether aught, 7 to us unknown, afflicts him thus, 
That, open'd, lies within our remedy. 

6 and humour,] Thus the folio. The quartos read 

haviour. STEEVENS. 

7 Whether aught, &c.] This line is omitted in the folio. 



QUEEN. Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd 

of you; 

And, sure I am, two men there are not living, 
To whom he more adheres. If it will please you 
To show us so much gentry, 8 and good will, 
As to expend your time with us a while, 
For the supply and profit of our hope, 9 
Your visitation shall receive such thanks 
As fits a king's remembrance. 

Ros. Both your majesties 

Might, by the sovereign power you have of us, 1 
Put your dread pleasures more into command 
Than to entreaty. 

GuiL. But we both obey; 

And here give up ourselves, in the full bent, 2 
To lay our service freely at your feet, 
To be commanded. 

KING. Thanks, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guil- 

QUEEN. Thanks, Guildenstern, and gentle Ro- 
sencrantz : 
And I beseech you instantly to visit 

* To show us so much gentry,] Gentry, for complaisance. 


9 For the supply &c.] That the hope which your arrival has 
raised may be completed by the desired effect. JOHNSON. 

1 you have of us,"] I believe we should read o'er us, 

instead of- of us. M. MASON. 

* in the full bent,] Bent, for endeavour, application. 


The full bent, is the utmost extremity of exertion. The allu- 
sion is to a bow bent as far as it will go. So afterwards, in this 

** They fool me to the top of my bent." MALONE. 


My too much changed son. Go, some of you, 
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is. 

GUIL. Heavens make our presence, and our 

Pleasant and helpful to him ! 

QUEEN. Ay, amen ! 

and some Attendants. 


POL. The embassadors from Norway, my good 

Are joyfully return'd. 

KING. Thou still hast been the father of good 

POL. Have I, my lord ? Assure you, my good 


I hold my duty, as I hold my soul, 
Both to my God, and to my gracious king : 
And I do think, (or else this brain of mine 
Hunts not the trail of policy 3 so sure 
As it hath us'd to do,) that I have found 
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy. 

KING. O, speak of that ; that do I long to hear. 

POL. Give first admittance to the embassadors; 
My news shall be the fruit 4 to that great feast. 

KING. Thyself do grace to them, and bring 
tnem in. \_Extt POLONIUS. 

s the trail of policy ~\ The trail is the course of an 


animal pursued by the scent. JOHNSON. 

4 the fruit ] The desert after the meat. JOHNSON. 

108 HAMLET, ACT //. 

He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found 
The head and source of all your son's distemper. 

QUEEN. I doubt, it is no other but the main ; 
His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage. 

Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIM AND and COR- 

KING. Well, we shall sift him. Welcome, my 

good friends ! 
Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway ? 

VOLT. Most fair return of greetings, and desires. 
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress 
His nephew's levies ; which to him appear'd 
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack ; 
But, better look'd into, he truly found 
It was against your highness : Whereat griev'd, 
That so his sickness, age, and impotence, 
Was falsely borne in hand, 5 sends out arrests 
On Fortinbras ; which he, in brief, obeys ; 
Receives rebuke from Norway; and, in fine, 
Makes vow before his uncle, never more 
To give the assay 6 of arms against your majesty. 
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy, 
Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee ; 7 

5 borne in hand,"] i. e. deceived, imposed on. So, in 

Macbeth, Act III: 

" How you were borne in hand, how cross'd," &c. 
See note on this passage, Vol. X. p. 153, n. 1. STEEVENS. 

8 To give the assay ] To take the assay was a technical ex- 
pression, originally applied to those who tasted wine for princes 
and great men. See Vol. XVII. King Lear, Act V. sc. iii. 


7 Gives him three thousand crotuns in annual fee ;] This read- 
ing first obtained in the edition put out by the players. But all 
the old quartos, (from 1605, downwards,) read threescore. 


sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 109 

And his commission, to employ those soldiers, 
So levied as before, against the Polack : 
With an entreaty, herein further shown, 

[Gives a Paper. 

That it might please you to give quiet pass 
Through your dominions for this enterprize 5 
On such regards of safety, and allowance, 
As therein are set down. 

KING. It likes us well ; 

And, at our more consider* d time, we'll read, 
Answer, and think upon this business. 
Mean time, we thank you for your well- took labour : 
Go to your rest ; at night we'll feast 8 together : 
Most welcome home ! 


POL. This business is well ended. 

My liege, and madam, to expostulate 9 

The metre is destroyed by the alteration : and threescore 
thousand crowns, in the days of Hamlet, was an enormous sum 
of money. M. MASON. 

annual fee ;] Fee in this place signifies reward, recom- 

pence. So, in All's 'well that ends well : 

" Not helping, death's my fee; 

" But if I help, what do you promise me ?" 
The word is commonly used in Scotland, for wages, as we say, 
lawyer's fee, physician's fee. STEEVENS. 

Fee is defined by Minsheu, in his Diet. 1617, a reward. 


I have restored the reading of the folio. Mr. Ritson explains 
it, I think, rightly, thus: the King gave his nephew nfeud or 
fee (in land) of that yearly value. REED. 

8 at night we'll feast ] The King's intemperance is 

never suffered to be forgotten. JOHNSON. 

9 My liege, and madam, to expostulate ] To expostulate, 
for to enquire or discuss. 

The strokes of humour in this speech are admirable. Polo- 
nius's character is that of a weak, pedant, minister of state. His 
declamation is a fine satire on the impertinent oratory then in 


What majesty nhould be, what duty is, 

Why day is day, night, night, and time is time, 

vogue, which placed reason in the formality of method, and wit 
in the gingle and play of words. With what art is he made to 
pride himself in his wit : 

" That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true, 'tis pity: 

" And pity 'tis, 'tis true: A foolish figure; 

" But farewell it," . 

And how exquisitely does the poet ridicule the reasoning in 
fashion, where he makes Polonius remark on Hamlet's madness : 

" Though this be madness, yet there's method in't :" 
As if method, which the wits of that age thought the most essen- 
tial quality of a good discourse, would make amends for the 
madness. It was madness indeed, yet Polonius could comfort 
himself with this reflection, that at least it was method. It is 
certain Shakspeare excels in nothing more than in the preserva- 
tion of his characters : To this life and variety of character (says 
our great poet [Pope] in his admirable preface to Shakspeare,) 
we must add the \Konderful preservation. We have said what is 
the character of Polonius ; and it is allowed on all hands to be 
drawn with wonderful life and spirit, yet the unity of it has been 
thought by some to be grossly violated in the excellent precepts 
and instructions which Shakspeare makes his statesman give nis 
son and servant in the middle of the Jirst , and beginning of the 
second act. But I will venture to say, these criticks have not 
entered into the poet's art and address in this particular. He 
had a mind to ornament his scenes with those fine lessons of 
social life; but his Polonius was too weak to be author of 
them, though he was pedant enough to have met with them in 
his reading, and fop enough to get them by heart, and retail 
them for his own. And this the poet has finely shown us was 
the case, where, in the middle of Polonius's instructions to his 
servant, he makes him, though without having received any in- 
terruption, forget his lesson, and say 

" And then, sir, does he this ; 

" He does What was I about to say ? 

" I was about to say something where did I leave ?" 

The Servant replies: 

At, closes in the consequence. This sets Polonius right, and 
he goes on 

" At closes in the consequence. 

" Ay marry, 

" He closes thus: 1 know the gentleman," #c. 

?. //. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 1 1 1 

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time. 
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, 
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, 
I will be brief: Your noble son is mad: 
Mad call I it : for, to define true madness, 

which shows the very words got by heart which he was repeat- 
ing. Otherwise closes in the consequence, which conveys no par- 
ticular idea of the subject he was upon, could never have made 
him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary in- 
stance of the poet's art, and attention to the preservation of 
character. WARBURTON. 

This account of the character of Polonius, though it suffi- 
ciently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom 
with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the 
ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of 
Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by proper- 
ties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a 
nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of na- 
ture. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, 
stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of 
his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory 
is truly represented as designed to ridicule the practice of those 
times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that 
embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character 
is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and 
confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and 
knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in ge- 
neral principles, but fails in the particular application. He is 
knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he de- 
pends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of 
knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful 
counsel ; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept 
long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden derelic- 
tion of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles 
himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading prin- 
ciple, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage 
encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phosnomena of the 
character of Polonius. JOHNSON. 

Nothing can be more just, judicious, and masterly, than John- 
son's delineation of the character of Polonius ; and I cannot read 
it without heartily regretting that he did not exert his great abi- 
lities and discriminating powers, in delineating the strange, in- 
consistent, and indecisive character of Hamlet, to which I con- 
fess myself unequal. M. MASON. 

112 HAMLET, ACT ii 

What is't, but to be nothing else but mad : 
But let that go. 

QUEEN. More matter, with less art. 

POL. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all. 
That he is mad, 'tis true : 'tis true, 'tis pity ; 
And pity 'tis, 'tis true : a foolish figure ; 
But farewell it, for I will use no art. 
Mad let us grant him then : and now remains, 
That we find out the cause of this effect ; 
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect ; 
For this effect, defective, comes by cause : 
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. 

I have a daughter ; have, while she is mine ; 
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark, 
Hath given me this : Now gather, and surmise. 
To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beau- 
tified Ophelia, 1 

1 To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified 
Ophelia,'] Mr. Theobald for beautified substituted beatified. 


Dr. Warburton has followed Mr. Theobald ; but I am in 
doubt whether beautified, though as Polonius calls it, a vile 
phrase, be not the proper word. Beautified seems to be a rile 
phrase, for the ambiguity of its meaning. JOHNSON. 

Heywood, in his History of Edward VI. says, " Kathcrine 
Parre, queen dowager to king Henry VIII, was a woman 
beautified with many excellent virtues." FARMER. 

So, in The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614- : 
" A maid of rich endowments, beautified 
" With all the virtues nature could bestow.'* 
Again, Nash dedicates his Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 
1594 : " to the most beautified lady, the lady Elizabeth Carey." 

Again, in Greene's Mamillia, 1593: " although thy 

person is so bravely beautified with the dowries of nature." 

/// and vile as the phrase may be, our author has used it again 
in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : 

sc. u. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 113 

That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase ; beautified is a 
vile phrase ; but you shall hear. Thus : 
In her excellent white bosom, these, 2 &c. 

QUEEN. Came this from Hamlet to her ? 

POL. Good madam, stay awhile ; I will be faith- 

Doubt thou, the stars arejire; [Reads. 

Doubt, that the sun doth move : 
Doubt truth to be a liar ; 

But never doubt, I love. 

dear Ophelia, / am ill at these numbers; I have 
not art to reckon my groans : but that I love thee best, 
O most best, 3 believe it. Adieu. 

Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst 
this machine is to him, Hamlet. 4 

" seeing you are beautified 

" With goodly shape," &c. STEEVENS. 

By beautified Hamlet means beautiful. But Polonius, taking 
the word in the more strictly grammatical sense of being made 
beautiful, calls it a vile phrase, as implying that his daughter's 
beauty was the effect of art. M. MASON. 

8 In her excellent white bosom, these,'] So, in The Two Gentle- 
men of Verona : 

" Thy letters 

" Which, being writ to me, shall be deliver'd 
" Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love." 
See Vol. IV. p. 248, n. 1. STEEVENS. 

1 have followed the quarto. The folio reads : 

These in her excellent white bosom, these, &c. 
In our poet's time the word These was usually added at the 
end of the superscription of letters, but I have never met with it 
both at the beginning and end. MALONE. 

3 O most best,~] So, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540 : 

." that same most best redresser or reformer, is God." 


4 whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.} These word* 


114 HAMLET, ACT ii, 

This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me : 
And more above, 5 hath his solicitings, 
As they fell out by time, by means, and place, 
All given to mine ear. 

KING. But how hath she 

Received his love ? 

POL. What do you think of me ? 

KING. As of a man faithful and honourable. 

POL. I would fain prove so. But what might 

you think, 

When I had seen this hot love on the wing, 
(As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that, 
Before my daughter told me,) what might you, 
Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, 
If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; 
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb ; 
Or look'd upon 'this love with idle sight; 
What might you think? 6 no, I went round 7 to 


will not be ill explained by the conclusion of one of the Letters 

of the Paston Family, Vol. II. p. 43 : " for your pleasure, 

tuhyle my taytts be my oivne" 

The phrase employed by Hamlet seems to have a French con- 
struction. Pendant que cette machine est a lui. To be one's 
own man is a vulgar expression, but means much the same as 

Dum memor ipse met, dum spiritus hos regit artus. 


A more above,] is, moreover, besides. JOHNSON. 

6 If I had play* d the desk, or table-book} 
Or given my heart a "working, mute and dumb; 
Or look'd upon this love with idle sight; 
What might you think F] i. e. If either I had conveyed in- 
'telligence between them, and been the confident of their amours 
[ptay'd the desk or table-book,"] or had connived at it, only ob- 
served them in secret, without acquainting my daughter with my 
discovery [giving my heart a mute and dumb working;'] or 

jap. a. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 115 

And my young mistress thus did I bespeak ; 
Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere;* 
This must not be: and then I precepts gave her, 9 
That she should lock herself from his resort, 
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens. 
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice ; l 

lastly, been negligent in observing the intrigue, and overlooked 
it [looked upon this love tvith idle sights'] what would you have 
thought of me ? WARBURTON. 

I doubt whether the first line is rightly explained. It may 
mean, if I had locked up this secret in my own breast, as closely 
as it were confined in a desk or table-book. MALONE. 

Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb ;] The folio 
reads a winking. STEEVENS. 

. The same pleonasm [mute and dumb"] is found in our author's 
Rape of Lucrece: 

" And in my hearing be you mute and dumb." 


7 round ] i. e. roundly without reserve. So Polo- 

nius says in the third Act : " be round with him." 


8 Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere ;] The quarto, 
1604, and the first folio, for sphere, have star. The correction 
was made by the editor of the second folio. MALONE. 

9 precepts gave her,~] Thus the folio. The two elder" 

quartos read prescripts. I have chosen the most familiar of 
the two readings. Polonius has already said to his son 

" And these few precepts in thy memory 
" Look thou character." STEEVENS. 

The original copy in my opinion is right. Polonius had ordered 
his daughter to lock herself up from Hamlet's resort, &c. See 
p. 61: 

" I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, 
" Have you so slander any moment's leisure 
" As to give words or talk with the lord Hamlet: 
" Look to't, / charge you." MALONE. 

1 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;'] She took the 
fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then 
made fruitful. JOHNSON. 

I 2 


And he, repulsed, (a short tale to make,) 
Fell into a sadness ; then into a fast ; 2 
Thence to a watch ; thence into a weakness ; 
Thence to a lightness ; and, by this declension, 
Into the madness wherein now he raves, 
And all we mourn for. 

KING. Do you think, 'tis this ? 

QUEEN. It may be, very likely. 

POL. Hath there been such a time, (Fd fain know 


That I have positively said, 'Tis so, 
When it prov'd otherwise ? 

KING. Not that I know. 

POL. Take this from this, if this be otherwise : 
[Pointing to his Head and Shoulder. 
If circumstances lead me, I will find 
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed 
Within the centre. 

KING. How may we try it further ? 

POL. You know, sometimes lie walks four hours 
together, 5 

* (a short tale to make,) 

Fell into a sadness; then into a fast ; &c.] The ridicule of 
this character is here admirably sustained. He would not only 
be thought to have discovered this intrigue by his own sagacity, 
but to have remarked all the stages of Hamlet's disorder, from 
his sadness to his raving, as regularly as his physician could have 
done ; when all the while the madness was only feigned. The 
humour of this is exquisite from a man who tells us, with a con- 
fidence peculiar to small politicians, that he could find 

" Where truth was hid, though it were hid indeed 

" Within the centre." WAKBURTON. 

* four hours together,"] Perhaps it would be better were 

we to read indefinitely 

for hours together. TYUWHITT. 

I formerly was inclined to adopt Mr. Tyrwhitt's proposed 
emendation ; but have now no doubt that the text is right. The 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 117 

Here in the lobby. 
QUEEN. So he does, indeed. 

POL. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to 

him : 

Be you and I behind an arras then ; 
Mark the encounter : if he love her not, 
And be not from his reason fallen thereon, 
Let me be no assistant for a state, 
But keep a farm, and carters. 4 

KING. We will try it. 

expression, four hours together, ttvo hours together, &c. appears 
to have been common. So, in King Lear, Act I : 

" Edm. Spake you with him ? 

" Edg. Ay, two hours together.'* 
Again, in The Winter's Tale: 

" ay, and have been, any time these four hours.'* 

Again, in Webster's Dutchess ofMalfy, 1623 : 

' She will muse four hours together, and her silence 

" Methinks expresseth more than if she spake." 


4 At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him : 
Be you and I behind an arras then; 
Mark the encounter : if he love her not, 
And be not from his reason fallen thereon, 
Let me be no assistant for a state, 

But keep a form, and carters.] The scheme of throwing 
Ophelia in Hamlet's way, in order to try his sanity, as well as 
the address of the King in a former scene to Rosencrantz and 
Guildenstern : 

" 1 entreat you both 

" That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court 
" Some little time ; so by your companies 
" To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather 
*' So much as from occasion you may glean, 
" Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus, 
" That, open'd, lies within our remedy ; " 
seem to have been formed on the following slight hints in The 
Hi/story of Hamblet, bl. let. sig. C 3 : " They counselled to try 
and know if possible, how to discover the intent and meaning of 
the young prince ; and they could find no better nor more fit 


Enter HAMLET, reading. 

QUEEN. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch 
comes reading. 

POL. Away, I do beseech you, both away ; 
I'll board him 3 presently : O, give me leave. 

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants. 
How does my good lord Hamlet ? 

invention to intrap him, than to set some faire and beautiful 
woman in a secret place, that with flattering speeches and all the 
craftiest meanes she could, should purposely seek to allure his 
mind to have his pleasure of her. To this end, certain courtiers 
were appointed to lead Hamlet to a solitary place, within the 
woods, where they brought the woman, inciting him to take 
their pleasures together. And surely the poore prince at this 
assault had beene in great danger, if a gentleman that in Horven- 
dille's time had been nourished with him, had not showne him- 
selfe more afFectioned to the bringing up he had received with 
Hamblet, than desirous to please the tyrant. This gentleman 
bare the courtiers company, making full account that the least 
showe of perfect sence and wisdome that Hamblet should make, 
would be sufficient to cause him to loose his life ; and therefore 
by certaine signes he gave Hamblet intelligence in what danger 
he was like to fall, if by any meanes he seemed to obeye, or 
once like the wanton toyes and vicious provocations of the gen- 
tlewoman sent thither by his uncle : which much abashed the 
prince, as then wholly being in affection to the lady. But by 
her he was likewise informed of the treason, as one that from 
her infancy loved and favoured him. The prince in this sort 
having deceived the courtiers and the lady's expectation, that 
affirmed and swore hee never once offered to have his pleasure of 
the woman, although in subtlety he affirmed the contrary, every 
man thereupon assured themselves that without doubt he was 
distraught of his sences ; so that as then Fengon's practise took 
no effect." 

Here we find the rude outlines of the characters of Ophelia, 
and Horatio, the gentleman that in the time of Horvemlille 
(the father of Hamlet] had been nourished ivith him. Hut in 
this piece there are no traits of the character ofPolonius. There 
is indeed a counsellor, and he places himself in the Queen's 
chamber behind the arras ; but this is the whole. MALONE. 

ac. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 119 

HAM. Well, god-'a-mercy. 

POL. Do you know me, my lord ? 

HAM. Excellent well ; you are a fishmonger. 

POL. Not I, my lord. 

HAM. Then I would you were so honest a man. 

POL. Honest, my lord ? 

HAM. Ay, sir ; to be honest, as this world goes, 
is to be one man picked out of ten thousand. 

POL. That's very true, my lord. 

HAM. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead 

dog, being a god, kissing carrion, Have you a 

daughter ? 6 

5 Pll board Mm ] i. e. accost, address him. See Vol. V. 
p. 250, n. 5. REED. 

6 For if the $un breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, 

kissing carrion, Have you a daughter ?] [Old copies a good 

kissing carrion,] The editors seeing Hamlet counterfeit madness, 
thought they might safely put any nonsense into his mouth. But 
this strange passage, when set right, will be seen to contain as 
great and sublime a reflection as any the poet puts into his hero's 
mouth throughout the whole play. We will first give the true 
reading, which is this : For if the sun breed maggots in a dead 

dog, being a god, kissing carrion, . As to the sense we 

may observe, that the illative particle [for] shows the speaker to 
be reasoning from something he had said before : what that was 
we learn in these words, to be honest, as this world goes, is to 
be one picked out of ten thousand. Having said this, the chain 
of ideas led him to reflect upon the argument which libertines 
bring against Providence from the circumstance of abounding 
evil. In the next speech, therefore, he endeavours to answer 
that objection, and vindicate Providence, even on a supposition 
of the fact, that almost all men were wicked. His argument in 
the two lines in question is to this purpose, Bttt 'why need we 
wonder at this abounding of evil ? For if the sun breed maggots 
in a dead dog, which though a god, yet shedding its heat and 

influence upon carrion Here he stops short, lest talking too 

consequentially the hearer should suspect his madness to be 
feigned ; and so turns him off from the subject, by enquiring of 

t20 HAMLET, 

POL. I have, my lord. 

HAM. Let her not walk i'the sun : conception is 

his daughter. But the inference which he intended to make, 
was a very noble one, and to this purpose. If this (says he) be 
the case, that the effect follows the thing operated upon [carrion"] 
and not the thing operating [a god,"] why need we wonder, that 
the supreme cause of all things diffusing its blessings on mankind, 
who is, as it were, a dead carrion, dead in original sin, man, 
instead of a proper return of duty, should breed only corruption 
and vices ? This is the argument at length ; and is as noble a 
one in behalf of Providence as could come from the schools of 
divinity. But this wonderful man had an art not only of ac- 
quainting the audience with what his actors say, but with what 
they think. The sentiment too is altogether in character, for 
Hamlet is perpetually moralizing, and his circumstances make 
this reflection very natural. The same .thought, something di- 
versified, as on a different occasion, he uses again in Measure 
for Measure, which will serve to confirm these observations : 

The tempter or the tempted, who sins most ? 

Not she ; nor doth she tempt ; but it is I 

That lying by the violet in the sun, 

Do as the carrion does, not as the flower, 

Corrupt by virtuous season." 
And the same kind of expression is in Cymbeline: 
" Common-kissing Titan." WARBURTON. 

This is a noble emendation, which almost sets the critick on, 
a level with the author. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Warburton, in my apprehension, did not understand the 
passage. I have therefore omitted his laboured comment on it, 
in which he endeavours to prove that Shakspeare intended it as a 
vindication of the ways of Providence in permitting evil to 
abound in the world. He does not indeed pretend that this pro- 
found meaning can be drawn from what Hamlet says ; but that 
this is what he was thinking of; for " this wonderful man 
( Shakspeare ) had an art not only of acquainting the audience 
with what his actors say, but with what they think /" 

Hamlet's observation is, I think, simply this. He has just re- 
marked that honesty is very rare in the world. To this Polonius 
assents. The prince then adds, that since there is so little virtue 
in the world, since corruption abounds every where, and maggots 
are bred by the sun, even in a dead dog, Polonius ought to 
take care to prevent his daughter from walking in the sun, lest 

#7. //. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 121 

a blessing; 7 but as your daughter may conceive, 
friend, look to't. 

she should prove " a breeder of sinners ;" for though conception 
in general be a blessing, yet as Ophelia (whom Hamlet supposes 
to be as frail as the rest of the world,) might chance to conceive, 
it might be a calamity. The maggots breeding in a dead dog, 
seem to have been mentioned merely to introduce the word con- 
ception; on which word, as Mr. Steevens has observed, Shak- 
speare has play'd in King Lear : and probably a similar quibble 
was intended here. The word, however, may have been used 
in its ordinary sense, for pregnancy, without any double meaning. 

The slight connection between this and the preceding passage, 
and Hamlet's abrupt question, Have you a daughter? were 
manifestly intended more strongly to impress Polonius with the 
belief of the prince's madness. 

Perhaps this passage ought rather to be regulated thus: 
" being a god-kissing carrion ;" i. e. a carrion that kisses the sun. 
The participle being naturally refers to the last antecedent, dog. 
Had Shakspeare intended that it should be referred to sun, he 
would probably have written " he being a god," &c. We have 
many similar compound epithets in these plays. Thus, in King 
Lear, Act II. sc. i. Kent speaks of " ear-kissing arguments." 
Again, more appositely, in the play before us : 
** New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill." 
Again, in The Rape ofLucrece: 

" Threatning cloud-kissing Ilion with annoy." 

However, the instance quoted from Cymbeline by Dr. War- 
burton, " common-kissing Titan," seems in favour of the 

regulation that has been hitherto made ; for here we find the 
poet considered the sun as kissing the carrion, not the carrion 
as kissing the sun. So, also, in King Henry IV. P. I: " Did'st 
thou never see Titan kiss a dish of butter ?" The following 
lines also in the historical play of King Edward III. 1596, 
which Shakspeare had certainly seen, are, it must be acknow- 
ledged, adverse to the regulation I have suggested : 

*' The freshest summer's day doth soonest taint 
" The loathed carrion, that it seems to kiss." 

In justice to Dr. Johnson, I should add, that the high elogium 
which he has pronounced on Dr. Warburton's emendation, was 
founded on the comment which accompanied it ; of which, how- 
ever, I think, his judgment must have condemned the reasoning, 
though his goodness and piety approved its moral tendency. 


As a doubt, at least, may be entertained on this subject, I have 


POL. How say you by that ? \_Aside.~] Still harp- 
ing on my daughter : yet he knew me not at first; 
he said, I was a fishmonger : He is far gone, far 
gone : and, truly in my youth I suffered much ex- 
tremity for love ; very near this. I'll speak to him 
again. What do you read, my lord ? 

HAM. Words, words, words ! 

POL. What is the matter, my lord ? 

HAM. Between who ? 

POL. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord. 

HAM. Slanders, sir : for the satirical rogue says 
here, that old men have grey beards ; 8 that their 

hot ventured to expunge a note written by a great critick, and 
applauded by a greater. STEEVENS. 

7 conception is a blessing; &c.] Thus the quarto. The 

folio reads thus : " conception is a blessing ; but not a* your 
daughter may conceive. Friend, look to't." The meaning seemg 
to be, conception (i. e. understanding) is a blessing ; but as your 
daughter may conceive (i. e. be pregnant,) friend, look to't, i. e. 
have a care of that. The same quibble occurs again in the first 
scene of King Lear : 

" Kent. I cannot conceive you, sir. 

" Glo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could." 


The word not, I have no doubt, was inserted by the editor of 
the folio, in consequence of his not understanding the passage. 
A little lower we find a similar interpolation in some of the co- 
pies, probably from the same cause : " You cannot, sir, take 
from me any thing that I will not more willingly part withal, 
except my life." MALONE. 

8 Slanders, sir : for the satirical rogue says here, that old 
men &c.] By the satirical rogue he means Juvenal m his 10th 
Satire : 

" Da spatium vitae, multos da Jupiter annos : 
" Hoc recto vultu, solum hoc et pallidus optas. 
" Sed quam continuis et quantis tonga senectus 
" Plena malis ! deformem, et tctrum ante omnia vnltum t 
" Dissimilemque sui," &c. 
"Nothing could be finer imagined for Hamlet, in his circum- 


faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick am- 
ber, and plum-tree gum ; and that they have a 
plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak 
hams : All of which, sir, though I most powerfully 
and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to 
have it thus set down ; for yourself, sir, shall be 
as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go back- 

POL. Though this be madness, yet there's me- 
thod in it. [_Aside.~] Will you walk out of the air, 
my lord ? 

HAM. Into my grave ? 

POL. Indeed, that is out o'the air. How preg- 

stances, than the bringing him in reading a description of the 
evils of long life. WARBURTON. 

Had Shakspeare read Juvenal in the original, he had met 

" De temone Britanno, Excidet Arviragus" . 


" Uxorem, Posthume, ducis ?" 

We should not then have had continually in Cymbeline, Arvira- 
gus, and Posthumus. Should it be said that the quantity in the 
former word might be forgotten, it is clear from a mistake in the 
latter, that Shakspeare could not possibly have read any one of 
the Roman poets. 

There was a translation of the 10th Satire of Juvenal by Sir 
John Beaumont, the elder brother of the famous Francis : but I 
cannot tell whether it was printed in Shakspeare's time. In that 
age of quotation, every classick might be picked up by piece- 

I forgot to mention in its proper place, that another descrip- 
tion of Old Age in As you like it, has been called a parody on a 
passage in a French poem of Gamier. It is trifling to say any 
thing about this, after the observation I made in Macbeth: but 
one may remark once for all, that Shakspeare wrote for the 
people ; and could not have been so absurd as to bring forward 
any allusion, which had not been familiarized by some accident 
or other. FARMER. 

124 HAMLET, ACT n. 

nant sometimes his replies are! 9 a happiness that 
often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could 
not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave 
him, and suddenly * contrive the means of meeting 
between him and my daughter. My honourable 
lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you. 

HAM. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing 
that I will more willingly part withal ; except my 
life, except my life, except my life, 

POL. Fare you well, my lord. 
HAM. These tedious old fools ! 


POL. You go to seek the lord Hamlet ; there 
be is. 

Ros. God save you, sir! [To POLONIUS. 


GUIL. My honour'd lord ! 
Ros. My most dear lord ! 

HAM. My excellent good friends! How dost 
thou, Guildenstern ? Ah, Rosencrantz ! Good 
lads, how do ye both ? 

Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth. 

GUIL. Happy, in that we are not overhappy ; 
On fortune's cap we are not the very button. 

9 How pregnant #c.] Pregnant is ready, dexterous, apt. 
So, in Twelfth Night: 

" a wickedness 

" Wherein the pregnant enemy doth much." STEEVENS. 

1 and suddenly &c.] This and the greatest part of the 

two following lines, are omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

* Rosencrantz ] There was an ernbassador of that name 

in England about the time when this play was written. STEEVENS. 


HAM. Nor the soles of her shoe ? 
Ros. Neither, my lord. 

HAM. Then you live about her waist, or in the 
middle of her favours ? 

GUIL. 'Faith, her privates we. 

HAM. In the secret parts of fortune ? O, most 
true ; she is a strumpet. What news ? 

Ros. None, my lord ; but that the world's 
grown honest. 

HAM. Then is dooms-day near : But your news 
is not true. [Let me 3 question more in particu- 
lar: What have you, my good friends, deserved 
at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to 
prison hither ? 

GUIL. Prison, my lord ! 
HAM. Denmark's a prison. 
Ros. Then is the world one. 

HAM. A goodly one ; in which there are many 
confines, wards, and dungeons; Denmark being 
one of the worst. 

Ros. We think not so, my lord. 

HAM. Why, then 'tis none to you ; for there is 
nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it 
so : to me it is a prison. 

Ros. Why, then your ambition makes it one j 
'tis too narrow for your mind. 

HAM. O God! I could be bounded in a nut- 
shell, and count myself a king of infinite space ; 
were it not that I have bad dreams. 

3 [Let me &c.] All within the crotchets is wanting in the 
quartos. STEEVENS. 

126 HAMLET, ACT n. 

GUIL. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition ; for 
the very substance of the ambitious is merely the 
shadow of a dream. 3 

HAM. A dream itself is but a shadow. 

Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and 
light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow. 

HAM. Then are our beggars, bodies ;* and our 
monarchs, and outstretch'd heroes, the beggars' 
shadows : Shall we to the court ? for, by my fay, 
I cannot reason. 

Ros. GUIL. We'll wait upon you. 

HAM. No such matter : I will not sort you with 
the rest of my servants ; for, to speak to you like 
aa honest man, I am most dreadfully attended.] 
But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make 
you at Elsinore ? 

Ros. To visit you, my lord ; no other occasion. 

HAM. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; 
but I thank you : and sure, dear friends, my thanks 
are too dear, a halfpenny. 5 Were you not sent for ? 

3 the shadow of a dream."] Shakspeare has accidentally 

inverted an expression of Pindar, that the state of humanity is 
ffKias *ovxg , the dream of a shadow. JOHNSON. 

So, Davies : 

" Man's life is but a dreame, nay, less than so, 
" A shadow of a dreame" FARMER. 

So, in the tragedy of Darius, 1603, by Lord Sterline: 
" Whose best was but the shadow of a dream." 


4 Then are our beggars, bodies ;~^ Shakspeare seems here to 
design a ridicule of tnose declamations against wealth and great- 
ness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty. 


4 too dear, a halfpenny.^ i. e. a halfpenny too dear : they 

are worth nothing. The modern editors read at a halfpenny. 


sc.ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 127 

Is it your own inclining ? Is it a free visitation ? 
Come, come ; deal justly with me : come, come ; 
nay, speak. 

GUIL. What should we say, my lord ? 

HAM. Any thing but to the purpose. You 
were sent for ; and there is a kind of confession in 
your looks, which your modesties have not craft 
enough to colour : I know, the good king and 
queen have sent for you. 

Ros. To what end, my lord ? 

HAM. That you must teach me. But let me 
conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the 
consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our 
ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better 
proposer could charge you withal, be even and di- 
rect with me, whether you were sent for, or no ? 

Ros. What say you? [To GUILDENSTERN. 

HAM. Nay, then I have an eye of you; 6 \_Aside.~\ 
r if you love me, hold not off. 

GUIL. My lord, we were sent for. 

HAM. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipa- 
tion prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the 
king and queen moult no feather. I have of late, 7 
(but, wherefore, I know not,) lost all my mirth, 
forgone all custom of exercises: and, indeed, it goes 
so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly 
frame, the earth, seems to me a steril promontory; 

c Nay, then I have an eye ofyou;~\ An eye of you means, I 
have a glimpse of your meaning. STEEVENS. 

7 I have of late, &c.~] This is an admirable description of a 
rooted melancholy sprung from thickness of blood ; and artfully 
imagined to hide the true cause of his disorder from the penetra* 
tion of these two friends, who were set over him as spies. 


128 HAMLET, Act 1L 

this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this 
brave overhanging firmament, 8 this majestical roof 
fretted with golden fire, 9 why, it appears no other 
thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congrega- 
tion of vapours. What a piece of work is a man ! 
How noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties ! in 
form, and moving, how express and admirable! in 
action, how like an angel ! in apprehension, how 
like a god ! the beauty of the world ! the paragon 
of animals ! And yet, to me, what is this quint- 
essence of dust ? man delights not me, nor woman 
neither ; though, by your smiling, you seem to say 

Ros. My lord, there is no such stuff in my 

HAM. Why did you laugh then, when I said, 
Man delights not me? 

Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in 
man, what lenten entertainment 1 the players shall 
receive from you: we coted them on the way; 2 
and hither are they coming, to offer you service. 

8 this brave overhanging firmament,] Thus the quarto. 

The folio reads, this brave o'er-hanging, this Sfc. 


9 this most excellent canopy, the air, this majestical roof 

fretted with golden fire,} So, in our author's 21st Sonnet: 

" As those gold candles, fix'd in heaven's air." 
Again, in The Merchant of Venice: 

" Look, how the floor of heaven 

" Is thick inlaid with patins of bright gold /" 


1 lenten entertainment ] i. e. sparing, like the enter- 
tainments given in Lent. So, in The Duke's Mistress, by Shir- 
ley, 1638 : 

" to maintain you with bisket, 

" Poor John, and half a livery, to read moral virtue 
" And lenten lectures." STEEVENS. 
* toe coted them on the 'way;'] To cote is to overtake. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 129 

HAM. He that plays the king, shall be welcome ; 
his majesty shall have tribute of me: the adven- 
turous knight shall use his foil, and target : the 
lover shall not sigh gratis ; the humorous man shall 
end his part in peace : 3 the clown shall make those 
laugh, whose lungs are tickled o'the sere; 4 and the 

I meet with this word in The Return from Parnassus, a comedy, 

" marry we presently coted and outstript them." 

Again, in Golding's Ovid's Metamorphosis, 1587, Book II: 

" With that Hippomenes coted her." 
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. VI. chap, xxx : 

" Gods and goddesses for wantonness out-coted." 
Again, in Drant's translation of Horace's satires, 1567: 

" For he that thinks to coat all men, and all to overgoe." 
Chapman has more than once used the word in his version of 
the 23d Iliad. 

See Vol. VII. p. 107, n. 8. 

In the laws of coursing, says Mr. Tollett, " a cote is when a 
greyhound goes endways by the side of his fellow, and gives the 
hare a turn." This quotation seems to point out the etymology 
of the verb to be from the French cote, the side. STEEVENS. 

shall end his part in peace .-] After these words the 
folio adds the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are 
tickled o'the sere. WARBURTON. 

4 the clown shall make those laugh, whose lungs are tickled 

o'the sere;~\ i. e. those who are asthmatical, and to whom laugh- 
ter is most uneasy. This is the case (as I am told) with those 
whose lungs are tickled by the sere or serum: but about these 
Words I am neither very confident, nor very solicitous. Will the 
following passage in The Tempest be of use to any future com- 
mentator ? 

" to minister occasion to these gentlemen, who are of 

such sensible and nimble lungs, that they always use to laugh at 

The word scare occurs as unintelligibly in an ancient Dialogue 
between the Comen Secretary and Jelowsy, touchynge the un- 
stableness of Harlottes, bl. 1. no date: 

" And wyll byde whysperynge in the eare, 
" Thynk ye her tayle is not light of the seare ?" 

130 HAMLET, ACT n. 

lady shall say her mind freely, 5 or the blank verse 
shall halt for't. What players are they ? 

Ros. Even those you were wont to take such 
delight in, the tragedians of the city. 

HAM. How chances it, they travel ? 6 their resi- 

The sense of the adjective sere is not more distinct in Chap- 
man's version of the 22d Iliad: 

" Hector, thou only pestilence, in all mortalitie, 

" To my sere spirits." 
Seep. 135, n. 1. 
A sere is likewise the talon of a hawk. STEEVENS. 

These words are not in the quarto. I am by no means satis- 
fied with the explanation given, though I have nothing satis- 
factory to propose. I believe Hamlet only means, that the clown 
shall make those laugh who have a disposition to laugh ; who 
are pleased with their entertainment. That no asthmatic disease 
was in contemplation, may be inferred from both the words 
used, tickled and lungs; each of which seems to have a relation 
to laughter, and the latter to have been considered by Shak- 
speare, as (if I may so express myself,) its natural seat. So, in 

" with a kind of smile, 

" Which ne'er came from the lungs, ." 
Again, in As you like it: 

" When I did hear 

" The motley fool thus moral on the time, 
" My lungs began to crow like chanticleer." 
O'the sere or of the sere, means, I think, by the sere ; but the 
word sere I am unable to explain, and suspect it to be corrupt. 
Perhaps we should read the clown shall make those laugh whose 
lungs are tickled o'the scene, i. e. by the scene. A similar cor- 
ruption has happened in another place, where we 6nd scare for 
scene. See Vol. V. p. 190, n. 6. MA LONE. 

4 the lady shall say her mind &c.] The lady shall have 

no obstruction, unless from the lameness of the verse. 


I think, the meaning is, The lady shall mar the measure of 
the verse, rather than not express herself freely or fully. 


Hoiv chances it, they travel? 3 To travel in Shakspeare's 
time was the technical word, for which we have substituted to 

sc. u. PRINCE OF DENMARK. isi 

dence, both in reputation and profit, was better 
both ways. 

Ros. I think, their inhibition comes by the 
means of the late innovation. 7 

stroll. So, in the Office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of 
the Revels to King Charles the First, a manuscript of which an 
account is given in Vol. Ill : " 1622. Feb. 17, for a certificate 
for the Palsgrave's servants to travel into the country for six 
week, 10s." Again, in Ben Jonson's Poetaster, 1601 : " If he 
pen for thee once, thou shalt not need to travell, with thy pumps 
full of gravell, any more, after a blinde jade and a hamper, and 
stalk upon boords and barrel-heads to an old crackt trumpet." 
These words are addressed to a player. MALONE. 

7 / think, their inhibition #c.] I fancy this is transposed : 
Hamlet enquires not about an inhibition, but an innovation : the 
answer therefore probably was, / think, their innovation, that 
is, their new practice of strolling, comes by means of the late in- 
hibition. JOHNSON. 

The drift of Hamlet's question appears to be this, How 
chances it they travel ? i. e. How happens it that they are 
become strollers ? Their residence both in reputation and profit, 
was better both ways i. e. to have remained in a settled thea- 
tre, was the more honourable as well as the more lucrative 
situation. To this, Rosencrantz replies, Their inhibition comes 
by means of the late innovation. \. e. their permission to act 
any longer at an established house is taken away, in consequence 
of the NEW CUSTOM of introducing personal abuse iuto their 
comedies. Several companies of actors in the time of our author 
were silenced on account of this licentious practice. Among 
these (as appears from a passage in Have with you to Saffron 
Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, &c. 1596,) even the 
children of St. Paul's: " Troth, would he might for mee (that's 
all the harme I wish him) for then we neede never wishe the 
playes at Powles up againe," &c. See a dialogue between Comedy 
and Envy at the conclusion of Mucedorus, 1598, as well as the 
preludium to Aristippus, or the Jovial Philosopher, 1630, from 
whence the following passage is taken : " Shews having been long 
intermitted and forbidden by authority , for their abuses, could 
not be raised but by conjuring." Shew enters, whipped by two 
furies, and the prologue says to her : 

" with tears wash off that guilty sin, 

" Purge out those ill-digested dregs of wit, 

K 2 

132 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

HAM. Do they hold the same estimation they did 
when I was in the city ? Are they so followed ? 
Ros. No, indeed, they are not. 
\_HAM. How comes it? 8 Do they grow rusty? 

" That use their ink to blot a spotless name : 
" Let's have no one particular man traduc'd, 

" spare the persons," &c. 

Alteration, therefore, in the order of the words, seems to be 
quite unnecessary. STEEVENS. 

There will still, however, remain some difficulty. The statute 
39. Eliz. ch. 4, which seems to be alluded to by the words their 
inhibition, was not made to inhibit the players from acting any 
longer at an established theatre, but to prohibit them from stroll- 
ing. " All fencers, (says the act,) bearwards, common players 
of enterludes, and minstrels, wandering abroad, (other than 
players of enterludes, belonging to any baron of this realm or 
any other honourable personage of greater degree, to be 
authorized to play under the hand and seal of arms of such 
baron or personage,) shall be taken, adjudged, and deemed 
rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy beggars, and shall sustain such 
pain and punishments as by this act is in that behalf appointed." 
This statute, if alluded to, is repugnant to Dr. Johnson's trans- 
position of the text, and to Mr. Steevens's explanation of it as 
it now stands. Yet Mr. Steevens's explanation may be right : 
Shakspeare might not have thought of the act of Elizabeth. He 
could not, however, mean to charge his frie'nds the old trage- 
dians with the new custom of introducing personal abuse ; but 
must rather have meant, that the old tragedians were inhibited 
from*performing in the city, and obliged to travel, on account 
of the misconduct of the younger company. See note 9. 


By the late innovation, it is probable that Rosencrantz means, 
the late change of government. The word innovation is used in 
the same sense in The Triumph of Love, in Fletcher's Four moral 
Representations in One, whre Cornelia says to Kioaldo : 

" and in poor habits clad, 

" (You fled, and the innovation laid aside)." 
And in Fletcher's [Shirley's] play of The Coronation, after Leo- 
natus is proclaimed king, Lysander says to Philocles : 

" What dost thou think of this innovation ?" M ; MASON. 
* [Ham. &c.] The lines enclosed in crotchet* 
are in the folio of 1623, but not in any of the quartos. 



Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted 
pace : But there is, sir, an aiery of children, 9 little 

9 an aiery of children, &c.] Relating to the play houses 

then contending, the Bankside, the Fortune, &c. played by the 
children of his majesty's chapel. POPE. 

It relates to the young singing men of the chapel royal, or St. 
Paul's, of the former of whom perhaps the earliest mention oc- 
curs in an anonymous puritanical pamphlet, 1569, entitled The 
Children of the Chapel stript andixJtipt: " Plaies will neuer 
be supprest, while her maiesties unfledged minions flaunt it in 
silkes and sattens. They had as well be at their popish seruice 
in the deuils garments," c. Again, ibid; " Euen in her ma- 
iesties chapel do these pretty upstart youthes profane the Lordes 
day by the lasciuious writhing of their tender limbes, and gor- 
geous decking of their apparell, in feigning bawdie fables 
gathered from the idolatrous heathen poets," &c. 

Concerning the performances and success of the latter in at- 
tracting the best company, I also find the following passage in 
Jack Drum's Entertainment, or Pasquil and Katherine, 1601: 
" I saw the children qfPotvles last night; 
" And troth they pleas'd me pretty, pretty well, 
" The apes, in time, will do it handsomely. 

" I like the audience that frequenteth there 

" With much applause : a man shall not be choak'd 
" With the stench of garlick, nor be pasted 
" To the barmy jacket of a beer-brewer. 

" 'Tis a good gentle audience," &c. 

It is said in Richard Flecknoe's Short Discourse of the English 
Stage, 1664,that "both the children of the chappel and St. Paul's, 
acted playes, the one in White-Friers, the other behinde the 
Convocation-house in Paul's ; till people growing more precise, 
and playes more licentious, the theatre of Paul's was quite sup- 
prest, and that of the children of the chappel converted to the 
use of the children of the revels." STEEVENS. 

The suppression to which Flecknoe alludes took place in the 
year 1583-4; but afterwards both the children of the chapel and 
of the Revels played at our author's playhouse in Blackfriars, and 
elsewhere : and the choir-boys of St. Paul's at their own house. 
See the Account of our old Theatres, in Vol. III. A certain 
number of the children of the Revels, I believe, belonged to 
each o^f the principal theatres. 

Our author cannot be supposed to direct any satire at those 
young men who played occasionally at his own theatre. Ben 

134 HAMLET, ACT n. 

eyases, that cry out on the top of question, 1 and are 
most tyrannically clapped for't : these are now the 

Jonson's Cynthia's Revels, and his Poetaster, were performed 
there by the children of Queen Elizabeth's chapel, in 1600 and 
1601 ; and Eastward Hoe by the children of the revels, in 1604- 
or 1605. I have no doubt, therefore, that the dialogue before 
us was pointed at the choir-hoys of St. Paul's, who in 1601 acted 
two of Marston's plays, Antonio and Mellida, and Antonio's 
Revenge. Many of Lyly's plays were represented by them about 
the same time; and in 1607, Chapman's Biissy d'Amboisws& 
performed by them with great applause. It was probably in this 
and some other noisy tragedies of the same kind, that they cry'd 
out on the top of question, and were most tyrannically clapped 

At a later period indeed, after our poet's death, the Children 
of the Revels had an established theatre of their own, and some 
dispute seems to have arisen between them and the king's com- 
pany. They performed regularly in 1623, and for eight years 
afterwards, at the Red Bull in St. John's Street ; and in 1627, 
Shakspeare's company obtained an inhibition from the Master of 
the Revels to prevent their performing any of his plays at their 
house : as appears from the following entry in Sir Henry Her- 
bert's Office-book, already mentioned : " From Mr. Heminge, 
in their company's name, to forbid the playinge of any of Shak- 
speare's playes to the Red Bull company, this llth of Aprill, 
1627, 5 0." From other passages in the same book, it ap- 
pears that the Children of the Revels composed the Red-Bull 

We learn from Heywood's Apology for Actors, that the little 
eyases here mentioned were the persons who were guilty of the 
late innovation, or practice of introducing personal abuse on the 
stage, and perhaps for their particular fault the players in ge- 
neral suffered ; and the older and more decent comedians, as 
well as the children, had on some recent occasion been inhibited 
from acting in London, and compelled to turn scrollers. This 
supposition will make the words, concerning which a difficulty 
has been stated, (see n. 7.) perfectly clear. Heywood's Apology 
for Actors was published in 1612; the passage therefore which 
is found in the folio, and not in the quarto, was probably added 
not very long before that time. 

" Now to speake (says Hey wood,) of some abuse lately crept 
into the quality, as an inveighing against the state, the court, 
the latu, the citty, and their governments, with the particular- 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 135 

fashion ; and so berattle the common stages, (so 
they call them) that many, wearing rapiers, are 

izing of private mens humours, yet alive, noblemen and others, 
I know it distastes many ; neither do I any way approve it, nor 
dare I by any means excuse it. The liberty which some arrogate 
to themselves, committing their bitterness and liberal invectives 
against all estates to the mouthes of children, supposing their ju- 
niority to be a priviledge for any rayling, be it never so violent, 
I could advise all such to curbe, and limit this presumed liberty 
within the bands of discretion and government. But wise and 
judicial censurers before whom such complaints shall at any time 
hereafter come, will not, I hope, impute these abuses to any 
transgression in us, who have ever been carefull and provident 
to shun the like." 

Prynne in his Histriomastix, speaking of the state of the stage, 
about the year 1620, has this passage: " Not to particularise 
those late new scandalous invective playes, wherein sundry per- 
sons of place and eminence [Gundemore, the late lord admiral, 
lord treasurer, and others,] have been particularly personated, 
jeared, abused in a gross and scurrilous manner," &c. 

The folio, 1623, has berattled. The correction was made 
by the editor of the second folio. 

Since this note was written, I have met with a passage in a 
letter from Mr. Samuel Calvert to Mr. Winwood, dated March 
28, 1605, which might lead us to suppose that the words found 
only in the folio were added at that time : 

" The plays do not forbear to present upon the stage the 
whole course of this present time, not sparing the king, state, 
or religion, in so great absurdity, and with such liberty, that any 
would be afraid to hear them." Memorials, Vol. II. p. 54. 


1 little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, ~\ Little 

eyases; i. e. young nestlings, creatures just out of the egg. 


The Booke of HauJcying, &c. bl. 1. no date, seems to offer ano- 
ther etymology : " And so bycause the best knowledge is by the 
eye, they be called eyessed. Ye may also know an eyesse by the 
paleness of the seres of her legges, or the sere over thebeake." 


From ey, Teut. ovum, q. d. qui recens ex ovo emersit. 
Skinner, Etymol. An aiery or eyrie, as it ought rather to be 
written, is derived from the same root, and signifies both a young 
brood of hawks, and the nt-st itself in which they are produced. 

136 HAMLET, ACT n. 

afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thi- 

HAM. What, are they children ? who maintains 
them ? how are they escoted ? 2 Will they pursue 
the quality no longer than they can sing? J will they 

An eyas hawk is sometimes written a nyas hawk, perhaps from 
a corruption that has happened in many words in our language, 
from the latter n passing from the end of one word to the be- 
ginning of another. However, some etymologists think nyas a 
legitimate word. MALONE. 

cry out on the top of question,"] The meaning seems to 

be, they ask a common question in the highest note of the voice. 


I believe, question, in this place, as in many others, signifies 
conversation, dialogue. So, in The Merchant of Venice: " Think, 
you question with a Jew." The meaning of the passage may 
therefore be Children that perpetually recite in the highest notes 
of voice that can be uttered. STEEVENS, 

When we ask a question, we generally end the sentence with 
a high note. I believe, therefore, that what Kosencrantz means 
to say is, that these children declaim, through the whole of their 
parts, in the high note commonly used at the end oj a question, 
and are jipplauded for it. M. MASON. 

escoted?^ Paid. From the French escot, a shot or 
reckoning. JOHNSON. 

3 Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing ?J 
Will they follow the profession of players no longer than they 
keep the voices of boys, and sing in the choir ? So afterwards, he 
says to the player, Come, give us a taste of your quality ; come, a 
passionate speech. JOHNSON. 

So, in the players' Dedication, prefixed to the first edition of 
Fletcher's plays in folio, 1647 : " directed by the example of 
some who once steered in our quality, and so fortunately aspired 
to chuse your honour, joined with your now glorified brother, 
patrons to the flowing compositions of the then expired sweet 
swan of Avon, Shakspeare." Again, in Gosson's School of 
Abuse, 1579: " 1 speak not of this, as though every one [of the 
players] that professeth the oualitie, so abused himself, ." 

*' Than they can sing," does not merely mean, " than they 
keep the voices of boys," but is to be understood literally. He 
is speaking of the choir-boys of St. Paul's. MALONE. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 137 

not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves 
to common players, (as it is most like, 4 if their 
means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, 5 
to make them exclaim against their own succes- 
sion ? 

Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both 
sides ; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them 
on to controversy: 6 there was, for a while, no 
money bid for argument, unless the poet and the 
player went to cuffs in the question. 

HAM, Is it possible ? 

GUIL. O, there has been much throwing about 
of brains. 

HAM. Do the boys carry it away ? 

Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord j Hercules and 
his load too. 7 ] 

* . most like,'] The old copy reads like most. 


The correction was made by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

6 their writers do them wrong, &c.] I should have been 

very much surprised if I had not found Ben Jonson among the 
writers here alluded to. STEEVENS. 

to tarre them on to controversy :] To provoke any 

animal to rage, is to tarre him. The word is said to come from 
the Greek ra.%a.<r<rw. JOHNSON. 

So, already, in King John.- 

" Like a dog, that is compelled to fight, 

" Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.'* 


7 Hercules and his load too.'] i. e. they not only carry 

away the world, but the world-bearer too : alluding to the story 
of Hercules's relieving Atlas. This is humorous. 


The allusion may be to the Globe playhouse on the Bankside, 
the sign of which was Hercules carrying the Globe. 


1 38 HAMLET, ACT n. 

HAM. It is not very strange : for my uncle 8 is 
king of Denmark ; and those, that would make 
mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, 
forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his pic- 
ture in little. 9 'Sblood, there is something in this 
more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. 
[Flourish of Trumpets within. 

GUIL. There are the players. 

HAM. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. 
Your hands. Come then : the appurtenance of 
welcome is fashion and ceremony : let me comply 
with you in this garb ; l lest my extent to the 
players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, 
should more appear like entertainment than yours. 

I suppose Shakspeare meant, that the boys drew greater au- 
diences than the elder players of the Globe theatre. MALONE. 

8 It is not very strange: for my uncle ] I do not wonder 
that the new players have so suddenly risen to reputation, my 
uncle supplies another example of the facility with which honour 
is conferred upon' new claimants. JOHNSON. 

It is not very strange : &c. was originally Hamlet's observa- 
tion, on being informed that the old tragedians of the city were 
not so followed as they used to be : [see p. 133, n. 9.] but Dr. 
Johnson's explanation is certainly just, and this passage connects 
sufficiently well with that which now immediately precedes it. 


9 in little.'] i. e. in miniature. So, in The Noble Sol- 
diery 1634: 

" The perfection of all Spaniards, Mars in little." 
Again, in Drayton's Shepherd's Sirena : 

" Paradise in little done." 
Again, in Massinger's Neve Way to pay Old Debts : 

" His father's picture in little." STEEVENS. 

1 let me comply #c.] Sir T. Hanmer reads let me 

compliment ixith you. JOHNSON. 

To comply is again apparently used in the sense of to com- 
pliment, in Act V : " He did comply with his dug, before he 
sucked it." STEEVENS. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 139 

You are welcome : but my uncle-father, and aunt- 
mother, are deceived. 

GUIL. In what, my dear lord ? 

HAM. I am but mad north-north west : when the 
wind is southerly, 2 I know a hawk from a hand- 

saw. 3 


POL. Well be with you, gentlemen ! 

HAM. Hark you, Guildenstern ; and you too ; 
at each ear a hearer: that great baby, you see there, 
is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts. 

when the wind is southerly, &;c.~] So, in Damon and 

Pythias, 1582: 

" But I perceive now, either the winde is at the south, 
" Or else your tunge cleaveth to the roofte of your 
mouth." STEEVENS. 

3 7 know a hawk from a handsaw.] This was a com- 
mon proverbial speech. The Oxford editor alters it to, 7 know 
a hawk from an hernshaw, as if the other had been a corruption 
of the players ; whereas the poet found the proverb thus cor- 
rupted in the mouth of the people : so that the critick's alteration 
only serves to show us the original of the expression.. 


Similarity of sound is the source of many literary corruptions. 
In Holborn we have still the sign of the Bull and Gate, which 
exhibits but an odd combination of images. It was originally 
(as I learn from the title-page of an old play) the Boulogne 
Gate, i. e. one of the gates of Boulogne; designed perhaps as a 
compliment to Henry VIII. who took the place in 1544. 

The Boulogne mouth, now the Bull and Mouth, had probably 
the same origin, i. e. the mouth of the harbour of Boulogne. 


The Boulogne Gate was not one of the gates of Boulogne, but 
of Calais; and is frequently mentioned as such by Hall and 
Holinshed. RITSON. 

140 HAMLET, ACT 11. 

Ros. Hapily,he's the second time come to them j 
for, they say, an old man is twice a child. 

HAM. I will prophecy, he comes to tell me of the 
players ; mark it. You say right* sir : o* Monday 
morning ; 'twas then, indeed. 

POL. My lord, I have news to tell you. 

HAM. My lord, I have news to tell you. When 
Roscius was an actor in Rome, 

. POL. The actors are come hither, my lord. 
HAM. Buz, buz! 3 
POL. Upon my honour, 

3 Buz, buz!] Mere idle talk, the buz of the vulgar. 


Buz, buz! are, I believe, only interjections employed to inter- 
rupt Polonius. Ben Jonson uses them often for the same pur- 
pose, as well as Middleton in A Mad World, my Masters, 1608. 


Buz used to be an interjection at Oxford, when any one began 
a story that was generally known before. BLACKSTONE. 

Buzzer, in a subsequent scene in this play, is used for a busy 

" And wants not buzzers, to infect his ear 
" With pestilent speeches." 
Again, in King Lear: 

" on every dream, 

" Each buz, each fancy." 

Again, in Trussel's History nf England, 1635: " who, 
instead of giving redress, suspecting now the truth of the duke 
of Gloucester's buzz,'* &c. 

It is, therefore, probable from the answer of Polonius, that 
buz was used, as Dr. Johnson supposes, lor an idle rumour with- 
out any foundation. 

In Ben Jonson's Staple of News, the collector of mercantile 
intelligence is called Emissary Buz. MALONE. 

Whatever may be the origin of this phrase, or rather of this 
interjection, it is not unusual, even at this day, to cry buz to any 
person who begins to relate what the company had heard 
before. M. MASON. 

ac. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 141 

HAM. Then came each actor on his assf 

POL. The best actors in the world, either for 
tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comi- 
cal, historical-pastoral, [tragical-historical, 5 tragi- 
cal-comical-historical-pastoral,] scene individable, 
or poem unlimited : Seneca cannot be too heavy, 
nor Plautus too light. 6 For the law of writ, and 
the liberty, these are the only men. 7 

* Then came &c.] This seems to be a line of a ballad. 


* tragical-historical, &c.] The words within the crotchets 

I have recovered from the folio, and see no reason why they 
were hitherto omitted. There are many plays of the age, if not 
of Shakspeare, that answer to these descriptions. STEEVENS. 

6 Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light."] 

The tragedies of Seneca were translated into English by Thomas 
Newton, and others, and published first separate, at different 
times, and afterwards all together in 1581. One comedy of 
Plautus, viz. the Mencechmi, was likewise translated and pub- 
lished in 1595. STEEVENS. 

I believe the frequency of plays performed at publick schools, 
uggested to Shakspeare the names of Seneca and Plautus as 
dramatick authors. T. WARTON. 

Prefixed to a map of Cambridge in the Second Part ofBraunii 
Civitates, &c. is an account of the University, by Gulielmus 
Soonus, 1575. In this curious memoir we have the following 
passage : " Januarium, Februarium, & Martium menses, ut 
noctis teedix fallant in spectaculis populo exhibendis ponunt tanta 
elegantia, tanta actionis dignitate, ea vocis & vultus moderatione, 
ea magnificentia, ut si- Plautus, aut Terentius, aut Seneca revi- 
visceret mirarentur suas ipsi fabulas, majoremque quam cum 
inspectante popul. Rom. agerentur, voluptatem credo caperent. 
Euripidem vero, Sophoclem & Aristophanem, etiam Athenarum 
suarum taederet." STEEVENS. 

7 For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men.~\ 
All the modern editions have, the law oj~w\t, and the liberty ; 
but both my old copies have the law of writ, I believe rightly. 
Writ, for writing, composition. Wit was not, in our author's 
time, taken either for imagination, or acuteness, or both together^ 
but for understanding, for the faculty by which we apprehend 

142 HAMLET, ACT n. 

HAM. O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a trea- 
sure hadst thou ! 

POL. What a treasure had he, my lord ? 

HAM. Why One fair daughter, and no more, 
The which he loved passing well. 

POL. Still on my daughter. \_Aside. 

HAM. Am I rrot i'the right, old Jephthah ? 

POL. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a 
daughter, that I love passing well. 

HAM. Nay, that follows not. 

POL. What follows then, my lord ? 

HAM. Why, As by lot, God wo/, 8 and then, you 

and judge. Those who wrote of the human mind, distinguished 
its primary powers into wit and will. Ascham distinguishes boys 
of tardy and of active faculties into quick wits and slow wits. 


That writ is here used for writing, may be proved by the fol- 
lowing passage in Titus Andronicus: 

" Then all too late I bring this fatal writ." STEEVENS. 

The old copies are certainly right. Writ is used for writing 
by authors contemporary with Shakspeare. Thus, in The Apo- 
logie of Pierce Pennilesse, by Thomas Nashe, 1593: " For the 
lowsie circumstance of his poverty before his death, and sending 
that miserable writte to his wife, it cannot be but thou liest, 
learned Gabriel." Again, in Bishop Earle's Character of a mere 
dull Physician, 1638: " Then followes a writ to his drugger, 
in a strange tongue, which he understands, though he cannot 

Again, in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" Now, good my lord, let's see the devil's writ." 


9 Why, As by lot, God wot, &c."] The old song from which 
these quotations are taken, I communicated to Dr. Percy, who 
has honoured it with a place in the second and third editions of 
his Reliqiu's of ancient English Poetry. In the books belonging 
to the Stationers' Company, there are two entries of this Ballad 
among others. " A ballet intituled the Songe of Jepthah's 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 143 

know, It came to pass, As most like it was, The 
first row of the pious chanson 9 will show you more j 
for look, my abridgment 1 comes. 

doughter" &c. 1567, Vol. I. fol. 162. Again : " Jeffa Judge of 
Israel," p. 93, Vol. III. Dec. 14, 1624. 

This story was also one of the favourite subjects of ancient 
tapestry. STEEVENS. 

There is a Latin tragedy on the subject of Jeptha, by John 
Christopherson, in 1546, and another by Buchanan, in 1554. 
A third by Du Plessis Mornay, is mentioned by Prynne, in his 
Histriomastix. The same subject had probably been introduced 
on the English stage. MA LONE. 

9 the pious chanson ] It is pons chansons in the first 

folio edition. The old ballads sung on bridges, and from thence 
called Pons chansons. Hamlet is here repeating ends of old 
songs. POPE. 

It is pons chansons in the quarto too. I know not whence the 
rubrick has been brought, yet it has not the appearance of an 
arbitrary addition. The titles of old ballads were never printed 
red ; but perhaps rubrick may stand for marginal explanation. 


There are five large volumes of ballads in Mr. Pepys's collec- 
tion in Magdalen College Library, Cambridge, some as ancient 
as Henry VII's reign, and not one red letter upon any one of 
the titles. GREY. 

The words, of the rubrick, were first inserted by Mr. Rowe, 
in his edition in 1709. The old quartos in 1604, 1605, and 
1611, read, pious chanson, which gives the sense wanted, and 
I have accordingly inserted it in the text. 

The pious chansons were a kind of Christmas carols, contain- 
ing some scriptural history thrown into loose rhymes, and sung 
about the streets by the common people when they went at that 
season to solicit alms. Hamlet is here repeating some scraps 
from a song of this kind, and when Polonius enquires what fol- 
lows them, he refers him to thejirst row (i. e. division) of one 
of these, to obtain the information he wanted. STEEVENS. 

1 my abridgment ] He calls the players afterwards, 

the brief chronicles of the times; but I think he now means only 
those who ivill shorten my talk. JOHNSON. 

An abridgment is used for a dramatick piece in A Midsummer- 
Night's Dream, Act V. sc. i : 

" Say what abridgment have you for this evening ?" 

144 HAMLET, ACT it. 

Enter Four or Five Players. 

You are welcome, masters ; welcome, all : I am 
glad to see thee well : welcome, good friends. 
O, old friend ! Why, thy face is valanced' 2 since I 
saw thee last; Com'st thoti to beard me 3 in Den- 
mark ? What! my young lady and mistress! By-'r- 
lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven, than when 
I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. 4 Pray 

but it does not commodiously apply to this passage. See Vol. IV. 
p. 465, n. 4. STEEVENS. 

* - thy face is valanced ] i. e. fringed with a beard. The 
valance is the fringes or drapery hanging round the tester of a 
bed. MALONE. 

Dryden, in one of his epilogues, has the following line : 
" Criticks in plume, and white valancy wig." 


* -- to beard me ] To beard, anciently signified to set at 
defiance. So, in King Henry IV. P. I : 

" No man so potent breathes upon the ground, 
" But I will beard him." STEEVENS. 

4 - by the altitude of a chopine.] A chioppine is a high 
shoe, or rather, a clog, worn by the Italians, as in T. Heywood's 

Challenge of Beauty, Act V. Song: 
" The Italian i 

in her high chopeene, 
" Scotch lass, and lovely froe too ; 
" The Spanish Donna, French Madame, 

" He doth not feare to go to." 
So, in Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels: 

" I do wish myself one of my mistress's cioppini." Another 
demands, why would he be one of his mistress's cioppini ? a third 
answers, " because he would make her higher." 

Again, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631 : " I'm only 
taking instructions to make her a lower chopccne ; she finds fault 
that she's lifted too high." 

Again, in Chapman's Ccesar and Pompry, 1613: 
" - . - and thou shalt 
" Have chopincs at commandement to an height 
" Of life thou canst wish." 


God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, 
be not cracked within the ring. 5 Masters, you are 

See the figure of a Venetian courtezan among the Haliti An- 
tichi &c. di Cesar e Vecellio, p. 114, edit. 1598: and (as Mr. 
Ritson observes) among the Diversarum Nationum Habitus, 
Padua, 1592. STEEVENS. 

Tom Coryat, in his Crudities, 1611, p. 262, calls them 
chapineys, and gives the following account of them : " There is 
one thing used of the Venetian women, and some others dwelling 
in the cities and townes subject to the signiory of Venice, that 
is not to be observed (I thinke) amongst any other women in 
Christendome : which is so common in Venice, that no woman 
whatsoever goeth without it, either in her house or abroad, a 
thing made of wood and covered ivith leather of sundry colors, 
some with white, some redde, some yellow. It is called a chapi- 
ney, which they wear under their shoes. Many of them are cu- 
riously painted ; some also of them I have seen fairely gilt: so un- 
comely a thing (in my opinion) that it is pitty this foolish cus- 
tom is not cleane banished and exterminated out of the citie. 
There are many of these chapineys of a great height, even half a 
yard high, which maketh many of their women that are very 
short, seeme much taller than the tallest women we have in. 
England. Also I have heard it observed among them, that by 
how much the nobler a woman is, by so much the higher are 
her chapineys. All their gentlewomen and most of their wives 
and widowes that are of any wealth, are assisted and supported 
eytherby men or women, when they walke abroad, to the end 
they may not fall. They are borne up most commonly by the 
left arme, otherwise they might quickly take a fall." REED. 

Again, in Marston's Dutch Courtezan, 1605 : " Dost not 
vreare high corked shoes, chopines ?" 

The word ought rather to be written chapine, from chapin, 
Span, which is defined by Minsheu in his Spanish Dictionary : 
" a high cork shoe." There is no synonymous word in the Ita- 
lian language, though the Venetian ladies, as we are told by 
Lassels, " wear high heel'd shoes, like stilts," &c. MALONE. 

be not cracked within the ring."] That is, cracked too 
much for use. This is said to a young player who acted the parts 
of women. JOHNSON. 

I find the same phrase in The Captain, by Beaumont and 
Fletcher : 


146 HAMLET, ACT n. 

all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falcon- 
ers, 6 fly at any thing we see : We'll have a speech 
straight : Come, give us a taste of your quality j 
come, a passionate speech. 

1 PLAY. What speech, my lord ? 

HAM. I heard thee speak me a speech once, - 
but it was never acted ; or, if it was, not above 
once : for the play, I remember, pleased not the 
million ; 'twas caviare to the general: 7 but it was 

" Come to be married to my lady's woman, 
" After she's crack'd in the ring." 
Again, in Ben Jonson's Magnetick Lady : 

tl Light gold, and crack* d within the ring" 
Again, in your Five Gallants, 1608: " Here's Mistresse 
Rosenoble has lost her maidenhead, crackt in the ring." 
Again, in Ram- Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611 : 

" not a penny the worse 

" For a little use, whole within the ring." 
Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 : " You will not let 
my oaths be cracked in the ring, will you ?" STEEVENS. 

The following passage in Lyly's Woman in the Moon, 1597, 
as well as that in Fletcher's Captain, might lead us to suppose 
that this phrase sometimes conveyed a wanton allusion : " Well, 
if she were twenty grains lighter, refuse her, provided always 
she be not dipt within the ring." T. C. 

6 like French Jalconers,~\ The amusement of falconry 

was much cultivated in France. In All's well that ends well, 
Shakspeare has introduced an astringer or falconer at the French 
court. Mr. Toilet, who has mentioned the same circumstance, 
likewise adds that it is said in Sir Thomas Browne's Tracts, 
p. 116, that " the French seem to have been the first and noblest 
falconers in the western part of Europe ;" and, " that the French 
king sent over his falconers to show that sport to King James 
the First." See Weldon's Court of King James. STEEVENS. 

like Frenchya/c<w<?r.9,] Thus the folio. Quarto: like 

friendly falconers. MA LONE. 

7 caviare to the general :] Giles Fletcher, in his liusse 

CommonweaMt , 1591, p. 11, says in Russia they have divers 
kinds offish " very good and delicate: as the Bcllouga & Bel- 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 147 

(as I received it, and others, whose judgments, in 
such matters, cried in the top of mine, 8 ) an excel- 

lougina of four or five elnes long, the Ositrina & Sturgeon, but 
not so thick nor long. These four kind of fish breed in the 
Wolgha and are catched in great plenty, and served thence into 
the whole realme for a good food. Of the roes of these four 
kinds they make very great store of Icary or Caveary." See 
also, Mr. Ritson's Remarks, &c. on Shakspeare, (edit. 1778,) 
p. 199. REED. 

Ben Jonson has ridiculed the introduction of these foreign de- 
licacies in his Cynthia's Revels ; " He doth learn to eat An- 
chovies, Macaroni, Bovoli, Fagioli, and Caviare," &c. 
Again, in The Muses' Looking Glass, by Randolph, 1638 : 

" the pleasure that I take in spending it, 

" To feed on caviare, and eat anchovies." 
Again, in The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona, 1612: 

" . , one citizen 

" Is lord of two fair manors that call'd you master, 

" Only for caviare," 
Again, in Marston's What you 'will, 1607 : 

" a man can scarce eat good meat, 

" Anchovies, caviare, but he's satired." STEEVENS. 

Florio, in his Italian Dictionary, 1598, defines, Caviaro t 
" a kinde of salt meat, used in Italic, like black sope ; it is made 
of the roes of fishes." 

Lord Clarendon uses the general for the people, in the same 
manner as it is used here : " And so by undervaluing many par- 
ticulars, (which they truly esteemed,) as rather to be consented 
to than that the general should suffer, ." Book V. p. 530. 


8 cried in the top qfmine,~\ i. e. whose judgment I had 

the highest opinion of. WARBURTON. 

I think it means only, that tvere higher than mine. 


Whose judgment, in such matters, was in much higher vogue 
than mine. HEATH. 

Perhaps it means only whose judgment was more clamorous- 
ly delivered than mine. We still say of a bawling actor, that he 
Speaks on the top of his voice. STEEVENS. 

To over-top is a hunting term applied to a dog when he gives 

L 2 

148 HAMLET, ACT ii. 

lent play; well digested in the scenes, set down 
with as much modesty 9 as cunning. I remember, 
one said, there were no sallets 1 in the lines, to 
make the matter savoury; nor no matter in the 
phrase, that might indite the author of affection : 2 
but called it, an honest method, 3 as wholesome 4 as 

more tongue than the rest of the cry. To this, I believe, Ham- 
let refers, and he afterwards mentions a CRY of players. 


9 set down tvith as much modesty ] Modesty, for sim- 
plicity. WARBURTON. 

1 there mere no sallets #c.] Such is the reading of the 

old copies. I know not why the later editors continued to adopt 
the alteration of Mr. Pope, and read, no salt, &c. 

Mr. Pope's alteration may indeed be in some degree supported 
by the following passage in Decker's Satiromastix, 1602 : " a 
prepar'd troop of gallants, who shall distaste every unsaltcd line 
in their fly-blown comedies." Though the other phrase was 
used as late as in the year 1665, in A Banquet of Jests, &c. 

" for junkets, joci ; and for curious sallets, sales." 


* indite the author of affection :] Indite, for convict. 


indite the author of affection .] i. e. convict the author 
of being a fantastical affected writer. Maria calls Malvolio an 
affectioned ass : i. e. an affected ass ; and in Love's Labour's Lost, 
Nathaniel tells the Pedant, that his reasons " have been witty, 
without affection." 

Again, in the translation of Castiglione's Courtier,by Hobby, 
1556: " Among the chiefe conditions and qualityes in a waiting- 
gentlewoman," is, " to flee affection or curiosity." 

Again, in Chapman's Preface to Ovid's Banquet of Sense, 
1595: " Obscuritie in affection of words and indigested concete, 
is pedanticall and childish." STEEVENS. 

3 but called it, an honest method,'] Hamlet is telling hovr 

much his judgment differed from that of others. One said, 
there "were no sallets in the lines, &c. but called it an honest method. 
The author probably gave it, But I called it an honest method, 

an honest method,'] Honest, for chaste. WARBURTOX. 

4 as wholesome &c.] This passage was recovered from 

the quartos by Dr. Johnson. STEEVKNS. 

ac. //. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 149 

sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. 
One speech in it I chiefly loved : 'twas ^Eneas' tale 
to Dido ; and thereabout of it especially, where he 
speaks of Priam's slaughter: If it live in your me- 
mory, begin at this line ; let me see, let me see ; 
The rugged Pyrrhics, like the Hyrcanian beast, 5 
'tis not so ; it begins with Pyrrhus. 

" Fabula nullius veneris, morataque recte." 


* The rugged Pyrrhus, &c.] Mr. Malone once observed to 
me, that Mr. Capell supposed the speech uttered by the Player 
before Hamlet, to have been taken from an ancient drama, en- 
titled, " Dido Queen of Carthage." I had not then the means 
of justifying or confuting his remark, the piece alluded to having 
escaped the hands of the most liberal and industrious collectors 
of such curiosities. Since, however, I have met with this per- 
formance, and am therefore at liberty to pronounce that it did 
not furnish our author with more than a general hint for his de- 
scription of the death of Priam, &c. ; unless with reference to 

" the whiff and wind of his fell sword 

" The unnerved father falls, ." 

we read, ver. * : 

" And with the wind thereof the king felldown ;" 
and can make out a resemblance between 

" So as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood ;" 
and ver. * * : 

" So leaning on his sword, he stood stone still.'* 
The greater part of the following lines are surely more ridicu- 
lous in themselves, than even Shakspeare's happiest vein of bur- 
lesque or parody could have made them: 

" At last came Pirrhus fell and full of ire, 

" His harnesse dropping bloud, and on his speare 

*' The mangled head of Priams yongest sonne ; 

" And after him his band of Mirmidons, 

" With balles of wild-fire in their murdering pawes, 

" Which made the funerall flame that burnt faire Troy: 

" All which hemd me about, crying, this is he. 

" Dido. Ah, how could poor ^Eneas scape their hands? 
" JEn. My mother Venus, jealous of my health, 
" Convaid me from their crooked nets and bands : 
" So I escapt the furious Pirrhus wrath, 
*' Who then ran to the pallace of the King, 


The rugged Fyrrhus, he, whose sable arms, 
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble 

" And at Jove's Altar finding Priamus, 
" About whose witherd neck hung Hecuba, 
" Foulding his hand in hers, and joyntly both 
" Beating their breasts and falling on the ground, 
" He with his faulchions point raisde up at once; 
" And with Megeras eyes stared in their face, 
" Threatning a thousand deaths at every glaunce. 
" To whom the aged king thus trembling spoke : &C. 
'* Not mov'd at all, but smiling at his teares, 
" This butcher, whil'st his hands were yet held up, 
" Treading upon his breast, stroke off his hands. 
" Dido. O end, ./Eneas, I can hear no more. 
" JEn. At which the franticke queene leapt on his face, 
" And in his eyelids hanging by the nayles, 
" A little while prolong'd her husband's life : 
" At last the souldiers puld her by the heeles, 
" And swong her howling in the emptie ayre, 
" Which sent an echo to the wounded king : 
" Whereat he lifted up his bedred lims, 
" And would have grappeld with Achilles sonne, 
" Forgetting both his want of strength and hands ; 
" Which he disdaining, whiskt his sword about, 
*" And with the wound thereof the king fell downe : 
" Then from the navell to the throat at once, 
" He ript old Priam ; at whose latter gaspe 
" Jove's marble statue gan to bend the brow, 
" As lothing Pirrhus for this wicked act : 
" Yet he undaunted tooke his fathers flagge, 
" And dipt it in the old kings chill cold bloud, 
" And then in triumph ran into the streetes, 
" Through which he could not passe for slaughtred men: 
** " So leaning on his sword he stood stone still, 

" Viewing the fire wherewith rich Ilion burnt." Act II. 
The exact title of the play from which these lines are copied, 
is as follows: The Tragedie of Dido | Queen of Carthage \ 
Played by the Children of her I Majesties Chappel. \ Written 
by Christopher Marlowe, and | Thomas Nash, Gent. \ Actors 
f Jupiter. | Ganimed. \ Venus. \ Cupid. \ Juno. \ Mercurie, or 
Hermes, \ &neas. \ Ascanius. \ Dido. \ Anna. \ Achates. I 
Jlioneus. \ larbas. \ Cloanthes. Sergestus. \ At London, | 
Printed, by the Widdowe Orwin, for Thomas Woodcocke, and 

se. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 151 

When he lay couched in the ominous horse, 
Hath now this dread and black complexion smear* d 
With heraldry more dismal; head to foot 
Now is he total gules; 6 horridly trick* d n 
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons ; 
Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets, 
That lend a tyrannous and a damned light 
To their lord's murder: Roasted in wrath, and 


And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore, 
With eyes like carbuncles* the hellish Pyrrhus 
Old grandsire Priam seeks ; So proceed you. 9 

POL. 'Fore God, my lord, well spoken j with 
good accent, and good discretion. 

1 PLAY. Anon he finds him 
Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword, 
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls, 
Repugnant to command : Unequal match* d, 
Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage, strikes wide ; 

| are to be solde at his shop, in Paules Church-yeard, at | the 
signe of the black Beare. 1594. | STEEVENS. 

6 Notu is he total gules ;] Gules is a term in the barbarous 
jargon peculiar to heraldry, and signifies red. Shakspeare has 
it again in Timon of Athens : 

" With man's blood paint the ground ; gules, gules." 
Hey wood, in his Second Part of the Iron Age, has made a 
verb from it : 

" old Hecuba's reverend locks 

" Be gul'd in slaughter ." STEEVENS. 

7 tricPd ] i. e. smeared, painted. An heraldick term. 

See Vol. VIII. p. 212, n. 8. MALONE. 

8 With eyes like carbuncles,] So, in Milton's Paradise Lost, 
B. IX. 1. 500 : 

" and carbuncles his eyes." STEEVENS. 

9 So proceed you.'} These words are not in the folio. 


152 HAMLET, ACT ii. 

But with the whiff and wind of his jell sword 
The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium, 
Seeming to feel this blow, with Jf anting top 
Stoops to his base ; and with a hideous crash 
Takes prisoner Pyrrhus* ear : for, lo ! his sword 
Which was declining on the milky head 
Of reverend Priam, seem'd i y the air to stick : 
So, as a painted tyrant,* Pyrrhus stood ; 
And, like a neutral to his will and matter t 
Did nothing. 

But, as we often see, against some storm, 
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still, 
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below 
As hush as death : z anon the dreadful thunder 
Doth rend the region : So, after Pyrrhus' pause^ 
A roused vengeance sets him new a work ; 
And never did the Cyclops* hammers fall 
On Mars' s armour, 3 for g'd for proof eterne, 
With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword 
Now falls on Priam. 

1 as a painted tyrant,"] Shakspeare was probably here 

thinking of the tremendous personages often represented in old 
tapestry, whose uplifted swords stick in the air, and do nothing. 


* as we often see, against some storm, 

The bold winds speechless, and the orb below 
As hush as death:'] So, in Venus and Adonis : 

" Even as the wind is hush'd before it raineth." 
This line leads me to suspect that Shakspeare wrote the bold 
wind speechless. Many similar mistakes have happened in these 
plays, where the word ends with the same letter with which the 
next begins. MALONE. 

3 And never did the Cyclops* hammers fall 

On Mars's armour, &c.] This thought appears to have 
been adopted from the 3d Book of Sidney's Arcadia: " Vulcan, 
when he wrought at his wive's request /Eneas an armour, made 
not his hammer beget a greater sound than the swords pf those 
noble knights did" &c. STEEVENS. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 153 

Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune ! All you gods, 
In general synod, take away her power ; 
Break all the spokes and Jellies from her wheel, 
And bowl the round nave down the hill ofheaven> 
As low as to the Jiends ! 

POL. This is too long. 

HAM. It shall to the barber's, with your beard. 
Pr'ythee, say on : He's for a jig, or a tale of baw- 
dry, 4 or he sleeps : say on : come to Hecuba. 

1 PLAY. But who, ah woe ! 5 had seen the mobled 

He's for a jig, or a tale of bawdry,"] See note on 

your only jig-maker," Act III. sc. ii. STEEVENS. 

A jig, in our poet's time, signified a ludicrous metrical com- 
position, as well as a dance. Here it is used in the former sense. 
So, in Florio's Italian Diet. 1598 : " Frottola, a countriejigg, 
or round, or countrie song, or wanton verses." See The His- 
torical Account of the English Stage, &c. Vol. III. MA.LONE. 

5 But who, ah woe !"] Thus the quarto, except that it has a 
woe. A is printed instead of ah in various places in the old co- 
pies. Woe was formerly used adjectively for woeful. So, in 
Antony and Cleopatra : 

" Woe, woe are we, sir, you may not live to wear 
" All your true followers out." 
The folio reads But who, O who, &c. MALONE. 

c the mobled queen ~\ Mobled or mabled signifies, 

veiled. So, Sandys, speaking of the Turkish women, says, 
their heads and faces are mabled in fine linen, that no more is 
to be seen of them than their eyes. Travels. WARBURTON. 

Mobled signifies huddled, grossly covered. JOHNSON. 

I meet with this word in Shirley's Gentleman of Venice : 
" The moon does mobble up herself." FARMER. 

Mobled is, I believe, no more than a depravation of muffled. 
It is thus corrupted in Ogilby's Fables, Second Part : 
" Mobbled nine days in my considering cap, 
" Before my eyes beheld the blessed day." 
In the West this word is still used in the same sense ; and that 
is the meaning of mobble in Dr. Farmer's quotation. 


154 HAMLET, ACT ii. 

HAM. The mobled queen ? 

POL. That's good ; mobled queen is good. 

1 PLAY. Run barefoot up and down, threatening 


With bisson rheum ; 7 a clout upon that head, 
Where late the diadem stood ; and, for a robe. 
About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins, 
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up; 
Who this had seen, with tongue in 'venom steep' d, 
'Gainst fortune's state would treason hare pro- 

nounc'd : 

But if the gods themselves did see her then, 
JVJien she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport 
In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs ; 
The instant burst of clamour that she made, 
( Unless things mortal more them not at all,) 

The mabled queen, (or mobled queen, as it is spelt in the 
quarto,) means, the queen attired in a large, coarse, and careless 
head-dress. A few lines lower we are told she had " a clout 
upon that head, where late the diadem stood." 

To mab, (which in the North is pronounced mob, and hence 
the spelling of the old copy in the present instance,) says Ray 
in his Diet, of North Country words, is " to dress carelessly. 
Mabsare slatterns" 

The ordinary morning head-dress of ladies continued to be 
distinguished by the name of a mab, to almost the end of the 
reign of George the Second. The folio reads the inobled 
queen. MALONE. 

In the counties of Essex and Middlesex, this morning cap has 
always been called a mob, and not a mab. My spelling of the 
word therefore agrees with its most familiar pronunciation. 


7 With bisson rheum ;~\ Bisson or beesen, i. e. blind. A word 
still in use in some parts of the North of England. 

So, in ('oriolanus : " What harm can your bisson conspectui- 
ties glean out of this character ?" STEEVENS. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 155 

Would have made milch* the burning eye of hea- 
And passion in the gods. 

POL. Look, whether he has not turned his co- 
lour, and has tears in's eyes. Pr'ythee, no more. 

HAM. *Tis well ; I'll have thee speak out the 
rest of this soon. Good my lord, will you see the 
players well bestowed ? Do you hear, let them be 
well used; for they are the abstract, and brief 
chronicles, of the time : After your death you 
were better have a bad epitaph, than their ill re- 
port while you live. 

POL. My lord, I will use them according to 
their desert. 

HAM. Odd's bodikin, man, much better : Use 
every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape 
whipping ? Use them after your own honour 
and dignity : The less they deserve, the more 
merit is in your bounty. Take them in. 

POL. Come, sirs. 

\_Exit POLONIUS, with some of the Players. 

HAM. Follow him, friends : we'll hear a play to- 
morrow. Dost thou hear me, old friend j can you 
play the murder of Gonzago ? 

1 PLAY. Ay, my lord. 

HAM. We'll have it to-morrow night. You 
could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or 
sixteen lines, which I would set down, and insert 
in't ? could you not ? 

1 PLAY. Ay, my lord. 

8 made milch ] Drayton in the 13th Song of his 

Polyollrion gives this epithet to dew : " Exhaling the milch 
dew." &c. STEEVENS. 

156 HAMLET, ACT //. 

. HAM. Very well. Follow that lord ; and look 
you mock him not. \_Exit Player.] My good 
friends, [To Ros. and GUIL.] I'll leave you till 
night: you are welcome to Elsinore. 

Ros. Good my lord ! 


HAM. Ay, so, God be wi* you : Now I am alone. 
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I ! 
Is it not monstrous, that this player here, 9 
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 
Could force his soul so to his own conceit, 
That, from her working, all his visage wann'd j 1 

9 Is it not monstrous, that this player here, ] It should seem 
from the complicated nature of such parts as Hamlet, Lear, &c. 
that the time of Shakspeare had produced some excellent per- 
formers. He would scarce have taken the pains to form 
characters which he had no prospect of seeing represented with 
force and propriety on the stage. 

His plays indeed, by their own power, must have given a dif- 
ferent turn to acting, and almost new-created the performers of 
his age. Mysteries, Moralities, and Enterludes, afforded no ma- 
terials for art to work on, no discriminations of character or va- 
riety of appropriated language. From tragedies like Cambyses, 
Tamburlaine, and Jeronymo, nature was wholly banished; and 
the comedies of Gammer Gurton, Common Condycyons, and 
The Old Wives Tale, might have had justice done to them by 
the lowest order of human beings. 

Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius altce 
was wanting, when the dramas of Shakspeare made their first 
appearance ; and to these we were certainly indebted for the ex- 
cellence of actors who could never have improved so long as 
their sensibilities were unawakened, their memories burthened 
only by pedantick or puritanical declamation, and their manners 
vulgarized by pleasantry of as low an origin. STEE YEN s . 

1 all his visage wann'd ;] [The folio toarwzW.] This 

might do, did not the old quarto lead us to a more exact and 
pertinent reading, which is visage ivan'd ; i. e. turned pale or 
wan. For so the visage appears when the mind is thus affection-, 
ed, and not tuarm'd or flush'd. WARBURTON. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 157 

Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, 2 

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting 

s That, from her working, alt his visage wann'd ; 

Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, ~] Wan'd (wann'd ll 
should have been spelt,) is the reading of the quarto, which Dr. 
Warburton, I think rightly, restored. The folio reads warm'd, 
for which Mr. Steevens contends in the following note : 

" The working of the soul, and the effort to shed tears, will 
give a colour to the actor's face, instead of taking it away. The 
visage is always warm'danA flush'd by any unusual exertion in a 
passionate speech ; but no performer was ever yet found, I be- 
lieve, whose feelings were of such exquisite sensibility as to pro- 
duce paleness in any situation in which the drama could place 
him. But if players were indeed possessed of that power, there 
is no such circumstance in the speech uttered before Hamlet, a8 
could introduce the wanness for which Dr. Warburton con- 
tends." The same expression, however, is found in the fourth 
Book of Stanyhurst's translation of the JEneid: 

" And eke all her visage waning with murther ap- 

Whether an actor can produce paleness, it is, I think, unne- 
cessary to enquire. That Shakspeare thought he could, and con- 
sidered the speech in question as likely to produce wanness, is 
proved decisively by the words which he has put into the mouth 
of Polonius in this scene ; which add such support to the original 
reading, that I have without hesitation restored it. Immediately 
after the Player has finished his speech, Polonius exclaims, 

" Look, whether he has not turned his colour, and has tears 
in his eyes." Here we find the effort to shed tears, taking away, 
not giving a colour. If it be objected, that by turned his colour, 
Shakspeare meant that the player grew red, a passage in King 
Richard III. in which the poet is again describing an actor, who 
is master of his art, will at once answer the objection : 

" Rich. Come, cousin, canst thou quake, and change 

thy colour? 

u Murder thy breath in middle of a word ; 
" And then again begin, and stop again, 
" As if thou wert distraught and mad with terror? 

" Buck. Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian , 
" Tremble and start at wagging of a straw," &c. 
The words quake, and terror, and tremble, as well as the whole 
context, show, that by " change thy colour," Shakspeare meant 
grow pale. MALONE. 

158 HAMLET, ACT n. 

With forms to his conceit ? And all for nothing ! 

For Hecuba! 

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, 3 

That he should weep for her ? What would lie do, 

Had he the motive and the cue for passion, 4 

That I have ? He would drown the stage with tears, 

And cleave the general ear 5 with horrid speech - 9 

Make mad the guilty, and appal the free, 

Confound the ignorant ; and amaze, indeed, 

The very faculties of eyes and ears. 

Yet I, 

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak, 

The word aspect (as Dr. Farmer very properly observes) was 
in Shakspeare's time accented on the second syllable. The folio 
exhibits the passage as I have printed it. STEEVENS. 

3 What's Hecuba to him, &c.] It is plain Shakspeare alludes 
to a story told of Alexander the cruel tyrant of Pherae in Thes- 
saly, who seeing a famous tragedian act in the Troades of 
Euripides, was so sensibly touched that he left the theatre before 
the play was ended ; being ashamed, as he owned, that he who 
never pitied those he murdered, should weep at the sufferings of 
Hecuba and Andromache. See Plutarch in the Life of Pelopi- 
das. UPTON. 

Shakspeare, it is highly probable, had read the life of Pelopi- 
das, but I see no ground for supposing there is here an allusion 
to it. Hamlet is not ashamed of being seen to weep at a thea- 
trical exhibition, but mortified that a player, in a dream ofpas- 
sion, should appear more agitated by fictitious sorrow, than the 
prince was by a real calamity. MALONE. 

4 the cue Jbr passion,"] The hint, the direction. 


This phrase is theatrical, and occurs at least a dozen times in 
our author's plays. Thus, says Quince to Flute in A Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream : " You speak all your part at once, cues and 
all." See also Vol. XII. p. 403, n. 4. STEEVENS. 

5 the general ear ] The ear of all mankind. So be- 
fore, Caviare to the general, that is, to the multitude. 



Like John a-dreams, 6 unpregnant of my cause, 7 
And can say nothing ; no, not for a king, 
Upon whose property, and most dear life, 
A damn'd defeat was made. 8 Am I a coward ? 

6 Like John a-dreams,] John a-dreams, i. e. of dreams, 
means only John the dreamer; a nick-name, I suppose, for any 
ignorant silly fellow. Thus the puppet formerly thrown at dur- 
ing the season of Lent, was called Jack-a-lent, and the ignis fa- 
tuus Jack-a-lanthorn. 

At the beginning of Arthur Hall's translation of the second 
Book of Homer's Iliad, 1581, we are told of Jupiter, that 

" John dreaming God he callde to him, that God, chiefe 

" Common cole carrier of every lye," &c. 

John-a-droynes however, if not a corruption of this nick-name, 
seems to have been some well-known character, as I have met 
with more than one allusion to him. So, in Have with you to 
Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, by Nashe, 
1596: " The description of that poor John-a-droynes his man, 
whom he had hired," &c. John-a-Droynes is likewise a foolish 
character in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578, who is 
seized by informers, has not much to say in his defence, and is 
cheated out of his money. STEEVENS. 

7 unpregnant of my cause,~] Unpregnant, for having no 

due sense of. WARBURTON. 

Rather, not quickened with a new desire of vengeance ; not 
teeming with revenge. JOHNSON. 

* A damn'd defeat was made."] Defeat, for destruction. 


Rather, dispossession. JOHNSON. 

The word defeat, (which certainly means destruction in the 
present instance,) is very licentiously used by the old writers. 
Shakspeare in Othello employs it yet more quaintly : " Defeat 
thy favour with an usurped beard ;" and Middleton, in his 
comedy called Any Thing for a quiet Life, says " I have heard 
of your defeat made upon a mercer." 

Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman: 

" That he might meantime make a sure defeat 
" On our good aged father's life." 

Again, in The Wits, by Sir W. D'Avenant, 1637 : " Not all 


Who calls me villain ? breaks my pate across ? 
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face ? 
Tweaks me by the nose ? gives me the lie i'the 


As deep as to the lungs ? Who does me this ? 

Why, I should take it : for it cannot be, 
But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall 
To make oppression bitter ; or, ere this, 
I should have fatted all the region kites 
With this slave's offal : Bloody, bawdy villain ! 
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless 9 vil- 

Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave ;* 
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd, 
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, 
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words, 
And fall a cursing, like a very drab, 

the skill I have, can pronounce him free of the defeat upon my 
gold and jewels." 

Again, in The Isle of Gulls, 1606: " My late shipwreck has 
made a defeat both of my friends and treasure." STEEVENS. 

In the passage quoted from Othello, to defeat is used for undo 
or alter: defaire, Fr. See Minsheu in v. Minsheu considers 
the substantives defeat and defeature as synonymous. The former 
he defines an overthrow ; the latter, execution or slaughter of 
men. In King Henry V. we have a similar phraseology : 

" Making defeat upon the powers of France." 
And the word is again used in the same sense in the last Act 
of this play : 

" Their defeat 

" Doth by their own insinuation grow.'* MALONE. 

8 kindless ] Unnatural. JOHNSON. 

1 Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave ;] The folio 
reads : 

** O vengeance ! 

" Who ? what an ass am I ? Sure this is most brave." 


sc. ii. PRINCE OP DENMARK. 161 

A scullion ! 2 

Fye upon't ! fob ! About my brains ? 3 Humph ! I 

have heard, 

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play, 4 
Have by the very cunning of the scene 
Been struck so to the soul, that presently 
They have proclaim' d their malefactions j 
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak 
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players 
Play something like the murder of my father, 

2 A scullion .'] Thus the folio. The quartos read, A stallion. 


Brain, go 

a About my brains!'] Wits, to your work. 

about the present business. JOHNSON. 

This expression (which seems a parody on the naval one, 
about ship /) occurs in the Second Part of the Iron Age, by Hey- 
wood, 1632 : 

" My brain about again ! for thou hast found 
" New projects now to work on." 

About, my brain! therefore, (as Mr. M. Mason observes) ap- 
pears to signify, " be my thoughts shifted into a contrary direc- 
tion." STEEVENS. 

I have heard, 

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,"] A number of these 
stories are collected together by Thomas Heywood, in his Actor's 
Vindication. STEEVENS. 

So, in A Warning for fair e Women, 1599 : 

" He tell you, sir, one more to quite your tale. 

" A woman that had made away her husband, 

*' And sitting to behold a tragedy 

" At Linne a towne in Norffolke, 

" Acted by players trauelling that way, 
Wherein a woman that had murtherd hers 
Was euer haunted with her husbands ghost : 
The passion written by a feeling pen, 
And acted by a good tragedian, 
She was so mooued with the sight thereof, 
As she cryed out, the play was made by her, 

" And openly confest her husbands murder." TODD. 

162 HAMLET, ACT if. 

Before mine uncle : I'll observe his looks ; 
I'll tent him 5 to the quick ; if he do blench, 6 
I know my course. The spirit, that I have seen, 
May be a devil : and the devil hath power 
To assume a pleasing shape ; yea, and, perhaps, 
Out of my weakness, and my melancholy, 
(As he is very potent with such spirits,) 
Abuses me to damn me : I'll have grounds 
More relative than this : 7 The play's the thing, 
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. 


* tent him ] Search his wounds. JOHNSON. 

if he do blench,] If he shrink, or start. The word is 

used by Fletcher, in The Night-walker ; 

" Blench at no danger, though it be a gallows." 
Again, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, Lib. VI. fol. 128: 

" Without blenchinge of mine eie." 

Chaucer, in his Knightes Tale y v. 1080, seems to use the verb 
to blent in a similar sense : 

" And therwithal he bl-ent and cried, a !" STEEVENS. 

See Vol. IX. p. 24-5, n. 1. MALONE. 

7 More relative than this:'] Relative, for convictive. 


Convictive is only the consequential sense. Relative is nearly 
Delated, closely connected. JOHNSON. 



A Room in the Castle. 


KING. And can you, by no drift of conference* 
Get from him, why he puts on this confusion j 
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet 
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy ? 

Ros. He does confess, he feels himself distracted; 
But from what cause he will by no means speak. 

GUIL. Nordowefind him forward to be sounded; 
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof, 
When we would bring him on to some confession 
Of his true state. 

QUEEN. Did he receive you well ? 

Ros. Most like a gentleman. 

GUIL. But with much forcing of his disposition. 

Ros. Niggard of question; but, of our demands, 
Most free in his reply. 9 

8 conference ] The folio reads circumstance. 

9 Niggard of question; but, of our demands, 

Most free in his reply."] This is given as the description of 
the conversation of a man whom the speaker found not forward 
to be sounded; and who kept aloof when they would bring him 
to confession : but such a description can never pass but at cross- 
purposes. Shakspeare certainly wrote it just the other way : 

Most free of question; but, of our demands, 
Niggard in his reply. 

M 2 

1 64 HAMLET, ACT m. 

QUEEN. Did you assay him 

To any pastime ? 

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players 
We o'er-raught on the way: ' of these we told him j 
And there did seem in him a kind of joy 
To hear of it : They are about the court ; 
And, as I think, they have already order 
This night to play before him. 

POL. 'Tis most true : 

And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties, 
To hear and see the matter. 

KING. With all my heart j and it doth much 

content me 

To hear him so inclined. 
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge, 
And drive his purpose on to these delights. 

That this is the true reading, we need but turn back to the 
preceding scene, for Hamlet's conduct, to be satisfied. 


Warburton forgets that by question, Shakspeare does not 
usually mean interrogatory, but discourse; yet in which ever 
sense the word be taken, this account given by Rosencrantz 
agrees but ill with the scene between him and Hamlet, as 
actually represented. M. MASON. 

Slow to begin conversation, but free enough in his answers to 
our demands. Guildenstern has just said that Hamlet kept aloof 
when they wished to bring him to confess the cause of nis dis- 
traction : Rosencrantz therefore here must mean, that up to that 
point, till they touch'd on that, he was free enough in his answers. 


1 o'er-raught on the way:] O'er-raught is over -reached, 

that is, overtook. JOHJJSON. 

So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. VI. c. iii : 

" Having by chance a close advantage view'd, 
" He over-raught him," &c. 

Again, in the 5th Book of Gawin Douglas's translation of the 
" War not the samyn mysfortoun me over-rcucht." 



Ros. We shall, my lord. 


KING. Sweet Gertrude, leave us too : 

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither ; 
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here 2 
Affront Ophelia: 3 

Her father, and myself (lawful espials, 4 ) 
Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen, 
We may of their encounter frankly judge ; 
And gather by him, as he is behav'd, 
If't be the affliction of his love, or no, 
That thus he suffers for. 

QUEEN. I shall obey you : 

And, for your part, 5 Ophelia, I do wish, 
That your good beauties be the happy cause 
Of Hamlet's wildness : so shall I hope, your virtues 
Will bring him to his wonted way again, 
To both your honours. 

2 may here ] The folio, (I suppose by an error of the 

press, ) reads may there . STEE YENS. 

3 Affront Ophelia :] To affront, is only to meet directly. 


Affrontare, Ital. So, in The Devil's Charter, 1607 : 

" Affronting that port where proud Charles should enter." 
Again, in Sir W. D'Avenant's Cruel Brother, 1630: 

" In sufferance affronts the winter's rage ?" STEE YENS. 

4 espials,"] i. e. spies. So, in King Henry VI. P. I: 

" - as he march'd along, 
" By your espials were discovered 
" Two mightier troops." 
So also, Vol. XIII. p. 37, n. 9. 

The words " lawful espials," are found only in the folio. 


5 And, for your part,"] Thus the quarto, 1604, and the folio. 
The modern editors, following a quarto of no authority, read 
for my part. MALONE. 

166 HAMLET, ACT m. 

OPH. Madam, I wish it may. 

[Exit Queen. 

POL. Ophelia, walk you here: Gracious, so 

please you, 
We will bestow ourselves : Read on this book ; 


That show of such an exercise may colour 
Your loneliness. 6 We are oft to blame in this, 
'Tis too much prov'd, 7 that, with devotion's 


And pious action, we do sugar o'er 
The devil himself. 

KING. O, 'tis too true ! how smart 

A lash that speech doth give my conscience ! 
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art, 
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it, 8 
Than is my deed to my most painted word : 
O heavy burden ! [Aside. 

POL. I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my lord. 
[Exeunt King and POLONIUS. 

Enter HAMLET. 
HAM. To be, or not to be, 9 that is the question : 

8 Your loneliness.] Thus the folio. The first and second 
quartos read -lowliness. STEEVENS. 

' 'Tis too much proved,] It is found by too frequent expe- 
rience. JOHNSON. 

8 more ugly to the thing that helps it,"] That is, com- 
pared with the thing that helps it. JOHNSON. 

So, Ben Jonson : 

" All that they did was piety to this." STEEVENS. 

To be, or not to be,"] Of this celebrated soliloquy, which 
bursting from a man distracted with contrariety of desires, and 
overwhelmed with the magnitude of his own purposes, is con- 
nected rather in the speaker's mind, than on his tongue, I shall 

sc. /, PRINCE OF DENMARK. 167 

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer 

endeavour to discover the train, and to show how one sentiment 
produces another. 

Hamlet, knowing himself injured in the most enormous and 
atrocious degree, and seeing no means of redress, but such as 
must expose him to the extremity of hazard, meditates on his 
situation in this manner : Before I can form any rational scheme 
of action under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to decide, 
whether, after our present state, we are to be, or not to be. 
That is the question, which, as it shall be answered, will deter- 
mine, whether 'tis nobler, and more suitable to the dignity of 
reason, to suffer the outrages of fortune patiently, or to take 
arms against them, and by opposing end them, though perhaps 
with the loss of life. If to die, were to sleep, no more, and by 
a sleep to end the miseries of our nature, such a sleep were de- 
voutly to be wished ; but if to sleep in death, be to dream, to 
retain our powers of sensibility, we must pause to consider, in 
that sleep of death what dreams may come. This consideration 
makes calamity so long endured ; for 'who 'would bear the vexa- 
tions of life, which might be ended by a bare bodkin, but that 
he is afraid of something in unknown futurity ? This fear it is 
that gives efficacy to conscience, which, by turning the mind 
upon this regard, chills the ardour of resolution, checks the 
vigour of enterprize, and makes the current of desire stagnate 
in inactivity. 

We may suppose that he would have applied these general 
observations to his own case, but that he discovered Ophelia. 


Dr. Johnson's explication of the first five lines of this passage 
is surely wrong. Hamlet is not deliberating whether after our 
present state we are to exist or not, but whether he should con- 
tinue to live, or put an end to his life : as is pointed out by the 
second and the three following lines, which are manifestly a pa- 
raphrase on the first: " whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer, 
&c. or to take arms." The question concerning our existence in 
a future state is not considered till the tenth line: " To sleep! 
perchance, to dream;" &c. The train of Hamlet's reasoning 
from the middle of the fifth line, " If to die, were to sleep," &c. 
Dr. Johnson has marked out with his usual accuracy. 

In our poet's Rape qfLucrece we find the same question stated, 
which is proposed in the beginning of the present soliloquy : 

with herself she is in mutiny, 
" To live or die, which of the twain were better." 



The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, 1 
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, 2 

1 - arrows of outrageous fortune ;] " Homines nos ut esse 
meminerimus, ea lege iiatos, ut omnibus telis fortunes proposita 
sit vita nostra." Cic. Epist. Fam. v. 16. STEEVENS. 

* Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,"] A sea of troubles 
among the Greeks grew into a proverbial usage; XO,KUY SaXao-era, 
xaxur/ Tf jxyu-ia. So that the expression figuratively means, the 
troubles of human life, which flow in upon us, and encompass us 
round, like a sea. THEOBALD. 

Mr. Pope proposed siege. I know not why there should be so 
much solicitude about this metaphor. Shakspeare breaks his 
metaphors often, and in this desultory speech there was less need 
of preserving them. JOHNSON. 

A similar phrase occurs in Rycharde Morysine's translation of 
Ludovicus Vives's Introduction to Wysedome, 1544: " how 
great a sea of euils euery day ouerunneth" &c. 

The change, however, which Mr. Pope would recommend, 
may be justified from a passage in Romeo and Juliet, scene the 

" You to remove that siege of grief from her ." 


One cannot but wonder that the smallest doubt should be en- 
tertained concerning an expression which is so much in Shak- 
Speare's manner ; yet, to preserve the integrity of the metaphor, 
Dr. Warburton reads assail of troubles. In the Prometheus 
Vinctus of ^Eschylus, a similar imagery is found : 

" The stormy sea of dire calamity" 

and in the same play, as an anonymous writer has observed, 
(Gent. Magazine, Aug. 1772,) we have a metaphor no less harsh 
than that of the text : 

" 0oA60J 8s Aoyoi TfaiQ'jar' BIKI) 

" Sruyvijf Tfcof xup,a<nv arr,f." 

" My plaintive words in vain confusedly beat 

" Against the waves of hateful misery." 
Shakspeare might have found the very phrase that he has em- 
ployed, in The Tragedy of Queen Cordila, MIRROUR FOR MA- 
GISTRATES, 1575, which undoubtedly he read: 

" For lacke of frendes to tell my seas o/'giltlesse smart." 



And,by opposing, end them? To die, to sleep, 3 - 
No more ; and, by a sleep, to say we end 
The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks 
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation 
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die ; to sleep ; 
To sleep! perchance to dream; ay,there'sthe rub; 
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, 
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 4 
Must give us pause : There's the respect, 5 
That makes calamity of so long life : 
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, 6 

Menander uses this very expression. Fragm. p. 22. Amstel. 
12mo. 1719: 

" Ei; tfsAayof aurov sp,cx.Xst$ yap tff 

" In mare molestiarum te conjicies." HOLT WHITE. 

3 - To die, to sleep,"] This passage is ridiculed in The 
Scortiful Lady of Beaumont and Fletcher, as follows : 

" - be deceased, that is, asleep, for so the word is taken. 
To sleep, to die; to die, to sleep; a very figure, sir," &c. &c. 


4 - shuffled off" this mortal coil,] i. e. turmoil, bustle. 


A passage resembling this, occurs in a poem entitled A dolfull 
Discours of tix>o Strangers, a Lady and a Knight, published by 
Churchyard, among his Chippes, 1575 : 

" Yea, shaking off this sir/full soyle t 

" Me thincke in cloudes I see, 
" Among the perfite chosen lambs, 

" A place preparde for mee." STEEVENS. 

5 - There's the respect,] i. e. the consideration, See Vol. 
XV. p. 302, n. 4. MALONE. 

6 - the 'whips and scorns of time,] The evils here com- 
plained of are not the product of time or duration simply, but 
of a corrupted age or manners. We may be sure, then, that 
Shakspeare wrote : 

- the "whips and scorns of th' time. 

and the description of the evils of a corrupt age, which follows, 
confirms this emendation. WARBURTON. 

It may be remarked, that Hamlet, in his enumeration of 

miseries, forgets, whether properly or not, that he is a prince, and 
mentions many evils to which inferior stations only are exposed. 


I think we might venture to read the "whips and scorns o'thc 
times, i. e. times satirical as the age of Shakspeare, which pro- 
bably furnished him with the idea. 

In the reigns of Elizabeth and James (particularly in the for- 
mer) there was more illiberal private abuse and peevish satire 
published, than in any others I ever knew of, except the present 
one. I have many of these publications, which were almost all 
pointed at individuals. 

Daniel, in his Musophilus, 1599, has the same complaint: 
" Do you not see these pamphlets, libels, rhimes, 
" These strange confused tumults of the mind, 
" Are grown to be the sickness of these times, 
" The great disease inflicted on mankind ?" 
Whips and scorns are surely as inseparable companions, as 
publick punishment and infamy. 

Quips, the word which Dr. Johnson would introduce, is de- 
rived, by all etymologists, from "whips. 

Hamlet is introduced as reasoning on a question of general 
concernment. He therefore takes in all such evils as could 
befall mankind in general, without considering himself at present 
as a prince, or wishing to avail himself of the few exemptions 
which high place might once have claimed. 

In Part of King James Pst. Entertainment passing to his 
Coronation, by Ben Jonson and Decker, is the following line, and 
note on that line : 

" Andjirst account of years, of months, OF TIME." 
" By time we understand the present" This explanation af- 
fords the sense for which I have contended, and without change. 


The word "whips is used by Marston in his Satires, 1599, in 
the sense required here : 

" Ingenuous melancholy, 

" Inthrone thee in my blood ; let me entreat, 
" Stay his quick jocund skips, and force him run 
** A sad-pac'd course, until my "whips be done." 


the proud man's contumely,'] Thus the quarto. The 
folio reads the poor man's contumely; the contumely which 
the poor man is obliged to endure : 

ae. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 171 

The pangs of despis'd love, 8 the law's delay, 
The insolence of office, and the spurns 
That patient merit of the unworthy takes, 
When he himself might his quietus make 
With a bare bodkin ? 9 who would fardels bear, 

* Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se, 

" Quam quod ridicules homines facit." MALONE. 

o/'despis'd love,"] The folio reads of dispriz'd love. 


might his quietus make 

With a bare bodkin ? ] The first expression probably alluded 
to the writ of discharge, which was formerly granted to those 
barons and knights who personally attended the king on any 
foreign expedition. This discharge was called a quietus. 

It is at this time the term for the acquittance which every 
sheriff receives on settling his accounts at the Exchequer. 

The word is used for the discharge of an account, by Webster, 
in his Duchess qfMalfy, 1623 : 

" And 'cause you shall not come to me in debt,- 
" (Being now my steward) here upon your lips 
" I sign your quietus est." 
Again : 

" You had the trick in audit time to be sick, 
" Till I had sign'd your quietus." 

A bodkin was the ancient term for a small dagger. So, in 
the Second Part of The Mirrour for Knighthood, 4to. bl. 1. 
1598 : " Not having any more weapons but a poor poynado, 
which usually he did weare about him, and taking it in his 
hand, delivered these speeches unto it. Thou, silly bodkin, 
shalt finish the piece of worke," &c. 

In the margin of Stowe's Chronicle, edit. 1614, it is said, that 
Caesar was slain with bodkins; and in The Muses' LooJcing-Glass, 
by Randolph, 1638 : 

" Apho. A rapier's but a bodkin. 
Deil. And a bodkin 

Is a most dang'rous weapon ; since I read 
Of Julius Caesar's death, I durst not venture 
Into a taylor's shop, for fear of bodkins." 


n The Custom of the Country, by Beaumont and Fletcher: 

Out with your bodkin, 

Your pocket dagger, your stilletto." 
Again, in Sapho and Phao, 1591 : " there will be 


To grunt and sweat 9 under a weary life ; 

But that the dread of something after death, 

desperate fray between two, made at all weapons, from the 
brown bill to the bodkin*' 

Again, in Chaucer, as he is quoted at the end of a pamphlet 
called The Serpent <tf Division, &c. whereunto is annexed the 
Tragedy ofGorboduc, &c. 1591 : 

" With bodkins was Caesar Julius 

" Murdered at Rome of Brutus Crassus." STEEVENS. 

By a bare bodkin, does not perhaps mean, " by so little an 
instrument as a dagger," but " by an unsheathed dagger." 

In the account which Mr. Steevens has given of the original 
meaning of the term quietus, after the words, " who personally 
attended the king on any foreign expedition," should have been 
added, and were therefore exempted from the claims of scutage, 
or a tax on every knight's fee. MA LONE. 

9 To grunt and sweat 3 Thus the old copies. It is un- 
doubtedly the true reading, but can scarcely be borne by modern 
ears. JOHNSON. 

This word occurs in The Death of Zoroas, by Nicholas Gri- 
moald, a translation of a passage in the Alexandras of Philippe 
Gualtier, into blank verse, printed at the end of Lord Surrey's 
Poems . 

" none the charge could give : 

" Here grunts, here grones, ech where strong youth is 

And Stanyhurst in his translation of Virgil, 1582, for supre- 

mum congemuit gives us : " for sighing it grunts." Again, 

in Turbervile's translation of Ovid's Epistle from Canace to 
Macareus : 

" What might I miser do ? greefe forst me grunt." 
Again, in the same translator's Hypermnestra to Lynceus; 

" round about I heard 

" Of dying men the grunts." 

The change made by the editors [to groan'] is however sup- 
ported by the following line in Julius Ccesar, Act IV. sc. i : 

" To groan and sweat under the business." STEEVENS. 

I apprehend that it is the duty of an editor to exhibit what his 
author wrote, and not to substitute what may appear to the pre- 
sent age preferable : and Dr. Johnson was of the same opinion. 
See his note on the word hugger-mugger, Act IV. sc. v. I have 
therefore, though with some reluctance, adhered to the old 
copies, however unpleasing this word may be to the ear. On the 

ac. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 175 

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn 
No traveller returns, 1 puzzles the will ; 

stage, without doubt, an actor is at liberty to substitute a less 
offensive word. To the ears of our ancestors it probably con- 
veyed no unpleasing sound ; for we find it used by Chaucer and 
thers : 

" But never gront he at no stroke but on, 
" Or elles at, two, but if his storie lie." 

The Monkes Tale, v. 14,627, Tyrwhitt's edit. 
Again, in Wily Bcguil'd, written before 1596: 

" She's never well, but grunting in a corner." 

1 The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn 

No traveller returns,'] This has been cavilled at by Lord 
Orrery and others, but without reason. The idea of a traveller 
in Shakspeare's time, was of a person who gave an account of 
his adventures. Every voyage was a Discovery. John Taylor 
has " A Discovery by sea from London to Salisbury." 

Again, Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1603 : 

" . . wrestled with death, 

" From whose stern cave none tracks a backward path." 

" Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum 

" Illuc unde negant redire quenquam." Catullus. 

Again, in Sandford's translation of Cornelius Agrippa &c. 4to. 
bl. 1. 1569 (once a book of uncommon popularity) " The coun- 
trie of the dead is irremeable, that they cannot retourne." Sig. 
P p. Again, in Cymbeline, says the Gaoler to Posthumus : 
" How you shall speed in your journey's end [after execution] 
I think you'll never return to tell one." STEEVENS. 

This passage has been objected to by others on a ground 
which, at the first view of it, seems more plausible. Hamlet 
himself, it is objected, has had ocular demonstration that tra- 
vellers do sometimes return from this strange country. 

I formerly thought this an inconsistency. But this objection 
is also founded on a mistake. Our poet without doubt in the 
passage before us intended to say, that from the unknown regions 
of the dead no traveller returns with all his corporeal potters; 
such as he who goes on a voyage of discovery brings back, when 
he returns to the port from which he sailed. The traveller whom 
Hamlet had seen, though he appeared in the same habit which 
he had worn in his life-time, was nothing but a shadow ; " in- 
vulnerable as the air," and consequently incorporeal. 

174 HAMLET, ACT m. 

And makes us rather bear those ills we have, 
Than fly to others that we know not of? 
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all ; 
And thus the native hue of resolution 
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought ; 
And enterprizes of great pith 2 and moment, 
With this regard, the currents turn awry, 3 

If, says the objector, the traveller has once reached this coast, 
it is not an undiscovered country. But by undiscovered Shak- 
speare meant not undiscovered by departed spirits, but, undisco- 
vered, or unknown to " such fellows as us, who crawl between 
earth and heaven ;" super is incognita tellus. In this sense every 
country, of which the traveller does not return alive to give an 
account, may be said to be undiscovered. The Ghost has given 
us no account of the region from whence he came, being, as he 
himself informed us, " forbid to tell the~ secrets of his prison- 

Marlowe, before our poet, had compared death to a journey 
to an undiscovered country : 

" weep not for Mortimer, 

" That scorns the world, and, as a traveller, 
" Goes to discover countries yet unknown." 

King Edward II. 1598 (written before 1593). 


Perhaps this is another instance of Shakspeare's acquaintance 
with the Bible : " Afore I goe thither, from whence I shall not 
turne againe, even to the lande of darknesse and shadowe of 
death ; yea into that darke cloudie lande and deadlye shadowe 
whereas is no order, but terrible feare as in the darknesse." 

Job, ch. x. 

" The way that I must goe is at hande, but whence I shall not 
turne againe" Ibid. ch. xvi. 

I quote Cranmer's Bible. DOUCE. 

* great pith ] Thus the folio. The quartos read, of 

great pitcli. STEEVENS. 

Pitch seems to be the better reading. The allusion is to the 
pitching or throwing the bar; a manly exercise, usual in 
country villages. RITSON. 

3 turn awry,] Thus the quartos. The folio turn 

away. The same printer's error occurs in the old copy of 


And lose the name of action. Soft you, now 1 
The fair Ophelia : Nymph, in thy orisons 
Be all my sins remember 'd. 4 

OPH. Good my lord, 

How does your honour for this many a day ? 

HAM. I humbly thank you j well. 

OPH. My lord, I have remembrances of yours, 
That I have longed long to re-deliver ; 
I pray you, now receive them. 

HAM. No, not I ; 

I never gave you aught. 

OPH. My honour' d lord, you know right well, 

you did ; 
And, with them, words of so sweet breath com- 


As made the things more rich : their perfume lost, 
Take these again ; for to the noble mind, 
Rich gifts wax poor, when givers prove unkind. 
There, my lord. 

HAM. Ha, ha ! are you honest ? 
OPH. My lord ? 
HAM. Are you fair ? 
OPH. What means your lordship ? 
HAM. That if you be honest, and fair, you should 
admit no discourse to your beauty. 5 

Antony and Cleopatra, where we find " Your crown's away" 
instead of " Your crown's aivry." STEEVENS. 

4 Nymph, in thy orisons &c.~] This is a touch of nature. 

Hamlet, at the sight of Ophelia, does not immediately recollect, 
that he is to personate madness, but makes her an address grave 
and solemn, such as the foregoing meditation excited in his 
thoughts. JOHNSON. 

s That if you be honest, and fair, you should admit no dis- 
course to your beauty.^ This is the reading of all the modern 

176 HAMLET, AcTiif. 

OPH. Could beauty, my lord, have better com- 
merce than with honesty ? 

HAM. Ay, truly ; for the power of beauty will 
sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, 
than the force of honesty can translate beauty into 
his likeness ; 6 this was some time a paradox, but now 
the time gives it proof. I did love you once. 

OPH. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so. 

, HAM. You should not have believed me : for 
virtue cannot so inoculate 7 our old stock, but we 
shall relish of it : I loved you not. 

OPH. I was the more deceived. 

editions, and is copied from the quarto. The folio reads your 
honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty. The true 
reading seems to be this, if you be honest and fair, you should 
admit your honesty to no discourse with your beauty. This is 
the sense evidently required by the process of the conversation. 


That if you be honest and fair, you should admit no discourse 
to your beauty.] The reply of Ophelia proves beyond doubt, 
that this reading is wrong. 

The reading of the folio appears to be the right one, and re- 
quires no amendment. " Your honesty should admit no dis- 
course to your beauty," means, " Your honesty should not 
admit your beauty to any discourse with her;" which is the 
very sense that Johnson contends for, and expressed with suffi- 
cient clearness. M. MASON. 

" rara est concordia formac 

" Atque pudicitiae." Ovid. STEEVENS. 

6 into his likeness :~] The modern editors read its like- 
ness ; but the text is right. Shakspeare and his contemporaries 
frequently use the personal for the neutral pronoun. So Spenser, 
Fairy Queen, Book III. c. ix : 

" Then forth it break ; and with his furious blast, 
" Confounds both land and seas, and skies doth overcast." 
See p. 68, n. 4. MALONE. 

7 inoculate ~] This is the reading of the first folio. 

The first quarto reads euocutat; the second euacuat; and the 
third, evacuate. STEEVENS. 


HAM. Get thee to a nunnery; Why would'st 
thou be a breeder of sinners ? I am myself indif- 
ferent honest ; but yet I could accuse me of such 
things, that it were better, my mother had not 
borne me: 8 I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; 
with more offences at my beck, than I have 
thoughts to put them in, 9 imagination to give them 
shape, or time to act them in : What should such 
fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven ! 
We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us: Go 
thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father ? 

OPH. At home, my lord. 

HAM. Let the doors be shut upon him ; that he 
may play the fool no where but in's own house. 

OPH. O, help him, you sweet heavens ! 

HAM* If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this 
plague for thy dowry ; Be thou as chaste as ice, as 
pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get 
thee to a nunnery ; farewell : Or, if thou wilt needs 
marry, marry a fool ; for wise men know well 
enough, what monsters you make of them. To a 
nunnery, go ; and quickly too. Farewell. 

OPH. Heavenly powers, restore him ! 

HAM. I have heard of your paintings too, well 

8 / could accuse me of such things, that it were better, my 

mother had not borne me:~\ So, in our poet's 88th Sonnet : 

" I can set down a story 

" Of faults conceal'd, wherein I am attainted." 


9 taith more offences at my beck, than / have thoughts to 

put them in, 3 To put a thing into thought, is to think on it. 


at my beck,~] That is, always ready to come about me. 



178 HAMLET, ACT in. 

enough ;' God hath given you one face, and you 
make yourselves another : 2 you jig, you amble, and 
you lisp, and nick-name God's creatures, and make 
your wantonness your ignorance : 3 Go to ; I'll no 
more oft; it hath made me mad. I say, we will 
have no more marriages : those that are married 
already, all but one, shall live ; 4 the rest shall keep 
as they are. To a nunnery, go. [Exit HAMLET. 

QPH. O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown ! 
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, 
sword : 5 

1 I have heard of your paintings too, ivell enough ; &c.] This 
is according to the quarto; the folio, for painting, has prattlings t 
and forjace, has pace, which agrees with what follows, you jig, 
you amble. Probably the author wrote both. I think the com- 
mon reading best. JOHNSON. 

I would continue to read paintings, because these destructive 
aids of beauty seem, in the time of Shakspeare, to have been 
general objects of satire. So, in Drayton's Mooncalf: 

" No sooner got the teens, 

" But her own natural beauty she disdains ; 

" With oyls and broths most venomous and base 

" She plaisters over her well-favour'd face ; 

" And those sweet veins by nature rightly plac'd 

" Wherewith she seems that white skin to have lac'd, 

" She soon doth alter ; and, with fading blue, 

" Blanching her bosom, she makes others new." 


* God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves 

another:] In Guzman de Alfarache, 1623, p. 13, we have an in- 
vective against painting in which is a similar passage : " O fil- 
thinesse, above all filthinesse ! O affront, above all other affronts! 
that God hath given thee one face, thou shouldst abuse his image 
and make thyselfe another." REED. 

3 make your wantonness your ignorance:"] You mistake 

by wanton affectation, and pretend to mistake by ignorance, 


* all but one, shall live;] By the one who shall not live, 

he means his step-father. MA LONE. 

sc. f. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 179 

The expectancy and rose of the fair state, 
The glass of fashion/ and the mould of form, 7 
The observ'd of all observers ! quite, quite down ! 
And I, of ladies most deject 8 and wretched, 
That suck'd the honey of his musick vows, 
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason, 
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune 9 and harsh ; 
That unmatched form and feature 1 of blown youth, 
Blasted with ecstasy : 2 O, woe is me ! 
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see ! 

* The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, siuord;~\ The 
poet certainly meant to have placed his words thus : 

The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, stvord; 
otherwise the excellence of tongue is appropriated to the soldier, 
and the scholar wears the sword. WARNER. 

This regulation is needless. So, in Tarquin and Lucrece: 
" Princes are the glass, the school, the book, 
" Where subjects eyes do learn, do read, do look." 
And in Quintilian : " Multum agit sexus, aetas, conditio ; ut 
injbeminis, senibus, pupillis, liberos, parentes, conjuges alliganti- 
bus." FARMER. 

* The glass of fashion, ~\ " Speculum consuetudinis." Cicero. 


the mould of form, ~\ The model by whom all endea- 
voured to form themselves. JOHNSON. 

6 most deject ] So, in Hey wood's Silver Age, 1613 : 

" What knight is that 

" So passionately deject?" STEEVENS. 

9 out of tune ] Thus the folio. The quarto out of 

lime. STEEVENS. 

These two words in the hand- writing of Shakspeare's age are 
almost indistinguishable, and hence are frequently confounded in 
the old copies. See Vol. V. p. 300, n. 3. MALONE. 

and feature ] Thus the folio. The quartos read- 

stature. STEEVENS. 

tKith ecstacy :] The word ecstacy was anciently used 

to signify some degree of alienation of mind. 

So, Gawin Douglas translating stetit acrijlxa dolore: 
" In ecstacy she stood, and mad almaist." 

N 2 

180 HAMLET, ACT m. 

Re-enter King and POLONIUS. 

KING. Love ! his affections do not that way tend; 
Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little, 
Was not like madness. There's something in his 


O'er which his melancholy sits on brood ; 
And, I do doubt, the hatch, and the disclose, 3 
Will be some danger : Which for to prevent, 
I have, in quick determination, 
Thus set it down ; He shall with speed to England, 
For the demand of our neglected tribute : 
Haply, the seas, and countries different, 
With variable objects, shall expel 
This something-settled matter in his heart ; 
Whereon his brains still beating, puts him thus 
From fashion of himself. What think you on't ? 

POL. It shall do well : But yet I do believe, 
The origin and commencement of his grief 
Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia ? 
You need not tell us what lord Hamlet said ; 
We heard it all. My lord, do as you please ; 
But, if you hold it fit, after the play, 

See Vol. IV. p. 122, n. 4 ; and Vol. X. p. 162, n. 2. 


* the disclose,] This was the technical term. So, in 

The Maid of Honour, by Massinger : 

" One aierie with proportion ne'er discloses 
" The eagle and the wren." MALONE. 

Disclose, (says Handle Holme, in his Academy of Armory 
and Blazon, Book II. ch. ii. p. 238,) is when the young just 
peeps through the shell. It is also taken for laying, hatching^ 
0r bringing forth young : as " she disclosed three birds.'* 

Again, m the nfth Act of the play now before us : 
" Ere that her golden couplets are disclosed." 
See my note on this passage. STEEVENS. 


Let his queen mother all alone entreat him 
To show his grief; let her be round with him ; 4 
And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear 
Of all their conference : If she find him not, 
To England send him ; or confine him, where 
Your wisdom best shall think. 

KING. It shall be so : 

Madness in great ones must not un watch' d go. 



A Hall in the same. 
Enter HAMLET, and certain Players. 

HAM. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pro- 
nounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue : but 
if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had 
as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not 
saw the air too much with your hand, thus ; but 
use all gently : for in the very torrent, tempest, and 
(as I may say) whirlwind of your passion, you must 
acquire and beget a temperance, that may give it 
smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to hear 
a robustious periwig-pated 5 fellow tear a passion 

4 be round with him ;~\ To be round with a person, is to 

reprimand him with freedom. So, in A Mad World, my Masters, 
by Middleton, 1608 : "She's round with her i'faith." MALONE. 

See Comedy of Errors, Vol. XX. Act II. sc. i. STEEVENS, 

* periwig-pated ] This is a ridicule on the quantity of 

false hair worn in Shakspeare's time, for wigs were not in com- 
mon use till the reign of Charles II. In The Two Gentlemen of 
Veronciy Julia says " I'll get me such a colour'd periwig." 

182 HAMLET, ACT in. 

to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the 
groundlings ; 6 who, for the most part, are capable 

Goff\ who wrote several plays in the reign of James I. and 
was no mean scholar, has the following lines in his Tragedy of 
The Courageous Turk, 1632: 

*' How now, you heavens ; 

" Grow you so proud you must needs put on curl'd locks, 
*' And clothe yourselves in perriivigs of h're ?" 
Players, however, seem to have worn them most generally. 
So, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609: " as none wear 
hoods but monks and ladies ; and feathers but fore-horses, &c. 
none perriiuigs but players and pictures." STEE YENS. 

6 the groundlings j~] The meaner people then seem to 

have sat below, as they now sit in the upper gallery, who, not 
well understanding poetical language, were sometimes gratified 
by a mimical and mute representation of the drama, previous to 
the dialogue. JOHNSON. 

Before each act of the tragedy of Jocasta, translated from 
Euripides, by George Gascoigne and Francis Kinwelmersh, the 
order of these dumb shows is very minutely described. This 
play was presented at Gray's-Inn by them, in 1566. The mute 
exhibitions included in it are chiefly emblematical, nor do they 
display a picture of one single scene which is afterwards per* 
formed on the stage. In some other pieces I have observed, that 
they serve to introduce such circumstances as the limits of a 
play would not admit to be represented. 

Thus, in Herod and Antipatcr, 1622: 
Let me now 

Intreat your worthy patience to contain 
Much in imagination ; and, what words 
Cannot have time to utter, let your eyes 
Out of this DUMB SHOW tell your memories." 
In short, dumb shows sometimes supplied deficiencies, and, at 
others-, filled up the space of time which was necessary to pass 
while business was supposed to be transacted in foreign parts. 
With this method of preserving one of the unities, our ancestors 
appear to have been satisfied. 

Ben Jonson mentions the groundlings with equal contempt : 
" The understanding gentlemen of the ground here." 

Again, in The Case is Altered, 1609 : " a rude barbarous 
crew that have no brains, and yet grounded judgements ; they 
will hiss any thing that mounts above their grounded capaci- 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 183 

of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and 
noise : 7 I would have such a fellow whipped for 
o'er-doing Termagant; 8 it out-herods Herod: 9 
Pray you, avoid it. 

Again, in Lady Alimony, 1659 : " Be your stage- cur tains ar- 
tificially drawn, and so covertly shrowded that the squint-eyed 
groundling may not peep in ?" 

In our early play-houses the pit had neither floor nor benches. 
Hence the term of groundlings for those who frequented it. 

The groundling, in its primitive signification, means a fish 
which always keeps at th e bottom of the water. STEEVENS. 

7 who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inex- 
plicable dumb shows, and noise:'] i. e. have a capacity for nothing 
but dumb shows ; understand nothing else. So, in Heywood's 
History of Women, 1624 : " I have therein imitated our histori- 
cal and comical poets, that write to the stage ; who, lest the au- 
ditory should be dulled with serious discourses, in every act pre- 
sent some zany, with his rnimick gesture, to breed in the less ca- 
pable mirth and laughter." See Vol. XIV. p. 380, n. 4. 


inexplicable dumb shows,~\ I believe the meaning is, 

shows, 'without words to explain them. JOHNSON. 

-. Rather, I believe, shows which are too confusedly conducted 
to explain themselves. 

I meet with one of these in Heywood's play of The Four 
Prentices of London, 1615, where the Presenter says : 
" I must entreat your patience to forbear 
" While we do feast your eye and starve your ear. 
*' For in dumb shews, which, were they writ at large, 
" Would ask a long and tedious circumstance, 
" Their infant fortunes I will soon express:" &c. 
Then follow the dumb shows, which well deserve the character 
Hamlet has already given of this species of entertainment, as 
may be seen from the following passage: " Enter Tancred, with 
Bella Franca richly attired, she somewhat affecting him, though 
she makes no show of it." Surely this may be called an inexpli- 
cable dumb show. STEEVENS. 

8 Termagant ; ] Termagaunt ( says Dr. Percy ) is the name 

given in the old romances to the god of the Sarazens ; in which 
he is constantly linked with Mahound, or Mohammed. Thus, in 
the legend of SYR GUY, the Soudan swears: 

184 HAMLET, ACT in. 

1 PLAY. I warrant your honour. 

HAM. Be not too tame neither, but let your own 

" So helpe me Mahowne of might, 

" And Termagaunt my God so bright.'* 
So also, in Hull's first Satire : 

" Nor fright the reader with the Pagan vaunt 

" Of migntie Mahound, and greate Termagaunt.'* 
Again, in Marston's 7th Satire : 

" let whirlwinds and confusion teare 

" The center of our state; let giants reare 

" Hill upon hill ; let westerne Termagant 

" Shake heaven's vault" &c. 

Termagant is also mentioned by Spenser in his Fairy Queen, 

and by Chaucer in The Tale of Sir Topas ; and by Beaumont 

and Fletcher, in King or no King, as follows : " This would 

make a saint swear like a soldier, and a soldier like Termagant." 

Again, in The Picture, by Massinger: 

" a hundred thousand Turks 

*' Assail'd him, every one a Termagaunt." STEEVENS. 

Again, in Bale's Acts of English Votaries : 

" Grennyng upon her, lyke Termagauntes in a play" 


* out-herods Herod :] The character of Herod in the anr 

eient mysteries, was always a violent one. 

See the Coventriee Ludus among the Cotton MSS. Vespasian 
D. vin : 

" Now I regne lyk a kyng arrayd ful rych, 

" Rollyd in rynggs and robys of array, 

" Dukys with dentys I drive into the dych ; 

" My dedys be full dowty demyd be day." 
Again, in The Chester Whitsun Plays, MS. Harl. 1013 : 

" I kynge of kynges, non soe keene, 

" I sovraigne sir, as well is scene, 

" I tyrant that maye bouth take and teene 

" Castell, tower, and towne ; 

" I welde this worlde withouten wene, 
" I beate all those unbuxome heene ; 
" I drive the devills alby dene 
" Deepe in hell adowne. 

" For I am kinge of all mankinde, 

" I byd, I beate, I lose, I bynde, 

" I master the moone; take this in mynde 

" That I am most of mighte. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 185 

discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the 
word, the word to the action ; with this special 
observance, that you o'ei -step not the modesty of 
nature: for any thing so overdone is from the pur- 
pose of playing, whose end, both at the first, and 
now, was, and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirrour up 
to nature ; to show virtue her own feature, scorn 
her own image, and the very age and body of the 
time, 1 his form and pressure. 2 Now this, over- 

" I ame the greatest above degree, 
" That is, that was, or ever shall be ; 
" The sonne it dare not shine on me, 
" And I byd him goe downe. 

" No raine to fall shall now be free, 

" Nor no lorde have that liberty 

" That dare abyde and I byd fleey, 

" But I shall crake his crowne." 

See The Vintner's Play, p. 67. 
Chaucer, describing a parish clerk, in his Miller's Tale, says : 

" He plaieth Herode on a skaffold high." 

The parish clerks and other subordinate ecclesiasticks appear to 
have been our first actors, and to have represented their charac- 
ters on distinct pulpits or scaffolds. Thus, in one of the stage- 
directions to the 27th pageant in the Coventry collection alrea- 
dy mentioned : " What tyme that processyon is entered into y l 
place, and the Herowdys taken his schqffalde, and Annas and 
Cayphas their schaffaldys" &c. STEEVENS. 

To the instances given by Mr. Steevens of Herod's lofty lan- 
guage, may be added these lines from the Coventry plays 
among the Cotton MSS. p. 92 : 

*' Of bewte and of boldnes I ber evermore the belle, 
" Of mayn and of myght I master every man ; 
" I dynge with my dowtiness the devyl down to helle, 
" For bothe of hevyn and of earth I amkynge certayn." 


Again, in The Unluckie Firmentie, by G. Kyttes, 4to. bl. 1 : 
" But he was in such a rage 
" As one that shulde on a stage 

" The part of Herode playe." RITSON. 

1 age and body'o/" the time,] The age of the time can 

hardly pass. May we not read, the face and body, or did the 

1 86 HAMLET, ACT in. 

done, or come tardy off', though it make the un- 
skilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; 
the censure of which one, 3 must, in your allowance, 4 
o*er- weigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be 

author write, the page ? The page suits well with form and 
pressure, but ill with body. JOHNSON. 

To exhibit theyorm and pressure of the age of the time, is, 
to represent the manners of the time suitable to the period that 
is treated of, according as it may be ancient, or modern. 


I can neither think this passage right asjt stands, nor approve 
of either of the amendments suggested by Johnson. There is 
one more simple than either, that will remove every difficulty. 
Instead of" the very age and body of the time," (from which it 
is hard to extract any meaning,) I read " every age and body 
of the time ;" and then the sense will be this : " Show virtue 
her own likeness, and every stage of life, every profession or 
body of men, its form and resemblance." By every age, is meant, 
the different stages of life ; by every body, the various fraterni- 
ties, sorts, and ranks of mankind. M. MASON. 

Perhaps Shakspeare did not mean to connect these words. It 
is the end of playing, says Hamlet, to show the age in which 
we live, and the body of the time, its form and pressure : to de- 
lineate exactly the manners of the age, and the particular hu- 
mour of the day. MALOSE. 

* pressure."] Resemblance, as in a print. JOHNSON. 

3 the censure of which one,'] Ben Jonson seems to have 

Imitated this passage in his Poetaster, 1601 : 

I will try 

If tragedy have a more kind aspect ; 
Her favours in my next I will pursue ; 

* Where if I prove the pleasure but of one, 
' If he judicious be, he shall be alone 

* A theatre unto me" MA LONE. 

the censure of which one,~] The meaning is, " the cen- 
sure of one of which," and probably that should be the reading 
also. The present reading, though intelligible, is very licen- 
tious, especially in prose. M. MASON. 

in your allowance,] In your approbation. See Vol. 
XVII. King Lear, Act II. sc. iv. MALONE. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 187 

players, 5 that I have seen play, and heard others 
praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, 6 
that, neither having th^ accent of Christians, nor 

4 0, there le players, &c.] I would read thus : " There be 

E layers, that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that 
ighly (not to speak profanely) that neither have the accent nor 
the gait of Christian, Pagan, nor Mussulman, have so strutted 
and bellowed, that I thought some of nature's journeymen had 
made the men, and not made them well," &c. FARMER. 

I have no doubt that our author wrote, "that I thought some 
pf nature's journeymen had made them, and not made them 
well," &c. Them and men are frequently confounded in the old 
copies. See The Comedy of Errors, Act II. sc. ii. folio, 1623 : 
" because it is a blessing that he bestows on beasts, and what 
he hath scanted them [r. men] in hair, he hath given them in 
wit." In the present instance the compositor probably caught 
the word men from the last syllable of journeymen. Shakspeare 
could not mean to assert as a general truth, that nature's jour- 
neymen had made men, i. e. all mankind ; for, if that were the 
case, these strutting players would have been on a footing with 
the rest of the species. Nature herself, the poet means to say, 
made all mankind except these strutting players, and they were 
made by Nature's journeymen. 

A passage in King^ Lear, in which we meet with the same 
sentiment, in my opinion fully supports the emendation now pro- 
posed : 

" Kent. Nature disclaims in THEE, a tailor made THEE. 

" Corn. Thou art a strange fellow : A tailor make a man ! 

" Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir; a stone-cutter or a painter [Na- 
ture's journeymen^ could not have made him so ill, though he 
had been but two hours at the trade." 

This notion of Nature keeping a shop, and employing jour- 
neymen to form mankind, was common in Shakspeare's time. 
See Lyly's Woman in the Moon, a comedy, 1597 : "They draw 
the curtains from before Nature's shop, where stands an image 
chid, and some unclad." MALONE. 

fi not to speak it profanely,] Profanely seems to relate, 

not to the praise which he has mentioned, but to the censure 
which he is about to utter. Any gross or indelicate language 
was called profane. JOHNSON. 

So, in Othello : "he is a most profane and liberal counsellor." 


188 HAMLET, ACT m. 

the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so 
strutted, and bellowed, that I have thought some of 
nature's journeymen had made men, and not made 
them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. 

1 PLAY. I hope, we have reformed that indif- 
ferently with us. 

HAM. O, reform it altogether. And let those, 
that play your clowns, speak no more than is set 
down for them: 7 for there be of them, that will 

7 speak no more than is set dovonjbr them:~] So, in The 

Antipodes, by Brome, 1638: 

you, sir fc are incorrigible, and 
Take licence to yourself to add unto 
Your .parts, your own free fancy," &c. 

That is a way, ray lord, has been allow'd 

On elder stages, to move mirth and laughter.*' 
Yes, in the days of Tarlton, and of Kempe, 

Before the stage was purg'd from barbarism," &c. 
Stowe informs us, (p. 697, edit. 1615,) that among the 
twelve players who were sworn the queen's servants in 1583, 
" were two rare men, viz. Thomas Wilson, for a quick delicate 
refined extemporall ivitte ; and Richard Tarleton, for a wondrous 
plentifull, pleasant extemporall ivitt," &c. 

Again, in Tarleton's Newesfrom Purgatory : " I absented 
myself from allplaies, as wanting that merrye Roscius of plaiers 
that famosed all comedies so with his pleasant and extemporall 

This cause for complaint, however, against low comedians, is 
still more ancient ; for in The Contention belwyxte Churchyard 
and Cornell, &c. 1560, I find the following passage : 
" But Vices in stage plaies, 

" When theyr matter is gon, 
" They laugh out the reste 

" To the lookers on. 
" And so wantinge matter, 

" You brynge in my coate," &c. STEEVENS. 

The clown very often addressed the audience in the middle 
of the play, and entered into a contest of raillery and sarcasm 
with such of the audience as chose to engage with him. It is 
to this absurd practice that Shakspeare alludes. See the Histo- 
rical Account of our Old English Theatres, Vol. III. MALONE. 

sc.ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 189 

themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren 
spectators to laugh too ; though, in the mean time, 
some necessary question of the play be then to be 
considered : that's villainous ; and shows a most 
pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make 
you ready. \_Exeunt Players. 


How now, my lord ? will the king hear this piece 
of work ? 

POL. And the queen too, and that presently. 
HAM. Bid the players make haste. 

Will you two help to hasten them ? 

BOTH. Ay, my lord. 


HAM. What, ho ; Horatio ! 


HOE. Here, sweet lord, at your service. 

HAM. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man 
As e'er my conversation cop'd withal. 

HOR. O, my dear lord, 

HAM. Nay, do not think I flatter : 

For what advancement may I hope from thee, 
That no revenue hast, but thy good spirits, 
To feed, and clothe thee ? Why should the poor 

be flatter'd ? 
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp ; 

190 HAMLET, 

And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, 8 
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear? 
Since my dear soul" was mistress of her choice, 
And could of men distinguish her election, 
She hath seaPd thee for herself: 1 for thou hast been 
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing ; 
A man, that fortune's buffets and rewards 
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: andbless'd are those, 
Whose blood and judgment 2 are so well co-min- 
gled, 3 

That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger 
To sound what stop she please : Give me that man 
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him 
In my heart's core, 4 ay, in my heart of heart, 

* the pregnant hinges of the knee,~\ I believe the sense of 

pregnant in this place, is, quick, ready, prompt. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. VI. p. 191, n. 5. STEEVENS. 

9 my dear soul ~\ Perhaps my clear soul. 


Dear soul is an expression equivalent to the iAa ya'vaTa, 
f iXov ijrof , of Homer. STEEVENS. 

1 And could of men distinguish her election, 

She hath seal'd thee for herself '.-] Thus the quarto. The 
folio thus : 

And could of men distinguish, her election 
Hath sealed thee &c. STEEVENS. 

Mr. Ritson prefers the reading of the quarto, and observes, 
that to distinguish her election, is no more than to make her 
election. Distinguish of men, he adds, is exceeding harsh, to 
say the best of it. REED. 

2 Whose blood and judgment ] According to the doctrine of 
the four humours, desire and confidence were seated in the blood, 
and judgment in the phlegm, and the due mixture of the hu- 
mours made a perfect character. JOHNSON. 

3 co-mingled,'] Thus the folio. The quarto reads 

comedlcd ; which had formerly the same meaning. MALONE. 

4 my heart's core,] This expression occurs also in Chap- 
man's translation of the sixth Iliad: PRINCE OF DENMARK. 191 

As I do thee. Something too much of this. 
There is a play to-night before the king ; 
One scene of it comes near the circumstance, 
Which I have told thee of my father's death. 
I pr'ythee, when thou seest that act a-foot, 
Even with the very comment of thy soul 
Observe my uncle : if his occulted guilt 
Do not itself unkennel in one speech, 
It is a damned ghost that we have seen ; 
And my imaginations are as foul 
As Vulcan's stithy. 5 Give him heedful note : 
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face ; 
And, after, we will both our judgments join 
In censure of his seeming. 

HOR. Well, my lord : 

If he steal aught, the whilst this play is playing, 
And scape detecting, I will pay the theft. 

HAM. They are coming to the play; I must b* 

idle : 
Get you a place. 

" he wandred evermore 

" Alone through his Aleian field ; and fed upon the core 
" Of his sad bosome." STEEVENS. 

5 Vulcan's stithy.] Stithy is a smith's anvil. JOHNSON. 

So, in Troilus and Cressida : 

11 Now by the Jorge that stithied Mars's helm.'* 
Again, in Greene's Card of Fancy, 1608 : " determined to 
strike on the stith while the iron was hot." 

Again, in Chaucer's celebrated description of the Temple of 
Mars, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 2028 : 

the smith 

" That forgeth sharp swerdes on his stith." STEEVENS. 

The stith is the anvil; the stithy, the smith's shop. These 
words are familiar to me, being in constant use at Halifax, my 
native place. J. EDWARDS. 

192 HAMLET, ACT m. 

Danish March. A Flourish. Enter King, Queen, 
STERN, and Others. 

KING. How fares our cousin Hamlet ? 

HAM. Excellent, i'faith ; of the camelion's dish: 
I eat the air, promise-crammed : You cannot feed 
capons so. 

KING. I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; 
these words are not mine. 

HAM. No, nor mine now. 6 My lord, you 
played once in the university, you say ? 7 


r> nor mine now.'] A man's words, says the proverb, 

are his own no longer than he keeps them unspoken. 


7 you played once in the university, you say?] It should 

seem from the following passage in Vice Chancellor Hatcher's 
Letters to Lord Burghley, on June 21, 1580, that the common 
players were likewise occasionally admitted to perform there : 
" Whereas it has pleased your honour to recommend my lorde 
of Oxenford his players, that they might show their cunning in 
several plays already practised by 'em before the Queen's ma- 
jesty" (denied on account of the pestilence and commence- 
ment:) "of late we denied the like to the Right Honourable 
the Lord of Leicester his servants." FARMER. 

The practice of acting Latin plays in the universities of Oxford 
and Cambridge, is very ancient, and continued to near the mid- 
dle of the last century. They were performed occasionally for 
the entertainment of princes and other great personages ; and 
regularly at Christmas, at whicli time a Lord of misrule was ap- 
pointed at Oxford to regulate the exhibitions, and a similar offi- 
cer with the title of Imperator at Cambridge. The most cele- 
brated actors at Cambridge were the students of St. John's and 
King's colleges : at Oxford those of Christ- Church. In the hall 
of that college a Latin comedy called Marcus Geminus, and the 
Latin tragedy of Progne,were performed before Queen Elizabeth 
in the year 1566; and in 1564-, the Latin tragedy of Dido was 

sc. //. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 193 

POL. That did I, my lord; and was accounted 
a good actor. 

HAM. And what did you enact ? 

POL. I did enact Julius Caesar: 8 I was killed 
i'the Capitol ; 9 Brutus killed me. 

played before her majesty, when she visited the university of 
Cambridge. The exhibition was in the body or nave of the 
chapel of King's college, which was lighted by the royal guards, 
each of whom bore a staff-torch in his hand. See Peck's Desider. 
Cur. p. 36, rv. x. The actors of this piece were all of that 
college. The author of the tragedy, who in the Latin ac- 
count of this royal visit, in the Museum, [MSS. Baker, 7037, 
p. 203,3 i s sa id t have been Regalis Collegii olim socitis, was, I 
believe, John Rightwise, who was elected a fellow of King's 
college, in 1507, and according to Anthony Wood, " made the 
tragedy of Dido out of Virgil, and acted the same with the scho- 
lars of his school [St. Paul's, of which he was appointed master 
in 1522,] before Cardinal Wolsey with great applause." In 
1583, the same play was performed at Oxford, in Christ-Church 
hall, before Albertus de Alasco, a Polish prince Palatine, as was 
William Gager's Latin comedy, entitled Rivales. On Elizabeth's 
second visit to Oxford, in 1592, a few years before the writing 
of the present play, she was entertained on the 24th and 26th 
of September, with the representation of the last-mentioned 
play, and another Latin comedy, called Bellum Grammaticale. 


8 / did enact Julius Csesar :] A Latin play on the subject of 
Caesar's death was performed at Christ-Church in Oxford, in 
1582; and several years before, a Latin play on the same sub- 
ject, written by Jacques Grevin, was acted in the college of 
Beauvais, at Paris. I suspect that there was likewise an En- 
on the story of Caesar before the time of Shakspeare, 

See Vol. XVI. p. 252, and the Essay on the Order of Shak- 
speare's Plays, Vol. II. MALONE. 

a 1 was killed i'the Capitol ;~] This, it is well known, was 

not the case ; for Caesar, we are expressly told by Plutarch, was 
killed in Pompey's portico. But our poet followed the received 
opinion, and probably the representation of his own time, in 
a play on the subject of Caesar's death, previous to that which 
he wrote. The notion that Julius Caesar was killed in the Ca- 
pitol is as old as the time of Chaucer : 

194 HAMLET, ACT m. 

HAM. It was a brute part of him, 1 to kill so ca- 
pital a calf there. Be the players ready ? 

Ros. Ay, my lord ; they stay upon your patience. 5 

QUEEN. Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by 

HAM. No, good mother, here's metal more at- 

POL. O ho ! do you mark that ? [To the King. 

HAM. Lady, shall I lie in your lap ? 

[Lying dow?i at OPHELIA'S Feet.* 

OPH. No, my lord. 

" This Julius to the capUolie wente 

" Upon a day as he was wont to gon, 

" And in the capitolie anon him hente 

** This false Brutus, and his other soon, 

" And sticked him with bodekins'anon 

" With many a wound," &c. The Monkes Tale. 

Tyrwhitt's edit. Vol. II. p. 31. MALONE. 

1 It tons a brute part of him,'] Sir John Harrington in his 
Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596, has the same quibble : " O brave- 
minded Brutus ! but this I must truly say, they were two brutish 
parts both of him and you ; one to kill his sons for treason, the 
other to kill his father in treason." STEEVENS. 

* they stay upon your patience.] May it not be read 

more intelligibly, they stay upon your pleasure ? In Macbeth 
it is: 

" Noble Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure." 


1 at Ophelia's fret.'] To lie at the feet of a mistress. 

during any dramatick representation, seems to have been a com- 
mon act of gallantry. So, in The Queen of Corinth, by Beau- 
mont and Fletcher: 

" Ushers her to her couch, lies at her feel 
" At solemn masques, applauding what she laughs at.'* 
Again, in Gascoigne's Greene Knight's Farewell to Fancie : 
** To lie along in ladies lappes. yy STEEVENS. 


HAM. I mean, my head upon your lap ? 4 
OPH. Ay, my lord. 

HAM. Do you think, I meant country matters ? 5 
OPH. I think nothing, my lord. 
HAM. That's a fair thought to lie between 
maids' legs. 

OPH. What is, my lord ? 

HAM. Nothing. 

OPH. You are merry, my lord. 

HAM. Who, I ? 

OPH. Ay, my lord. 

HAM. O! your only jig-maker. 6 What should a 

* I mean, &c.] This speech and Ophelia's reply to it are 
omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

5 Do you think, I meant country matters ?] Dr. Johnson, from 
a casual inadvertence, proposed to read country manners. The 
old reading is certainly right. What Shakspeare meant to allude 
to, must be too obvious to every reader, to require any explana- 
tion. MALONE. 

your only jig-maker.] There may have been some hu- 
mour in this passage, the force of which is now diminished : 

many gentlemen 

Are not, as in the days of understanding, 
Now satisfied without a jig, which since 
' They cannot with their honour, call for after 
4 The play, they look to be serv'd up in the middle.'* 

Changes, or Love in a Maze, by Shirley, 1632. 
In The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614, one of the players 
comes to solicit a gentleman to 'write a jig for him. A- jig was 
not in Shakspeare's time only a dance, but a ludicrous dialogue 
in metre, and of the lowest kind, like Hamlet's conversation 
with Ophelia. Many of these jigs are entered in the books of 
the Stationers' Company : " Philips his Jigg of the slyppers, 
1595. Kempe's Jigg of the Kitchin-stuff woman, 1595." 


The following lines in the prologue to Fletcher's Love's Pil- 
grimage, confirms Mr. Steevens's remark : 

o 2 

196 HAMLET, ACT m. 

man do, but be merry ? for, look you, how cheer- 
fully my mother looks, and my father died within 
these two hours. 

OPH. Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord. 

HAM. So long? Nay, then let the devil wear 
black, for I'll have a suit of sables. 7 O heavens! 

" for approbation, 

" A jig shall be clapp'd at, and every rhyme 
" Prais'd and applauded by a clamorous chime." 
A jig was not always in the form of a dialogue. Many histo- 
rical ballads were formerly called jigs. See also, p. 153, n. 4, 
and The Historical Account of the English Theatres, Vol. II. 


A jig, though it signified a ludicrous dialogue in metre, yet it 
also was used for a dance. In the extract from Stephen Gosson 
in the next page but one, we have 

" tumbling, dancing ofgiggft*" RITSON. 

' Nay* then let the devil wear black, for /'// have a suit 

itf sables.] The conceit of these words is not taken. They are 
an ironical apology for his mother's cheerful looks : two months 
was long enough in conscience to make any dead husband for- 
gotten. But the editors, in their nonsensical blunder, have made 
Hamlet say just the contrary: That the devil and he would both 
go into mourning, though his mother did not. The true reading 
is Nay, then let the devil wear black, 'fore /'// have a suit of 
sable. 'Fore, i. e. before. As much as to say, Let the devil 
wear black for me, I'll have none. The Oxford editor despises 
an emendation so easy, and reads it thus, Nay, then let the 
devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of ermine. And you could 
expect no less, when such a critick had the dressing of him. 
But the blunder was a pleasant one. The senseless editors had 
wrote sables, the fur so called, for sable, black. And the critick 
only changed this fur for that ; by a like figure, die common 
people say, You rejoice the cockles of my heart, for the muscles 
of my heart; an unlucky mistake of one shell-fish for another. 


I know not why our editors should with such implacable anger 
pel secutu their predecessors. Oi vex^ot py axvacnv, the dead, 
it is true, can make no resistance, they may be attacked with 
great security ; but since they can neither feel nor mend, the 
safety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure ; nor 


die two months ago, and not forgotten yet ? Then 
there's hope, a great man's memory may outlive 

perhaps would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst our 
triumphs over the nonsensical and senseless, that we likewise are 
men ; that debemur morti, and as Swift observed to Burnet, shall 
soon be among the dead ourselves. 

I cannot find how the common reading is nonsense, nor why 
Hamlet, when he laid aside his dress of mourning, in a country 
where it was bitter cold, and the air nipping and eager, should 
not have a suit of sables. I suppose it is well enough known, 
that the fur of sables is not black. JOHNSON. 

A suit of sables was the richest dress that could be worn in 
Denmark. STEEVENS. 

Here again is an equivoque. In Massinger's Old Laic, we 

" A cunning grief, 

" That's only faced with sables for a show, 
" But gawdy-h carted." FARMER. 

Nay, then let the devil luear black, for I'll have a suit of 

sables.] Nay then, says Hamlet, if my father be so long dead 
as you say, let the devil wear black ; as for me, so far from 
wearing a mourning dress, I'll wear the most costly and magni- 
ficent suit that can be procured : a suit trimmed tvith sables. 

Our poet furnished Hamlet with a suit of sables on the present 
occasion, not, as I conceive, because such a dress was suited to 
" a country where it was bitter cold, and the air was nipping 
and eager," (as Dr. Johnson supposed,) nor because "a suit of 
sables was the richest dress that could be worn in Denmark," 
(as Mr. Steevens has suggested,) of which probably he had no 
knowledge, but because a suit trimmed with sables was in Shak- 
speare's time the richest dress worn by men in England. We 
have had again and again occasion to observe, that, wherever 
his scene might happen to be, the customs of his own country 
were still in his thoughts. 

By the statute of apparel, 24- Henry VIII. c. 13, (article 
farres,) it is ordained, that none under the degree of an earl 
may use sables. 

Bishop says in his Blossoms, 1577, speaking of the extrava- 
gance of those times, that a thousand ducates were sometimes 
given for " a face of sables." 

That a suit of sables was the magnificent dress of our au- 
thor's time, appears from a passage in Ben Jonson's Discoveries : 

198 HAMLET, ACT m. 

his life half a year : But, by'r-lady, he must build 
churches then: 8 or else shall he suffer not think- 
ing on, with the hobby-horse ;' J whose epitaph is, 
For, O,for, O, the hobby -horse is forgot. 1 

" Would you not laugh to meet a great counsellor of state , in a 
flat cap, with his trunk-hose, and a hobby-horse cloak, [See 
fig. 5, in the plate annexed to King Henri/ IV. P. I. Vol. XI.] 
and yond haberdasher in a velvet gown trimni'd with sables?" 

Florio, in his Italian Dictionary, 1598, thus explains zibilinis 
" The rich furre called sables." Sables is the skin of the sable 
Martin. See Cotgrave's French Diet. 1611: " Sebilline Martre 
Sebcl. The sable Martin ; the beast whose skinne we call 
sables." MA LONE. 

8 But he must build churches then :~] Such benefactors to 

society were sure to be recorded by means of the feast day on 
which the patron saints and founders of churches were comme- 
morated in every parish. This custom having been long disused, 
the names of the builders of sacred edifices are no longer known 
to the vulgar, and are preserved only in antiquarian memoirs. 


9 stiffer not thinking on,ivith the hobby-horse;] Amongst 

the country May-games there was an hobby-horse, which, when 
the puritanical humour of those times opposed and discredited 
these games, was brought by the poets and ballad-makers as an 
instance of the ridiculous zeal of the sectaries: from these bal- 
lads Hamlet quotes a line or two. WARBURTON. 

1 O, the hobby-horse is forgot."] In Love's Labour's Lost, 

this line is also introduced. In a small black letter book enti- 
tled, Plays Confuted^ by Stephen Gosson, I find the hobby-horse 
enumerated in the list of dances : " For the devil (says this au- 
thor) beeside the beautie of the houses, and the stages, sendeth 
in gearish apparell, maskes, vauting, tumbling, dauncing of 
gigges, galiardes, morisces, hobbi-horsrs," &c. and in Green's 
Tu Quoque, 1614-, the same expression occurs: " The other 
hobby-horse I perceive is not forgotten." 

In TEXNOFAMIA, or The Marriage of the Arts, 1618, is 
the following stage-direction : 

" Enter a hobby-horse, dancing the morrice," $fc. 
Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Women Pleased : 
" So/o. Shall the hobby-horse be forgot then, 
" The hopeful hobby-horse, shall he lie founder'd ?" 


Trumpets sound. The dumb Show follows? 

Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly; the Queen 
embracing Mm, and he her. She kneels, and 
makes show of protestation unto him. He takes 
her up, and declines his head upon her neck : lays 
him down upon a hank ofjtowers; she, seeing him 
asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes 
off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the 
King's ears, and exit. The Queen returns / finds 
the King dead, and makes passionate action. The 
poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in 
again, seeming to lament with her. The dead 

The scene in which this passage is, will very amply confirm 
all that Dr. Warburton has said concerning the hobby-horse. 

Again, in Ben Jonson's Entertainment for the Queen and 
Prince at Althorpe : 

" But see the hobby-horse is forgot, 
" Fool, it must be your lot, 
" To supply his want with faces 
" And some other buffoon graces." 

See figure 5, in the plate at the end of The First Part of King 
Henry IV. with Mr. Toilet's observations on it. STEEVENS. 

* The dumb shoiu jbllotus.'] and appears to contain 

every circumstance of the murder of Hamlet's father. Now 
there is no apparent reason why the Usurper should not be as 
much affected by this mute representation of his crimes, as he is 
afterwards when the same action is accompanied by words. 

I once conceived this might have been a kind of direction to 
the players, which was from mistake inserted in the editions ; 
but the subsequent conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia, 
entirely destroys such a notion. PYE. 

I cannot reconcile myself to the exhibition in dumb show, 
preceding the interlude which is injudiciously introduced by the 
author, and should always be omitted on the stage ; as we can- 
not well conceive why the mute representation of his crime 
should not affect as much the conscience of the King, as the 
scene that follows it. M. MASON. 


body is carried away. The poisoner wooes the 
Queen with gifts / she seems loath and unwilling 
awhile, but, in the end, accepts his love. 


OPH. What means this, my lord ? 
HAM. Marry, this is miching mallecho ; it means 
mischief. 3 

3 Marry, this is miching mallecho ; it means mischief."] To 
mich signified, originally, to keep hid and out of sight ; and, 
as such men generally did it for the purposes of lying in wait, 
it then signified to rob. And in this sense Shakspeare uses the 
noun, a micher, when speaking of Prince Henry amongst a 
gang of robbers. Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher ? 
Shall the son of England prove a thief? And in this sense it 
is used by Chaucer, in his translation of Le Roman de la Rose, 
where he turns the word lierre, (which is larron, voleur,) by 
micher. WARBURTON. 

Dr. Warburton is right in his explanation of the word 
miching. So, in The Raging Turk, 1631: 

" wilt thou, envious dotard, 

" Strangle my greatness in a miching hole ?" 
Again, in Stanyhurst's Virgil, 1582: 

" wherefore thus vainely in land Lybye mitche you ?'* 

The quarto reads munching Mallico. STEEVENS. 

The word miching is daily used in the West of England for 
playing truant, or sculking about in private for some sinister 
purpose; and malicho, inaccurately written for malheco, signifies 
mischief; so that miching malicho is mischief on the tvatch for 
opportunity. When Ophelia asks Hamlet " What means this ?" 
she applies to him for an explanation of "what she had not seen in 
the snow: and not, as Dr. Warburton would have it, the pur- 
pose for which the show was contrived. Besides, malhechor no 
more signifies a poisoner, than a perpetrator of any other crime. 


miching mallecho ;] A secret and wicked contrivance; a 
concealed wickedness. To mich is a provincial word, and was 
orobably once general ; signifying to lie hid, or play the truant. 
In Norfolk mich, rs signify pilferers. The signification of miching 
in the present passage may be ascertained by a passage in Deck- 
er's Wonderful Ycarc, 4to. 1603 : " Those that could shift for a 

so. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 201 

OPH. Belike, this show imports the argument of 
the play. 

time, went most bitterly miching and muffled, up and downe, 
with rue and wormwood stuft into their ears and nostrills." 

See also, Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, in v. Acciapinare: 

" To miche, to shrug or sneak in some corner, and with powting 

and lips to shew some anger." In a subsequent passage we find 

that the murderer before he poisons the king makes damnable 


Where our poet met with the word mallecho, which in Min- 
sheu's Spanish Dictionary, 1617, is defined malefactum, I am 
unable to ascertain. In the folio, the word is spelt malicho. 
Mallico [in the quarto] is printed in a distinct character, as a 
proper name. MALONE, 

If, as Capell declares, (I know not on what authority) Malicho 
be the Vice of the Spanish Moralities, he should at least be dis- 
tinguished by a capital. FARMER. 

It is not, however, easy to be supposed that our readers dis- 
cover pleasantry or even sense in " this is miching [or munching] 
mallico," no meaning as yet affixed to these words has entitled 
them to escape a further investigation. Omit them, and the text 
unites without their assistance : 

" Oph. What means this, my lord ? 
" Ham. Marry, it means mischief." 

Among the Shakspearian memoranda of the late Dr. Farmer, 
I met with the following " At the beginning of Grim the Col- 
lier of Croydon, the ghost of Malbecco is introduced as a prolo- 
cutor." Query, therefore, if the obscure words already quoted, 
were not originally: " This is mimicking Malbecco;" a private 
gloss by some friend on the margin of the IMS. Hamlet, and 
thence ignorantly received into the text of Shakspeare. 

It remains to be observed, that the mimickry imagined by Dr. 
Farmer, must lie in our author's stage-directions, &c. which, 
like Malbecco's legend, convey a pointed censure on t the infi- 
delity of married women. Or, to repeat the same idea in dif- 
ferent words the drift of the present dumb shew and succeed- 
ing dialogue, was considered by the glosser as too congenial with 
the well-known invective in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book III. 
or the contracted copy from it in the Induction to Grim the 
Collier &c. a comedy which was acted many years before it was 
printed. See Mr. Reed's Old Plays, Vol. XI. p. 189. 



Enter Prologue. 

HAM. We shall know by this fellow : the players 
cannot keep counsel ; they'll tell all. 

OPIL Will he tell us what this show meant ? 

HAM. Ay, or any show that you'll show him : 
Be not you ashamed to show, 4 he'll not shame to 
tell you what it means. 

OPH. You are naught, you are naught ; I'll mark 
the play. 

PRO. For us, and for our tragedy. 
Here stooping to your clemency. 
We beg your hearing patiently. 

HAM. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring? 
OPH. 'Tis brief, my lord. 
HAM. As woman's love. 

Enter a King and a Queen. 

P. KING. Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart 5 

gone round 
Neptune's salt wash, 6 and Tellus' orbed ground ; 7 

4 Be not you ashamed to shoiv, &c.] The conversation 

of Hamlet with Ophelia, which cannot tail to disgust every mo- 
dern reader, is probably such as was peculiar to the young and 
fashionable of the age of Jihakspeare, which was, by no means, 
an age of delicacy. The poet is, however, blanieable ; for ex- 
travagance of thought, not indecency of expression, is the cha- 
racteristick of madness, at least of such madness as should be 
represented on the scene. STEEVENS. 

* cart 3 A chariot was anciently so called. Thus, 

Chaucer, in The Knight's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 202* : 
" The carter overridden with his cart." STEEVENS. 

8 Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round 
Neptune's salt ivash, &c.] This speech of the Player King 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 203 

And thirty dozen moons, with borrow' d sheen, 8 
About the world have times twelve thirties been ; 
Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, 
Unite commutual in most sacred bands. 

P. QUEEN. So many journeys may the sun and 


Make us again count o'er, ere love be done ! 
But, woe is me, you are so sick of late, 
So far from cheer, and from your former state, 
That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust, 
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must : 
For Women fear too much, even as they love ; 9 

appears to me as a burlesque of the following passage in Tht 
Cornwall Historic ofAlphonsus, by R. G. 1599 : 

Thrise ten times Phoebus with his golden bennies 
" Hath compassed the circle of the skie, 
" Thrise ten times Ceres hath her workemen hir'd, 
" And fild her barnes with frutefull crops of corne, 
*' Since first in priesthood I did lead my life." TODD. 
7 orbed ground ;] So also, in our author's Lover's Com- 
plaint : 

" Sometimes diverted, their poor balls are tied 
" To the orbed earth." STEEVENS. 

8 sheen,"] Splendor, lustre. JOHNSON. 

9 even as they love ;] Here seems to have been a line 

lost, which should have rhymed to love. JOHNSON. 

This line is omitted in the folio. Perhaps a triplet was de- 
signed, and then instead of love, we should read lust. The folio 
gives the next line thus : 

" For women's fear and love holds quantity." 


There is, I believe, no instance of a triplet being used in our 
author's time. Some trace of the lost line is found in the quartos, 
which read : 

Either none in neither aught, &c. 

Perhaps the words omitted might have been of this import : 
" Either none they feel, or an excess approve; 
" In neither aught, or in extremity." 
In two preceding passages in the quarto, half a line was in- 

204 HAMLET, Acrnr. 

And women's fear and love hold quantity ; 
In neither aught, or in extremity. 
Now, what my love is, proof hatn made you know; 
And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so. 1 
Where love is great, 2 the littlest doubts are fear ; 
Where little fears grow great, great love grows 

P. KING. 'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and 

shortly too ; 
My operant powers 3 their functions leave to do : 

advertently omitted by the compositor. See p. 151, " then sense- 
less Ilium, seeming," &c. and p. 174, " thus conscience does 
make cowards of us all:" the words in Italick characters are 
not found in the quarto. MALONE. 

Every critick, before he controverts the assertions of his pre- 
decessor, ought to adopt the resolution of Othello : 

" I'll see, before I doubt, what I doubt, prove." 

In Phaer and Twine's Virgil, 1584, the triplets are so frequent, 
that in two opposite pages of the tenth Book, not less than seven 
are to be met with. They are likewise as unsparingly employed 
in Golding's Ovid, 1587. Mr. Malone, in a note on The Tem- 
pest, Vol. IV. p. 150, has quoted a passage from this very work, 
containing one instance of them. In Chapman's Homer they 
are also used, &c. &c. &c. In The Tempest, Act IV. sc. i. 
Many other examples of them occur in Love's Labour's Lost, 
Act III. sc. i. as well as in The Comedy of Errors, Act II. and 
III. &c. &c. and, yet more unluckily for my opponent, the 
Prologue to the Mock Tragedy, now under consideration, con- 
sists of a triplet, which in our last edition stood at the top of the 
same page in which he supposed " no instance of a triplet being 
used in our author's time." STEEVENS. 

1 And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so.~] Cleopatra expresses 
herself much in the same manner, with regard to her grief for 
the loss of Antony : 

" . our size of sorrow, 

" Proportioned to our cause, must be as great 
" As that which makes it." THEOHALD. 

* Where love &c.] These two lines are omitted in the folio. 


' operant powers ] Operant is active. Shakspeare 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 205 

And thou shalt live in this fair world behind, 
Honoured, belov'd ; and, haply, one as kind 
For husband shalt thou 

P. QUEEN. O, confound the rest 

Such love must needs be treason in my breast : 
In second husband let me be accurst ! 
None wed the second, but who killed the first. 

HAM. That's wormwood. 

P. QUEEN. The instances, 4 that second marriage 


Are base respects of thrift, but none of love ; 
A second time I kill my husband dead, 
When second husband kisses me in bed. 

P. KING. I do believe, you think what now you , 

speak ; 

But, what we do determine, oft we break. 
Purpose is but the slave to memory; 5 
Of violent birth, but poor validity : 
Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree j 
But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be. 
Most necessary 'tis, that we forget 
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt : 6 

gives it in Timon of Athens as an epithet to poison. Heywood 
has likewise used it in his Royal King and Loyal Subject, 16S7 : 

" may my operant parts 

" Each one forget their office !" 
The word is now obsolete. STEEVENS. 

4 The instances,] The motives. JOHNSON. 

3 Purpose is but the slave to memory ;~\ So, in King Henry IV. 
Part I : 

" But thought's the slave of life." STEEVENS. 

6 ivhat to ourselves is dcbt:~] The performance of a re- 
solution, in which only the rcsolver is interested, is a debt only 
to himself, which he may therefore remit at pleasure. 


206 HAMLET, ACT in. 

What to ourselves in passion we propose, 
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose. 
The violence of either grief or joy 
Their own enactures with themselves destroy : 7 
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament ; 
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident. 
This world is not for aye ; nor 'tis not strange, 
That even our loves should with our fortunes 

change ; 

For 'tis a question left us yet to prove, 
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love. 
The great man down, you mark his favourite flies ; 
The poor advanc'd makes friends of enemies. 
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend : 
For who not needs, shall never lack a friend ; 
And who in want a hollow friend doth try, 
Directly seasons him his enemy. 8 
But, orderly to end where I begun, 
Our wills, and fates, do so contrary run, 
That our devices still are overthrown ; 
Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own: 
So think thou wilt no second husband wed ; 
But die thy thoughts, when thy first lord is dead. 

P. QUEEN. Nor earth to me give food, 9 nor hea- 
ven light! 
Sport and repose lock from me, day, and night ! 

7 The violence of either grief or joy 

Their own enactures with themselves destroy:'] What grief 
or joy enact or determine in their violence, is revoked in their 
abatement. Enactures is the word in the quarto ; all the mo- 
dern editions have enactors. JOHNSON. 

8 seasons him his enemy.'] This quaint phrase infests al- 
most every ancient English composition. Thus, in Chapman's 
translation of the fifteenth Book of Homer's Odyssey: 

" taught with so much woe 

" As thou hast suffered, to be seasoned true." 


ao. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 207 

To desperation 1 turn my trust and hope ! 
An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope ! 2 
Each opposite, that blanks the face of joy, 
Meet what I would have well, and it destroy ! 
Both here, and hence, pursue me lasting strife, 
If, once a widow, ever 1 be wife ! 

HAM. If she should break it now, 


P. KING. J Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me 

here a while ; 
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile 

9 Nor earth to me givejfoorf,] Thus the quarto, 1604. The 
folio and the late editors read : 

Nor earth to give me food, . 

An imperative or optative verb was evidently intended here, 
as in the following line : 

" Sport and repose lock from me," &c. MALONE. 
A very similar imprecation, 

" Day, yield me not thy light ; nor night, thy rest !" &c. 
occurs in King Richard III. See Vol. XIV. p. 473. 


1 To desperation &c.] This and the following line are omitted 
in the folio. STEEVENS. 

2 An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!'] May my whole 
liberty and enjoyment be to live on hermit's fare in a prison. 
Anchor is for anchoret. JOHNSON. 

This abbreviation of the word anchoret is very ancient. I find 
it in the Romance of Robert the Devil, printed by Wynken de 
Worde : " We haue robbed and killed nonnes, holy aunkers, 
preestes, clerkes," &c. Again : " the foxe will be an aunker, 
for he begynneth to preche." 

Again, in The Vision of Pierce Plowman : 

" As ankers and hermits that hold them in her selles." 
This and the foregoing line are not in the folio. I believe we 
should read anchor's chair. So, in the second Satire of Hall's 
fourth Book, edit. 1602, p. 18 : 

" Sit seven yeres pining in an anchore's cheyre, 

" To win some parched shreds of minivere." STEEVENS. 

The old copies read And anchor's cheer. The correction 
was made by Mr. Theobald. MALONE. 

208 HAMLET, ACT m. 

The tedious day with sleep. \_Skeps. 

P. QUEEN. Sleep rock thy brain ; 

And never come mischance between us twain ! 

HAM. Madam, how like you this play ? 

QUEEN. The lady doth protest too much, me- 

HAM. O, but she'll keep her word. 

KING. Have you heard the argument ? Is there 
no offence in't ? 

HAM. No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; 
no offence i'the worm. 

KING. What do you call the play ? 

HAM. The mouse-trap. 2 Marry, how ? Tropi- 
cally. This play is the image of a murder done in 
Vienna : Gonzago is the duke's name ; 4 his wife, 
Baptista: 5 you shall see anon ; 'tis a knavish piece 

1 The mouse-trap.'] He calls it the mouse-trap, because it is 

" the thing 

" In which he'll catch the conscience of the king." 


4 Gonzago is the duke's name ;] Thus all the old copies : 

yet in the stage-direction for the dumb show, and the subsequent 
entrance, we have " Enter a king and queen," &c. and in the 
latter part of this speech both the quarto and folio read: 
" Lucianus, nephew to the king." 

This seeming inconsistency, however, may be reconciled. 
Though the interlude is the image of the murder of a duke of 
Vienna, or in other words founded upon that story, the poet 
might make the principal person of his fable a king. 


' Baptista:] Baptista is, I think, in Italian, the name 

always of a man. JOHNSON. 

I believe Battista is never used singly by the Italians, being 
uniformly compounded with Giant (for Giovanni,) and meaning 

a& ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 209 

of work : But what of that ? your majesty, and we 
that have free souls, it -touches us not : Let the 
galled jade wince, 6 our withers are unwrung. 

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king. 7 
OPH. You are as good as a chorus, my lord. 8 
HAM. I could interpret between you and your 

love, if I could see the puppets dallying. 9 
OPH. You are keen, my lool, you are keen. 

of course, John the Baptist. Nothing more was therefore 
necessary to detect the forgery of Shebbeare's Letters on the 
English Nation, than his ascribing them to Battista Angeloni. 


6 Let the galled jade wince,'] This is a proverbial saying. 
So, in Damon and Pythias, 1582 : 

" I know the gall'd horse will soonest wince." 


7 nephew to the king.] i. e. to the king in the play then 

represented. The modern editors, following Mr. Theobald, read 
nepheiv to the duke, though they have not followed that editor 
in substituting duke and dutchess, for Icing and queen, in the 
dumb show and subsequent entrance. There is no need of 
departing from the old copies. See n. 4. MALONE. 

8 You are as good as a chorus, fyc.~] The use to which Shak- 
speare converted the chorus, may be seen in King Henry V. 


9 Ham. / could interpret &c.] This refers to the interpreter, 
who formerly sat on the stage at all motions or puppet-shows, and 
interpreted to the audience. 

So, in The Two Gentlemen of Vetona : 

" O excellent motion ! O exceeding puppet I 
" Now will he interpret for her." 

Again, in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, 1621 : " It was I 
that penned the moral of Man's wit, the dialogue of Dives, and 
for seven years' space was absolute interpreter of the puppets." 


210 HAMLET, ACT m. 

HAM. It would cost you a groaning, to take off 
my edge. 

OPH. Still better, and worse. 1 

HAM. So you mistake your husbands. 2 Begin, 
murderer ; leave thy damnable faces, and begin. 
Come ; 

1 Still better, and worse."] i. e. better in regard to the wit of 
your double entendre, but worse in respect to the grossness of 
your meaning. STEEVENS. 

* So you mistake your husbands.'} Read So you must take 
your husbands; that is, for better, for worse. JOHNSON. 

Mr. Theobald proposed the same reading in his Shakspeare 
Restored, however he lost it afterwards. STEEVENS. 

So you mistake your husbands."] I believe this to be right : the 
word is sometimes used in this ludicrous manner : " Your true 
trick, rascal, (says Ursula, in Bartholomew Fair,) must be to 
be ever busie, and mistake away the bottles and cans, before they 
be half drunk off." FARMER. 

Again, in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs: " To mistake 
six torches from the chandry, and give them one." 
Again, in The Elder Brother of Fletcher : 

** I fear he will persuade me to mistake him." 
Again, in Chrestoleros ; Seven Bookes of Epigrams written by 
T. B. [Thomas Bastard] 1598, Lib. VII. Epig. xviii : 
" Caius hath brought from forraine landes 
" A sootie wench, with many handes, 
** Which doe in goolden letters say 
" She is his wife, not stolne away. 
" He mought have sav'de, with small discretion, 
" Paper, inke, and all confession : 
" For none that see'th her face and making, 
*' Will judge her stolne, but by mistaking" 
Again, in Questions of Profitable and Pleasant Concemings, 
&c. 1594- : " Better I were now and then to suffer his remisse 
mother to mistake a quarter or two of corne, to buy the knave a 
coat with," &c. STEEVENS. 

I believe the meaning is you do amiss for yourselves to take 
husbands for the worse. You should take them only for the 
better. TOLLET. 

sc.ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 211 

The croaking raven 

Doth bellow for revenge. 

Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and 

time agreeing ; 

Confederate season, else no creature seeing ; 
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds 3 collected, 
With Hecat's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected, 
Thy natural magick and dire property, 
On wholesome life usurp immediately. 

\_Pours the Poison into the Sleeper's Ears. 

HAM. He poisons him i'the garden for his estate. 
His name's Gonzago : the story is extant, and 
written in very choice Italian : You shall see anon, 
how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's 

OPH. The king rises. 

HAM. What ! frighted with false fire ! 4 

QUEEN. How fares my lord ? 

POL. Give o'er the play. 

KING. Give me some light : away ! 

POL. Lights, lights, lights ! 5 

\JKxeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO. 

3 midnight taeeds ] The force of the epithet mid- 

mght, will be best displayed by a corresponding passage ,jn 
Macbeth : 

" Root of hemlock, digg'd i'the dark." STEEVENS. 

4 What ! frighted luithfalsejire !"] This speech is omitted ip. 
the quartos. STEEVENS. 

* Lights, lights, lights!] The quartos give this speech to 
Polonius. STEEVENS. 

In the folio All is prefixed to this speech. MA LONE. 

P 2 


H-Mf.Why, let the strucken deer go weep, 6 

1 he hart ungalled play : 
For some must watch, while some must sleep; 

Thus runs the world away. 
Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, 7 (if 
the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me, 8 ) w r ith 
two Provencial roses on my razed shoes, 9 get me a 
fellowship in a cry of players, 1 sir ? 

8 strucken deer go tueep r '] See Vol. VIII. p. 4-3, n. 8. 


7 Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, #c.] ,It appears 
from Decker's Gul's Hornbooke, that feathers were much worn 
on the stage in Shakspeare's time. MALONE. 

I believe, since the English stage began, feathers were worn 
by every company of players that could afford to purchase them. 


8 turn Turk with me,] This expression has occurred 

already in Much Ado about Nothing, and I have met with it in 
several old comedies. So, in Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614: 
" This it is to turn Turk, from an absolute and most compleat 
gentleman, to a most absurd, ridiculous, and fond lover." It 
means, I believe, no more than to change condition fantastically. 
Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 : 

" 'tis damnation, 

" If you turn Turk again." 

Perhaps the phrase had its rise from some popular story like 
that of Ward and Dansiker, the two famous pirates ; an account 
of whose overthrow was published by A. Barker, 1609: and, in 
1612, a play was written on the same subject called A Christian 
turned Turk. STEEVENS. 

9 Provencial roses on my razed shoes,~] [Old copies pro- 
vincial.'] Why provincial roses ? Undoubtedly we should read 
Provencial, or (with the French f ) Provencal. He means 
roses of Provence, a beautiful species of rose, and formerly much 
cultivated. T. WARTON. 

They are still more cultivated than any other flower of the 
same tribe. STEEVENS. 

When shoe-strings were worn, they were covered, where they 
met in the middle, by a ribband, gathered in the form of a rose. 
So, in an old Song : 

" Gil-de-Roy was a bonny boy, 

" Had roses tull his skoon." JOHNSON. 


HOR. Half a share. 

These roses are .often mentioned by our ancient dramatick 

So, in The Demi's Law-case, 1623 : 

" With overblown roses to hide your gouty ancles." 

Again, in The Roaring Girl, 1611: " many handsome 

legs in silk stockings have villainous splay-feet, for all their great 

The reading of the quartos is raz'd shoes; that of the folio 
rac'd shoes. Razed shoes may mean slashed shoes, i. e. with cuts 
or openings in them. The poet might have written raised shoes, 
i. e. shoes with high heels; such as by adding to the stature, are 
supposed to increase the dignity of a player. In Stubbs's Ana- 
tomie of Abuses, 1595, there is a chapter on the corked shoes in 
England, "which (lie says) beare them up two inches or more 
from the ground, &c. some of red, blacke, &c. razed, carved, 
cut, and stitched," &c. 

Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. IX- ch. 
xlvii : 

" Then wore they shoes of ease, now of an inch-broad, 
corked high." 

Mr. Pope reads rawea? shoes, i.e. (as interpreted by Dr. 
Johnson) "shoes braided in lines." Stowe's Chronicle, anno 
1353, mentions women's hoods reyed or striped. Raie is the 
French word for a stripe. Johnson's Collection of 'Ecclesiastical 
Laws informs us, under the years 1222 and 1353, that in dis- 
obedience of the canon, the clergy's shoes were checquered with 
red and green, exceeding long, and variously pinked. 

The reading' of the quartos may likewise receive additional 
support. Bulwer, in his Artificial Changeling, speaks of gallants 
who pink and raze their satten, damask, and Duretto skins. To 
raze and to race, alike signify to streak. See Minsheu's Diet, in 
v. To rase. The word, though diiferently spelt, is used in nearly 
the same signification in Markham's Country Farm, p. 585 : 
" baking all (i. e. wafer cakes) together between two irons, 
having within them many raced and checkered draughts after 
the manner of small squares." STEEVENS. 

1 a cry of player s,~] Allusion to a pack of hounds. 


A pack of hounds was once called a cry of hounds. So, i 
The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Shakspeare and Fletcher : 

" and well have halloo'd 

" To a deep cry of hounds." 
Again, in A Midsummer- Night's Dream: 

214 HAMLET, ACT in. 

HAM. A whole one, I.* 

For thou dost know, O Damon dear, 3 

This realm dismantled was 
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here 

A very, very peacock. 4 

a cru more tuneable 

" Was never halloo'd to, or cheer'*! with horn." 
Milton, likewise, has " A cry of hell-hounds." 


a cry of players,] A troop or company of players. So, 

in Coriolanus; 

" You have made good work, 

" You and your cry" 

Again, in a strange Horse-race, by Thomas Decker, 1613: 
" The last race they ran, (for you must know they ran many,) 
was from a cry of Serjeants." MALONE. 

* Hor. Haifa share. 
Ham. A whole one, I.] It should be, I think, 

A whole one; ay, 

For &c. 

The actors in our author's time had not annual salaries as at 
present. The whole receipts of each theatre were divided into 
shares, of which the proprietors of the theatre, or house-keepers, 
as they were called, had some ; and each actor had one or more 
shares, or part of a share, according to his merit. See The 
Account of the Ancient Theatres, Vol. III. MALONE. 

A whole one, I, in familiar language, means no more than 
' I think myself entitled to a whole one. STEEVENS. 

O Damon dear,"] Hamlet calls Horatio by this name, 
in allusion to the celebrated friendship between Damon and 
Pythias. A play on this subject was written by Richard Ed- 
wards, and published in 1582. STEEVENS. 

The friendship of Damon and Pythias is also enlarged upon 
in a book that was probably very popular in Shakspeare's youth, 
Sir Thomas Eliot's Governour, 1553. MALONE. 

4 A very, very peacock.] This alludes to a fable of the 
birds choosing a king ; instead of the eagle, a peacock. POPE. 

The old copies have it paiock, paicocke, and pajocke. I sub- 
stitute paddock, as nearest to the traces of the corrupted read- 
ing. I have, as Mr. Pope says, been willing to substitute any 
thing in the place of his peacock. He thinks a fable alluded to, 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 215 

HOR. You might have rhymed. 

HAM. O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word 
for a thousand pound. Didst perceive ? 

HOR. Very well, my lord. 

HAM. Upon the talk of the poisoning, 

HOR. I did very well note him. 

of the birds choosing a king ; instead of the eagle, a peacock. I 
suppose, he must mean the fable of Barlandus, in which it is said, 
the birds, being weary of their state of anarchy, moved for the 
setting up of a king ; and the peacock was elected on account of 
his gay feathers. But, with submission, in this passage of our 
Shakspeare, there is not the least mention made of the eagle in 
antithesis to the peacock; and it must be by a very uncommon 
figure, that Jove himself stands in the place of his bird. I 
think, Hamlet is setting his father's and uncle's characters in 
contrast to each other : and means to say, that by his father's 
death the state was stripped of a godlike monarch, and that now 
in his stead reigned the most despicable poisonous animal that 
could be ; a mere paddock or toad. PAD, btifo, rubeta major; 
a toad. This word I take to be of Hamlet's own substituting. 
The verses, repeated, seem to be from some old ballad ; in 
which, rhyme being necessary, I doubt not but the last verse 
ran thus : 

A very, very ass. THEOBALD. 

A peacock seems proverbial for a fool. Thus, Gascoigne, in 
his Weeds: 

" A theefe, a cowarde, and apeacocke foole." 


In the last scene of this Act, Hamlet, speaking of the King, 
uses the expression which Theobald would introduce : 
" Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib, 
" Such dear concernments hide?" 

The reading, peacock, which I believe to be the true one, was 
first introduced by Mr. Pope. 

Mr. Theobald is unfaithful in his account of the old copies. 
No copy of authority reads paicocke. The quarto, 1604, has 
paiock ; the folio, 1623, paiocke. 

Shakspeare, I suppose, means, that the King struts about with 
a false pomp, to which he has no right. See Florio's Italian 
Dictionary, 1568: " Pavonnegiare. To jet up and down, 
fondly gazing upon himself, as a peacock doth." MALONE. 


HAM. Ah, ha ! Come, some musick ; come, the 

For if the king like not the comedy, 

Why then, belike, 5 he likes it not, perdy. 6 


Come, some musick, 

GUIL. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with 

HAM. Sir, a whole history. 

GUIL. The king, sir, 

HAM. Ay, sir, what of him ? 

GUIL. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distem- 

HAM. With drink, sir ? 7 

GUIL. No, my lord, with choler. 

HAM. Your wisdom should show itself more 
richer, to signify this to the doctor ; for, for me to 
put him to his purgation, would, perhaps, plunge 
him into more choler. 

GuiL.Good mylord,put your discourse into some 
frame, and start not so wildly from my affair. 

HAM. I am tame, sir : pronounce. 

* Why then, belike,'] Hamlet was going on to draw the con- 
sequence, when the courtiers entered. JOHNSON. 

6 he likes it not, perdy.] Perdy is the corruption of 

far Dieu, and is not uncommon in the old plays. So, in The 
Play of the Four P's, 1569: 

" In that, you Palmer, as deputie, 

" May clearly discharge him, pardie." STEEVENS. 

7 With drink, sir f~\ Hamlet takes particular care that his 
Uncle's love of drink shall not be forgotten. JOHNSON. 

sc. u. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 217 

GUIL. The queen, your mother, in most great 
affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you. 

HAM. You are welcome. 

GUIL. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not 
of the right breed. If it shall please you to make 
me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's 
commandment : if not, your pardon, and my re- 
turn, shall be the end 01 my business. 

HAM. Sir, I cannot. 
GUIL. What, my lord ? 

HAM. Make you a wholesome answer j my wit's 
diseased : But, sir, such answer as I can make, you 
shall command ; or, rather, as you say, my mother: 
therefore no more, but to the matter : My mother, 
you say, 

Ros. Then thus she says ; Your behaviour hath 
struck her into amazement and admiration. 

HAM. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a 
mother ! But is there no sequel at the heels of 
this mother's admiration ? impart. 

Ros. She desires to speak with you in her closet, 
ere you go to bed. 

HAM. We shall obey, were she ten times our 
mother. Have you any further trade 8 with us? 

Ros. My lord, you once did love me. 

HAM. And do still, by these pickers and stealers. 9 

*, --further trade ~\ Further business; further dealing. 


* by these pickers &c.] By these hands. JOHNSON. 

By these hands, says Dr. Johnson, and rightly. But the phrase 
is taken from our church catechism, where the catechumen, in 
his duty to his neighbour, is taught to keep his hands from pick 
iitg and stealing. WHALLEY. 


Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of dis- 
temper ? you do, surely, but bar the door upon your 
own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend. 

HAM. Sir, I lack advancement. 

Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of 
the king himself for your succession in Denmark? 1 

HAM. Ay, sir, but While the grass grows, the 
proverb is something musty. 2 

Enter the Players, with Recorders. 3 

O, the recorders : let me see one. To withdraw 
with you :* Why do you go about to recover the 

1 "when you have the voice, of the king himself for your suc- 
cession in Denmark^'] See p. 35, n. 8. MALONE. 

* Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows, the proverb is some- 
thing musty.'] The remainder of this old proverb is preserved in 
Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1 578 : 

*' WTiylst grass doth growe, oft sterves the seely steede." 
Again, in The Paradise ofdaintie Devises, 1578: 
" To whom of old this proverbe well it serves, 
" While grass doth growe, the silly horse he starves." 
Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the suc- 
cession to the throne of Denmark, he may himself be taken off 
by death. MALONE. 

* Recorders.^] i. e. a kind of large flute. See Vol. IV. 

p. 4-72, n. 4. 

To record anciently signified to sing or modulate. STEEVENS. 

4 To withdraw with you :] These last words have no meaning, 
as they stand ; yet none of the editors have attempted to amend 
them. They were probably spoken to the Players, whom Ham- 
let wished to get rid of: I therefore should suppose that we 
ought to read, " so, withdraw you ;" or, " so withdraw, will 
you ?" M. MASON. 

HcreMr.Malone adds the following stage direction: [ Taking 
Guildenstern aside.] But the foregoing obscure words may refer 
to some gesture which Guildenstern had used, and which, at first, 
was interpreted by Hamlet into a signal for him to attend the 
speaker into another room. " To withdraw with you ?" (says 

sc.ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 219 

wind of me, 5 as if you would drive me into a 

GUIL. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my 
love is too unmannerly. 6 

HAM. I do not well understand that. Will you 
play upon this pipe ? 

GUIL. My lord, I cannot. 

HAM. I pray you. 

GUIL. Believe me, I cannot. 

HAM. I do beseech you. 

GUIL. I know no touch of it, my lord. 

he) Is that your meaning ? But finding his friends continue to 
move mysteriously about him, he adds, with some resentment, 
a question more easily intelligible. STEEVENS. 

4 recover the ivind of me,'] So, in an ancient MS. play 

entitled The Second Maiden's Tragedy : 

" Is that next ? 

" Why, then I have your ladyship in the wind." 


Again, in Churchyard's Worthiness of Wales: 

" Their cunning can with craft so cloke a troeth, 
" That hardly we shall have them in the tvinde, 
" To smell them forth or yet their fineness finde." 


6 0, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.'] 
i. e. if my duty to the king makes me press you a little, my love 
to you makes me still more importunate. If that makes me bold, 
this makes me even unmannerly. WARBURTON. 

I believe we should read my love is not unmannerly. My 
conception of this passage is, that, in consequence of Hamlet's 
moving to take the recorder, Guildenstern also shifts his ground, 
in order to place himself beneath the prince in his new position. 
This, Hamlet ludicrously calls "going about to recover the uind," 
&c. and Guildenstern may answer properly enough, I think, and 
like a courtier : " if my duty to the king makes me too bold in 
pressing you upon a disagreeable subject, my love to you will 
make me not unmannerly, in showing you all possible marks of 
respect and attention." TYRWHITT. 

220 HAMLET, ACT m. 

HAM. 'Tis as easy as lying : govern these ven- 
tages 7 with your fingers and thumb, 8 give it breath 
with your mouth, and it will discourse most elo- 
quent musick. Look you, these are the stops. 9 

GUIL. But these cannot I command to any ut- 
terance of harmony; I have not the skill. 

i ventages ] The holes of a flute. JOHNSON. 


and thumb,'] The first quarto reads with your jingers 

and the umber. This may probably be the ancient name for 
that piece of moveable brass at the end of a flute which is either 
raised or depressed by the finger. The word umber is used by 
Stowe the chronicler, who, describing a single combat between 
two knights, says " he brast up his umber three times." Here, 
the umber means the visor of the helmet. So, in Spenser's Fairy 
Qtieene, B. III. c. i. St. 42: 

" But the brave maid would not disarmed be, 

" But only vented up her umbriere, 

" And so did let her goodly visage to appere." 
Again, Book IV. c. iv: 

" And therewith smote him on his umbriere. 1 * 
Again, in the Second Book of Lidgate on the Trojan War, 

" Thorough the umber into Troylus' face." STEEVENS. 

If a recorder had a brass key like the German Flute, we are 
to follow the reading of the quarto ; for then the thumb is not 
concerned in the government of the ventages or stops. If a re- 
corder was like a labourer's pipe, which has no brass key, but has 
a stop for the thumb, we are to read Govern these ventages 
tvith your finger and thumb. In Cotgrave's Dictionary, ombre, 
ombrairc, ombriere, and ombrelle, are all from the Latin umbra, 
and signify a shadow, an umbrella, or any thing that shades or 
hides the face from the sun ; and hence they may have been ap- 
plied to any thing that hides or covers another; as for example, 
they may have been applied to the brass key that covers the hole 
in the German flute. So, Spenser used umbriere for the visor of 
the helmet, as Rous's History of the Kings of England uses 
umbrella in the same sense. TOLLET. 

9 the stops.] The sounds formed by occasionally stopping 

the holes, while the instrument is played upon. So, in the rro- 
logue to King Henry V ' : 

" Rumour is a pipe 

" And of so easy and so plain a stop," &c. MALONI. 

se. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 221 

HAM. Why, look you now, how unworthy a 
thing you make of me ? You would play upon me ; 
you would seem to know my stops ; you would 
pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would 
sound me from my lowest note to the top of my 
compass: and there is much musick, excellent 
voice, in this little organ ; yet cannot you make it 
speak. 'Sblood, do you think, I am easier to be 
played on than a pipe ? Call me what instrument 
you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play 
upon me. 


God bless you, sir ! 

POL. My lord, the queen would speak with you, 
and presently. 

HAM. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in 
shape of a camel ? 

POL. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed. 
HAM. Methinks, it is like a weasel. 1 

1 Methinks, &c.] This passage has been printed in modern 
editions thus : 

Ham. MelMnks, it is like an ouzle, 8$c. 
Pol. It is black like an ouzle. 

The first folio reads, It is like a weazel. 

Pol. It is back'd like a weazel : and what occasion for al- 
teration there was, I cannot discover. The weasel is remarka- 
ble for the length of its back; but though I believe a black weasel 
is not easy to be found, yet it is likely that the cloud should 
resemble a iveasel in shape, as an ouzle (i. e. black-bird) in 

Mr. Toilet observes, that we might read " it is beck'd like a 
weasel," i. e. weasel-snouted. So, in Holinshed's Description of 
England, p. 172: " if he be wesell-beched." Quarles uses this 
term of reproach in his Virgin Widow: " Go you ueazel- 
snouted, addle-pated," &c. Mr. Toilet adds, that Milton in his 


POL. It is backed like a weasel. 

HAM. Or, like a whale ? 

POL. Very like a whale. 

HAM. Then will I come to my mother by and 
by. They fool me' to the top of my bent. 2 I will 
come by and by. 

POL. I will say so. [Exit POLONIUS. 

HAM. By and by is easily said. Leave me, 
friends. [Exeunt Ros. GUIL. HOR. fyc. 

'Tis now the very witching time of night ; 
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes 

Contagion to this world : Now could I drink hot 

And do such business as the bitter day 3 

Lycidas, calls a promontory leaked, i. e. prominent like the beak 
of a bird, or a ship. STEEVENS. 

Ham. Methinks it is like a ttieazel. 

Pol. It is backed like a l weazel.~\ Thus the quarto, 1604, and 
the folio. In a more modern quarto, that of 1611, backed, the 
original reading, was corrupted into black. 

Perhaps in the original edition the words camel and ivcazel 
Were shuffled out of their places. The poet might have intended 
the dialogue to proceed thus : 

" Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in the 

shape of a ixeazel ? 

" Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a weazel, indeed. 
" Ham. Methinks, it is like a camel. 
" Pol. It is backed like a camel." 

The protuberant back of a camel seems more to resemble a 
cloud, than the back of a weazel does. MALONE. 

* They fool me to the top of my bent.~] They compel me to 
play the fool, till I can endure it no longer. JOHNSON. 

Perhaps a term in archery ; i. e . as far as the bow will admit 
of being bent without breaking. DOUCE. 

3 And do such business as the bitter day ] Thus the quarto. 
The folio reads : 

And do such bitter business as the day &c. MALONE. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 223 

Would quake to look on. Soft ; now to my mo- 

O, heart, lose not thy nature ; let not ever 
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom : 
Let me be cruel, not unnatural : 
I will speak daggers to her, 4 but use none ; 
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites : 
How in my words soever she be shent, 5 
To give them seals 6 never, my soul, consent ! 


The expression bitter business is still in use, and though at 
' present a vulgar phrase, might not have been such in the age of 
Shakspeare. The bitter day is the day rendered hateful or bitter 
by the commission of some act of mischief. 

Watts, in his Logick, says, " Bitter is an equivocal word ; 
there is bitter wormwood, there are bitter words, there are bitter 
enemies, and a bitter cold morning." It is, in short, any thing 
unpleasing or hurtful. STEEVENS. 

4 1 will speak daggers to her,"] A similar expression occurs in 
The Return from Parnassus, 1606 : " They are pestilent fellows, 
they speak nothing but bodkins." It has been already observed, 
that a bodkin anciently signified a short dagger. 

It may, however, be observed, that in the Aulularia of Plau- 
tus, Act II. sc. i. a phrase not less singular occurs : 
" ME. Quia mihi misero cerebrum excutiunt 
" Tua dicta, soror : lapides loqueris." STEEVENS. 

* be shent,] To shend, is to reprove harshly, to treat 

with rough language. So, in The Coxcomb of Beaumont and 
Fletcher : 

" We shall be shent soundly." STEEVENS. 

See Vol. XVI. p. 224, n. 2. MALONE. 

Shent seems to mean something more than reproof, by the 
following passage from The Mirror for Magistrates : Thomas 
Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, is the speaker, and he relates his 
having betrayed the Duke of Gloucester and his confederates to 
the King, " for which (says he) they were all tane and shent." 

Hamlet surely means, " however my mother may be hurt, 
tvounded, orpunish'd, by my words, let me never consent" &c. 


' To give them seals ] i. e. put them in execution. 




A Room in the same. 

KING. I like him not j nor stands it safe with us, 
To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you ; 
I your commission will forthwith despatch, 
And he to England shall along with you : 7 
The terms of our estate may not endure 
Hazard so near us, as doth hourly grow 
Out of his lunes. 8 

~ I like him not ; nor stands it safe "with us, 
To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you; 
I your commission "will forthwith despatch. 
And he to England shall along with you .-] In The Hystory 
of Hamblett, bl. 1. the King does not adopt this scheme of sending 
Hamlet to England till after the death of Polonius ; and though 
he is described as doubtful whether Polonius was slain by Hamlet, 
his apprehension lest he might himself meet the same rate as the 
old courtier, is assigned as the motive for his wishing the Prince 
out of the kingdom. This at first inclined me to think that this 
short scene, either from the negligence of the copyist or the 
printer, might have been misplaced ; but it is certainly printed 
as the author intended, for in the next scene Hamlet says to his 
mother, " I must to England; you know that," before the King 
could have heard of the death of Polonius. MA LONE. 

8 Out of his lunes.] [The folio reads Out of his lunacies.] 
The old quartos : 

Out of his brows. 

This was from the ignorance of the first editors ; as is this un- 
necessary Alexandrine, which we owe to the players. The poet, 
I am persuaded, wrote : 

as doth hourly grow 

Out of his lunes. 
i. e. lus madness, frenzy. THEOBALD. 

sc. m. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 225- 

GUIL. We will ourselves provide : 

Most holy and religious fear it is, 

I take brows to be, properly read, frows, which, I think, is a 
provincial word for perverse humours; which being, I suppose, 
not understood, was changed to lunacies. But of this I am not 
confident. JOHNSON. 

I would receive Theobald's emendation, because Shakspeare 
uses the word lunes in the same sense in The Merry Wives of 
Windsor, and The Winter's Tale. 

I have met, however, with an instance in support of Dr. 
Johnson's conjecture : 

" were you but as favourable as you arefrotvish " 

Tully's Love, by Greene, 1616. 

Froes is also used by Chapman, in his version of the sixth 
Iliad, for furious women: 

" ungodly fears 

" He put thefroes in, seiz'd their god ." 
Perhaps, however, Shakspeare designed a metaphor from 
horned cattle, whose powers of being dangerous increase with 
the growth of their brows. STEEVENS. 

The two readings of brows and lunes when taken in con- 
nection with the passages referred to by Mr. Steevens, in The 
Winter's Tale, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, plainly figure 
forth the image under which the King apprehended danger from 
Hamlet : viz. that of a bull, which, in his frenzy, might not 
only gore, but push him from his throne. " The hazard that 
hourly grows out of his BROWS" (according to the quartos) cor- 
responds to " the SHOOTS from the ROUGH PASH," [that is the 
TUFTED PROTUBERANCE on the head of a bull, from whence his 
horns spring,"] alluded to in The Winter's Tale; whilst the im- 
putation of impending danger to " his LUNES" (according to the 
other reading) answers as obviously to the jealous fury of the 
husband that thinks he has detected the infidelity of his wife. 
Thus, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: "Why, woman, your 
husband is in his old lunes he so takes on yonder with my hus- 
band ; so rails against all married mankind ; so curses all Eve's 
daughters, and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying peer 
out ! peer out ! that any madness, I ever yet beheld, seem'd but 
tameness, civility, and patience, to this distemper he is now in." 


r Shakspeare probably had here the following passage in The 
Hystory of Hamblet, bl. 1. in his thoughts : " Fengan could not 

226 HAMLET, ACT m. 

To keep those many many bodies safe, 
That live, and feed, upon your majesty. 

Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound, 
With all the strength and armour of the mind, 
To keep itself from 'noyance ; but much more 
That spirit, upon whose weal 9 depend and rest 
The lives of many. The cease of majesty 
Dies not alone ; but, like a gulf, doth draw 
What's near it, with it : it is a massy wheel, 1 
Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount, 
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things 
Are mortis'd and adjoin'd ; which, when it falls, 
Each small annexment, petty consequence, 
Attends the boist'rous ruin. Never alone 
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan. 

KING. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy 

voyage ; 

For we will fetters put upon this fear, 
Which now goes too free-footed. 

Ros. GUIL. We will haste us. 


POL. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet : 

content himselfe, but still his minde gave him that thefoole 
[Hamlet~\ would play him some trick of legerdemaine. And in 
that conceit seeking to be rid of him, determined to find the 
meanes to do it, by the aid of a stranger ; making the king of 
England minister of his massacrous resolution, to whom he pur- 
posed to send him." M ALONE. 

' That spirit, upon lahose weal ] So the quarto. The folio 

That spirit, upon whose spirit . STEEVENS. 

it is a massu 'wheel,'] Thus the folio. The quarto 
reads Or it is &c. M ALONE. 

sc. in. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 227 

Behind the arras I'll convey myself, 2 

To hear the process j I'll warrant, she'll tax him 

And, as you, said, and wisely was it said, 

'Tis meet, that some more audience, than a mo- 

Since nature makes them partial, 3 should o'erhear 

The speech, of vantage. 4 Fare you well, my liege : 

I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, 

And tell you what I know, 

KING. Thanks, dear my lord. 


O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven j 
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, 
A brother's murder ! Pray can I not, 
Though inclination be as sharp as will j 5 

4 Behind the arras Pll convey myself,"] See Vol. XI. p. 311, 
n. 9. STEEVENS. 

The arras-hangings in Shakspeare's time, were hung at such a 
distance from the walls, that a person might easily stand behind 
them unperceived. MALONE. 

3 Since nature makes them partial, &c.] 

Matres omnes filiis 

" In peccato adjutrices, auxilii in paterna injuria 
" Solent esse ." Ter. Heaut. Act. V. sc. ii. 


4 of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation 


5 Though inclination be as sharp as will ;] Dr. Warburton 
would read : 

Though inclination be as sharp as th* ill. 
The old reading is as sharp as will. STEEVENS. 

I have followed the easier emendation of Mr. Theobald, re- 
ceived by Sir T. Hanmer : i. e. as 'twill. JOHNSON. 

Will is command, direction. Thus, Ecclesiasticus, xliii. 16 
" and at his will the south wind blovveth." The King says, 



My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent ; 
And, like a man to double business bound, 
I stand in pause where I shall first begin, 
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand 
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood ? 
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens, 
To wash it white as snow ? Whereto serves mercy, 
But to confront the visage of offence ? 
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force, 
To be forestalled, ere we come to fall, 
Or pardon'd, being down ? Then I'll look up ; 
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer 
Can serve my turn ? Forgive me my foul murder ! 
That cannot be ; since I am still possess'd 
Of those effects for which I did the murder, 
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen. 
May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence ? 6 

his mind is in too great confusion to pray, even though his incli- 
nation were as strong as the command which requires that duty. 


What the King means to say, is, " That though he was not 
only willing to pray, but strongly inclined to it, yet his intention 
was defeated by his guilt." 

The distinction I have stated between inclination and will, is 
supported by the following passage in the Laws of Candy , where 
Philander says to Erato : 

" I have a will, I'm sure, howe'er my heart 
" May play the coward." M. MASON. 

* May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence ?] He that does 
not amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The King 
kept the crown from the right heir. JOHNSON. 

A similar passage occurs in Philaster, where the King, who 
had usurped the crown of Sicily, and is praying to heaven for 
forgiveness, says : 

" But IKW can I 

" Look to be heard of gods, that must be just, 
** Praying upon the ground I hold by wrong ?" 


sc. in. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 229 

In the corrupted currents of this world, 
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice ; 
And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself 
Buys out the law : But 'tis not so above : 
There is no shuffling, there the action lies 
In his true nature ; and we ourselves compell'd, 
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, 
To give in evidence. What then ? what rests ? 
Try what repentance can : What can it not ? 
Yet what can it, when one can not repent ? 7 
O wretched state ! O bosom, black as death ! 
O limed soul ; 8 that struggling to be free, 
Art more engag'd ! Help, angels, make assay ! 
Bow, stubborn knees ! and, heart, with strings of 


Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe ; 
All may be well ! [Retires, and kneels. 

Enter HAMLET. 

HAM. Now might I do it, pat, now he is pray- 
ing ; y 

And now I'll do't ; and so he goes to heaven : 
And so am I reveng'd ? That would be scann'd i 1 

7 Yet ivhat can it, tvken one can not repent ?~] What can re- 
pentance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who 
has only part of penitence, distress of conscience, without the 
other part, resolution of amendment ? JOHNSON. 

8 limed sow/;] This alludes to bird-lime. Shakspeare uses 
the same word again, in King Henry VI. P. II : 

" Madam, myself have lim'd a bush for her." 


9 pat, now he is praying ;] Thus the folio. The quartos 

read but now, &c. STEEVENS. 

1 That icould le scanned:'] i. e. that should be consi- 
dered, estimated. STEEVENS. 

230 HAMLET, ACT m. 

A villain kills my father ; and, for that, 

I, his sole son, do this same villain send 2 

To heaven. 

Why, this is hire and salary, 3 not revenge. 

He took my father grossly, full of bread ; 

With all his crimes broad blown,* as flush as May ; 

And, how his audit stands, who knows, save hea* 

venl 5 

But, in our circumstance and course of thought, 
'Tis heavy with him : And am I then reveng'd, 
To take him in the purging of his soul, 
When he is fit and season' d for his passage ? 

Up, sword ; and know thou a more horrid hent : 6 
When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage j 

* 7, his sole son, do this same villain send ] The folio reads 
foule son, a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto. 
The meaning is plain. /, his only son, who am bound to punish 
his murderer. JOHNSON. 

3 hire and salary,] Thus the folio. The quartos read 

base and silly. STEEVENS. 

4 He took my father grossly, full of bread ; 

With all his crimes broad blown,'] The uncommon expression, 
full of bread, our poet borrowed from the sacred writings : 

" Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom ; pride, 
fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in 

her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor 

and needy." Ezekiel, xvi. 49, MALONE. 

* And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven f] As it 
appears from the Ghost's own relation that he was in purgatory, 
Hamlet's doubt could only be how long he had to continue there. 


Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent :] To hent 
is used by Shakspeare for to seize, to catch, to lay hold on. Hent 
is, therefore, hold, or seizure. Lay hold on him, sword, at a, 
more horrid time. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. VI. p. 381, n. 3. STEEVENS. 


Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed ; 7 
At gaming, swearing ; 8 or about some act 
That has no relish of salvation in't : 
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven j 9 
And that his soul may be as damn'd, and black, 
As hell, whereto it goes. 1 My mother stays : 
This physick but prolongs thy sickly days. \_Exit. 

7 When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage; 

Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed;~\ So, in Marston's 
Insatiate Countess, 1613 : 

" Didst thou not kill him drunk ? 

" Thou should'st, or in th* embraces of his lust." 


* At gaming, swearing ;] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, 
reads At game, a swearing ; &c. MALONE. 

9 that his heels may kick at heaven;'] So, in Hey wood's 

Silver Age, 1613 : 

" Whose heels tript up, kicked gairist the Jirmament." 


1 As hell, thereto it goes.~] This speech, in which Hamlet, 
represented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking 
blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man that he 
would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered. 


This speech of Hamlet's, as Johnson observes, is horrible 
indeed; yet some moral may be extracted from it, as all his 
subsequent calamities were owing to this savage refinement of 
revenge. M. MASON. 

That a sentiment so infernal should have met with imitators, 
may excite surprize ; and yet the same fiend-like disposition is 
shown by Lodowick, in Webster's White Devil, or Vittoria 
Corombona, 1612: 

to have poison'd 


" The handle of his racket. O, that, that ! 
That while he had been bandying at tennis, 
He might have sworn himself to hell, and struck 
His soul into the hazard !" 
n The Honest Lawyer, by S. S. 1616: 

" I then should strike his body with his soul y 
And sink them both together." 

232 HAMLET, 

The King rises, and advances. 


KING. My words fly up, my thoughts remain 

below : 
Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go. 

Again, in the third of Beaumont and Fletcher's Four Plays in 

" No ; take him dead drunk now, 'without repentance** 


The same horrid thought has been adopted by Lewis Machin, 
in The Dumb Knight, 1633: 

" Nay, be but patient, smooth your brow a little, 
" And you shall take them as they clip each other ; 
" Even in the height of sin ; then damn them both, 
" And let them sink before they ask God pardon, 
'* That your revenge may stretch unto their souls.'* 


I think it not improbable, that when Shakspeare put this hor- 
rid sentiment into the mouth of Hamlet, he might have recol- 
lected the following story : " One of these monsters meeting his 
enemie unarmed, threatned to kill him, if he denied not God, 
his power, and essential properties, viz. his mercy, suflrance, 
&c. the which, when the other, desiring life, pronounced with 
great horror, kneeling upon his knees ; the bravo cried out, notue 
\uill I kill thy body and soule, and at that instant thrust him 
through with nis rapier." Brief Discourse of the Spanish State t 
toith a Dialogue annexed intitka Philobasilis, 4to. 1590, p. 24. 


A similar story is told in The Turkish Spy, Vol. III. p. 243. 


sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 233 


Another Room in the same. 
Enter Queen and POLONIUS. 

POL. He will come straight. Look, you lay 

home to him : 
Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear 

with ; 

And that your grace hath screened and stood be- 

Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here. 2 
Pray you, be round with him. 3 

QUEEN. I'll warrant you ; 

Fear me not : withdraw, I hear him coming. 

[POLONIUS hides himself^ 

8 I'll silence me e'en here.~\ I'll silence me even here, is, 

I'll use no more laords. JOHNSON. 

3 be round with him.'] Here the folio interposes, impro- 
perly, I think, the following speech : 

" Ham. [tVithin.'] Mother, mother, mother." 


4 Polonius hides himself,^ The concealment of Polonius in the 
Queen's chamber, during the conversation between Hamlet and 
his mother, and the manner of his death, were suggested by 
the following passage in The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. 1. sig. D 1 : 
'* The counsellour entered secretly into the queene's chamber, 
and there hid himselfe behinde the arras, and long before the 
queene and Hamlet came thither ; who being craftie and polli- 
tique, as soone as hee was within the chamber, doubting some 
treason, and fearing if he should speake severely and wisely to 
his mother, touching his secret practises, hee should be under- 
stood, and by that means intercepted, used his ordinary manner 
of dissimulation, and began to come [r. crow] like a cocke, 
beating with his arms (in such manner as cockes use to strike 

234 HAMLET, ACT m. 

Enter HAMLET. 

HAM. Now, mother ; what's the matter ? 

QUEEN. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much of- 

HAM. Mother, you have my father much of- 

QUEEN. Come, come, you answer with an idle 

HAM. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue. 

QUEEN. Why, how now, Hamlet ? 

HAM. What's the matter now ? 

QUEEN. Have you forgot me ? 

HAM. No, by the rood, not so : 

You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife ; 
And, 'would it were not so! 5 you are my mo- 

QUEEN. Nay, then I'll set those to you that can 

HAM. Come, come, and sit you down j you shall 

not budge ; 

You go not, till I set you up a glass 
Where you may see the inmost part of you. 

with their wings) upon the hangings of the chamber; whereby 
feeling something stirring under them, he cried, a rat, a rat y 
and presently drawing his sworde, thrust it into the hangings ; 
which done; pulled the counsellour (half-deade) out by the 
heeles, made an ende of killing him ; and, being slaine, cut his 
body in pieces, which he caused to be boyled, and then cast it 
into an open vault or privie." MALONE. 

* And, 'would it were not so /] The folio reads 
But would you were not so. HENDERSON. 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 235 

QUEEN. What wilt thou do ? thou wilt not mur- 
der me ? 
Help, help, ho ! 

POL. [Behind.] What, ho ! help ! 

HAM. How now ! a rat ? 6 

Dead, for a ducat, dead. 

[HAMLET makes a pass through the Arras. 

POL. [Behind.'] O, I am slain. 

[Falls, and dies. 

QUEEN. O me, what hast thou done ? 

HAM. Nay, I know not : 

Js it the king ? 

[Lifts up the Arras, and draws forth POLO- 

QUEEN. O, what a rash and bloody deed is this ! 

HAM. A bloody deed; almost as bad, good 

As kill a king, and marry with his brother. 

QUEEN. As kill a king ! 7 

6 HOIK noiv! a rat?~\ This (as Dr. Farmer has observed,) is 
an expression borrowed from The History of Hamblet, a trans- 
lation from the French of Belleforest. STEEVENS. 

7 Queen. As kill a king /] This exclamation may be consi- 
dered as some hint that the Queen had no hand in the murder of 
Hamlet's father. STEEVENS. 

It has been doubted whether Shakspeare intended to represent 
the Queen as accessary to the murder of her husband. The sur- 
prize she here expresses at the charge seems to tend to her ex- 
culpation. Where the variation is not particularly marked, we 
may presume, I think, that the poet intended to tell his story as 
it had been told before. The following extract, therefore, from 
The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. 1. relative to this point, will pro- 
bably not be unacceptable to the reader : " Fengon [the king in 
the present play] boldened and encouraged by such impunitie, 
durst venture to couple himself in marriage with her, whom he 

236 HAMLET, ACT m. 

HAM. Ay, lady, 'twas my word. 

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell! 


used as his concubine during good Horvendille's life ; in that 
sort spotting his name with a double vice, incestuous adultcrie, 
and paracide murther. This adulterer and infamous murtherer 
slaundered his dead brother, that he would have slaine his wife, 
and that bee by chance rinding him on the point ready to do it, 
in defence of the lady, had slaine him. The unfortunate and 
wicked woman that had received the honour to be the wife of 
one of the valiantest and wisest princes in the North, imbased her- 
8elfe in such vile sort as to falsifie her faith unto him, and, which 
is worse, to marrie him that had bin the tyrannous murtherer of 
her lawful husband ; which made diverse men think that she hud 
been the causer of the murther, thereby to live in her adulterie 
without controle." Hyst. of Ham b. sig. C 1. 2. 

In the conference, however, with her son, on which the pre- 
sent scene is founded, she strongly asserts her innocence with 
respect to this fact: 

*' I know well, my sonne, that I have done thee great wrong 
in marrying with Fengon, the cruel tyrant and murtherer of thy 
father, and my loyal spouse; but when thou shall consider the 
small means of resistance, and the treason of the palace, with 
the little cause of confidence we are to expect, or hope for, of 
the courtiers, all wrought to his will ; as also the power he made 
ready if I should have refused to like him ; thou wouldst rather 
excuse, than accuse me of lasciviousness or inconstancy, much 
less ofter me that wrong to suspect that ever thy mother Geruth 
once consented to the death and murther of her husband: swear- 
ing unto thee by the majestie of the gods, that if it had layne in 
me to have resisted the tyrant, although it had beene with the 
losse of my blood, yea and of my life, I would surely have saved 
the life of my lord and husband." Ibid. sig. D 4. 

It is observable, that in the drama neither the king or queen 
make so good a defence. Shakspeare wished to render them as 
odious as he could, and therefore has not in any part of the play 
furnished them with even the semblance of an excuse for their 

Though the inference already mentioned may be drawn from 
the surprize which our poet has here made the Queen express 
at being charged with the murder of her husband, it is observable 
that when the Player-Queen in the preceding scene says : 
*' In second husband let me be accurst ! 
" None wed the second, but who kiWd the fast." 


I took thee for thy better ; take thy fortune : 
Thou find'st, to be too' busy, is some danger. 

he has made Hamlet exclaim " that's wormwoods' The Prince, 
therefore, both from the expression and the words addressed 
to his mother in the present scene, must be supposed to think 
her guilty. Perhaps after all this investigation, the truth is, 
that Shakspeare himself meant to leave the matter in doubt. 


I know not in what part of this tragedy the King and Queen 
could have been expected to enter into a vindication of their 
mutual conduct. The former indeed is rendered contemptible 
as well as guilty ; but for the latter our poet seems to have felt 
all that tenderness which the Ghost recommends to the imitation 
of her son. STEEVENS. 

Had Shakspeare thought fit to have introduced the topicks I 
have suggested, can there be a doubt concerning his ability to 
introduce them ? The king's justification, if to justify had been 
the poet's object, (which it certainly was not), might have been 
made in a soliloquy; the queen's, in the present interview with 
her son. MALONE. 

It might not unappositely be observed, that every new com- 
mentator, like Sir T. Hanmer's Othello, must often " make the 
meat he feeds on." Some slight objection to every opinion al- 
ready offered, may be found ; and, if in doubtful cases we are 
to presume that " the poet tells his stories as they have been told 
before," we must put new constructions on many of his scenes, 
as well as new comments on their verbal obscurities. 

For instance touching the manner in which Hamlet disposed 
of Polonius's body. The black-letter history tells us he " cut it 
in pieces, which he caused to be boiled, and then cast it into an 
open vault or privie." Are we to conclude therefore that he did 
so in the play before us, because our author has left the matter 
doubtful ? Hamlet is only made to tell us, that this dead coun- 
sellor was "safely stowed." He afterwards adds, " you 
shall nose him" &c. ; all which might have been the case, had 
the direction of the aforesaid history been exactly followed. In 
this transaction then (which I call a doubtful one, because the 
remains of Polonius might have been rescued from t\\eforica t 
and afterwards have received their "hugger-mugger" funeral) 
am I at liberty to suppose he had had the fate of Heliogabalus, 
in cloacam missus ? 

That the Queen (who may still be regarded as innocent of 
murder) might have offered some apology for her " over-hasty 

238 HAMLET, 

Leave wringing of your hands : Peace ; sit you 


And let me wring your heart : for so I shall, 
If it be made of penetrable stuff; 
If damned custom have not braz'd it so, 
That it be proof and bulwark against sense. 

QUEEN. What have I done, that thou dar'st wag 

thy tongue 
In noise so rude against me ? 

HAM. Such an act, 

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty; 
Calls virtue, hypocrite ; takes off the rose 8 

marriage," can easily be supposed ; but Mr. Malone has not 
suggested what defence could have been set up by the royal fra- 
tricide. My acute predecessor, as well as the novellist, must 
have been aware that though female weakness, and an offence 
against the forms of the world, will admit of extenuation, such 
guilt as that of the usurper, could not have been palliated by the 
dramatick art of Shakspeare ; even if the father of Hamlet had 
been represented as a wicked instead of a virtuous character. 


8 takes off" the rose #c.] Alluding to the custom of 

wearing roses on the side of the face. See a note on a passage 
in King John, Act I. WARBURTON. 

I believe Dr. Warburton is mistaken ; for it must be allowed 
that there is a material difference between an ornament worn on 
\heforehead, and one exhibited on the side of the face. Some 
have understood these words to be only a metaphorical enlarge- 
ment of the sentiment contained in the preceding line : 

" blurs the grace and blush of modesty :" 

but as \heforehead is no proper situation for a blush to be dis- 
played in, we may have recourse to another explanation. 

It was once the custom for those who were betrothed, to wear 
some flower as an external and conspicuous mark of their mutual 
engagement. So, in Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar Jor April: 
" Bring coronations and sops in urine, 
" Worn of paramours." 

Lyte, in his Herbal, 1578, enumerates sops in wine among 
the smaller kind of single gilliflowers or pinks. 

Figure 4, in the Morrice-dance (a plate of which is annexed 

ac. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 239 

From the fair forehead of an innocent love, 

to The First Part of King Henry IV.] has a flower fixed on his 
forehead, and seems to be meant for the paramour of the female 
character. The flower might be designed for a rose, as the 
colour of it is red in the painted glass, though its form is ex- 
pressed with as little adherence to nature as that of the mary- 
gold in the hand of the lady. It may, however, conduct us to 
affix a new meaning to the lines in question. This flower, as I 
have since discovered, is exactly shaped like the sops in tvine, 
now called the Deptford Pink. 

An Address " To all Judiciall censurers," prefixed to The 
Whipper of the Satyre his Pennance in a "white Sheete, or the 
Beadle's Confutation, 1601, begins likewise thus: 

" Brave spirited gentles, on whose comely front 
" The rose of favour sits majesticall, ." 
Sets a blister there, has the same meaning as in Measure for 
Measure : 

" Who falling in the flaws of her own youth, 
" Hath blister'd her report." 
See Vol. VI. p. 262, n. 2. STEEVENS. 

I believe, by the rose was only meant the roseate hue. The 
forehead certainly appears to us an odd place for the hue of in- 
nocence to dwell on, but Shakspeare might place it there with 
as much propriety as a smile. In Troilus and Cressida we find 
these lines : 

" So rich advantage of a promised glory, 

" As smiles upon theforehead of this action." 
That part of the forehead which is situated between the eye- 
brows, seems to have been considered by our poet as the seat of 
innocence and modesty. So, in a subsequent scene ; 

" . -brands the harlot, 

" Even here, between the chaste and unsmirch'd Irona 

" Of my true mother." MALONE. 

In the foregoing quotation from Troilus and Cressida, I un- 
derstand that the forehead is smiled upon by advantage, and not 
that the forehead is itself the smiler. Thus, says Laertes in the 
play before us : 

" Occasion smiles upon a second leave. 19 

But it is not the leave that smiles, but occasion that smiles upon 

In the subsequent passage, our author had no choice; for having 
alluded to that part of the face which was anciently branded with 
a mark of shame, he was compelled to place his token of inno- 
cence in a corresponding situation. STEEVENS. 

240 HAMLET, 

And sets a blister there ; makes marriage vows 

As false as dicers' oaths : O, such a deed 

As from the body of contraction 9 plucks 

The very soul ; and sweet religion makes 

A rhapsody of words : Heaven's face doth glow ; 

Yea, this solidity and compound mass, 

With tristful visage, as against the doom, 

Is thought-sick at the act. 1 

9 from the body of contraction ] Contraction for mar- 
riage contract.'} WARBURTON. 

1 Heaven's face doth glow; 

Yea, this solidity and compound mass, 
With tristful visage, as against the doom, 
Is thought-tick at the act.} If any sense can be found here, 
it is this. The sun glows [and does it not always ?] and the very 
solid mass of earth has a tristful visage, and is thought-sick. All 
this is sad stuff. The old quarto reads much nearer to the poet's 

Heaven's face does glow, 
O'er this solidity and compound mass, 
With heated visage, as against the doom, 
Is thought-sick at the act. 

From whence it appears, that Shakspeare wrote, 
Heaven's face doth glow, 
O'er this solidity and compound mass, 
With tristful visage; and, ns 'gainst the doom, 
Is thought-sick at the act. 

This makes a fine sense, and to this effect. The sun looks upon 
our globe, the scene of this murder, with an angry and mournful 
countenance, half hid in eclipse, as at the day of doom. 


The word heated, though it agrees well enough with glow, is, 
I think, not so striking as tristful, which was, I suppose, chosen 
at the revisal. I believe the whole passage now stands as the 
author gave it. Dr. Warburton's reading restores two impro- 
prieties, which Shakspeare, by his alteration, had removed. In 
the first, and in the new reading, Heaven's face glows with trist- 
ful visage ; and, Heaven's face is thought-sick. To the common 
reading there is no just objection. JOHNSON. 

- 1 am strongly inclined to think that the reading of the quarto, 
1604, is the true one. In Shakspeare's licentious diction, the 

ac. ir. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 241 

QUEEN. Ah me, what act, 

That roars so loud, 2 and thunders in the index ? 3 

HAM. Look here, upon this picture, and on thisj 4 

meaning may be, The face of heaven doth glow with heated 
visage over the earth : and heaven as against the day of judge- 
ment, is thought-sick at the act. 

Had not our poet St. Luke's description of the last day in his 
thoughts? "And there shall be signs in the sun and in the 
moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, 
with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring : men's hearts 
failing them for fear, and for looking on those things which are 
coming on the earth ; for the powers of heaven shall be 
shaken," &c. MALONE. 

2 That roars so loud,] The meaning is, What is this act, of 
which the discovery, or mention, cannot be made, but with this 
violence of clamour ? JOHNSON. 

3 and thunders in the index?] Mr. Edwards observes, 

that the indexes of many old books were at that time inserted at 
the beginning, instead of the end, as is now the custom. This 
observation I have often seen confirmed. 

So, in Othello, Act II. sc. vii : " an index and obscure 

prologue to the history of lust and foul thoughts." STEEVENS. 

Bullokar in his Expositor, 8vo. 1616, defines an Index by "A 
table in a booke." The table was almost always prefixed to the 
books of our poet's age. Indexes, in the sense in which we 
now understand the word, were very uncommon. MALONE. 

4 Look here, upon this picture, and on this;~\ It is evident 
from the following words, 

" A station, like the herald Mercury," &c. 
that these pictures, which are introduced as miniatures on the 
stage, were meant for whole lengths, being part of the furniture 
of the Queen's closet : 

" like Maia's son he stood, 

" And shook his plumes." Paradise Lost, Book V. 
Hamlet, who, in a former scene, has censured those who 
gave" forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece" for his uncle's "pic- 
ture in little," would hardly have condescended to carry such 
a thing in his pocket. STEEVENS. 

The introduction of miniatures in this place appears to be a 
modern innovation. A print prefixed to Rowe's edition of 
Hamlet, published in 1 709, proves this. There, the ^wo royal 



The counterfeit presentment of two brothers. 
See, what a grace was seated on this brow : 
Hyperion's curls; 5 the front of Jove himself; 
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command ; 
A station like the herald Mercury, 6 

portraits are exhibited as half-lengths, hanging in the Queen's 
closet; and eithertlms, or as whole-lengths, they probably were 
exhibited from the time of the original performance of this tra- 
gedy to the death of Betterton. To half-lengths, however, the 
same objection lies, as to miniatures. MA LONE. 

We may also learn, that from this print the trick of kicking 
the chair down on the appearance of the Ghost, was adopted by 
modern Hamlets from the practice of their predecessors. 


5 Hyperion's curls;'] It is observable, that Hyperion is used 
by Spenser with the same error in quantity. FARMER. 

I have never met with an earlier edition of Marston's Insatiate 
Countess than that in 1613. In this the following lines oc- 
cur, which bear a close resemblance to Hamlet's description of 
his father : 

** A donative he hath of every god ;. 

" Apollo gave him locks, Jove his highbrow*." 

" dignos et Apolline crines." 
Ovid's Metam. B. III. thus translated by Golding, 1587 : 

" And haire that one might worthily Apollo's haire it 
deeme." STEEVENS. 

* A station like the herald Mercury, #c.] Station, in this in- 
stance, does not mean the spot 'where any one is placed, but the 
act of standing. So, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. sc. iii : 

" Her motion and her station are as one." 
On turning to Mr. Theobald's first edition, I find that he had. 
made the same remark, and supported it by the same instance. 
The observation is necessary, for otherwise the compliment de- 
signed to the attitude of the King, would be bestowed on the 
place where Mercury is represented as standing. STEEVENS. 

In the first scene of Timon of Athens, the poet, admiring a 
picture, introduces the same image : 

" How this grace 

44 Speaks his own standing /" MALONE. 

I think it not improbable that Shakspeare caught this image 


New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill ; 7 

A combination, and a form, indeed, 

Where every god did seem to set his seal, 

To give the world assurance of a man : 

This was your husband. Look you now, what 

follows : 

Here is your husband ; like a mildew' d ear, 
Blasting his wholesome brother. 8 Have you eyes? 
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, 
And batten 9 on this moor ? Ha ! have you eyes ? 

from Phaer's translation of Virgil, (Fourth JEneid,} a book that 
without doubt he had read : 

" And now approaching neere, the top he seeth and 

mighty Jims 
" Of Atlas, mountain tough, that iheaven on boyst'rous 

shoulders beares; 

*' There Jirst on ground with wings of might doth Mer- 
cury arrive, 
" Then down from thence right over seas himselfe doth 

headlong drive." 

In the margin are these words : " The description of Mercury's 
journey from heaven, along the mountain Atlas in Afrike, highest 
on earth." MALONE. 

7 heaven-kissing hill;"] So, in Troilus and Cressida: 

" Yon towers whose wanton tops do buss the clouds." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the fourteenth Iliad : 

" A fir itwas that shot pastair,and kiss'dthe burnings/^." 


like a mildew'd ear, 

Blasting his tvholesome brother.'] This alludes to Pharaoh's 
Dream, in the 41st chapter of Genesis. STEEVENS. 

9 batten ] i. e. to grow fat. So, in Claudius Tiberius 

Nero, 1607 : 

an( j f or m ilk 

" I batten 1 d was with blood." 
Again, in Marlowe's Jew of Malta, 1633 : 

" make her round and plump, 

" And batten more than you are aware." 
Bat is an ancient word for increase. Hence the adjective hat- 
ful, so often used by Drayton in his Polyolbion. STEEVENS. 

R 2 

244 HAMLET, ACT in. 

You cannot call it, love : for, at your age, 
The hey-day in the blood 1 is tame, it's humble, 
And waits upon the judgment; And what judgment 
Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you 

have, f 
Else, could you not have motion : 2 But, sure, that 


1 The hey-day intke blood ] This expression occurs in Ford's 
'Tis Pity she's a Whore, 1633: 


" The hey-day of your luxury be fed 
" Up to a surfeit ?" STEJEVENS. 

2 Sense, sure, you have, 

Else, could you not have motion :] But from what philoso- 
phy our editors learnt this, I cannot tell. Since motion depends 
so little upon sense, that the greatest part of motion in the uni- 
verse, is amongst bodies devoid of sense. We should read : 

Else, could you not have notion. 

i. e. intellect, reason, &c. This alludes to the famous peripate- 
tic principle of Nil Jit in intellectu, quod non Juerit in sensu. 
And how fond our author was of applying, and alluding to, the 
principles of this philosophy, we have given several instances. 
The principle in particular has been since taken for the founda- 
tion of one of the noblest works that these latter ages have pro- 
duced. WARBURTONr 

The whole passage is wanting in the folio ; and which soever 
of the readings be the true one, the poet was not indebted to 
this boasted philosophy for his choice. STEEVENS. 

Sense is sometimes used by Shakspeare for sensation or sen- 
sual appetite ; as motion is the effect produced by the impulse of 
nature. Such, I think, is the signification of these words here. 
So, in Measure for Measure: 

" she speaks, and 'tis 

" Such sense, that my sense breeds with it." 
Again, more appositely in the same play, where both the words 
occur : 

" One who never feels 

" The wanton stings and motions of the sense" 
So, in Braithwaite's Survey of Histories, 1614: " These con- 
tinent relations will reduce the straggling motions to a more 
settled and retired harbour." 

*C7. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 245 

Is apoplex'd : for madness would not err; 

Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall* d, 

But it reserv'd some quantity of choice, 

To serve in such a difference. What devil was't, 

That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind ? 3 

Eyes without feeling, 4 feeling without sight, 

Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all, 

Or but a sickly part of one true sense 

Could not so mope. 5 

O shame ! where is thy blush ? Rebellious hell, 

If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones, 6 

Sense has already been used in this scene, for sensation ? 
" That it be proof and bulwark against sense." 


3 at hoodman-blind ?] This is, I suppose, the same as 

blindman' s-bujf. So, in Th" Wise Woman of ' Hogsden, 1638: 

" Why should I play at hood-man blind?" 

Again, in Two Lamentable Tragedies in One, the One a Mur- 
der of Master Beech, &c. 1601 : 

" Pick out men's eyes, and tell them that's the sport 

" Of hood-man blind." STEEVENS. 

4 Eyes without feeling, &c.] This and the three following 
lines are omitted in the folio. STEEVENS. 

6 Could not so mope.} ' e> could not exhibit such marks of 
stupidity. The same word is used in The Tempest, sc. ult : 
" And were brought moping hither." STEEVENS. 

6 Rebellious hell, 

If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones, &c.] Thus the old 
copies. Shakspeare calls mutineers, mutines, in a subsequent 
scene. STEEVENS. 

So, in Othello : 

" this hand of yours requires 

" A sequester from liberty, fasting and prayer, 

" Much castigation, exercise devout ; 

** For here's a young and sweating devil here, 

" That commonly rebels." 
To mutine, for which the modern editors have substituted 

mutiny, was the ancient term, signifying to rise in mutiny. So, 
in Knolles's History of the Turks, 1603: " The Janisaries be- 

246 HAMLET, ACT in. 

To flaming youth let virtue be as wax, 
And melt in her own fire : proclaim no shame, 
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge; 
Since frost itself as actively doth burn, 
And reason panders will. 7 

QUEEN. O Hamlet, speak no more : 

Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul ; 
And there I see such black and grained 8 spots, 
As will not leave their tinct. 9 

HAM. Nay, but to live 

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed j 1 

came wonderfully discontented, and began to mutine in diverse 
places of the citie." MALONE. 

7 reason panders will.'] So the folio, I think, rightly; 

but the reading of the quarto is defensible : 

reason pardons will, JOHNSON. 

Panders was certainly Shakspeare's word. So, in Venus and 
Adonis : 

" When reason is the bawd to lust's abuse." MALONE. 

grained ] Died in grain. JOHNSON. 

I am not quite certain that the epithet grained, is justly in- 
terpreted. Our author employs the same adjective in The Co- 
medy of Errors : 

" Though now this grained face of mine be hid," &c. 
and in this instance the allusion is most certainly to the furrows 
in the grain of wood. 

Shakspeare might therefore design the Queen to say, that her 
spots of guilt were not merely superficial, but indented. A pas- 
sage, however, in Twelfth- Night, will sufficiently authorize Dr. 
Johnson's explanation : " 'Tis in grain, sir, 'twill endure wind 
and weather." STEEVENS. 

9 As will not leave their tinct. ~\ To leave is to part with, give 
up, resign. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : 

" It seems, you lov'd her not, to leave her token." 
The quartos read : 

As will leave there their tinct. STEEVENS. 

1 enseamed bed;~] Thus the folio: i. e. greasy bed. 


sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 247 

Stew'd in corruption; honeying, and making love 
Over the nasty stye ; 

QUEEN. O, speak to me no more ; 

These words, like daggers enter in mine ears ; 
No more, sweet Hamlet. 

HAM. A murderer, and a villain : 

A slave, that is not twentieth part the tythe 
Of your precedent lord : a vice of kings : 2 
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule ; 
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole, 5 
And put it in his pocket I 

Thus also the quarto, 1604. Beaumont and Fletcher use the 
word inseamed in the same sense, in the third of their Four Plays 
in One; 

" His leachery inseam'd upon him." 

In The Book of Hauhyng, &c. bl. 1. no date, we are told that 
" Ensayme of a hauke is the grece." 

In Handle Holme's Academy of Armory and Blazon, B. II. 
ch. ii. p. 238, we are told that " Enseame is the purging of a 
hawk from her glut and grease." From the next page in the 
same work, we learn that the glut is " a slimy substance in the 
belly of the hawk." 

In some places it means hogs' lard, in others, the grease or 
oil with which clothiers besmear their wool to make it draw out 
in spinning. 

Incestuous is the reading of the quarto, 1611. STEEVENS. 

In the West of England, the inside fat of a goose, when dis- 
solved by heat, is called its seam ; and Shakspeare has used the 
word in the same sense in his Troilus and Cressida .- 

" shall the proud lord, 

" That bastes his arrogance with his own seam. 11 


z vice of kings:'] A low mimick of kings. The vice is 

the fool of a farce ; from whence the modern^w/zcA is descended. 


3 That from a shelf &c.] This is said not unmeaningly, but 
to show, that the usurper came not to the crown by any glo- 
rious villainy that carried danger with it, but by the low cow- 
ardly theft of a common pilferer. WARBURTON. 

248 HAMLET, ACT m. 

QUEEN. No more. 

Enter Ghost. 

HAM. A king 

Of shreds and patches :* 
Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings, 
You heavenly guards ! What would your gracious 
figure ? 

QUEEN. Alas, he's mad. 

HAM. Do you not come your tardy son to chide, 
That, laps'd in time and passion, 5 lets go by 
The important acting of your dread command? 
O, say! 

GHOST. Do not forget : This visitation 
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. 
But, look ! amazement on thy mother sits : 
O, step between her and her fighting soul ; 
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works ; 6 
Speak to her, Hamlet. 

HAM. How is it with you, lady? 

QUEEN. Alas, how is't with you ; 
That you do bend your eye on vacancy, 
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse ? 

4 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. JOHNSON. 

* laps'd in time and passion,] That, having suffered 

time to slip, and passion to cool, lets go &c. JOHNSON. 

8 Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works;] Conceit for i/wa- 

So, in The Rape ofLucrece : 

" And the conceited painter was so nice." MALONE. 

See Romeo and Juliet, Act II. sc. vi. 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 249 

Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep ; 
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm, 
Your bedded hair, like life ^n excrements, 7 
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son, 
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper 
Sprinkle cool patience. 8 Whereon do you look ? 

HAM. On him ! on him ! Look you, how 

pale he glares! 

His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,* 
Would make them capable. 1 Do not look upon 


7 like life in excrements,] The hairs are excrementitious, 

that is, without life or sensation; yet those very hairs, as if they 
had life, start up, &c. POPE. 

So, in Macbeth : 

" The time has been 

" my fell of hair, 

" Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir, 
" As life were in't." MALONE. 


Not only the hair of animals having neither life nor sensation 
was called an excrement, but the feathers of birds had the same 
appellation. Thus, in Izaac Walton's Complete Angler, P. I. 
c. i. p. 9, edit. 1766: " I will not undertake to mention the se- 
veral kinds of fowl by which this is done, and his curious palate 
pleased by day ; and which, with their very excrements, afford 
him a soft lodging at night." WHALLEY. 

9 Upon the heat andjlame of thy distemper 

Sprinkle cool patience, ,] This metaphor seems to have been 

suggested by an old black letter novel, (already quoted in a note 

on The Merchant of Venice, Act III. sc. ii.) Green's History of 

the fair Bellora : " Therefore slake the burning heate of thy 

flaming affections, with some drops of cooling moderation." 


9 preaching to stones,~\ Thus, in Sidney's Arcadia, 

Lib. V : " Their passions then so swelling in them, they would 
have made auditors of stones, rather than" &c. STEEVENS. 

His form and cause conjoin' d, preaching to stones, 
Would make them capable.] Capable here signifies intelli- 
gent; endued with understanding. So, in King Richard III ; 


Lest, with this piteous action, you convert 

My stern effects : 2 then what I have to do 

Will want true colour j tears, perchance, for blood. 

QUEEN. To whom do you speak this ? 

HAM. Do you see nothing there ? 

QUEEN. Nothing at all ; yet all, that is, I see. 

HAM. Nor did you nothing hear ? 

QUEEN. No, nothing, but ourselves. 

HAM. Why, look you there ! look, how it steals 

away ! 

My father, in his habit as he hVd ! 3 
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal ! 

{Exit Ghost. 

QUEEN. This is the very coinage of your brain : 

O, 'tis a parlous boy, 

" Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable." 
We yet use capacity in this sense. See also Vol. XV. p. 187, 
&c. n. 2. MALONE. 

* My stern effects :] Effects for actions ; deeds effected. 


3 My father , in his habit as he /zVc?/] If the poet means by 
this expression, that his father appeared in his own familiar ha- 
bit, he has either forgot that he had originally introduced him in 
armour, or must have meant to vary his dress at this his last ap- 
pearance. Shakspeare's difficulty might perhaps be a little ob- 
viated by pointing the line thus : 

My father in his habit 05 he liv'd! STEEVENS. 

A man's armour, who is used to wear it, may be called his 
habit, as well as any other kind of clothing. As he lived, pro- 
bably means " as if he were alive as if he lived." 


At if is frequently so used in these plays ; but this interpre- 
tation does not entirely remove the difficulty which has been 
stated. MALONE. 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 251 

This bodiless creation ecstasy 
Is very cunning in. 4 

HAM. Ecstasy! 

My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time, 
And makes as healthful musick : It is not madness, 
That I have utter* d : bring me to the test, 
And I the matter will re-word ; which madness 
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, 
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul, 
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks : 
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place ; 5 
Whiles rank corruption, mining all within, 
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven ; 
Repent what's past ; avoid what is to come ; 
And do not spread the compost on the weeds, 6 
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue: 
For in the fatness of these pursy times, 
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg ; 
Yea, curb 7 and woo, for leave to do him good. 

4 This is the very coinage of your brain : 
This bodiless creation ecstasy 

Is very cunning in.~\ So, in The Rape of Lucrece : 
" Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries." 


Ecstasy in this place, and many others, means a temporary 
alienation of mind, a fit. So, in Eliosto Libidinoso, a novel, by 

John Hinde, 1606 : " that bursting out of an ecstasy 

wherein she had long stood, like one beholding Medusa's head, 
lamenting" &c. STEEVENS. 

See Vol. X. p. 162, n. 2. MALONE. 

* skin andjilm the ulcerous place ;] The same indelicate 

allusion occurs in Measure for Measure ; 

" That skins the vice o'the top." STEEVENS. 

do not spread the compost &c.] Do not, by any new 

indulgence, heighten your former offences. JOHNSON. 

7 curb ] That is, bend and truckle, Fr. courier. So, in 

Pierce Plotuman : 

" Then I courbid on my knees," &c. STEEVENS. 

2.52 HAMLET, ACT ///. 

QUEEN. O Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in 

HAM. O, throw away the worser part of it, 
And live the purer with the other half. 
Good night : but go not to my uncle's bed ; 
Assume a virtue, if you have it not. 
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat 
Of habit's devil, is angel yet in this ; 8 
That to the use of actions fair and good 
He likewise gives a frock, or livery, 
That aptly is put on : Refrain to-night ; 
And that shall lend a kind of easiness 
To the next abstinence : the next more easy : 9 
For use almost can change the stamp of nature, 
And either curb the devil, 1 or throw him out 

* That monster, custom, -who all sense doth eat 

Of habit's devil, e ang-l yet in t'i's;'] This passage is left 
out in the two elder folios : it is certainly corrupt, and the players 
did the discreet part to stifle what they did not understand. 
Habit's devil certainly arose from some conceited tamperer with 
the text, who thought it was necessary, in contrast to angel. The 
emendation in my text I owe to the sagacity of Dr. Thirlby : 
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat 
Of habits evil, is angel &c. THEOBALD. 

I think Thirlby 's conjecture wrong, though the succeeding edi- 
tors have followed it ; angel and devil are evidently op .osed. 


I incline to think with Dr. Thirlby ; though I have left the 
text undisturbed. From That monster to put on, is not in the 
folio. M ALONE. 

I would read Or habit's devil. The poet first styles custom 
a monster, and may aggravate and amplify his description by 
adding, that it is the "daemon who presides over habit."- That 
monster custom, or habit's devil, is yet an angel in this particular. 


the next more easy:~\ This passage, as far as potency, 
is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS. 

1 And either curb the devil, &c.] In the quarto, where alone 


With wondrous potency. Once more, goodnight! 
And when you are desirous to be bless'd, 
I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord, 

[Pointing to POLONIUS. 

I do repent : But heaven hath pleas'd it so, 
To punish me with this, and this with me, 2 
That I must be their scourge and minister. 
I will bestow him, and will answer well 
The death I gave him. So, again, good night! 
I must be cruel, only to be kind : 3 
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind. 

this passage is found, some word was accidentally omitted at the 
press in the line before us. The quarto, 1604, reads: 

And either the devil, or throw him out &c. ' 
For the insertion of the word curb I am answerable. The 
printer or corrector of a later quarto, finding the line nonsense, 
omitted the word either, and substituted master in its place. The 
modern editors have accepted the substituted word, and yet re- 
tain either; by which the metre is destroyed. The word omitted 
in the first copy was undoubtedly a monosyllable. M ALONE. 

This very rational conjecture may be countenanced by the 
same expression in The Merchant of Venice: 

" And curb this cruel devil of his will." STEEVENS. 

* To punish me "with this, and this ivith me,~] To punish me 
by making me the instrument of this man's death, and to punish 
this man by my hand. For this, the reading of both the quarto 
and folio, Sir T. Hanmer and the subsequent editors have sub- 

To punish him with me, and me ix>ith him. MALONE. 

I take leave to vindicate the last editor of the octavo Shak- 
spearefrom any just share in the foregoing accusation. Whoever 
looks into the edition 1785, will see the line before us printed 
exactly as in this and Mr. Malone's text. In several preceding 
instances a similar censure on the same gentleman has been as 
undeservedly implied. STEEVENS. 

3 / must be cruel, only to be kind :] This sentiment resembles 
the -facto pins, ct sceleratus eodem, of Ovid's Metamorphosis, B. 
III. It is thus translated by Golding : 

" For which he might both justly fcinde, and cruel called 
bee." STEEVENS. 


But one word more, good lady. 4 

. QUEEN. What shall I do ? 

HAM. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do : 
Let the bloat king 5 tempt you again to bed ; 
Pinch wanton on your cheek ; callyou, his mouse ; 6 
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses, 7 

4 But one "word more, &c.~] This passage I have restored from 
the quartos. For the sake of metre, however, I have supplied 
the conjunction But. STEEVENS. 

* Let the bloat Icing ~] i- e - the swollen king. Bloat is the 
reading of the quarto, 1604. MALONE. 

This again hints at his intemperance. He had already drank 
himself into a dropsy. BLACKSTONE. 

The folio reads blunt king. HENDERSON. 

his mouse ;] Mouse was once a term of endearment. 

So, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II. ch. xvi: 

" God bless thee mouse, the bridegroom said," &c. 
Again, in the Mentechmi, 1595 : " Shall I tell thee, sweet 
mouse? I never look upon thee, but I am quite out of love with 
my wife." 

Again, in Churchyard's Spider and Gcruit, 1575 : 
" She wan the love of all the house, 
" And pranckt it like a pretty mouse." 

Again, in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632,p. 527 : 
" pleasant names may be invented, bird, mouse, lamb, pus, 
pigeon," &c. STEEVENS. 

This term of endearment is very ancient, being found in A 
new and merry enter lude, called the Trial of Treasure, 1567: 
" My mouse, my nobs, my cony sweete ; 
" My hope and joye, my whole delight." MALONE. 

7 reechy kisses,] Reechy is smoky. The author meant to 

convey a coarse idea, and was not very scrupulous in his choice 
of an epithet. The same, however, is applied with greater pro- 
priety to the neck of a cook-maid in Coriolanus. Again, in 
Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Comedy, 1618: 

" bade him go 

" And wash his face, he look'd so rcechily, 
" Like bacon hanging on the chimney's roof." 


sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 255 

Or padling in your neck with his damn'd fingers, 

Make you to ravel all this matter out, 

That I essentially am not in madness, 

But mad in craft. 8 'Twere good, you let him know : 

Reechy properly means steaming with exsudation, and seems 
to have been selected, to convey, in this place, its grossest import. 


Reechy includes, I believe, heat as well as smoke. The verb 
to reech, which was once common, was certainly a corruption of 
to reek. In a former passage Hamlet has remonstrated with 
his mother, on her living 

" In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed." MALONE. 

Reeky most certainly was not designed by our author to convey 
the idea of heat, being employed by him in Romeo and Juliet, to 
signify the chill damp of human bones in a sepulchre : 

" reeky shanks, and yellow chapless sculls." 


8 That I essentially am not in madness, 

But mad in craft. ] The reader will be pleased to see Dr. 
Farmer's extract from the old quarto Historic of Hamblet, of 
which he had a fragment only in his possession: " It was not 
without cause, and just occasion, that my gestures, countenances, 
and words, seeme to proceed from a madman, and that I desire 
to haue all men esteeme mee wholly depriued of sense and rea- 
sonable understanding, bycause I am well assured, that he that 
hath made no conscience to kill his owne brother, (accustomed 
to murthers, and allured with desire of gouernement without 
controll in his treasons) will not spare to saue himselfe with the 
like crueltie, in the blood and flesh of the loyns of his brother, 
by him massacred ; and therefore it is better for me to fayne mad- 
nesse, then to use my right sences as nature hath bestowed them 
upon me. The bright shining clearnes thereof I am forced to 
hide vnder this shadow of dissimulation, as the sun doth hir 
beams under some great cloud, when the wether in summer-time 
ouercasteth : the face of a madman serueth to couer my gallant 
countenance, and the gestures of a fool are fit for me, to the end 
that, guiding myself wisely therein, I may preserue my life for 
the Danes and the memory of my late deceased father ; for that 
the desire of reuenging his death is so ingraven in my heart, that 
if I dye not shortly, I hope to take such and so great vengeance, 
that thesecountryes shall for euer speake thereof. Neuerthelesse 
I must stay the time, meanes, and occasion, lest by making ouer- 
great hast, I be now the cause of mine own sodaine ruine and 

256 HAMLET, ACT m. 

For who, that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise, 
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib, 9 
Such dear concernings hide ? who would do so ? 
No, in despite of sense, and secrecy, 
Unpeg the basket on the house's top, 
Let the birds fly ; l and, like the famous ape, 
To try conclusions, 2 in the basket creep, 
And break your own neck down. 

QUEEN. Be thou assur'd, if words be made of 


And breath of life, I have no life to breathe 
What thou hast said to me. 

HAM. I must to England ; 3 you know that ? 

ouerthrow, and by that meanes end, before I bcginne to effect my 
hearts desire : hee that hath to doe with a wicked, disloyal!, 
cruell, and discourteous man, must vse craft, and politike inuen- 
tions, such as a fine witte can best imagine, not to discover his 
interprise; for seeing that by force I cannot effect my desire, 
reason alloweth me by dissimulation, subtiltie, and secret prac- 
tises to proceed therein." STEEVENS. 

9 a gib,] So, in Drayton's Epistle from Elinor Cobham 

to Duke Humphrey : 

" And call me beldam, gib, witch, night-mare, trot." 
Gib was a common name for a cat. So, in Chaucer's Ro- 
rn.av.nt of the Rose, ver. 6204 : 

" gibbe our cat, 

" That waiteth mice and rats to killen." STEEVENS. 

See Vol. XI. p. 200, n. 7. MAI.ONE. 

' Unpeg the basket on the house's top, 

Let the birds Jly ;~] Sir John Suckling, in one of his letters, 

may possibly allude to the same story : " It is the story of the 

jackanapes and the partridges ; thou starest after a beauty till it 

be lost to thee, and then let'st out another, and starest after that 

till it is gone too." WARNER. 

To try conclusions, ] i. e. experiments. See Vol. VII. p. 
266, n. 3. STEEVENS. 

3 I must to England;] Shakspeare does not inform us how 
Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England. Rosen- 

sc. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 257 

QUEEN. Alack, 

I had forgot ; 'tis so concluded on. 

HAM. There's letters seal'd:* and my two 


Whom I will trust, as I will adders fang'd, 5 . 
They bear the mandate ; they must sweep my way, 6 
And marshal me to knavery: Let it work; 
For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer 
Hoist 7 with his own petar : and it shall go hard, 
But I will delve one yard below their mines, 
And blow them at the moon : O, 'tis most sweet, 
When in one line two crafts directly meet. 8 

crantz and Guildenstern were made acquainted with the King's 
intentions for the first time in the very last scene ; and they do 
not appear to have had any communication with the Prince since 
that time. Add to this, that in a subsequent scene, when the 
King, after the death of Polonius, informs Hamlet he was to go 
to England, he expresses great surprize, as if he had not heard 
any thing of it before This last, however, may, perhaps, be 
accounted for, as contributing to his design of passing for a 
madman. MALONE. 

4 There* s letters seal'd: &c.] The nine following verses are 
added out of the old edition. POPE. 

* adders fang'd,] That is, adders with their fangs or 

poisonous teeth, undrawn. It has been the practice of mounte- 
banks to boast the efficacy of their antidotes by playing with 
vipers, but they first disabled their fangs. JOHNSON. 

6 they must sweep my tuay, &c.] This phrase occurs 

again in Antony and Cleopatra: 

" some friends, that will 

" Sweep your 'way for you." STEEVENS. 

7 Hoist &c.] Hoist, for hoised ; as past, for passed. 


8 When in one line two crafts directly meet."] Still alluding to 
a countermine. MALONE. 

The same expression has already occurred in K. John, Act IV. 
speech ult: 

" Now powers from home, and discontents at home, 
" Meet in one line" STEEVENS. 

258 HAMLET, ACT in. 

This man shall set me packing. 
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room : 9 
Mother, good night. Indeed, this counsellor 
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave, 
Who was in life a foolish, prating knave. 
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you : ' 
Good night, mother. 

[j&xeunt severally ; HAMLET dragging in 

9 Pll lug the guts into the neighbour room:'] A line somewhat 
similar occurs in King Henry VI. P. Ill: 

" I'll throw thy body in another room, ." 

The word, guts was not anciently so offensive to delicacy as it 
is at present ; but was used by Lyly (who made the Jirst attempt 
to polish our language) in his serious compositions. So, in his 
My das t 1592: " Could not the treasure of Phrygia, nor the 
tributes of Greece, nor mountains in the East, whose guts are 
gold, satisfy thy mind?" In short, guts was used where we 
now use entrails. Stanyhurst often has it in his translation of 
Virgil, 1582: 

Pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta. 

*' She weenes her fortune by guts hoate smoakye to 

Again, in Chapman's version of the sixth Iliad: 

" in whose guts the king of men imprest 

** His ashen lance ; ." STEEVENS. 

1 Come, sir, to draw toward an end tvith 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 conse- 
quence. STEEVENS. 


,-.. i,, 


Tlie same. 

Enter King, Queen, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUIL- 


KING. There's matter in these sighs ; these pro- 

found heaves ; 

You must translate : 'tis fit we understand them : 
Where is your son ? 

QUEEN. Bestow this place on us a little while. 3 - 

go out. 
Ah, my good lord, 4 what have I seen to-night ! 

KING. What, Gertrude ? How does Hamlet ? 

QUEEN. Mad as the sea, and wind, when both 

contend 5 
Which is the mightier : In his lawless fit, 

* Act IV.~\ This play is printed in the old editions without 
any separation of the Acts. The division is modern and arbi- 
trary ; and is here not very happy, for the pause is made at a 
time when there is more continuity of action than in almost any 
other of the scenes. JOHNSON. 

3 BestotK this place on us a little tvhile.'] This line is wanting 
in the folio. STEEVENS. 

4 my good lord,"] The quartos read mine oiun lord. 


5 Mad as the sea, and wind, when both contend &c.] We 
have precisely the same image in King Lear, expressed with 
more brevity : 

" he was met even now, 

" As mad as the VEX'D sea." MALONE. 

S 2 

260 H AMLET, ACT iv. 

Behind the arras hearing something stir, 
Whips out his rapier, cries, A rat! a rat! 
And, in this brainish apprehension, kills 
The unseen good old man. 

KING. O heavy deed ! 

It had been so with us, had we been there : 
His liberty is full of threats to all ; 
To you yourself, to us, to every one. 
Alas ! how shall this bloody deed be answer'd ? 
It will be laid to us, whose providence 
Should have kept short, restrained, and out of 

haunt, 6 

This mad young man : but, so much was our love, 
We would not understand what was most fit ; 
But, like the owner of a foul disease, 
To keep it from divulging, let it feed 
Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone ? 

QUEEN. To draw apart the body he hath kill'd : 
O'er whom his very madness, like some ore, 7 

6 out o/'haunt,] I would rather read out o/'harm. 


Out of haunt, means, out of company. So, in Antony and 
Cleopatra : 

" Dido and her Sichaeus shall want troops, 
" And all the haunt be ours." 
Again, in Warner's Albion 1 s England, 1602, B. V. ch. xxvi: 

" And from the smith of heaven's wife allure the amorous 


The place where men assemble, is often poetically called the 
haunt of men. So, in Romeo and Juliet : 

" We talk here in the publick haunt of men." 


like some ore,] Shakspeare seems to think ore to be or, 

that is, gold. Base metals have ore no less than precious. 


Shakspeare uses the general word ore to express gold, because 
it was the most excellent of ores. I suppose we should read 
" of metal base" instead of metals, which much improves the 
construction of the passage. M. MASON. 


Among a mineral of metals base, 

Shows itself pure ; he weeps for what is done. 

KING. O, Gertrude, come away ! 
The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch, 
But we will ship him hence : and this vile deed 
We must, with all our majesty and skill, 
Both countenance and excuse. Hoi Guildenstern ! 


Friends both, go join you with some further aid : 
Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain, 
And from his mother's closet hath he dragg'd him: 
Go, seek him out j speak fair, and bring the body 
Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this. 

[_Exeunt Ros. and GUIL. 

Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends ; 
And let them know, both what we mean to do, 
And what's untimely done : so, haply, slander, 8 

He has perhaps used ore in the same sense in his Rape of 

" When beauty boasted blushes, in despite 
" Virtue would stain that ore with silver white." 
A mineral Minsheu defines in his Dictionary, 1617: "Any 
thing that grows in mines, and contains metals." Shakspeare 
seems to have used the word in this sense, for a rude mass of 
metals. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, Mineral 
is defined, " mettall, or any thing digged out of the earth." 


Minerals are mines. So, in The Golden Remains of Hales of 
Eton, 1693, p. 34 : " Controversies of the times, like spirits in 
the minerals, with all their labour, nothing is done." 
Again, in Hall's Virgidemiarum, Lib. VI : 
" Shall it not be a wild fig in a wall, 
" Or fired brimstone in a minerall?" STEEVENS. 
so, haply, slander, &c.] Neither these words, nor the 

O\/j I C<l**/fW 9 OCMf/vlvCr / 4A. V I J.^ VAH**W* UAJV.kJ*-' FT v* fcjj 

following three lines and an half, are in the folio. In the quarto, 
1604, and all the subsequent quartos, the passage stands thus : 


Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter, 

As level as the cannon to his blank, 9 

Transports his poison'd shot, may miss our name, 

And hit the woundless air. 1 O come away! 

My soul is full of discord, and dismay. \JLxeunt* 

" And what's untimely done. 

" Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter," &c. 
the compositor having omitted the latter part of the first line, as 
in a former scene, (see p. 202, n. 9.) a circumstance which 
gives additional strength to an observation made in Vol. XVII. 
p. 257, n. 5. Mr. Theobald supplied the lacuna by reading, 
For haply slander, &c. So appears to me to suit the context 
better ; for these lines are rather in apposition with those imme- 
diately preceding, than an illation from them. Mr. M. Mason, 
I find, has made the same observation. 

Shakspeare, as Theobald has observed, again expatiates on the 
diffusive power of slander, in Cymbeline; 

** -i No, 'tis slander ; 

" Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue 

" Out-venoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath 

" Rides on the posting winds, and doth bely 

*' All corners of the world." M ALONE. 
Mr. Malone reads So viperous slander. STEEVEKS. 
9 cannon to his blank,] The blank was the white mark 

at which shot or arrows were directed. So, in King Lear: 

" let me still remain 

" The true blank of thine eye." STEEVENS. 

1 . the woundless air.] So, in a former scene: 
" It is as the air invulnerable." MALONE. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 263 

Another Room in the same. 

Enter HAMLET. 

HAM. Safely stowed, [Ros. 8$c. within. 

Hamlet ! lord Hamlet !] But soft, 2 what noise ? 
who calls on Hamlet ? O, here they come. 


Ros. What have you done, my lord, with the 
dead body ? 

HAM. Compounded it with dust, 3 whereto 'tis 

! But soft, ~] I have added these two words from the 

quarto, 1604. STEEVENS. 

The folio reads : 

" Ham. Safely stowed. 
" Ros. &c. iKithin. Hamlet ! lord Hamlet. 
" Ham. What noise," &c. 
In the quarto, 1604, the speech stands thus : 
" Ham. Safely stowed; but soft, what noise? who calls on 
Hamlet ?" &c. 

I have therefore printed Hamlet's speech unbroken, and in- 
serted that of Rosencrantz, &c. from the folio, before the words, 
but soft, &c. In the modern editions Hamlet is made to take 
notice of the noise made by the courtiers, before he has heard it. 


3 Compounded it with dust,~\ So, in King Henry IV. P. II : 

" Only compound me -with forgotten dust." 
Again, in our poet's 71st Sonnet: 

" When I perhaps compounded am "with day." 



Ros. Tell us where 'tis; that we may take it 

And bear it to the chapel, 

HAM. Do not believe it. 
Ros. Believe what ? 

HAM. That I can keep your counsel, and not 
mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge ! 
-what replication should be made by the son of 
a king ? 

Ros. Take you me for a sponge, my lord ? 

HAM. Ay, sir ; that soaks up the king's counte- 
nance, his rewards, his authorities. But such offi- 
cers do the king best service in the end : He keeps 
them, like an ape, 4 in the corner of his jaw ; first 

* like an ape,] The quarto has apple, which is generally 

followed. The folio has ape, which Sir 1. Haniuer has received, 
and illustrated with the following note : 

" 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 pro- 
vided with on each side of their jaw, and there they keep it, 
till they have done with the rest." JOHNSON. 

Surely this should be " like an ape, an apple" FARMER. 

The reading of the folio, like an ape, I believe to be the true 
one, because Shakspeare has the same phraseology in many other 
places. The word ape refers to the King, not to his courtiers. 
He keepa them like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, &c. means, 
he keeps them, as an ape keeps food, in the corner of his jaw, 
&c. So, in King Henry IV. P. I: " your chamber-lie breeds 
fleas like a loach}' 1 i. e. as fast as a loach breeds loaches. Again, 
in King Lear: " They flattered me like a dog;" i. e. as a dog 
Javnis upon and Jlatters his master. 

That the particular food in iShakspeare's contemplation was 
an apple, may be inferred from the following passage in The 
Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher: 

" And lie, and kiss my hand unto my mistress, 
" As often as an ape does Jbf an apple." 

I cannot approve of Dr. Fanner's reading. Had our poet 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 265 

mouthed, to be last swallowed: When he needs 
what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, 
and, sponge, you shall be dry again. 5 

Ros. I understand you not, my lord. 

HAM. I am glad of it : A knavish speech sleeps 
in a foolish ear. 6 

Ros. My lord, you must tell us where the body 
is, and go with us to the king. 

HAM. The body is with the king, 7 but the king 
is not with the body. The king is a thing 

meant to introduce both the ape and the apple, he would, I think, 
have written not like, but " as an ape an apple." 

The two instances above quoted show that any emendation is 
unnecessary. The reading of the quarto is, however, defensible. 


Apple in the quarto is a mere typographical error.] So, in 
Peele's Araygnement of Paris, 1584-: 

*' you wot it very well 

" All that be Dian's maides are vowed to halter apples in 


The meaning, however, is clearly " as an ape does an apple." 


4 and, sponge, you shall be dry again.~\ So, in the 7th 

Satire of Marston, 1598: 

" He's but a spunge, and shortly needs must leese 

" His wrong-got juice, when greatnes' fist shall squeeze 

" His liquor out."" STEEVENS. 

6 ' A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.'] This, if I 
mistake not, is a proverbial sentence. MALOM:. 

Since the appearance of our author's play, these words have 
become proverbial ; but no earlier instance of the idea conveyed 
by them, has occurred within the compass of my reading. 


7 The body is with the king,"] This answer I do not compre- 
hend. Perhaps it should be, The body is not voith the king, 
for the king is not luith the body. JOHNSON. 

Perhaps it may mean this, The body is in the king's house, 
(i. e. the present king's,) yet the king (i. e. he who should have 
been king,) is not with the body. Intimating that the usurper 

266 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

GUIL. A thing, my lord ? 

HAM. Of nothing: 8 bring me to him. Hide 
fox, and all after.* [Exeunt. 

is here, the true king in a better place. Or it may mean the 
guilt of the murder lien with the king, but the king is not where 
the body lies. The affected obscurity of Hamlet must excuse so 
many attempts to procure something like a meaning. STEEVENS. 

Of nothing:'] Should it not be read Or nothing? When 
the courtiers remark that Hamlet has contemptuously called the 
Icing a thing, Hamlet defends himself by observing, that the king 
must be a thing, or nothing. JOHNSON. 

The text is right. So, in The Spanish Tragedy: 
" In troth, my lord, it is a thing of nothing." 
And, in one of Harvey's Letters, " a silly bug-beare, a sorry 
puffe of winde, a thing of nothing." FARMER. 

So, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631: 
" At what dost thou laugh ? 
" At a thing of nothing, at thee." 
Again, in Look about you, 1600 : 

" A very little thing, a thing of nothing" STEEVENS. 

Mr. Steevens has given [i. e. edit. 1778] many parallelisms : 
but the origin of all is to be looked for, 1 believe, in the 144th 
Psalm, ver. 5 : " Man is like a thing of nought" Mr. Steevens 
must have observed, that the Book of Common Prayer, and the 
translation of the Bible into English, furnished our old writers 
with many forms of expression, some of which are still in use. 


9 Hide fox, &c.] There is a play among children called, 

Hide fox, and all after. HANMER. 

The same sport is alluded to in Decker's Satiromastix : " our 
unhandsome-faced poet does play at bo-beep with your grace, 
and cries All hid, as boys do." 

This passage is not in the quarto. STEEVENS. 



Another Room in the same. 
Enter King, attended, 

KING. I have sent to seek him, and to find the 


How dangerous is it, that this man goes loose ? 
Yet must not we put the strong law on him : 
He's lov'd of the distracted multitude, 
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes ; 
And, where 'tis so, the offender's scourge is weigh'd, 
But never the offence. To bear all smooth and 


This sudden sending him away must seem 
Deliberate pause : Diseases, desperate grown, 
By desperate appliance are relievM, 


Or not at all. How now ? what hath befallen ? 

Ros. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord, 
We cannot get from him. 
KING. But where is he ? 

Ros. Without, my lord ; guarded, to know your 

KING. Bring him before us. 

Ros. Ho, Guildenstern ! bring in my lord. 

268 HAMLET, ACT iv. 


KING. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius ? 

HAM. At supper. 

KING. At supper ? Where ? 

HAM. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten : 
a certain convocation of politick worms are e'en 
at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet : 
we fat all creatures else, to fat us ; and we fat our- 
selves for maggots : Your fat king, and your lean 
beggar, is but variable service ; two dishes, but to 
one table ; that's the end. 

KING. Alas, alas ! J 

HAM. A man may fish with the worm that hath 
eat of a king ; and eat of the fish that hath fed of 
that worm. 

KING. What dost thou mean by this ? 
HAM. Nothing, but to show you how a king may 
go a progress 2 through the guts of a beggar. 

KING. Where is Polonius ? 

HAM. In heaven ; send thither to see : if your 
messenger find him not there, seek him i'the other 
place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not 
within this month, you shall' nose him as you go 
up the stairs into the lobby. 

KING. Go seek him there. [To some Attendants. 

1 Alas, alas!'] This speech, and the following, are omitted 
in the folio. STEEVENS. 

* go a progress ] Alluding to the royal journeys of 

state, always styled progresses ; a familiar idea to those who, like 
our author, lived during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King 

sc. m. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 269 

HAM. He will stay till you come. 

\JLxeunt Attendants. 

KING. Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial 


Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve 
For that which thou hast done, must send thee 


With fiery quickness: 3 Therefore, prepare thyself ; 
The bark is ready, and the wind at help, 4 
The associates tend, and every thing is bent 
For England. 

HAM. For England ? 

KING. Ay, Hamlet. 

HAM. Good. 

KING. So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes. 
HAM. I see a cherub, that sees them. But, come; 
for England ! Farewell, dear mother. 

KING. Thy loving father, Hamlet. 

HAM. My mother : Father and mother is man 
and wife ; man and wife is one flesh ; and so, my 
mother. Come, for England. [Exit. 

KING. Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed 

aboard ; 
Delay it not, I'll have him hence to-night : 

' Withjiery quickness:"] These words are not in the quartos. 
We meet with fiery expedition in King Richard III. 


H the "wind at help,] I suppose it should be read 

The bark is ready, and the wind at helm. JOHNSON. 

at help,] i. e. at hand, ready, ready to help or assist 

you. RITSON. 

Similar phraseology occurs in Pericles, Prince of Tyre: 
" I'll leave it 
" At careful nursing." STEEVENS. 


Away j for every thing is seal*d and done 
That else leans on the affair: Pray you, make haste. 

[Exeunt llos. and GUIL. 

And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught, 
(As my great power thereof may give thee sense ; 
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red 
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe 
Pays homage to us,) thou may'st not coldly set 
Our sovereign process; 5 which imports at full, 
By letters conjuring 6 to that effect, 

5 thou inay'st not coldly set 

Our sovereign process; ] I adhere to the reading of the quarto 
and folio. Mr. M. Mason observes, that " one of the common 
acceptations of the verb set, is to value or estimate ; as we say 
to set at nought ; and in that sense it is used here." STEEVENS. 

Our poet has here, I think, as in many other places, used an 
elliptical expression : " thou may'st not coldly set by our sove- 
reign process ;" thou may'st not set little by it, or estimate it 
lightly. " To set by," Cole renders in his Diet. 1679, by eestimo. 
" To set little by, he interprets parvi-facio. See many other 
instances of similar ellipses, in Cymbeline, Act V. sc. v. 


8 By letters c6njuring ] Thus the folio. The quarto reads: 
By letters congruing . STEEVENS. 

The reading of the folio may derive some support from the 
following passage in The Hy story of Hamblet, bl. 1 : *' mak- 
ing the king of England minister of his massacring resolution; 
to whom he purposed to send him, [Hamlet,] and by letters 
desire him to put him to death." So also, by a subsequent line: 

" Ham. Wilt thou know the effect of what I wrote ? 

" Hor. Ay, good my lord. 

" Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king," &c. 
The circumstances mentioned as inducing the king to send the 
prince to England, rather than elsewhere, are likewise found in 
The Hyslory of Hamblet. 

Effect was formerly used for act or deed, simply, and is so used 
in the line before us. So, in Leo's Historic of Africa, trans- 
lated by Pory, folio, 1600, p. 253 : " Three daies after this 
effect, there came to us a Zuum, that ia, a captaine," fire. See 
also supra, p. 250, n. 2. 


The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England ; 
For like the hectick in my blood he rages, 7 
And thou must cure me : 'Till I know 'tis done, 
Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin. 8 


The verb to conjure (in the sense of to supplicate,) was for- 
merly accented on the first syllable. So, in Macbeth: 

" I conjure you, by that which you profess, 

" Howe'er you come to know it, answer me.'* 
Again, in King John : 

" I conjure thee but slowly ; run more fast.'* 
Again, in Romeo and Juliet: 

** I conjure thee, by Rosaline's bright eyes, '* 
Again, in Measure for Measure: 

" O prince, I conjure thee, as thou believ'st," &c. 


7 like the hecticlc in my blood he rages,~\ So, in Love's 

Labour's Lost : 

" I would forget her, but a. fever, she 
" Reigns in my blood." MALONE. 

Scaligerhas a parallel sentiment \-~Febris hectica uxor,Sf non 
nisi morte avellenda. STEEVENS. 

8 Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin.] This being the 
termination of a scene, should, according to our author's custom, 
be rhymed. Perhaps he wrote : 

Howe'er my hopes, my joys are not begun. 
If haps be retained, the meaning will be, 'till I know 'tis done, 
I shall be miserable, whatever befal me. JOHNSON. 

The folio reads, in support of Dr. Johnson's remark : 
Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. 

Mr. Heath would read : 

Howe'er 't may hap, my joys will ne'er begin. 


By his haps, he means his successes. His fortune was begun, 
but his joys were not. M. MASON. 

Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin.] This is the read- 
ing of the quarto. The folio, for the sake of rhyme, reads : 

Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. 
But this, I think, the poet could not have written. The King 
is speaking of the future time. To say, till I shall be informed 
that a certain act has been done, whatever may befal me, my joys 
never had a beginning, is surely nonsense. MALONE. 

272 HAMLET, ACT iv. 


A Plain in Denmark. 

Enter FORTINBRAS, and Forces, marching. 

FOR. Go, captain, from me greet the Danish 


Tell him, that, by his licence, Fortinbras 
Craves 9 the conveyance of a promised march 
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous. 
If that his majesty would aught with us, 
We shall express our duty in his eye, 1 
And let him know so. 

CAP. I will do't, my lord. 

FOR. Go softly on. 

\_Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Forces. 

9 Craves ] Thus the quartos. The folio Claims. 


1 We shall express our duty in his eye,] So, in Antony and 
Cleopatra : 

tended her i'the eyes." 

In his eye, means, in his presence. The phrase appears to 
have been formularly. See The Establishment of the Household 
of Prince Henry, A. D. 1610 : " Also the gentleman-usher shall 
be careful to see and informe all such as doe service in the 
Prince's eye, that they perform their dutyes" &c. Again, in The 
Regulations for the Government of the Queen's Household, 1627: 
" all such as doe service in the Queen's eye." STEEVENS. 


STERN, 8$c. . 

HAM. Good sir, whose powers are these? 2 

CAP. They are of Norway, sir. 

HAM. How purposed, sir, 

I pray you ? 

CAP. Against some part of Poland. 

HAM. Who 

Commands them, sir ? 

CAP. The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras. 

HAM. Goes it against the main of Poland, sir, 
Or for some frontier ? 

CAP. Truly to speak, sir, and with no addition, 
We go to gain a little patch of ground, 
That hath in it no profit but the name. 
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it j 
Nor will it yield to Norway, or the Pole, 
A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee. 

HAM. Why, then the Polack never will defend it. 
CAP. Yes, 'tis already garrison'd. 

HAM. Two thousand souls, and twenty thou- 
sand ducats, 

Will not debate the question of this straw : 
This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace; 
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 
Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir. 

CAP. God be wi'you, sir. \_Exit Captain. 

Ros. WilPt please you go, my lord ? 

* Good sir, &c.] The remaining part of this scene is omitted 
in the folio. STEEVENS. 


274 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

HAM. I will be with you straight. Go a little 
before. \JExeunt Ros. and GUIL. 

How all occasions do inform against me, 
And spur my dull revenge ! What is a man, 
If his chief good, and market of his time, 3 
Be but to sleep, and feed ? a beast, no more. 
Sure, he, that made us with such large discourse,* 
Looking before, and after, gave us not 
That capability and godlike reason 
To fust in us unus'd. Now, whether it be 
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple 5 
Of thinking too precisely on the event, 
A thought, which, quartered, hath but one part 


And, ever, three parts coward, I do not know 
Why yet I live to say, This thing's to do ; 
Sith Ihave cause, and will,and strength, and means, 
To do't. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me : 
Witness, this army of such mass, and charge, 
Led by a delicate and tender prince ; 
Whose spirit, with divine ambition pufPd, 
Makes mouths at the invisible event ; 
Exposing what is mortal, and unsure, 
To all that fortune, death, and danger, dare, 
Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great, 

1 chief good t and market of his time, &c.] If his highest 

good, and that for which he sells his time, be to sleep and feed. 


Market, I think, here means profit. MALONE. 

4 large discourse,] Such latitude of comprehension, such 

power of reviewing the past, and anticipating the future. 


* some craven scruple ] Some cowardly scruple. See 

Vol. IX. p. 85, n. 4. MALONE. 
So, in King Henry VI. Part I : 

" Or durst not, for his craven heart, say this." 


so. iv. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 275 

Is, not to stir without great argument j 6 

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw, 

When honour's at the stake. How stand I then, 

That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd, 

Excitements of my reason, and my blood, 7 

And let all sleep ? while, to my shame, I see 

The imminent death of twenty thousand men, 

That, for a fantasy, and trick of fame, 

Go to their graves like beds j fight for a plot 8 

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, 

Which is not tomb enough, and continent, 9 

c Rightly to be great, 

Is, not to stir taithout &c.] This passage I have printed ac- 
cording to the copy. Mr. Theobald had regulated it thus : 

' Tis not to be great, 

Never to stir without great argument ; 

But greatly &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 tojind quarrel in a stratv t 

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, ewe? when honour 
is at stake, we mustjind cause of quarrel in a strata. JOHNSON. 

7 Excitements of my reason, and my blood,"] Provocations 
which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance. 


* a plot ] A piece, or portion. See Vol. XVI. p. 152, n. 9. 


So, in The Mirror for Magistrates : 

" Of grounde to win a plot, a while to dwell, 
" We venture lives, and send our souls to hell." 


9 continent,"] Continent, in our author, means that 

which comprehends or encloses. So, in King Lear : 

" Rive your concealing continents" 
Again, in Chapman's version of the third Iliad : 

T 2 

276 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

To hide the slain ? O, from this time forth, 
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth ! 



Elsinorc. A Room in the Castle. 
Enter Queen and HORATIO. 

QUEEN. 1 will not speak with her. 

HOR. She is importunate ; indeed, distract j 
Her mood will needs be pitied. 
QUEEN. What would she have ? 

HOR. She speaks much of her father j says, she 

There's tricks i'the world j and hems, and beats 

her heart ; 
Spurns enviously at straws j 1 speaks things in doubt, 

" did take 

" Thy fair form for a continent of parts as fair, " 
See King Lear, Act III. sc. ii. STEEVENS. 

Again, Lord Bacon, On the Advancement of Learning, 4to. 

1633, p. 7 : " if there be no fulnesse, then is the continent 

greater than the content." REED. 

1 Spurns enviously at straws ;] Envy is much oftener put by 
our poet (and those of his time) for direct aversion, than for ma- 
lignity conceived at the sight nf another's excellence or happiness. 

So, in King Henry VIII: 

" You turn the good we offer into envy" 

Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, 1621, Hist. VI. 
" She loves the memory of Sypontus, and envies and detests that 
of her two husbands." STEEVENS. 

See Vol. XIII. p. 123, n. 1; and Vol. XV. p. 64-, n. 2. 


sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 277 

That carry but half sense : her speech is nothing, 
Yet the imshaped use of it doth move 
The hearers to collection ; 2 they aim at it, 3 
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts; 
Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield 

Indeed would make one think, there might be 

Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily. 4 

QUEEN. 'Twere good, she were spoken with ; 5 
for she may strew 

5 to collection ;] i. e. to deduce consequences from such 

premises ; or, as Mr. M. Mason observes, " endeavour to col- 
lect some meaning from them." So, in Cymbeline, scene the 

" whose containing 

" Is so from sense to hardness, that I can 

" Make no collection of it." 
See the note on this passage. STEEVENS. 

3 they aim at it,~] The quartos read they } 7 awn at it. 

To aim is to guess. So, in Romeo and Juliet : 

" I aim'd so near, when I suppos'd you lov'd." 


4 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. 

That unhappy once signified mischievous, may be known from 
P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, Book XIX. 

ch. vii : " the shrewd and unhajjpie foules which lie upon 

the lands, and eat up the seed new sowne." We still use un- 
lucky in the same sense. STEEVENS. 

See Vol. VI. p. 55, n. 2 ; and Vol. VIII. p. 376, n. 6 ; and 
Vol. XV. p. 57, n. 6. MALONE. 

1 ' Tivere good, she tvere spoken ivith y ] These lines are given to 
the Queen in the folio, and to Horatio in the quarto. JOHNSON. 

I think the two first lines of Horatio's speech [^Twere good, 
&c.] belong to him ; the rest to the Queen. BLACKSTONE. 

In the quarto, the Queen, Horatio, and a Gentleman, enter at 
the beginning of this scene. The two speeches, " She is impor- 

273 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds : 

Let her come in. [Exit HORATIO. 

To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is, 

Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss: 6 

So full of artless jealousy is guilt, 

It spills itself in fearing to be spilt. 

Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHELIA. 

OPH. Where is the beauteous majesty of Den- 
mark ? 

QUEEN. How now, Ophelia ? 

OPH. How should I your true love know" 1 

From another one ? 
By his cockle hat and staff, 
And his sandal shoon.* [Singing. 

tunate," &c. and " She speaks much of her father," &c. are 
there given to the Gentleman, and the line now before UR, as well 
as the two following, to Horatio: the remainder of this speech to 
the Queen. I think it probable that the regulation proposed by 
Sir W. Blackstone was that intended by Shakspeare. MALONE. 

6 to some great amiss :] Shakspeare is not singular in 

his use of this word as a substantive. So, in The Arraignment 
of Paris, 1584: 

" Gracious forbearers of this world's amiss." 
Again, in Lyly's Woman in the Moon, 1597: 

" Pale be my looks, to witness my amiss." 
Again, in Greene's Disputation between a He Coney-catcher, 
&c. 1592 : " revive in them the memory of my great amiss." 


Each toy is, each trifle. MALONE. 

7 IIoiv 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 

sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 279 

QUEEN. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song ? 
OPH. Say you ? nay, pray you, mark. 

He is dead and gone, lady, [Sings. 

He is dead and gone; 
At his head a grass-green turf, 

At his heels a stone. 


QUEEN. Nay, but Ophelia, 

OPH. Pray you, mark. 

White his shroud as the mountain snow, 


Enter King. 
QUEEN. Alas, look here, my lord. 

effect. In the latter the audience supply what she wants, and 
with the former they sympathize. SIR J. REYNOLDS. 

8 By his cockle hat and staff", 

And his sandal shoon.'] This is the description of a pilgrim. 
While this kind of devotion was in favour, love-intrigues were 
carried on under that mask. Hence the old ballads and novels 
made pilgrimages the subjects of their plots. The cockle-shell 
hat was one of the essential badges of this vocation : for the 
chief places of devotion being beyond sea, or on the coasts, the 
pilgrims were accustomed to put cockle-shells upon their hats, to 
denote the intention or performance of their devotion. 


So, in Green's Never too late, 1616 : 
" A hat of straw like to a swain, 
" Shelter for the sun and rain, 
" With a scallop-shell before," &c. 

Again, in The Old Wives Tale, by George Peele, 1595 : " I 
will give thee a palmer's stajfiof yvorie, and a scallop-shell of 
beaten gold." STEEVENS. 

280 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

OPH. Larded all with sweet flower s ; 9 
Which bewept to the grave did go, ' 
With true-love showers. 

KING. How do you, pretty lady ? 

OPH. Well, God'ield you ! 2 They say, the owl 
was a baker's daughter. 3 Lord, we know what we 

9 Larded all with sweet flowers ; ] The expression is taken 
from cookery. JOHNSON. 

1 did go,"] The old editions read did not go. Cor- 
rected by Mr. Pope. STEEVENS. 

a Well, God'ield you /] i. e. Heaven reward you ! So, in An- 
tony and Cleopatra : 

" Tend me to-night two hours, I ask no more, 
" And the God* yield you for't !" 

So, Sir John Grey, in a letter in Ashmole's Appendix to his 
Account of the Garter, Numb. 46: " The king of his gracious 
lordshipe, God yeld him, hafe chosen me to be owne of his bre- 
threne of the knyghts of the garter." THEOBALD. 

See Vol. X. p. 74, &c. n. 9. STEEVENS. 

3 the owl was a baker's daughter.'] This was a metamor- 
phosis of the common people, arising from the mealy appearance 
of the owl's feathers, and her guarding the bread from mice. 


To guard the bread from mice, is rather the office of a cat 
than an oval. In barns and granaries, indeed, the services of 
the owl are still acknowledged. This was, however, no meta- 
morphosis of the common people, but a legendary story, which 
both Dr. Johnson and myself have read, yet in what book at 
least I cannot recollect. Our Saviour being refused bread by 
the daughter of a baker, is described as punishing her by turning 
her into an owl. STEEVENS. 

This is a common story among the vulgar in Gloucestershire, 
and is thus related : " Our Saviour went into a baker's shop 
where they were baking, and asked for some bread to eat. The 
mistress of the shop immediately put a piece of dough into the 
oven to bake for him ; but was reprimanded by her daughter, 
who insisting that the piece of dough was too large, reduced it 
to a very small size. The dough, however, immediately after- 
wards began to swell, and presently became of a most enormous 

sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 281 

are, but know not what we may be. God be at 
your table ! 

KING. Conceit upon her father. 

OPH. Pray, let us have no words of this ; but 
when they ask you, what it means, say you this : 

Good morrow, 'tis Saint Valentine's day? 

All in the morning be time, 
And I a maid at your window, 

To be your Valentine : 

Then up he rose, and don'd his clothes, 5 
And ditpp'd the chamber door ; 6 

Let in the maid, that out a maid 
Never departed more. 

size. Whereupon, the baker's (laughter cried out * Heugh, 
heugh, heugh,' which owl-like noise probably induced our 
Saviour for her wickedness to transform her into that bird." 
This story is often related to children, in order to deter them 
from such illiberal behaviour to poor people. DOUCE. 

4 Good morrow, 'tis Saint Valentine's day,"] Old copies: 

To-morrow is 8fc. 
The correction is Dr. Farmer's. STEEVENS. 

There is a rural tradition that about this time of year birds 
choose their mates. Bourne, in his Antiquities of the Common 
People, observes, that " it is a ceremony never omitted among 
the vulgar, to draw lots, which they term Valentines, on the eve 
before Valentine-day. The names of a select number of one 
sex are by an equal number of the other put into some vessel ; 
and after that every one draws a name, which for the present is 
called their Valentine, and is also look'd upon as a good omen 
of their being man and wife afterwards." Mr. Brand adds, that 
he has " searched the legend of St. Valentine, but thinks there 
is no occurrence in his life, that could give rise to this cere- 
mony." MA LONE. 

5 don'd his clothes,'] To don, is to do on, to put on, as 

doff" is to do off", put off. STEEVENS. 

And dupp'd the chamber door ;] To dup, is to do upj to lift 
the latch. It were easy to write And op'd. JOHNSON. 

282 HAMLET, Acrir. 

KING. Pretty Ophelia ! 

OPH. Indeed, without an oath, I'll make an 
end on't: 

By GisS and by Saint Charity,* 

Alack, andfyefor shame ! 
Young men will do't, if they come to't ; 

By coc/i, 9 they are to blame. 

To dup, was a common contraction of to do up. So, in 
Damon and Pythias, 1582 : " the porters are drunk; will they 
not dun the gate to-day ?" 
Lord Surrey, in his translation of the second JEneid, renders 

Panduntur portfe, &c. 

" The gates cast up, we issued out to play." 
The phrase seems to have been adopted either from doing up the 
latch, or drawing up the portcullis. So, in the ancient MS. ro- 
mance of The Sowdon qfBabyloyne, p. 40 : 

" To the prison she hyed hir swyth, 

" Thenmon dore up she doth." 

Again, in The Cooke's Play, in the Chester collection of mys- 
teries, MS. Harl. 1013, p. 140: 

" Open up hell-gates anon." 

It appears from Martin Mark-all's Apologie to the Bel-man of 
London, 1610, that in the cant of gypsies, &c. Dup the gigger, 
signified to open the doore. STEEVENS. 

7 By Gis,] I rather imagine it should be read : 

By Cis, 

That is, by St. Cecily. JOHNSON. 

See the second paragraph of the next note. STEEVENS. 

* by Saint Charity,] Saint Chanty is a known saint 

among the Roman Catholicks. Spenser mentions her, Eclog. V. 

" Ah dear lord, and sweet Saint Charity /" 
Again, in The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1601 : 

" Therefore, sweet master, for Saint Charity." 
Again, in A lytell Geste ofRobyn Hode: 

" Lete me go, then sayd the sheryf, 

" For saint Charyte, " 
Again, ibid : 

" Gyve us some of your spendynge, 

For saynt Charyte." 

so. r. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 283 

Quoth she, before you tumbled me, 
You promised me to wed : 

[He answers. 1 ] 

So would I ha* done, by yonder sun, 
An thou hadst not come to my bed. 

I find, by Gisse, used as an adjuration, both by Gascoigne in 
his Poems, by Preston in his Cambyses, and in the comedy of 
See me and see me not, 1618 : 

" By Gisse I swear, were I so fairly wed," &c. 
Again, in King Edward III. 1599: 

" By Gis, fair lords, ere many daies be past," &c. 
Again, in Hey wood's 23d Epigram, Fourth Hundred: 

" Nay, by Gis, he looketh on you maister, quoth he." 


Mr. Steevens's first assertion, though disputed by a catholick 
friend, can be supported by infallible authority. " We read," 
says Dr. Douglas, " in the martyrology on the first of August 
Romce passio sanctarum virginum, Fidei, Spei, et CHARITATIS, 
qucB sub Hadriano principe martyrite coronam adeptte sunt." 

Criterion, p. 68. RITSON. 

In the scene between the Bastard Faulconbridge and the friars 
and nunne, in the First Part of The troublesome Raigne of King 
John, (edit. 1779, p. 256, c.) " the nunne swears by Gis, and 
the friers pray to Saint Withold (another obsolete saint men- 
tioned in King Lear, Vol. XVII.) and adjure him by Saint Cha- 
ritie to hear them." BLACKSTONE. 

By Gis,~] There is not the least mention of any saint whose 
name corresponds with this, either in the Roman Calendar, the 
service in Usum Sarum, or in the Benedictionary of Bishop 
Athelwold. I believe the word to be only a corrupted abbrevia- 
tion 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. 

Though Gis may be, and I believe is, only a contraction of 
Jesus, there is certainly a Saint Gislen, with whose name it cor- 
responds. RITSON. 

9 By cock,] This is likewise a corruption of the sacred name. 
Many instances of it are given in a note at the beginning of the 
fifth Act of The Second Part of King Henry IV. STEEVENS. 

\ Pie answers.] These words I have added from the quartos. 


284 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

KING. How long hath she been thus ? 

OPH. I hope, all will be well. We must be pa- 
tient : but I cannot choose but weep, to think, they 
should lay him i'the cold ground : My brother 
shall know of it, and so I thank you for your good 
counsel. Come, my coach ! Good night, ladies ; 2 
good night, sweet ladies : good night, good night. 

KING. Follow her close ; give her good watch, 
I pray you. [Exit HORATIO. 

O! this is the poison of deep grief; it springs 
All from her father's death : And now behold, 
O Gertrude, Gertrude, 

When sorrows come, 3 they come not single spies, 
But in battalions ! First, her father slain ; 
Next, your son gone ; and he most violent author 
Of his own just remove : The people muddied, 
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and 

For good Polonius' death ; and we have done but 

In hugger-mugger to inter him : 5 Poor Ophelia 

* Come, my coach ! Good night, ladies ; &c.] In Marlowe's 
Tamburlaine, 1590, Zabina in her frenzy uses the same ex- 

Jression : " Hell, make ready my coach, my chair, my jewels, 
come, I come" MALONE. 

3 When sorroivs come, &c.] In Ray's Proverbs we find, 
" Misfortunes seldom come alone," as a proverbial phrase. 


4 - but greenly,] But unskilfully; with greenness; that 
is, without maturity of judgment. JOHNSON. 

* 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 

sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 285 

Divided from herself, and her fair judgment ; 
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts. 
Last, and as much containing as all tfcese, 
Her brother is in secret come from France : 
Feeds on his wonder, 6 keeps himself in clouds, 
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear 
With pestilent speeches of his father's death ; 
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar* d, 7 

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. 

On this just observation I ground the restoration of a gross 
and unpleasing word in a preceding passage, for which Mr. Pope 
substituted groan. See p. 172, n. 9. The alteration in the pre- 
sent instance was made by the same editor. MALONE. 

This expression is used in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1609 : 

" he died like a politician, 

" In hugger-mugger.'* 
Again, in Harrington's Ariosto . 

" So that it might be done in hugger-mugger" 
Shakspeare probably took the expression from the following 
passage in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch : " An- 
tonius thinking that his body should be honourably buried, and 
not in hugger-mugger." 

It appears from Greene's Groundwork of Coneycatching, 1592, 
that to hugger was to lurk about. STEEVENS. 

The meaning of the expression is ascertained by Florio T s 
Italian Dictionary, 1598 : " Dinascoso, Secretly, hiddenly, in 
hugger-mugger." MALONE. 

6 Feeds on his ivonder,"] The folio reads 

Keeps on his wonder, . 

The quarto 

Feeds on this taonder, . 

Thus the true reading is picked out from between them. Sir 
T. Hanmer reads unnecessarily 

Feeds on his anger, . JOHNSON. 

7 Wherein necessity, &c.] Sir T. Hanmer reads : 

Whence animosity of matter beggar' d. 
He seems not to have understood the connection. Wherein, 

286 HAMLET, ACT 17. 

Will nothing stick our person to arraign 
In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this, 
Like to a murdering piece, 8 in many places 
Gives me superfluous death ! [A Noise within. 

that is, in "which pestilent speeches, necessity, or the obligation of 
an accuser to support his charge, will nothing stick, &c. 


8 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. 

The same term occurs in a passage in The Double Marriage 
of Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" And, like a murdering piece, aims not at one, 

" But all that stand within the dangerous level." 
Again, in All's Lost by Lust, a tragedy by Rowley, 1633 : 

" If thou fail'st too, the king comes with a murdering 

" In the rear." 
Again, in A Fair Quarrel, by Middleton and Rowley, 1622: 

" There is not such another murdering piece 

" In all the stock of calumny." 

It appears from a passage in Smith's Sea Grammar, 1627, 
that it was a piece of ordnance used in ships of war : " A case- 
shot is any kinde of small bullets, nailes, old iron, or the like, 
to put into the case, to shoot out of the ordnances or murderers; 
these will doe much mischiefe," &c. STEEVENS. 

A murdering-piece was the specifick term in Shakspeare's 
time for a piece of ordnance, or small cannon. The word is 
found in Cole's Latin Dictionary, 1679, and rendered, "tormen- 
tum murale." 

The small cannon, which are, or were, used in the forecastle, 
half-deck, or steerage of a ship of war, were, within this century, 
called murdering-pieces. MALONE. 

Perhaps wfyat is now, from the manner of it, called a swivel. 
It is mentioned in Sir T. Roes Voiage to the E. Indies, at the end 
of Delia Valle's Travels, 1665: " the East India company 
had a very little pinnace... mann'd she was with ten men, and had 
only one small murdering-piece within her." Probably it was 
never charged with a single ball, but always with shot, pieces of 
old iron, &c. RITSON. 

sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 287 

QUEEN. Alack! what noise is this? 9 

Enter a Gentleman. 

KING. Attend. 

Where are my Switzers? 1 Let them guard the door: 
What is the matter ? 

GENT. Save yourself, my lord ; 

The ocean, overpeering of his list, 2 
Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste, 
Than young Laertes, in a riotous head, 
O'erbears your officers ! The rabble call him, lord j 
And, as the world were now but to begin, 
Antiquity forgot, custom not known, 

6 Alack! &c.] This speech of the Queen is omitted in the 
quartos. STEEVENS. 

1 my Switzers ?] I have observed in many of our old 

plays, that the guards attendant on Kings are called Switzers, 
and that without any regard to the country where the scene lies. 
Thus, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Noble Gentleman, Act III. 
c. i: 

" was it not 

" Some place of gain, as clerk to the great band 
" Of marrow-bones, that the people call the Switzers ? 
" Men made of beef and sarcenet ?" REED. 
The reason is, because the Swiss in the time of our poet, as 
at present, were hired to fight the battles of other nations. So, 
in Nashe's Christ's Teares over Jerusalem, 4to. 1594? : " Law, 
logicke, and the Switzers, may be hired to fight for any body." 


5 The ocean, overpeering ofhisl'ist,'] The lists are the barriers 
which the spectators of a tournament must not pass. JOHNSON. 

See note on Othello, Act IV. sc. i. STEEVENS. 

List, in this place, only signifies boundary, i. e. the shore. 
So, in King Henry IV. P. II : 

" The very list, the very utmost bound 
" Of all our fortunes." 

The selvage of cloth was in both places, I believe, in our au- 
thor's thoughts. MALONE. 

288 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

The ratifiers and props of every word, 1 
They cry, Choose we; Laertes shall be king! 
Caps, hands, and tongues, applaud it to the clouds, 
Laertes sliall be king, Laertes king ! 

QUEEN. How cheerfully on the false trail they 

O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs. 4 

3 The ratifiers and props of every word,] By word is here 
meant a declaration, or proposal. It is determined to this sense, 
by the inference it hath to what had just preceded : 
" The rabble call him lord," &c. 

This acclamation, which is the word here spoken of, was 
made without regard to antiquity, or received custom, whose 
concurrence, however, is necessarily required to confer validity 
and stability in every proposal of this kind. HEATH. 

Sir T. Hanmer would transpose this line and the next. Dr. 
Warburton proposes to read, ward; and Dr. Johnson, weal, 
instead of word. I should be rather for reading, work. 


In the first folio there is only a comma at the end of the above 
line ; and will not the passage bear this construction ? The rab- 
ble call him lord, and as if the world were now but to begin, and 
as if the ancient custom of hereditary succession were unknown, 
they, the ratifiers and props of every word he utters, cry, Let 
us make choice, that Laertes shall be king. TOLLET. 

This construction might certainly be admitted, and the ratifiers 
and props of every word might be understood to be applied to 
the rabble mentioned in a preceding line, without Sir T. Han- 
mer's transposition of this and the following line; but there is 
no authority for what Mr. Toilet adds, " of every word he 
[Laertes] utters," for the poet has not described Laertes as 
having uttered a word. If, therefore, the rabble are called the 
ratifiers and props of every word, we must understand, "of every 
word uttered by themselves :" which is so tame, that it would be 
unjust to our poet to suppose that to have been his meaning. 
Ratifiers, &c. refer not to the people, but to custom and antiquity, 
which the speaker says are the true ratifiers and props of every 
word. The last word however of the line may well be suspected 
to be corrupt; and Mr. Tyrwhitt has probably suggested the 
true reading. MA LONE. 

4 O, this is counter, you false Danish dogt.~\ Hounds run 
counter when they trace the trail backwards. JOHNSON. 

sc.-r. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 289 

KING. The doors are broke. \_Noise within. 

Enter LAERTES, armed; Danes following. 

LAER. Where is this king ? Sirs, stand you all 

DAN. No, let's come in. 

LAER. I pray you, give me leave. 

DAN. We will, we will. 

[ They retire without the Door. 

LAER. I thank you : keep the door. O thou 

vile king, 
Give me my father. 

QUEEN. Calmly, good Laertes. 

LAER. That drop of blood that's calm, pro- 
claims me bastard ; 

Cries, cuckold, to my father ; brands the harlot 
Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brow 5 
Of my true mother. 

KING. W T hat is the cause, Laertes, 

That thy rebellion looks so giant-like ? 
Let him go, Gertrude ; do not fear our person ; 
There's such divinity doth hedge a king, 
That treason can but peep to what it would, 
Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes, 

5 unsmirched Iroiu,"} i. e. clean, not defiled. To be- 
smirch, our author uses, Act I. sc. v. and again in King Henry V. 
Act IV. sc. iii. 

This seems to be an allusion to a proverb often introduced in 
the old comedies. Thus, in The London Prodigal, 1605: " as 
true as the skin between any man's broivs."- 

The same phrase is also found in Much Ado about Nothing, 
Act III. sc. v. STEEVENS. 


290 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

Why thou art thus incens'd; Let him go, Ger- 
trude ; 
Speak, man. 

LAER. Where is my father ? 

KING. Dead. 

QUEEN. But not by him. 

KING. Let him demand his fill. 

LAER. How came he dead ? I'll not be juggled 

with : 

To hell, allegiance ! vows, to the blackest devil ! 
Conscience, and grace, to the profoundest pit ! 
I dare damnation : To this point I stand, 
That both the worlds I give to negligence, 6 
Let come what comes ; only I'll be reveng'd 
Most throughly for my father. 

KING. Who shall stay you ? 

LAER. My will, not all the world's : 
And, for my means, I'll husband them so well, 
They shall go far with little. 

KING. Good Laertes, 

If you desire to know the certainty 

Of your dear father's death, is't writ in your re- 

That, sweepstake, you will draw both friend and 

Winner and loser ? 

LAER. None but his enemies. 

KING. Will you know them then ? 

LAER. To his good friends thus wide I'll ope 
my arms; 

' That both the worlds I give to negligence,"] So, in Macbeth : 
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the ivorlas 
suffer.'* STEEVENS. 

ae. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 291 

And, like the kind life-rend* ring pelican, 7 
Repast them with my blood. 

KING. Why, now you speak 

Like a good child, and a true gentleman. 
That I am guiltless of your father's death, 
And am most sensibly 8 in grief for it, 
It shall as level to your judgment 'pear, 9 
As day does to your eye. 

DANES. \_Within.~\ Let her come in. 
LAER. How now ! what noise is that ? 

7 life-rendering pelican,] So, in the ancient Interlude 

of Nature, bl. 1. no date : 

" Who taught the cok hys watche-howres to observe, 
** And syng of corage wy th shryll throte on hye ? 
" Who taught the pellycan her tender hart to carve ? 
" For she nolde suffer her byrdys to dye ?" 
Again, in the old play of King Leir, 1605 : 
" I am as kind as is the pelican, 
" That kils itselfe, to save her young ones lives." 
It is almost needless to add that this account of the bird is en- 
tirely fabulous. STEEVENS. 

8 most sensibly ] Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio, 

following the error of a later quarto, reads most sensible. 


9 to your judgment 'pear,] So the quarto. The folio, and 

all the later editions, read : 

to your judgment pierce, 

less intelligibly. JOHNSON. 

This elision of the verb to appear, is common to Beaumont 

and Fletcher. So, in The Maid in the Mitt: 

" They 'pear so handsomely, I will go forward." 

Again : 

" And where they y pear so excellent in little, 
" They will but flame in great." STEEVENS. 

U 2 


Enter OPHELIA, fantastically dressed with Straw* 
and Flowers. 

O heat, dry up my brains ! tears seven times salt, 
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye ! 
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid with weight, 
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May ! 
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia ! 
O heavens ! is't possible, a young maid's wits 
Should be as mortal as an old man's life ? 
Nature is fine in love : and, where 'tis fine, 
It sends some precious instance of itself 
After the thing it loves. 1 

OPH. They bore him barefaced on the bier; 9 
Hey no nonny, nvnny hey nonny: 3 
And in his grave rain'd many a tear; 
Fare you well, my dove ! 

1 Nature is fine in love : and, where 'tisjine f 
It sends some precious instance of itself 

After the thing it loves.'] These lines are not in the quarto, 
and might have been omitted in the folio without great loss, for 
they are obscure and affected ; but, I think, they require no 
emendation. Love (says Laertes) is the passion by which nature' 
is most exalted and refined; and as substances, refined and sub- 
tilised, easily obey any impulse, or follow any attraction, some 
part of nature, so purified and refined, flies off after the attract- 
ing object, after the thing it loves : 

" As into air the purer spirits flow, 

" And separate from their kindred dregs below, 

" So flew her soul." JOHNSON. 

The meaning of the passage may be That her wits, like the 
spirit of fine essences, flew off or evaporated. Fine, however, 
sometimes signifies artful. So, in All's ivell that ends tvcU : 
" Thou art toojine in thy evidence." STEEVENS. 

Thei/ bore him barefaced on the bier ; &c.] So, in Chaucer** 
e* Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 2879 : 
" He laid him bare the visage on the bere, 
Thcrwith he wept that pitee was to here." STEEVENS. 


LAER. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade 

It could not move thus. 

OPH. You must sing, Down a-do'wn^ an you call 
him a-down-a. O, how the wheel becomes it! 5 It 

3 Hey no nonny, &c.] These words, which were the burthen 
of a song, are found only in the folio. See Vol. XVII. King Lear, 
Act III. sc. iii. MALONE. 

These words are also found in old John Heywood's Play of 
The Wether: 

" Gyve boys wether, quoth a nonny nonny." 

I am informed, that among the common people in Norfolk, to 
nonny signifies to trifle or play with. STEEVENS. 

4 sing, Down a-down,] Perhaps Shakspeare alludes to 

Phcebe's Sonnet, by Thomas Lodge, which the reader may find 
in England's Helicon, 1600 : 
" Doivne a-downe, 
" Thus Phillis sung, 
" By fancie once distressed : &c. 
" And so sing I, with doiune a-downe," &c. 
Down a-down is likewise the burthen of a song in The Three 
Ladies of London, 1584, and perhaps common to many others. 


See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: " Filibustacchina, The 
burden of a countrie song ; as we say, Hay doune a doune, 
douna" MALONE. 

5 0, 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. 

The wheel may mean no more than the burthen of the song, 
which she had just repeated, and as such was formerly used. I 
met with the following observation in an old quarto black-letter 
book, published before the time of Shakspeare. 

" The song was accounted a good one, thogh it was not 
moche graced by the whecle which in no wise accorded with the 
subject matter thereof." 

I quote this from memory, and from a book, of which I cannot 
recollect the exact title or date; but the passage was in a pre- 
face to some songs or sonnets. I well remember, to have met 
with the word in the same sense in other old books. 

Rota, indeed, as I am informed, is the ancient musical term 

1294 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

is the false steward, that stole his master's daugh- 

LAER. This nothing's more than matter. 
OPH. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; 

in Latin, for the burden of a song. Dr. Fanner, however, has 
just favoured me with a quotation from Nicholas Breton's Toyes 
of an idle Head, 1577, which at once explains the word wheel in 
the sense for which I have contended : 

" That I may sing, full merrily, 

" Not heigh ho wele, but care away !" 
i. e. not with a melancholy, but a cheerful burthen. 

I formerly supposed that the ballad alluded to by Ophelia, waa 
that entered on the books of the Stationers' Company : " Octo- 
ber 1580. Four ballades of the Lord of Lorn and the False 
Steward,' 1 &c. but Mr. Ritson assures me there is no correspond- 
ing theft in it. STEEVENS. 

I am inclined to think that wheel is here used in its ordinary 
sense, and that these words allude to the occupation of the girl 
who is supposed to sing the song alluded to by Ophelia. The 
following lines in Hall's Virgidemiarum, 1597, appear to me to 
add some support to this interpretation : 

" Some drunken rimer thinks his time well spent, 
" If he can live to see his name in print ; 
" Who when he is once fleshed to the presse, 
" And sees his handselle have such fair successe, 
*' Sung to the ivheele, and sung unto the payle, 
" He sends forth thraves of ballads to the sale." 
So, in Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1614: ** She makes 
her hands hard with labour, and her head soft with pittie ; and 
when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry tuheele, she 
sings a defiance to the giddy wheele of fortune." 

Our author likewise furnishes an authority to the same pur- 
pose. Twelfth Night, Act II. sc. iv: 

" Come, the song we had last night : 

" The spinsters and the knitters in the sun, 
" Do use to chaunt it." 

A musical antiquary may perhaps contend, that the contro- 
verted word of the text alludes to an ancient instrument men- 
tioned by Chaucer, and called by him a rote, by others a vielle ; 
which was played upon by the friction of a -wheel. MALONE, 

sc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 295 

pray you, love, remember : and there is pansies, 
that's for thoughts. 6 

c There 's rosemary, that's for remembrance; and there is 
pansies, that's Jbr 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 car- 
ried at funerals, I have not discovered. JOHNSON. 

So, in All Fools, a comedy, by Chapman, 1605 : 
" What flowers are these? 
" The pansie this. 
" O, that's for lovers' thoughts!" 

Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthen the memory, 
And was not only carried at funerals, but worn at weddings, as 
appears from a passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's Elder 
Brother, Act III. sc. iii. 

And from another in Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611 : 

" will I be 'wed this morning, 

" Thou shalt not be there, nor once be graced with 
" A piece of rosemary." 

Again, in The Noble Spanish Soldier, 1634 : I meet few but 
are stuck with rosemary: every one asked me who was to be 

Again, in Greene's Never too late, 1616 : " she hath given 

thee a nosegay of flowers, wherein, as a top-gallant for ail the 
rest, is set in rosemary for remembrance," 

Again, in A Dialogue between Nature and the Phcenix, by R. 
Chester, 1601 : 

" There's rosemarie ; the Arabians justifie 

" ( Physitions of exceeding perfect skill ) 

" It comforteth the braine and memorie" &c. 


Rosemary being supposed to strengthen the memory, was the 
emblem of fidelity in lovers. So, in A Handfull of pleasant 
Delites, containing sundrie new Sonets, 16mo. 1584: 
" Rosemary is for remembrance 

" Betweene us daie and night ; 
" Wishing that I might alwaies have 

" You present in my sight." 

The poem in which these lines are found, is entitled A Nose- 
gaie alwaies siveetjbr Lovers to send for Tokens of Love, &c. 


'296 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

LAER. A document in madness ; thoughts and 
remembrance fitted. 

OPH. There's fennel for you, and columbines : 7 

7 There's fennel for you, and columbines:] Greene, in his 
Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1620, calls fennel, -women's weeds: 
" fit generally for that sex, sith while they are maidens, they 
wish wantonly." 

Among Turbervile's Epitaphes, &c. p. 42, b. I likewise find 
the following mention of fennel : 
" \o\afenell did declare 

** (As simple men can showe) 
" That flattrie in my breast I bare, 

" Where friendship ought to grow." 

I know not of what columbines were supposed to be emblema- 
tical. They are again mentioned in AH Fools, by Chapman, 
160j : 

" What's that ? a columbine ? 

" No : that thankless flower grows not in my garden." 
Gerard, however, and other herbalists, impute few, if any, 
virtues to them ; and they may therefore be styled thankless, be- 
cause they appear to make no grateful return for their creation. 
Again, in the 15th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion : 

" The columbine amongst, they sparingly do set." 
From the Caltha Poetarum, 1599, it should seem as if this flower 
was the emblem of cuckoldom : 

" the blue cornuted columbine, 

" Like to the crooked horns of Acheloy." STEEVENS. 
Columbine was an emblem of cuckoldom on account of the 
horns of its nectaria, which are remarkable in this plant. See 
Aquilegia, in Linnaeus's Genera, 684. S. W. 

The columbine was emblematical of forsaken lovers : 
" The columbine in tawny often taken, 
** Is then ascribed to such as are forsaken" 

Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, B. I. Song ii. 1613. 


Ophelia gives her fennel and columbines to the king. In the 
collection of Sonnets quoted above, the former is thus mentioned: 
*' Fennel is for flatterers, 

" An evil thing 'tis sure ; 
" But I have alwaies meant truely, 

" With constant heart most pure." 

See also, Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598 : " Dare Jinocchio t 
to give fennel, to flatter, to dissemble." MALONE. 

vc. v. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 297 

there's rue for you ; and here's some for me : 
we may call it, herb of grace o'Sundays: 8 you 

8 there's rue for you ; and here's some for me : tve 

may call it, herb of grace o'Sundays : Sfc.~] 1 believe there is a 
quibble meant in this passage ; rue anciently signifying the same 
as ruth, i. e. sorrow. Ophelia gives the Queen some, and keeps 
a proportion of it for herself. There is the same kind of play 
with the same word in King Richard II. 

Herb of grace is one of the titles which Tucca gives to Wil- 
liam Riffus, in Decker's Satiromastix. I suppose the first syl- 
lable of the surname Rufus introduced the quibble. 

In Doctor Do-good's Directions, an ancient ballad, is the same 
allusion : 

" If a man have light fingers that he cannot charme, 
" Which will pick men's pockets, and do such like harme, 
" He must be let blood, in a scarfe weare his arme, 
*' And drink the herb grace in a posset luke-warme." 


The following passage from Greene's Quip for an Upstart 
Courtier, will furnish the best reason for calling rue herb of 
grace o'Sundays : " some of them smil'd and said, Rue was 
called Herbegracc, which though they scorned in their youth, 
they might wear in their age, and that it was never too late to 
say miserere." HENLEY. 

Herb of grace was not the Sunday name, but the every day 
name of rue. In the common Dictionaries of Shakspeare's 
time it is called herb of grace. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 
1598, in v. ruta, and Cotgrave's French Dictionary, 1611, in v. 
rue. There is no ground, therefore, for supposing with Dr. 
Warburton, that rue was called herb of grace, from its being 
used in exorcisms performed in churches on Sundays. 

Ophelia only means, I think, that the Queen may with peculiar 
propriety on Sundays, when she solicits pardon for that crime 
which she has so much occasion to rue and repent of, call her 
rue, herb of grace. So, in King Richard II: 

" Here did she drop a tear ; here in this place 
" I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace. 
" Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen, 
" In the remembrance of a weeping queen." 
Ophelia, after having given the Queen rue to remind her of 
the sorrotv and contrition she ought to feel for her incestuous 
marriage, tells her, she may wear it with a difference, to distin- 
guish it from that worn by Ophelia herself; because her tears 

298 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

may wear your rue with a difference. 9 There's a 
daisy :' I would give you some violets ; but they 
withered all, when my father died: 2 They say, 
he made a good end, 

For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy? 


flowed from the loss of a father, those of the Queen ought to 
flow for her guilt. MA LONE. 

9 you may wear your rue with a difference.] This seems 

to refer to the rules of heraldry, where the younger brothers of 
a family bear the same arms with a difference, or mark of dis- 
tinction. So, in Holinshed's Reign of King Richard II. p. 443: 
" because he was the youngest of the Spensers, he bare a 
border gules for a difference." 

There may, however, be somewhat more implied here than 
is expressed. You, madam, (says Ophelia to the Queen,) may 
call your RUE by its Sunday name, HERB OF GRACE, and so 
luear it "with a difference to distinguish it from mine, which can 
never be any thing but merely RUE, i. e. sorrow. STEEVENS. 

1 There's a daisy :] Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart 
Courtier, has explained the significance of this flower: " Next 
them grew the DISSEMBLING DAISIE, to warne such light-of- 
love wenches not to trust every faire promise that such amorous 
bachelors make them." HENLEY. 

* / would give you some violets ; but they withered all, when 
my father died:"] So, in Bion's beautiful elegy on the death of 

" Vavra trvv aura; 

" flf rrjvo; T&VOLKS, xa< "avSea rtavr s^apy.'/^." TODD. 

The violet is thus characterized in the old collection of Son- 
nets above quoted, printed in 1584?: 
" Violet is for Jaithjulnesse, 

" Which in me shall abide ; 
" Hoping likewise that from your heart 
" You will not let it slide." MALONE. 

3 For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy, ] This is part of an old 
song, mentioned likewise by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The 
Two Noble Kinsmen, Act IV. sc. i : 

" 1 can sing the broom, 

And Bonny Robin." 

go. r. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 299 

LAER. Thought and affliction, 4 passion, hell it- 
She turns to favour, and to prettiness. 

OPH. And will he not come again ? [Sings. 

And will he not come again ? 

No, no, he is dead, 

Go to thy death-bed ', 
He never will come again. 

His beard was as white as snow, 5 
All flaxen was his poll: 

He is gone, he is gone, 

And we cast away moan ; 
God 9 a mercy on his soul! 

And of all Christian souls ! 6 I pray God. God be 
wi* you ! \_Eocit OPHELIA. 

In the books of the Stationers' Company, 26 April, 1594, I 
entered " A ballad, intituled, A doleful adewe to the last Erie 
of Darbie, to the tune of Bonny sweet Robin." STEEVENS. 

The " Courtly new ballad of the princely wooing of the faire 
maid of London, by King Edward,'* is also " to the tune of 
Bonny sweet Robin." RITSON. 

4 Thought and affliction,'} Thought here, as in many other 
places, signifies melancholy. See Vol. XVII. p. 179, n. 1. 


* His beard was as white as snow, &c.] This, and several 
circumstances in the character of Ophelia, seem to have been 
ridiculed in Eastward Hoe, a comedy, written by Ben Jonson, 
Chapman, and Marston, printed in 1605, Act III: 
" His head as white as milk, 
" All flaxen was his hair ; 
" But now he's dead, 
" And laid in his bed, 

" And never will come again, 
" God be at your labour !" STEEVENS. 

God 'a mercy on his soul ! 
And of all Christian souls /] Thig is the common conclusion 

soo HAMLET, ACT ir. 

LAER. Do you see this, O God ? 

KING. Laertes, I must commune with your grief, 7 
Or you deny me right. Go but apart, 
Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, 
And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me : 
If by direct or by collateral hand 
They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give, 
Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours, 
To you in satisfaction ; but, if not, 
Be you content to lend your patience to us, 
And we shall jointly labour with your soul 
To give it due content. 

LAER. Let this be so ; 

His means of death, his obscure funeral, 
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,' 

to many of the ancient monumental inscriptions. See Weever's 
Funeral Monuments, p. 657, 658. Berthelette, the publisher of 
Gower's Confessio Amantis, 1554-, speaking first of the funeral 
of Chaucer, and then of Gower, says : " he lieth buried in 
the monasterie of Seynt Peter's at Westminster, &c. On uhose 
soules and all christen, Jesu have mercie." STEEVENS. 

7 commune faith your grief,'] The folio reads common. 

To common is to commune. This word, pronounced as anciently 
spelt, is still in frequent provincial use. So, in The Last Voyage 
of Captaine Frobisher, by Dionyse Settle, 12mo. bl. 1. 1577: 
" Our Generall repayred with the ship boat to common or sign 
with them." Again, in Holinshed's account of Jack Cade's in- 
surrection : " to whome were sent from the king the arch- 
bishop &c. to common with him of his griefs and requests." 


8 No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,~\ It was 
the custom, in the times of our author, to hang a sword over 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. 

sc. vi. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 301 

No noble rite, nor formal ostentation, 

Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth, 

That I must call't in question. 

KING. So you shall ; 

And, where the offence is, let the great axe fall. 
I pray you, go with me. [Exeunt. 


Another Room in the same. 

Enter HORATIO, and a Servant. 

HOR. What are they, that would speak with me ? 

SERV. Sailors, sir ; 

They say, they have letters for you. 

HOR. Let them come in. - 

{_Exit Servant. 

I do not know from what part of the world 
I should be greeted, if not from lord Hamlet. 

Enter Sailors. 

1 SAIL. God bless you, sir. 
HOR. Let him bless thee too. 

1 SAIL. He shall, sir, an't please him. There's 
a letter for you, sir ; it comes from the ambassador 
that was bound for England ; if your name be Ho- 
ratio, as I am let to know it is. 

HOR. \_Reads.~] Horatio, when thou shalt have 
overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the 
king ; they have letters for him. Ere we were two 

302 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment 
gave us chace : Finding ourselves too slow of sail, 
we put on a compelled valour; and in the grapple I 
boarded them : on the instant, they got clear qf our 
ship; so I alone became their prisoner. They have 
dealt with me, like thieves of mercy ; but they knew 
what they did ; I am to do a good turn for them. 
Let tfie king have the letters I have sent ; and repair 
thou to me with as much haste as thou would* stjly 
death. I have words to speak in thine ear, will make 
thee dumb; yet are they much too light for the bore 
of the matter. 9 These good fellows will bring thee 
where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold 
their course for England : of them I have much to 
tell thee. Farewell. 

He that thou knowest thine, Hamlet. 

Come, I will give you way for these your letters ; 
And do't the speedier, that you may direct me 
To him from whom you brought them. 


9 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. 



Another Room in the same. 

Enter King and LAERTES. 

KING. Now must your conscience my acquit- 
tance seal, 

And you must put me in your heart for friend ; 
Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear, 
That he, which hath your noble father slain, 
Pursu'd my life. 

LAER. It well appears : But tell me, 

Why you proceeded not against these feats, 
So crimeful and so capital in nature, 
As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else, 
You mainly were stirr'd up. 

KING. O, for two special reasons ; 

Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd, 
But yet to me they are strong. The queen his 


Lives almost by his looks ; and for my self, 
(My virtue, or my plague, be it either which,) 
She is so conjunctive to my life and soul, 
That, as the star moves not but in his sphere, 
I could not but by her. The other motive, 
Why to a publick count I might not go, 
Is, the great love the general gender 1 bear him : 
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection, 

the general gender ] The common race of the people. 


30* HAMLET, 

Work like the spring 2 that turneth wood to stone, 
Convert his gyves to graces ; so that my arrows, 
Too slightly timber' d for so loud a wind, 3 
Would have reverted to my bow again, 
And not where I had aim'd them. 

LAER. And so have I a noble father lost ; 
A sister driven into desperate terms ; 
Whose worth, if praises may go back again, 4 

* Work like the spring &c.] This simile is neither very sea- 
sonable in the deep interest of this conversation, nor very accu- 
rately applied. If the spring had changed base metals to gold, 
the thought had been more proper. JOHNSON. 

The folio, instead of tuont, reads 'would. 

The same comparison occurs in Churchyard's Choise: 
" So there is wood that water turns to stones." 

In Thomas Lupton's Third Book of Notable Thinges, 4to. 
bl. 1. there is also mention of " a well, that whatsoever is throwne 
into the same, is turned into a stone." 

This, however, we learn from Ovid, is no modern supposition : 
" Flumen habent Cicones, quod potum saxea reddit 
" Viscera, quod tactis inducit marmora rebus." 

See also, Hackluyt, Vol. I. p. 565. STEEVENS. 

The allusion here is to the qualities still ascribed to the drop- 
ping well at Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Camden (edit. 1590, 
p. 564, ) thus mentions it : " Sub quo fons est in quern ex inipen- 
dentibus rupibus aquae guttatim distillant, unde DROPPING WELL 
vocant, in quern qnicqnid ligni immittitur, lapideo cortice brevi 
obduci Sf lapidescere ooscrvatum est." REED. 

3 for so loud a wind,] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604-, 

reads for so loiied (irm*d. If these words have any meaning, 
it should seem to be The instruments of offence I employ, 
would have proved too weak to injure one who is so loved and 
arm'd by the affection of the people. Their love, like armour t 
would revert the arrow to the bow. 

The reading in the text, however, is supported in Ascham's 
Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 57: " Weake bowes and lights 
shajtes cannot stand in a rough winde." STEEVENS. 

Loued arm y d is as extraordinary a corruption as any that is 
found in these plays. MALONE. 

* if praises may go back again,'] If I may praise what 

has been, but is now to be found no more. JOHNSON. 


Stood challenger on mount of all tjie age 

For her perfections : But my revenge will come* 

KING. Break not your sleeps for that : you must 

not think, 

That we are made of stuff so flat and dull, 
That we can let our beard be shook with danger, 5 
And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more : 
I loved your father, and we love ourself ; 
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine, 
How now? what news? 6 

Enter a Messenger. 

MESS. Letters, my lord, from Hamlet : 7 

This to your majesty; this to the queen. 

KING. From Hamlet ! who brought them ? 

MESS. Sailors, my lord, they say : I saw them not ; 
They were given me by Claudio, he receiv'd them 
Of him that brought them. 8 

KING. Laertes, you shall hear them : 

Leave us. [Exit Messenger. 

[Reads.] High and mighty, you shall know, I 
am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I 
beg leave to see your kingly eyes: when I shall ^ first 
asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion 
of my sudden and more strange return. Hamlet. 

3 That <we can let our beard be shook with danger,"] It is won- 
derful that none of the advocates for the learning of Shakspeare 
have told us that this line is imitated from Persius, Sat. ii : 

" Idcirco stolidam praebet tibi vellere barbam 

" Jupiter ?" STEEVENS. 

6 Hoiu now ? &c.] Omitted in the quartos. THEOBALD. 

7 Letters, &c.] Omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

B Of him that brought them."] I have restored this hemistich 
from the quartos. STEEVENS. 


306 HAMLET, Acrir. 

What should this mean ! Are all the rest come back ? 
Or is it some abuse, and no such thing ? 

LAER. Know you the hand ? 

KING. 'Tis Hamlet's character. Naked, 
And, in a postscript here, he says, alone: 
Can you advise me ? 

LAER. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him 


It warms the veiy sickness in my heart, 
That I shall live and tell him to his teeth, 
Thus diddest thou. 

KING. If it be so, Laertes, 

As how should it be so ? how otherwise ? 
Will you be rul'd by me ? 

LAER. Ay, my lord ; 

So you will not o'er-rule me to a peace. 

KING. To thine own peace. If he be now re- 
turn* d, 

As checking at his voyage, 9 and that he means 
No more to undertake it, I will work him 
To an exploit, now ripe in my device, 
Under the which he shall not choose but fall : 
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe j 

9 As checking at his voyage,] The phrase is from falconry ; 
and may be justified from the following passage in Hinde's Eliosto 
Libidinoso, 1606: " For who knows not, quoth she, that this 
hawk, which comes now so fair to the fist, may to-morrow check 
at the lure ?" 

Again, in G. Whetstone's Castle of Delight, 1576: 

" But as the hawke, to gad which knowes the way, 
" Will hardly leave to checfce at carren crowes," &c. 


As checking at his voyage,"] Thus the folio. The quarto, 
1604,, exhibits a corruption similar to that mentioned in n. 3, 
p. 304. It reads : As the king at his voyage. M ALONE. 

sc. vii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 307 

But even his mother shall uncharge the practice, 
And call it, accident. 

LAER.* My lord, I will be rul'd ; 

The rather, if you could devise it so, 
That I might be the organ. 

KING. It falls right. 

You have been talk'd of since your travel much, 
And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality 
Wherein, they say, you shine : your sum of parts 
Did not together pluck such envy from him, 
As did that one ; and that, in my regard, 
Of the unworthiest siege. 2 

LAER. What part is that, my lord ? 

KING. A very ribband in the cap of youth, 
Yet needful too ; for youth no less becomes 
The light and careless livery that it wears, 
Than settled age his sables, and his weeds, 
Importing health and graveness. 3 Two months 

1 Laer. &c.] The next sixteen lines are omitted in the folio. 


* Of the uniuorthiest siege.] Of the lowest rank. Siege, for 
seat, place. JOHNSON. 

So, in Othello: 

" 1 fetch my birth 

" From men of royal siege." STEEVENS. 

3 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. 

Importing health, I apprehend, means, denoting an attention 
to health. MALONE. 

Importing may only signify implying, denoting. So, in King 
Henry VI. P. I : 

" Comets, importing change of times and states." 
Mr. Malone's explanation, however, may be the true one. 


x 2 

308 HAMLET, ACT ir. 

Here was a gentleman of Normandy, 
I have seen myself, and serv'd against, the French, 
And they can well on horseback : but this gallant 
Had witchcraft in't ; he grew unto his seat ; 
And to such wond'rous doing brought his horse, 
As he had been incorps'd and demi-natur'd 
With the brave beast: 4 so far he topp'd my thought, 
That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks, 5 
Come short or what he did. 

LAER. A Norman, was't ? 

KING. A Norman. 

LAER. Upon my life, Lamord. 6 

KING. The very same. 

LAER. I know him well : he is the brooch, in- 
And gem of all the nation. 

KING. He made confession of you ; 
And gave you such a masterly report, 
For art and exercise in your defence, 7 
And for your rapier most especial, 
That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed, 
If one could match you : the scrimers 8 of their 

4 As he had been incorps'd and demi-natur'd 

With the brave beast :~\ This is from Sidney's Arcadia, 
B. II : " As if, Centaur-like, he had been one peece with the 
horse.'* STEEVENS. 

5 in forgery of shapes and tricks t ~] I could not contrive 

so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform. JOHNSON. 

Lamord.~\ Thus the quarto, IGOi. Shakspeare, I suspect, 
wrote Lamode. See the next speecli but one. The folio has 
Lamound. MALONE. 

7 'in your defence^} That is, in the science of defence. 


scrimers ] The fencers. JOHNSON. 


He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye, 
If you oppos'd them : Sir, this report of his 
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy, 
That he could nothing do, but wish and beg 
Your sudden coming o'er, to play with you. 
Now, out of this, 

LAER, What out of this, my lord ? 

KING. Laertes, was your father dear to you ? 
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, 
A face without a heart ? 

LAER. Why ask you this ? 

KING. Not that I think, you did not love your 

father ; 

But that I know, love is begun by time; 9r ' ' !;ii 
And that I see, in passages of proof, 1 
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it. 
There lives 2 within the very flame of love 
A kind of wick, or snuff, that will abate it ; 
And nothing is at a like goodness still ; 

From escrimeur, Fr. a fencer. MALONE. 

This unfavourable description of the French swordsmen is 
not in the folio. STEEVENS. 

9 love is begun by time;'] This is obscure. The mean- 
ing may be, love is not innate in us, and co-essential to our na- 
ture, but begins at a certain time from some external cause, and 
being always subject to the operations of time, suffers change 
and diminution, JOHNSON. 

The King reasons thus : " I do not suspect that you did not 
love your father ; but I know that time abates the force of affec- 
tion." I therefore suspect that we ought to read : 

love is begone by time; 

I suppose that Shakspeare places the syllable be before gone, as 
we say ie-paint, &e-spatter, fe-think, &c. M. MASON. 

1 passages of proof,'] In transactions of daily experience. 


2 There lives &c.] The next ten lines are not in the folio. 


310 HAMLET, ACT ir, 

For goodness, growing to a plurisy, 5 
Dies in his own too-much : That we would do, 
We should do when we would; for this would 

* For goodness, growing to a plurisy, "] I would believe, for 
the honour of Shakspeare, that he wrote plethory. But I ob- 
serve the dramatick writers of that time frequently call a fullness 
of blood SL plurisy, as if it came, not from irtevpy,, but from plus t 
pluris. WARBURTON. 

I think the word should be spelt -plurisy. This passage is 
fully explained by one in Mascal's Treatise on Cattle, 1662, 
p. 1 87 : ** Against the blood, or plurisie of blood. The disease 
of blood is, some young horses will feed, and being fat will in- 
crease blood, and so grow to a plurisie, and die thereof if he have 
not soon help." TOLLET. 

We should certainly read plurisy, as Toilet observes. Thus, 
in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, Malefort says 

" in a word, 

" Thy plurisy of goodness is thy ill." 
And again, in The Picture, Sophia says : 

" A plurisy of blood you may let out," &c. 
The word also occurs in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Arcite, in 
his invocation to Mars, says : 

" that heal'st with blood 

" The earth, when it is sick, and cur'st the world 

' Of the plurisy of people !" M. MASON. 

Dr. Warburton is right. The word is spelt plurisy in the 
quarto, 1604, and is used in the same sense as here, in 'Tis Pity 
she's a Whore, by Ford, 1633 : 

" Must your hot itch and plurisie of lust, 

" The hey-day of your luxury, be fed 

" Up to a surfeit ?" MALONE. 

Mr. Pope introduced this simile in the Essay on Criticism t 
v. 303: 

" For works may have more wit than does them good, 
" As bodies perish through excess of blood." 
Ascham has a thought very similar to Pope's: " Twenty to 
one, offend more, in writing to much, then to litle : euen as 
twenty, fall into sicknesse, rather by ouer much fidnes, then by 
any tacke, or emptinesse." The Schole-Master, 4to. bl. 1. fol. 43. 


And hath abatements and delays as many, 
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents ; 
And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh, 
That hurts by easing. 4 But, to the quick o'the 
ulcer : 

4 And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh, 

That hurts by easing.^ A spendthrift sigh is a sigh that 
makes an unnecessary waste of the vital flame. It is a notion 
very prevalent, that sighs impair the strength, and wear out the 
animal powers. JOHNSON. 

So, in the Governall of Helthe &c. printed by Wynkyn de 
Worde : " And for why whan a man casteth out that noble hu- 
mour too moche, he is hugely dyscolored, and his body moche 
febled, more then he lete four sythes, soo moche blode oute of 
his body." STEEVENS. 

Hence they are called, in King Henry VI. blood-consuming 
sighs. Again, in Pericles, 1609: 

" Do not consume your blood tvith sorrowing." 
The idea is enlarged upon in Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 
1579 : " Why staye you not in tyme the source of your scorch- 
ing sighes, that have already drayned your body of his whole- 
some humoures, appoynted by nature to gyve sucke to the en- 
trals and inward parts of you ?" 

The original quarto, as well as the folio, reads a spendthrift's 
sigh ; but I have no doubt that it was a corruption, arising from 
the first letter of the following word sigh, being an s. I have, 
therefore, with the other modern editors, printed spendthrift 
sigh, following a late quarto, (which however is of no authority,) 
printed in 1611. That a sigh, if it consumes the blood, hurts us 
by easing, or is prejudicial to us on the whole, though it affords 
a temporary relief, is sufficiently clear : but the former part of 
the line, and then this should, may require a little explanation. 
I suppose the King means to say, that if we do not promptly 
execute what we are convinced we should or ought to do, we 
shall afterwards in vain repent our not having seized the fortu- 
nate moment for action : and this opportunity which we have 
let go by us, and the reflection that we should have done that, 
which, from supervening accidents, it is no longer in our power 
to do, is as prejudicial and painful to us as a blood-consuming 
sigh, that at once hurts and eases us. 

I apprehend the poet meant to compare such a conduct, and 
the consequent reflection, only to the pernicious quality which he 

312 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

Hamlet comes back ; What would you undertake, 
To show yourself in deed your father's son 
More than in words ? 

LAER. To cut his throat i'the church. 

KING. No place, indeed, should murder sanc- 

tuarize ; 

Revenge should have no bounds. But, good La- 

Will you do this, keep close within your chamber: 
Hamlet, return'd, shall know you are come home: 
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence, 
And set a double varnish on the fame 
The Frenchman gave you ; bring you, in fine, to r 


And wager o'er your heads : he, being remiss, 5 
Most generous, and free from all contriving, 
Will not peruse the foils ; so that, with ease, 
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose 
A sword unbated, 6 and, in a pass of practice, 7 

supposed to be annexed to sighing, and not to the temporary 
ease which it affords. His similes, as I have frequently had oc- 
casion to observe, seldom run on four feet. MALONE. 

4 he, being remiss,'] He being not vigilant or cautious. 


A sword unbated,] i. e. not blunted as foils are. Or, as one 
edition has it, embaited or envenomed. POPE. 

There is no such reading as embaited in any edition. In Sir 
Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, it is said of one of the 
Metelli, that ** he shewed the people the cruel fight of fencers, 
at unrelated swords." STEEVENS. 

Not blunted, as foils are by a button fixed to the end. So, 
in Love's Labour's Lost: 

" That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge." 


7 a pass of practice,] Practice is often by Shakspeare, 

and other writers, taken for an insidious stratagem, or privy 
treason, a sense not incongruous to this passage, where yet 4 


Requite him for your father. 

LAER. I will do't : 

And, for the purpose, 1*11 anoint my sword. 
I bought an unction of a mountebank, 
So mortal, that but dip a knife in it, 
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare, 
Collected from all simples that have virtue 
Under the moon, can save the thing from death, 
That is but scratched withal : I'll touch my point 
With this contagion j that, if I gall him slightly, 
It may be death. 8 

KING. Let's further think of this ; 

Weigh, what convenience, both of time and means, 

rather believe, that nothing more is meant than a thrust Jbr ex- 
ercise. JOHNSON. 

So, in Look about you, 1600 : 

" I pray God there be no practice in this change." 
Again : 

the man is like to die : 

" Practice, by th' mass, practice by the &c.- 

Practice, by the Lord, practice, I see it clear." 
Again, more appositely, in our author's Twelfth-Night, Act V. 
sc. ult : 

" This practice hath most shrewdly passed upon thee." 


A pass of practice is Q. favourite pass, one that Laertes was 
well practised in. In Much Ado about Nothing, Hero's father 

" I'll prove it on his body, if he dare, 
" Despite his nice fence, and his active practice." 
The treachery on this occasion, was his using a sword undated 
envenomed. M. MASON. 

8 It may be death."] It is a matter of surprise, that no one of 
Shakspeare's numerous and able commentators has remarked, 
with proper warmth and detestation, the villainous assassin-like 
treachery of Laertes in this horrid plot. There is the more oc- 
casion that he should be here pointed out an object of abhor- 
rence, as he is a character we are, in some preceding parts of the 
play, led to respect and admire. RITSON, 

314 HAMLET, 

May fit us to our shape : 9 if this should fail, 
And that our drift look through our bad perform. 


'Twere better not assay'd ; therefore this project 
Should have a back, or second, that might hold, 
If this should blast in proof. 1 Soft ; let me see: 
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings, 
I ha't : 

When in your motion you are hot and dry, 
(As make your bouts more violent to that end,) 
And that he calls for drink, I'll have preferr'dhim* 
A chalice for the nonce ; whereon but sipping, 
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck, 3 

9 May Jit us to our shape :~] May enable us to assume proper 
characters, and to act our part. JOHNSON. 

1 blast in proof] This, I believe, is a metaphor taken 

from a mine, which, in the proof or execution, sometimes breaks 
out with an ineffectual blast. JOHNSON. 

The word proof shows the metaphor to be taken from the 
trying or proving fire-arms or cannon, which often blast or burst 
in the proof. STEEVENS. 

* I'll have preferr'd him ] i. e. presented to him. Thus 

the quarto, 1604. The word indeed is mispelt, prefard. The 
folio reads I'll have prepared him. MALONE. 

To prefer (as Mr. Malone observes,) certainly means to 
present, offer, or bringjbnvard. So, in Timon of Athens : 

" Why then preferr'd you not your sums and bills ?" 


* If he by chance escape your venom* d stuck,] For stuck, read 
tuck, a common name for a rapier. BLACKSTONE. 

Your venom'd stuck is, your venom'd thrust. Stuck was a 
term of the fencing-school. So, in Twelfth- Night : " and 
he gives me the stuck with such a mortal motion, ." Again, in 
The Return from Parnassus, 1606 : " Here is a fellow, Judicio, 
that carried the deadly stoche in his pen." See Florio's/ta/t'a/i 
Diet. 1598: " Stoccata, a foyne, a thrust, a stoccado given in 
fence." MALONE. 

See Vol. V. p. 371, n. 9. STKEVEKS. 

so. vn. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 315 

Our purpose may hold there. But stay, what noise? 4 

Enter Queen, 

How now, sweet queen ? 5 

QUEEN. One woe doth tread upon another's heel," 
$o fast they follow; -Your sister's drown' d,Laertes, 

LAER. Drown' d ! O, where ? 

QUEEN. There is a willow grows ascaunt the 

brook, 7 

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; 
Therewith fantastick garlands did she make 
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples, 8 

4 But stay, what noise?"] I have recovered this from the 

quartos. STEEVENS. 

* Hotxi now, sweet queen ?"] These words are not in the 
quarto. The word now, which appears to have been omitted by 
the carelessness of the transcriber or compositor, was supplied by 
the editor of the second folio. MALONE. 

6 One woe doth tread upon another's heel,~\ A similar thought 
occurs in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 : 

" One sorrow never comes, but brings an heir, 

" That may succeed as his inheritor.*' STEEVENS. 

Again, in Drayton's Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596 : 

" miseries, which seldom come alone, 

" Thick on the neck one of another fell." 
Again, in Shakspeare's 131st Sonnet : 

" A thousand groans, but thinking on thy fall, 
" One on another's neck, ." MALONE. 

Again, in Locrine, 1595 : 

" One mischief follows on another's neck." 
And this also is the first line of a queen's speech on a lady's 
drowning herself. RITSON. 

7 ascaunt the brook,~] Thus the quartos. The folio reads 

aslant. Ascaunce is interpreted in a note of Mr. Tyrwhitt's on 
Chaucer askew, aside, sideways. STEEVENS. 

8 _ and long purples,] By long purples is meant a plant, 

316 HAMLET, ACT iv. 

That liberal 9 shepherds give a grosser name, 
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them : 
There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds 
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke ; 
When down her weedy trophies, and herself, 
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread 

wide ; 

And, mermaid-like, a while they bore her up : 
Which time, she chanted snatches of old tunes ; l 

the modern botanical name of which is orchis morio mas, an- 
ciently testiculus morionis. the grosser name by which it passes, 
is sufficiently known in many parts of England, and particularly 
in the county where Shakspeare lived. Thus far Mr. Warner. 
Mr. Collins adds, that in Sussex it is still called dead men's hands; 
and that in Lyte's Herbal, 1578, its various names, too gross for 
repetition, are preserved. 

Dead men's thumbs are mentioned in an ancient bl, 1. ballad, 
entitled The deceased Maiden Lover: 

" Then round the meddowes did she walke, 

" Catching each flower by the stalke, 

" Such as within the meddowes grew ; 

" As dead mans thumbe, and hare-bell blew." 


One of the grosser names of this plant Gertrude had a parti- 
cular reason to avoid: the rampant widow. MALONE. 

9 liberal'] Licentious. See Vol. IV. p. 255, n. 7 ; 

Vol. VI. p. 122, n. 6 ; Vol. VIII. p. 197, n. 5, and p. 275, n. 5. 


Liberal is free-spoken, licentious in language. So, in Othello: 
(l Is he not a most profane and liberal counsellor ?" Again, in 
A Woman's a Weathercock, by N. Field, 1612: 

" Next that, the fame 

" Of your neglect, and liberal-talking tongue, 
" Which breeds my honour an eternal wrong." 


1 Which time, she chanted snatches of old tunes;] Fletcher, 
in his Scornful Lady, very invidiously ridicules this incident : 
" I will run mad first, and if that get not pity, 
" I'll drown myself to a most dismal ditty." 

ac. vii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 317 

As one incapable of her own distress, 2 

Or like a creature native and indu'd 

Unto that element : 3 but long it could not be, 

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 

PulPd the poor wretch from her melodious lay 

To muddy death. 4 

LAER. Alas then, she is drown'd ? 

QUEEN. Drown'd, drown'd. 

The quartos read snatches of old lauds, i. e. hymns. 


* As one incapable of her oin distress,"] As one having no un- 
derstanding or knowledge of her danger. See p. 249, n. 1. 

That is, insensible. So, in King Richard III : 

" Incapable and shallow innocents." RITSON. 

3 Or like a creature native and indu'd 

Unto that element :~\ I do not think the word indued is sense 
in this place ; and believe we should read inured. 

Shakspeare seems to have forgot himself in this scene, as there 
is not a single circumstance in the relation of Ophelia's death, 
that induces us to think she had drowned herself intentionally. 


As we are indued with certain original dispositions and pro- 
pensities at our birth, Shakspeare here uses indued with great 
licentiousness, for formed by nature ; clothed, endowed, or fur- 
nished, with properties suited to the element of water. 

Our old writers used indued and endowed indiscriminately. 
" To indue," says Minsheu in his Dictionary, " sepissime refer- 
tur ad dotes animo infusas, quibus nimirum ingenium alicujus 
imbuturn et initiatum est, unde et G. instruire est L. imbuere. 
Tin/mere proprie est inchoare et initiari." 

In Cotgrave's French Dictionary, 1611, instruire is inter- 
preted, " to fashion, to furnish with." MALONE. 

4 To muddy deatJi.~\ In the first scene of the next Act we find 
Ophelia buried with such rites as betoken shejbredid her oixin 
life. It should be remembered, that the account here given, is 
that of a friend ; and that the Queen could not possibly know 
what passed in the mind of Ophelia, when she placed herself 
in so perilous a situation. After the facts had been weighed and 
considered, the priest in the next Act pronounces, that her 
death was doubtful. MALONE. 

318 HAMLET, ACT?. 

LAER. Too much of water hast thou, poor 


And therefore I forbid my tears : But yet 
It is our trick ; nature her custom holds, 
Let shame say what it will : when these are gone, 
The woman will be out. 5 Adieu, my lord ! 
I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze, 
But that this folly drowns it. 6 [Exit. 

KING. Let's follow, Gertrude : 

How much I had to do to calm his rage ! 
Now fear I, this will give it start again ; 
Therefore, let's follow. [Exeunt. 


A Church Yard. 
Enter 2Vo Clowns, with Spades, <Jr. 

1 CLO. Is she to be buried in Christian burial, 
that wilfully seeks her own salvation ? 

2 CLO. I tell thee, she is ; therefore make her 
grave straight : 7 the crowner hath set on her, and 
finds it Christian burial. 

* The woman will be out.] i. e. tears will flow. So, in 
K. Henry V: 

" And all the "woman came into my eyes." MALONE. 

See VoL XII. p. 476, n. 1. STEEVENS. 

But that this folly drowns if.] Thus the quarto, 1604. The 
folio reads But that this folly doubts it; i. e. flouts or extin- 
guishes it. See p. 68, n. 4. MALONE. 

7 make her grave straight:] Make her grave from east 

sc. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 319 

1 CLO. How can that be, unless she drowned 
herself in her own defence ? 

2 CLO. Why, 'tis found so. 

1 CLO. It must be se offendendo; it cannot be 
else. For here lies the point : If I drown myself 
wittingly, it argues an act : and an act hath three 
branches ; it is, to act, to do, and to perform : 8 
Argal, she drowned herself wittingly. 

2 CLO. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver. 

1 CLO. Give me leave. Here lies the water; 
good : here stands the man ; good : If the man go 
to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he, nill 
he, he goes ; mark you that : but if the water come 
to him, and drown him, he drowns not himself: 

to west in a direct line parallel to the church ; not from north to 
south, athwart the regular line. This, I think, is meant. 


I cannot think that this means any more than make Tier 
grave immediately. She is to be buried in Christian burial, and 
consequently the grave is to be made as usual. My interpre- 
tation may be justified from the following passages in King 

Henry V. and the play before us: " We cannot lodge and 

board a dozen or fourteen gentlewomen who live by the prick 
of their needles, but it will be thought we keep a bawdy-house 

Again, in Hamlet, Act III. sc. iv : 

" Pol. He will come straight." 

Again, in The Lover's Progress, by Beaumont and Fletcher : 
" Lis. Do you fight straight ? 
" Clar. Yes presently." 
Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : 

" we'll come and dress you straight." 

Again, in Othello: 

" Farewell, my Desdemona, I will come to thee straight" 

Again, in Troilus and Cressida : 

" Let us make ready straight." MALONE. 

8 an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to 

perform .- J Ridicule on scholastick divisions without distinction ; 
and of distinctions without difference. WARBURTON. 


Argal, he, that is not guilty of his own death, 
shortens not his own life. 
2 CLO. But is this law ? 

1 CLO. Ay, marry is't ; crowner's-quest law. 9 

2 CLO. Will you ha* the truth on't ? If this had 
not been a gentlewoman, she should have been 
buried out or Christian burial. 

1 CLO. Why, there tlioti say'st : And the more 
pity; that great folks shall have countenance in 
this world to drown or hang themselves, more than 
their even Christian. 1 Come, my spade. There 

9 crowner's-quest law.'] I strongly suspect that this is a 

ridicule on the case of Dame Hales, reported by Plow-den in his 
Commentaries, as determined in 3 Eliz. 

It seems, her husband, Sir James Hales had drownod himself 
in a river; and the question was, whether by this act a for- 
feiture of a lease from the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, 
which he was possessed of, did not accrue to the crown : an in- 
quisition was found before the coroner, which found \\imjt-lo de 
se. The legal and logical subtilties, arising from the course of 
the argument of this case, gave a very fair opportunity for a 
sneer at crowner's quest-law. The expression, a little before, 
that an act hath three branches, &c. is so pointed an allusion to 
the case I mention, that I cannot doubt but that Shakspeare was 
acquainted with, and meant to laugh at it. 

It may be added, that on this occasion a great deal of subtilty 
was used, to ascertain whether Sir James was the agent or the 
patient; or, in other words, whether Ac went to the water, or the 
water came to him. The cause of Sir James's madness was the 
circumstance of his having been the judge who condemned Lady 
Jane Grey. SIR J. HAWKINS. 

If Shakspeare meant to allude to the case of Dame Hales, 
(which indeed seems not improbable,) he must have heard of 
that case in conversation ; for it was determined before he was 
born, and Plowden's Commentaries, in which it is reported, 
were not translated into English till a few years ago. Our au- 
thor's study was probably not much encumbered with old French 
Reports. MALONE. 

1 their even 'Christian.'] So, all the old books, and 

rightly. An old English expression for fellow-christian. 


sc. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 321 

is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, 
andgrave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession. 

2 CLO. Was he a gentleman ? 

1 CLO. He was the first that ever bore arms. 

2 CLO.* Why, he had none. 

1 CLO. What, art a heathen ? How dost thou 
understandthe scripture? The scripture says, Adam 
digged; Could he dig without arms ? I'll put an- 
other question to thee ; if thou answerest me not 
to the purpose, confess thyself 3 

2 CLO. Go to. 

1 CLO. What is he, that builds stronger than 
either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter ? 

So, in Chaucer's Jack Upland: " If freres cannot or mow 
not excuse 'hem of these questions asked of 'hem, it seemeth 
that they be horrible giltie against God, and ther even Chris- 
tian;" &c. 

Again, in Gower, de Confessione Amantis, Lib. V. fol. 102 : 
" Of beautie sighe he never hir even." 

Again, Chaucer's Persones Tale : " of his neighbour, that 

is to sayn, of his even cristen," &c. This phrase also occurs fre- 
quently in the Paston Letters. See Vol. III. p. 4-21, &c. &c. 
" That is to say, in relieving and sustenance of your even chris- 
ten," &c. Again: " to dispose and help your even chris- 
ten." STEEVENS. 

So King Henry Eighth, in his answer to parliament in 1546: 

" you might say that I, beyng put in so speciall a trust as I 

am in this case, were no trustie frende to you, nor charitable 
man to mine even Christian, ." Hall's Chronicle, fol. 261. 


* 2 Clo.~\ This speech, and the next as far as "without arms, 
is not in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

3 confess thyself'] and be hanged, the Clown, I suppose, 

would have said, if he had not been interrupted. This was a 
common proverbial sentence. See Othello, Act IV. sc. i. He 
might, however, have intended to say, confess thyself an ass. 



322 HAMLET, ACT r. 

2 CLO. The gallows-maker; for that frame out- 
lives a thousand tenants. 

1 CLO. I like thy wit well, in good faith ; the 
gallows does well : But how does it well ? it does 
well to those that do ill : now thou dost ill, to say, 
the gallows isbuilt stronger than the church; argal, 
the gallows may do well to thee. To't again ; 

2 CLO. Who builds 4 stronger than a mason, a 
shipwright, or a carpenter ? 

1 CLO. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke. 5 

2 CLO. Marry, now I can tell. 

1 CLO. To't. 

2 CLO. Mass, I cannot tell. 

* Who builds &c.] The inquisitive reader may meet with aa 
assemblage of such queries (which perhaps composed the chief 
festivity of our ancestors by an evening fire) in a volume of very 
scarce tracts, preserved in the University Library, at Cambridge, 
D. 5. 2. The innocence of these Demaundes Joyous may de- 
serve a praise which is not always due to their delicacy. 


* Ay t tell me that, and unyoke."] If it be not sufficient to say, 
with Dr. Warburton, that this phrase might be taken from hus- 
bandry, without much depth of reading, we may produce it 
from a dittie of the workmen of Dover, preserved in the addition* 
to Holinshed, p. 1546 : 

" My bow is broke, I would unyoke, 

" My foot is sore, I can worke no more." FARMER. 

Again, in Drayton's Polyolbion, at the end of Song I : 

" Here I'll unyoke a while and turne my steeds to meat." 
Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, 
p. 593 : " in the evening, and when thou dost unyoke." 



Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, at a distance. 

1 CLO. Cudgel thy brains no more about it; 5 
for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beat- 
ing : and, when you are asked this question next, 
say, a grave-maker ; the houses that he makes, last 
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan, and fetch 
me a stoup of liquor. [Exit 2 Clown. 

1 Clown digs, and sings. 

In youth, 'when I did love, did lave? 

Methought, it was very sweet, 
To contract, O, the time,jbr, ah, my behove 

0, methought, there was nothing meet.* 

6 Cudgel thy brains no more about it;~\ So, in The Maydes 
Metamorphosis, by Lyly, 1600: 

" I vain I fear, / beat my brains about 

" Proving by search to find my mistresse out." MALONE. 

7 In youth, luhen I did love, &c.] The three stanzas, sung 
here by the Grave-Digger, are extracted, with a slight variation, 
from a little poem, called The aged Lover renounceth Love, 
written by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who flourished in the 
reign of King Henry VIII. and who was beheaded 1547, on a 
strained accusation of treason. THEOBALD. 

8 To contract, O, the time, for, ah, my behove 

O, methought, there luas nothing meet.~\ This passage, as 
it stands, is absolute nonsense; but if we read " for aye," instead 
of " for ah," it will have some kind of sense, as it may mean, 
" that it was not meet, though he was in love, to contract him- 
self/or ever." M. MASON. 

Dr. Percy is of opinion that the different corruptions in these 
stanzas, might have been " designed by the poet himself, the 
better to paint the character of an illiterate clown." 

Behove is interest, convenience. So, in the 4th Book of Phaer's 
rersion of the JEneid . 

" ~ wilt for thyne own behove." STEEVENS. 

Y 2 

324 HAMLET, ACT v. 

HAM. Has this fellow no feeling of his business? 
he sings at grave-making. 

HOR. Custom hath made it in him a property 
of easiness. 

HAM. 'Tis e'en so : the hand of little employ- 
ment hath the daintier sense. 

1 CLO. But age, with his stealing steps, 
Hath claw'd me in his clutch, 
And hath shipped me into the land. 
As if I had never been such.* 

[Throws up a scull. 

nothing meet. ~\ Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, reads: 

O me thought there a was nothing a meet. MALONE. 

The original poem from which this stanza is taken, like the 
other succeeding ones, is preserved among Lord Surrey's poems ; 
though, as Dr. Percy has observed, it is attributed to Lord Vaux 
by George Gascoigne. See an epistle prefixed to one of his 
poems, printed with the rest of his works, 1575. By others it 
is supposed to have been written by Sir Thomas Wyatt : 
" I lothe that I did love ; 

" In youth that I thought swete : 
" As time requires for my behove, 
" Methinks they are not mete." 

All these difficulties, however, (says the Rev. Thomas Warton, 
History of English Poetry, Vol. III. p. 45,) are at once adjusted 
by MS. Harl. 1703, 25, in the British Museum, in which we 
have a copy of Vaux's poem, beginning, / lothe that I did love, 
with the title, " A dyttie or sonet made by the lord Vaus, in the 
time of the noble quene Marye, representing the image of death." 
The entire Song is published by Dr. Percy, in the first volume 
of his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. STEEVENS. 

9 As if I had never been such.~] Thus, in the original: 
" For age with stealing steps 

*' Hath claude me with his crowch ; 
" And lusty youthe away he leapes, 

" As there had bene none such." STEEVENS. 


HAM. That scull had a tongue in it, and could 
sing once : How the knave jowls it to the ground, 
as if it were Cain's jaw-bone, that did the first 
murder ! This might be the pate of a politician, 
which this ass now o'er-reaches ;* one that would 
circumvent God, might it not ? 

HOR. It might, my lord. 

HAM. Or of a courtier ; which could say, Good- 
morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord? 
This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my 
lord such-a-one's horse, when he meant to beg it; 2 
might it not ? 

HOR. Ay, my lord. 

HAM. Why, e'en so : and now my lady Worm's; 3 
chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a 
sexton's spade : Here's fine revolution, an we had 
the trick to see't. Did these bones cost no more 

1 which this ass now o'er-reaches ;] The folio reads 

o'er-offices. STEEVENS. 

In the quarto, [1604 1 ] for over-offices is over-reaches, which 
agrees better with the sentence : it is a strong exaggeration to 
remark, that an ass can over-reach him who would once have 
tried to circumvent . I believe, both these words were Shak- 
speare's. An author in revising his work, when his original 
ideas have faded from his mind, and new observations have pro- 
duced new sentiments, easily introduces images which have been 
more newly impressed upon him, without observing their want 
of congruity to the general texture of his original design. 


1 This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord such- 
a-one 1 s horse t "when he meant to beg it y] So, in Timon of 
^Athens, Act I: 

" my lord, you gave 

" Good words the other day of a bay courser 
" I rode on ; it is yours, because you lik'd it." 


and now my lady Worm's ;~] The scull that was my 
lord Such-a-one's, is now my lady Worm's. JOHNSON. 


the breeding, but to play at loggats with them ?* 

mine ache to think on't. 

1 CLO. A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade, [Sings, 

For and a shrouding sheet : 
O, a pit of clay for to be made 
For such a guest is meet.* 

[Throws up a scull. 

4 to play at loggats uith them ?] This is a game played 

in several parts of England even at this time, A stake is fixed 
into the ground ; those who play, throw loggats at it, and he 
that is nearest the stake, wins : I have seen it played in different 
counties at their sheep-shearing feasts, where the winner was en- 
titled to a black fleece, which he afterwards presented to the 
farmer's maid to spin for the purpose of making a petticoat, and 
on condition that she knelt down on the fleece to be kissed by 
all the rusticks present. 

So, Ben Jonson, Tale of a Tub, Act IV. sc. vi : 
** Now are they tossing of his legs and arms, 
" Like loggats at a pear-tree." 
Again, in an old collection of Epigrams, Satires, &c. 

" To play at loggats, nine holes, or ten pinnes." 
Again, in Decker's If this be not a good Play, the Devil is in it t 

" two hundred crowns ! 

" I've lost as much at loggats." 

It is one of the unlawful games enumerated in the statute of 
S3 of Henry VIII. STEEVENS. 

Loggeting in the fields is mentioned for the first time among 
other " new and crafty games and plays," in the statute of 33 
Henry VIII. c. 9. Not being mentioned in former acts against 
unlawful games, it was probably not practised long before the 
statute of Henry the Eighth was made. M ALONE. 

A loggat-ground, like a skittle-ground, is strewed with ashes, 
but is more extensive. A bowl much larger than the jack of the 
game of bowls is thrown first. The pins, which I believe are 
called loggats, are much thinner, and lighter at one extremity 
than the other. The bowl bein. r first thrown, the players take 
the pins up by the thinner and lighter end, and fling them to- 
wards the bowl, and in such a manner that the pins may once 
turn round in the air, and slide with the thinner extremity fore- 
most towards the bowl. The pins are about one or two-and-. 
twenty inches long. BU>UNT. 

ec. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 327 

HAM. There's another : Why may not that be 
the scull of a lawyer ? Where be his quiddits 6 now, 
his quillets, 7 his cases, his tenures, and his tricks ? 
why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock 
him about the sconce 8 with a dirty shovel, and 
will not tell him of his action of battery ? Humph! 
This fellow might be in's time a great buyer of 
land, with his statutes, 9 his recognizances, his fines, 

* For such a guest is meet.'] Thus in the original : 
A pick-axe and a spade, 

And eke a shrouding sheet; 
A house of clay for to be made t 

For such a guest most meet. STEEVENS. 

c quiddits &c.] i. e. subtilties. So, in Soliman and 

Perseda : 

" I am wise, but quiddits will not answer death." 

Again, in Dray ton's Otvle, 4to. 1604- : 

" By some strange quiddit, or some wrested clause, 
" To find him guiltie of the breach of lawes." 


7 his quillets,] So, in Ram- Alley, or Merry Tricks, 


" Nay, good Sir Throat, forbear your quillets now." 


Quillets are nice and frivolous distinctions. The word is ren- 
dered by Cole, in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, resfrivola. 


8 the sconce ] i. e. the head. So, in Lyly's Mother 

Bombie, 1594* : 

" Laudo ingenium ; I like thy sconce." 
Again, in Ram- Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611: 
__ .______ I say no more ; 

" But 'tis within this sconce to go beyond them." 

See Comedy of Errors, Act I. sc. iv. Vol. XX. MALONE. 

9 his statutes,] By a statute is here meant, not an act 

of parliament, but a species of security for money, affecting real 
property ; whereby the lands of the debtor are conveyed to the 
creditor, till out of the rents and profits of them his debt may 
be satisfied. MALONE. 


his double vouchers, 1 his recoveries: Is this the 
fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, 2 
to have his fine pate full of fine dirt ? will his 
vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and 
double ones too, than the length and breadth of a 
pair of indentures ? The very conveyances of his 
lands will hardly lie in this box ; and must the in* 
heritor himself have no more ? ha ? 

HOR. Not a jot more, my lord. 

HAM. Is not parchment made of sheep-skins ? 

HOR. Ay, my lord, and of calves-skins too. 

HAM. They are sheep, and calves, which seek 
out assurance in that. 3 I will speak to this fellow ; 
Whose grave's this, sirrah ? 

1 CLO. Mine, sir. 

0, a pit of clay for to be made [Sings, 

For such a guest is meet. 

1 his double vouchers, 8?c.~] A recovery with double 

voucher is the one usually suffered, and is so denominated from 
tiioo persons (the latter of whom is always the common cryer, 
or some such inferior person,) being successively voucher, or 
called upon, to warrant the tenant's title. Bothjines and reco- 
veries are fictions of law, used to convert an estate tail into a fee 
simple. Statutes are ^not acts of parliament, but) statutes-mer- 
chant and staple, particular modes of recognizance or acknow- 
ledgment for securing debts, which thereby become a charge 
upon the party's land. Statutes and recognizances are constantly 
mentioned together in the covenants of a purchase deed. 


* Is this the fine ofhisjlnes, and the recovery of his recoveries,] 
Omitted in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

assurance in that."] A quibble is intended. Deeds, 
which are usually written on parchment, are called the common 
assurances of the kingdom. MALONE. 


HAM. I think it be thine, indeed ; for thou liest 

1 CLO. You lie out on't, sir, and therefore it is 
not yours : for my part, I do not lie in't, yet it is 

HAM. Thou dost lie in't, to be in't, and say it 
is thine : 'tis for the dead, not for the quick ; 
therefore thou liest. 

1 CLO. 'Tis a quick lie, sir ; 'twill away again, 
from me to you, 

HAM. What man dost thou dig it for ? 

1 CLO. For no man, sir. 

HAM. What woman then ? 

1 CLO. For none neither. 

HAM. Who is to be buried in't ? 

1 CLO. One, that was a woman, sir ; but, rest 
her soul, she's dead. 

HAM. How absolute the knave is ! we must speak 
by the card, 4 or equivocation will undo us. By 

4 by the card,] The card is the paper on which the dif- 
ferent points of the compass were described. To do any tiling 
by the card, is, to do it ivith nice observation. JOHNSON. 

The card is a sea-chart, still so termed by mariners : and the 
word is afterwards used by Osric in the same sense. Hamlet's 
meaning will therefore be, we must speak directly forward in a 
straight line, plainly to the point. RITSON. 

So, in Macbeth : 

" And the very ports they blow, &c. 
" In the shipman's card." STKEVENS. 

by the card,] i. e. we must speak with the same precision 

and accuracy as is observed in marking the true distances of 
coasts, the heights, courses, &c. in a sea-chart, which in our 
poet's time was called a card. So, in The Commonwealth and 
Government of Venice, 4to. 1599, p. 177 : " Sebastian Munster 
in his cards of Venice ." Again, in Bacon's Essays, p. 326, 

330 HAMLET, Acrr. 

the lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken 
note of it ; the age is grown so picked, 5 that the 
toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the 
courtier, he galls his kibe. How long hast thou 
been a grave-maker ? 

edit. 174O : " Let him carry with him also some card, or book, 
describing the country where he travelleth." In 1589 was pub- 
lished in 4to. A bricfe Discourse o/'Mappes and Gardes, and of 
their Uses. The " shipman's card" in Macbeth, is the paper 
on which the different points of the compass are described. 


In every ancient Ben-chart that I have seen, the compass, &c. 
was likewise introduced. STEEVENS. 

4 the age is grown so picked, ~] So smart, so sharp, say* 

Sir T. Hanmer, very properly ; but there was, I think, about 
that time, a picked shoe, that is, a shoe with a long pointed toe, 
in fashion, to which the allusion seems likewise to be made. 
Every man now is smart; and every man now is a man ofj'a- 
shion. JOHNSON. 

This fashion of wearing shoes with long pointed toes wan 
carried to such excess in England, that it was restrained at last 
by proclamation so long ago as the fifth year of Edward IV. 
when it was ordered, " that the beaks or pykes of shoes and 
boots should not pass two inches, upon pain of cursing by the 
clergy, and forfeiting twenty shillings, to be paid, one noble to 
the king, another to the cordwainers of London, and the third 
to the chamber of London:" and for other countries and towns 
the like order was taken. Before this time, and since the year 
1462, the pykes of shoes and boots were of such length, that 
they were fain to be tied up to the knee with chains of silver, 
and gilt, or at least silken laces. STEEVENS. 

the age is grown so picked,] i. e. so spruce, so quaint, 

o affected. See Vol. VII. p. 133, n. 1 ; and Vol. X. p. 360, n. 8. 

There is, I think, no allusion to picked or pointed shoes, as 
has been supposed. Picked was a common word of Shakspeare's 
age, in the sense above given, and is found in Minsheu's Dic- 
tionary, 1617, with its original signification : " Trimm'd or drest 
sprucely." It is here used metaphorically. MA LONE. 

I should have concurred with Mr. Malone in giving a general 
sense to the epithet picked, but for Hamlet's mention of the 
toe of the peasant, &c. STEBVENS. 


1 CLO. Of all the days i'the year, I came to't 
that day that our last king Hamlet overcame For- 

HAM. How long's that since ? 

1 do. Cannot you tell that ? every fool can tell 
that : It was that very day that young Hamlet was 
born ; 6 he that is mad, and sent into England. 

HAM. Ay, marry, why was he sent into Eng- 
land ? 

1 CLO. Why, because he was mad : he shall re- 
cover his wits there ; or, if he do not, 'tis no great 
matter there. 

HAM. Why? 

1 CLO. 'Twill not be seen in him there ; there 
the men are as mad as he. 7 

HAM. How came he mad ? 

1 CLO. Very strangely, they say. 

HAM. How strangely ? 

l CLO. 'Faith, e'en with losing his wits. 

HAM. Upon what ground ? 

1 CLO. Why, here in Denmark; I have been 
sexton here, man, and boy, thirty years. 

6 that young Hamlet tuns born.''] By this scene it ap- 
pears that Hamlet was then thirty years old, and knew Yorick 
well, who had been dead twenty-two years. And yet in the be- 
ginning of the play he is spoken of as a very young man, one 
that designed to go back to school, i. e. to the University of 
Wittenberg. The poet in the fifth Act had forgot what he wrote 
in the first. BLACKSTONE. 

7 'Twill not be seen in him there ; there the men are as mad 
as he.~\ 

" Nimirum insanus paucis videatur ; eo quod 

" Maxima pars hominum morbo jactatur eodem." 

Horace, Sat. L. LL iii. 120. STEEVENS. 


HAM. How long will a man lie i'the earth ere 
he rot ? 

1 CLO. 'Faith, if he be not rotten before he die, 
(as we have many pocky corses now-a-days, 8 that 
will scarce hold the laying in,) he will last you 
some eight year, or nine year : a tanner will last 
you nine year. 

HAM. Why he more than another ? 

1 CLO. Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his 
trade, that he will keep out water a great while ; 
and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson 
dead body. Here's a scull now hath lain you i'the 
earth three-and-twenty years. 

HAM. Whose was it ? 

1 CLO. A whoreson mad fellow's it was ; Whose 
do you think it was ? 

HAM. Nay, I know not. 

1 CLO. A pestilence on him for a mad rogue ! 
he poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. 
This same scull, sir, was Yorick's scull, 9 the king's 

HAM. This ? [ Takes the Scull. 

1 CLO. E'en that. 

HAM. Alas, poor Yorick ! I knew him, Hora- 
tio ; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent 
fancy : he hath borne me on his back a thousand 
times ; and now, how abhorred in my imagination 
it is ! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips, 
that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be 

* note a-days,~\ Omitted in the quarto. M ALONE. 

9 Yorick's scull,'] Thus the folio. The quarto reads 

Sir Yorick's scull. MALONE. 

so. /. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 333 

your gibes now ? your gambols ? your songs ? your 
flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the 
table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own 
grinning F 1 quite chap-fallen ? Now get you to my 
lady's chamber, 2 and tell her, let her paint an inch 
thick, to this favour 3 she must come ; make her 
laugh at that. Pr'ythee, Horatio, tell me one 

HOR. What's that, my lord ? 

HAM. Dost thou think, Alexander looked o'this 
fashion i'the earth ? 

HOR. E'en so. 

HAM. And smelt so ? pah ! 

[Throws down the Scull. 

HOR. E'en so, my lord. 

HAM. To what base uses we may return, Hora- 
tio ! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust 
of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole ? 

HOR. 'Twere to consider too curiously, to con- 
sider so. 

HAM. No, faith, not a jot ; but to follow him 
thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead 
it : As thus ; Alexander died, Alexander was bu- 
ried, Alexander returneth to dustj the dust is earth; 

1 your oijon grinning?] Thus the quarto, 1604-. The 

folio reads your own jeering ? In that copy, after this word, 
and chap-fallen, there is a note of interrogation, which all the 
editors have adopted. I doubt concerning its propriety. 


* my lady's chamber,] Thus the folio. The quartos 

read my lady's table, meaning, I suppose, her dressing-table. 


1 to this favour ] i. e. to this countenance or com- 
plexion. See Vol. IV. p. 329, n. 4 ; and Vol. XVI. p. 284, n. 5. 


334- HAMLET, ACT r. 

of earth we make loam : And why of that loam, 

whereto he was converted, might they not stop a 

beer-barrel ? 

Imperious Caesar, 4 dead, and turn'd to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away: 
O, that the earth, which kept the world in awe, 
Should patch a wall to expel the winter's flaw ! 5 

But soft! but soft ! aside ; Here comes the king, 

Enter Priests, c. in Procession ; the Corpse of 
OPHELIA, LAERTES and Mourners following ; 
King, Queen, their Trains, &c. 

The queen, the courtiers: Who is this they follow ? 
And with such maimed rites ! 6 This doth betoken, 
The corse, they follow, did with desperate hand 
Fordo its own life. 7 'Twas of some estate :* 

4 Imperious C&sar,~\ Thus the quarto, 1604. The editor of 
the folio substituted imperial, not knowing that imperious was 
used in the same sense. See Vol. XV. p. 4-16, n. 8 ; and Cym- 
beline, Act IV. c. ii. There are other instances in the folio of 
a familiar term being substituted in the room of a more ancient 
word. See p. 335, n. 3. MALONE. 

* winter's flaw !] Winter's blast. JOHNSON. 

So, in Marius and Sylla, 1594- : 

" no doubt, this stormy Jlatv, 

" That Neptune sent to cast us on this shore." 
The quartos read to expel the -water's flaw. STEEVBNS. 

See Vol. XIII. p. 875, n. 9. AJhtu meant a sudden gust of 
wind. So, in Florio's Italian Dictionary , 1598 : " Groppo, a 
Jfaw, or berrie of wind." See also, Cotgrave's Dictionary, 161 1 : 
" Lis de vent, a gust orjlaw of wind." MALONE. 

G maimed rites /] Imperfect obsequies. JOHNSON. 

7 Fordo its own life.~\ Tto fordo is to undo, to destroy. So, in 


" this is the night 

*' That either makes me, or fordoes me quite." 


Couch we a while, and mark. 

[Retiring with HORATIO. 
LAER. What ceremony else ? 

HAM. That is Laertes, 

A very noble youth : Mark. 
LAER. What ceremony else ? 

1 PRIEST.^ Her obsequies have been as far en- 

, larg'd 

As we have warranty r 1 Her death was doubtful; 
And, but that great command o'ersways the order, 
She should in ground unsanctified have lodg'd 
Till the last trumpet ; for charitable prayers, 
Shards, 2 flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on 

Yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants, 3 

Again, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1529 : " wolde to God 

it might be leful for me iofordoo myself, or to make an ende of 

8 some estate :] Some person of high rank. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. XV. p. 319, n. 6. MALONE. 

' 1 Priest.'} This Priest in the old quarto is called Doctor. 


1 Her obsequies have been as far enlarged 

As we have warranty:] Is there any allusion here to the 
coroner's warrant, directed to the minister and church-wardens 
of a parish, and permitting the body of a person, who comes to 
an untimely end, to receive Christian burial ? WHALLEY. 

* Shards,"} i. e. broken pots or tiles, called pot-sherds, tile- 
sherds. So, in Job, ii. 8 : " And he took him a potsherd, (i. e. 
a piece of a broken pot,) to scrape himself withal." RITSON. 

3 allow' 'd her virgin crants,] Evidently corrupted from 

chants, which is the true word. A specific rather than a generic 
term being here required to answer to maiden stretxments. 


allotrfd her virgin crants,] Thus the quarto, 1604. 

For this unusual word the editor of the first folio substituted 
rites. By a more attentive examination and comparison of the 

536 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home 
Of bell and burial. 4 

LAER. Must there no more be done ? 

1 PRIEST. No more be done ! 

We should profane the service of the dead, 
To sing a requiem^ and such rest to her 
As to peace-parted souls. 

LAER. Lay her i'the earth ; 

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh, 
May violets spring ! 6 I tell thee, churlish priest, 

quarto copies and the folio, Dr. Johnson, I have no doubt, would 
have been convinced that this and many other changes in the 
folio were not made by Shakspeare, as is suggested in the fol- 
lowing note. MALONE. 

I have been informed by an anonymous correspondent, that 
crantsis the German word for garlands, and I suppose it was re- 
tained by us from the Saxons. To carry garlands before the 
bier of a maiden, and to hang them over her grave, is still the 
practice in rural parishes. 

Grants therefore was the original word, which the author, dis- 
covering to be provincial, and perhaps not understood, changed 
to a term more intelligible, but less proper. Maiden rites give 
no certain or definitive image. He might have put maiden 
wreaths, or maiden garlands, but he perhaps bestowed no 
thought upon it ; and neither genius nor practice will always 
supply a hasty writer with the most proper diction. JOHNSON. 

In Minsheu's Dictionary, see Beades, where roosen krants 
means sertum rosarium ; and such is the name of a character in 
this play. TOLLET. 

The names Rosenkrantz and Guldenstiern occur frequently 
in Rostgaard's Delicice Poetarum Danorum. STEEVENS. 

4 bell and burial.] Burial, here signifies interment in 

consecrated ground. WARBURTON. 

* To sing a requiem,] A requiem, is a mass performed in 
Popish churches for the rest of the soul of a person deceased. 
The folio reads sing sage requiem. STEEVENS. 

from her fair and unpolluted jlesh 

May violets spring /] Thus, Persius, Sat. I : 

** e tumulo, fortunataque favilla, 

" Nascentur violae ?" STEEVENS. 

ac. i. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 337 


A ministering angel shall my sister be, 
When thou liest howling. 

HAM. What, the fair Ophelia ! 

QUEEN. Sweets to the sweet : Farewell ! 

[Scattering Flowers. 

I hop'd,thou should'st havebeen my Hamlet's wife; 
I thought, thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet 

And not have strew* d thy grave. 

LAER. O, treble woe 

Fall ten times treble on that cursed head, 
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense 
Deprived thee of! Hold oiFthe earth a while, 
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms : 

[Leaps into the Grave. 

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead ; 
Till of this flat a mountain you have made, 
To o'er-top old Pelion, or the skyish head 
Of blue Olympus. 

HAM. [Advancing."] What is he, whose grief 
Bears such an emphasis ? whose phrase of sorrow 
Conjures thewand'ring stars, and makes them stand 
Like wonder-wounded hearers ? this is I, 
Hamlet the Dane. [Leaps into the Grave. 

LAER. The devil take thy soul ! 

[Grappling with him. 

HAM. Thou pray'st not well. 
I pr'ythee, take thy fingers from my throat ; 
For, though I am not splenetive and rash, 
Yet have I in me something dangerous, 
Which let thy wisdom fear : Hold off thy hand. 

KING. Pluck them asunder. 

QUEEN. Hamlet, Hamlet ! 

VOL. xvm. z 


ALL? Gentlemen, 

HOR. Good my lord, be quiet. 

[ The Attendants part them, and they come out 
of the Grave. 

HAM. Why, I will fight with him upon this 

Until my eyelids will no longer wag. 

QUEEN. O my son ! what theme ? 

HAM. I lov'd Ophelia ; forty thousand brothers 
Could not, with all their quantity of love, 
Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her ? 

KING. O, he is mad, Laertes. 

QUEEN. For love of God, forbear him. 

HAM. 'Zounds, show me what thou'lt do : 
Woul't weep? woul't fight? woul't fast? woul't 

tear thyself? 
WouFt drink up Esil ? eat a crocodile ? 3 

7 All. &c.] This is restored from the quartos. STEEVENS. 

* JVoul't drink up Esil? eat a crocodile ?~\ This word has 
through all the editions been distinguished by Italick characters, 
as if it were the proper name of some river ; and so, I dare say, 
all the editors have from time to time understood it to be. But 
then this must be some river in Denmark ; and there is none 
there so called ; nor is there any near it in name, that I know 
of, but Yssel, from which the province of Overyssel derives its 
title in the German Flanders. Besides, Hamlet is not proposing 
any impossibilities to Laertes, as the drinking up a river would 
be : but he rather seems to mean, Wilt thou resolve to do 
things the most shocking and distasteful to human nature ; and, 
behold, I am as resolute. I am persuaded the poet wrote : 

" Wilt drink up Eisel ? eat a crocodile ?" 

i. e. Wilt thou swallow down large draughts of vinegar ? The 
proposition, indeed, is not very grand : but the doing it might be 
as distasteful and unsavoury as eating the flesh of a crocodile, 
And now there is neither an impossibility, nor an anticlimax : 
and the lowness of the idea is in some measure removed by the 
uncommon term. THEOBALD. 

sc. 1. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 339 

I'll do't. Dost thou come here to whine ? 

Sir T. Hanmer has, 

Wilt drink up Nile ? or eat a crocodile ? 

Hamlet certainly meant (for he says he will rant) to dare 
Laertes to attempt any thing, however difficult or unnatural ; 
and might safely promise to follow the example his antagonist 
was to set, in draining the channel of a river, or trying his teeth 
on an animal whose scales are supposed to be impenetrable. Had 
Shakspeare meant to make Hamlet say Wilt thou drink vine- 
gar? he probably would not have used the term drink up; 
which means, totally to exhaust ; neither is that challenge very 
magnificent, which only provokes an adversary to hazard a fit of 
the heart-burn or the colick. 

The commentator's Yssel would serve Hamlet's turn or mine. 
This river is twice mentioned by Stov/e, p. 735 : " It standeth 
a good distance from the river Issell, but hath a sconce on Issett 
of incredible strength." 

Again, by Drayton, in the 24th Song of his Polyolbion : 

" The one o'er hell's banks the ancient Saxons taught ; 

" At Over-hell rests, the other did apply: ." 
And in King Richard II. a thought, in part the same, occurs, 
Act II. sc. ii : 

" the task he undertakes 

" Is numb'ring sands, and drinking oceans dry." 
But in an old Latin account of Denmark and the neighbouring 
provinces, I find the names of several rivers little differing from 
Esily or Eisell, in spelling or pronunciation. Such are the Essa, 
the Oesil, and some others. The word, like many more, may 
indeed be irrecoverably corrupted; but, I must add, that few 
authors later than Chaucer or Skelton made use of eysel for vine- 
gar: nor has Shakspeare employed it in any other of his plays. 
The poet might have written the Weisel, a considerable river 
which falls into the Baltick ocean, and could not be unknown to 
any prince of Denmark. STEEVENS. 

Woul't is a contraction of ivouldest, [wouldest thou] and per- 
haps ought rather to be written tuoul'st. The quarto, 1604, has 
esil. In the folio the word is spelt esile. Eisil or eisel is vinegar. 
The word is used by Chaucer, and Skelton, and Sir Thomas 
More, Works, p. 21, edit. 1557: 

" with sowre pocion 

'< If thou paine thy tast, remember therewithal 
" How Christ for thee tasted eisil and gall." 

Z 2 

340 HAMLET, ACT r. 

To outface me with leaping in her grave ? 

The word is also found in Minsheu's Dictionary, 1617, and 
in Cole's Latin Dictionary, 1679. 

Our poet, as Dr. Farmer has observed, has again employed 
the same word in his lllth Sonnet: 

** like a Avilling patient I will drink 

" Potions of cysell 'gainst my strong infection ; 

" No bitterness that I will bitter think, 

" Nor double penance, to correct correction." 
Mr. Steevens supposes, that a river was meant, either the 
Yssel, or Oesil, or Weisel, a considerable river which falls into 
the Baltick ocean. The words, drink up, he considers as fa- 
vourable to his notion. " Had Shakspeare (he observes,) meant 
to make Hamlet say, Wilt thou drink vinegar? he probably 
would not have used the term drink up, which means, totally to 
exhaust. In King Richard II. Act II. sc. ii. (he adds) a thought 
m part the same occurs : 

" the task he undertakes, 

" Is numb'ring sands, and drinking oceans dry." 
But I must remark, in that passage evidently impossibilities are 
pointed out. Hamlet is only talking of difficult or painful exer- 
tions. Every man can weep, fight, fast, tear himself, drink a 
potion of vinegar, and eat a piece of a dissected crocodile, how- 
ever disagreeable ; for I have no doubt that the poet uses the 
words eat a crocodile, for eat of a crocodile. We yet use the 
same phraseology in familiar language. 

On the phrase drink up no stress can be laid, for our poet has 
employed the same expression in his 114th Sonnet, without any 
idea of entirely exhausting, and merely as synonymous to drink: 

" Or whether doth my mind, being crown'd with you, 

*' Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?" 
Again, in the same Sonnet : 

" 'tis flattery in my seeing, 

" And my great mind most kingly drinks it p." 
Again, in Timon of Athens: 

" And how his silence drinks up his applause." 
In Shakspeare's time, as at present, to drink up, often meant 
no more than simply to drink. So, in Florio's Italian Dictionary, 
1598: " Sorbire, to sip or sup up any drink." In like manner 
we sometimes say, " when you have swallowed down this potion," 
though we mean no more than when you have swallowed this 
potion. MALONE. 

Mr. Malone'i strictures are undoubtedly acute, and though 

sc. /. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 341 

Be buried quick with her, and so will I : 
And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw 
Millions of acres on us ; till our ground, 
Singeing his pate against the burning zone, 
Make Ossa like a wart ! Nay, an thou'lt mouth, 
I'll rant as well as thou. 

QUEEN. This is mere madness : 9 

And thus a while the fit will work on him ; 
Anon, as patient as the female dove, 
When that her golden couplets are disclos'd, 1 

not, in my own opinion, decisive, may still be just. Yet, as I 
cannot reconcile myself to the idea of a prince's challenging a 
nobleman to drink what Mrs. Quickly has called " a mess of 
vinegar," I have neither changed our former text, nor with- 
drawn my original remarks on it, notwithstanding they are al- 
most recapitulated in those of my opponent. On the score of 
such redundancy, however, I both need and solicit the indul- 
gence of the reader. STEEVENS. 

6 This is mere madness :] This speech in the first folio is given 
to the King. MALONE. 

1 When that her golden couplets are disclos'd,] To disclose 
was anciently used for to hatch. So, in The Booke of Huntynge, 
Haivkyng, Fyshing, &c. bl. 1. no date : " First they ben eges ; 
and after they ben disclosed, haukes ; and commonly goshaukes 
ben disclosed as sone as the choughes." To exclude is the tech- 
nical term at present. During three days after the pigeon has 
hatched her couplets, (for she lays no more than tivo eggs,) she 
never quits her nest, except for a few moments in quest of a 
little food for herself; as all her young require in that early 
state, is to be kept warm, an office which she never entrusts to 
the male. STEEVENS. 

The young nestlings of the pigeon, when first disclosed, are 
callow, only covered with a yellow down : and for that reason 
stand in need of being cherished by the warmth of the hen, to 
protect them from the chillness of the ambient air, for a consi- 
derable time after they are hatched. HEATH. 

The word disclose has already occurred in a sense nearly allied 
to hatch, in this play : 

" And I do doubt, the hatch and the disclose 
" Will be some danger." MALONE. 

342 HAMLET, ACT r. 

His silence will sit drooping. 

HAM. Hear you, sir j 

What is the reason that you use me thus ? 
I lov'd you ever : 2 But it is no matter ; 
Let Hercules himself do what he may, 
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day. 


KING. I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon 

him. [Exit HORATIO. 

Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech ; 


We'll put the matter to the present push. 
Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son. 
This grave shall have a living monument : 
An hour of quiet shortly 3 shall we see ; 
Till then, in patience our proceeding be. 


* What is the reason that you use me thus ? 

I lov'd you ever:] So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream t 
Helena says to her rival 

'* do not be so bitter with me, 

" / evermore did love you, Hermia." STEEVENS. 

* shortly ] The first quarto erroneously reads thirty, 

The second and third thereby. The folio shortly. 




A Hall in the Castle. 

HAM. So much for this, sir : now shall you see 

the other ; 

You do remember all the circumstance ? 
Hon. Remember it, my lord ! 
HAM. Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fight- 

That would not let me sleep: 4 methought, I lay 

* Sir, in my heart there ivas a kind of fig 

That "would not let me sleep : &c.] So, in Troilus and 
Cressida : 

" Within my soul there doth commence a fight, 
" Of this strange nature," &c. 

The Hystorie of Hamblet, bl. 1. furnished our author with the 
scheme of sending the Prince to England, and with most of the 
circumstances described in this scene : 

[After the death of Polonius] " Fengon [the King in the 
present play] could not content himselfe, but still his mind gave 
him that the foole [Hamlet] would play him some trick of leger- 
demaine. And in that conceit, seeking to bee rid of him, de- 
termined to find the meanes to doe it by the aid of a stranger, 
making the king of England minister of his massacrous resolu- 
tion ; to whom he purposed to send him, and by letters desire 
him to put him to death. 

" Now to beare him company, were assigned two of Fengon's 
faithful ministers, bearing letters ingraved in wood, that con- 
tained Hamlet's death, in such sort as he had advertised the king 
of England. But the subtil Danish prince, (being at sea,) whilst 
his companions slept, having read the letters, and knowing his 
uncle's great treason, with the wicked and villainous mindes of 
the two courtiers that led him to the slaughter, raced out the 
letters that concerned his death, and instead thereof graved 

344 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. 5 Rashly, 

others, with commission to the king of England to hang his two 
companions ; and not content to turn the death they had devised 
against him, upon their own neckes, wrote further, that king 
Fengon willed him to give his daughter to Hamblet in marriage." 
Hyst. qfHambkt, signal. G 2. 

From this narrative jt appears that the faithful ministers of 
Fengon were not unacquainted with the import of the letters 
they bore. Shakspeare, who has followed the story pretty 
closely, probably meant to describe their representatives, Ilo- 
sencrantz and Guildenstern, as equally guilty; as confederating 
with the King to deprive Hamlet of his life. So that his pro- 
curing their execution, though certainly not absolutely necessary 
to his own safety, does not appear to have been a wanton and 
unprovoked cruelty, as Mr. Steevens has supposed in his very 
ingenious observations on the general character and conduct of 
the prince throughout this piece. 

In the conclusion of his drama the poet has entirely deviated 
from the fabulous history, which in other places he has fre- 
quently followed. 

After Hamblet's arrival in England, (for no sea-fight is men- 
tioned,) " the king, (says The Hystory of Hamblet,) admiring 
the young prince, gave him his daughter in marriage, accord-, 
ing to the counterfeit letters by him devised ; and the next day 
caused the two servants of Fengon to be executed, to satisfy, as 
he thought, the king's desire." Hyst. of Hamb. Ibid. 

Hamlet, however, returned to Denmark, without marrying 
the king of England's daughter, who, it should seem, had only 
been betrothed to him. When he arrived in his native country, 
he made the courtiers drunk, and having burnt them to death, 
by setting fire to the banqueting-room wherein they sat, he went 
into Fengon's chamber, and killed him, " giving him (says the 
relater) such a violent blowe upon the chine of the neck, that 
he cut his head clean from the shoulders." Ibid, signal. F 3. 

He is afterwards said to have been crowned king of Denmark. 


I apprehend that a critick and a juryman are bound to form 
their opinions on what they see and hear in the cause before them, 
and not to be influenced by extraneous particulars unsupported 
by legal evidence in open court. I persist in observing, that from 
Shakspeare's drama no proofs of the guilt of Rosencrantz and 
Guildenstern can be collected. They may be convicted by the 
black letter history ; but if the tragedy forbears to criminate, it 
has no right to sentence them. This is sufficient for the common- 


And prais'd be rashness for it, Let us know, 

tator's purpose. It is not his office to interpret the plays of Shak- 
speare according to the novels on which they are founded, novels 
which the poet sometimes followed, but as often materially de- 
serted. Perhaps he never confined himself strictly to the plan of 
any one of his originals. His negligence of poetick justice is 
notorious ; nor can we expect that he who was content to sa- 
crifice the pious Ophelia, should have been more scrupulous 
about the worthless lives of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. 
Therefore, I still assert that, in the tragedy before us, their 
deaths appear both wanton and unprovoked ; and the critick, 
like Bayes, must have recourse to somewhat long before the begin- 
ning of this play, to justify the conduct of its hero. STEEVENS. 

6 . mutines in the bilboes."] Mutines, the French word for 

seditious or disobedient fellows in the army or fleet. Bilboes, 
the ship's prison. JOHNSON. 

To mutine was formerly used for to mutiny. See p. 245, n. 6. 
So mutine, for mutiner, or mutineer : " un homme mutin," Fr. 
a mutinous or seditious person. In The Misfortunes of Arthur , 
a tragedy, 1587, the adjective is used: 

" Suppresseth mutin force, and practicke fraud." 


The bilboes is a bar of iron with fetters annexed to it, by which 
mutinous or disorderly sailors were anciently linked together. 
The word is derived from Bilboa, a place in Spain where instru- 
ments of steel were fabricated in the utmost perfection. To un- 
derstand Shakspeare's allusion completely, it should be known, 
that as these fetters connect the legs of the offenders very close 
together, their attempts to rest must be as fruitless as those of 
Hamlet, in whose mind there was a kind of fighting that would 
not let him sleep. Every motion of one must disturb his partner 
in confinement. The bilboes are still shown in the Tower of 
London, among the other spoils of the Spanish Armada. The 
following is the figure of them : 


846 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, 
When 6 our deep plots do pall : 7 and that should 

teach us, 

There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will. 8 


And prais'd be rashness for it, Let us know, 

Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, 

When &c.] Hamlet delivering an account of his escape, 

begins with saying That he rashly ami then is carried into 

a reflection upon the weakness of human wisdom. I rashly 

praised be rashness for it Let us not think these events casual, 
out let us know, that is, take notice and remember, that we some- 
times succeed by indiscretion when we fail by deep plots, and in- 
fer the perpetual superintendance and agency of the Divinity. 
The observation is just, and will be allowed by every human 
being, who shall reflect on the course of his own life. JOHNSON. 

This passage, I think, should be thus distributed : 


(And prais'd be rashness, for it lets us know, 
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, 
When our deep plots do Jail; and that should teach us, 
There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we tcz//; 
Hor. That is most certain.) 
Ham. Up from my cabin, &c. 

So that rashly may be joined in construction with in the dark 
grop'd I tojind out them. TYRWHITT. 

7 When our deep plots do pall :] Thus the first quarto, 1604-. 
The editor of the next quarto, for pall, substituted foil. The 
folio reads, 

When our dear plots do paule. 
Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors read, 

When our deep plots do fail : 

but pall and fail are by no means likely to have been confound- 
ed. I have therefore adhered to the old copies. In Antony and 
Cleopatra our poet has used the participle : 

" I'll never follow thy pall' 'd fortunes more." MALONE. 

Again, in one of Barnaby Googe's Sonnets, 1563: 
" Torment my pauled spryght." STEEVENS. 

1 There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will.'] Dr. Farmer informs me 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 347 

HOR. That is most certain. 

HAM. Up from my cabin, 
My sea-gown scarf J d about me, in the dark 
Grop'd I to find out them : had my desire ; 
Finger' d their packet ; and, in fine, withdrew 
To mine own room again : making so bold, 
My fears forgetting manners, to unseal 
Their grand commission ; where I found, Horatio, 
A royal knavery ; an exact command, 
Larded with many several sorts of reasons, 9 
Importing Denmark's health, and England's too, 
With, ho ! such bugs and goblins in my life, 1 

that these words are merely technical. A wool-man, butcher, 
and dealer in skewers, lately observed to him, that his nephew, 

(an idle lad) could only assist him in making them ; " he 

could rough-hew them, but I was obliged to shape their ends." 
To shape the ends of wool-skewers, i. e. to point them, requires 
a degree of skill ; any one can rough-hew them. Whoever re- 
collects the profession of Shakspeare's father, will admit that his 
son might be no stranger to such terms. I have frequently seen 
packages of wool pinn'd up with skeivers. STEEVENS. 

Larded with many several sorts of reasons,] I am afraid 
here is a very poor conceit, founded on an equivoque between 
reasons and raisins, which in Shakspeare's time were undoubt- 
edly pronounced alike. Sorts of raisins, sugars, &c. is a com- 
mon phraseology of shops. We have the same quibble in 
another play. MALONE. 

1 suspect no quibble or conceit in these words of Hamlet. In 
one of Ophelia's songs a similar phrase has already occurred : 
" Larded all with sweet flowers." To lard any thing with rai- 
sins, however, was a practice unknown to ancient cookery. 


1 With, ho! such bugs and goblins in my life,~\ With such causes 
of terror, rising from my character and designs. JOHNSON. 

A bug was no less a terrifick being than a goblin. So, in 
Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book II. c. iii : 

" As ghastly bug their haire an end does reare." 
We call it at present a bugbear. STEEVENS. 

See Vol. XIV. p. 180, n. 3. MALONE. 

348 HAMLET, ACT r. 

That, on the supervise, no leisure bated, 2 
No, not to stay the grinding of the axe, 
My head should be struck off. 3 

Hos. Is't possible ? 

HAM. Here's the commission ; read it at more 

But wilt thou hear now how I did proceed ? 

HOR. Ay, 'beseech you. 

HAM. Being thus benetted round with villanies, 
Or I could make 4 a prologue to my brains, 

* no leisure bated,] Bated for allowed. To abate, sig- 
nifies to deduct; this deduction, when applied to the person in 
whose favour it is made, is called an allowance. Hence he takes 
the liberty of using bated for allowed. WARBUHTON. 

No leisure bated means, without any abatement or intermis- 
sion of time. MALONE. 

* That, on the supervise, no leisure bated, 

My head should be struck off.~\ From what original our 
author derived this incident of detecting the letter, and ex- 
changing it for another, I am unqualified to determine. A similar 
stratagem, however, occurs in Andrew of Wyntoixrfs Cronykil t 
B. VI. ch. xiii : 

*' The Prest that purs opnyd swne, 
" And fand in it that letter dwne. 
" That he opnyd, and red the payne, 
*' The berere of it for to be slayne. 
That Letter away than pwte he qwyte, 
And sone ane othir than couth he wryte 
He cloysed thys Lettyr curywsly, 
And in the purs all prewely 

He p\vt it quhare the tothir was." v. 188, & seq. 
The words of the first letter are, 

Visa litcra, lator illius moriatur, 
Thus also Hamlet : 

" . That, on the supervise, 
" He should the bearers put to sudden death." 
The story, however varied, perhaps originated from the Bel- 
lerophontis lilerce. STEEVENS. 

4 Or I could make ] Or in old English signified before. See 
Vol. X. p. 487, n. 7. MALONE. 

sc. a. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 349 

They had begun the play ; 5 I sat me down ; 
Devis'd a new commission ; wrote it fair : 
I once did hold it, as our statists do, 6 
A baseness to write fair, 7 and labour'd much 
How to forget that learning ; but, sir, now 
It did me yeoman's service : 8 Wilt thou know 
The effect of what I wrote ? 

5 Being thus benetted round uith mttanies, 
Or I could make a prologue to my brains, 
They had begun the play ;~\ Hamlet is telling how luckily 
every thing fell out ; he groped out their commission in the dark, 
without waking them ; he found himself doomed to immediate 
destruction. Something was to be done for his preservation. An 
expedient occurred, not produced by the comparison of one me- 
thod with another, or by a regular deduction of consequences, 
but before he could make a prologue to his brains , they had begun 
the play. Before he could summon his faculties, and propose to 
himself what should be done, a complete scheme of action pre- 
sented itself to him. His mind operated before he had excited 
it. This appears to me to be the meaning. JOHNSON. 

6 as our statists do,^\ A statist is a statesman. So, in 

Shirley's Humorous Courtier, 1640: 

" that he is wise, a statist." 

Again, in Ben Jonson's Magnetick Lady : 

" Will screw you out a secret from a statist." 


Most of the great men of Shakspeare's times, whose auto- 
graphs have been preserved, wrote very bad hands ; their secre- 
taries very neat ones. BLACKSTONE. 

7 I once did hold it, as our statists do, 

A baseness to write fair, ~] " I have in my time, (says Mon- 
taigne) seene some, who by writing did earnestly get both their 
titles and living, to disavow their apprentissage, marre their pen, 
and affect the ignorance of 50 "vulgar a qualitie." Florio's trans- 
lation, 1603, p. 125. RITSON. 

8 yeoman's service :"] The meaning, I believe, is, This 

yeomanly qualification luas a most useful servant, or yeoman, to 
me; i. e. did me eminent service. The ancient yeomen were 
famous for their military valour. " These were the good archers 
in times past, (says Sir Thomas Smith,) and the stable troop of 
footmen that affraide all France." STEEVENS. 

S.50 HAMLET, ACT v. 

HOR. Ay, good my lord. 

HAM. An earnest conjuration from the king, 
As England was his faithful tributary ; 
As Jove between them like the palm might flou- 
rish ; 9 

As peace should still her wheaten garland wear, 
And stand a comma 'tween their amities ; l 
And many such like as's of great charge, 2 

9 like the palm might Jlourish;"] This comparison is 

scriptural : " The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree." 

Psalm xcii. 11. STEEVENS. 

1 As peace should still her wheaten gar/and wear, 
And stand a comma 'tween their amities ;] The expression 
of our author is, like many of his phrases, sufficiently constrained 
and affected, but it is not incapable of explanation. The comma 
is the note of connection and continuity of sentences; the period 
is the note of abruption and disjunction. Shakspeare had it 
perhaps in his mind to write, That unless England complied 
with the mandate, tear should put a period to their amity ; he 
altered his mode of diction, and thought that, in an opposite 
sense, he might put, that peace should stand a comma between 
their amities. This is not an easy style; but is it not the style 
of Shakspeare ? JOHNSON. 

8 as's of great charge,'} Asses heavily loaded. A quibble 

is intended between as the conditional particle, and ass the 
beast of burthen. That charg'd anciently signified loaded, may 
be proved from the following passage in The Widow's Tears, by 
Chapman, 1612: 

" Thou must be the ass charg'd with crowns, to make 
way." JOHNSON. 

Shakspeare has so many quibbles of his own to answer for, 
that there are those who think it hard he should be charged with 
others which perhaps he never thought of. STEEVENS. 

Though the first and obvious meaning of these words certainly 
is, " many similar adjurations, or monitory injunctions, of 
great weight and importance," yet Dr. Johnson's notion of a 
quibble being also in the poet's thoughts, is supported by two 
other passages of Shakspeare, in which asses are introduced as 
usually employed in the carriage of gold, a charge of no small 
weight : 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 351 

That, on the view and knowing of these contents, 
Without debatement further, more, or less, 
He should the bearers put to sudden death, 
Not shriving-time allow'd. 3 

HOR. How was this seal'd ? 

HAM. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant ; 
I had my father's signet in my purse, 
Which was the model of that Danish seal: 4 
Folded the writ up in form of the other ; 
Subscribed it ; gave't the impression ; plac'd it 


The changeling never known : 5 Now, the next day 
Was our sea-fight ; and what to this was sequent 
Thou know'st already. 

HOR. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't. 

" He shall but bear them, as the ass bears gold, 
" To groan and sweat under the business." 

Julius Cfssar. 
Again, in Measure for Measure : 

" like an ass y whose back with ingot bows, 

" Thou bear'st thy heavy riches but a journey, 
" And death unloads thee." 

In further support of his observation, it should be remember- 
ed, that the letter s in tlie particle as is in the midland counties 
usually pronounced hard, as in the pronoun us. Dr. Johnson 
himself always pronounced the particle as hard, and so I have no 
doubt did Shakspeare. It is so pronounced in Warwickshire at 
this day. The first folio accordingly has assis. MALONE. 

3 Not shriv'mg-time allotu'd."] i. e. without time for confession 
of their sins : another proof of Hamlet's christian-like disposition. 
See Romeo and Juliet, Act IV. sc. ii. STEEVENS. 

* the model of that Danish seal:~\ The model is in old 

language the copy. The signet was formed in imitation of the 
Danish seal. See Vol. XL p. 97, n. 8. MALONE. 

* The changeling never knotvn :] A changeling is a child which 
the fairies are supposed to leave in the room of that which they 
steal. JOHNSON. 

352 HAMLET, ACT n 

HAM. Why, man, 6 they did make love to this 

employment ; 

They are not near my conscience ; their defeat 
Does by their own insinuation grow: 7 
'Tis dangerous, when the baser nature comes 
Between the pass and fell incensed points 
Of mighty opposites. 

HOR. Why, what a king is this ! 

HAM. Does it not, think thee, 8 stand me now 

upon ? 

He that hath kuTd myking,and whor'd mymother; 
Popp'd in between the election and my hopes ; 
Thrown out his angle 9 for my proper life, 
And with such cozenage ; is't not perfect con- 
To quit him l with this arm ? and is't not to be 


To let this canker of our nature come 
In further evil ? 

HOR. It must be shortly known to him from Eng- 

Why, man, &c.] This line is omitted in the quartos. 


7 by their oivn insinuation ] Insinuation, for corruptly 

obtruding themselves into his service. WARBURTON. 

By their having insinuated or thrust themselves into the em- 
ployment. MALONE. 

* think thee,'] i. e. bethink thee. MALONE. 

9 Thrown out his angle ] An angle in Shakspeare's time 
signified a fishing-rod. So, in Lyly's Sapho and Phao, 1591 : 

" Phao. But he may bless fishing, that caught such a one in 
the sea. 

" Venus. It was not with an angle, my boy, but with a net." 


1 To quit him ] To requite him ; to pay him his due. 


This passage, as well as the three following speeches, is not 
in the quartos. STEEVENS. 

so. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 353 

What is the issue of the business there. 

HAM. It will be short : the interim is mine ; 
And a man's life no more than to say, one. 
But I am very sorry, good Horatio, 
That to Laertes I forgot myself; 
For by the image of my cause, I see 
The portraiture of his : I'll count his favours : 2 
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me 
Into a towering passion. 

HOR. Peace ; who comes here ? 

Enter Osmc. 

OSR. Your lordship is right welcome back to 

HAM. I humbly thank you, sir. Dost know this 
water-fly? 3 

s Pit count his favours :~] Thus the folio. Mr. Rowe first 

made the alteration, which is perhaps unnecessary. I'll count 
his favours, may mean I mil make account of them, i. e. reckon 
upon them, value them. STEEVENS. 

What favours has Hamlet received from Laertes, that he was to 
make account of? I have no doubt but we should read: 
/'// court his favour. M. MASON. 

Mr. Rowe for count very plausibly reads court. MALONE. 

Hamlet may refer to former civilities of Laertes, and weigh 
them against his late intemperance of behaviour ; or may count 
on such kindness as he expected to receive in consequence of a 
meditated reconciliation. 

It should be observed, however, that in ancient language to 
count and recount were synonymous. So, in the Troy Book, 
(Caxton's edit.) "I am comen hether untoyow for refuge, and 
to telle & count my sorowes." STEEVENS. 

3 Dost know this water-fly ?] A water-fly skips up and 

down upon the surface of the water, without any apparent pur- 
pose or reason, and is thence the proper emblem of a busy trifler. 


S54, HAMLET, ACT y. 

HOR. No, my good lord. 

HAM. Thy state is the more gracious ; for 'tis a 
vice to know him: He hath much land, and fertile: 
let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand 
at the king's mess : 'Tis a chough ; 4 but, as I say, 
spacious in the possession of dirt. 

OSR. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, 
I should impart a thing to you from his majesty. 

HAM. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of 
spirit : Your bonnet to his right use ; 'tis for the 

OSR. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot. 

HAM. No, believe me, 'tis very cold j the wind 
is northerly. 

OSR. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed. 

HAM. But yet, methinks it is very sultry and 
hot ; 5 or my complexion 6 

OSR. Exceedingly, my lord j it is very sultry, 7 

Water-fly is in Troilus andCressida used as a term of reproach, 
for contemptible from smallness of size : " How (says Thersites) 
the poor world is pestered with such "water-flies ; diminutives of 
nature." Water-flies are gnats. This insect in Chaucer denotes 
a thing of no value. Canterbury Talcs, v. 17,203, Mr. Tyr- 
whitt's edition : 

* Not worth to thee as in comparison 

" The mountance [value'] of a gnat" HOLT WHITE. 

4 ' Tis a chough ;] A kind of jackdaw. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. XI. p. 257, n. 3. STEEVENS. 

5 But yet, methinks, it is very sultry &c.] Hamlet is here 
playing over the same farce with Osric, which he had formerly 
done with Polonius. STEEVENS. 

c or my complexion ] The folios read -for my com- 
plexion. STEEVENS. 

7 Exceedingly, my lord ; it is very sultry,] 

" igniculum brumae si tempore poscas, 

" Accipit endromidem ; si dixeris aestuo, sudat," Juv. 


sc.ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 855 

as 'twere,- I cannot tell how. My lord, his ma- 
jesty bade me signify to you, that he has laid a great 
w^ger on your head : Sir, this is the matter, 

HAM. I beseech you, remember 8 

[HAMLET moves him to put on his Hat. 

OSR. Nay, good my lord ; for my ease, in good 
faith. 9 Sir, 1 here is newly come to court, Laertes: 
believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most ex- 
cellent differences, 2 of very soft society, and great 

8 I beseech you, remember ] "Remember not your courtesy," 
I believe, Hamlet would have said, if he had not been inter- 
rupted. " Remember thy courtesy," he could not possibly have 
Said, and therefore this abrupt sentence may serve to confirm an 
emendation which I proposed in Love's Labour's Lost, Vol. VII. 
p. 139, n. 7, where Armado says, " I do beseech thee, remember 
thy courtesy ; I beseech thee, apparel thy head." I have no 

doubt that Shakspeare there wrote, " remember not thy 

courtesy," and that the negative was omitted by the negligence 
of the compositor. MALONE; 

9 Nay, good my lord; for my ease, in good Jaith.~] This 
seems to have been the affected phrase of the time. Thus, in 
Marston's Malcontent, 1604: " I beseech you, sir, be covered. 
No, in good faiths/or my ease," And in other places. 


It appears to have been the common language of ceremony 
in our author's time. " Why do you stand bareheaded? (says one 
of the speakers in Florio's SECOND FRUTES, 1591,) you do your- 
self wrong. Pardon me, good sir, (replies his friend;) I do it 
for my ease" 

Again, in A Netv Way to pay old Debts, by Massinger, 1633 : 

" Is' if or your ease 

" You keep your hat off?" MALONE. 

1 Sir, &c.] The folio omits this and the following fourteen 
speeches ; and in their place substitutes only, " Sir, you are not 
ignorant of what excellence Laertes is at his weapon." 


* full of most excellent differences, ~\ Full of distinguishing 

excellencies. JOHNSON. 

2 A 2 

356 HAMLET, ACT r. 

showing : Indeed, to speak feelingly 3 of him, he is 
the card or calendar of gentry, 3 lor you shall find 
in him the continent of what part a gentleman 
would see. 4 

HAM. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in 
you; 5 though, I know, to divide him inventorially, 
would dizzy the arithmetick of memory ; and yet 
but raw neither, 6 in respect of his quick sail. But, 
in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul 

* speak feelingly ] The first quarto reads sellingly. 

So, in another of our author's plays : 

" To things of sale a seller's praise belongs." STEEVENS. 

a the card or calendar of gentry,"] The general preceptor 

of elegance ; the card by which a gentleman is to direct his 
course ; the calendar by which he is to choose his time, that what 
he does may be both excellent and seasonable. JOHNSON. 

* for you shall find in him the continent of what part a 

gentleman woidd see.~] You shall find him containing and com- 
prising every quality which a gentleman would desire to contem- 
plate for imitation. I know not but it should be read, You shall 
find him the continent. JOHNSON. 

* Sir, his dejinement &c.] This is designed as a specimen, 
and ridicule of the court-jargon amongst the precieux of that 
time. The sense in English is, " Sir, he suffers nothing in your 
account of him, though to enumerate his good qualities particu- 
larly would be endless ; yet when we had done our best, it would 
still come short of him. However, in strictness of truth, he is 
a great genius, and of a character so rarely to be met with, that 
to find any thing like him we must look into his mirrour, and 
his imitators will appear no more than his shadows." 


6 and yet but raw neither,"] We should read slow. 


I believe raw to be the right word ; it is a word of great lati- 
tude : raw signifies unripe, immature, thence unformed, imperfect, 
unskUfuL The best account of him would be imperfect, in respect 
of his quick sail. The phrase auick sail was, I suppose, a pro- 
verbial term for activity ofmina. JOHNSON. 


of great article ; 7 and his infusion of such dearth 8 
and rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his 
semblable is his mirrour ; and, who else would trace 
him, his umbrage, nothing more. 

OSR. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of 

HAM. The concernancy, sir ? why do we wrap 
the gentleman in our more rawer breath ? 

OSR. Sir? 

HOR. Is't not possible to understand in another 
tongue ? You will do't, sir, really. 9 

7 a soul of great article ;] This is obscure. I once 

thought it might have been, a soul of 'great altitude ; but, I sup- 
pose, a soul of great article, means a soul of large comprehension, 
of many contents ; the particulars of an inventory are called 
articles. JOHNSON. 

8 of such dearth ] Dearth is dearness, value, price. 

And his internal qualities of such value and rarity. JOHNSON. 

9 Is't not possible to understand in another tongue ? You ivill 
do't, sir, really. ~\ Of this interrogatory remark the sense is very 
obscure. The question may mean, Might not all this be under- 
stood in plainer language. But then, you ivill do it, sir, really y 
seems to have no use, for who could doubt but plain language 
would be intelligible ? I would therefore read, Is't possible not 
to be understood in a mother tongue ? You luill do it, sir, really. 


Suppose we were to point the passage thus : " Is't not possible 
to understand ? In another tongue you will do it, sir, really." 

The speech seems to be addressed to Osric, who is puzzled by 
Hamlet's imitation of his own affected language. STEEVENS. 

Theobald has silently substituted rarely for really. I think 
Horatio's speech is addressed to Hamlet. Another tongue does 
not mean, as I conceive, plainer language, (as Dr. Johnson sup- 
posed,) but ** language so fantastical and affected as to have the 
appearance of a foreign tongue :" and in the following words 
Horatio, I think, means to praisa Hamlet for imitating this kind 
of babble so happily. I suspect, however, that the poet wrote 
Is't f)ossible not to understand in-a mother tongue? 


HAM. What imports the nomination of this gen- 
tleman ? 

OSR. Of Laertes? 

HOR. His purse is empty already j all his golden 
words are spent. 

HAM. Of him, sir. 

OSR. I know, you are not ignorant 

HAM. I would, you did, sir ; yet, in faith, if you 
did, it would not much approve me ; ' Well, sir. 

OSR. You are not ignorant of what excellence 
Laertes is 

HAM. I dare not confess that, lest I should com- 
pare with him in excellence ;* but, to know a man 
well, were to know himself. 

OSR. I mean, sir, for his weapon ; but in the 
imputation laid on him by them, in his meed 3 he's 

HAM. What's his weapon ? 

Since this note was written, I have found the very same error 
in Bacon's Advancement of Learning, 4to. 1605, B. II. p. 60 : 
'* the art of grammar, whereof the use in another tongue is 
small, in a foreine tongue more." The author in his table of 
Errata says, it should have been printed in mother tongue. 


1 if you did, it would not much approve me ;~\ If you 

knew I was not ignorant, your esteem would not much advance 
my reputation. To approve, is to recommend to approbation. 


* / dare not confess that, lest I should compare luith him &.c.~] 
I dare not pretend to know him, lest I should pretend to an 
equality: no man can completely know another, but by knowing 
himself, which is the utmost extent of human wisdom. 


3 in his meed ] In his excellence. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. XIV. p. 169, n. 8. MALONE. 

iff. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 359 

OSR. Rapier and dagger. 

HAM. That's two of his weapons : but, well. 

OSR. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six 
Barbary horses : against the which he has impawned, 4 
as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with 
their assigns, as girdle, hangers, 5 and so : Three of 

4 impawned,'] Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio reads 

import* d. Pignare in Italian signifies both to paivn, and to lay 
a wager. M ALONE. 

Perhaps it should be, deponed. So, Hudibras : 
" I would upon this cause depone, 
" As much as any I have known." 

But perhaps imponed is pledged, impawned, so spelt to ridicule 
the affectation of uttering English words with French pronun- 
ciation. JOHNSON. 

To impone is certainly right, and means to put down, to stake, 
from the verb impono. RITSON. 

J hangers,"] Under this term were comprehended four 

graduated straps, &c. that hung down in a belt on each side of 
its receptacle for the sword. I write this, with a most gorgeous 
belt, at least as ancient as the time of James I. before me. It 
is of crimson velvet embroidered with gold, and had belonged to 
the Somerset family. 

In Massinger's Fatal Doury, Liladam (who, when arrested as 
a gentleman, avows himself to have been a tailor, ) says : 

" This rich sword 

" Grew suddenly out of a tailor's bodkin ; 
" These hangers from my vails and fees in hell:" &c. 
i. e. the tailor's hells the place into which shreds and remnants 
are thrown. 

Again, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662: 

" He has a fair sword, but his hangers are fallen." 
Again, in Rhodon and Iris, 1631 : 

" a rapier 

" Hatch'd with gold, with hilt and hangers of the new 


The same word occurs in the eleventh Iliad, as translated by 
Chapman : 

" The scaberd was of silver plate, with golden hangers 


the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very 
responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and 
of very liberal conceit. 

HAM. What call you the carriages ? 

HOR. I knew, you must be edified by the mar- 
gent, 6 ere you had done. 

OSR. The carriages, sir, are the hangers. 
HAM. The phrase would be more german 7 to the 

Mr. Pope mistook the meaning of this term, conceiving it to 
signify short pendulous broad swords. STEEVENS. 

The word hangers has been misunderstood. That part of the 
girdle or belt by which the sword was suspended, was in our 
poet's time called the hangers. See Minsheu's Dictionary, 1617 : 
*' The hangers of a sword. G. Pendants d'espee, L. Subcingu- 
lum," &c. So, in an Inventory found among the papers of 
Hamlet Clarke, an attorney of a court of record in London, in 
the year 1611, and printed in The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 
LVIII. p. Ill: 

" Item, One payre of girdle and hangers, of silver purle, and 
cullored silke. 

" Item, One payre of girdler and hangers upon white sattene." 

The hangers ran into an oblique direction from the middle of 
the forepart of the girdle across the left thigh, and were attached 
to the girdle behind. MALONE. 

6 you must be edified by the margent,] Dr. Warburton 

very properly observes, that in the old books the gloss or com- 
ment was usually printed on the margent of the leaf. So, in 
Decker's Honest Whore, Part II. 1630: 

" 1 read 

" Strange comments in those margins of your looks." 
Again, in The Contention bctviyxte Churchyeard and Camett, 
&c. 1560: 

" A solempne processe at a blussshe 

" He quoted here and there, 
" With matter in the margent set" &c. 
This speech is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS. 

7 more german ] More a-kin. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Winter's Tale : " Those that are german to him, 
though removed fifty times, shall come under the hangman." 



matter, if we could carry a cannon by our sides ; 
I would, it might be hangers till then. But, on : 
Six Barbary horses against six French swords, their 
assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages; that's 
the French bet against the Danish : Why is this 
impawned, as you call it ? 

OSR. The king, sir, hath laid, 8 that in a dozen 
passes between yourself and him, he shall not ex- 
ceed you three hits ; he hath laid, on twelve for 
nine ; and it would come to immediate trial, if 
your lordship would vouchsafe the answer. 

HAM. How, if I answer, no ? 

OSR. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your 
person in trial. 

HAM. Sir, I will walk here in the hall : If it 
please his majesty, it is the breathing time of day 
with me : let the foils be brought, the gentleman 
willing, and the king hold his purpose, I will win 
for him, if I can ; if not, I will gain nothing but 
my shame, and the odd hits. 

OSR. Shall I deliver you so ? 

8 The king, sir, hath laid,~\ This wager I do not understand. 
In a dozen passes one must exceed the other more or less than 
three hits. Nor can I comprehend, how, in a dozen, there can 
be twelve to nine. The passage is of no importance ; it is suffi- 
cient that there was a wager. The quarto has the passage as it 
stands. The folio He hath one twelve for mine. JOHNSON. 

As three or four complete pages would scarcely hold the re- 
marks already printed, together with those which have lately 
been communicated to me in MS. on this very unimportant pas- 
sage, I shall avoid both partiality and tcdiousness, by the omis- 
sion of them all. I therefore leave the conditions of this wager 
to be adjusted by the members of Brookes's, or the Jockey-Club 
at Newmarket, who on such subjects may prove the most en- 
lightened commentators, and most successfully bestir themselves 
in the cold unpoetick dabble of calculation. STEEVENS. 

362 HAMLET, ACT n 

HAM. To this effect, sirj after what flourish 
your nature will. 

OSR. I commend my duty to your lordship. 


HAM. Yours, yours. He does well, to commend 
it himself; there are no tongues else for's turn. 

HOR. This lapwing runs away with the shell on 
his head. 9 

9 This lapwing runs atony with the shell on his head."] I see 
no particular propriety in the image of the lapwing. Osric did 
not run till he had done his business. We may read This lap- 
wing ran away. That is, this fellow was full of unimportant 
bustle from his birth. JOHNSON. 

The same image occurs in Ben Jonson's Staple of News: 

1 and coachmen 

" To mount their boxes reverently, and drive 
" Like lapwings with a shell upon their heads, 
** Thorough the streets." 

And I have since met with it in several other plays. The 
meaning, I believe is This is a forward fellow. So, in The 
JVhite Devil, or Vittoria Corombona, 1612: 
" Forward lapwing, 
" He flies with the shell on's head." 

Again, in Greene's Never too Late, 1616 : " Are yoa no 
sooner hatched, with the lapwing, but you will run away with 
the shell on your head?" 

Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman: 

" Boldness enforces youth to hard atchievements 
" Before their time ; makes them run forth like lapwings 
" From their warm nest, part of the shell yet sticking 
" Unto their downy heads." STEEVENS. 

I believe, Hamlet means to say that Osric is bustling and 
impetuous, and yet " but raw in respect of his quick sail." So, 
in The Character of an Oxford Incendiary, 1643: " This lap- 
wing incendiary ran away half-hatched from Oxford, to raise a 
combustion in Scotland." 

In Meres's Wit's Treasury, 1598, we have the same image 
expressed exactly in our poet's words : " As the lapwing runneth 
away with the shell on her head, as soon as she is hatched," &c. 


sc. u. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 36$ 

HAM. He did comply with his dug, before he 
sucked it. 1 Thus has he (and many more of the 
same breed, 2 that, I know, the drossy age dotes on,) 
only got the tune of the time, and outward habit 
of encounter; 3 a kind of yesty collection, which 
carries them through and through the most fond 
and winnowed opinions; 4 and do but blow them 
to their trial, the bubbles are out. 5 

1 He did comply with his dug, &c.] Thus the folio. The 
quarto, 1604-, reads A [i. e. he~\ did, sir, with his dug, &c. 
For comply Dr. Warburton and the subsequent editors read 
compliment. The verb to compliment was not used, as I think, 
in trie time of Shakspeare. MALONE. 

I doubt whether any alteration be necessary. Shakspeare 
seems to have used comply in the sense in which we use the 
verb compliment. See before, Act II. sc. ii : " let me comply 
with you in this garb." TYRWHITT. 

Comply is right. So, in Fuller's Historic of the Holy Warre, 
p. 80 : " Some weeks were spent in complying, entertainments, 
and visiting holy places ; ." To compliment was, however, by 
no means, an unusual term in Shakspeare's time. REED. 

Again, ibid. p. 219 : " But sure, so cunning a companion had 
long conversed with and Princes, as appeareth by his complying 
carriage" &c. STEEVENS. 

* and many more of the same breed,] The first folio has 

and mine more of the same beavy. The second folio and 
nine more &c. Perhaps the last is the true reading. STEEVENS. 

There may be a propriety in levy, as he has just called him a 
lapwing. TOLLET. 

" Many more of the same breed," is the reading of the 
quarto, 1604. MALONE. 

3 outward habit of encounter ,] Thus the folio. The 

quartos read out of an habit of encounter. STEEVENS. 

Outward habit of encounter, is exterior politeness of address; 
in allusion to Osric's last speech. HENLEY. 

We should, I think, read an outward habit, &c. MALONE. 

4 a kind of yesty collection, "which carries them through 

and through the most fond and winnowed opinions ;~] This pas- 
sage in the quarto stands thus : " They have got out of the 
habit of encounter, a kind of misty collection, which carries 

364- HAMLET, ACT v. 

Enter a Lord. 

LORD. My lord, 6 his majesty commended him to 
you by young Osric, who brings back to him, that 

them through and through the most profane and trennowned 
opinions." If this printer preserved any traces of the original, 
our author wrote ** the most sane and renowned opinions ;" 
which is better than fanned and winnowed. 

The meaning is, " these men have got the cant of the day, a 
superficial readiness of slight and cursory conversation, a kind of 
frothy collection of fashionable prattle, which yet carries them 
through the most select and approving judgments. This airy 
facility of talk sometimes imposes upon wise men." 

Who has not seen this observation verified? JOHNSON. 

The quarto, 1604, reads, " dotes on ; only got the tune of 
the time, and out of an habit," &c. and not misty, but histy ; 
the folio, rightly, yesty: the same quarto has not trennowned, 
but trennowed ( a corruption of winnowed, ) for which ( according 
to the usual process,) the next quarto gave trennowned. Fond 
and winnowed is the reading of the folio. MALONE. 

Fond is evidently opposed to winnowed. Fond, in the language 
of Shakspeare's age, signified foolish. So, in The Merchant of 

" Thou naughty jailer, why art thou so fond," &c. 
Winnowed is sifted, examined. The sense is then, that their 
conversation was yet successful enough to make them passable 
not only with the weak, but with those of sounder judgment. 
The same opposition in terms is visible in the reading which the 
quartos offer. Profane and vulgar is opposed to trenowned, or 
thrice renowned. STEEVENS. 

Fanned and winnowed seems right to me. Both words, win- 
nowed, fand* and drest, occur together in Markham's English 
Husbandman, p. 117. So do fan'rf and winnowV, fanned, and 
winnowed, in his Husbandry, p. 18, 76, and 77. So, Shakspeare 
mentions together the fan and wind, in Troilus and Cressida, 
Act V. sc. iii. TOLLET. 

On considering this passage, it always appeared to me that we 
ought to read, " the most sound and winnowed opinions :" and 

* So written without the apostrophe, and easily rai^ht in MS. be mistaken 
for fond. 


you attend him in the hall : He sends to know, if 
your pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you 
will take longer time. 

HAM. I am constant to my purposes, they follow 
the king's pleasure : if his fitness speaks, mine is 
ready ; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able 
as now. 

LORD. The king, and queen, and all are coming 

HAM. In happy time. 

LORD. The queen desires you, to use some gentle 
entertainment 7 to Laertes, before you fall to play. 

HAM. She well instructs me. [_Exit Lord. 

HOR. You will lose this wager, my lord. 

HAM. I do not think so ; since he went into 
France, I have been in continual practice ; I shall 
win at the odds. 8 But thou would'st not think, 
how ill all's here about my heart: but it is no 

I have been confirmed in that conjecture by a passage I lately 
met with in Howel's Letters, where speaking of a man merely 
contemplative, he says : " Besides he may want judgement in 
the choice of his authors, and knows not how to turn his hand 
either in weighing or ivinnotving the soundest opinions." Book III. 
Letter viii. M. MASON. 

* do but blow them &c.] These men of show, without 

solidity, are like bubbles raised from soap and water, which 
dance, and glitter, and please the eye, but if you extend them, 
by blowing hard, separate into a mist ; so if you oblige these 
specious talkers to extend their compass of conversation, they 
at once discover the tenuity of their intellects. JOHNSON. 

My lord, &c.] All that passes between Hamlet and this 
Lord is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS. 

gentle entertainment ] Mild and temperate conver- 

sation. JOHNSON. 

8 1 shall "win at the odds.] I shall succeed with the ad- 
vantage that I am allowed. MA LONE. 

366 HAMLET, ACT r. 

HOR. Nay, good my lord, 

HAM. It is but foolery ; but it is such a kind of 
gain-giving, 9 as would, perhaps, trouble a woman. 

HOR. If your mind dislike any thing, obey iti l 
I will forestal their repair hither, and say, you are 
not fit. 

HAM. Not a whit, we defy augury ; there is a 
special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it 
be now, 'tis not to come ; if it be not to come, it 
will be now ; if it be not now, yet it will come : 
the readiness is all : Since no man, of aught he 
leaves, knows, what is't. to leave betimes ? 2 Let be. 

9 a Und of gain-giving,] Gain-giving is the same as 

misgiving. STEEVENS. 

1 If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:~] 

Urgent prcesagia mille 

Funeris, et nigrce preecedunt nubila mortis. 
With these presages of future evils arising in the mind, the poet 
has fore-run many events which are to happen at the conclusions 
of his plays ; and sometimes so particularly, that even the cir- 
cumstances of calamity are minutely hinted at, as in the instance 
of Juliet, who tells her lover from the window, that he appears 
like one dead in the bottom of a tomb. The supposition that the 
genius of the mind gave an alarm before approaching dissolu- 
tion, is a very ancient one, and perhaps can never be totally 
driven out : yet it must be allowed the merit of adding beauty 
to poetry, however injurious it may sometimes prove to the 
weak and superstitious. STEEVENS. 

* Since no man, of aught he leaves, /mows, what is't to leave 
betimes?"] The old quarto reads Since no man, of aught he 
leaves, knows, lohat is't to leave betimes? Let be. This is the 
true reading. Here the premises conclude right, and the argu- 
ment drawn out at length is to this effect : " It is true, that, by 
death, we lose all the goods of life ; yet seeing this loss is no 
otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it, and since death 
removes all sense of it, what matters it how soon we lose them ? 
Therefore come what will, I am prepared." WAHBURTON. 

The reading of the quarto was right, but in some other copy 
the harshness of the transposition was softened, and the passage 

se. u. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 367 

Enter King, Queen, LAERTES, Lords, OSRIC, and 
Attendants with Foils, <?. 

KING. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand 

from me. 

[The King puts the Hand of LAERTES into 
that of HAMLET. 

HAM. Give me your pardon, sir : 3 I have done 

you wrong ; 

But pardon it, as you are a gentleman. 
This presence knows, and you must needs have 


How I am punish'd with a sore distraction. 
What I have done, 
That might your nature, honour, and exception, 

stood thus : Since no man knows aught of "what lie leaves. For 
fcnoivs was printed in the later copies has, by a slight blunder in 
such typographers. 

I do not think Dr. Warburton's interpretation of the passage 
the best that it will admit. The meaning may be this, Since 
no man knows aught o/'the state of life which he leaves, since he 
cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be 
afraid of leaving life betimes ? Why should he dread an early 
death, of which he cannot tell whether it is an exclusion of hap- 
piness, or an interception of calamity? I despise the superstition 
of augury and omens, which has no ground in reason or piety ; 
my comfort is, that I cannot fall but by the direction of Provi- 

Sir T. Hanmer has Sines no man owes aught, a conjecture 
not very reprehensible. Since no man can call any possession 
certain, what is it to leave ? JOHNSON. 

Dr. Warburton has truly stated the reading of the first quarto, 
1604 1 . The folio reads, Since no man has ought of what he 
leaves, what is't to leave betimes ? 

In the late editions neither copy has been followed. MALONE. 

3 Give me your pardon, sir:"] I wish Hamlet had made some 
other defence ; it is unsuitable to the character of a good or a. 
brave man, to shelter himself in falsehood. JOHNSON. 

368 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness. 

Was't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes ? Never, Hamlet : 

If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away, 

And, when he's not himself, does wrong Laertes, 

Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it. 

Who does it then ? His madness : Ift be so, 

Hamlet is of the faction that is wrong'd ; 

His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy. 

Sir, 4 in this audience, 

Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil 

Free me so far in your most generous thoughts, 

That I have shot my arrow o'er the house, 

And hurt my brother. 

LAER. I am satisfied in nature, 5 

Whose motive, in this case, should stir me most 
To my revenge : but in my terms of honour, 
I stand aloof; and will no reconcilement, 
Till by some elder masters, of known honour, 6 

4 Sir, &c.] This passage I have restored from the folio. 


4 / am satisfied in nature, #c.] This was a piece of satire on 
fantastical honour. Though nature is satisfied, yet he will ask 
advice of older men of the sword, whether artificial honour ought 
to be contented with Hamlet's submission. 

There is a passage somewhat similar in The Maid's Tragedy: 
" Eved. Will you forgive me then ? 
*' Mel. Stay, I must ask mine honour first." STEEVENS. 

6 Till by some elder masters, of known honour,'] This is said 
in allusion to an English custom. I learn from an ancient MS. 
of which the reader will find a more particular account in a note 
to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Vol. V. p. 32, n. 8 ; that in 
Queen Elizabeth's time there were " four ancient masters of de- 
fence," in the city of London. They appear to have been the 
referees in many affairs of honour, and exacted tribute from all 
inferior practitioners of the art of fencing, &c. STEEVENS. 

Our poet frequently alludes to English customs, and may have 
done so here, but I do not believe that gentlemen ever submitted 


I have a voice and precedent of peace, 
To keep my name ungor'd : But till that time, 
I do receive your offer* d love like love, 
And will not wrong it. 

HAM* I embrace it freely : 

And will this brother's wager frankly play. 
Give us the foils ; come oh. 

LAER. Come, one for me. 

HAM. I'll be your foil, Laertes ; in mine igno- 

Your skill shall, like a star i'the darkest night, 
Stick fiery off indeed. 7 

LAJSR. You mock me, sir. 

HAM. No, by this hand. 

KING. Give them the foils, young Osric. 

Cousin Hamlet, 
You know the wager ? 

HAM. Very well, my lord ; 

Your grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.* 

points of honour to persons who exhibited themselves for money 
as prize-fighters on the publick stage ; though they might appeal 
in certain cases to Raleigh, Essex, or Southampton, who from 
their high rank, their course of life, and established reputation, 
might with strict propriety be styled, " elder masters, of known 
honour." MALONE. 

7 like a star i'the darkest night, 

Stick jiery off" indeed.] So, in Chapman's version of the 
twenty-second Iliad : 

" a world of stars &c. 

" the midnight that renders them most showne, 

" Then being their foil ; ." STEEVENS. 

* Your grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.] When the 
odds were on the side of Laertes, who was to hit Hamlet twelve 
times to nine, it was perhaps the author's slip. Sir T. Hanmer 

Your grace hath laid upon the weaker side. JOHNSON. 


370 HAMLET, ACT*. 

KING. I do not fear it : I have seen you both : 
But since he's better'd, we have therefore odds.* 
LAER. This is too heavy, let me see another. 

HAM. This likes me well : These foils have all 
a length ? [They prepare to play. 

OSR. Ay, my good lord. 

KING. Set me the stoups of wine ' upon that 

table : 

If Hamlet give the first or second hit, 
Or quit in answer of the third exchange, 
Let all the battlements their ordnance fire ; 

I see no reason for altering this passage. Hamlet considers 
the things imponed by the King, as of more value than those im- 
poned by Laertes ; and therefore says, " that he had laid the 
odds on the weaker side." M. MASON. 

Hamlet either means, that what the King had laid was more 
valuable than what Laertes staked ; or that the king hath made 
his bet, an advantage being given to the weaker party. I be- 
lieve the first is the true interpretation. In the next line but one 
the word odds certainly means an advantage given to the party, 
but here it may have a different sense. This is not an uncom- 
mon practice with our poet. MALOXE. 

The King had wagered, on Hamlet, six Barbary horses, 
against a few rapiers, poniards, &c. that is, about twenty to one. 
These are the odds here meant. RITSON. 

9 But since he's better* d, we have therefore odds.] These odds 
were twelve to nine in favour of Hamlet, by Laertes giving him 
three. RITSON. 

1 the stoups of wine "] A stoop is a kind ofjlagon. 

See Vol. V. p. 287, n. 2. STEEVENS. 

Containing somewhat more than two quarts. MALONE. 

Stoup is a common word in Scotland at this day, and denotes 
a pewter vessel, resembling our wine measure ; but of no deter- 
minate quantity, that being ascertained by an adjunct, as gallon" 
stoup, pint-stoup, mutchkin-stottp, &c. The vessel in which they 
fetch or keep water is also called the water-stoup. A stoup of 
is therefore equivalent to a pitcher of wine. RITSON. 

sc. ?r. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 371 

The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath; 
And in the cup an union shall he throw, 8 
Richer than that which four successive kings 
In Denmark's crown have worn ; Give me the cups j 

* And in the cup an union shall he throb))"] In some editions : 

And in the cup an onyx shall he throw. 

This is a various reading in several of the old copies ; but union 
seems to me to be the true word. If I am not mistaken, neither 
the onyx, nor sardonyx, are jewels which ever found place in an 
imperial crown. An union is the finest sort of pearl, and has 
its place in all crowns, and coronets. Besides, let us consider 
what the King says on Hamlet's giving Laertes the first hit : 

" Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine ; 

" Here's to thy health." 

Therefore, if an union be a pearl, and an onyx a gem, or stone, 
quite differing in its nature from pearls ; the King saying, that 
Hamlet has earned the pearl, I think, amounts to a demonstra- 
tion that it was an union pearl, which he meant to throw into 
the cup. THEOBALD. 

And in the cup an union shall he throw,"] Thus the folio 
rightly. In the first quarto, by the carelessness of the printer, 
for union we have unice, which in the subsequent quarto copies 
was made onyx. An union is a very precious pearl. See Bullo- 
kar's English Expositor, 1616, and Florio's Italian Dictionary, 
1598, in v. MALONE. 

So, in Soliman and Perseda : 

" Ay, were it Cleopatra's union." 

The union is thus mentioned in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's 
Natural History : " And hereupon it is that our dainties and de- 
licates here at Rome, &c. call them unions, as a man would sny 
singular and by themselves alone." 

To swallow a pearl in a draught seems to have been equally 
common to royal and mercantile prodigality. So, in the Second 
Part of If you know not Me, you know Nobody, 1606, Sir Tho- 
mas Gresham says : 

** Here 16,000 pound at one clap goes. 
" Instead of sugar, Gresham drinks this pearle 
** Unto his queen and mistress." 

It may be observed, however, that pearls were supposed to pos- 
sess an exhilarating quality. Thus, Rondelet. Lib. I. de Testae, 
c. xv : * Uniones quse a conchis &c. valde cordiales sunt." 


2 B 2 

372 HAMLET, ACT r. 

And let the kettle to the trumpet speak, 

The trumpet to the cannoneer without, 

The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth, 

Now the king drinks to Hamlet. Come, begin ; 

And you, the judges, bear a wary eye. 

HAM. Come on, sir. 

LAER. Come, my lord. [ They play. 

HAM. One. 

LAER. No. 

HAM. Judgment. 

OSR. A hit, a very palpable hit. 

LAER. Well, again. 

KING. Stay, give me drink : Hamlet, this pearl 

is thine ; 3 
Here's to thy health. Give him the cup. 

[Trumpets sound ; and Cannon shot off" within. 

HAM. I'll play this bout first, set it by awhile. 
Come. Another hit ; What say you ? [They play. 

LAER. A touch, a touch, I do confess. 

KING. Our son shall win. 

QUEEN. He's fat, and scant of breath. 4 

3 this pearl is thine ;~] Under pretence of throwing a 

pearl into the cup, the King may be supposed to drop some poi- 
sonous drug into the wine. Hamlet seems to suspect this, when 
he afterwards discovers the effects of the poison, and tauntingly 
asks him, " Is the union here ?" STEEVENS. 

4 Queen. He's fat, and scant of breath."] It seems that John 
Lowin, who was the original Falstqjf, was no less celebrated 
for his performance of Henry VIII. and Hamlet. See the Histo- 
ria Histrionica, &c. If he was adapted, by the corpulence of 
his figure, to appear with propriety in the two former of these 
characters, Shakspeare might have put this observation into the 
mouth of her majesty, to apologize for the want of such ele- 
gance of person as an audience might expect to meet with in the 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 375 

Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows : 
The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet. 5 

HAM. Good madam, 

KING. Gertrude, do not drink. 

QUEEN. I will, my lord ; I pray you, pardon 

KING. It is the poison'd cup ; it is too late. 


HAM. I dare not drink yet, madam ; by and by. 
QUEEN. Come, let me wipe thy face. 6 
LAER. My lord, I'll hit him now. 

representative of the youthful prince of Denmark, whom Ophe- 
lia speaks of as " the glass of fashion and the mould of form." 
This, however, is mere conjecture, as Joseph Taylor likewise 
acted Hamlet during the life of Shakspeare. 

In Ratsie's Ghost, (Gamaliel) no date, about 1605, bl. 1. 4. 
the second part of his madde prankes c. He robs a company 
of players. " Sirra, saies he to the chiefest of them, thou hast 
a good presence on a stage get thee to London, for if one man 
were dead, [Lowin, perhaps,] there would be none fitter than 
thyself to play his parts I durst venture all the money in my 
purse on thy head to play Hamlet with him for a wager." He 
knights him afterwards, and bids him " Rise up, Sir Simon 
two shares &> a halfe." I owe this quotation to one of Dr. Far- 
mer's memoranda. STEEVENS. 

The author of Historia Histrionica, and Downes the promp- 
ter, concur in saying, that Taylor was the performer of Hamlet. 
Roberts the player alone has asserted, (apparently without any 
authority,) that this part was performed by Lowin. MALONE. 

5 The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.^ i. e. (in hum- 
bler language) drinks good luck to you. A similar phrase occurs 
in David and Bethsabe, 1599 : 

" With full carouses to his fortune past." STEEVENS. 

6 Come, let me wipe thy face.'] These very words (the pre- 
sent repetition of which might have been spared) are addressed 
by Doll Tearsheet to Falstaff, when he was heated by his pursuit 
of Pistol. See Vol. XII. p. 98. STEEVENS. 

374 HAMLET, ACT r. 

KING. I do not think it. 

LAER. And yet it is almost against my con- 
science. \_Aside. 

HAM. Come, for the third, Laertes : You do but 


I pray you, pass with your best violence ; 
I am afeard, you make a wanton of me. 7 

LAER. Say you so ? come on. [They play. 

OSR. Nothing neither way. 
LAER. Have at you now. 

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuf- 
fling, they change Rapiers, and HAMLET 
wounds LAERTES. 

KING. Part them, they are incens'd. 

HAM. Nay, come again. [The Queen falls. 

7 you make a wanton of me.~] A wanton was a man 
feeble and effeminate. In Cymbeline, Imogen says, I am not 

" so citizen a wanton, as 

" To seem to die, ere sick." JOHNSON. 

Rather, you trifle with me as if you were playing with a child. 
So, in Romeo and Juliet: 

I would have thee gone, 

** And yet no further than a wanton's bird, 

" That lets it hop a little from her hand, 

" And with a silk thread pulls it back again." RITSON. 

A passage in King John shows that wanton here means a man 
feeble and effeminate, as Dr. Johnson has explained it: 

" Shall a beardless boy, 

'* A cocker' d silken wanton, brave our fields, 

" And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil," &c. MALONE. 

The following passage in the first scene of Lee's Alexander 
the Great, may furnish a sufficient comment on the words of 
Hamlet : 

" He dallied with my point, and when I thrust, 
" He frown'd and smil'd, and foil'd me like a fencer." 


sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 875 

OSR. Look to the queen there, ho ! 

HOR. They bleed on both sides : How is it, 
my lord ? 

OSR. How is't, Laertes ? 

LAER. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, 

Osric ; 
I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery. 

HAM. How does the queen ? 

KING. She swoons to see them bleed. 

QUEEN. No, no, the drink, the drink, O my 

dear Hamlet ! 
The drink, the drink ; I am poison* d ! \_Dies. 

HAM. O villainy ! Ho ! let the door be lock'd: 
Treachery ! seek it out. [LAERTES falls. 

LAER. It is here, Hamlet : Hamlet, thou art 

slain ; 

No medicine in the world can do thee good, 
In thee there is not half an hour's life ; 
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand, 
Unbated, and envenom' d : the foul practice 
Hath turn'd itself on me ; lo, here I lie, 
Never to rise again : Thy mother's poison'd ; 
I can no more ; the king, the king's to blame. 

HAM. The point 
Envenom'd too ! Then, venom, to thy work. 

[Stabs the King. 

OSR. Sf LORDS. Treason ! treason ! 

KING. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt. 

HAM. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned 

376 HAMLET, 

Drink off this potion : Is the union here ? 8 
Follow my mother. [King dies, 

LAER. He is justly serv'd ; 

It is a poison temper'd by himself. 
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet : 
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee; 
Nor thine on me ! [Dies. 

HAM. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee. 
I am dead, Horatio : Wretched queen, adieu ! \ 
You that look pale and tremble at this chance, 
That are but mutes or audience to this act, 9 
Had I but time, (as this fell sergeant, death, 
Is strict in his arrest,) 1 O, I could tell you, 
But let it be : Horatio, I am dead ; 
Thou liv'st ; report me and my cause aright 
To the unsatisfied. 

HOR. Never believe it ; 

I am more an antique Roman than a Dane, 
Here's yet some liquor left. 

HAM. As thou'rt a man, 

8 Is the union here'?'] In this place likewise the quarto 

reads, an onyx. STEEVENS. 

Is the union here ?~\ Thus the folio. In a former passage 

in the quarto, 1604-, for union we had unice; here it has onyx. 

It should seem from this line, and Laertes's next speech, that 
Hamlet here forces the expiring King to drink some of the poi- 
soned cup, and that he dies while it is at his lips. MALONE. 

9 That are but mutes or audience to this act,~] That are ei- 
ther auditors of this catastrophe, or at most only mute performers* 
that fill the stage without any part in the action. JOHNSON. 

1 (as this fell sergeant, death, 

Is strict in his arrest,)] So, in our poet's 74-th Sonnet : 

" - when that fell arrest, 

" Without all bail, shall carry me away, ." MALQNE, 

A serjeant is a bailiff, or sheriffs officer. RITSON. 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 377 

Give me the cup ; let go ; by heaven I'll have it. 
O God! Horatio, 2 what a wounded name, 
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind 

me ? 3 

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, 
Absent thee from felicity awhile, 
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, 
To tell my story. 

\_March afar off, and Shot within. 
What warlike noise is this ? 

OSR. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come 

from Poland, 

To the ambassadors of England gives 
This warlike volley. 

HAM. O, I die, Horatio ; 

The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit; 4 

2 O God I Horatio, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604. Folio: 
O good Horatio. MALONE. 

3 shall live behind me ?~] Thus the folio. The quartos 

read shall I leave behind me. STEEVENS. 

4 The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit ;] Thus the first 
quarto, and the first folio. Alluding, I suppose, to a victorious 
cock exulting over his conquered antagonist. The same word 
occurs in Lingua, &c. 1607 : 

" Shall I ? th' embassadress of gods and men, 
" That pull'd proud Phoebe from her brightsome sphere, 
" And dark'd Apollo's countenance with a word, 
" Be over-cro'w'd, and breathe without revenge ?" 
Again, in Hall's Satires, Lib. V. Sat. ii : 

" Like the vain bubble of Iberian pride, 
" That over-croweth all the world beside." 
This phrase often occurs in the controversial pieces of Gabriel 
Harvey, 1593, &c. It is also found in Chapman's translation of* 
the twenty -first Book of Homer's Odyssey : 

" and told his foe 

" It was not fair, nor equal, t' overcrow 
" The poorest guest ." STEEVENS. 

This word, [o'er-cnntw] for which Mr. Pope and succeeding 

378 HAMLET, 

I cannot live to hear the news from England : 

But I do prophecy the election lights 

On Fortinbras ; he has my dying voice ; 

So tell him, with the occurrents, 5 more or less, 

Which have solicited, 6 The rest is silence. [Dies. 

Hon. Now cracks a noble heart ; Good night, 
sweet prince ; 

editors have substituted over-grow*, is used by Holinshed injiis 
History of Ireland : " These noblemen laboured with tooth and 
nayle to over-crow, and consequently to overthrow, one ano- 

Again, in the epistle prefixed to Nashe's Apologie of Pierce 
Pennilesse, 1593: "About two yeeres since a certayne demi-di- 
vine took upon him to set his foote to mine, and over-crowe me 
with comparative terms." 

I find the reading which Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors 
adopted, (o'ergrows,) was taken from a late quarto of no autho- 
rity, printed in 1637. MALONE. 

The accepted reading is the more quaint, the rejected one the 
more elegant of the two ; at least Mr. Rowe has given the latter 
to his dying Amestris in The Ambitious Stepmother : 
" The gloom grows o'er me." STEEVENS. 

* '' the occurrents,] i. e. incidents. The word is now dis- 
used. So, in The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614 : 

" Such strange occurrents of my fore-past life." 
Again, in The Barons' Wars, by Drayton, Canto I : 
" With each occurrent, right in his degree." 
Again, in Chapman's version of the twenty-fourth Iliad; 

" Of good occurrents and none ill am I ambassadresse." 


e Which have solicited,] Solicited for brought on the event. 


Warburton says, that solicited means brought on the event ; 
but that is a meaning the word cannot import. That have soli- 
cited, means that have excited ; but the sentence is left imper- 
fect. M. MASON. 

What Hamlet would have said, the poet has not given us any 
ground for conjecturing. The words seem to mean no more than 
which have incited me to . MALONE. 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 379 

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! 7 

7 JVbto cracks a noble heart ; Good night, sweet prince j 

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!'] So, in Pericles, 
Prince of Tyre, 1609 : 

" If thou liv'st, Pericles, thou hast a hearty 
" That even cracks for woe." 

The concluding words of the unfortunate Lord Essex's prayer 
on the scaffold were these : ** and when my life and body shall 
part, send thy blessed angels, which may receive my soule, and 
convey it to the joys of heaven." 

Hamlet had certainly been exhibited before the execution of 
that amiable nobleman ; but the words here given to -Horatio 
might have been one of the many additions made to this play. 
As no copy of an earlier date than 1604- has yet been discovered, 
whether Lord Essex's last words were in our author's thoughts, 
cannot be now ascertained. MALONE. 

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.'"] Rather from 
Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1603 : 

" An host of angels be thy convey hence !" STEEVENS. 

Let us review for a moment the behaviour of Hamlet, on the 
strength of which Horatio founds this eulogy, and recommends 
him to the patronage of angels. 

Hamlet, at the command of his father's ghost, undertakes 
with seeming alacrity to revenge the murder ; and declares he 
will banish all other thoughts from his mind. He makes, how- 
ever, but one effort to keep his word, and that is, when he mis- 
takes Polonius for the King. On another occasion, he defers 
his purpose till he can find an opportunity of taking his uncle 
when he is least prepared for death, that he may insure damnation 
to his soul. Though he assassinated Polonius by accident, yet he 
deliberately procures the execution of his school-fellows, Rosen- 
crantz andGuildenstern, who appear not, from any circumstances 
in this play, to have been acquainted with the treacherous pur- 
poses of the mandate they were employed to carry. To embitter 
their fate, and hazard their punishment beyond the grave, he 
denies them even the few moments necessary for a brief confession 
of their sins. Their end (as he declares in a subsequent conver- 
sation with Horatio) gives him no concern, for they obtruded 
themselves into the service, and he thought he had a right to de- 
stroy them. From his brutal conduct toward Ophelia, he is not 
less accountable for her distraction and death. He interrupts the 
funeral designed in honour of this lady, at which both the King 
and Queen were present ; and, by such an outrage to decency, 

380 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Why does the drum come hither ? [March within. 

renders it still more necessary for the usurper to lay a second 
stratagem for his life, though the first had proved abortive. He 
insults the brother of the dead, and boasts of an affection for 
his sister, which, before, he had denied to her face ; and yet at 
this very time must be considered as desirous of supporting the 
character of a madman, so that the openness of his confession is 
not to be imputed to him as a virtue. He apologizes to Hora- 
tio afterwards for the absurdity of this behaviour, to which, he 
says, he was provoked by that nobleness of fraternal grief, 
which, indeed, he ought rather to have applauded than con- 
demned. Dr. Johnson has observed, that to bring about a re- 
conciliation with Laertes, he has availed himself of a dishonest 
fallacy ; and to conclude, it is obvious to the most careless spec- 
tator or reader, that he kills the King at last to revenge himself, 
and not his father. 

Hamlet cannot be said to have pursued his ends by very war- 
rantable means ; and if the poet, when he sacrificed him at last, 
meant to have enforced such a moral, it is not the worst that 
can be deduced from the play ; for, as Maximus, in Beaumont 
and Fletcher's Valentinian, says 

" Although his justice were as white as truth, 

" His way was crooked to it; that condemns him." 

The late Dr. Akenside once observed to me, that the conduct 
of Hamlet was every way unnatural and indefensible, unless he 
were to be regarded as a young man whose intellects were in 
some degree impaired by his own misfortunes ; by the death of 
his father, the loss of expected sovereignty, and a sense of shame 
resulting from the hasty and incestuous marriage of his 'mother. 

1 have dwelt the longer on this subject, because Hamlet seems 
to have been hitherto regarded as a hero not undeserving the 
pity of the audience; and because no writer on Shakspeare has 
taken the pains to point out the immoral tendency of his cha- 
racter. STEEVENS, 

Mr. Ritson controverts the justice of Mr. Steevens's strictures 
on the character of Hamlet, which he undertakes to defend. 
The arguments he makes use of for this purpose are too long to 
be here inserted, and therefore I shall content myself with re- 
ferring to them. See REMARKS, p. 217 to 224. REED. 

Some of the charges here brought against Hamlet appear to 
me questionable at least, if not unfounded. I have already ob- 
served that in the novel on which this play is constructed, the 
ministers who by the king's order accompanied the young prince 
to England, and carried with them a packet in which his death 

sc. n. PRINCE OF DENMARK. ssi 

JEnter FORTINBRAS, the English Ambassadors, and 

FORT. Where is this sight ? 

HOR. What is it, you would see ? 

was concerted, were apprized of its contents; and therefore we 
may presume that Shakspeare meant to describe their represen- 
tatives, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, as equally criminal ; as 
combining with the King to deprive Hamlet of his life. His 
procuring their execution therefore does not with certainty ap- 
pear to have been unprovoked cruelty, and might have been con- 
sidered by him as necessary to his future safety ; knowing, as he 
must have known, that they had devoted themselves to the ser- 
vice of the King in whatever he should command. The princi- 
ple on which he acted, is ascertained by the following lines, 
from which also it may be inferred that the poet meant to re- 
present Hamlet's school-fellows as privy to the plot against hi 

There's letters seal'd: and my two school-fellows 
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd, 
They bear the mandate ; they must sweep my way, 
And marshall me to knavery : Let it work, 
For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer 
Hoist with his own petar ; and it shall go hard, 
But I will delve one yard below their mines, 
** And blorv them to the moon." 

Another charge is, that " he comes * to disturb the funeral of 
Ophelia:" but the fact is otherwise represented in the first scene 
of the fifth Act : for when the funeral procession appears, ( which 
he does not seek, but finds,) he exclaims 

" The queen, the courtiers : who is this theyjbllow, 
" And with such maimed rites?" 

nor does he know it to be the funeral of Ophelia, till Laertes 
mentions that the dead body was that of his sister. 

I do not perceive that he is accountable for the madness of 
Ophelia. He did not mean to kill her father when concealed 
behind the arras, but the King ; and still less did he intend to 
deprive her of her reason and her life : her subsequent distraction 
therefore can no otherwise be laid to his charge, than as an un- 

* he comes ] The words stood thus in edit. 17*78, &G. STEEVESS. 

382 HAMLET, ACT r. 

If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search. 

FORT. This quarry cries on havock ! 8 O proud 

What feast is toward in thine eternal cell, 9 

foreseen consequence from his too ardently pursuing the object 
recommended to him by his father. 

He appears to have been induced to leap into Ophelia's grave, 
not with a design to insult Laertes, but from his love to her, 
(which then he had no reason to conceal,) and from the bravery 
of her brother's grief, which excited him (not to condemn that 
brother, as has been stated, but) to vie with him in the expres- 
sion of affection and sorrow : 

" Why, I will fight with him upon this theme, 
" Until my eyelids will no longer wag. 
" I lov'd Ophelia ; forty thousand brothers 
" Could not with all their quantity of love 
" Make up my sum." 

When Hamlet says, '* the bravery of his grief did put me 
into a towering passion," I think, he means, into a lofty ex- 
pression (not of resentment , but) of sorrow. So, in King John, 
Vol. X. p. 406, n. 4. 

" She is sad and passionate at your highness* tent." 
Again, more appositely in the play before us : 

" The instant burst of clamour that she made, 
" ( Unless things mortal move them not at all, ) 
'* Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven, 
" And passion in the gods." 

I may also add, that he neither assaulted, nor insulted Laertes, 
till that nobleman had cursed him, and seized him by the throat. 


1 This quarry cries on havock /] Sir T. Haumer reads : 
cries out, havock! 

To cry on, was to exclaim against. I suppose, when unfair 
sportsmen destroyed more quarry or game than was reasonable, 
the censure was to cry, Havock. JOHNSON. 

We have the same phraseology in Othello, Act V. sc . i : 

" Whose noise is this, that cries on murder ?" 

See the note there. MALONE. 

What feast is toward in thine eternal crU,"] Shakspeare has 
already employed this allusion to the Choec, or feasts of the 
dead, which were anciently celebrated at Athens, and are men- 
tioned by Plutarch in The Lift of Antonius. Our author like- 

sc. ii. PRINCE OF DENMARK. 383 

That thou so many princes, at a shot, 
So bloodily hast struck ? 

1 AMB. The sight is dismal ; 

And our affairs from England come too late : 
The ears are senseless, that should give us hearing, 
To tell him, his commandment is fulfilPd, 
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead : 
Where should we have our thanks ? 

HOR. Not from his mouth, 1 

Had it the ability of life to thank you ; 
He never gave commandment for their death. 
But since, so jump upon this bloody question, 
You from the Polack wars, and you from England, 
Are here arriv'd ; give order, that these bodies 
High on a stage be placed to the view j 2 
And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world, 
How these things come about : So shall you hear 
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts ; 3 

wise makes Talbot say to his son in The First Part of King 
Henry VI : 

" Now art thou come unto a feast of death." 


1 his mouth,'] i. e. the king's. STEEVENS. 

2 give order, that these bodies 

High on a stage be placed to the view ;] This idea was ap- 
parently taken from Arthur Brooke's Tragicall Hy story of Ro- 
meus and Juliet, 1562 : 

" The prince did straight ordaine, the corses that wer 


** Should be set forth upon a stage hye raysed from the 
grounde," &c. STEEVENS. 

3 Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts;~] Carnal is a word 
used by Shakspeare as an adjective to carnage. RITSON. 

Of sanguinary and unnatural acts, to which the perpetrator 
was instigated by concupiscence, or, to use ourpoet'sown words, 
by " carnal stings." The speaker alludes to the murder of old 
Hamlet by his brother, previous to his incestuous union with 
Gertrude. A Remarker asks, " was the relationship between 

384 HAMLET, ACT r. 

Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters; 
Of deaths put on 4 by cunning, and forc'd cause j 5 
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook 
Fall'n on the inventors' heads : all this can I 
Truly deliver. 

FORT. Let us haste to hear it, 

And call the noblest to the audience. 
For me, witli sorrow I embrace my fortune ; 
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, 6 
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me. 

HOR. Of that I shall have also cause to speak, 
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more: 7 

the usurper and the deceased king a secret confined to Horatio?" 
No, but the murder of Hamlet by Claudius was a secret which 
the young prince had imparted to Horatio, and had imparted to 
him alone ; and to this it is he principally, though covertly, 
alludes. Carnal is the reading of the only authentick copies, 
the quarto 1604, and the folio 1623. The modern editors, fol- 
lowing a quarto of no authority, for carnal, read cruel. 


The edition immediately preceding that of Mr. Malone, reads 
"-carnal, and not cruel, as here asserted. REED. 

4 Of deaths put on ] i. e. instigated, produced. See Vol. 
XVI. p. 115, n. 1. MALONE. 

* and forc'd cause ;] Thus the folio. The quartos read 

andybr no cause. STEEVENS. 

6 some rights of memory in this kingdom,'] Some rights, 

which are remembered in this kingdom. MALONE. 

7 And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more:"] No 
is the reading of the old quartos, but certainly a mistaken one. 
We say, a man will no more draw breath; but that a man's 
voice will draw no more, is, I believe, an expression without 
any authority. I choose to espouse the reading of the elder 
folio : 

And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more. 
And this is the poet's reading. Hamlet, just before his death, 
had said : 

" But I do prophecy, the election lights 
" On Fortinbras : he has my dying voice ; 
" So tell him," &c. 


But let this same be presently performed* 

Even while men's minds are wild ; lest more mis- 

On plots, and errors, happen. 

. FORT. Let four captains 

Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage ; 
For he was likely, had he been put on, 
To have prov'd most royally : and, for his passage, 
The soldiers' musick, and the rites of war, 
Speak loudly for him. 
Take up the bodies : Such a sight as this 
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss. 
Go, bid the soldiers shoot. \_A dead March. 

\_Rxeunt L , bearing off the dead Bodies ; after 
which, a Peal of Ordnance is shot off. 9 

Accordingly, Horatio here delivers that message ; and very justly 
infers that Hamlet's voice will be seconded by others, and pro- 
cure them in favour of Fortinbras's succession. THEOBALD. 

9 If the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterised, each 
by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, 
we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety. 
The incidents are so numerous, that the argument of the play 
would make a long tale. The scenes are interchangeably diver- 
sified with merriment and solemnity : with merriment that in- 
cludes judicious and instructive observations ; and solemnity not 
strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of 
man. New characters appear from time to time in continual 
succession, exhibiting various forms of life and particular modes 
of conversation. The pretended madness of Hamlet causes 
much mirth, the mournful distraction of Ophelia fills the heart 
with tenderness, and every personage produces the effect in- 
tended, from the apparition that in the first Act chills the blood 
with horror, to the fop in the last, that exposes affectation to just 

The conduct is perhaps not wholly secure against objections. 
The action is indeed for the most part in continual progression, 
but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. 
Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate 
cause, for he does nothing which he might not have done with 



the reputation of sanity. He plays the madman most, when he 
treats Ophelia with so much rudeness, which seems to be use- 
less and wanton cruelty. 

Hamlet is, through the whole piece, rather an instrument than 
an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted 
the. Kin{, he makes no attempt to punish him ; and his death is 
at last effected by an incident which Hamlet had no part in pro- 

The catastrophe is not very happily produced ; the exchange 
of weapons is rather ah expedient of necessity, than a stroke of 
*krt. A scheme might easily be formed to kill Hamlet with the 
dagger, arid Laertes with the bowl. 

The poet is accused of having -shown little regard to poetical 
justice, and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical pro- 
bability. The apparition left the regions of the dead to little 
purpose ; the revenge which he demands is not obtained, but 
by the death of him that was required to take it ; and the gra- 
tification, which would arise from the destruction of an usurper 
and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, 
the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious. 


. The levity of behaviour which Hamlet assumes immediately 
after the disappearance of the Ghost in the first Act, [sc. v.] has 
been objected to ; but the writer of some sensible Remarks on 
this tragedy, published in 1736, justly observes, that the poet's 
object there was, that Marcellus " might not imagine that the 
Ghost had revealed to Hamlet some matter of great consequence 
to him, and that he might not therefore be suspected of any deep 

** I have heard (adds the same writer) many persons wonder, 
why the poet should bring in this Ghost in complete armour. 
I think these reasons may be given for it. We are to consider, 
that he could introduce him in these dresses only ; in his regal 
dress, in a habit of interment, in a common habit, or in some 
fantastick one of his own invention. Now let us examine, which 
was most likely to affect the spectators with passions proper oft 
the occasion. 

** The regal habit has nothing uncommon in it, nor surpri- 
sing, nor could it give rise to any fine images. The habit of in- 
terment was something too horrible ; for terror, not horror, is 
to be raised in the spectators. The common habit (or habit de 
tolle, as the French call it,) was by no means proper for the 
occasion. It remains then that the poet should choose some ha- 
bit from his own brain: but this certainly could not be proper, 
because invention in such a case would be so much in danger of 
falling, into the grotesque, that it was not to be hazarded. 


%i Now as to the armour, it was very suitable to a king who is 
described as a great warrior, and is very particular ; and conse- 
quently affects the spectators without being fantastick. 

" The King spurs on his son to revenge his foul and unnatural 
murder, from these two considerations chiefly ; that he was sent 
into the other world without having had time to repent of his 
sins, and without the necessary sacraments, according to the 
church of Rome, and that consequently his soul was to suffer, if 
not eternal damnation, at least a long course of penance in pur- 
gatory ; which aggravates the circumstances of his brother's bar- 
barity ; and secondly, that Denmark might not be the scene of 
usurpation and incest, and the throne thus polluted and profaned. 
For these reasons he prompts the young prince to revenge ; else 
it would have been more becoming the character of such a prince 
as Hamlet's father is represented to have been, and more suitable 
to his present condition, to have left his brother to the divine 
punishment, and to a possibility of repentance for his base crime, 
which, by cutting him off, he must be deprived of. 

" To conform to the ground-work of his plot, Shakspeare 
makes the young prince feign himself mad. I cannot but think 
this to be injudicious ; for so far from securing himself from any 
violence which he feared from the usurper, it seems to have been 
the most likely way of getting himself confined, and consequently 
debarred from an opportunity of revenging his father's death, 
which now seemed to be his only aim ; and accordingly it was 
the occasion of his being sent away to England ; which design, 
had it taken effect upon his life, he never could have revenged 
his father's murder. To speak truth, our poet by keeping too 
close to the ground-work of his plot, has fallen into an absurdity; 
for there appears no reason at all in nature, why the young 
prince did not put the usurper to death as soon as possible, espe- 
cially as Hamlet is represented as a youth so brave, and so care- 
less of his own life. 

" The case indeed is this. Had Hamlet gone naturally to 
work, as we could suppose such a prince to do in parallel circum- 
stances, there would have been an end of our play. The poet, 
therefore, was obliged to delay his hero's revenge : but then he 
should have contrived some good reason for it. 

" His beginning his scenes of Hamlet's madness by his beha- 
viour to Ophelia, was judicious, because by this means he might 
be thought to be mad for her, not that his brain was disturbed 
about state affairs, which would have been dangerous. 

" It does not appear whether Ophelia's madness was chiefly 
for her father's death, or for the loss of Hamlet. It is not often 
that young women run mad for the loss of their fathers. It is 

2 C 2 

388 HAMLET, 

wore natural to suppose that, like Chimenc, in the Cid, her 
great sorrow proceeded from her father's being killed by the man, 
she loved, and thereby making it indecent for her ever to marry 

" Laertes's character is a very odd one ; it is not easy to say 
whether it is good or bad : but his consenting to the villainous 
contrivance of the usurper's to murder Hamlet, nrakes him much 
more a bad man than a good one. It is a very nice conduct in 
the poet to make the usurper build his scheme upon the generous 
unsuspicious temper of the person he intends to murder, and thus 
to raise the prince's character by the confession of his enemy ; 
to make the villain ten times more odious from his own mouth. 
The contrivance of the foil unbated (i. e. without a button,) is 
methinks too gross a deceit to go down even with a man of the 
most unsuspicious nature. 

*' Laertes's death and the Queen's are truly poetical justice, 
and very naturally brought about, although I do not conceive it 
so easy to change rapiers in a scuffle without knowing it at the 
time. The death of the Queen is particularly according to the 
strictest rules of poetical justice ; for she loses her life by the 
villainy of the very person, who had been the cause of all her 

M Since the poet deferred so long the usurper's death, we must 
own that he has very naturally effected it, and still added fresh 
crimes to those the murderer had already committed. 

" Upon Laertes's repentance for contriving the death of Ham- 
let, one cannot but feel some Sentiments of pity for him ; but 
who can see or read the death of the young prince without 
melting into tears and compassion ? Horatio's earnest desire to 
die with the prince, thus not to survive his friend, gives a stronger 
idea of his friendship for Hamlet in the few lines on that occasion^ 
than many actions or expressions could possibly have done. And 
Hamlet's begging him to draw his breath in this harsh world a 
little longer, to clear his reputation, and manifest his innocence, 
is very suitable to his virtuous character, and the honest regard 
that all men should have not to be misrepresented to posterity ; 
that they may not set a bad example, when in reality they have 
set a good one : which is the only motive that can, in reason, 
recommend the love of fame and glory. 

" Horatio's desire of having the bodies carried to a stage, &c. 
is very well imagined, and was the best way of satisfying the 
request of his deceased friend : and he acts in this, and in all 
points, suitably to the manly honest character, under which he 
is drawn throughout the piece. Besides, it gives a sort of con- 
tent to the audience, that though their favourite ( which must be 


Hamlet) did not escape with life, yet the greatest amends will- 
be made him, which can be in this world, viz. justice done to his 

" Fortinbras comes in very naturally at the close of the play, 
and lays a very just claim to the throne of Denmark, as he had 
the dying voice of the prince. He in a few words gives a noble 
character of Hamlet, and serves to carry off the deceased hero 
from the stage with the honours due to his birth and merit." 


ACT II. SCENE II. P. 150. 

The rugged Pyrrhus, he, &c.] The two greatest poets of this 
and the last age, Mr. Dryden, in the preface to Troilus and 
Cressida, and Mr. Pope, in his note on this place, have concurred 
in thinking, that Shakspeare produced this long passage with de- 
sign to ridicule and expose the bombast of the play from whence 
it was taken ; and that Hamlet's commendation of it is purely 
ironical. This is become the general opinion. I think just other- 
wise ; and that it was given with commendation to upbraid the 
false taste of the audience of that time, which would not suffer 
them to do justice to the simplicity and sublime of this produc- 
tion. And I reason, first, from the character Hamlet gives of 
the play, from whence the passage is taken. Secondly, from 
the passage itself. And thirdly, from the effect it had on the 

Let us consider the character Hamlet gives of it. The play I 
remember, pleased not the million ; 'twas caviare to the general : 
but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgment in such 
matters cried in the top of mine) an excellent play, well digested 
in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I 
remember one said, there was no salt in the lines to make the 
matter savoury ; nor no matter in the phrase that might indite 
the author of affection ; but called it an honest method. They 
who suppose the passage given to be ridiculed, must needs sup- 
pose this character to be purely ironical. But if so, it is the 
strangest irony that ever was written. It pleased not the multi- 
tude. This we must conclude to be true, however ironical the 
j'cst be. Now the reason given of the designed ridicule is the 

390 HAMLET, 

Supposed bombast. But those were the very plays, which at that 
time we know took with the multitude. And Fletcher wrote a 
kind of Rehearsal purposely to expose them. But say it is bom- 
bast, and that therefore it took not with the multitude. Hamlet 
presently tells us what it was that displeased them. There was 
no salt in the lines to make the matter savoury ; nor no matter 
in the phrase that might indite the author of affection ; but 
called it an honest method. Now whether a person speaks ironi- 
cally or no, when he quotes others, yet common sense requires 
he should quote what they say. Now it could not be, if this play 
displeased because of the bombast, that those whom it displeased 
should give this reason for their dislike. The same inconsistencies 
and absurdities abound in every other part of Hamlet's speech, 
supposing it to be ironical ; but take him as speaking his senti- 
ments, the whole is of a piece ; and to this purpose. The play, I 
remember, pleased not the multitude, and the reason was, its be- 
ing wrote on the rules of the ancient drama; to which they were 
entire strangers. But, in my opinion, and in the opinion of those 
for whose judgment I have the highest esteem, it was an excel- 
lent play, well digested in the scenes, i. e. where the three uni- 
ties were well preserved. Set down with as much, modesty as 
cunning, i. e. where not only the art of composition, but the 
simplicity of nature, was carefully attended to. The characters 
were a faithful picture of life and manners, in which nothing was 
overcharged into farce. But these qualities, which gained my 
esteem, lost the publick's. For I remember, one said, There was 
no salt in the lines to make the matter savoury, i. e. there was not, 
according to the mode of that time, a fool or clown, to joke, 
quibble, and talk freely. Nor no matter in the phrase that might 
indite the author of affection, i. e. nor none of those passionate, 
pathetick love scenes, so essential to modern tragedy. But he 
called it an honest method, i. e. he owned, however tasteless this 
method of writing, on the ancient plan, was to our times, yet it 
was chaste and pure ; the distinguishing character of the Greek 
drama. I need only make one observation on all this ; that, thus 
interpreted, it is the justest picture of a good tragedy, wrote on 
the ancient rules. And that I have rightly interpreted it, ap- 
pears farther from what we find in the old quarto, An honest 
method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more HANDSOME 
than FINE, i. e. it had a natural beauty, but none of thefucus of 
false art. 

2. A second proof that this speech was given to be admired, 
is from the intrinsick merit of the speech itself; which con- 
tains the description of a circumstance very happily imagined, 
namely, Ilium and Priam's falling together, with the effect it had 
on the destroyer. 


" The hellish Pyrrhus, gfc. 


" Repugnant to command. 

" The unnerved father falls, fyc, 

" r- So after Pyrrhus' pause." 

Now this circumstance, illustrated with the fine similitude of the 
storm, is so highly worked up, as to have well deserved a place 
,in Virgil's second book of the jEneid, even though the work 
had been carried on to that perfection which the Roman poet 
had conceived. 

3. The third proof is, from the effects which followed on the 
recital. Hamlet, his best character, approves it ; the player is 
deeply affected in repeating it ; and only the foolish Polonius 
tired with it. We have said enough before of Hamlet's senti- 
ments. As for the player, he changes colour, and the tears start 
from his eyes. But our author was too good a judge of nature 
to make bombast and unnatural sentiment produce such an ef- 
fect. Nature and Horace both instructed him : 

" Si vis me flere, dolendum est 

" Primum ipsi tibi, tune tua me infortunia laedent, 

" Telephe, vel Peleu. MALE si M AND ATA J,QQUERIS, 

" Aut dormitabo aut ridebo." 

And it may be worth observing, that Horace gives this precept 
particularly to show, that bombast and unnatural sentiments are 
.incapable of moving the tender passions, which he is directing 
the poet how to raise. For, in the lines just before, he gives 
this rule : 

" Telephus & Peleus, cum pauper & exul uterque, 

" Projicit ampullas, & sesquipedalia verba." 
Not that I would deny, that very bad lines in bad tragedies have 
had this effect. But then it always proceeds from one or other 
of these causes : 

1. Either when the subject is domestick, and the scene lies at 
home ; the spectators, in this case, become interested in the for- 
tunes of the distressed ; and their thoughts are so much taken 
up with the subject, that they are not at liberty to attend to the 
poet ; who otherwise, by his faulty sentiments and diction, would 
have stifled the emotions springing up from a sense of the dis- 
tress. But this is nothing to the case in hand. For, as Hamlet 

" What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?'* 

2. When bad lines raise this affection, they are bad in the other 
extreme ; low, abject, and groveling, instead of being highty 
figurative and swelling ; yet, when attended with a natural sim- 
plicity, they have force enough to strike illiterate and simple 

392 HAMLET, 

minds. The tragedies of Banks will justify both these observa- 

But if any one will still say, that Shakspeare intended to re- 
present a player unnaturally and fantastically affected, we must 
appeal to Hamlet, that is, to Shakspeare himself in this matter; 
wjio, on the reflection he makes upon the player's emotion, in 
order to excite his own revenge, gives not the least hint that the 
player was unnaturally or injudiciousl}' moved. On the con- 
trary, his fine description of the actor's emotion shows, he 
thought just otherwise : 

" this player here, 

" But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 
" Could force his soul so to his own conceit, 
" That from her working all his visage wan'd : 
" Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, 
" A broken voice," Sfc. 

And indeed had Hamlet esteemed this emotion any thing unna- 
tural, it had been a very improper circumstance to spur him to 
his purpose. 

As Shakspeare has here shown the effects which a fine descrip- 
tion of nature, heightened with all the ornaments of art, had upon 
an intelligent player, whose business habituates him to enter in- 
timately and deeply into the characters of men and manners, and 
to give nature its free workings on all occasions ; so he has art- 
fully shown what effects the very same scene would have upon a 
quite different man, Polonius ; by nature, very weak and very 
"artificial [two qualities, though commonly enough joined in life, 
yet generally so much disguised as not to be seen by common 
eyes to be together ; and which an ordinary poet durst not have 
brought so near one another] ; by discipline, practised in a spe- 
cies of wit and eloquence, which was stiff, forced, and pedantick ; 
and by trade a politician, and, therefore, of consequence, with- 
out any of the affecting notices of humanity. Such is the man 
whom Shakspeare has judiciously chosen to represent the false 
taste of that audience which has condemned the play here re- 
citing. When the actor comes to the finest and most pathetick 
part of the speech, Polonius cries out This is too long; on which 
Hamlet, in contempt of his ill judgment, replies, It shall to the 
barber's ivith thy beard ; [intimating that, by this judgment, 
it appeared that all his wisdom lay in his length of beard]. 
Pr'ythee, say on. He's for a jig or a tale of ban-dry, [the com- 
mon entertainment of that time, as well as this, of the people] 
or he sleeps ; say on. And yet this man of modern taste, who 
stood all this time perfectly unmoved with the forcible imagery 
of the relator, no sooner hears, amongst many good things, one 
quaint and fantastical word, put in, I suppose, purposely for this 


end, than he professes his approbation of the propriety and dig- 
nity of it. That's good. Mobled queen is good. On the whole 
then, I think, it plainly appears, that the long quotation is not 
given to be ridiculed and laughed at, but to be admired. The 
character given of the play, by Hamlet, cannot be ironical; 
The passage itself is extremely beautiful. It has the effect that 
all pathetick relations, naturally written, should have ; and it is 
condemned, or regarded with indifference, by one of a wrong, 
unnatural taste. From hence (to observe it by the way) the 
actors, in their representation of this play, may learn how this 
speech ought to be spoken, and what appearance Hamlet ought 
to assume during the recital. 

That which supports the common opinion, concerning this 
passage, is the turgid expression in some parts of it ; which, they 
think, could never be given by the poet to be commended. We 
shall, therefore, in the next place, examine the lines most ob- 
noxious to censure, and see how much, allowing the charge, 
this will make for the induction of their conclusion : 

Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide, 
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword 
The unnerved father falls." 
And again, 

Out, out, thou strumpet fortune ! All you gods, 
In general synod, take away her power : 
Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, 
And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, 
As low as to the fiends." 
Now whether these be bombast or not, is not the question ; 
but whether Shakspeare esteemed them so. That he did not 
so esteem them appears from his having used the very same 
thoughts in the same expressions, in his best plays, and given 
them to his principal characters, where he aims at the sublime. 
As in the following passages : 

Troilus, in Troilus and Cressida, far outstrains the execution 
of Pyrrhus's sword in the character he gives of Hector's : 
" When many times the caitive Grecians Jail 
" Even in the Jan and wind of your fair sword, 
" You bid them rise and live." 

Cleopatra, in Antony and Cleopatra, rails at fortune in the 
same manner : 

** No, let me speak, and let me rail so high, 
" That the false huswife Fortune break her wheel, 
" Provok'd at my offence." 

But another use may be made of these quotations ; a discovery 
of this recited play : which, letting us into a circumstance of 
our author's life (as a writer) hitherto unknown, was the reason 

394 HAMLET, 

I have been so large upon this question. I think then it appears, 
from what has been said, that the play in dispute was 6hak- 
speare's own; and that this was the occasion of writing it. He 
was desirous, as soon as he had found his strength, of restoring 
the chasteness and regularity of the ancient stage: and therefore 
composed this tragedy on the model of the Greek drama, as may 
be seen by throwing so much action into relation. But his at- 
tempt proved fruitless ; and the raw, unnatural taste, then pre- 
valent, forced him back again into his old Gothick manner. For 
which he took this revenge upon his audience. WAKBUKTON. 

I formerly thought that the lines which have given rise to the 
foregoing observations, were extracted from some old play, of 
which it appeared to me probable that Christopher Marlowe was 
the author ; but whatever Shakspeare's view in producing them 
may have been, I am now decidedly of opinion they were 
written by himself, not in any former unsuccessful piece, but 
expressly for the play of Hamlet. It is observable, that what 
Dr. Warburton calls " the fine similitude of the storm," is like- 
wise found in our poet's Venus and Adonis. MA LONE. 

The praise which Hamlet bestows on this piece is certainly 
dissembled, and agrees very well with the character of madness, 
which, before witnesses, he thought it necessary to support. The 
speeches before us have so little merit, that nothing but an af- 
fectation of singularity, could have influenced Dr. Warburton 
to undertake their defence. The poet, perhaps, meant to exhibit 
a just resemblance of some of the plays of his own age, in which 
the faults were too general and too glaring to permit a few 
splendid passages to atone for them. The player knew his trade, 
and spoke the lines in an affecting manner, because Hamlet had 
declared them to be pathetick, or might be in reality a little 
moved by them; for, " There are less degrees of nature (says 
Dryden ) by which some faint emotions of pity and terror are 
raised in us, as a less engine will raise a less proportion of weight, 
though not so much as one of Archimedes' making." The 
mind of the prince, it must be confessed, was fitted for the re- 
ception of gloomy ideas, and his tears were ready at a slight 
solicitation. It is by no means proved, that Shakspeare has em- 
ployed the same thoughts clothed in the same expressions, in his 
best plays. If he bids the Jhlse huswife Fortune break her wheel, 
he does not desire her to break all its spokes ; nay, even its 
periphery, and make use of the nave afterwards for such an 
immeasurable cast. Though if what Dr. Warburton has said 
should be found in any instance to be exactly true, what can we 
infer from thenco, but that Shakspeare was sometimes wrong iu 
pite of conviction, and in the hurry of writing committed those 


very faults which his judgment could detect in others? Dr. 
Warburton is inconsistent in his assertions concerning the lite- 
rature of Shakspeare. In a note on Troilns and Cressida, he 
affirms, that his want of learning kept him from being acquainted 
with the writings of Homer ; and, in this instance, would sup- 
pose him capable of producing a complete tragedy written on the 
ancient rules; and that the speech before us had sufficient merit 
to entitle it to a place in the second book of Virgil's JEneid, even 
though the ivor/c had been carried to that perfection "which the 
Roman poet had conceived.* 

Had Shakspeare made one unsuccessful attempt in the man- 
ner of the ancients (that he had any knowledge of their rules, 
remains to be proved, ) it would certainly have been recorded 
by contemporary writers, among whom Ben Jonson would have 
been the first. Had his darling ancients been unskilfully imi- 
tated by a rival poet, he would at least have preserved the me- 
mory of the fact, to show how unsafe it was for any one, who 
was not as thorough a scholar as himself, to have meddled with 
their sacred remains. 

" Within that circle none durst walk but he." He has repre- 
sented Inigo Jones as being ignorant of the very names of those 
classick authors, whose architecture he undertook to correct; in 
his Poetaster he has in several places hinted at our poet's injudi- 
cious use of words, and seems to have pointed his ridicule more 
than once at some of his descriptions and characters. It is true, 
that he has praised him, but it was not while that praise could 
have been of any service to him ; and posthumous applause is 
always to be had on easy conditions. Happy it was for Shak- 
speare, that he took nature for his guide, and, engaged in the 
warm pursuit of her beauties, left to Jonson the repositories of 
learning: so has he escaped a contest which might have rendered 
his life uneasy, and bequeathed to our possession the more valu- 
able copies from nature herself: for Shakspeare was (says Dr. 
Hurd, in his notes on Horace's Art of Poetry,} " the first that 
broke through the bondage of classical superstition. And he 
owed this felicity, as he did some others, to his want of what 

* It appears to me not only that Shakspeare had the favourable opinion cf 
these lines which he makes Hamlet express, hut that they were extracted 
from some play which he, at a more early period, had either produced or pro- 
jected upon the story of Dido and JEntas. The verses recited are far supe- 
rior to those of any coeval writer : the parallel passagein Marlowe and Nashe's 
Dido will not hear the comparison. Possibly, indeed, it might have been his 
first attempt, before the divinity that lodged within him had instructed him to 
despise the tumid and unnatural style so much and so unjustly admired in his 
predecessors or contemporaries, and which he afterward so happily ridiculed 
in " the swaggering vaine of Ancient Pistol." RIISON. 

396 HAMLET, 

is called the advantage of a learned education. Thus uninflu. 
tnced by the weight of early prepossession, he struck at once 
into the road of nature and common sense : and without design- 
ing, uithout knowing it, hath left us in his historical plays, with 
all their anomalies, an exacter resemblance of the Athenian 
stage than is any where to be found in its most professed ad- 
mirers and copyists." Again, ibid: " It is possible, there are, 
who think a want of reading, as well as vast superiority of ge- 
nius, hath contributed to lift this astonishing man, to the glory 
of being esteemed the most original THINKER and SPEAKER, 
since the times of Homer.*' 

To this extract 1 may add the sentiments of Dr. Edward Young 
on the same occasion. " Who knows whether Shakspeare might 
not have thought less, if he had read more ? Who knows if he 
might not have laboured under the load of Jonson's learning, as 
Enceladus under ./Etna ! His mighty genius, indeed, through 
the most mountainous oppression, would have breathed out some 
of his inextinguishable fire; yet possibly, he might not have 
risen up into that giant, that much more than common man, at 
which we now gaze with amazement and delight. Perhaps he 
was as learned as his dramatick province required ; for what- 
ever other learning he wanted, he was master of two books, 
which the last conflagration alone can destroy ; the book of na- 
ture, and that of man. These he had by heart, and has tran- 
scribed many admirable pages of them into his immortal works. 
These are the fountain-head, whence the Castalian streams of 
original composition flow ; and these are often mudded by other 
waters, though waters in their distinct channel, most wholesome 
and pure ; as two chemical liquors, separately clear as crystal, 
grow foul by mixture, and offend the sight. So that he had not 
only as much learning as his dramatick province required, but, 
perhaps as it could safely bear. If Milton had spared some of 
his learning, his muse would have gained more glory than he 
would have lost by it." 

Conjectures on Original Composition. 

The first remark of Voltaire on this tragedy, is that the former 
king had been poisoned by his brother and his queen. The guilt 
of the latter, however, is far from being ascertained. The Ghost 
forbears to accuse her as an accessary, and very forcibly recom- 
mends her to the mercy of her son. I may add, that her con- 
science appears undisturbed during the exhibition of the mock 
tragedy, which produces so visible a disorder in her husband who 
was really criminal. The last observation of the same author has 
no greater degree of veracity to boast of; for now, says he, all 
the actors in the piece are swept away, and one Monsieur For* 
tenbras is introduced to conclude it. Can this be true, when 


Horatio, Osric, Voltimand, and Cornelius survive ? These, to- 
gether with the whole court of Denmark, are supposed to be 
present at the catastrophe, so that we are not indebted to the? 
Norwegian chief for having kept the stage from vacancy. 

Monsieur de Voltaire has since transmitted, in an epistle to 
the Academy of Belles Lettres, some remarks on the late French 
translation of Shakspeare ; but, alas ! no traces of genius or vi- 
gour are discoverable in this crambe repetita, which is notorious 
only for its insipidity, fallacy, and malice. It serves indeed to 
show an apparent decline of talents and spirit in its writer, who 
no longer relies on his own ability to depreciate a rival, but ap- 
peals in a plaintive strain to the queen and princesses of France 
for their assistance to stop the further circulation of Shakspeare's 

Impartiality, nevertheless, must acknowledge that his private 
correspondence displays a superior degree of animation. Perhaps 
an ague shook him when he appealed to the publick on this sub- 
ject ; but the effects of a fever seem to predominate in his sub- 
sequent letter to Monsieur D' Argenteuil on the same occasion ; 
for such a letter it is as our John Dennis (while his phrenzy 
lasted) might be supposed to have written. *' C'est moi qui 
autrefois parlai le premier de ce Shakspeare: c'est moi qui le 
premier montrai aux Francois quelques perles quels j'ayois 
trouve dans son enorme fumier" Mrs. Montague, the justly 
celebrated authoress of the Essay on the Genius and Writings of 
our author, was in Paris, and in the circle where these ravings 
of the Frenchman were first publickly recited. On hearing the 
illiberal expression already quoted, with no less elegance than 
readiness she replied " C'est un Jumier qui a fertilize une 
terre bien ingrate." In short, the author of Zayre, Mahomet, 
and Semiramis, possesses all the mischievous qualities of a mid- 
night felon, who, in the hope to conceal his guilt, sets the house 
he has robbed on fire. 

As for Messieurs D'Alembert and Marmontel, they might 
safely be passed over with that neglect which their impotence of 
criticism deserves. Voltaire, in spite of his natural disposition to 
vilify an English poet, by adopting sentiments, characters, and 
situations from Shakspeare, has bestowed on him involuntary 
praise. Happily, he has not been disgraced by the worthless en- 
comiums or disfigured by the aukward imitations of the other 
pair, who " follow in the chace not like hounds that hunt, but 
like those who fill up the cry." When D'Alembert declares that 
more sterling sense is to be met with in ten French verses than 
in thirty English ones, contempt is all that he provokes such 
contempt as can only be exceeded by that which every scholar 

398 HAMLET. 

will express, who may chance to look into thn prose translation 
of Lucan by Marmontel, with the vain expectation of discover- 
ing either the sense, the spirit, or the whole of the original. 



CYMBELINE.] Mr. Pope supposed the story of this play to 
have been borrowed from a novel of Boccace; but he was mis- 
taken, as an imitation of it is found in an old story-book entitled 
Westward for Smelts. This imitation differs in as many parti- 
culars from the Italian novelist, as from Shakspeare, though they 
concur in some material parts of the fable. It was published in 
a quarto pamphlet 1603. This is the only copy of it which I 
have hitherto seen. 

There is a late entry of it in the books of the Stationers' Com- 
pany, Jan. 1619, where it is said to have been written by Kitt of 
Kingston. STEEVENS. 

The tale in Westward for Smelts, which I published some 
years ago, I shall subjoin to this play. The only part of the 
fable, however, which can be pronounced with certainty to be 
drawn from thence, is, Imogen's wandering about after Pisanio 
has left her in the forest ; her being almost famished; and being 
taken at a subsequent period, into the service of the Roman 
General as a page. The general scheme of Cymbeline is, in my 
opinion, formed on Boccace's novel (Day 2, Nov. 9.) and Shak- 
speare has taken a circumstance from it, that is not mentioned 
in the other tale. See Act II. sc. ii. It appears from the pre- 
face to the old translation of the Decamerone, printed in 1620, 
that many of the novels had before received an English dress, 
and had been printed separately : " I know, most worthy lord, 
(says the printer in his Epistle Dedicatory,) that many of them 
the novels of Boccace] have long since been published before, as 
stolen from the original author, and yet not beautified with his 
sweet style and elocution of phrase, neither savouring of his 
singular morall applications." 

Cymbeline, I imagine, was written in the year 1605. See An 
Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II. 
The king from whom the play takes its title began his reign, 
according to Holinshed, in the 19th year of the reign of Au- 
gustus Caesar ; and the play commences in or about the twenty- 
fourth year of Cymbeline's reign, which was the forty-second 
year of the reign of Augustus, and the 16th of the Christian aera : 
notwithstanding which, Shakspeare has peopled Rome with 
modern Italians ; Philario, lachimo, &c. Cymbeline is said to 
have reigned thirty-five years, leaving at his death two sons, 
Guiderius and Arviragus. MALONE. 

An ancient translation, or rather a deformed and interpolated 
imitation, of the ninth novel of the second day of the Decameron 
of Boccacio, has recently occurred. The title and colophon of 
this rare piece, are as follows : 

'* This mater treateth of a merchautes wyfe that afterwarde 
went lyke a ma and becam a great lorde and was called Frede- 
ryke of Jennen afterwarde." 

" Thus endeth this lytell story of lorde Frederyke. Impryted 
1 Anwarpe by me JohnDusborowhge,dwellynge besyde y e Gamer 
porte in the yere of our lorde god a. M.CCCCC. and xviij." 

This novel exhibits the material features of its original ; though 
the names of the characters are changed, their sentiments de- 
based, and their conduct rendered still more improbable than in 
the scenes before us. John of Florence is the Ambrogiulo, 
Ambrosius of Jennens the Bernabo of the story. Of the trans- 
lator's elegance of imagination, and felicity of expression, the 
two following instances may be sufficient. He has converted 
the picturesque mole under the left breast of the lady, into a 
black wart on her left arm ; and when at last, in a male habit, 
she discovers her sex, instead of displaying her bosom only, he 
obliges her to appear before the King and his whole court com- 
pletely " naked, save that she had a karcher of sylke before hyr 
members." The whole work is illustrated with wooden cuts re- 
presenting every scene throughout the narrative. 

I know not that any advantage is gained by the discovery of 
this antiquated piece, unless it serves to strengthen our belief 
that some more faithful translation had furnished Shakspeare 
with incidents which, in their original Italian, to him at least 
were inaccessible. STEEVENS. 



Cymbeline, King of Britain. 

Cloten, So?i to the Queen by a former Husband. 

Leonatus Posthumus, a Gentleman, Husband to 

Belarius, a banished Lord, disguised under the Name 

of Morgan. 

r* -j (Sons to Cymbeline, disguised under 
Guidenus, 1 ^ -\r / -D i j j n j 

* . ' < the Names of Polydore and Cad- 

' wal, supposed Sons to Belarius. 
Philario, Friend to Posthumus, tr^. r 
lachimo, Friend to Philario, ) 
A French Gentleman, Friend to Philario. 
Caius Lucius, General of the Roman Forces. 
A Roman Captain. Two British Captains. 
Pisanio, Servant to Posthumus. 
Cornelius, a Physician. 
Two Gentlemen. 
Two Gaolers. 

Queen, Wife to Cymbeline. 

Imogen, Daughter to Cymbeline by a former Queen. 

Helen, Woman to Imogen. 

Lords, Ladies, Roman Senators, Tribunes, Appa- 
ritions, a Soothsayer, a Dutch Gentleman, a 
Spanish Gentleman, Musicians, Officers, Captains, 
Soldiers, Messengers, and other Attendants. 

SCENE, sometimes in Britain ; sometimes in Italy. 


Britain. The Garden behind Cymbeline's Palace. 
Enter Two Gentlemen. 

1 GENT. You do not meet a man, but frowns : 

our bloods 

No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers ; 
Still seem, as does the king's. 1 

1 You do not meet a man, but frowns : our bloods 
No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers; 
Still seem, as does the king's.'] The thought is this ; we are 
not now (as we were wont) influenced by the weather, but by 
the king's looks. We no more obey the heavens [the sky] than 
our courtiers obey the heavens [God]. By which it appears that 
the reading our bloods, is wrong. For though the blood may 
be affected with the weather, yet that affection is discovered not 
by change of colour, but by change of countenance. And it is 
the outward not the intvard change that is here talked of, as ap- 
pears from the word seem. We should read therefore : 

our brows 

No more obey the heavens, &c. 
which is evident from the precedent words : 

You do not meet a man but frowns. 
And from the following : 

" But not a courtier, 

" Although they wear their faces to the bent 

" Of the king's look, but hath a heart that is 

" Glad at the thing they scowl at." 

The Oxford editor improves upon this emendation, and reads : 

2 D 2 


2 GENT. But what's the matter ? 

our looks 

No more obey the heart, ev'n than our courtiers. 
But by ventuTing too far, at a second emendation, he has stript 
it of all thought and sentiment. WARBUHTON. 

This passage is so difficult, that commentators may differ con- 
cerning it without animosity or shame. Of the two emendation* 
proposed, Sir Thomas Hanmer's is the more licentious ; but he 
makes the sense clear, and leaves the reader an easy passage. 
Dr. Warburton has corrected with more caution, but less im- 
provement : his reasoning upon his own reading is so obscure 
and perplexed, that I suspect some injury of the press. I am 
now to tell my opinion, which is, that the lines stand as they 
were originally written, and that a paraphrase, such as the 
licentious and abrupt expressions of our author too frequently 
require, will make emendation unnecessary. We do not meet a 
man but frowns; our bloods our countenances, which, in popu- 
lar speech, are said to be regulated by the temper of the blood, 
no more obey the laws of heaven, which direct us to appear 
what we really are, than our courtiers' : that is, than the bloods 
of our courtiers ; but our bloods, like theirs, still seem, as doth 
the king's. JOHNSON. 

In The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608, which has been attributed 
to Shakspeare, blood appears to be used for inclination : 

" For 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden." 
Again, in King Lear, Act IV. sc. ii : 

" Were it my fitness 

** To let these hands obey my blood." 
In King Henry VIII. Act III. sc. iv. is the same thought : 

" subject to your countenance, glad, or sorry, 

" As I saw it inclin'd." 

Again, in Greene's Never too late, 4to. 1590: " if the King 
smiled, every one in the court was in his jollitie ; if he frowned, 
their plumes fell like peacock's feathers, so that their outward 
presence depended on his inward passions." STEEVENS. 

I would propose to make this passage clear by a very slight 
alteration, only leaving out the last letter : 

You do not meet a man but frowns: our bloods 

No more obey the heavens, than our courtiers 

Still seem, as does the king. 

That is, Still look as the king does; or, as he expresses it a little 
differently afterwards : 

" wear their faces to the bent 

" Of the king's look." TYKWHITT. 

sc. /. CYMBELINE. 405 

1 GENT. His daughter, and the heir of his king- 
dom, whom 

He purpos'd to his wife's sole son, (a widow, 
That late he married,) hath referred herself 
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman: She's wedded; 
Her husband banish'd ; she imprisoned : all 
Is outward sorrow; 2 though, I think, the king 

The only error that I can find in this passage is, the mark of 
the genitive case annexed to the word courtiers, which appears 
to be a modern innovation, and ought to be corrected. The 
meaning of it is this : " Our dispositions no more obey the hea- 
vens than our courtiers do ; they still seem as the king's does." 
The obscurity arises from the omission of the pronoun they, by 
a common poetical licence. M. MASON. 

Blood is so frequently used by Shakspeare for natural disposi- 
tion, that there can be no doubt concerning the meaning here. 
So, in All's luell that ends well: 

*' Now his important blood will nought deny 

" That she'll demand." 
See also Timon of Athens, Act IV. sc. ii. Vol. XIX. 

I have followed the regulation of the old copy, in separating 
the word courtiers from what follows, by placing a semicolon 
after it. " Still seem" "for " they still seem," or " our bloods 
still seem," is common in Shakspeare. The mark of the genitive 
case, which has been affixed in the late editions to the word courtiers, 
does not appear to me necessary, as the poet might intend to 
say " than our courtiers obey the heavens :" though, it must 
be owned, the modern regulation derives some support from 
what follows : 

" but not a courtier, 

" Although they wear their faces to the bent 

" Of the king's looks,." 

We have again, in Antony and Cleopatra, a sentiment similar 
to that before us : 

" for he would shine on those 

" That made their looks by his." MALONE. 

She's wedded ; 

Her husband banish'd ; she imprison' d: all 
Is outward sorrow; &c.] I would reform the metre as 
follows : 


Be touch'd at very heart. 
2 GENT. None but the king ? 

1 GENT. He, that hath lost her, too : so is the 


That most desir'd the match : But not a courtier, 
Although they wear their faces to the bent 
Of the king's looks, hath a heart that is not 
Glad at the thing they scowl at. 

2 GENT. And why so? 

1 GENT. He that hath miss'd the princess, is a 


Too bad for bad report : and he that hath her, 
(I mean, that married her, alack, good man ! 
And therefore banish'd) is a creature such 
As, to seek through the regions of the earth 
For one his like, there would be something failing 
In him that should compare. I do not think, 
So fair an outward, and such stuff within, 
Endows a man but he. 

2 GENT. You speak him far. 3 

1 GENT. I do extend him, sir, within himself; 4 

She's wed ; her husband banish'd, she imprisoned : 
All's outward sorrow ; &c. 
Wed is used for wedded, in The Comedy of Errors: 

" In Syracusa was I born, and toerf, ." STEEVENS. 

3 You speak him far.] i. e. you praise him extensively. 


You are lavish in your encomiums on him : your eulogium 
has a wide compass. MALONE. 

4 I do extend him, sir, within himself;^ I extend him within 
himself: my praise, however extensive, is within his merit. 


My eulogium, however extended it may seem, is short of his 
real excellence: it is rather abbreviated than expanded. We 
have again the same expression in a subsequent scene : " The 
approbation of those that weep this lamentable divorce, are won- 

JK. /. CYMBELINE. 407 

Crush him 5 together, rather than unfold 
His measure duly. 

2 GENT. What's his name, and birth ? 

1 GENT. I cannot delve him to the root : His 


Was calPd Sicilius, who did join his honour, 
Against the Romans, with Cassibelan ; 6 
But had his titles by Tenantius, 7 whom 

derfully to extend him." Again, in The Winter's Tale: " The 
report of her is extended more than can be thought." MALONE. 

Perhaps this passage may be somewhat illustrated by the fol- 
lowing lines in Troilus and Cressida, Act III. sc. iii : 

" no man is the lord of any thing, 

" Till he communicate his parts to others : 
" Nor doth he of himself know them for aught, 
" Till he behold them form'd in the applause 
" Where they are extended," &c. STEEVENS. 

* Crush him'] So, in King Henry IV. P. II : 

" Croud us and crush us in this monstrous form." 


6 "who did join his honour 

Against the Romans, "with Cassibelan ; ] I do not understand 
what can be meant by " joining his honour against &c. with &c." 
Perhaps our author wrote : 

did join his banner 

Against the Romans &c. 
In King John, says the Bastard, let us 

" Part our mingled colours once again." 

and in the last speech of the play before us, Cymbeline proposes 
that " a Roman and a British ensign should wave together." 


7 Tenantius,'] was the father of Cymbeline, and nephew 

of Cassibelan, being the younger son of his elder brother Lud, 
king of the southern part of Britain ; on whose death Cassibelan 
was admitted king. Cassibelan repulsed the Romans on their 
first attack, but being vanquished by Julius Caesar on his second 
invasion of Britain, he agreed to pay an annual tribute to 
Rome. After his death, Tenantius, Lud's younger son (his elder 
brother Androgeus having fled to Rome) was established on the 
throne, of which they had been unjustly deprived by their uncle. 


He serv'd with glory and admir'd success : 

So gain'd the sur-addition, Leouatus : 

And had, besides this gentleman in question, 

Two other sons, who, in the wars o'the time, 

Died with their swords in hand ; for which their 


(Then old and fond of issue,) took such sorrow, 
That he quit being ; and his gentle lady, 
Big of this gentleman, our theme, deceas'd 
As he was born. The king, he takes the babe 
To his protection ; calls him Posthumus ; 8 
Breeds him, and makes him of his bed-chamber : 
Puts him to all the learnings that his time 
Could make him the receiver of; which he took, 
As we do air, fast as 'twas minister'd ; and 
In his spring became a harvest : Liv'd in court, 
(Which rare it is to do,) most prais'd, most lov'd: 9 
A sample to the youngest ; to the more mature, 
A glass that feated them ; l and to the graver, 

According to some authorities, Tenantius quietly paid the tri- 
bute stipulated by Cassibelan ; according to others, he refused to 
pay it, and warred with the Romans. Shakspeare supposes the 
latter to be the truth. Holinshed, who furnished our poet with 
these facts, furnished him also with the name of Sicilius, who 
was admitted King of Britain, A. M. 3659. The name of Leo- 
natus he found in Sidney's Arcadia. Leonatus is there the le- 
gitimate son of the blind King of Paphlagonia, on whose story 
the episode of Gloster, Edgar, and Edmund, is formed in King 
Lear. See Arcadia, p. 69, edit. 1593. MALONE. 

Shakspeare, having already introduced Leonato among the 
characters in Much Ado about Not/ting, had not far to go for 
Leonutw.v. STEEVENS. 

9 Posthumus;] Old copy Posthumus Leonatus. REED. 

' Liv'd in court, 

(Which rare it is to do,) most prais'd, most lov'd:] This 
encomium is high and artful. To be at once in any great degree 
loved and praised, is truly rare. JOHNSON. 

1 A glass that feated them;] A glass that formed them; a 

sc. /. CYMBELINE. 

A child that guided dotards : to his mistress, 2 
For whom he now is banish* d, her own price 
Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue; 
By her election may be truly read, 
What kind of man he is. 

2 GENT. I honour him 

model, by the contemplation and inspection of which they formed 
their manners. JOHNSON. 

This passage may be well explained by another in The First 
Part of King Henry IV: 

" He was indeed the glass 

" Wherein the noble youths did dress themselves." 
Again, Ophelia describes Hamlet, as 

" The glass of fashion, and the mould of form." 
To dress themselves, therefore, may be to form themselves. 

Dresser, in French, is to form. To dress a spaniel is to break 
him in. 

Feat is nice, exact. So, in The Tempest : 

" look, how well my garments sit upon me, 

" Much J "eater than before." 

To feat, therefore, may be a verb meaning to render nice, 
exact. By the dress of Posthumus, even the more mature cour- 
tiers condescended to regulate their external appearance. 


Feat Minsheu interprets, fine, neat, brave. See also Barrett's 
Alvearie, 1580: " Feat and pleasant, concinnce et venustce sen- 

The poet does not, I think, mean to say merely, that the more 
mature regulated their dress by that of Posthumus. A glass that 
feated them, is a model, by viewing which their form became 
more elegant, and their manners more polished. 

We have nearly the same image in The Winter's Tale: 

" 1 should blush 

" To see you so attired ; sworn, I think, 
" To show my self a glass." 
Again, more appositely, in Hamlet: 

" He was the mark and glass, copy and book, 
" That fashion'd others." MALONE. 

a to his mistress,^ means as to his mistress. 

M. MA sox. 


Even out of your report. But, 'pray you, tell me, 
Is she sole child to the king ? 

1 GENT. His only child. 
He had two sons, (if this be worth your hearing, 
Mark it,) the eldest of them at three years old, 
Fthe swathing clothes the other, from their nursery 
Were stolen ; and to this hour, no guess in know- 

Which way they went. 

2 GENT. How long is this ago ? 

1 GENT. Some twenty years. 

2 GENT. That a king's children should be so 

convey *d! 

So slackly guarded ! And the search so slow, 
That could not trace them ! 

1 GENT. Howsoe'er 'tis strange, 
Or that the negligence may well be laugh 'd at, 
Yet is it true, sir. 

2 GENT. I do well believe you. 

1 GENT. We must forbear: Here comes the 
queen, and princess. [Exeunt. 

K. i/. CYMBELINE. 411 


' The same. 
Enter the Queen, POSTHUMUS, and IMOGEN. 3 

QUEEN. No, be assur'd, you shall not find me, 


After the slander of most step-mothers, 
Evil-ey'd unto you : you are my prisoner, but 
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys 
That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus, 
So soon as I can win the offended king, 
I will be known your advocate : marry, yet 
The fire of rage is in him ; and.'twere good, 
You lean'd unto his sentence, with what patience 
Your wisdom may inform you. 

POST. Please your highness, 

I will from hence to-day. 

QUEEN. You know the peril: 

I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying 
The pangs of barr'd affections; though the king 
Hath charg'd you should not speak together. 

\_Exit Queen. 


Dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant 
Can tickle where she wounds ! My dearest hus- 

3 Imogen.'] Holinshed's Chronicle furnished Shakspeare 

with this name, which in the old black letter is scarcely distin- 
guishable from Innogen, the wife of Brute, King of Britain. 
There too he found the name of Cloten, who, when the line of 
Brute was at an end, was one of the five kings that governed 
Britain. Cloten, or Cloton, was King of Cornwall. MALONE. 


I something fear my father's wrath ; but nothing, 

(Always reserved my holy duty,) 4 what 

His rage can do on me : You must be gone j 

And 1 shall here abide the hourly shot 

Of angry eyes ; not comforted to live, 

But that there is this jewel in the world, 

That I may see again. 

POST. My queen ! my mistress ! 

O, lady, weep no more ; lest I give cause 
To be suspected of more tenderness 
Than doth become a man ! I will remain 
The loyaPst husband that did e'er plight troth. 
My residence in Rome at one Philario's j 
Who to my father was a friend, to me 
Known but by letter: thither write, my queen, 
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send, 
Though ink be made of gall. 5 

Re-enter Queen. 

QUEEN. Be brief, I pray you: 

If the king come, I shall incur I know not 
How much of his displeasure : Yet I'll move him 


To walk this way : I never do him wrong, 
But he does buy my injuries, to be friends j 

4 ( Always reserved my holy duty,}~\ I say I do not fear my fa- 
ther, so far as I may say it without breach of duty. JOHNSON. 

4 Though ink be made o/'gall.] Shakspeare, even in this poor 
conceit, has confounded the vegetable galls used in ink, with the 
animal gall, supposed to be bitter. JOHNSON. 

The poet might mean either the vegetable or the animal gulls 
with equal propriety, as the vegetable gall is bitter ; and I nave 
seen an ancient receipt for making ink, beginning, " Take of 
the black juice of the gall of oxen two ounces," &c. 


ac. n. CYMBELINE. 413 

Pays dear for my offences. [Exit. 

POST. Should we be taking leave 

As long a term as yet we have to live, 
The loathness to depart would grow: Adieu ! 

IMO. Nay, stay a little : 
Were you but riding forth to air yourself, 
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love ; 
This diamond was my mother's : take it, heart j 
But keep it till you woo another wife, 
When Imogen is dead. 

POST. How! how! another? 

You gentle gods, give me but this I have, 
And sear up my embracements from a next 
With bonds of death ! 6 Remain thou here 

[Putting on the Ring. 
While sense can keep it on! 7 And sweetest, fairest, 

fi And sear up my embracements from a next 

With bonds of death !~] Shakspeare may poetically call the 
cere-cloths in which the dead are wrapped, the bonds of death. 
If so, we should read cere instead of sear: 

" Why thy canoniz'd bones hearsed in death, 
" Have burst their cerements ?" 

To sear up, is properly to close up by burning; but in this 
passage the poet may have dropped that idea, and used the word 
simply for to close up. STEEVENS. 

May not sear up, here mean solder up, and the reference be 
to a lead coffin ? Perhaps cerements in Hamlet's address to the 
Ghost, was used for searments in the same sense. HENLEY. 

I believe nothing more than close up was intended. In the 
spelling of the last age, however, no distinction was made be- 
tween cere-cloth and sear-cloth. Cole, in his Latin Dictionary, 
1679, explains the word cerot by sear-cloth. Shakspeare there- 
fore certainly might have had that practice in his thoughts. 


7 While sense can keep it on /] This expression, I suppose, 
means, while sense can maintain its operations; while sense con- 
tinues to have its usual power. That to keep on signifies to con- 
tinue in a state of action, is evident from the following passage 
in Othello: 


As I my poor self did exchange for you, 
To your so infinite loss ; so, in our trifles 
I still win of you : For my sake, wear this j 
It is a manacle 6 of love ; 1*11 place it 
Upon this fairest prisoner. 

[Putting a Bracelet on her Arm. 
IMO. O, the gods ! 

When shall we see again ? 

'* keeps due on 

" To the Propontick" &c. 

The general sense of Posthumus's declaration, is equivalent to 
the Roman phrase, dum spiritus hos regit arlits. STEEVENS. 

The poet [if it refers to the ring"] ought to have written 
can keep thee on, as Mr. Pope and the three subsequent editors 
read. But Shakspeare has many similar inaccuracies. So, in 
Julius CcBsar: 

" Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.'* 
instead of his hand. Again, in The Rape ofLucrece: 
" Time's office is to calm contending kings, 
" To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light, 
" To ruinate proud buildings with thy hours, ." 
instead of his hours. Again, in the third Act of the play be- 
fore us : 

" Euriphile, 

" Thou wast their nurse; they took tJice for their mother, 
" And every day do honour to her grave." MALONE. 
As none of our author's productions were revised by himself 
as they passed from the theatre through the press ; and as Julius 
Ceesar and Cymbeline are among the plays which originally ap- 
peared in the blundering first folio ; it is hardly fair to charge 
irregularities on the poet, of which his publishers alone might 
have been guilty. I must therefore take leave to set down the 
present, and many similar offences against the established rules of 
language, under the article of Hemingisms and Condelisms ; and, 
as such, in my opinion, they ought, without ceremony, to be 

The instance brought from The Rape of Lucrece might only 
have been a compositorial inaccuracy, like those which have oc- 
casionally happened in the course of our present republication. 


8 manacle ] A manacle properly means what we 

now call a hand-ciiff". STEEVENS. 

ac. n. CYMBELINE. 415 

Enter CYMBELINE and Lords. 

POST. Alack, the king ! 

CYM. Thou basest thing, avoid! hence, from my 

sight ! 

If, after this command, thou fraught the court 
With thy un worthiness, thou diest : Away! 
Thou art poison to my blood. 

POST. The gods protect you! 

And bless the good remainders of the court ! 
I am gone. [Exit. 

I MO. There cannot be a pinch in death 
More sharp than this is. 9 

CYM. O disloyal thing, 

That should'st repair my youth; 1 thou heapest 
A year's age on me ! 2 

9 There cannot be a pinch in death 
More sharp than this, z's.] So, in King Henry VIII: 

" it is a sufferance, panging 

" As soul and body's parting." MALONE. 

1 That should? st repair my youth ;~\ i. e. renovate my youth; 
make me young again. So, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609 : 
" as for him, he brought his disease hither : here he doth but 
repair it." Again, in All's tvell that ends "well: 

" it much repairs me, 

" To talk of your good father." MALONE. 

Again, in Pericles: 

" Thou giv'st me somewhat to repair myself." 


* thou heapest 

A year's age on me!~\ The obvious sense of this passage, on 
which several experiments have been made, is in some degree 
countenanced by what follows in another scene : 

" And every day that comes, comes to decay 
" A day's tvork in him" 

Dr. Warburton would read " A yare (i.e. a speedy) age;" Sir 
T. Hanmer would restore the metre by a supplemental epithet : 


I MO. I beseech you, sir, 

Harm not yourself with your vexation ; I 
Am senseless of your wrath ; a touch more rare 
Subdues ail pangs, all fears. 3 

ihou keapest many 

A year's age &c. 
and Dr. Johnson would give us : 

Years, ages, on me! 

I prefer the additional word introduced by Sir Thomas Han- 
mer, to all the other attempts at emendation. " Many a year's 
age," is an idea of some weight : but if Cymbeline meant to say 
that his daughter's conduct made him precisely one year older, 
his conceit is unworthy both of himself and Shakspeare. I would 
read with Sir Thomas Hanmer. STEEVENS. 

a touch more rare 

Subdues all pangs, alljears.~] A touch more rare, may mean 
a nobler passion. JOHNSON. 

A touch more rare is undoubtedly a more exquisite feeling; a 
superior sensation. So, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act I. sc. ii: 

" The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches, 

" Do strongly speak to us." 
Again, in The Tempest 

" Hast thou, which art but air, a touch, a feeling 

" Of their afflictions?" &c. 

A touch is not unfrequently used, by other ancient writers, in 
this sense. So, in Daniel's Hymen's Triumph, a masque, 1623: 

" You must not, Philis, be so sensible 

" Of these small touches which your passion makes." 

" Small touches, Lydia ! do you count them small ?" 


" When pleasure leaves a touch at last 

" To shew that it was ill." 
Again, in Daniel's Cleopatra, 1599: 

" So deep we feel impressed in our blood 

" That touch which nature with our breath did give.'* 
Lastly, as Dr. Farmer observes to me, in Fraunce's Ivychurch. 
He is speaking of Mars and Venus : " When sweet tickling 
joyes of tutching came to the highest poynt, when two were 
one," &c. STEEVENS. 

A passage in King Lear will fully illustrate Imogen's meaning: 

where the greater malady is fix'd, 
* The lesser is scarce felt." MALONE. 

sc. ii. CYMBELINE. 417 

CYM. Past grace ? obedience ? 

IMO. Past hope, and in despair ; that way, past 

CYM. That might' st have had the sole son of 
my queen ! 

IMO. Obless'd, thatlmight not ! Ichose an eagle, 
And did avoid a puttock.* 

CYM. Thou took'st a beggar j would* st have 

made my throne 
A seat for baseness. 

IMO. No ; I rather added 

A lustre to it. 

CYM. O thou vile one ! 

IMO. Sir, 

It is your fault that I have lov'd Posthumus : 
You bred him as my play-fellow ; and he is 
A man, worth any woman j overbuys me 
Almost the sum he pays. 5 

CYM. What ! art thou mad ! 

IMO. Almost, sir: Heaven restore me ! 'Would 

I were 

A neat-herd's daughter ! and my Leonatus 
Our neighbour shepherd's son ! 

4 a puttock.] A kite. JOHNSON. 

A puttock is a mean degenerate species of hawk, too worthless 
to deserve training. STEEVENS. 

* overbuys me 

Almost the sum he pays.~] So small is my value, and so great 
is his, that in the purchase he has made (for which he paid 
himself,) for much the greater part, and nearly the whole, of 
what he has given, he has nothing in return. The most minute 
portion of his worth would be too high a price for the wife he 
has acquired. MALONE. 



Re-enter Queen. 

CYM. Thou foolish thing ! 

They were again together : you have done 

[To tlie Queen. 

Not after our command. Away with her, 
And pen her up. 

QUEEN. 'Beseech your patience : Peace, 

Dear lady daughter, peace ; Sweet sovereign, 
Leave us to ourselves; and make yourself some 

Out of your best advice. 6 

CYM. Nay, let her languish 

A drop of blood a day; 7 and, being aged, 
Die of this folly ! \Exit. 


QUEEN. Fye ! you must give way : 

Here is your servant. How now, sir ? What news? 

Pis. My lord your son drew on my master. 
QUEEN. Ha ! 

No harm, I trust, is done ? 

Pis. There might have been, 

But that my master rather play'd than fought, 

" your best advice.] i. e. consideration, reflection. So, 

in Measure for Measure: 

" But did repent me after more advice" STEEVENS. 

7 let her languish 

A drop of blood a day ;] We meet with a congenial form 
of malediction in Othello : 

" may his pernicious soul 

" Rot half a grain a day !" STEEVENS. 

ac. in. CYMBELINE. 419 

And had no help of anger : they were parted 
By gentlemen at hand. 

QUEEN. I am very glad on't. 

IMO. Your son's my father's friend ; he takes 

his part. 

To draw upon an exile ! O brave sir ! 
I would they were in Africk both together ; 
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick 
The goer back. Why came you from your master? 

Pis. On his command: He would not suffer me 
To bring him to the haven : left these notes 
Of what commands I should be subject to, 
When it pleas' d you to employ me. 

QUEEN. This hath been 

Your faithful servant : I dare lay mine honour, 
He will remain so. 

Pis. I humbly thank your highness. 

QUEEN. Pray, walk a while. 

IMO. About some half hour hence, 

I pray you, speak with me : you shall, at least, 
Go see my lord aboard : for this time, leave me. 



A publtck Place. 

Enter CLOTEN, and Two Lords. 

1 LORD. Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt ; 
the violence of action hath made you reek as a sa- 
crifice : Where air comes out, air comes in : there's 
none abroad so wholesome as that you vent. 

2 E 2 


CLO. If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it 
Have I hurt him ? 

2 LORD. No, faith ; not so much as his patience. 


1 LORD. Hurt him ? his body's a passable car- 
case, if he be not hurt: it is a thoroughfare for 
steel, if it be not hurt. 

2 LORD. His steel was in debt ; it went o'the 
backside the town. [Aside. 

CLO. The villain would not stand me. 

2 LORD. No ; but he fled forward still, toward 
your face. 8 [Aside. 

1 LORD. Stand you ! You have land enough of 
your own : but he added to your having ; gave 
you some ground. 

2 LORD. As many inches as you have oceans : 
Puppies ! [Aside. 

CLO. I would, they had not come between us. 

2 LORD. So would I, till you had measured how 
long a fool you were upon the ground. [Aside. 

CLO. And that she should love this fellow, and 
refuse me ! 

2 LORD. If it be a sin to make a true election, 
she is damned. [Aside. 

1 LORD. Sir, as I told you always, her beauty 
and her brain go not together : 9 She's a good sign, 
but I have seen small reflection of her wit. * 

8 he fiedfonvard still, toward your face.] So, in Troilua 

and Cresslda : 

" thou shall hunt a lion, that will fly 

" With his face backward." STEEVENS. 
9 her beauty and her brain go not together :] I believe 
the lord meune to speak a sentence, " Sir, as I told you always 
beauty and brain go nor together." JOHNSON* 

sc. m. CYMBELINE. 421 

2 LORD. She shines not upon fools, lest the re- 
flection should hurt her. \_Aside. 

CLO. Come, I'll to my chamber : 'Would there 
had been some hurt done ! 

2 LORD. I wish not so ; unless it had been the 
fall of an ass, which is no great hurt. [Aside. 

CLO. You'll go with us ? 

1 LORD. I'll attend your lordship. 
CLO. Nay, come, let's go together. 

2 LORD. Well, my lord. \Exeunt. 

That is, are not equal, " ne vont pas depair." A similar ex- 
pression occurs in The Laws of Candy, where Gonzalo, speak- 
ing of Erota, says : 

" and walks 

" Her tongue the same gait with her wit ?" M. MASON. 
1 She's a good sign, but I have seen small reflection of her 
luit.'] She has a fair outside, a specious appearance, but no wit. 
quanta species, cerebrum non habet! Phaedrus. EDWARDS. 

I believe the poet meant nothing by sign, but fair outward 
show. JOHNSON. 

The same allusion is common to other writers. So, in Beau- 
mont and Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn : 

" . a common trull, 

" A tempting sign, and curiously set forth, 
" To draw in riotous guests." 
Again, in The Elder Brother, by the same authors: 

" Stand still, thou sign of man." 

To understand the whole force of Shakspeare's idea, it should 
be remembered, that anciently almost every sign had a motto, 
or some attempt at a witticism, underneath it. STEEVENS. 

In a subsequent scene, lachimo speaking of Imogen, says : 
" All of her, that is out of door, most rich ! 
" If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare, 
" She is alone the Arabian bird." MALONE. 



A Room in Cymbeline's Palace. 


IMO. I would thou grew'st unto the shores 

o'the haven, 

And question'dst every sail : if he should write, 
And I not have it, 'twere a paper lost 
As offer'd mercy is. 2 What was the last 
That he spake to thee ? 

Pis. 'Twas, His queen, his queen ! 

IMO. Then wav'd his handkerchief? 

Pis. And kiss'd it, madam. 

IMO. Senseless linen ! happier therein than 1 1 
And that was all ? 

Pis. No, madam ; for so long 

As he could make me with this eye or ear 3 

'twere a paper lost, 

As offer'd mercy is."] I believe the poet's meaning is, that 
the loss of that paper would prove as fatal to her, as the loss of 
a pardon to a condemned criminal. 

A thought resembling this occurs in All' stvell that ends well: 
" Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried." STEEVENS. 

3 ivith this eye or ear ] [Old copy his eye, &c.] 

But how could Posthumus make himself distinguished by his ear 
to Pisanio ? By his tongue he might to the other's ear, and this 
was certainly Shakspeare's intention. We must therefore read : 

As he could make me tvith this eye, or ear, 

Distinguish Mm from others, 

The expression is sixrixuj$, as the Greeks term it : the party 
speaking points to the part spoken of. WARBURTON. 

ac. ir. CYMBELINE. 423 

Distinguish him from others, he did keep 
The deck, with glove, or hat, or handkerchief, 
Still waving, as the fits and stirs of his mind 
Could best express how slow his soul saiPd on, 
How swift his ship. 

IMO. Thou should'st have made him 

As little as a crow, or less, 4 ere left 
To after-eye him. 

Pis. Madam, so I did. 

Sir T. Hanmer alters it thus : 

-for so long 

As he could mark me with his eye, or I 


The reason of Sir T. Hanmer's reading was, that Pisanio de- 
scribes no address made to the ear. JOHNSON. 

This description,' and what follows it, seems imitated from the 
eleventh Book of Ovid's Metamorphosis. See Golding's transla- 
tion, p. 146, b. &c : 

" She lifting up hir watrie eies beheld her husband" 

" Upon the hatches making signes by becking with 

his hand : 
" And she made signes to him againe. And after 

that the land 
" Was farre removed from the ship, and that the sight 


" To be unable to discerne the face of any man, 
" As long as ere she could she lookt upon the rowing 

" And when she could no longer time for distance ken it 

" She looked still upon the sailes that flasked with the 

" Upon the mast. And when she could the sailes no 

longer find, 
" She gate hir to hir emtie bed with sad and sorie 

hart," &c. STEEVENS. 

* As little as a crow, or less,'} This comparison may be illus- 
trated by the following in King Lear : 

" the crows that wing the midway air, 

" Show scarce so gross as beetles." STBEVENS. 


IMO. I would have broke mine eye-strings ; 

crack'd them, but 

To look upon him ; till the diminution 
Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle: 5 
Nay, follow'd him, till he had melted from 
The smallness of a gnat to air ; and then 
Have turn'd mine eye, and wept. But, good Pi- 

When shall we hear from him ? 

Pis. Be assur'd, madam, 

With his next vantage. 6 

IMO. I did not take my leave of him, but had 
Most pretty things to say: ere I could tell him, 
How I would think on him, at certain hours, 
Such thoughts, and such; or I could make him swear 
The shes of Italy should not betray 
Mine interest, and his honour; orhavecharg'dhim, 
At the sixth hour of morn, at noon, at midnight, 
To encounter me with orisons, 7 for then 
I am in heaven for him; 8 or ere I could 
Give him that parting kiss, which I had set 

till the diminution 

Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle:"] The dimi~ 
nntion of space , is the diminution of which space is the cause. 
Trees are killed by a blast of lightning, that is, by blasting, not 
blasted lightning. JOHNSON. 

next vantage.] Next opportunity. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : 

" And when the doctor spies his vantage ripe," &c. 


7 encounter me tvith orisons,'] i. e. meet me with reci- 
procal prayer. So, in Macbeth: 

" See, they encounter thee with their hearts' thanks." 


8 / am in. heaven for him;"] My solicitations ascend to heaven 
on his behalf. STEEVENS. 

sc. iv. CYMBELINE. 425 

Betwixt two charming words, 9 comes in my father, 
And, like the tyrannous breathing of the north, 
Shakes all our buds from growing. 1 

or ere I could 

Give him that parting kiss, txihich I had set 
Betwixt two charming words,'] Dr. Warburton pronounces 
as absolutely as if he had been present at their parting, that 
these two charming words were adieu Posthumus ; but as Mr. 
Edwards has observed, " she must have understood the language 
of love very little, if she could find no tenderer expression of it, 
than the name by which every one called her husband." 


1 like the tyrannous breathing of the north, 

Shakes all our bnAsfrom growing.^ i. e. our buds of love, as 
our author has elsewhere expressed it. Dr. Warburton, be- 
cause the buds of flowers are here alluded to, very idly reads 
Shakes all our buds from blowing. 

The buds of flowers undoubtedly are meant, and Shakspeare 
himself has told us in Romeo and Juliet that they grow : 
" This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath 
" May prove a beauteous flower, when next we meet.'* 


A bud without any distinct idea, whether of flower or fruit, 
is a natural representation of any thing incipient or immature ; 
and the buds of flowers, if flowers are meant, grow to flowers, as 
the buds of fruits grow to fruits. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Warburton's emendation may in some measure be con- 
firmed by those beautiful lines in The Two Noble Kinsmen, 
which I have no doubt were written by Shakspeare. Emilia is 
speaking of a rose: 

" It is the very emblem of a maid. 

" For when the west wind courts her gentily, 

" How modestly she blows and paints the sun 

" With her chaste blushes ? when the north comes near 


" Rude and impatient, then like chastity, 
" She locks her beauties in the bud again, 
" And leaves him to base briars." FARMER. 

I think the old reading may be sufficiently supported by the 
following passage in the 18th Sonnet of our author : 

" Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May." 
Again, in The Taming of the Shrew : 

" Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds" 


Enter a Lady. 

LADY. The queen, madam, 

Desires your highness* company. 

IMO. Those things I bid you do, get them de- 

I will attend the queen. 

Pis. Madam, I shall. 



Rome. An Apartment in Philario's House. 

Enter PHILARIO, lACHino, 2 a Frenchman, a 
Dutchman, and a Spaniard. 3 

IACH. Believe it, sir : I have seen him in Britain : 
he was then of a crescent note ; expected to prove 
so worthy, as since he hath been allowed the name 

Lyly, in his Euphues, 1581, as Mr. Holt White observes, has a 
similar expression : " The tvinde shalceth off the blossome, as 
well as the fruit." STEEVENS. 

2 lachimo,"] The name of Giacomo occurs in The Two 

Gentlemen of Venice, a novel, which immediately follows that 
of Rhomeo and Julietta in the second tome of Painter's Palace of 
Pleasure. MALONE. 

3 a Dutchman, and a Spaniard.] Thus the old copy ; 

but Mynheer, and the Don, are mute characters. 

Shakspeare, however, derived this circumstance from what- 
ever translation of the original novel he made use of. Thus, in 
the ancient one described in our Prolegomena to this drama : 
" Howe iiii merchauntes met all togyther in on way, whych* 
were of iiii dy verse landes," &c. STESVBNS. 

sc. v. CYMBELINE. 427 

of: but I could then have looked on him without 
the help of admiration ; though the catalogue of 
his endowments had been tabled by his side, and I 
to peruse him by items. 

PHI. You speak of him when he was less fur- 
nished, than now he is, with that which makes 
him 4 both without and within. 

FRENCH. I have seen him in France : we had 
very many there, could behold the sun with as firm 
eyes as he. 

IACH. This matter of marrying his king's daugh- 
ter, (wherein he must be weighed rather by her 
value, than his own,) words him, I doubt not, a 
great deal from the matter. 5 

FRENCH. And then his banishment : 

IACH. Ay, and the approbation of those, that 
weep this lamentable divorce, under her colours, 6 
are wonderfully to extend himj 7 be it but to for- 

4 makes him ] In the sense in which we say, This 
will make or mar you. JOHNSON. 

So, in Othello : 

" . This is the night 

" That either makes me, or fordoes me quite." 


Makes him, in the text, meansjfonws him. M. MASON. 

5 "words him, a great deal from the matter.'} Makes 

the description of him very distant from the truth. JOHNSON. 

6 under her colours,] Under her banner ; by her influ- 
ence. JOHNSON. 

7 and the approbation of those, are wonderfully to ex- 
tend him;'] This grammatical inaccuracy is common in Shak- 
speare's plays. So, in Julius Ccesar: 

" The posture of your blows are yet unknown." 
[See Vol. XVI. p. 397, n. 4.] The modern editors, however, 
read approbations. 

Extend has here the same meaning as in a former scene. See 
p. 406, n. 4. 

428 CYMBEL1NE. ACT i. 

tify her judgment, which else an easy battery might 
lay flat, for taking a beggar without more quality. 8 
But how comes it, he is to sojourn with you ? How 
creeps acquaintance ? 

PHI. His father and I were soldiers together; to 

I perceive no inaccuracy on the present occasion. " This 
matter of his marrying his king's daughter," " and then his ba- 
nishment;" " and the approbation of those," &c. "are (i. e. 
all these circumstances united) wonderfully to extend him." 


8 "without more quality."] The folio reads less quality. 

Mr. Rowe first made the alteration. STEEVENS. 

Whenever less or more is to be joined with a verb denoting 
want, or a preposition of a similar import, Shakspeare never fails 
to be entangled in a grammatical inaccuracy, or rather, to use 
words that express the very contrary of what he means. In a 
note on Antony and Cleopatra, I have proved this incontestably, 
by comparing a passage similar to that in the text with the words 
of Plutarch on which it is formed. The passage is : 

" 1 condemn myself to lack 

" The courage of a woman, less noble mind 

" Than she " 
Again, in The Winter's Tale: 

" I ne'er heard yet 

" That any of these bolder vices wanted 

" Less impudence, to gainsay what they did, 

" Than to perform it first." 
Again, in King Lear : 

" I have hope 

" You less know how to value her deserts 

" Than she to scant her duty." 

See note on Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV. sc. xii. Mr. Rowe 
and all the subsequent editors read without more quality, and 
so undoubtedly Shakspeare ought to have written. On the stage, 
an actor may rectify such petty errors ; but it is the duty of an 
editor to exKibit what his author wrote. MALONE. 

As on this occasion, and several others, we can only tell what 
Hemings and Condel printed, instead of knowing, with any de- 
gree of certainty, what Shakspeare wrote, I have not disturbed 
Mr. Howe's emendation, which leaves a clear passage to the 
reader, if he happens to prefer an obvious sense to no sense at 

sc. v. CYMBELINE. 429 

whom I have been often bound for no less than my 


Here comes the Briton : Let him be so entertained 
amongst you, as suits, with gentlemen of your 
knowing, to a stranger of his quality. I beseech 
you all, be better known to this gentleman; whom 
I commend to you, as a noble friend of mine : 
How worthy he is, I will leave to appear hereafter, 
rather than story him in his own hearing. 

FRENCH. Sir, we have known together in Or- 

POST. Since when I have been debtor to you 
for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay, and yet 
pay still. 9 

FRENCH. Sir, you o'er-rate my poor kindness : I 
was glad I did atone my countryman and you; 1 it 
had been pity, you should have been put together 
with so mortal a purpose, as then each bore, upon 
importance of so slight and trivial a nature. 2 

9 which I will be ever to pay, and yet pay still.'] So, in 

All's well that ends well : 

" Which I will ever pay, and pay again, 
" When I have found it." 
Again, in our author's 30th Sonnet : 

" Which I new pay, as if not pay'd before.'* 


1 / did atone #c.] To atone signifies in this place to re- 
concile. So, Ben Jonson, in The Silent Woman : 

" There had been some hope to atone you." 
Again, in Hey wood's English Traveller, 1633 : 

" The constable is call'd to atone the broil." 
See Vol. XVI. p. 199, n. 8. STEEVENS. 

* upon importance 0/50 slight and trivial a nature.'] Im- 


POST. By your pardon, sir, I was? then a young 
traveller : rather shunned to go even with what I 
heard, than in my every action to be guided by 
others' experiences: 3 but, upon my mended judg- 
ment, (if I offend not to say it is mended,) my 
quarrel was not altogether slight. 

FRENCH. 'Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitre- 
ment of swords ; and by such two, that would, by 
all likelihood, have confounded one the other, 4 or 
have fallen both. 

IACH. Can we, with manners, ask what was the 
difference ? 

FRENCH. Safely, I think : 'twas a contention in 
publick, which may, without contradiction, 5 suffer 
the report. It was much like an argument that 
fell out last night, where each of us fell in praise 

parlance is here, as elsewhere in Shakspeare, importunity, insti- 
gation. See Vol. V. p. 416, n. 2. MALONE. 

So, in Twelfth-Night : " Maria wrote the letter at Sir To- 
by's great importance.'* Again, in King John : 

" At our importance hither is he come." STEEVENS. 

' rather shunned to go even -with what I heard, &c.] 

This is expressed with a kind of fantastical perplexity. He 
means, I was then willing to take for my direction the expe- 
rience of others, more than such intelligence as I had gathered 
myself. JOHNSON. 

This passage cannot bear the meaning that Johnson contends 
for. Posthumus is describing a presumptuous young man, as 
he acknowledges himself to have been at that time ; and means 
to say, that he rather studied to avoid conducting himself by the 
opinions of other people, than to be guided by their experience. 
To take for direction the experience of others, would be a 
proof of wisdom, not of presumption. M. MASON. 

4 confounded one the other,"] To confound, in our au- 
thor's time, signifiedto destroy. See Vol. XII. p. 368, n. 2. 


* "which may, without contradiction, ~\ Which, undoubt- 
edly, may be publickly told. JOHNSON. 

sc. v. CYMBELINE. 431 

of our country mistresses: This gentleman at that 
time vouching, (and upon warrant of bloody af- 
firmation,) his to be more fair, virtuous, wise, 
chaste, constant-qualified, and less attemptible, 
than any the rarest of our ladies in France. 

IACH. That lady is not now living j or this gen- 
tleman's opinion, by this, worn out. 

POST. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind. 

IACH. You must not so far prefer her 'fore ours 
of Italy. 

POST. Being so far provoked as I was in France, 
I would abate her nothing ; though I profess my- 
self her adorer, not her friend. 6 

8 though I profess &c.] Though I have not the common 

obligations of a lover to his mistress, and regard her not with the 
fondness of a friend, but the reverence of an adorer. 


The sense seems to require a transposition of these words, 
and that we should read : 

Though I profess myself her friend, not her adorer. 
meaning thereby, the praises he bestowed on her arose from his 
knowledge of her virtues, not from a superstitious reverence only. 
If Posthumus wished to be believed, as he surely did, the de- 
claring that his praises proceeded from adoration, would lessen 
the credit of them, and counteract his purpose. In confirmation 
of this conjecture, we find that in the next page he acknow- 
ledges her to be his wife. lachimo afterwards says in the same 
sense : 

" You are a friend, and therein the wiser." 
Which would also serve to confirm my amendment, if it were 
the right reading ; but I do not think it is. M. MASON. 

I am not certain that the foregoing passages have been com- 
pletely understood by either commentator, for want of acquaint- 
ance with the peculiar sense in which the word friend may have 
been employed. 

A friend in ancient colloquial language, is occasionally syno- 
nymous to a paramour or inamorato of either sex, in both the 
favourable and unfavourable sense of that word. " Save you 
friend Cassio !" says Bianca in Othello ; and Lucio, in Measure 


IACH. As fair, and as good, (a kind of hand-in- 
hand comparison,) had been something too fair, 
and too good, for any lady in Britany. If she went 
before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours 
out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but be- 
lieve she excelled many : but I have not seen the 
most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady. 7 

for Measure, informs Isabella that her brother Claudio "hath got 
his friend [Julietta] with child." Friend, in short, is one of 
those "fond adoptions Christendoms that blinking Cupid gossips," 
many of which are catalogued by Helen in All's -well that ends 
well, and friend is one of the number : 

" A mother, and a mistress, and a. friend, 

" A phoenix, captain, and an enemy." 

This word, though with some degradation, is still current among 
the harlotry of London, who, (like Macheath's doxies,) as often 
as they have occasion to talk about their absent keepers, inva- 
riably call them thelrfriends. In this sense the word is also used 
by lago, in Othello, Act IV. sc. i: 

" Or to be naked with her friend abed." 
Posthumus means to bestow the most exalted praise on Imo- 
gen, a praise the more valuable as it was the result of reason, 
not of amorous dotage. I make my avowal, says he, in the cha- 
racter of her adorer, not of her possessor. I speak of her as a 
being I reverence, not as a beauty whom I enjoy I rather pro- 
fess to describe her with the devotion of a worshipper, than the 
raptures of a lover. This sense of the word also appears to be 
confirmed by a subsequent remark of lachimo: 

" You are a friend, and therein the wiser." 
i. e. you are a lover, and therefore show your wisdom in oppos- 
ing all experiments that may bring your lady's chastity into 
question. STEEVENS. 

7 If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours 
out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled 
many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor 
you the lady.~\ The old copy reads / could not believe she ex- 
ceWdmany; but it is on all hands allowed that the reasoning of 
lachimo, as it stands there, is inconclusive. 

On this account, Dr. Warburton reads, omitting the word 
not, " I could believe she excelled many." 

Mr. Heath proposes to read, " I could but believe" &c. 

sc. V. CYMBELINE. 433 

POST. I praised her as I rated her : so do I my 

IACH. "What do you esteem it at ? 
POST. More than the world enjoys. 

IACH. Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, 
or she's outprized by a trifle. 

POST. You are mistaken : the one may be sold, or 
given ; if there were 8 wealth enough for the pur- 
chase, or merit for the gift : the other is not a thing 
for sale, and only the gift of the gods. 

IACH. Which the gods have given you ? 
POST. Which, by their graces, I will keep. 

IACH. You may wear her in title yours : but, you 
know, strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. 
Your ring may be stolen too : so, of your brace of 
unprizeable estimations, the one is but frail, and 
the other casual ; a cunning thief, or a that- way- 
accomplished courtier, would hazard the winning 
both of first and last. 

POST. Your Italy contains none so accomplished 
a courtier, to convince the honour of my mistress j 9 

Mr. Malone, whom I have followed, exhibits the passage as 
it appears in the present text. 

The reader who wishes to know more on this subject, may 
consult a note in Mr. Malone's edit. Vol. VIII. p. 327, 328, and 

8 if there were ] Old copy or if for the purchases, 

&c. the compositor having inadvertently repeated the word or, 
which has just occurred. The correction was made by Mr.Rowe. 


9 to convince the honour of my mistress ;] Convince for 

overcome. WARBURTON. 

So, in Macbeth : 

" their malady convinces 

" The great essay of art." JOHNSON. 



if, in the holding or loss of that, you term her frail. 
I do nothing doubt, you have store of thieves j not- 
withstanding I fear not my ring. 

PHI. Let us leave here, gentlemen. 

POST. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy 
signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me j we 
are familiar at first. 

IACH. With five times so much conversation, I 
should get ground of your fair mistress : make her 
go back, even to the yielding ; had I admittance, 
and opportunity to friend. 

POST. No, no. 

IACH. I dare, thereon, pawn the moiety of my 
estate to your ring ; which, in my opinion, o'er- 
values it something : But I make my wager rather 
against your confidence, than her reputation : and, 
to bar your offence herein too, I durst attempt it 
against any lady in the world. 

POST. You are a great deal abused 1 in too bold 
a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what 
you're worthy of, by your attempt. 

IACH. What's that ? 

POST. A repulse : Though your attempt, as you 
call it, deserve more j a punishment too. 

PHI. Gentlemen, enough of this : it came in too 
suddenly; let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, 
be better acquainted. 

IACH. 'Would I had put my estate, and my 

1 abused ] Deceived. JOHNSON. 

So, in Othello: 

" The Moor's abus'dby some most villainous knave." 


*:. v. CYMBELINE. 435 

neighbour's, on the approbation 2 of what I have, 

POST. What lady would you choose to assail ? 

IACH. Yours ; whom in constancy, you think, 
stands so safe. I will lay you ten thousand ducats 
to your ring, that, commend me to the court where 
your lady is, with no more advantage than the op- 
portunity of a second conference, and I will bring 
from thence that honour of hers, which you ima- 
gine so reserved. 

POST. I will wage against your gold, gold to it : 
my ring I hold dear as my finger ; 'tis part of it. 

IACH. You are a friend, and therein the wiser. 3 

8 approbation ] Proof. JOHNSON. 

So, in King Henry V : 

" how many, now in health, 

" Shall drop their blood in approbation 

" Of what your reverence shall incite us to." 


3 You are a friend, and therein the taiser.~\ I correct it : 

You are afraid, and therein the 'wiser. 

What lachimo says, in the close of his speech, determines this 
to have been our poet's reading : 

" But, I see, you have some religion in you, that 

youjtear." WARBURTON. 

You are a friend to the lady, and therein the 'wiser, as you will - 
not expose her to hazard ; and that you fear is a proof of your 
religious fidelity. JOHNSON. 

Though Dr. Warburton affixed his name to the preceding 
note, it is verbatim taken from one written by. Mr. S^dfealcl on 
this passage. 

[But let it be remembered, that Dr. \5farburton communi- 
cated many notes to Theobald before he published his own edi- 
tion, and complains that he was not fairly deal* with concerning 
them. REED.] 

A friend in our author's time often signified a lover. lachimo 
therefore might mean that Posthumus was wise in being only the 
lover of Imogen, and not having bound himself to her by the 

2 F 2 


If you buy ladies' flesh at a million a dram, you 
cannot preserve it from tainting : But, I see, you 
have some religion in you, that you fear. 

POST. This is but a custom in your tongue j you 
bear a graver purpose, I hop.e. 

IACH. I am the master of my speeches; 4 and 
would undergo what's spoken, I swear. 

POST. Will you ? I shall but lend my diamond 
till your return : Let there be covenants drawn be- 
tween us : My mistress exceeds in goodness the 
hugeness of your unworthy thinking : I dare you 
to this match : here's my ring. 

PHI. I will have it no lay. 
IACH. By the gods it is one : If I bring you no 
sufficient testimony that I have enjoyed the dearest 

indissoluble ties of marriage. But unluckily Posthumus has al- 
ready said he is not her friend, but her adorer : this therefore 
could hardly have been lachimo's meaning. 

I cannot say that I am entirely satisfied with Dr. Johnson's 
interpretation ; yet I have nothing better to propose. " You are 
a friend to the lady, and therefore will not expose her to hazard." 
This surely is not warranted by what Posthumus has just said. 
He is ready enough to expose her to hazard. He has actually 
exposed her to hazard by accepting the wager. He will not in- 
deed risk his diamond, but has offered to lay a sum of money, 
that lachimo, " with all appliances and means to boot," will not 
be able to corrupt her. I do not therefore see the force of 
lachimo's observation. It would have been more " german to 
the matter" to have said, in allusion to the former words of Post- 
humus You are not a friend, i.e. a lover, and therein the wiser: 
for all women are corruptible. MALONE. 

See p. 4-31, and 432, n. 6. Though the reply of lachimo may 
not have been warranted by the preceding words of Posthumus, 
it was certainly meant by the speaker as a provoking circum- 
stance, a circumstance of incitation to the wager. STEEVENS. 

4 lam the master of my speeches;"} i. e. I know what I have said ; 
I said no more than I meant. STEEVENS. 

sc. v. CYMBELINE. 457 

bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand du- 
cats are yours ; so is your diamond too. If I come 
off, and leave her in such honour as you have trust 
in, she your jewel, this your jewel, and my gold are 
yours : provided, I have your commendation, for 
iny more free entertainment. 

POST. I embrace these conditions; 5 let us have 
articles betwixt us : only, thus far you shall an- 
swer. If you make your voyage upon her, and 
give me directly to understand you have prevailed, 
I am no further your enemy, she is not worth our 
debate : if she remain unseduced, (you not making 
it appear otherwise,) for your ill opinion, and the 

3 lach. If I bring you no sufficient testimony that I have 

enjoyed the dearest bodily part of your mistress, my ten thousand 
ducats are yours ; so is your diamond too. If I come off, and leave 
her in such honour as you have trust in, she your jewel, this your 
jeivel, and my gold are yours : 8?c. 

Post. / embrace these conditions; &c.~] This was a wager be- 
tween the two speakers. lachimo declares the conditions of it ; 
and Posthumus embraces them, as well he might ; for lachimo 
mentions only that of the two conditions which was favourable 
to Posthumus : namely, that if his wife preserved her honour he 
should win : concerning the other, in case she preserved it not, 
lachimo, the accurate expounder of the wager, is silent. To 
make him talk more in character, for we find him sharp enough 
in the prosecution of his bet ; we should strike out the negative, 
and read the rest thus : If I bring you sufficient testimony that I 
have enjoyed, &;c. my ten thousand ducats are mine ; so is your 
diamond too. If I come off, and leave her in such honour, ?c. she 
your jewel, S?c. and my gold are yours. WARBURTON. 

I once thought this emendation right, but am now of opinion, 
that Shakspeare intended that lachimo having gained his pur- 
pose, should designedly drop the invidious and offensive part of 
t e wager, and to flatter Posthumus, dwell long upon the more 
pleasing part of the representation. One condition of a wager 
implies the other, and there is no need to mention both. 



assault you have made to her chastity, you shall 
answer me with your sword. 

IACII. Your hand ; a covenant : We will have 
these things set down by lawful counsel, and straight 
away for Britain ; lest the bargain should catch cold, 
and starve : I will fetch my gold, and have our two 
wagers recorded. 

POST. Agreed. 


FRENCH. Will this hold, think you ? 

PHI. Sigriior lachimo will not from it. Pray, 
let us follow 'em. [Exeunt. 


Britain. A Room in Cymbeline's Palace. 
Enter Queen, Ladies, and CORNELIUS. 

Whiles yet the dew's on ground, gather 
those flowers ; 
Make haste : Who has the note of them ? 

1 LADY. I, madam. 

QUEEN. Despatch. - [Exeunt Ladies. 

Now, master doctor ; have you brought those drugs ? 

COR. Pleaseth your highness, ay: here they are, 
madam : [Presenting a small Box. 
But I beseech your grace, (without offence ; 
Ifty conscience bids me ask ;) wherefore you have 
Commanded of me these most poisonous compounds, 
Which are the movers of a languishing death j 
But, though slow, deadly ? 

sc. vi. CYMBELINE. 439 

QUEEN. I do wonder, doctor, 6 

Thou ask'st me such a question : Have I not been 
Thy pupil long ? Hast thou not learn' d me how 
To make perfumes ? distil ? preserve ? yea, so, 
That our great king himself doth woo me oft 
For my confections ? Having thus far proceeded, 
(Unless thou think'st me devilish,) is't not meet 
That I did amplify my judgment in 
Other conclusions ? 7 I will try the forces 
Of these thy compounds on such creatures as 
We count notworththehanging, (but ,i&i&e human,) 
To try the vigour of them, and apply 
Allayments to their act ; and by them gather 
Their several virtues, and effects. 

COR. Your highness 

Shall from this practice but make hard your heart: 8 

/ do wonder, doctor,"] I have supplied the verb do for the 
sake of measure, and in compliance with our author's practice 
when he designs any of his characters to speak emphatically : 
Thus, in Muck Ado about Nothing: " I do much wonder, that 
one man, seeing how much another man is a fool" &c. 


7 Other conclusions ?~\ Other experiments. I commend, says 
Walton, an angler that trieth conclusions, and improves his art. 

So, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" She hath pursued conclusions infinite 
" Of easy ways to die." MALONE. 

8 Your highness 

Shall from this practice but make hard your heart :~] There 
is in this passage nothing that much requires a note, yet I cannot 
forbear to push it forward into observation. The thought would 
probably have been more amplified, had our author lived to be 
shocked with such experiments as have been published in later 
times, by a race of men who have practised tortures without pity, 
and related them without shame, and are yet suffered to erect 
their heads among human beings. 

** Cape saxa manu, cape robora, pastor." JOHNSON. 


Besides, the seeing these effects will be 
Both noisome and infectious. 

QUEEN. O, content thee. 


Here comes a flattering rascal ; upon him [Aside. 
Will I first work : 9 he's for his master, 
And enemy to my son. How now, Pisanio ? 
Doctor, your service for this time is ended j 
Take your own way. 

COR. I do suspect you, madam ; 

But you shall do no harm. [Aside. 

QUEEN. Hark thee, a word. 


COR. \_Aside.~] I do not like her. 1 She doth think, 

she has 

Strange lingering poisons : I do know her spirit, 
And will not trust one of her malice with 
A drug of such damn'd nature : Those, she has, 
Will stupify and dull the sense awhile : 
Which first, perchance, she'll prove on cats, and 


9 Will Ifrst ixorlc:~] She means, I believe, that on him first 
she will try the efficacy of her poison. MALONE. 

What else can she mean ? REED. 

1 / do not like her."} This soliloquy is very inartificial. The 
speaker is under no strong pressure of thought ; he is neither 
resolving, repenting, suspecting, nor deliberating, and yet makes 
a long speech to tell himself what himself knows. JOHNSON. 

This soliloquy, however inartificial in respect of the speaker, 
is yet necessary to prevent that uneasiness which would naturally 
arise in the mind of an audience on recollection that the Queen 
had mischievous ingredients in her possession, unless they were 
undeceived as to the quality of them ; and it is no less useful to 
prepare us for the return of Imogen to life. STEEVENS. 

sc. vi. CYMBELINE. 441 

Then afterward up higher ; but there is 
No danger in what show of death it makes, 
More than the locking up the spirits a time, 5 
To be more fresh, reviving. She is fool'd 
With a most false effect ; and I the truer, 
So to be false with her. 3 

QUEEN. No further service, doctor, 

Until I send for thee. 

COR. I humbly take my leave. 


QUEEN. Weeps she still, say'st thou ? Dost thou 

think, in time 

She will not quench ; 4 and let instructions enter 
Where folly now possesses ? Do thou work ; 
When thou shalt bring me word, she loves my son, 
I'll tell thee, on the instant, thou art then 
As great as is thy master : greater ; for 
His fortunes all lie speechless, and his name 
Is at last gasp : Return he cannot, nor 
Continue where he is : to shift his being, 5 
Is to exchange one misery with another ; 
And every day, that comes, comes to decay 
A day's work in him : What shalt thou expect, 
To be depender on a thing that leans ? 6 

* a time,~] So the old copy. All the modern editions 

Jbr a time. MALONE. 

3 So to be false with her.] The two last words may be fairly 
considered as an interpolation, for they hurt the metre, without 
enforcement of the sense. 

For thee, in the next line but one, might on the same account 
be omitted. STEEVENS. 

* quench ;~\ i. e. grow cool. STEEVENS. 

* to shift his being,'} To change his abode. JOHNSON. 

* that leans ?~\ That inclines towards its fall. JOHNSON. 


Who cannot be new built ; nor has no friends, 

\_The Queen drops a Box: PISANIO takes it up. 
So much as but to prop him? Thou tak'st up 
Thou know'st not what; but take it for thy labour: 
It is a thing I made, which hath the king 
Five times redeem'd from death : I do not know 
What is more cordial : Nay, I pr'ythee, take it ; 
It is an earnest of a further good 
That I mean to thee. Tell thy mistress how 
The case stands with her ; do't, as from thyself. 
Think what a chance thou changest on ; 7 but think 
Thou hast thy mistress still ; to boot, my son, 
Who shall take notice of thee : I'll move the king 
To any shape of thy preferment, such 
As thou'lt desire ; and then myself, I chiefly, 
That set thee on to this desert, am bound 
To load thy merit richly. Call my women : 
Think on my words. [_Exit PISA.] A sly and con- 
stant knave ; 

Not to be shak'd : the agent for his master ; 
And the remembrancer of her, to hold 
The hand fast to her lord. I have given him that, 
Which, if he take, shall quite unpeople her 

1 Think what a chance thou changest on;] Such is the read- 
ing of the old copy, which by succeeding editors has been altered 

Think what a chance thou chancest on; 

Think what a change thou chancest on; 

but unnecessarily. The meaning is : *' Think with what a fair 
prospect of mending your fortunes you now change your present 
service." STEEVENS. 

A line in our author's Rape of Lucrcce adds some support to 
the reading thou chancest on, which is much in Shakspeare's 
manner : 

" Let there bechance him pitiful mis-chances." 



Of liegers for her sweet ; 8 and which she, after, 
Except she bend her humour, shall be assur'd 

Re-enter PISANIO, and Ladies. 

To taste of too. So, so ; well done, well done : 
The violets, cowslips, and the primroses, 
Bear to my closet : Fare thee well, Pisanio ; 
Think on my words. \_~Exeunt Queen and Ladies. 

Pis. And shall do: 9 

But when to my good lord I prove untrue, 
I'll choke myself: there's all I'll do for you. 



Another Room in the same. 
Enter IMOGEN. 

IMO. A father cruel, and a step-dame false j, 
A foolish suitor to a wedded lady, 
That hath her husband banish' d ; O,that husband! 

8 Ofliegersjbr her sixeet ;~\ A lieger ambassador is one that 
resides in a foreign court to promote his master's interest. 

So, in Measure for Measure: 

" Lord Angelo, having affairs to heaven, 

" Intends you for his swift embassador, 

" Where you shall be an everlasting lieger" STEEVENS. 

9 And shall do:~] Some words, which rendered this sentence 
less abrupt, and perfected the metre of it, appear to have been 
omitted in the old copies. STEEVENS. 


My supreme crown of grief! ' and those repeated 
Vexations of it ! Had 1 been thief-stolen, 
As my two brothers, happy ! but most miserable 
Is the desire that's glorious : 2 Blessed be those, 
How mean soe'er, that have their honest wills, 
Which seasons comfort. 3 Who may this be ? Fye! 

1 0, that husband! 

My supreme crown of grief '/] Imogen seems to say, that 
her separation from her husband is the completion of her dis- 
tress. So, in King Lear: 

" This would have seem'd a period 

" To such as love not sorrow ; but another, 

** To amplify too much, would make much more, 

" And top extremity." 
Again, in Coriolanus : 

" the spire and fop of praise." 

Again, more appositely, in Troilus and Cressida : 

" Make Cressid's name the very crown of falsehood." 
Again, in The Winter's Tale: 

" The croiun and comfort of my life, your favour, 

" I do give lost." MALONE. 

* . but most miserable 

Is the desire that's glorious :~\ Her husband, she says, prove* 
her supreme grief. She had been happy had she been stolen as 
her brothers were, but now she is miserable, as all those are who 
have a sense of worth and honour superior to the vulgar, which 
occasions them infinite vexations from the envious and worthless 
part of mankind. Had she not so refined a taste as to be content 
only with the superior merit of Posthumus, but could have taken 
up with Cloten, she might have escaped these persecutions. This 
elegance of taste, which always discovers an excellence and 
chooses it, she calls with great sublimity of expression, The de- 
sire that's glorious ; which the Oxford editor not understanding, 
alters to The degree that's glorious. WARBURTON. 

3 . Blessed be those, 

How mean soe'er, that have their honest to7/.?, 
Which seasons comfort.~] The last words are equivocal ; but 
the meaning is this ; Who are beholden only to the seasons for 
their support and nourishment ; so that, if those be kindly, such 
have no more to care for, or desire. WARBURTON. 

I am willing to comply with any meaning that can be extorted 

ac. ni. CYMBELINE. 44S 


Pis. Madam, a noble gentleman of Rome ; 
Comes from my lord with letters. 

from the present text, rather than change it, yet will propose, 
but with great diffidence, a slight alteration: 

Bless'd be those, 

Hoia mean soe'er, that have their honest wills, 

With reason's comfort. 

Who gratify their innocent wishes with reasonable enjoyments. 


I shall venture at another explanation, which, as the last words 
are admitted to be equivocal, may be proposed. " To be able to 
refine on calamity (says she) is the miserable privilege of those 
who are educated with aspiring thoughts and elegant desires. 
Blessed are they, however mean their condition, who have the 
power of gratifying their honest inclination, which circumstance 
bestows an additional relish on comfort itself." 

" You lack the season of all natures, sleep." Macbeth. 
Again, in Albumazar, 1615 : 

" the memory of misfortunes past 

" Seasons the welcome." STEEVENS. 

I agree with Steevens that the word seasons, in this place, is 
used as a verb, but not in his interpretation of the former part of 
this passage. Imogen's reflection is merely this : " That those 
are happy who have their honest wills, which gives a relish to 
comfort; but that those are miserable who set their affections on 
objects of superior excellence, which are of course, difficult to 
obtain." The word honest means plain or humble, and is op- 
posed to glorious, M. MASON. 

In my apprehension, Imogen's sentiment is simply this : Had 
I been stolen by thieves in my iiifancy, (or, as she says in an- 
other place, Lorn a neat-herd 1 s daughter,} I had been happy. 
But instead of that, I am in a high, and, 'what is called, a 
glorious station; and most miserable in such a situation! Preg- 
nant with calamity are those desires, which aspire to glory ; 
to splendid titles, or elevation of rank ! Happier Jar are those, 
how low soever their rank in life, who have it in their power to 
gratify their virtuous inclinations: a circumstance that gives an 
additional zest to comfort itself, and renders it something more ; 


I ACE. Change you, madam ? 

The worthy Leonatus is in safety, 
And greets your highness dearly. 

{Presents a Letter. 

IMO. Thanks, good sir : 

You are kindly welcome. 

IACH. All of her, that is out of door, most rich! 


If she be furnish'd with a mind so rare, 
She is alone the Arabian bird ; and I 
Have lost the wager. Boldness be my friend ! 
Arm me, audacity, from head to foot ! 
Or, like the Parthian, I shall flying fight ; 
Rather, directly fly. 

or, (to borrow our author's words in another place) "which keeps 
comfort always fresh and lasting. 

A line in Timon of Athens may perhaps prove the best com- 
ment on the former part of this passage : 

" O the fierce wretchedness that glory brings!" 
In King Henry VIII. also, Anna Bullen utters a sentiment 
that bears a strong resemblance to that before us : 

" 1 swear, 'tis better 

" To dwell with humble livers in content, 
" Than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief \ 
" And wear a golden sorrow." 

Of the verb to season, (of which the true explanation wa* 
originally given by Mr. Steevens,) so many instances occur as 
fully to justify this interpretation. It is used in the same meta- 
phorical sense in Daniel's Cleopatra, a tragedy, 1594-: 

" This that did season all my sour of life, ." 
Again, in our author's Romeo and Juliet: 

" How much salt water thrown away in haste, 
" To season love, that of it doth not taste!" 
Again, in Twelfth- Night: 

" All this to season 

" A brother's dead love, which she would keepfresh 
" And lasting in her sad remembrance." MALONE. 

ac. vn. CYMBELINE. 447 

IMO. [Reads.] He is one of the noblest note, to 
whose kindnesses I am most infinitely tied. Reflect 
upon him accordingly, as you value your truest 

So far I read aloud : 
But even the very middle of my heart 

* Reflect upon him accordingly, as you value your truest 


[Old copy your trust. LEONATUS.] Were Leonatus writing 
to his Steward, this style might be proper; but it is so strange 
a conclusion of a letter to a princess, and a beloved wife, that 
it cannot be right. I have no doubt therefore that we ought to 

as you value your truest 



This emendation is at once so neat and elegant, that I cannot 
refuse it a place in the text ; and especially as it returns an echo 
to the words of Posthumus when he parted from Imogen, and 
dwelt so much on his own conjugal fidelity : 

" 1 will remain 

" The loyal' st husband that did e'er plight troth.'* 


Mr. M. Mason's conjecture would have more weight, if it 
were certain that these were intended as the concluding words 
of the letter. It is more probable that what warmed the very middle 
of the heart of Imogen, formed the conclusion of Posthumus's 
letter ; and the words so Jar, and by the rest, support that sup- 
position. Though Imogen reads the name of her husband, she 
might suppress somewhat that intervened. Nor, indeed, is the 
adjuration of light import, or unsuitable to a fond husband, sup- 
posing it to be the conclusion of the letter. Respect my friend, 
/says Leonatus, as you value the confidence reposed in you by 
him to whom you have plighted your troth. M ALONE. 

It is certain, I think, from the break " He is one" &c. that 
the omitted part of the letter was at the beginning of it; and 
that what follows (all indeed that was necessary for the au- 
dience to hear,) was its regular and decided termination. Was it 
not natural, that a young and affectionate husband, writing to 
a wife whom he adored, should express the feelings of his love, 
before he proceeded to the detail of his colder business ? 



Is warm'd by the rest, and takes it thankfully. 
You are as welcome, worthy sir, as I 
Have words to bid you ; and shall find it so, 
In all that I can do. 

IACH. Thanks, fairest lady. 

What! are men mad? Hath nature given them eyes 
To see this vaulted arch, and the rich crop 
Of sea and land, 5 which can distinguish 'twixt 
The fiery orbs above, and the twinn'd stones 
Upon the numbered beach ? 6 and can we not 

* and the rich crop 

Of sea and land,'} He is here speaking of the covering of 
sea and land. Shakspeare therefore wrote : 

and the rich cope . WARBURTON. 

Surely no emendation is necessary. The vaulted arch is alike 
the cope or covering of sea and land. When the poet had spo- 
ken of it once, could he have thought this second introduction 
of it necessary ? The crop of sea and land means only the pro- 
ductions of either element. STEEVENS. 

6 and the tivinn'd stones 

Upon the number'd beach ?] I have no idea in what sense 
the beach, or shore, should be called number'd. I have ventured, 
against all the copies, to substitute 

Upon th' unnumber'd beach? 

i. e. the infinite extensive beach, if we are to understand the 
epithet as coupled to the word. But, I rather think, the poet 
intended an hypallage, like that in the beginning of Ovid's 
Metamorphosis : 

" (In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas 

" Corpora.)" 

And then we are to understand the passage thus : and the infinite 
number of tivinn'd stones upon the beach. THEOBALD. 

Sense and the antithesis oblige us to read this nonsense thus: 

Upon the humbled beach : 

i. e. because daily insulted from the flow of the tide. 


I know not well how to regulate this passage. Number'd is 
perhaps numerous. Twinn'd stones I do not understand. 
Twinn'd shells, or pairs of shells, are very common. For 

sc. vn. CYMBELINE. 449 

Partition make with spectacles so precious 
'Twixt fair and foul ? 

IMO. What makes your admiration ? 

IACH. It cannot be i'the eye ; for apes and 


'Twixt two such shes, would chatter this way, and 
Contemn with mows the other : Nor i'the judg- 
ment ; 
For idiots, in this case of favour, would 

twinn'd we might read twirfd; that is, twisted, convolved: but 
this sense is more applicable to shells than to stones. JOHNSON. 

The pebbles on the sea shore are so much of the same size 
and shape, that twinned may mean as like as twins. So, ia 
The Maid of the Mill, by Beaumont and Fletcher : 

" But is it possible that two faces 

" Should be so twinn'd in form, complexion,'* &c. 
Again, in our author's Coriolanus, Act IV. sc. iv : 

" Are still together, who twin as 'twere in love." 
Mr. Heath conjectures the poet might have written spurn'd 
stones. He might possibly have written that or any other word. 
In Coriolanus, a different epithet is bestowed on the beach : 

" Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach 

" Fillop the stars " 

Dr. Warburton's conjecture may be countenanced by the fol- 
lowing passage in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. VI. c. vii : 

" But as he lay upon the humbled grass." STEEVENS. 

I think we may read the umbered, the shaded beach. This 
word is met with in other places. FARMER. 

Farmer's amendment is ill-imagined. There is no place so 
little likely to be shaded as the beach of the sea ; and therefore 
umber' d cannot be right. M. MASON. 

Mr. Theobald's conjecture may derive some support from a 
passage in King Lear: 

" the murm'ring surge 

" That on th' unnumbered idle pebbles chafes " 
Th' unnumbered, and the number' d, if hastily pronounced, 
might easily have been confounded by the ear. If numbered be 
right, it surely means, as Dr. Johnson has explained it, abound- 
ing in numbers of stones ; numerous. MALONE. ; 


Be wisely definite : Nor i'the appetite ; 
Sluttery, to such neat excellence oppos'd, 
Should make desire vomit emptiness, 
Not so allur'd to feed. 7 

1 Should make desire vomit emptiness, 

Not to attur'd to feed.'} i. e. that appetite, which is not 
allured to feed on such excellence, can have no stomach at all ; 
but, though empty, must nauseate every thing. WARBURTON. 

I explain this passage in a sense almost contrary. lachimo, 
in this counterfeited rapture, has shown how the eyes and the 

judgment would determine in favour of Imogen, comparing her 
with the present mistress of Posthumus, and proceeds to say, 
that appetite too would give the same suffrage. Desire, says 
he, when it approached sluttery, and considered it in compari- 
son with such neat excellence, would not only be not so allured to 

feed, but, seized with a fit of loathing, would vomit emptiness t 
would feel the convulsions of disgust, though, being unfed, it 
had no object. JOHNSON. 

Dr. Warburton and Dr. Johnson have both taken the pains to 
give their different senses of this passage ; but I am still unable 
to comprehend how desire, or any other thing, can be made to 
vomit emptiness. I rather believe the passage should be read thus: 

Sluttery to such neat excellence oppos'd t 

Should make desire vomit, emptiness 

Not so allure to feed. 

That is, Should not so, [in such circumstances] allure [even] 
emptiness to feed. TYRWHITT. 

This is not ill conceived ; but I think my own explanation 
right. To vomit emptiness is, in the language of poetry, to feel 
the convulsions of eructation without plenitude. JOHNSON. 

No one who has been ever sick at sea, can be at a loss to un- 
derstand what is meant by vomiting emptiness. Dr. Johnson's 
interpretation would perhaps be more exact, if after the word 
Desire he had added, however hungry, or sharp set. 

A late editor, Mr. Capell, was so little acquainted with his 
author, as not to know that Shakspeare here, and in some other 
places, uses desire as a trisyllable ; in consequence of which, he 
reads vomit to emptiness. MA LONE. 

The indelicacy of this passage may be kept in countenance by 
the following lines and stage-directions in the tragedy of All for 
Money, by T. Lupton, 1578 : 

sc. m. CYMBELINE. 451 

IMO. What is the matter, trow ? 

IACH. The cloyed will a 8 

(That satiate yet unsatisfied desire, 
That tub both filPd and running,) ravening first 
The lamb, longs after for the garbage. 

IMO. What, dear sir, 

Thus raps, you ? Are you well ? 

IACH. Thanks, madam j well: 'Beseech you, 
sir, desire [To PISANIO. 

My man's abode where I did leave him : he 
Is strange and peevish. 9 

" Now will I essay to vomit if I can ; 
" Let him hold your head, and I will hold your sto- 
mach,'* &c. 

" Here Money shall make as though he toould vomit." 
Again : 

" Here Pleasure shall make as though he would vomit." 


8 The cloyed will, &c.] The present irregularity of metre has 
almost persuaded me that this passage originally stood thus : 

The cloyed mill, 

( That's satiate, yet unsatisfied, that tub 
Both Jill' d and running,} ravening jirst the lamb, 
Longs after for the garbage. 

What, dear sir, &c. 

The want, in the original MS. of the letter I have supplied, 
perhaps occasioned the interpolation of the word desire. 


9 he 

Is strange and peevish.~] He is a foreigner and easily fretted. 


Strange, I believe, signifies shy or backward. So, Holinshed, 
p. 735 : " brake to him his mind in this mischievous matter, 
in which he found him nothing strange" 

Peevish anciently meant weak, silly. So, in Lyly's Endymion, 
1591 : " Never was any so peevish to imagine the moon either 
capable of affection, or shape of a mistress." Again, in his 


2 G 2 


Pis. I was going, sir, 

To give him welcome. [Exit PISANIO. 

IMO. Continues well my lord ? His health, 'be- 
seech you ? 

IACH. Well, madam. 

IMO. Is he disposed to mirth ? I hope, he is. 

IACH. Exceeding pleasant; none a stranger there 
So merry and so gamesome : he is call'd 
The Briton reveller. 1 

IMO. When he was here, 

He did incline to sadness ; and oft-times 
Not knowing why. 

saw an orderly course, in the earth nothing but disorderly love 
and peevishness." Again, in Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: 
" We have infinite poets and pipers, and such peevish cattel 
among us in Englande." Again, in The Comedy of Errors: 
" How now! a madman! why thou peevish sheep, 
" No ship of Epidamnum stays for me." STEEVENS. 
Minsheu, in his Dictionary, 1617, explains peevish by foolish. 
So again, in our author's King Richard III: 

" When Richmond was a little peevish boy." 
See also Comedy of Errors, Act IV. sc. iv; and Vol. XIV. 
p. 201, n. 7. 

Strange is again used by our author in his Venm and Adonis, 
in the sense in which Mr. Steevens supposes it to be used here: 

" Measure my strangeness by my unripe years." 
Again, in Romeo and Juliet: 
" I'll prove more true 

" Than those that have more cunning to be strange." 
But I doubt whether the word was intended to bear that sense 
here. MALONE. 

Johnson's explanation of strange [he is a foreigner] is certainly 
right. lachimo uses it again in the latter end of this scene : 
" And I am something curious, being strange, 
" To have them in safe stowage." 
Here also strange evidently means, being a stranger. 

1 he is call'd 

The Briton reveller.] So, in Chaucer's Coke's Tale, Mr. 
Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 4369: 

* That he was cleped Perkin revelour." STEEVENS. 

sc. vn. CYMBELINK 453 

IACH. I never saw him sad. 

There is a Frenchman his companion, one 
An eminent monsieur, that, it seems, much loves 
A Gallian girl at home : he furnaces 
The thick sighs from him ; 2 whiles the jolly Briton 
(Your lord, I mean,) laughs from's free lungs, 

cries, Of 

Can my sides hold, 3 to think, that man, who knows 
By history, report, or his own proof, 
What woman is, yea, what she cannot choose 
But must be, will his free hours languish for 
Assured bondage ? 

IMO. Will my lord say so ? 

IACH. Ay, madam ; with his eyes in flood with 


Jt is a recreation to be -by, 
And hear him mock the Frenchman : But, heavens 

Some men are much to blame. 

IMO. Not he, I hope. 

IACH. Not he : But yet heaven's bounty towards 
him might 

* he furnaces 

The thick sighs from him;'} So, in Chapman's preface to 
his translation of the Shield of Homer, 1598: " furnaceth the 
universall sighes and complaintes of this transposed world." 


So, in As you like it : 

" And then the lover, 

" Sighing \\kefurnace, with a woeful ballad." MALONE. 

laughs cries, ! 

Can my sides hold, #c.] Hence, perhaps, Milton's 
" Laughter holding both his sides." STEEVENS. 

So, in Troilus and Cressida, Vol. XV. p. 275 : 

" O ! enough, Patroclus ; 

" Or give me ribs of steel ! I shall split all 
" In pleasure of my spleen." HARRIS. 


Be us'd more thankfully. In himself, 'tis much; 4 
In you, which I count 5 his, beyond all talents, 
Whilst I am bound to wonder, I am bound 
To pity too. 

I MO. What do you pity, sir ? 
IACH. Two creatures, heartily. 

IMO. Am I one, sir ? 

You look on me ; What wreck discern you in me, 
Deserves your pity ? 

IACH. Lamentable! What! 

To hide me from the radiant sun, and solace 
Fthe dungeon by a snuff? 

IMO. I pray you, sir, 

Deliver with more openness your answers 
To my demands. Why do you pity me ? 

IACH. That others do, 

I was about to say, enjoy your But 

It is an office of the gods to venge it, 
Not mine to speak on't. 

IMO. You do seem to know 

Something of me, or what concerns me; 'Pray you, 
(Since doubting things go ill, often hurts more 
Than to be sure they do : For certainties 
Either are past remedies ; or, timely knowing, 6 
The remedy then born, 7 ) discover to me 

4 In himself, 'tis much;"] If he merely regarded his own 

character, without any consideration of his wife, his conduct 
would be unpardonable. MALONE. 

* count ] Old copy account. STEEVENS. 

fi timely knowing,] Rather timely known. JOHNSON. 

I believe Shakspeare wrote known, and that the transcriber's 
ear deceived him here as in many other places. MALONE. 

7 The remedy then born,'] We should read, I think: 
The remedy's then born . 

ac. vn. CYMBELINE. 455 

What both you spur and stop. 8 

IACH. Had I this cheek 

To bathe my lips upon ; this hand, whose touch, 
Whose every touch, would force the feeler's soul 
To the oath of loyalty; 9 this object, which 
Takes prisoner the wild motion of mine eye, 
Fixing it only here -, 1 should I (damn'd then,) 
Slaver with lips as common as the stairs 
That mount the Capitol ; 2 join gripes with hands 
Made hard with hourly falsehood (falsehood, as 

8 What both you spur and stop.~\ What it is that at once in- 
cites you to speak, and restrains you from it. JOHNSON. 

This kind of ellipsis is common in these plays. What both you 
spur and stop at, the poet means. See a note on Act II. sc. iii. 


The meaning is, what you seem anxious to utter, and yet with- 
hold. M. MASON. 

The allusion is to horsemanship. So, in Sidney's Arcadia, 
Book I : " She was like a horse desirous to runne, and miserably 
spurred, but so short-reined, as he cannot stirre forward." 
Again, in Ben Jonson's Epigram to the Earl of Newcastle : 
" Provoke his mettle, and command his force." 


9 this hand, whose touch, 

would force the feeler's soul 

To the oath of loyalty ;~\ There is, I think, here a reference 
to the manner in which the tenant performed homage to his lord. 
" The lord sate, while the vassal kneeling on both knees before 
him, held his hands jointly together betioeen the hands of his lord, 
and swore to be faithful and loyal." See Coke upon Littleton, 
sect. 85. Unless this allusion be allowed, how has touching the 
hand the slightest connection with taking the oath of loyalty? 


1 Fixing it only here:~\ The old copy has Tiering. The 
correction was made in the second folio. MALONE. 

8 as common as the stairs 

That mount the Capitol;] Shakspeare has bestowed some 
ornament on the proverbial phrase " as common as the high- 
way." STEEVENS. 


With labour ;) then lie peeping in an eye, 5 
Base and unlustrous* as the smoky light 
That's fed with stinking tallow ; it were fit, 
That all the plagues of hell should at one time 
Encounter such revolt. 

IMO. My lord, I fear, 

Has forgot Britain. 

IACH. And himself. Not I, 

Inclin'd to this intelligence, pronounce 
The beggary of his change ; but 'tis your graces 
That, from my mutest conscience, to my tongue, 
Charms this report out. 

IMO. Let me hear no more. 

IACH. O dearest soul ! your cause doth strike my 


With pity, that doth make me sick. A lady 
So fair, and fasten' d to an empery, 5 

3 join gripes -with hands &c.] The old edition reads: 

join gripes with hands 

Made hard with hourly falsehood (falsehood as 
With labour) then by peeping in an eye, &c. 
I read: 

then lie peeping . 

Hard wifk falsehood, is, hard by being often griped with fre- 
quent change of hands. JOHNSON. 

4 Base and unlustrous ] Old copy illustrious. Corrected 
by Mr. Rowe. That illustrious was not used by our author in 
the sense of inlustrous or unlustrous, is proved by a passage in 
the old comedy of Patient Grissell, 1603: " the buttons were 
illustrious and resplendent diamonds." MALONE. 

A " lack-lustre eye" has been already mentioned in As you 

like it. STEEVENS. 

* to an empery,] Empery is a word signifying sovereign 

command ; now obsolete. Shakspeare uses it in King Hi- 
chard III: 

" Your right of birth, your empery, your own." 


sc. ni. CYMBELINE. 457 

Would make the great* st king double! to bepart- 


With tomboys, 6 hir'd with that self-exhibition 7 
Which your own coffers yield ! with diseased ven- 

6 With tomboys,] We still call a masculine, a forward girl, 
tomboy. So, in Middleton's Game at Chess : 

" Made threescore year a tomboy, a mere wanton.'* 
Again, in W. Warren's Nurcerie of Names, 1581 : 
" She comes not unto Bacchus' feastes, 

" Or Flora's routes by night, 
" Like tomboyes such as lives in Rome 

" For euery knaues delight." 

Again, in Lyly's Midas, 1592: " If thou should'st rigg up 
and down in our jackets, thou would'st be thought a very torn- 

Again, in Lady Alimony: 

" What humorous tomboys be these ? 
" The only gallant Messalinas of our age." 
It appears from several of the old plays and ballads, that the 
ladies of pleasure, in the time of Shakspeare, often wore the 
habits of young men. So, in an ancient bl. 1. ballad, entitled 
The Stout Cripple of Cornwall ; 

" And therefore kept them secretlie 

" To feede his fowle desire, 
" Apparell'd all like gallant youthes, 

" In pages' trim attyre. 
" He gave them for their cognizance 

" A purple bleeding heart, 
" In which two silver arrows seem'd 

" The same in twaine to part. 
" Thus secret were his wanton sports, 

" Thus private was his pleasure ; 
" Thus harlots in the shape of men 
" Did waft away his treasure." 

Verstegan, however, gives the following etymology of the 
word tomboy: " Tumbe. To dance. Tumbod, danced; hereof 
we yet call a wench that skippeth or leapeth lyke a boy, a tom- 
boy: our name also of tumbling cometh from hence." 


17 hir'd ivith that self-exhibition &c.] Gross strumpets, 

hired with the very pension which you allow your husband. 



That play with all infirmities for gold 
Which rottenness can lend nature! suchboiPd stuff,' 
As well might poison poison! Be reveng'd ; 
Or she, that bore you, was no queen, and you 
Recoil from your great stock. 

IMO. Reveng'd ! 

How should I be reveng'd ? If this be true, 
(As I have such a heart, that both mine ears 
Must not in haste abuse,) if it be true, 
How should I be reveng'd ? 

IACH. Should he make me 

Live like Diana's priest, betwixt cold sheets ; 9 
Whiles he is vaulting variable ramps, 
In your despite, upon your purse ? Revenge it. 
I dedicate myself to your sweet pleasure ; 

8 such boil'd stuff,"] The allusion is to the ancient pro- 
cess of sweating in venereal cases. See Vol. XIX. Timon of 
Athens, Act IV. sc. iii. So, in The Old Law, by Massinger : 

" look parboiled, 

" As if they came from Cupid's scalding-house." 
Again, in Troilus and Cressida : " Sodden business ! there's 
a stewed phrase indeed." Again, in Timon of Athens : " She's 
e'en setting on water to scald such chickens as you are." All 
this stuff about boiling, scalding, &c. is a mere play on stew, a 
word which is afterwards used for a brothel by Imogen. 


The words may mean, such corrupted stuff; from the sub- 
stantive boil. So, in Coriolanus: 

" boils and plagues 

" Plaster you o'er !" 

But, I believe, Mr. Steevens's interpretation is the true one. 


9 Live like Diana's priest, betwixt cold sheets ;] Sir Thomas 
Hanmer, supposing this to be an inaccurate expression, reads : 

Live like Diana's priestess 'twixt cold sheets; 
but the text is as the author wrote it. So, in Pericles, Prince 
of Tyre, DIANA says : 

" My temple stands at Ephesus ; hie thee thither ; 
" There, when my maiden priests are met together," &c. 


sc. rn. CYMBELINE. 459 

More noble than that runagate to your bed ; 
And will continue fast to your affection, 
Still close, as sure. 

IMO. What ho, Pisanio ! 

IACH. Let me my service tender on your lips. 1 

IMO. Away! I do condemn mine ears, that 


So long attended thee. If thou wert honourable, 
Thou would' st have told this tale for virtue, not 
For such an end thou seek'st ; as base, as strange. 
Thou wrong* st a gentleman, who is as far 
From thy report, as thou from honour ; and 
Solicit'st here a lady, that disdains 
Thee and the devil alike. What ho, Pisanio ! 
The king my father shall be made acquainted 
Of thy assault : if he shall think it fit, 
A saucy stranger, in his court, to mart 
As in a Romish stew, 2 and to expound 
His beastly mind to us ; he hath a court 

1 Let me my service tender on your lips.'] Perhaps this is an 
allusion to the ancient custom of swearing servants into noble 
families. So, in Caltha Poetarum, &c. 1599: 

" she swears him to his good abearing, 

" Whilst her faire sweet lips were the books of swear- 
ing." STEEVENS. 

9 As in a Romish stetv,~] Romish was, in the time of Shak- 
epeare, used instead of Roman. There were stews at Rome in 
the time of Augustus. The same phrase occurs in Claudius Ti- 
berius Nero, 1607 : 

" my mother deem'd me chang'd, 

" Poor woman ! in the loathsome Romish stewes :" 
and the author of this piece seems to have been a scholar. 
Again, in Wit in a Constable, by Glapthorne, 1640: 
" A Romish cirque, or Grecian hippodrome." 
Again, Thomas Drant's translation of the first epistle of the 
second Book of Horace, 1567 : 

" The Romishe people wise in this, in this point only 
just." STEEVENS. 


He litfle cares for, and a daughter whom 3 
He not respects at all. What ho, Pisanio ! 

IACH. O happy Leonatus ! I may say ; 
The credit, that. thy lady hath of thee, 
Deserves thy trust ; and thy most perfect goodness 
Her assured credit ! Blessed live you long ! 
A lady to the worthiest sir, that ever 
Country call'd his ! and you his mistress, only 
For the most worthiest fit ! Give me your pardon. 
I have spoke this, to know if your affiance 
Were deeply rooted ; and shall make your lord, 
That which he is, new o'er : And he is one 
The truest manner'd ; such a holy witch, 
That he enchants societies unto him :* 
Half all men's hearts are his. 

IMO. You make amends. 

IACH. He sits 'mongst men, like a descended 

god: 5 
He hath a kind of honour sets him off, 

and a daughter whom J Old copy ivho. Corrected 

in the second folio. MALONE. 

4 stick a holy witch, 

That he enchants societies unto him :] So, in our author's 
Lover's Complaint : 

" he did in the general bosom reign 

" Of young and old, and sexes both enchanted 
" Consents bewitch' d, ere he desire, have granted." 


* like a descended god:"] So, in Hamlet: 

" a station like the herald Mercury, 

" New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill." 
The old copy nas defended. The correction was made by the 
editor of the second folio. Defend is again printed for descend, 
in the last scene of Timon of Athens. MALONE. 

So, in Chapman's version of the twenty-third Book of Homer's 
Odyssey .- 

" , as he were 

" A god descended from the starry sphere." STEEVENS. 

sc. 7ii. CYMBELINE. 461 

More than a mortal seeming. Be not angry, 
Most mighty princess, that I have adventur'd 
To try your taking a 6 false report ; which hath 
Honoured with confirmation your great judgment 
In the election of a sir so rare, 
Which you know, cannot err : The love I bear him 
Made me to fan you thus ; but the gods made you, 
Unlike all others, chaffless. Pray, your pardon. 

IMO. All's well, sir : Take my power i'the court 
for yours. 

IACH. My humble thanks. I had almost forgot 
To entreat your grace but in a small request, 
And yet of moment too, for it concerns 
Your lord ; myself, and other noble friends, 
Are partners in the business. 

IMO. Pray, what is't ? 

IACH. Some dozen Romans of us, and your lord, 
(The best feather of our wing 7 ) have mingled sums, 
To buy a present for the emperor ; 
Which I, the factor for the rest, have done 
In France : 'Tis plate, of rare device ; and jewels, 
Of rich and exquisite form ; their values great ; 
And I am something curious, being strange, 8 
To have them in safe stowage ; May it please you 
To take them in protection ? 

IMO. Willingly ; 

And pawn mine honour for their safety : since 

6 taking a ] Old copy, vulgarly and unmetrically, 

taking of a . STEEVENS. 

7 best feather of our wing ] So, in Churchyard's 

Warning to Wanderers Abroad, 1593: 

" You are so great you would faine march in fielde, 
" That world should judge you feathers of one wing" 


being strange,"} i. e. being a stranger. STEEVENS. 


My lord hath interest in them, I will keep them 
In my bed-chamber. 

IACH. They are in a trunk, 

Attended by my men : I wilt make bold 
To send them to you, only for this night j 
I must aboard to-morrow. 

IMO. O, no, no. 

IACH. Yes, I beseech; or I shall short my word, 
By lengthening my return. From Gallia 
I cross'd the seas on purpose, and on promise 
To see your grace. 

IMO. I thank you for your pains ; 

But not away to-morrow? 

IACH. O, I must, madam : 

'Therefore, I shall beseech you, if you please 
To greet your lord with writing, do't to-night : 
I have outstood my time ; which is material 
To the tender of our present. 

IMO. I will write. 

Send your trunk to me ; it shall safe be kept, 
And truly yielded you : You are very welcome. 




Court before Cymbeline's Palace. 
Enter CLOTEN, and Two Lords. 

CLO. Was there ever man had such luck ! when 
I kissed the jack upon an up-cast, 9 to be hit away! 
I had a hundred pound on't : And then a whore- 
son jackanapes must take me up for swearing ; as 
if I borrowed mine oaths of him, and might not 
spend them at my pleasure. 

1 LORD. What got he by that? You have broke 
his pate with your bowi. 

2 LORD. If his wit had been like him that broke 
it, it would have ran all out. [Aside. 

CLO. When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it 
is not for any standers-by to curtail his oaths: Ha? 

2 LORD. No, my lord ; nor \_Aside.~] crop the ears 
of them. 1 

CLO. Whoreson dog ! I give him satisfaction ? 2 
'Would, he had been one of my rank ! 

9 kissed the jack upon an up-cast,'] He is describing his 

fate at bowls. The jack is the small bowl at which the other* 
are aimed. He who is nearest to it wins. To kiss the jack is a 
state of great advantage. JOHNSON. 

This expression frequently occurs in the old comedies. So, in 
A Woman never vex'd, by Rowley, 1632: " This city bottler 
has kissed the mistress at the first cast." STEEVENS. 

1 No, my lord ; &c.] This, I believe, should stand thus : 

1 Lord. No, my lord. 

2 Lord. Nor crop the ears of them. [Aside. JOHNSON. 

* / give him satisfaction ?] Old copy gave. Corrected by 
the editor of the second folio. MALONE. 


2 LORD. To have smelt 3 like a fool. [Aside. 

CLO. I am not more vexed at any thing in the 
earth, A pox on't ! I had rather not be so noble 
as I am ; they dare not fight with me, because of 
the queen my mother : every jack-slave hath his 
belly full of fighting, and I must go up and down 
like a cock that no body can match. 

2 LORD. You are a cock and capon too ; and 
you crow, cock, with your comb on. 4 [Aside. 

CLO. Sayest thou ? 

1 LORD. It is not fit, your lordship should un- 
dertake every companion 5 that you give offence to. 

CLO. No, I know that : but it is fit, I should 
commit offence to my inferiors. 

2 LORD. Ay, it is fit for your lordship only. 
CLO. Why, so I say. 

1 LORD. Did you hear of a stranger, that's 
come to court to-night ? 

CLO. A stranger ! and I not know on't ! 

2 LORD. He's a strange fellow himself, and 
knows it not. [Aside. 

s To have smelt ] A poor quibble on the word rank in the 
preceding speech. MALONE. 

The same quibble has already occurred in As you like it, Act 
I. sc. ii : 

" Touch. Nay, if I keep not my rank 

" Ros. Thou losest thy old smell." STEEVENS. 

4 with your comb on.] The allusion is to a fool's cap, 

which hath a comb like a cock's. JOHNSON. 

The intention of the speaker, is to call Cloten a coxcomb. 


* every companion ] The use of companion was the 

same as oifdlaw now. It was a word of contempt. JOHNSON. 
See Vol. XVI. p. 180, n. 9; and p. 384, n. 7. MALONE. 

sc. i. CYMBELINE. 465 

1 LORD. There's an Italian come; and, 'tis 
thought, one of Leonatus' friends. 

CLO. Leonatus ! a banished rascal ; and he's an- 
other, whatsoever he be. Who told you of this 
stranger ? 

1 LORD. One of your lordship's pages. 

CLO. Is it fit, I went to look upon him ? Is there 
no derogation in't ? 

1 LORD. You cannot derogate, my lord. 
CLO. Not easily, I think. 

2 LORD. You are a fool granted ; therefore your 
issues being foolish, do not derogate. [Aside. 

CLO. Come, I'll go see this Italian : What I have 
lost to-day at bowls, I'll win to-night of him. 
Come, go. 

2 LORD. I'll attend your lordship. 

[Exeunt CLOTEN and first Lord. 
That such a crafty devil as is his mother 
Should yield the world this ass ! a woman, that 
Bears all down with her brain ; and this her son 
Cannot take two from twenty for his heart, 
And leave eighteen. Alas, poor princess, 
Thou divine Imogen, what thou endur'st ! 
Betwixt a father by thy step-dame govern'd ; 
A mother hourly coining plots ; a wooer, 
More hateful than the foul expulsion is 
Of thy dear husband, than that horrid act 
Of the divorce he'd make ! The heavens hold firm 
The walls of thy dear honour ; keep unshak'd 
That temple, thy fair mind; that thou may'st stand, 
To enjoy thy banish'd lord, and this great land! 





A Bed-chamber; in one Part of it a Trunk. 

IMOGEN reading in her Bed; a Lady attending. 

IMO. Who's there ? my woman Helen ? 
LADY. Please you, madam. 

IMO. What hour is it ? 
LADY. Almost midnight, madam. 

IMO. I have read three hours then : mine eyes 

are weak : 

Fold down the leaf where I have left : To bed : 
Take not away the taper, leave it burning ; 
And if thou canst awake by four o'the clock, 
I pr'ythee, call me. Sleep hath seiz'd me wholly. 

\_Exit Lady. 

To your protection I commend me, gods ! 
From fairies, and the tempters of the night, 6 
Guard me, beseech ye ! 

[Sleeps. lAcuiMo,Jrom the Trunk. 

IACH. The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd 


Repairs itself by rest: Our Tarquin 7 thus 
Did softly press the rushes, 8 ere he waken'd 

6 From fairies, and the tempters of the night,'] Banquo, in 
Macbeth, nas already deprecated the same nocturnal evils : 
*' Restrain in me the cursed thoughts, that nature 
" Gives way to in repose !" STEEVENS. 

7 Our Tarquin ] The speaker is an Italian. 

Tarquin thus 

Did softly press the rushes,] This shows that Shakspcarc's 
idea was, that the ravishing strides of Tarquin were softly ones, 

sc. ii. CYMBELINE. 467 

The chastity he wounded.- Cytherea, 
How bravely thou becom'st thy bed ! fresh lily ! 9 
And whiter than the sheets ! That I might touch ! 
But kiss ; one kiss ! Rubies unparagon'd, 
How dearly they do't ! 'Tis her breathing that 

and may serve as a comment on that passage in Macbeth. See 
Vol. X. p. 102, n. 9. BLACKSTONE. 

- the rushes,] It was the custom in the time of our author 
to strew chambers with rushes, as we now cover them with 
carpets: the practice is mentioned in Caius de Ephemera Bri- 
tannica. JOHNSON. 

So, in Thomas Newton's Herball to the Bible, 8vo. 1587: 
" Sedge and rushes, with the which many in this country do 
use in sommer time to strawe their parlors and churches, as well 
for coolenes as for pleasant smell." 
Again, in Arden ofFeversham, 1592: 
" - his blood remains. 
" Why strew rushes." 
Again, in Bussy d'Ambois, 1607 : 

" Were not the king here, he should strew the chamber like 
a rush." 

Shakspeare has the same circumstance in his Rape ofLucrece : 
" - by the light he spies 
" Lucretia's glove wherein her needle sticks ; 
" He takes it from the rushes where it lies," &c. 
The ancient English stage also, as appears from more than one 
passage in Decker's Gul's Hornbook, 1609, was strewn with 
rushes: " Salute all your gentle acquaintance that are spred 
either on the rushes or on stooles about you, and drawe what 
troope you can from the stage after you." STEEVENS. 


Hoia bravely thou becom'st thy bed! fresh lily! 
And whiter than the sheets !] So, in our author's Venus and 
Adonis : 

" Who sees his true love in her naked bed, 
" Teaching the sheets a "whiter hue than white." 
Again, in The Rape ofLucrece: 

" Who o'er the white sheets peers her whiter chin." 


Thus, also, Jaffier, in Venice Preserved: 
" - in virgin sheets, 
" White as her bosom." STEEVENS. 

2 H 2 


Perfumes the chamber thus : * The flame o'thetaper 
Bows toward her ; and would under-peep her lids, 
To see the enclosed lights, now canopied 2 
Under these windows : 3 White and azure, lac'd 
With blue of heaven's own tinct. 4 But my de- 
sign ? 

1 'Tis her breathing that 

Perfumes the chamber thus:~\ The same hyperbole is found 
in The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image, by J. Marston, 

" ' no lips did seem so fair 

" In his conceit ; through which he thinks dothjlie 

" So sweet a breath that doth perfume the air" 


* now canopied ] Shakspeare has the same expression 

in Tarquin and Lucrece: 

" Her eyes, like marigolds, had sheath'd their light, 

" And, canopied in darkness, sweetly lay, 

" Till they might open to adorn the day." MALONE. 

3 Under these windows :] i. e. her eyelids. So, in Romeo atid 
Juliet : 

" Thy eyes' ivindows fall, 

" Like death, when he shuts up the day of life." 
Again, in his Venus and Adonis: 

" The night of sorrow now is turn'd to day ; 

' Her two blue windows faintly she up-heaveth." 


White and azure, lac'd 

With blue of heaven's own tinct.] We should read : 

White with azure lac'd, 

The blue of heaven's own tinct. 
i. e. the white skin lac'd with blue veins. WARBURTOX. 

So, in Macbeth : 

" His silver skin lac'd with his golden blood." 
The passage before us, without Dr. Warburton's emendation, is, 
to me at least, unintelligible. STEEVENS. 

So, in Romeo and Juliet: 

" What envious streaks do lace the severing clouds." 

These words, I apprehend, refer not to Imogen's eye-lids, (of 
which the poet would scarcely have given so particular a descrip- 
tion,) but to the inclosed lights, i. e. her eyes: which though 

ac. n. CYMBELINE. 469 

To note the chamber : I will write all down : 
Such, and such, pictures : There the window : 


The; adornment of her bed ; The arras, figures, 
Why, such, and such: 5 And the contents o'the 


now shut, lachimo had seen before, and which are here said in 
poetical language to be blue, and that blue celestial. 

. Dr. Warburton is of opinion that the eye-lid was meant, and 
according to his notion, the poet intended to praise its white 
skin, and blue veins. 

Drayton, who has often imitated Shakspeare, seems to have 
viewed this passage in the same light : 

" Arid these sweet veins by nature rightly plac'd, 
" Wherewith she seems the white skin to have lac'd, 
" She soon doth alter." The Mooncalf, 1627. 


We learn from a quotation in n. 3, that by blue windows were 
meant blue eye-lids; and indeed our author has dwelt on cor- 
responding imagery in The Winter's Tale: 

" violets, dim, 

" But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes." 
A particular description, therefore, of the same objects, might, 
in the present instance, have been designed. 

Thus, in Chapman's translation of the twenty-third Book of 
Homer's Odyssey. Minerva is the person described ; 

" the Dame 

" That bears the blue sky intermix'd with flame 

" In her fair eyes" &c. STEEVENS. 

5 The arras, Jigztres, 

Why, such, and such:~\ We should print, says Mr. M. Ma- 
son, thus: " the arras-figures ; that is, the figures of the arras.'* 
But, I think, he is mistaken. It appears from what lachimo says 
afterwards, that he had noted, not only the figures of the arras, 
but the stuff of which the arras was composed: 

*' It was hang'd 

" With tapestry of silk and silver ; the story 

" Proud Cleopatra," &c. 
Again, in Act V : 

" averring notes 

" Of chamber-fianging, pictures," &c. MALONE. 

476 CYMBELIN& ACT it. 

Ah, but some natural notes about her body, 
Above ten thousand meaner moveables 
Would testify, to enrich mine inventory : 
O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her ! 
And be her sense but as a monument, 
Thus in a chapel lying ! 6 Come off, come off; 

[Taking off her Bracelet. 

As slippery, as the Gordian knot was hard ! 
'Tis mine ; and this will witness outwardly, 
As strongly as the conscience does within, 
To the madding of her lord. On her left breast 
A mole cinque-spotted, 7 like the crimson drops 

6 but as a monument, 

Thus in a chapel tying!'] Shakspeare was here thinking of 
the recumbent whole-length figures, which in his time were 
usually placed on the tombs of considerable persons. The head 
was always reposed upon a pillow. He has again the same allu- 
sion in his Rape ofLucrece. [See Mr. Malone's edition, Vol. X. 
p. 109, n. 4.] See also Vol. VIII. p. 340, n. 6. MALONE. 

7 On her left breast 

A mole cinque-spotted,'] Our author certainly took this 
circumstance from some translation of Boccacio's novel ; for it 
does not occur in the imitation printed in Westward Jbr Smelts, 
which the reader will find at the end of this play. In the 
DECAMERONE, Ambrogioulo, (the lachimo of our author, ) who 
is concealed in a chest in the chamber of Madonna Gineura, 
(whereas in Westward for Smelts the contemner of female 
chastity hides himself under the lady's bed,) wishing to discover 
some particular mark about her person, which might help him to 
deceive her husband, " at last espied a large mole under her left 
breast, with several hairs round it, of the colour of gold." 

Though this mole is said in the present passage to be on Imo- 
gen's breast, in the account that lachimo afterwards gives to 
Posthumus, our author has adhered closely to his original : 
" under her breast 

" (Worthy the pressing) lies a mole, right proud 
" Of that most delicate lodging." MALONE. 

Sff. II. CYMJ3ELINE., 471 

I'the bottom of a cowslip : 8 Here's a voucher, 
Stronger than ever law could make : this secret 
Will force him think I have pick'd the lock, and 

The treasure of her honour. No more. To what 

end ? 

Why should I write this down, that's rivetted, 
Screw'd to my memory ? She hath been reading late 
The tale of Tereus ; 9 here the leaf's turn'd down, 
Where Philomel gave up ; I have enough : 
To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it. 
Swift, swift, you dragons of the night! 1 that 


8 like the crimson drops 

I'the bottom of a cowslip:'] This simile contains the smallest 
out of a thousand proofs that Shakspeare was an observer of na- 
ture, though, in this instance, no very accurate describer of it, 
for the drops alluded to are of a deep yellow. STEEVENS. 

She hath been reading late 

The tale of Tereus ;] [See Rape ofLucrece, Mr. Malone's 
edit. Vol. X. p. 149, n. 1.] Tereus and Progne is the second 
tale in A Petite Palace of ' Pettie his Pleasure, printed in quarto, 
in 1576. The same tale is related inGower's poem De Confessione 
Amantis, B. V. fol. 1 13, b. and in Ovid's Metamorphoses, L. VI. 


1 you dragons of the night /] The task of drawing the 

chariot of night was assigned to dragons, on account of their 
supposed watchfulness. Milton mentions the dragon yoke of 
night in II Penseroso; and in his Masque at Ludlow Castle : 

" the dragon womb 

" Of Stygian darkness." 
Again, In Obitum Pr&.mlis Eliensis : 

" sub pedibus deam 

" Vidi triformem, dum coercebat suos 

" Fraenis draconcs aureis." 

It may be remarked, that the whole tribe of serpents sleep 
with their eyes open, and therefore appear to exert a constant 
vigilance. See Vol. XIII. p. 309, n. 9. STEEVENS. 


May bare the raven's eye : 2 I lodge in fear ; 
Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here. 

[Clock strikes. 
One, two, three, 3 Time, time ! 

[Goes into tlie Trunk. The Scene closes. 

* that dawning 

May bare the raven's eye .] The old copy has beare. The 
correction was proposed by Mr. Theobald : and I think properly 
adopted by Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. Johnson. MALONE. 

The poet means no more than that the light might wake the 
raven ; or, as it is poetically expressed, bare his eye. STEEVE^JS. 

It is well known that the raven is a very early bird, perhaps 
earlier than the lark. Our poet says of the crow, (a bird whose 
properties resemble very much those of the raven,) in his Troilus 
and Cressida: 

" O Cressida, but that the busy day 
" Wak'd by the lark^has rous'd the ribbald crows ." 


3 One, two, three,"] Our author is hardly ever exact in his 
computation of time. Just before Imogen went to sleep, she 
asked her attendant what hour it was, and was informed by her, 
it was almost midnight. lachimo, immediately after she has 
fallen asleep, comes from the trunk, and the present soliloquy 
cannot have consumed more than a few minutes : yet we are 
now told that it is three o'clock. MALONE. 

ac. in. CYMBELINE. 473 


An Ante-Chamber adjoining Imogen's Apartment. 
Enter CLOTEN and Lords. 

1 LORD. Your lordship is the most patient man 
in loss, the most coldest that ever turned up ace. 

CLO. It would make any man cold to lose. 

1 LORD. But not every man patient, after the 
noble temper of your lordship ; You are most hot, 
and furious, when you win. 

CLO. Winning would put any man into courage : 
If I could get this foolish Imogen, I should have 
gold enough : It's almost morning, is't not ? 

1 LORD. Day, my lord. 

CLO. I w r ould this musick would come : I am 
advised to give her musick o'mornings j they say, 
it will penetrate. 

Enter Musicians. 

Come on ; tune : If you can penetrate her with 
your fingering, so ; we'll try with tongue too : if 
none will do, let her remain ; but I'll never give 
o'er. First, a very excellent good-conceited thing ; 
after, a wonderful sweet air, with admirable rich 
words to it, and then let her consider. 



Hark! hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings f 

And Pluxbus 'gins arise, 
His steeds to water at those springs 

On chalic'djlowcrs that lies; 5 

4 Hark! hark! the lark at heaven' s gate sings,"] The same 
hyperbole occurs in Milton's Paradise Lost, Book V : 

" ye birds 

** That singing up to heaven's gate ascend." 
Again, in Shakspeare's 29th Sonnet : 

" Like to the lark at break of day arising 

" From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate" 


Perhaps Shakspearehad Lyly's Alexander and Campaspe in his 
mind, when he wrote this song : 

" who is't notv we hear ; 

" None but the lark so shril and clear ; 
** Now at heaven's gates she claps her wings, 
" The morn not waiting till she sings. 
"Hark, hark " REED. 

In this Song, Shakspeare might have imitated some of the 
following passages : 

" The besy larke, the messager of day, 
" Saleweth in hire song the morwe gray ; 
" And firy Phebus riseth up so bright," &c. 

Chaucer's Knight's Tale, v. 14-93, Tyrwhitt's edit. 
" Lyke as the larke upon the somers daye 
" Whan Titan radiant burnisheth his bemes bright, 
" Mounteth on hye, with her melodious laye 
" Of the sone shyne engladed with the lyght." 

Skelton's Crowne of Laurel. 
" Wake now my love, awake ; for it is time, 
" The rosy morne long since left Tithon's bed, 
" Allready to her silver coach to clime ; 
" And Phoebus 'gins to shew his glorious head. 
" Harke, how the cheerful birds do chaunt their layes, 
" And carol of love's praise. 
" The merry larke her mattins sings aloft, 

sc. lit. CYMBELINE. 475 

And winking Mary-buds begin 

To ope their golden eyes; 6 
With every thing that pretty bin:' 1 

My lady sweet, arise; 
Arise, arise. 

" Ah my deere love, why doe ye sleepe thus long 
" When raeeter were they ye should now awake." 

Spenser's Epithalamium* 

Again, in our author's Venuis and Adonis: 

" Lo here the gentle lark, weary of rest, 
" From his moist cabinet mounts up on high, 
" And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast 
" The sun ariseth in his majesty." 
I am unable to decide whether the following lines ih Du Bartas 

were written before Shakspeare's song, or not : 
" La gentille alouette avec son tire-lire, 
" Tire-lire, a lire, & tire-lirant tire, 
" Vers la voute du del, puis son vol vers ce lieu 
" Vire, & desire dire adieu Dieu, adieu Dieu." 


These lines of Du Bartas were certainly written before Shak- 
speare's song. They are quoted in Elyot's Orthoepia Gallica, 
4to. 1593, p. 146, with the following translation: 

" The pretie larke mans angrie mood doth charme with 

" Her Tee-ree-lee-ree, Tec- ree lee ree chirppring in 

the skie 
" Up to the court of Jove, sweet bird mounting with 

flickering wings 

" And downe againe, my Jove adieu, sweet love adieu 
she sings." REED. 

s His steeds to tvater at those springs 

On chalic'd flowers that lies;~] i. e. the morning sun dries 
up the dew which lies in the cups of flowers. WARBURTON. 

It may be'noted that the cup of a flower is called calix, whence 
chalice. JOHNSON. 

those springs 

On chalic'd Jlovsers that lies;] It may be observed, with re- 
gard to this apparent false concord, that in very old English, 
the third person plural of the present tense endeth in eth, as 
well as the singular ; and often familiarly in es, as might be ex- 


So, get you gone : If this penetrate, I will consider 

cmplified from Chaucer, &c. Nor was this antiquated idiom 

worn out in our author's time, as appears from the following 

passage in Romeo and Juliet: 

" And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs, 
" Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes." 

as well as from many others in the Rcligucs of' ancient English 

Poetry. PERCY. 

Dr. Percy might have added, that the third person plural of 
the Anglo-Saxon present tense ended in eth, and of the Dano- 
Saxon in es, which seems to be the original of such very ancient 
English idioms. TOLLET. 

Shakspeare frequently offends in this manner against the rules 
of grammar. So, in Venus and Adonis : 

" She lifts the coffer-lids that close his eyes, 

" Where lo, two lamps, burnt out, in darkness lies" 


See also Vol. IV. p. 78, n. 9 ; and Vol. VII. p. 344, n. 7. 
There is scarcely a page of our author's works in which similar 
false concords may not be found : nor is this inaccuracy peculiar 
to his works, being found in many other books of his time and 
of the preceding age. Following the example of all the former 
editors, I have silently corrected the error, in all places except 
where either the metre, or rhymes, rendered correction impossi- 
ble. Whether it is to be attributed to the poet or his printer, it 
is such a gross offence against grammar, as no modern eye or ear 
could have endured, if from a wish to exhibit our author's writ- 
ings with strict fidelity it had been preserved. The reformation 
therefore, it is hoped, will be pardoned, and considered in the 
same light as the substitution of modern for ancient orthography. 


''And winking Mary-buds begin 

To ope their golden eyes;~\ The marigold is supposed to shut 
itself up at sun-set. So, in one of Browne's Pastorals : 

" the day is waxen olde, 

" And 'gins to shut up with the marigold." 

A similar idea is expressed more at large in a very scarce book 
entitled, A Courtlie Controversie of Cupid's Cautels: contemning 
fue Tragicall Histories &c. Translated from the French, by 
H. W. [Henry Wotton] 4to. 1578, p. 7 : " floures which 
unfolding their tender leaues, at the breake of the gray morning, 
seemed to open their smiling eies, which were oppressed wyth the 
drowsinesse of the passed night" &c. STEEVENS. 

sc. in. CYMBELINE. 477 

your musick the better : 8 if it do not, it is a vice 
in her ears, which horse-hairs, and cats-guts, 9 nor 
the voice of unpaved eunuch to boot, can never 
amend. [Exeunt Musicians. 

Enter CYMBELINE and Queen. 

2 LORD. Here comes the king. 

CLO. I am glad, I was up so late ; for that's the 
reason I was up so early : He cannot choose but 
take this service I have done, fatherly. Good mor- 
row to your majesty, and to my gracious mother. 

CYM. Attend you here the door of our stern 

daughter ? 
Will she not forth ? 

7 1 pretty bin :] is very properly restored by Sir Thomas 

Hanmer, for pretty is ; but he too grammatically reads : 
With all the things that pretty bin. JOHNSON. 

So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I. c. i : 

" That which of them to take, in diverse doubt they been" 
Again, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584: 

" Sir, you may boast your flockes and herdes, that bin 

both fresh and fair." 
Again : 

" As fresh as bin the flowers in May." 
Again : 

" Oenone, while we bin disposed to walk." 
Kirkman ascribes this piece to Shakspeare. The real author was 
George Peele. STEEVENS. 

8 / will consider your musick the better :~] i. e. I will pay 

you more amply for it. So, in The Winter's Tale, Act IV: 
" being something gently considered, I'll bring you" &c. 


9 . cats-guts,"] The old copy reads calves-guts. 


The correction was made by Mr. Rowe. In the preceding line 
voice, which was printed instead of vice, was corrected by the 
same editor. MALONE. 

478 CYMBELINE. AeT it. 

CLO. I have assailed her with musick, but she 
vouchsafes no notice. 

CYM. The exile of her minion is too new ; 
She hath not yet forgot him : some more time 
Must wear the print of his remembrance out, 
And then she's yours. 

QUEEN. You are most bound to the king ; 
Who lets go by no vantages, that may 
Prefer you to his daughter : Frame yourself 
To orderly solicits ; 1 and be friended 2 
With aptness of the season : make denials 
Increase your services : so seem, as if 
You were inspir'd to do those duties which 
You tender to her ; that you in all obey her, 
Save when command to your dismission tends, 
And therein you are senseless. 

CLO. Senseless ? not so. 

Enter a Messenger. 

MESS. So like you, sir, ambassadors from Rome; 
The one is Caius Lucius. 

CYM. A worthy fellow, 

Albeit he comes on angry purpose now ; 

1 To orderly solicits ;] i. e. regular courtship, courtship after 
the established fashion. STEEVENS. 

The oldest copy reads solicity. The correction was made by 
the editor of the second folio. M ALONE. 

* and be friended #c.] We should read : 

and befriended 

With aptness of the season. 

That is, " with solicitations not only proper but well timed." 
So Terence says : " In tempore ad earn veni, quod omnium re- 
rura est primum." M. MASON. 

so. m. CYMBELINE. 479 

But that's no fault of his : We must receive him 
According to the honour of his sender ; 
And towards himself his goodness forespent on us 
We must extend our notice. 3 Our dear son, 
When you have given good morning to your 


Attend the queen, and us ; we shall have need 
To employ you towards this Roman. Come, our 

[Exeunt CYM. Queen, Lords, and Mess. 

CLO. If she be up, I'll speak with her ; if not, 
Let her lie still, and dream. By your leave, ho! 


I know her women are about her ; What 
If I do line one of their hands ? 'Tis gold 
Which buys admittance ; oft it doth j yea, and 


Diana's rangers false themselves, 4 yield up 
Their deer to the stand of the stealer ; and 'tis gold 
Which makes the true man kill'd, and saves the 

Nay, sometime, hangs both thief and true man : 


3 And towards himself his goodness forespent on us 

We must extend our notice.^ i. e. The good offices done by 
him to us heretofore. WARBURTON. 

That is, we must extend towards himself our notice of his 
goodness heretofore shown to us. Our author has many similar 
ellipses. So, in Julius Ccesar: 

" Thine honourable metal may be wrought 
" From what it is dispos'd [o]." 
See Vol. XIV. p. 417, n. 2 ; and Vol. XV. p. 196, n. 4. 


4 false themselves,'] Perhaps, in this instancejfa/se is not 

an adjective, but a verb; and as such is used in The Comedy of 
Errors: " Nay, not sure, in a thing falsing" Act II. sc. ii. 
Spenser often has it : 

" Thoufalsed hast thy faith with perjury." STEEVENS. 


Can it not do, and undo ? I will make 

One of her women lawyer to me ; for 

I yet not understand the case myself. 

By your leave. [Knocks* 

Enter a Lady. 

LADY. Who's there, that knocks ? 
CLO. A gentleman. 

LADY. No more ? 

CLO. Yes, and a gentlewoman's son. 

LADY. That's more 

Than some, whose tailors are as dear as yours, 
Can justly boast of: What's your lordship's plea- 
sure ? 

CLO. Your lady's person : Is she ready ? 

LADY. Ay, 

To keep her chamber. 

CLO. There's gold for you ; sell me your good 

LADY. How ! my good name ? or to report of 

What I shall think is good ? The princess 

Enter IMOGEN. 

CLO. Good-morrow, fairest sister: Your sweet 

IMO. Good-morrow, sir : You lay out too much 


For purchasing but trouble : the thanks I give, 
Is telling you that I am poor of thanks, 
And scarce can spare them. 

CLO. Still, I swear, I love you. 

so. m. CYMBELINE. 481 

IMO. If you but said so, 'twere as deep with me : 
If you swear still, your recompense is still 
That I regard it not. 

CLO. This is no answer. 

IMO. But that you shall not say I yield, being 


I would not speak. I pray you, spare me : i'faith, 
I shall unfold equal discourtesy 
To your best kindness ; one of your great knowing 
Should learn, being taught, forbearance. 5 

CLO. To leave you in your madness, 'twere my 

sin : 
I will not. 

IMO. Fools are not mad folks. 6 

CLO. Do you call me fool ? 

IMO. As I am mad, I do : 
If you'll be patient, I'll no more be mad ; 
That cures us both. I am much sorry, sir, 
You put me to forget a lady's manners, 
By being so verbal : 7 and learn now, for all, 
That I, which know my heart, do here pronounce, 
By the very truth of it, I care not for you ; 
And am so near the lack of charity, 
(To accuse myself) I hate you : which I had rather 
You felt, than make't my boast. 

CLO. You sin against 

3 one of your great knowing 

Should learn, being taught, forbearance."] i. e. A man ixiho 
is taught forbearance should learn it. JOHNSON. 

6 Fools are not mad folks. ,] This, as Cloten very well under- 
stands it, is a covert mode of calling him fool. The meaning 
implied is this : If I am mad, as you tell me, I am what you can 
never be, Fools are not mad folks. STEEVENS. 

7 so verbal:]] is, so verbose, so full of talk. JOHNSON. 

VOL. xvur. 2 i 

182 CYMBEL1NE. ACT //. 

Obedience, which you owe your father. For 
The contract 8 you pretend with that base wretch, 
(One, bred of alms, and fostered with cold dishes, 
With scraps o'the court,) it is no contract, none : 
And though it be allow' d in meaner parties, 
(Yet who, than he, more mean ?) to knit their souls 
(On whom there is no more dependency 
JBut brats and beggary) in self-ngur'd knot ; 9 
Yet you are curb'd from that enlargement by 
The consequence o'the crown; and must not soil 1 
The precious note of it with a base slave^ 
A hilding for a livery, 2 a squire's cloth, 
A pantler, not so eminent. 

IMO. Profane fellow ! 

Wert thou the son of Jupiter, and no more, 
But what thou art, besides, thou wert too base 
To be his groom : thou wert dignified enough, 
Even to the point of envy, if 'twere made 

9 The contract &e.] Here Sfiiakspeare has not preserved, with 
his common nicety, the uniformity of character. The speech 
of Cloten is rough and harsh, but certainly not the talk of one 
" Who can't take two from twenty, for his heart, 

" And leave eighteen .*' 

His argument is just and well enforced, and its prevalence is al- 
lowed throughout all civil nations : as for rudeness, he seems 
not to be much undermatched. JOHNSON. 

9 in self-figurM knot;"] This is nonsense. We should 

read seltynger'd knot, i. e. A knot solely of their own tying, 
without any regard to parents, or other more publick considera- 
tions. WARBURTON. 

But why nonsense ? A sdf-jigwred knot is a knot formed by 
yourself. JOHNSON. 

soil ] Old copy foil. See Vol. XVII. p. 4-5, n. 8. 


* A hilding for a livery,"] A low fellow, only fit to wear a 
livery, and serve as a lacquey. See Vol. IX. p. 72, n. 9 ; and 
Vol. XII. p. 13, n. 7 ; and p. 446, n. 4. M ALONE. 

JR ///. CYMBELINE. 483 

Comparative for your virtues, 3 to be styl'd 
The tinder-hangman of his kingdom ; and hated 
For being preferr'd so well. 

CLO. The south-fog rot him ! 

IMO. He never can meet more mischance, than 


To be but nam'd of thee. His meanest garment, 
That ever hath but clipped his body, is dearer, 
In my respect, than all the hairs above thee^ 
Were- they all made such men. How now, Pi- 
sanio ? 4 


CLO. His garment ? Now, the devil 

IMO. To Dorothy my woman hie thee presently: : 

CLO. His garment ? 

IMO. I am sprighted with a fool ; 5 

Frighted, and anger* d worse : Go, bid my woman 
Search for a jewel, that too casually 
Hath left mine arm; 6 itwas thy master's: 'shrewme, 

if'twere made 
. f 

VI HA/l*/ Vx lltrlGW 

Comparative for your virtues,"] If it were considered as a 
compensation adequate to your virtues, to be styled, &c. 

4 Were they all made such men.- HOIK now, Pisanio ?] Sir 
T. Hanmer regulates this line thus : 

att such men. 

Clot. How now ? 

Imo. Pisanio! JOHNSON. 

* I am sprighted toith a fool;~\ i. e. I am haunted by a fool, as 
by a spright. Over-3prighted is a word that occurs in Lato 
Tricks, &c. 1608. Again, in our author's Antony and Cleopatra : 

" Julius Caesar, 

" Who at Philippi the good Brutus ghosted" STEEVENS. 

6 a jewel, that too casually 

Hath left mine arm;~\ That hath accidentally fallen from 
my arm by my too great negligence. MALONE. 

2 I 2 


If I would lose it for a revenue 
Of any king's in Europe. I do think, 
I saw't this morning : confident I am, 
Last night 'twas on mine arm ; I kiss'd it : 7 
I hope, it be not gone, to tell my lord 
That I kiss aught but he. 

Pis. 'Twill not be lost. 

IMO. I hope so : go, and search. [Exit Pis. 
CLO. You have abus'd me : 

His meanest garment ? 

IMO. Ay ; I said so, sir. 

If you will make't an action, call witness to't. 8 

CLO. I will inform your father. 

IMO. Your mother too : 

She's my good lady ; 9 and will conceive, I hope, 
But the worst of me. So I leave you, sir, 
To the worst of discontent. [Exit. 

CLO. I'll be reveng'd : 

His meanest garment ? Well. [Exit. 

" Last night 'twas on my arm; I kiss'd it:~] Arm is here 
used by Shakspeare as a dissyllable. MA LONE. 

I must on this occasion repeat my protest against the whole 
tribe of such unauthorized and unpronounceable dissyllabifi- 
cations. I would read the now imperfect line before us, as I 
suppose it came from our author : 

Last night \t ivas upon mine arm; I kiss'd it. 


9 call witness to't.] I cannot help regarding the re- 
dundant to't, as an interpolation. The sense is obvious and 
the metre perfect without it. STEEVENS. 

9 She's my good lady;] This is said ironically. My good lady 
is equivalent to my good friend. So, in King Henry I F. P. II : 

" and when you come to court, stand my good lord, pray, 

in your good report." MALONE. 

ac. iv. CYMBELINE. 48,5 


Rome. An Apartment in Philario's House. 


POST. Fear it not, sir : I would, I were so sure 
To win the king, as I am bold, her honour 
Will remain hers. 

PHI. What means do you make to him ? 

POST. Not any ; but abide the change of time ; 
Quake in the present winter's state, and wish 
That warmer days would come : l In these fear'd 


I barely gratify your love ; they failing, 
I must die much your debtor. 

PHI. Your very goodness, and your company, 
O'erpays all I can do. By this, your king 
Hath heard of great Augustus : Caius Lucius 
Will do his commission throughly : And, I think, 
He'll grant the tribute, 2 send the arrearages, 
Or look 3 upon our Romans, whose remembrance 

1 Quake in the present winter's state, and wish 

That 'warmer days would come:~\ I believe we should read 
winter-state, not winter's state. M. MASON. 

2 He'll grant the tribute,'] See p. 407, n. 7. MALONE. 

3 Or look ] This the modern editors had changed into E'er 
look. Or is used for e'er. So, Gawin Douglas, in his transla- 
tion of Virgil; 

" suflferit he also, 

" Or he his goddes brocht in Latio." 
gee also Vol. IV. p. 11, n. 8 ; and Vol. X. p. 487, n. 7. 



Is yet fresh in their grief. 

POST. I do believe, 

(Statist* though I am none, nor like to be,) 
That this will prove a war ; and yon shall hear 
The legions, 5 now in Gallia, sooner landed 
In our not-fearing Britain, than have tidings 
Of any penny tribute paid. Our countrymen 
Are men more order'd, than when Julius Caesar 
Smil'd at their lack of skill, but found their courage 
Worthy his frowning at : Their Discipline 
(Now m.ingled with their courages) 6 will make 


To their approvers, 7 they are people, such 
That mend upon the world. 

* Statist ] i. e. Statesman. See note on Pfamlet, Act V. 
sc. ii. STEEVENS. 

* Tie legions,] Old copy legion. Corrected by Mr. Theo- 
bald. So, afterwards : 

** And that the legions now in Gallia are 

" Full weak to undertake our war," &c. MALONE. 

6 mingled "with their courages ] The old folio has this 

odd reading : 

Their discipline 

(Now wing-led with their courages) will make inotun- . 


Their discipline (now wing-led by their courages) may mean 
their discipline 1 borrowing wings from their courage; i. e. their 
military knowledge being animated by their natural bravery. 


The same error that has happened here being often found in 
these plays, I have not hesitated to adopt the emendation which 
was made by Mr. Rowe, and received by all the subsequent 
editors. Thus we have in the last Act of King John, id ad, 
instead of mind; in Antony and Cleopatra, winds, instead of 
minds; in Measure for Measure, Jlawes, instead ofjiawes, &c. 
Sec Vol. XVII. p. S3, n. ?. MALONE. 

7 To their approvers,J i. e. To those who try them. 


sc. ir. CYMBELINE, 487 

PHI. See! lachimo? 

POST. The swiftest harts have posted you by land j 
And winds of all the corners kiss'd your sails, 
To make your vessel nimble. 8 

PHI. Welcome, sir. 

POST. I hope, the briefness of your answer made 
The speediness of your return. 

IACH. Your ladj- 

Is one the fairest that I have look'd upon. 9 

POST. And, therewithal, the best; or let her 


Look through a casement to allure false hearts, 1 
And be false with them. 

IACH. Here are letters for you. 

POST. Their tenour good, I trust. 

IACH. 'Tis very like. 

5 The swiftest harts have posted you by land ; 
And "winds of all the corners kiss'd your sails, 
To make your vessel nimble.'] From this remark our author 
appears to have been conscious of his glaring offence against one 
of the unities, in the precipitate return of lachimo from the 
court of Cymbeline. STEEVENS. 

9 Is one the fairest &c.] So, p. 460: 

" And he is one 

" The truest manner 'd .'* 

The interpolated old copy, however, reads, to the injury of the 
metre : 

Is one of the fairest, &c. STEEVENS. 

1 or let h er beauty 

Look through a casement to allure false hearts,"] So, in 
Timon of Athens: 

" Let not those milk paps, 

* That through the window bars bore at men's eyes, 

" Make soft thy trenchant sword." MALONE. 


PHI. Was Caius Lucius 2 in the Britain court, 
When you were there ? 

IACH. He was expected then, 

But not approach'd. 3 

POST. All is well yet. 

Sparkles this stone as it was wont ? or is't not 
Too dull for your good wearing ? 

IACH. If I have lost it, 

I should have lost the worth of it in gold. 
I'll make a journey twice as far, to enjoy 
A second night of such sweet shortness, which 
Was mine in Britain ; for the ring is won. 

POST. The stone's too hard to come by. 

IACH. Not a whit, 

Your lady being so easy. 

POST. Make not, sir, 

Your loss your sport : I hope, you know that we 
Must not continue friends, 

IACH. Good sir, we must, 

If you keep covenant : Had I not brought 
The knowledge 4 of your mistress home, I grant 
We were to question further : but I now 
Profess myself the winner of her honour, 
Together with your ring j and not the wronger 

* Phi. Was Caius Lucius &c.] This speech in the old copy 
is given to Posthumus. I have transferred it to Philario, to 
whom it certainly belongs, on the suggestion of Mr. Steevens, 
who justly observes that " Posthumus was employed in reading 
his letters." MALONE. 

3 But not approach'd.~] Sir Thomas Hanmer supplies the ap- 
parent defect in this line by reading : 

Hut was not yet approach'd. STEEVENS. 

4 knowledge ] This word is here used in its scriptural 

acceptation : " And Ada.ra knew Eve his wife : ." STEEVENS. 

sc. iv. CYMBELINE. 489 

Of her, or you, having proceeded but 
By both your wills. 

POST. If you can make't apparent 

That you have tasted her in bed, my hand, 
And ring, is yours : If not, the foul opinion 
You had of her pure honour, gains, or loses, 
Your sword, or mine ; or masterless leaves both 
To who shall find them. 

IACH. Sir, my circumstances, 

Being so near the truth, as I will make them, 
Must first induce you to believe : whose strength 
I will confirm with oath ; which, I doubt not, 
You'll give me leave to spare, when you shall find 
You need it not. 

POST. Proceed. 

IACH. First, her bed-chamber, 

(Where, I confess, I slept not ; but profess, 
Had that was well worth watching, 5 ) It was hang'd 
With tapestry of silk and silver ; the story 
Proud Cleopatra, when she met her Roman, 
And Cydnus swelPd above the banks, or for 
The press of boats, or pride : 6 A piece of work 
So bravely done, so rich, that it did strive 
In workmanship, and value; which, I wonder'd, 
Could be so rarely and exactly wrought, 

5 Had that 'was 'well worth 'watching,'] i, e. that which was 
well worth watching, or lying awake for. See p. 479, n. 3. 


6 And Cydnus stvell'd above the banks, or for 

The press of boats, or pride:"] lachimo's language is such 
as a skilful villain would naturally use, a mixture of airy triumph 
and serious deposition. His gaiety shows his seriousness to be 
without anxiety, and his seriousness proves his gaiety to be with- 
out art. JOHNSON. 


Since the true life on't was . . 7 

POST. This is true;* 

And this you might have heard of here, by me, 
Or by some other. 

lACff. More particulars 

Must justify my knowledge. 

POST. So they must, 

Or do your honour injury. 

IACH. The chimney 

Is south the chamber ; and the chimney-piece, 
Chaste Dian, bathing : never saw 1 figures 
So likely to report themselves: 9 the cutter 
Was as another nature, dumb ; 1 outwent her, 
Motion and breath left out. 

POST. This is a thing, 

Which you might from relation likewise reap ; 
Being, as it is, much spoke of. 

which, Iwonder'd, 

Could be so rarely and exactly wrought, 
Since the true life on't 11-05 ] This passage is nonsense as 
it stands, and therefore the editors have supposed it to be an im- 
perfect sentence. But I believe we should amend it by reading-^- 

Such the true life on't teas, 

instead of since. We frequently say the life of a picture, or of 
a statue ; and without alteration the sentence is not complete. 


8 This is true;'] The present deficiency in the metre, shows 
that some word has been accidentally omitted in this or in the 
preceding hemistich. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads : 

"Why this is true. STEEVENS. 

9 So likely to report themselves :~\ So near to speech. The 
Italians call a portrait, when the likeness is remarkable, a speak- 
ing picture. JOHNSON. 

1 Was as another nature, dumb ;3 The meaning is this : The 
sculptor was as nature, but as nature dumb; he gave every thing 
that nature gives, but breath and motion. In breath is included 
speech. JOHNSON. 

sc. ir. CYMBELINE, 491 

IACH. The roof o'the chamber 

With golden cherubins is fretted: 2 Her andirons 
(I had forgot them,) were two winking Cupids 
Of silver, each on one foot standing, nicely 
Depending on their brands. 3 

2 With golden cherubins is fretted:] The same tawdry image 
occurs again in King Henry VIII: 

** their dwarfish pages were 

" As cherubins, all gilt" 

The sole recommendation of this Gothick idea, which is triti- 
cally repeated by modern artists, seems to be, that it occupies 
but little room on canvas or marble; for chubby unmeaning 
faces, with ducks' wings tucked under them, are all the circum- 
stances that enter into the composition of such infantine and ab- 
surd representatives of the choirs of heaven. STEEVENS. 

fretted:"] So again, in Hamlet; " this majestical 

roof, fretted with golden fire ." So, Spenser's Fairy Queen, 
B. II. ch. ix: 

" In a long purple pall, whose skirt with gold 

" Was fretted all about, she was array'd." MALONE. 

3 nicely 

Depending on their brands.] I am not sure that I understand 
this passage. Perhaps Shakspeare meant that the figures of the 
Cupids were nicely poized on their inverted torches, one of the legs 
of each being taken off the ground, which might render such a 
support necessary. STEEVENS. 

I have equal difficulty with Mr. Steevens in explaining this 
passage. Here seems to be a kind of tautology. I take brands 
to be a part of the andirons, on which the wood for the fire was 
supported, as the upper part, in which was a kind of rack to 
carry a spit, is more properly termed the andiron. These irons, 
on which the wood lies across, generally called dogs, are here 
termed brands. WHALLEY. 

It should seem from a passage in The Black Book, a pamphlet 
published in 1604-, that andirons in our author's time were some- 
times formed in the shape of human figures : " ever and anon 
turning about to the chimney, where he sawea paire of corpulent 
gigantick andirons, that stood like two burgomasters at both 
corners." Instead of these corpulent burgomasters, Imogen had 


POST. This is her honour ! 

Let it be granted, 4 you have seen all this, 5 (and 


Be given to your remembrance,) the description 
Of what is in her chamber, nothing saves 
The wager you have laid. 

IACH. Then, if you can, 

\_Pulling out the Bracelet. 

Be pale; 6 I beg but leave to air this jewel : See! 
And now 'tis up again : It must be married 
To that your diamond; I'll keep them. 

POST. Jove ! 

Once more let me behold it : Is it that 
Which I left with her ? 

IACH. Sir, (I thank her,) that : 

She stripp'd it from her arm ; I see her yet; 
Her pretty action did outsell her gift, 
And yet enrich'd it too : 7 She gave it me, and said, 
She priz'd it once. 

The author of the pamphlet might, however, only have meant 
that the andirons he describes were uncommonly large. 


4 Let it be granted, &c.] Surely, for the sake of metre, we 
should read, with some former editor : 
Be it granted. STEEVENS. 

4 This is her honour ! 

Let it be granted, you have seen all this, &c.] The expression 
is ironical, lachimo relates many particulars, to which Post- 
humus answers with impatience : 

" This is her honour !" 

That is, And the attainment of this knowledge is to pass for the 
corruption of her honour. JOHNSON. 

8 ff you can, 

Be pate ; ] If you can, forbear to flush your cheek with rage. 


7 And yet enrich* d it too:] The adverb too, which hurts the 
metre, might safely be omitted, the expression being sufficiently 
forcible without it. STEEVENS. 

sc.iv. CYMBELINE. 493 

POST. May be, she pluck* d it off, 

To send it me. 

IACH. She writes so to you ? doth she ? 

POST. O, no, no, no ; 'tis true. Here, take this 
too ; [Gives the Ring. 

It is a basilisk unto mine eye, 
Kills me to look on't : Let there be no honour, 
Where there is beauty ; truth, where semblance ; 


Where there's another man : The vows of women 8 
Of no more bondage be, to where they are made, 
Than they are to their virtues ; which is nothing : 
O, above measure false ! 

PHI. Have patience, sir, 

And take your ring again ; 'tis not yet won : 
It may be probable, she lost it ; or, 
Who knows if one of her women, 9 being corrupted, 
Hath stolen it from her. 1 

POST. Very true ; 

And so, I hope, he came by't: Back my ring ; 
Render to me some corporal sign about her, 
More evident than this ; for this was stolen. 

IACH. By Jupiter, I had it from her arm. 

POST. Hark you, he swears; by Jupiter he swears. 
'Tis true ; nay, keep the ring 'tis true : I am sure, 

8 The voias of women ] The love vowed by women no 

more abides with him to whom it is vowed, than women adhere 
to their virtue. JOHNSON. 

9 if one of her ivomen,~] Of was supplied by the editor of 

the second folio. MALONE. 

1 Hath stolen it from her.'] Sir Thomas Hanmer (for some 
words are here deficient) has perfected the metre by reading: 
Might not have stolen it from her. STEEVENS. 


She would not lose it: her attendants are 

All sworn, and honourable: 2 They induc'd to 

steal it ! 

And by a stranger ? No, he hath enjoy'd her : 
The cognizance 3 of her incontinency 
Is this, she hath bought the name of whore thus 


There, take thy hire ; and all the fiends of hell 
Divide themselves between you ! 

PHI. Sir, be patient : 

This is not strong enough to be believ'd 
Of one persuaded well of- 

POST. Never talk on't j 

She hath been colted by him. 

IACH. If you seek 

For further satisfying, under her breast 

* her attendants are 

All sworn, and honourable:"} It was anciently the custom 
for the attendants on our nobility and other great personages 
(as it is now for the servants of the king) to take an oath of 
fidelity, on their entrance into office. In the household book i 
of the 5th Earl of Northumberland (compiled A. D. 1512) it is 
expressly ordered [p. 49] that " what person soever he be that 
commyth to my Lordes service, that incontinent after he be in- 
tred in the chequyrroull [check-roil] that he be sworn in the 
countynge-hous by a gentillman-usher or yeman-usher in the 
presence of the hede ofroers ; and on theire absence before the 
clerke of the kechynge either by such an oath as is in the Boot 
ofOthes, yff any such [oath] be, or ells by such an oth as thei 
shall seyme beste by their discretion." 

Even now every 'se rvant of the king's, at his first appointment, 
is sworn in, beibre a gentleman usher, at the lord chamberlain's 
office. PERCY. 

3 The cognizance ] The badge; the token; the visible proof. 


So, in King ^enry VI. P. I: 

'* As cognizance of my blood-drinking hate." 


sc. ir. CYMBELINE. 495 

(Worthy the pressing,) 4 lies a mole, right proud 
Of that most delicate lodging : By my life, 
I kiss'd it ; and it gave me present hunger 
To feed again, though full. You do remember 
This stain upon her ? 

POST. Ay, and it doth confirm 

Another stain, as big as hell can hold, 
Were there no more but it. 

IACH. Will you hear more ? 

POST. Spare your arithmetick : never count the 

turns ; 
Once, and a million ! 

IACH. I'll be sworn, 

POST. No swearing. 

If you will swear you have not done't, you lie ; 
And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny 
Thou hast made me cuckold. 

IACH. I will deny nothing. 

POST. O, that I had her here, to tear her limb- 

I will go there, and do't ; i'the court ; ^before 
Her father : I'D do something [Exit. 

PHI. Quite besides 

The government of patience ! You have won : 
Let's follow him, and pervert the present wrath 5 

4 ( Worthy the pressing, ) ] Thus the modern editions. The 
old folio reads : 

( Worthy her pressing,) . JOHNSON. 

The correction was made by Mr. Howe. The compositor was 
probably thinking of the word her in the preceding line, which 
he had just composed. M ALONE. 

* pervert the present wrath ] i. e. turn his wrath to 

another course. MA LONE. 

To pervert, I believe, only signifies to avert his wrath from 


He hath against himself. 

IACH. With all my heart. 



The same. Another Room in the same. 

POST. Is there no way for men to be, but women 
Must be half- workers ? 6 We are bastards all; 7 
And that most venerable man, which I 
Did call my father, was I know not where 
When I was stamp'd; some coiner with his tools 

himself, without any idea of turning it against another person. 
To what other course it could have been diverted by the advice 
of Philario and lachimo, Mr. Malone has not informed us. 


6 Is there nq way &c.] Milton was very probably indebted to 
this speech for one of the sentiments which he has imparted to 
Adam, Paradise Lost, Book X: 

" O, why did God, 

" Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven 

" With spirits masculine, create at last 

** This novelty on earth, this fair defect 

*' Of nature, and not fill the world at once 

" With men, as angels, without feminine, 

" Orjind some other way to generate 

" Mankind?" 

See also, Rhodomont's invective against women, in the Orlando 
Furioso; and above all, a speech which Euripides has put into 
the mouth of Hippolytus, in the tragedy that bears his name. 


7 We arc bastards all ; ] Old copies We are all bastards. 

The necessary transposition of the word all, was Mr. Pope's. 


sc. v. CYMBELINE. 497 

Made me a counterfeit: 8 Yet my mother seem'd 
The Dian of that time : so doth my wife 
The nonpareil of this. O vengeance, vengeance ! 
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrained, 
And pray'd me, oft, forbearance : did it with 
A pudency so rosy, the sweet view on't 
Might well have warm'd old Saturn j 9 that I 
thought her 

8 teas I know not where 

When I was stamp'd ; some coiner with his tools 
Made me a counterfeit :"] We have again the same image in 
Measure for Measure . 

" It were as good 

" To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen 
** A man already made, as to remit 
" Their saucy sweetness, that do coin heaven's image 
" In stamps that are forbid." MALONE. 

This image is by no means uncommon. It particularly occurs 
in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III. sect. 3 : " Seve- 
rus the Emperor in his time made lawes for the restraint of this 
vice ; and as Dion Cassius relates in his life, tria millia moecho- 
rum, three-thousand cuckold-makers, or natures monetam adul- 
terantes, as Philo calls them, false coiners and clippers of 
nature's mony, were summoned into the court at once." 


9 Me of my laiyful pleasure she restrained, 

And pray' 'd me, oft, forbearance: did it with 

A pudency so rosy, the sweet view on't 

Might well have warm'd old Saturn;] It certainly carries 
with it a very elegant sense, to suppose the lady's denial was so 
modest and delicate as even to inflame his desires : But may we 
not read it thus ? 

And pray' d me oft forbearance: Did it &c. 
i. e. complied with his desires in the sweetest reserve ; taking did 
in the acceptation in which it is used by Jonson and Shakspeare 
in many other places. WHALLEY. 

See Vol. VI. p. 203, n. 5. The more obvious interpretation 
is in my opinion the true one. 

Admitting Mr. Whalley's notion to be just, the latter part of 
this passage may be compared with one in Juvenal, Sat. IV. 
though the pudency will be found wanting : 



As chaste as unsunn'd snow : O, all the devils ! 
This yellow lachimo, in an hour, was'tnot? 
Or less, at first : Perchance he spoke not ; but, 
Like a full-aconi'd boar, a German one, 1 
Cry'd, oh! and mounted:' 2 found no opposition 
But what he look'd for should oppose, and she 
Should from encounter guard. ; Could I find out 

omnia fient 

" Ad verum, quibus incendi jam frigidus aevo 
" Laomedontiades, et Nestoris liernia possit." 


1 a German one,] Here, as in many other places, we 

have on in the old copy, instead of one. See Vol. X. p. 443, 
n. 6. 

In King Henry IV. P. II. *Falstaff assures Mrs. Quickly, that 
" the German hunting in water-work is worth a thousand of 
these bed-hangings." In other places, where our author has 
spoken of the hunting of the boar, a Go-man one must have 
been in his thoughts, for the boar was never, I apprehend, 
hunted in England. 

Mr. Pope and Dr. Warburton read a churning on; and, 
what is still more extraordinary, this strange sophistication has 
found its way into Dr. Johnson's most valuable Dictionary. 


* and mounted: ] Let Homer, on this occasion, keep 

bur author in countenance : 

" 'Apveiov, raoeoVrs, crvwv r Irti&ptoa, xaireov." 

Odyss. XXIII. 278. 
Thus translated by Chapman : 

" A lambe, a bull, and soto-ascending bore." 


-found no opposition 

But what he look'd for should oppose, and she 
Should from encounter guard."] Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. 
Warburton read : 

. found no opposition 

From ivhat he look'd for should oppose, &c. 
This alteration probably escaped the observation of the late 
Mr. Edwards, or it would have afforded occasion for some plea- 
sant commentary. T. C. 

Thomas Harvey in his Epistle to Sir T. H. and Thomas Potter, 
in his Epigram on Dr. W. sufficiently demonstrate how little these 

#7, r. CYMBELINE, 499 

The woman's part in me ! For there's no motion 

That tends to vice in man, but I affirm 

It is the woman's part : Be it lying, note it, 

The woman's ; flattering, hers ; deceiving, hers ; 

Ambitions, covetings, change of prides, disdain, 

Nice longings, slanders, mutability, 

All faults that may be nam'd, 4 nay, that hell 


Why, hers, in part, or all j but, rather, all : 
For ev'n to vice 

They are not constant, but are changing still 
One vice, but of a minute old, for one 
Not half so old as that. I'll write against them, 
Detest them, curse them : Yet 'tis greater skill 
In a true hate, to pray they have their will : 
TJie very devils cannot plague them better. 5 

criticks were at-home, when they presumed on any circumstance 
touching the premises which our author hath, in this place, some- 
what obscurely figured. AMNER. 

4 - that may be nam'd,] Thus the second folio. The first, 
with its usual disposition to blundering : 

All faults that name. 

I have met with no instance in the English language, even tend- 
ing to prove that the verb to name, ever signified to have a 
name. STEEVENS. 

5 - to pray they have their tvill: 

The very devils cannot plague them better.^ So, in Sir 
Thomas More's Comfort against Tribulation . " God could not 
lightly do a man more vengeance, than in this world to grant 
him his own foolish wishes." STEEVENS. 

2 K 2 

500 CYMBELINE: Act nr. 


Britain. A Room of State in Cymbeline's Palace. 

Enter CYMBELINE, Queen, CLOTEN, and Lords, 
at one Door ; and at anotfier, CAIUS Lucius, 
and Attendants. 

CYM. Now say, what would Augustus Caesar 
with us ? 6 

Luc. When Julius Caesar (whose remembrance 


Lives in men's eyes ; and wiH to ears, and tongues, 
Be theme, and hearing ever,) was in this Britain, 
And conquer'd it, Cassibelan, thine uncle, 7 
.(Famous in Caesar's praises, no whit less 
Than in his feats deserving it,) for him, 
And his succession, granted Rome a tribute, 
Yearly three thousand pounds; which by thee lately 
Is left untender'd. 

QUEEN. And, to kill the marvel, 

Shall be so ever. 

CLO. There be many Caesars, 

Ere such another Julius. Britain is 
A world by itself; and we will nothing pay, 
For wearing our own noses. 

6 Now say, "what would Augustus Ccesar ivith us?"] So, in 
King John ; 

" Now say, Chatillon, what would France with us?" 


7 thine uncle, ,] Cassibelan was great uncle to Cymbe- 

line, who was son to Tenantius, the nephew of Cassibelan. See 
p. 407 y n. 7. MALONE. 

sc. i. CYMBELINE. 501 

QUEEN. That opportunity, 

Which then they had to take from us, to resume 
We have again. Remember, sir, my liege, 
The kings your ancestors ; together with 
The natural bravery of your isle ; which stands 
As Neptune's park, ribbed and paled in 
With rocks unscaleable, 8 and roaring waters ; 
With sands, that will not bear your enemies' boats, 
But suck them up to the top-mast. A kind of 


Caesar made here ; but made not here his brag 
Of, came, and saw, and overcame : with shame 
(The first that ever touch'd him,) he was carried 
From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping, 
(Poor ignorant baubles! 9 ) on our terrible seas, 
Like egg-shells mov'd upon their surges, crack'd 
As easily 'gainst our rocks : For joy whereof, 
The fam'd Cassibelan, who was once at point 
(O, giglot fortune ! J ) to master Caesar's sword, 2 

8 With rocks unscaleable,'] This reading is Sir T. Hanmer's. 
The old editions have : 

With oaks unscaleable. JOHNSON. 

" The strength of our land consists of our seamen in their 
wooden forts and castles ; our rocks, shelves, and sirtes, that 
lye .along our coasts ; and our trayned bands." From chapter 
109 of Bariffe's Military Discipline, 1639, seemingly trora 
Tooke's Legend of Britomart. TOJLLET. 

9 ( Poor ignorant baubles /)] Unacquainted with the nature of 
our boisterous seas. JOHNSON. 

. a (0, giglot fortune! ] O false and inconstant fortune! A 
giglot was a strumpet. See Vol. VI. p. 404, n. 7; and Vol. 
XIII. p. 143, n. 9. So, in Hamlet: 

" Out, out, thou strumpet fortune /" MALONE, 

2 The fam'd Cassibelan, ivho was once at point 

to master Ccesar's sivord,'] Shakspeare has here trans- 
ferred to Cassibelan an adventure which happened to his brother 
$erinius. " The same historic (says Holinshed) also niaketh 


Made Lild's town with rejoicing fires bright, 
And Britons strut with courage. 

CLO. Come there's no more tribute to be paid : 
Our kingdom is stronger than it was at that time ; 
and, as 1 said, there is no more such Caesars : othe'r 
of them may have crooked noses ; but, to owe such 
straight arms, notie. 

CYM. Son, let your mother end. 

CLO. We have yet many among us can gripe as 
hard as Cassibelan : I do not say, I am one 5 but I 
have a hand. Why tribute ? why should we pay 
tribute ? If Caesar can hide the sun from us with a 
blanket, or put the moon in his pocket, we will 
pay him tribute for light 3 elsej sir, no more tribute, 
pray you now. 

CYM. You must kno'w, 
Till the injurious Romans did extort 
This tribute from us, 3 we were free : Caesar's am. 


(Which swell'd so much, that it did almost stretch 
The sides o'the world,) against all colour, 4 here 

mention of Nennius, brother to Cassibellane, who in fight hap- 
pened to get Caesar's sword fastened in his shield by a blow 
which Caesar stroke at him. But Nennius died within 15 dayes 
lifter the batt'el, of the hurt received at Cesar's hand, although 
after he'was hurt he slew Labienus one of the Roman tribunes." 
Book III. ch. xiii. Nennius, we are told by Geffrey of Mon- 
raouth, was buried with great funeral pomp, and Caesar's sword 
placed in his tomb. MALONE. 

3 This tribute from us,] The unnecessary words -froih us, 
only derange the metre, and are certainly an interpolation. 


4 against all colour,] Without any pretence of right. 


So, in King Henry IV. P. I : 

" For, of no right, nor colour like to right, " 


sc. /. CYMBELINE. 

Did put the yoke upon us ; which to shake off, 
Becomes a warlike people, whom we reckon 
Ourselves to be. We do say then to Cagsar, 
Our ancestor was that Mulmutius, which 
Ordain'd our laws ; (whpse use the sword of Caesar 
Hath too much mangled ; whose repair, and fran- 

Shall, by the power we hold, be our good deed, 
Though Rome be therefore angry;) Mulmutius, 5 
Who was the first of Britain, which did put 
His brows within a golden crpwn, and call'd 
Himself a king. 6 

4 Mulmutius,'] Here the old copy (in contempt of metre, and 
regardless of the preceding words 

Mulmutius, whicji 

" Ordain'd our laws;") 
most absurdly adds : 

made our laws, . 

I have not scrupled to drop these words ; nor can suppose our 
readers will discover that the omission of them has created the 
smallest chasm in our author's sense or measure. The length of 
the parenthetical words (which were not then considered as such, 
or enclosed, as at present, in a parenthesis, ) was the source of 
this interpolation. Read the passage without them, and the 
whole is clear : Mulmutius, which ordained our laws ; Mulinu- 
tius, who was thejirst of Britain, &c. STEEVENS. 

6 Mulmutius, 

Who was thejirst of Britain, which did put 

His brows within a golden crown, and call'd 

Himself a king.'} The title of the first chapter of Holinshed's 
third book of the History of England is" Of Mulmucius, the 
first king of Britaine who was crowned with a golden crown, his 
lawes, his foundations, &c. 

" Mulmucius,- the sonne of Cloten, got the upper hand of 
the other dukes or rulers ; and after his father's decease began 
his reigne over the whole monarchic of Britaine in the yeare of 
the world 3529. He made manie good lawes, which were 
long after used, called Mulmucius lawes, turned out of the 
British speech into Latin by Gildas Priscus, and long time after 
translated out of Latin into English, by Alfred king of England, 


Luc. I am sorry, Cymbeline, 

That I am to pronounce Augustus Caesar 
(Caesar, that Jiath more kings his servants, than 
Thyself domestick officers,) thine enemy : 
Receive it from me, then : War, and confusion, 
In Caesar's name pronounce I Against thee: look 
For fury not to be resisted : Thus defied, 
I thank thee for myself. 

CYM. Thou art welcome, Caius. 

Thy Caesar knighted me ; my youth I spent 
Much under him ; 7 of him I gather'd honour j 
Which he, to seek of me again, perforce, 

and mingled in his statutes. After he had established his land, 
he ordeined him, by the advice of his lords, a crowne of golde, 
and caused himself with great solemnity to be crowned ; and 
because he was the first that bare a crowne here in Britaine, after 
the opinion of some writers, he is named the first king of Britaine, 
and all the other before-rehearsed are named rulers, dukes, or 

" Among other of his ordinances, he appointed weights and 
measures, with the which men should buy and sell. And further 
he caused sore and streight orders for the punishment of theft.'* 
Holinshed, ubt supra. MALONE. 

7 Thou art welcome , Caius. 
Thy CfBsar knighted me; my youth I spent 
Much under him;'] Some few hints for this part of the play 
are taken from Holinshed: 

" Kymbeline, says he, (as some write,) was brought up at 
Rome, and there was made knight by Augustus Caesar, under 
whom he served in the wars, and was in such favour with him, 
that he was at liberty to pay his tribute or not." 

" Yet we find in the Roman writers, that after Julius 

Caesar's death, when Augustus had taken upon him the rule of 
the empire, the Britons refused to pay that tribute." 

" But whether the controversy, which appeared to fall 

forth betwixt the Britons and Augustus, was occasioned by 
Kymbeline, I have not a vouch." 

** Kymbeline reigned thirty-five years, leaving behind 

him two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus." STEEVENS. 

sc. i. CYMBELINE. 505 

Behoves me keep at utterance ; 8 I am perfect, 9 
That the Pannonians and Dalmatians, for 
Their liberties, are now in arms : l a precedent 
Which, not to read, would show the Britons cold: 
So Caesar shall not find them. 

Luc. Let proof speak. 

CLO. His majesty bids you welcome. Make 
pastime with us a day, or two, longer : If you 
seek us afterwards in other terms, you shall find us 
in our salt-water girdle : if you beat us out of it, 
it is yours ; if you fall in the adventure, our crows 
shall fare the better for you; and there's an end. 

8 keep at utterance ;] means to keep at the extremity of 

defiance. Combat a entrance is a desperate fight, that must con- 
clude with the life of one of the combatants. So, in The His- 
tory of Helyas Knight of the Sivanne, bl. 1. no date: " Here 
is my gage to sustaine it to the utteraunce, and befight it to the 
death." STEEVENS. 

So, in Macbeth: 

" Rather than so, come, fate, into the list, 

" And champion me to the utterance." 
Again, in Troilus and Cressida; 

** will you, the knights 

" Shall to the edge of all the extremity 

" Pursue each other," &c. 
Again, ibidem : 

" So be it, either to the uttermost, 

" Or else a breath." 
See Vol. X. p. 151, n. 8. MALONE. 

9 I am perfect,] I am well informed. So, in Macbeth . 

" in your state of honour / am perfect" 


See Vol. X. p. 226, n. 6. STEEVENS. 

1 the Pannonians and Dalmatians, for 

Their liberties, are now in arms .-] The insurrection of the 
Pannonians and Dalmatians for the purpose of throwing off the 
Roman yoke, happened not in the reign of Cymbeline, but in 
that of his father, Tenantius. MALONE. 


Luc. So, sir. 

CYM. I know your master's pleasure, and he mine: 
All the remain is, welcome. [Exeunt. 


Another Room in the same. 

Pis. How ! of adultery ? Wherefore write you 


What monster's her accuser? 1 Leonatus! 
O, master! what a strange infection 
Is fallen into thy ear ? What false Italian 
(As poisonous tongue'd, as handed, 2 ) hath prevail* d 
On thy too ready hearing ? Disloyal ? No : 
She's punish'd for her truth ; and undergoes, 
More goddess-like than wife-like, such assaults 
As would take in some virtue. 3 O, my master ! 

1 What monster's 'her accuser?] The old copy has What 
monsters her accuse 1 ? The correction was suggested by Mr. Stee- 
vens. The order of the words, as well as the single person 
named by Pisanio, fully support the emendation. What mon- 
sters her accuse, for What monsters accuse her? could never have 
been written by Shakspeare in a soliloquy like the present. Mr. 
Pope and the three subsequent editors read What monster* 
have accus'd her? MALONE. 

a What false Italian 

(As poisonous tongue'd, as handed,)"] About Shakspeare's 
time the practice of poisoning was very common in Italy, and 
the suspicion of Italian poisons yet more common. JOHNSON. 

3 take in some virtue.'} To take in a town, is to conquer 


ac. //. CYMBELINE. 507 

Thy mind to her is now as low, 4 as were 
Thy fortunes. How ! that I should murder her ? 
Upon the love, and truth, and vows, which I 
Have made to thy command? I, her? her blood? 
If it be so to do good service, never 
Let me be counted serviceable. How look I, 
That I should seem to lack humanity, 
So much as this fact comes to? Do't : The letter 


That I have sent her, by her own command 
Shall give thee opportunity: 5 O damn'd paper! 
Black as the ink that's on thee ! Senseless bauble, 
Art thou a feodary for this act, 6 and look'st 

So, in Antony and Cleopatra : 

" cut the Ionian seas, 

" And take in Toryne ." 
See also, Vol. XVI. p. 27, n. 9. STEEVENS. 

4 Thy mind to her is now as low,'] That is, thy mind com- 
pared to hers is now as low, as thy condition was, compared to 
hers. Our author should rather have written thy mind to 
hers; but the text, I believe, is as he gave it. MALONE. 

s Do' t: The letter 

That I have sent her, by her own command, 

Shall give thee opportunity:'] Here we have another proof 
of what I have observed in The Dissertation at the end of King 
Henry VI, that our poet from negligence sometimes make words 
change their form under the eye of the speaker ; who in different 
parts of the same play recites them differently, though he has a 
paper or letter in his hand, and actually reads from it. A for- 
mer instance of this kind has occurred in All's well that -ends 
well. See Vol. V. p. 327, n. 6. 

The words here read by Pisanio from his master's letter, 
(which is afterwards given at length, and in prose,) are not 
found there, though the substance of them is contained in it. 
This is one of many proofs that Shakspeare had no view to the 
publication of his pieces. There was little danger that such an 
inaccuracy should be detected by the ear of the spectator, though 
it could hardly escape an attentive reader. MALONE. 

Art thou a feodary for this act,'] A. feodary is one who 


So virgin-like without? Lo, here she. comes. 

Enter IMOGEN. 

I am ignorant in what I am commanded. 7 
IMO. How now, Pisanio ? 

holds his estate under the tenure of suit and service to a supe- 
rior lord. HANMER. 

How a letter could be considered as a feudal vassal, accord- 
ing to Hanmer's interpretation, I am at a loss to know. 
Feodary means, here, a confederate, or accomplice. So, Leontes 
says of Hermione, in The Winter's Tale: 

" More, she's a traitor, and Camillo is 

" hfcderary with her." 

I also think that the wordjeodary has the same signification in 
Measure for Measure, though the other commentators do not, 
and have there assigned my reasons for being of that opinion. 


Art tfiou a feodaryjbr this act,~] Art thou too combined, art 
thou a confederate, in this act? h.fcodary did not signify a 
feudal vassal, as Sir Thomas Hanmer and the subsequent editors 
have supposed, (though if the word had borne that signification, 
it certainly could not bear it here,) but was an officer appointed 
by the Court of Wards, by virtue of the Statute 32 Henry VIII. 
c. 4-6, to be present ivith, and assistant to the Escheators in every 
county at the finding of offices, and to give in evidence for the 
king. His duty was to survey the lands of the ward after office 
found, [i. e. afteran inquisition had been made to the king's use,] 
and to return the true value thereof to the court, &c. " In cog- 
noscendis rimandisque feudis (says Spelman) ad regem pertinen- 
tibus, et ad tenuras pro rege manifestandas tuendasque, operam 
navat; Escaetori ideo adjunctus, omnibusque nervis regiam pro- 
movens utilitatem." He was therefore, we see, the Escheator's 
associate, and hence Shakspeare, with his usual licence, uses the 
word for a confederate or associate in general. The feudal vas~ 
sal was not called ajeodary, but ajeodatary andjcudatory. In 
Latin, howe\er,Jeudatarius signified both. MALONE. 

7 I am ignorant in what I am commanded.^ i. e. I am un- 
practised in the arts of murder. STEEVENS. 

So, in King Henry IV. Part I : 

" O, I am ignorance itself in this." MALONE. 

8C..H. CYMBELINE, 509 

Pis. Madam, here is a letter from my lord. 

IMO. Who ? thy lord ? that is my lord? Leonatus? 
O, learn* d indeed were that astronomer, 
That knew the stars, as I his characters ; 
He'd lay the future open. You good gods, 
Let what is here contained relish of love, 
Of my lord's health, of his content, yet not, 
That we two are asunder, let that grieve him, 3 . 
(Some griefs are med'cinable ;) that is one of them, 
For it doth physick love ; 9 of his content, 
All but in that ! Goodwax,thy leave : Bless'dbe, 
You bees, that make these locks of counsel! Lovers, 
And men in dangerous bonds, pray not alike; 
Though forfeiters you cast in prison, yet 
You clasp young Cupid's tables. 1 Goodnews,gods! 


3 let that grieve him,] I should wish to read : 
Of my lord's health, qf'his content, yet no ; 
That ixe two are asunder, let that grieve him ! 


Tyrwhitt wishes to amend this passage by reading no, instead 
of not, in the first line ; but it is right as it stands, and there is 
nothing wanting to make it clear, but placing a stop longer than 
a comma, after the word asunder. The sense is this: " Let 
the letter bring me tidings of my lord's health, and of his con- 
tent; not of his content that we are asunder let that circumstance 
grieve him ; but of his content in every shape but that." 


The text is surely right. Let what is here contained relish of 

my husband's content, in every thing except \our being separate 

from each other. Let that one circumstance afflict him! MALONE. 

9 For it doth physick love;] That is, grief for absence keeps 

love in health and vigour. JOHNSON. 

So, in The Winter's Tale: " It is a gallant child; one that, 
indeed, physicks the subject, makes old hearts fresh." 


1 Bless'd be, 

. You bees, that make these locks of counsel! Lovers, 

And men in dangerous bonds, pray not alike; 

Though forfeiters you cast in prison, yet 

You clasp young Cupid's tables.] The meaning of this, 


Justice, and your father's wratli, should he take 
me in his dominion, could not be so cruel to me, as 
you, O the dearest of creatures, 'would not even re- 
new me with your eyes? Take notice, that I am in 
Cambria,, at Milfbrd-Haven : What your own love 
willy out of t/tis 9 advise you, follow. So, he wishes 
you all happiness, that remains loyal to his vow, 9 
and your, increasing in love,* 


which had been obscured by printing t /or/urc.5 for forfeit ers } is 
no more than that the bees are not blessed by the man who for- 
feiting a bond is sent to prison, as they are by the lover for 
whom they perform the more pleasing office of sealing letters. 


* Justice, &c.] Old copy Justice, and your father's wrath, 
&c. could not be so cruel to me as you, O, the dearest of crea- 
tures, would even renew me with your eyes. This .passage, 
which is probably erroneous, is nonsense, unless we suppose 
that the word as has the force of but. " Your father's wrath 
could not be so cruel to me, but you could renew me with your 
eyes." M. MASOX. 

I know not what idea this passage presented to the late editors, 
who have passed it in silence. As it stands in the old copy, it 
appears to me unintelligible. The word not was, I think, 
omitted at the -press, rtfter would. Byiits insertion a clear sense 
is given: Justice and the anger of your father, should I be dis- 
covered here, could mot -be so cruel :tOime, but that you, O thou 
dearest of creatures, would be able to renovate my spirits by 
giving me .the happiness of seeing you. Mr. Pope obtainedlhe 
same sense by* less justifiable .method; by substituting but in- 
stead of as j ,and the throe subsequent editors adopted that read- 
ing. JVtAjLQNE. 

Mr. Malone reads " would tfwf," #nd I have followed him. 


3 that vemains loyal to his vow, #e.] This subscription 

to the second letter of Posthumus, affords ample countenance to 
Mr. M. Mason's conjecture concerning. the cj)}ic.lusio.n of a for- 
mer one. See j>. 447, p. .4. STEEVBNS. 

4 and your, increasing &c.] We should, 1 think, read 

thus : and your, increasing in love, Leon at us Posthumus, to 
make it plain, that your is to be joined in construction with Leo- 

9C.u. CYMBELINE. 511 


O, for a horse with wings ! Hear'st thou, Pisanio? 
He is at Milford- Haven : Read, and tell me 
How far 'tis thither. If one of mean affairs 
May plod it in a week, why may not I 
Glide thither in a day ? Then, true Pisanio, 
(Who long'st,likeme,tosee thy lord ; wholong'st, 
O, let me 'bate, but not like me: yetlong'st, 
But in a fainter kind : O, not like me ; 
For mine's beyond beyond, 5 ) say, and speak thick,* 
(Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing, 
To the smothering of the sense,) how far it is 
To this same blessed Milford : And, by the way, 
Tell me how Wales was made so happy, as 
To inherit such a haven : But, first of all, 
How we may steal from hence ; and, for the gap 
That we shall make in time, from our hence-going, 
And our return, 7 to excuse: but first, how get 
hence : 

natus, and not with increasing; and that the latter is a partici- 
ple present, and not a noun. TYRWHITT. 

* For mine* s beyond beyond,}'] The comma, hitherto placed 
after the first beyond, is improper. The second is used as a sub- 
stantive ; and the plain sense is, that her longing is further than 
beyond ; beyond any thing that desire can be said to be beyond. 


So, in King Lear: 

" Beyond all manner of so much I love you." 


speak thick,'] i. e. croud one word on another, as fast 

as possible. So, in iking Henry IV. Part II : 

" And speaking thick, which nature made his blemish, 

" Became the accents of the valiant.'* 
See Vol. XII. p. 73, n. 9. Again, in Macbeth ; 

" as thick as tale 

" Came post with post ." 

See Vol. X. p. 44, n. 3. STEEVENS. 

7 from our hence-going, 

And our return,"] i. e. in consequence of our going hence 


Why should excuse be born or e'er begot ?* 
We'll talk of that hereafter. Pr'ythee, speak, 
How many score of miles may we well ride 
'Twixt hour and hour ? 

Pis. One score, 'twixt sun and sun, 

Madam, 's enough for you ; and too much too. 

IMO. Why, one that rode to his execution, man, 
Could never go so slow : I have heard of riding 

wagers, 9 
Where horses have been nimbler than the sands 

That run i'the clock's behalf: 1 But this is 

foolery : 

Go, bid my woman feign a sickness ; say 
She'll home to her father: and provide me, pre- 

A riding suit ; no costlier than would fit 
A franklin's housewife. 2 

Pis. Madam, you're best considers 

and returning back. All the modern editors, adopting an alter- 
ation made by Mr. Pope, Till our return. 

In support of the reading of the old copy, which has been 
here restored, see Vol. XVI. p. 80, n. 5. MALONE. 

8 Why should excuse be born or e'er begot f] Why should I 
contrive an excuse, before the act is done, for which excuse 
will be necessary ? MALONE. 

9 of riding wagers,'] Of wagers to be determined by the 

speed of horses. MALONE. 

1 That run i'the clock's behalf:'] This fantastical expression 
means no more than sand in an hour-glass, used to measure time. 


* A franklin's housewife.'] A. franklin is literally & freeholder 
with a small estate, neither villain nor vassal. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. XI. p. 244, n. 6. STEEVENS. 

3 Madam, you're best consider."] That is, " you'd best con- 
sider." M. MASON. 

So afterwards, in sc. vi : " / tvere best not call." MALONE. 

sc. n. CYMBELINE, 513 

IMO. I see before me, man, nor here, nor here, 
Nor what ensues ; but have a fog in them, 
That I cannot look through. 4 Away, I pr'ythee ; 
Do as I bid thee : There's no more to say ; 
Accessible is none but Milford way. [Exeunt* 

4 I see before me, man, nor here, nor here. 
Nor what ensues; but have a fog in them t 
That I cannot look through.^ The lady says : " I can see 
neither one way nor other, before me nor behind me, but all the 
ways are covered with an impenetrable fog." There are objec- 
tions insuperable to all that I can propose, and since reason can 
give me no counsel, I will resolve at once to follow my inclination. 


When Imogen speaks these words, she is supposed to have 
her face turned towards Milford ; and when she pronounces the 
words, nor here, nor here, she points to the right and to the left. 
This being premised, the sense is evidently this : " I see clearly 
the way before me ; but that to the right, that to the left, and 
that behind me, are all covered with a fog that I cannot pene- 
trate. There is no more therefore to be said, since there is no 
way accessible but that to Milford." The passage, however, 
should be pointed thus : 

" I see before me, man ; nor here, nor here, 
" Nor what ensues, but have a fog in them 
" That I cannot look through." 

What ensues means "what folloivs ; and Shakspeare uses it here, 
somewhat licentiously, to express what is behind. M. MASON. 

Dr. Johnson's paraphrase is not, I think, perfectly correct. I 
believe Imogen means to say, " I see neither on this side, nor on 
that, nor behind me ; but find a fog in each of those quarters 
that my ey? cannot pierce. The way to Milford is alone clear 
and open : Let us therefore instantly seijfonoard: 
11 Accessible is none but Milford way." 

By " ivhat ensues," which Dr. Johnson explains perhaps 
rightly, by the words behind me, Imogen means, what will be 
the consequence of the step I am going to take^ MALONE* 




Wales. A mountainous Country , with a Cave. 

BEL. A goodly day not to keep house, with such 
Whose roof's as low as ours ! Stoop, boys : 5 This 

Instructs you how to adore the heavens ; and bows 


To morning's holy office : The gates of monarchs 
Are arch'd so high, that giants may jet 6 through 
And keep their impious turbands on, 7 without 
Good morrow to the sun, Hail, thou fair heaven ! 
We house i'the rock, yet use thee not so hardly 
As prouder livers do. 

GUI. Hail, heaven ! 

ARV. Hail, heaven ! 

' Stoop, boys:~\ The old copy reads Sleep, boys: 

from whence Sir T. Hanmer conjectured that the poet wrote 
Stoop, boys as that word affords an apposite introduction to 
what follows. Mr. Rowe reads See, boys, which (as usual) 
had been silently copied. STEEVENS. 

Perhaps Shakspeare wrote Sweet lays; which is more likely 
to have been confounded by the ear with " Sleep, boys," than 
what Sir T. Hanmer has substituted. MALONE. 

may jet ] i. e. strut, walk proudly. So, in Twelfth 

Night: " how he jets under his advanced plumes." 


7 their impious turbands on,'] The idea of a giant was, 

among the readers of romances, who were almost all the readers 
of those times, always confounded with that of a Saracen. 


sc. in. CYMBELINE. 515 

BEL. Now, for our mountain sport : Up to yon 


Your legs are young ; I'll tread these flats. Con- 

When you above perceive me like a crow, 
That it is place, which lessens, and sets off. 
And you may then revolve what tales I have told 


Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war : 
This service is not service, so being done, 
But being so allow'd : 8 To apprehend thus, 
Draws us a profit from all things we see : 
And often, to our comfort, shall we find 
The sharded beetle 9 in a safer hold 

8 This service is not service, &c.] In war it is not sufficient 
to do duty well ; the advantage rises not from the act, but the 
acceptance of the act. JOHNSON. 

As this seems to be intended by Belarius as a general maxim, 
not merely confined to services in war, I have no doubt but we 
should read: 

That service is not service, &c. M. MASON. 

This service means, any particular service. The observation 
relates to the court, as well as to war. MALONE. 

9 The sharded beetle ] i. e. the beetle whose wings are en- 
closed within two dry husks or shards. So, in Gower, De Con- 

fessione Amantis, Lib. V. fol. 103, b: 

" That with his swerd, and with his spere, 

" He might not the serpent dere : 

" He was so sherdcd all aboute, 

" It held all edge toole withoute." 
Gower is here speaking of the dragon subdued by Jason. 


See Vol. X. p. 164, n. 8. Cole, in his Latin Diet. 1679, 
has " A shard or crust Crusta;" which in the Latin part he 
interprets " a crust or shell, a rough casing; shards." " The 
cases ( says Goldsmith ) which beetles have to their wings, are the 
more necessary, as they often live under the surface of the earth, 
in holes, which they dig out by their own industry." These are 
undoubtedly the safe holds to which Shakspeare alludes. 

2 L 2 

.5 1 6 C YMBELINE. ACT in. 

Than is the full-wing'd eagle. O, this life 
Is nobler, than attending for a check ; ' 
Richer, than doing nothing for a babe ; 2 

The epithet fidl-wn^d applied to the eagle, sufficiently marks 
the contrast of the poet's imagery ; for whilst the bird can soar 
towards the sun beyond the reach of the human eye, the insect 
can but just rise above the surface of the earth, and that at the 
close of day. HENLEY, 

1 . - attending for a check ;J Check may mean, in this 
place, a reproof; but I rather think it signifies command, con- 
troul. Thus, in Troilusand Cressida, the restrictions of Aristotle 
are called Aristotle's checks. STEEVENS. 

* than doing nothing for a babe ;] [Dr. Warburton rends 
bauble.'} i. e. vain titles of honour gained by an idle attend- 
ance at court. But the Oxford editor reads for a bribe. 


The Oxford editor knew the reason of this alteration, though 
his censurer knew it not. 

Of babe some corrector made bauble; and Sir Thomas Han- 
mer thought himself equally authorised to make bribe. I think 
babe can hardly be right. It should be remembered, however, 
that bauble was anciently spelt bable; so that Dr. Warburton 
in reality has added but one letter. A bauble was part of the 
insignia of a fool. So, in AWs that ends ixell y Act IV. sc. v. 
the Clown says : 

" I would give his wife my bauble, sir." 

It was a kind of truncheon (says Sir John Hawkins,) with a 
head carved on it. To this Belarius may allude, and mean that 
honourable poverty is more precious than a sinecure at court, of 
u-lrich the badge in a truncheon or a wand. So, in Middleton's 
Came at Chess, 1623: 

" Art thou so cruel for an honour's bable?" 

As, however, it was once the custom in England for fa- 
vourites at court to beg the wardship of infants who were born 
to great riches, our author may allude to it on this occasion. 
Frequent complaints were made that nothing ivas done towards 
the education of these neglected orphans. STEEVENS. 

I have always suspected that the right reading of this passage i 
what I had not in a former edition the confidence to proppse : 

Richer than doing nothing for a brabe ; - . 
Brabinm is a badge of honour, or the ensign of an honour, or 
any thing worn as a mark of dignity: The word was strange t CYMBELINE. 517 

Prouder, than rustling in unpaid-for silk : 
Such gain the cap of him, that makes them fine, 
Yet keeps his book imcross'd : 3 no life to ours. 4 
GUI. Out of your proof you speak : we, poor 

Have never wing'd from view o'the nest; nor know 


What air's from home. Haply, this life is best, 
If quiet life be best ; sweeter to you, 
That have a sharper known ; well corresponding 
With your stiff age : but, unto us, it is 
A cell of ignorance ; travelling abed ; 
A prison for a debtor, that not dares 
To stride a limit. 5 

the editors, as it will be to the reader ; they therefore changed 
it to babe; and I am forced to propose it without the support of 
any authority. Brabium is a word found in Holyoak's Dic- 
tionary, who terms it a reward. Cooper, in his Thesaurus, de- 
fines it to be a prize, or reward for any game. JOHNSON. 

A babe and baby are synonymous. A baby being a puppet or 
play-thing for children, perhaps, if there be no corruption, a babe 
here means a puppet : but I think with Dr. Johnson that the 
text is corrupt. For babe Mr. Howe substituted bauble. 

Doing nothing in this passage means, I think, being busy in 
petty and unimportant employments : in the same sense as when 
we say, melius esttotiosum esse quam nihil agere. 

The following lines in Dray ton's Owle, 4to. 1604, may add, 
however, some support to Howe's emendation, bable or bauble: 
" Which with much sorrow brought into my mind 
" Their wretched soules, so ignorantly blinde, 
" When even the greatest things, in the world unstable, 
" Clyme but to fall, and damned for a bable." 


3 Yet keeps his book uncross'd:^ So, in Skialetheia, a collec- 
tion of Epigrams, &c. 1598 : 

" Yet stands he in the debet book uncrost." STEEVENS. 

4 . no life to ours.~\ i. e. compared with ours. So, p. 507 : 

" Thy mind to her is now as low," &c. STEEVENS. 

* To stride a limit.'] To overpass his bound. JOHNSON. 

3 1 8 C YMBELINE. ACT ///. 

ARV. What should we speak of, 6 

When we are old as you ? when we shall hear 
The rain and wind beat dark December, how, 
In this our pinching cave, shall we discourse 
The freezing hours away ? We have seen nothing : 
We are beastly ; subtle as the fox, for prey ; 
Like warlike as the wolf, for what we eat : 
Our valour is, to chace what flies ; our cage 
We make a quire, as doth the prison bird, 
And sing our bondage freely. 

BEL. How you speak ! 7 

Did you but know the city's usuries, 
And felt them knowingly . the art o'the court, 
As hard to leave, as keep ; whose top to climb 
Is certain falling, or so slippery, that 
The fear's as bad as falling : the toil of the war, 
A pain that only seems to seek out danger 
I' the name of fame, and honour ; which dies i'the 

search ; 

And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph, 
As record of fair act ; nay, many times, 
Doth ill deserve by doing well ; what's worse, 
Must court'sey at the censure : O, boys, this story 
The world may read in me : My body's mark'd 
With Roman swords ; and my report was once 

In the preceding line the old copy reads A prison, or a 
debtor, &c. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. 


6 What should we speak qf,~] This dread of an old age, un- 
supplied with matter tor discourse and meditation, is a sentiment 
natural and noble. No state can be more destitute than that of 
him, who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no plea- 
sures of the mind. JOHNSON. 

7 How you speak /] Otway seems to have taken many hints 
for the conversation that passes between Acasto and his sons, 
from the scene before us. STEEVENS. 

sc> m. CYMBELINE. 519 

First with the best of note : Cymbeline lov'd me ; 
And when a soldier was the theme, my name 
Was not far off: Then was I as a tree, 
Whose boughs did bend with fruit : but, in one night, 
A storm, or robbery, call it what you will, 
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay, my leaves, 
And left me bare to weather. 8 

GUI. Uncertain favour ! 

BEL. My fault being nothing (as I have told you 


But that two villains, whose false oaths prevailed 
Before my perfect honour, swore to Cymbeline, 
I was confederate with the Romans : so, 
Follow' d my banishment ; and, this twenty years, 
This rock, and these demesnes,have been my world : 
Where I have liv'd at honest freedom ; paid 
More pious debts to heaven, than in all 
The fore-end of my time. But, up to the moun- 
tains ; 

This is not hunters' language : He, that strikes 
The venison first, shall be the lord o'the feast ; 
To him the other two shall minister ; 
And we will fear no poison, which attends 
In place of greater state. 9 I'll meet you in the 
valleys. [_Exeunt GUI. and ARV. 

8 And left me bare to weather.'] So, in Timon of Athens: 

" That numberless upon me stuck, as leaves 
" Do on the oak, have with one winter's brush, 
" Fallen from their boughs, and left me, open, bare, 
" For every storm that bloivs" STEEVENS. 

9 And we ivilljear no poison, which attends 

In place of greater state.'] The comparative greater, which 
violates the measure, is surely an absurd interpolation ; the loiv- 
brovi'd cave in which the princes are meanly educated, being a 
place of no state at all. STEEVENS. 


How hard it is, to hide the spares of nature! 
These boys know little, they are sons to the king; 
Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive. 
They think, they are mine : and, though train'd up 

thus meanly 

I'the cave, wherein they bow, 1 their thoughts do hit 
The roofs of palaces ; and nature prompts them, 
In simple ana low things, to prince it, much 
Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore, '-' 

" nulla aconita bibuntur 

" Fictilibus ; tune ilia time, cum pocula sumes 

" Gemmata, et lato Setinum ardebit in auro." Juv. 


1 though train'd up thus meanly 

I'the cave, wherein they bow,] The old editions read: 

I'the cave, whereon the bowe ; 

which, though very corrupt, will direct us to the true reading, 
[as it stands in the text.] In this very cave, which is so low 
that they must bow or bend in entering it, yet are their thoughts 
so exalted, c. This is the antithesis. Belarius had spoken 
before of the lowness of this cave : 

" A goodly day ! not to keep house, with such 
" Whose roof's as low as ours ! Stoop, boys : This gate 
" Instructs you how to adore the heavens ; and bows you 
" To morning's holy office." WARBURTON. 

8 77m Polydore,] The old copy of the play (except here, 

where it may be only a blunder of the printer,) calls the eldest 
son of Cymbeline, Polidore, as often as the name occurs ; and 
yet there are some who may ask whether it is not more likely 
that the printer should have blundered in the other places, than 
that he should have hit upon such an uncommon name as Pala- 
dour in this first instance. Paladour was the ancient name for 
Shajlsbury. So, in A Meeting Dialogue-ivise between Nature, 
the Phtenix, and the Turtle-dove, by R. Chester, 1601 : 
" This noble king builded fair Caerguent, 
" Now cleped Winchester of worthie fame ; 
" And at mount Paladour he built his tent, 
" That after-ages Shaftsburie hath to name." 


I believe, however, Polydore is the true reading. In the pages 
of Holinshed, which contain an account of Cymbeline, Polydore 

sc. m. CYMBELINE. 521 

The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, whom 
The king his father call'd Guiderius, Jove ! 
When on my three-foot stool I sit, and tell 
The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out 
Into my story : say, Thus mine enemy fell; 
And thus I set my foot on his neck ; even then 
The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats, 
Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in pos- 

That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal, 3 
(Once, Arviragus,) in as like a figure, 
Strikes life into my speech, and shows much more 
His own conceiving. Hark ! the game is rous'd! 
O Cymbeline ! heaven, and my conscience, knows, 
Thou didst unjustly banish me : whereon, 
At three, and two years old, I stole these babes; 4 

[i. e. Polydore Virgil] is often quoted in the margin ; and this 
probably suggested the name to Shakspeare. MALONE. 

Otway (see p. 518, n. 7,) was evidently of the same opinion, 
as he has so denominated one of the sons of Acasto in The 

The translations, however, of both Homer and Virgil, would 
have afforded Shakspeare the name of Polydore. STEEVENS. 

3 The younger brother, Cadwal,] This name is found in an 
ancient poem, entitled King Arthur, which is printed in the 
same collection with the Meeting Dialogue-wise, &c. quoted in 
the preceding note : 

" Augisell, king of stout Albania, 

*' And Caduall, king of Vinedocia ." 

In this collection one of our author's own poems was origin- 
ally printed. MALONE. 

See Mr. Malone's edition of our author's works, Vol. X. 
p. 341, n. 9. STEEVENS. 

4 / stole these babes ;] Shakspeare seems to intend 

Belarius for a good character, yet he makes him forget the injury 
which he has done to the young princes, whom he has robbed of 
a kingdom only to rob their father of heirs. The latter part of 
this soliloquy is very inartificial, there being no particular reason 


Thinking to bar thee of succession, as 

Thou reft'st me of my lands. Euriphile, 

Thou wast their nurse ; they took thee for their 


And every day do honour to her grave: 5 
Myself, Belarius, that am Morgan call'd, 
They take for natural father. The game is up. 



Near Milford- Haven. 

I MO. Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, 

the place 

Was near at hand : Ne'er long'd my mother so 
To see me first, as I have now: Pisanio ! Man ! 
Where is Posthumus? 6 What is in thy mind, 

why Belarius should now tell to himself what he could not know 
better by telling it. JOHNSON. 

s to her grave : ] i. e. to the grave of Euriphile ; or, to the 

grave of their mother, as they suppose if to be. The poet ought 
rather to have written to thy grave. MA LONE. 

Perhaps he did write so, and the present reading is only a cor- 
ruption introduced by his printers or publishers. STEEVENS. 

6 Where is Posthumus ?"} Shakspeare's apparent ignorance of 
quantity is not the least among many proofs of his want of learn- 
ing. Almost throughout this play he calls Post/litmus, Posthumus, 
and Arvirdgus, always Arviragus. It may be said that quantity 
in the age of our author did not appear to have been much re- 
garded. In the tragedy of Darius, by William Alexander of 
Menstrie, (lord Sterline) 1603, Darius is always called Darius, 
and Euphrates, Euphrates : 

sc. iv. CYMBELINE. 523 

That makes thee stare thus ? Wherefore breaks that 


From the inward of thee ? One, but painted thus, 
Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd 
Beyond self-explication : Put thyself 
Into a haviour 7 of less fear, ere wildness 
Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter? 
Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with 
A look untender ? If it be summer news, 

" The diadem that Darius erst had borne 

" The famous Euphrates to be your border ." 

Again, in the 21st Song of Drayton's Poluolbion: 

" That gliding go in state like swelling Euphrates." 
Throughout Sir Arthur Gorges' translation of Lucan, Euphrates 

is likewise given instead of Euphrates. STEEVENS. 

Shakspeare's ignorance of the quantity of Posthumus is the 
rather remarkable, as he gives it rightly both when the name 
first occurs, and in another place : 

" To his protection ; calls him Posthumus. 

" Struck the main-top ! O, Posthumus ! alas." 


In A Meeting Dialogue-wise between Nature, the Phcenix, and 
the Turtle-dove, by R. Chester, 1601, Arviragus is introduced 
with the same neglect of quantity as in this play : 
" Windsor, a castle of exceeding strength, 
" First built by Arviragus, Britaine's king." 
Again, by Heywood, in his Britaynes Troy : 

" Now Arviragus reigns, and takes to wife 
" The emperor Claudius's daughter." 

It seems to have been the general rule, adopted by scholars as 
well as others, to pronounce Latin names like English words : 
Shakspeare's neglect of quantity therefore proves nothing. 


The propriety of the foregoing remark, is not altogether con- 
firmed by the practice of our ancient translators from classick 
authors. STEEVENS. 

7 haviour ] This word, as often as it occurs in Shak- 

speare, should not be printed as an abbreviation of behaviour. 
Haviour was a word commonly used in his time. See Spenser, 
jEglogue IX: 

" Their ill haviour garres men missay." STEEVENS. 


Smile to't before : 8 if winterly, thou need'st 

But keep that countenance still. My husband's 

hand ! 

That drug-damn'd 9 Italy hath out-craftied him, 1 
And he's at some hard point. Speak, man ; thy 


May take off some extremity, which to read 
Would be even mortal to me. 

Pis. Please you, read ; 

And you shall find me, wretched man, a thing 
The most disdain'd of fortune. 


I MO. [ Reads.] Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played 
the strumpet in my bed ; the testimonies whereof lie 
bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises; 
from proof as strong as my grief, and as certain as 
I expect my revenge. That part, thou, Pisanio, 
must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the 
breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away her 
life: I shall give thee opportunities at Milford- 
Haven : she hath my letter for the purpose : Where, 
if thou fear to strike, and to make me certain it is 
done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour, and 
equally to me disloyal. 

If it be summer news, 

Smile to't before:] So, in our author's 98th Sonnet : 
" Yet not the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell 
" Of different flowers in odour and in hue, 
" Could make me any summer's story tell." MALOXE. 

9 drug-damn'd ] This is another allusion to Italian 

poisons. JOHNSON. 

1 oMf-craftied him t ~\ Thus the old copy, and so Shak- 

speare certainly wrote. So, in Coriolanus: 

" . . chaste as the icicle, 

" That's curdled by the frost from purest snow." 
Mr. Pope and all the subsequent editors read out-crafted 
here, and curdled in Coriolanus. MALONE. 

so. iv. CYMBELINE. 525 

Pis. What shall I need to draw my sword ? the 


Hath cut her throat already. 2 No, 'tis slander ; 
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue 
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile ; 3 whose breath 
Rides on the posting winds, 4 and doth beiie 
All corners of the world : kings, queens, and states, 5 
Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave 
This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam ? 

IMO. False to his bed ! What is it, to be false ? 
To lie in watch there, and to think on him ?* 
To weep 'twixt clock and clock ? if sleep charge 


To break it with a fearful dream of him, 
And cry myself awake ? that's false to his bed? 
Is it ? 

* What shall I need to draw my stvord? the paper 

Hath cut her throat already."] So, in Venus and Adonis: 
" Struck dead at first, what needs a second striking ?" 


3 Outvenoms all the 'worms of Nile; &c.] So, in Churchyard's 
Discourse of Rebellion &c. 1570: 

" Hit venom castes as far as Nilus flood, [brood] 
" Hit poysoneth all it toucheth any wheare." 
Serpents and dragons by the old writers were called tvorms. 
Of this, several instances are given in the last Act of Antony and 
Cleopatra. .STEEVENS. 

* Rides on the posting winds,] So, in King Henry V : 

" making the wind my post-horse." MALONE* 

5 states,"] Persons of highest rank. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. XV. p. 319, n. 6. MALONE. 

So, in Chapman's version of the second Iliad: 

" The other scepter-bearing states arose too and obey'd 
" The people's rector." STEEVENS. 

* What is it, to be false ? 

To lie in ivatch there, and to think on him ?~\ This passage 
should be pointed thus : 

. What! is it to be false, 

To lie in watch there, and to think on him? 



PIS. Alas, good lady ! 

I MO. I false? Thy conscience witness: lachimo, 
Thou didst accuse him of incontinency ; 
Thou then look'dst like a villain; now, methinks, 
Thy favour's good enough. 7 Some jay of Italy, 8 
Whose mother was her painting, 9 hath betray* d him : 
Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion ; l 
And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls, 
I must be ripp'd : 2 to pieces with me ! O, 

7 Thou then look'dst like a villain; now, methinks, 
Thy favour's good enough.'} So, in King Lear: 

" Those wicked creatures yet do look well favour'd, 
" When others are more wicked." M ALONE. 
9 Some jay of Italy, ~\ There is a prettiness in this ex- 
pression; putta, in Italian, signifying both a jay and a whore: I 
suppose from the gay feathers of that bird. WARBURTON. 

So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : " Teach him to know 
turtles from jays.'* STEEVEXS. 

9 Whose mother uas her painting,] Some jay of Italy, made 
by art ; the creature, not of nature, but of painting. In this 
sense painting may be not improperly termed her mother. 


I met with a similar expression in one of the old comedies, 
but forgot to note the date or name of the piece : " a parcel 
of conceited feather-caps, whose fathers mere their garments." 

In All's well that ends "well, we have 

" -whose judgments are 

* Merefathers nfttteir garments." MALONE. 
Whose mother was her painting,] i. e. her likeness. HARRIS. 
1 Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion ;] This image 
occurs in Westward for Smelts, 1620, immediately at the con- 
clusion of the tale on which our play is founded: " But (said 
the Brainford fish-wife) I like her as a garment out of fashion." 

4 And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls, 

I must be ripp'd:'] To fiang by the walls, does not mean, to 
be converted into hangings for a room, but to be hung up, as 
useless, among the neglected contents of a wardrobe. So, in 
Measure for Measure: 

" That have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall.'" 

sc. iv. CYMBELINE. 527 

Men's vows are women's traitors ! All good seeming, 
By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought 
Put on for villainy ; not born, where't grows ; 
But worn, a bait for ladies. 

Pis. Good madam, hear me. 

IMO. True honest men being heard, like false 


Were,in his time, thoughtfalse: andSinon's weeping 
Did scandal many a holy tear ; took pity 
From most true wretchedness : So,thou, Posthumus, 
Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men ; 3 

When a boy, at an ancient mansion-house in Suffolk, I saw 
one of these repositories, which (thanks to a succession of old 
maids!) had been preserved, with superstitious reverence, for 
almost a century and a half. 

Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight ma- 
terials, were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse 
of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the 
contrary, they were hung up on wooden pegs in a room appro- 
priated to the sole purpose of receiving them ; and though such 
cast-off things as were composed of rich substances, were occa- 
sionally ripped for domestick uses, (viz. mantles for infants, 
vests for children, and counterpanes for beds,) articles of inferior 
quality were suffered to hang ly ike ivalls, till age and moths 
had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servant? 
or poor relations. 

" Comitem horridulum trita donare lacerna," 
seems not to have been customary among our ancestors. When 
Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three 
thousand dresses behind her ; and there is yet in the wardrobe of 
Covent-Garden Theatre, a rich suit of clothes that once belonged 
to King James I. When I saw it last, it was on the back of 
Justice Greedy, a character in Massinger's Nerv Way to pay old 

3 Will lay the leaven on all proper men; &c.~\ i.e. says Mr. 
Upton, "wilt infect and corrupt their good name, (like sour dough 
that leaveneth the whole mass, ) and will render them suspected." 
In the line below he would read -fall, instead of Jail. So, in 
King Henri/ V : 


Goodly, and gallant, shall be false, and peijur'd, 
From thy great fail. Come, fellow, be thou ho- 
nest : 
Do thou thy master's bidding : When thou see'st 


A little witness my obedience : Look ! 
I draw the sword myself: take it ; and hit 
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart : 
Fear not; 'tis empty of all things, but grief: 
Thy master is not there ; who was, indeed, 
The riches of it : Do his bidding ; strike. 
Thou may'st be valiant in a better cause ; 
But now thou seem'st a coward. 

Pis. Hence, vile instrument ! 

Thou shalt not damn my hand. 

I MO. Why, I must die ; 

And if I do not by thy hand, thou art 
No servant of thy master's : Against self-slaughter* 
There is a prohibition so divine, 
That cravens my weak hand. 5 Come, here's my 
heart ; 

" And thus thy fall hath left a kind of blot 
" To mark the full-fraught man, and best-indued, 
" With some suspicion." 
I think the text is right. MA LONE. 

So, in The Winter's Tale: 

" for the fail 

" Of any point" &c. STEEVEXS. 

4 Against self-slaughter &c.] So again, in Hamlet : 

" the Everlasting fix'd 

" His canon 'gainst self-slaughter." STEEVEXS. 

5 That cravens my iveak hand."] i. e. makes me a coward. 


That makes me afraid to put an end to my own life. See 
Vol. IX. p. 85, n. 4. MALOXE. 

#C/KA &YMBELIN& 529 

Something's afore't: 6 Soft, soft; we'll no defence; 
Obedient as the scabbard. What is here ? 
The scriptures 7 of the loyal Leonatus, 
All turn'd to heresy ? Away, away, 
Corrupters of my faith ! you shall no more 
Be stomachers to my heart ! Thus may poor fools 
Believe false teachers : Though those that are be- 
tray *d 

Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor 
Stands in worse case of woe. 
And thou, Posthumus, thou that 8 did'st set up 
My disobedience 'gainst the king my father. 
And make me put into contempt the suits 
Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find 
It is no act of common passage, but 
A strain of rareness : and I grieve myself, 
To think, when thou shalt be disedg'd 9 by her 
That now thou tir'st on, 1 how thy memory 
Will then be pang'd by me. Pr'ythee, despatch : 
The lamb entreats the butcher : Where's thy knife ? 

Something's afore't :] The old copy reads Something's 
(ifoot. JOHNSON. 

The correction was made by Mr. Howe. MALONE. 

7 The scriptures ] So, Ben Jonson, in The Sad Shepherd: 

" The lover's scriptures, Heliodore's, or Tatius'." 
Shakspeare, however, means in this place, an opposition between 
scripture, in its common signification, and heresy. STEEVENS. 

,* 8 thou that. ] The second thou, which is not in the old 

copies, has been added for the sake of recovering metre. 


9 disedg'd ] So, in Hamlet: " It would cost you a 

groaning, to take off mine edge." STEEVENS. 

1 That now thou tir'st on,"} A hawk is said to tire upon that 
which she pecks; from tirer, French. JOHNSON. 

See Vol. IX. p. 276, n. 2. STEEVENS. 

530 .CYMBELINE. ACT in, 

Thou art too slow to do thy master's biddifljg, 
When I desire it too. 

Pis. O gracious lady, 

Since I received command to do this business, 
I have not slept one wink. 

IMO. Do'jt, and to bed then. 

Pis. I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first. 2 

IMO. Wherefore then 

Didst undertake it ? Why hast thou abus'd 
So many miles, with a pretence ? this place ? 
Mine action, and thine own ? our horses* labour ? 
The time inviting thee ? the perturb'd court, 
For my being absent ; whereunto I never 
Purpose return ? Why hast thou gone so far, 
To be unbent, 3 when thou hast ta'en thy stand, 

8 PUwake mine eyeballs blind Jirst.~] [In the old copies, the 
word blind is wanting.] The modern editions for wake read 
break, and supply the deficient syllable by Ah wherefore. I 
read I'll wake mine eye-balls out first, or, blind first. 


Sir Thomas Hanmer had made the same emendation. 


Dr. Johnson's conjecture ( which I have inserted in the text,) 
may receive support from the following passage in The Bug- 
bears, a MS. comedy more ancient than the play before us : 

" 1 doubte 

" Least for lacke of my slepe I shall watche my eyes oute." 
Again, in The Revenger's Tragedy, 1608 : 

" A piteous tragedy ! able to wake 

" An old man's eyes blood-shot." 

Again, in The Roaring Girl, 1611 : " I'll ride to Oxford, 

and watch out mine eyes, but I'll hear the brazen head speak." 


Again, as Mr. Steevens has observed in a note on The Rape 
of Lucrece: 

" Here she exclaims against repose and rest; 

" And bids her eyes hereafter still be blind. 1 ' MALONE. 

* To be unbent,"} To have thy bow unbent, alluding to ai> 
hunter. JOHNSON. 

sc. tr. CYMBELINE. 

The elected deer before thee ?* 

Pis. But to win time 

To lose so bad employment : in the which 
I have consider'd of a course ; Good lady, 
Hear me with patience. 

IMO. Talk thy tongue weary ; speak : 

I have heard, I am a strumpet ; and mine ear, 
Therein false struck, can take no greater wound, 
Nor tent to bottom that. But speak. 

Pis. Then, madam, 

I thought you would not back again. 

IMO. Most like j 

Bringing me here to kill me* 

Pis. Not so, neither ; 

But if I were as wise as honest, then 
My purpose would prove well. It cannot be, 
But that my master is abus'd : 
Some villain, ay, and singular in his art, 
Hath done you both this cursed injury. 

IMO. Some Roman courtezan. 

Pis. No, on my life. 

I'll give but notice you are dead, and send him 
Some bloody sign of it ; for 'tis commanded 
I should do so : You shall be miss'd at court, 
And that will well confirm it. 

IMO. Why, good fellow, 

What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live? 
Or in my life what comfort, when I am 

4 taken thou hast ta'en thy stand, 

The elected deer before thee ?~\ So, in one of our author's 
poems, Passionate Pilgrim, 1599 : 

" When as thine eye hath chose the dame, 

" And stall' d the deer that thou shoutt'st strike." 

2 M 2 


Dead to my husband ? 
PlS. If you'll back to the court, - 

IMO. No court, no father ; nor no more ado 
With that harsh, noble, simple, nothing: 5 
That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me 
As fearful as a siege. 

Pis. If not at court, 

Then not in Britain must you bide. 

IMO. Where then ? 6 

Hath Britain all the sun that shines? 7 Day, night, 

-Vlii. VT 

5 With that harsh, noble, &c.J Some epithet of two syllables 

has here been omitted by the compositor ; for which, having but 
one copy, it is now vain to seek. MALONE, 

Perhaps the poet \vrpte: 

^ With that harsh, noble, simple, nothing, Cloten ; 
That Cloten, &c. STEEVENS. 

* Where then?~\- Hanmer ha* added these two words to 
Pisanio's speech. MALONE. 

7 Where then? 

Hath Britain all the sun that shines?'] The rest of Imo- 
sen-s. speech induces me to think that we ought to read " What 
then ?" instead of " Where then ?" The reason of the change 
is evident. M. MASON. 

Perhaps Imogen silently answers her own question : " any 
where. . Hath Britain" &c. 

Shakspeare seems here to have had in his thoughts a passage 
in Lyly's Euphues, 1580, which he has imitated in K. Richard II: 
: a Nature hath given to man a country no more than she hath 
house, or lands, or living. Plato would never account him 
banished, that had the sunne, ayre, water, and earth, that he 
had before ; where he felt the winter's blast, and the summer's 
blaze ; where the same sunne and the same moone shined ; 
whereby he noted, that every place was a country to a wise man, 
and all parts a palace to a quiet mind. But thou art driven 'out 
j&f: Naples: that is nothing. All the Athenians dwell not in 
Colliton, nor every Corinthian in Greece, nor all the Lacedemo- 
nians in Pitania. How can any part of the world be distant far 
from the other, when as the mathematicians set downe that the 
earth is but a point compared to the heavens ?" MALOXE. 


Are they not but in Britain ? Fthe world's volume 
Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it ; 
In a great pool, a swan's nest ; Pr'ythee, think 
There's livers out of Britain. 8 

Pis. , I am most glad 

You think of other place. The embassador, 
Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford- Haven 
To-morrow : Now, if you could wear a mind 
Dark as your fortune is ;' and but disguise 
That, which, to appear itself, must not yet be, 
But by self-danger ; you should tread a course 
Pretty, and full of view : l yea, haply, near 
The residence of Posthumus : so nigh, at least, 
That though his actions were not visible, yet 
Report should render him hourly to your ear, 
As truly as he moves. 

IMO. O, for such means ! 

Though peril to my modesty, 2 not death on% 
I would adventure. 

s There's livers out of Britain.'] So, in Coriolanus; . . 
" There is a world elsewhere." STEEVENS. 

9 Now, if you could wear a mind 

Dark as your fortune is;~] To wear a dark mind, is to carry 
a mind impenetrable to the search of others. Darkness, applied 
to the mind, is secrecy ; applied to the fortune, is obscurity. 
The next lines are obscure. You must, says Pisanio, disguise, 
that greatness, 'which, to appear hereafter in its proper form^ 
cannot yet appear without great danger to itself. JOHNSON. 

1 -full of vietv:'] With opportunities of examining your 

affairs with your own eyes. JOHNSON. 

Full of view may mean affording an ample prospect, a cdm- 
plete opportunity of discerning circumstances which it is your 
interest to know. Thus, in Pericles, " Full of face" appears 
to signify amply beautiful; and Duncan assures Banquo that 
he will labour to make him "full of growing," i. e. of ample 
growth. STEEVENS. 

2 Though peril to my modesty,'] I read Through peril. / 


Pis. Well then, here's the point : 

You must forget to be a woman ; change 
Command into obedience j fear, and niceness, 
(The handmaids of all women, or, more truly, 
Woman its pretty self,) to 3 a waggish courage; 
Ready in gibes, quick-answer'd, saucy, and 
As quarrellous as the weasel :* nay, you must 
Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek, 
Exposing it (but, O, the harder heart ! 
Alack, no remedy I 5 ) to the greedy touch 
Of common-kissing Titan j 6 and forget 

would for such means adventure through peril of modesty; I 
would risque every thing but real dishonour. JOHNSON. 

3 to ] Old copies, unmetrically, into. STEEVENS. 

4 As quarrellous as the weasel :] So, in King Henry IV. P. I: 
" A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen 
" As you are toss'd with." 

This character of the weasel is not warranted by naturalists. 
Weasels, however, were formerly kept in houses instead of cats, 
for the purpose of killing vermin. So, Phaedrus, IV. i. 10 : 
" Mustela, quum annis et senecta debilis, 
" lyiures veloces non valeret adsequi." 
Again, Lib. IV. 5. 3. 

" Quum victi mures mustelarum exercitu 
" Fugerent," &c. 

Our poet, therefore, while a boy, might have had frequent 
opportunities to ascertain their disposition. In Congreve's Love 
Jbr Love, (the scene of which is in London,) old Foresight talks 
of having " met a weasel." It would now be difficult to find 
ne at liberty throughout the whole county of Middlesex. 
" Frivola hc fortassis cuipiam et nimis levia esse videantur, sed 
curiositas nihil recusat." Vopiscus in Vita Aureliani, c. x. 


9 Exposing it (but, 0, the harder heart! 

Alack, no remedy!)'] I think it very natural to reflect in 
this distress on the cruelty of Posthumus. Dr. Warburton pro- 
poses to read : 

the harder hap ! JOHNSON. 

a common-kissing Titan ;] Thus, in Othello: 

" The bawdy wind that kisses all it meets- ." 

sc. ir. CYMBELINE. 535, 

Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein 
You made great Juno angry. 

I MO. Nay, be brief: 

I see into thy end, and am almost 
A man already. 

Pis. First, make yourself but like one. 

Fore-thinking this, I have already fit, 
('Tis in my cloak-bag,) doublet, hat, hose, all 
That answer to them : Would you, in their serving, 
And with what imitation you can borrow 
From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius 
Present yourself, desire his service, tell him 
Wherein you are happy, 7 (which you'll make him 

know, 8 

If that his head have ear in musick,) doubtless, 
With joy he will embrace you; for he's honourable, 
And, doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad 9 

Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. Ill: "- - and beautiful! 
might have been, if they had not suffered greedy Phoebus, over- 
often and hard, to kisse them." STEEVENS. 

7 Wherein you are happy,] i. e. wherein you are accomplish' 

8 - ivhich you'll make him know,] This is Sir T. Hau- 
nter's reading. The common books have it : 

- which will make him know, - . 

Mr. Theobald, in one of his long notes, endeavours to prove 
that it should be : 

- ivhich will make him so, - 

He is followed by Dr. Warburton. JOHNSON. 

The words were probably written at length in the manuscript, 
you toill, and you omitted at the press : or will was printed for 

9 - - Your means abroad &c.] As for your subsistence 
abroad, you may rely on me. So, in sc. v : " - thou should'st 
aeither want my means for thy relief, nor my voice for thy pre- 
ferment." MALONE. 


You have me, rich ; and I will never fail 
Beginning, nor supplyment. 

I MO. Thou art all the comfort 

The gods will diet me with. 1 IVythee, away : 
There's more to be consider'd ; but we'll even 
All that good time will give us : 2 This attempt 
I'm soldier to, 3 and will abide it with 
A prince's courage. Away, I pr'ythee. 

Pis. Well, madam, we must take a short fare- 
well ; 

Lest, being miss'd, I be suspected of 
Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress, 
Here is a box : I had it from the queen ; 4 
What's in't is precious ; if you are sick at sea, 
Or stomach-qualm'd at land, a dram of this 
Will drive away distemper. To some shade, 

1 diet me iuith.~\ Alluding to the spare regimen pre- 
scribed in some diseases. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : 
" to fast, like one that takes diet." STEEVENS. 

we'll even . . 

All that good time will give us .-] We'll make our work- 
even with our lime; we'll do what time will allow. JOHNSON. 

3 This attempt 

Pm soldier to,] i. e. I have inlisted and bound myself to it. 


Rather, I think, I am equal to this attempt ; I have enough of 
ardour to undertake it. MALONE. 

Mr. Malone's explanation is undoubtedly just. Pm soldier to t 
is equivalent to the modern cant phrase / am up to it, i. e. I 
have ability for it. STEEVENS. 

4 Here is a box : / had it from the queen ;] Instead of this box, 
the modern editors have in a former scene made the Queen give 
Pisanio a vial, which is dropped on the stage, without being 
broken. See Act I. sc. vi. 

In Pericles, Cerimon, in order to recover Thaisa, calls foraU 
the boxes in his closet. MALONE. 

sc.r. CYMBELINE., 537 

And fit you to your manhood : May the gods 
Direct you to the best ! 

IMO. Amen : I thank thee 



A Room in Cymbeline's Palace. 

Enter CYMBELINE, Queen, CLOTEN, Lucius, 
and Lords. 

CYM. Thus far ; and so farewell. 

Luc. Thanks, royal sir. 

My emperor hath wrote ; I must from hence j 
And am right sorry, that I must report ye 
My master's enemy. 

CYM. Our subjects, sir, 

Will not endure his yoke ; and for ourself 
To show less sovereignty than they, must needs 
Appear unkinglike. 

Luc. So, sir, I desire of you 5 

A conduct over land, to Milford- Haven. 
Madam, all joy befal your grace, and you ! 6 

4 &o, sir, I desire of you ] The two last words are, in my 
opinion, very properly omitted by Sir Thomas Hanmer, as they 
only serve to derange the metre. STEEVENS. 

6 all joy befal your grace, and you/'] I think we should 

read his grace, and you. MALONE. 

Perhaps our author wrote : 

your grace, and yours ! 

j. e. your relatives. So, in Macbeth: 

*' And beggar'd yours for ever." STEEVENS. 


CYM. My lords, you are appointed for that of- 
fice ; 

The due of honour in no point omit : 
So, farewell, noble Lucius. 

Luc. Your hand, my lord. 

CLO. Receive it friendly : but from this time 

I wear it as your enemy. 

Luc. Sir, the event 

Is yet to name the winner : Fare you well. 

CYM. Leave not the worthy Lucius, good my 

Till he have cross'd the Severn. Happiness ! 

[Exeunt Lucius, and Lords. 

QUEEN. He goes hence frowning: but it honours 

That we have given him cause. 

CLO. 'Tis all the better ; 

Your valiant Britons have their wishes in it. 

CYM. Lucius hath wrote already to the emperor 
How it goes here. It fits us therefore, ripely, 
Our chariots and our horsemen be in readiness : 
The powers that he already hath in Gallia 
Will soon be drawn to head, from whence he 

His war for Britain. 

QUEEN. 'Tis not sleepy business ; 

But must be look'd to speedily, and strongly. 

CYM. Our expectation that it would be thus, 
Hath made us forward. But, my gentle queen, 
Where is our daughter ? She hath not appeared 
Before the Roman, nor to us hath tender'd 
The duty of the day : She looks us like 
A thing more made of malice, than of duty : 

sc. v. CYMBELINE. 39 

We have noted it. Call her before us ; for 
We have been too slight in sufferance. 

{Exit an Attendant. 

QUEEN. Royal sir, 

Since the exile of Posthumus, most retir'd 
Hath her life been ; the cure whereof, my lord, 
'Tis time must do. 'Beseech your majesty, 
Forbear sharp speeches to her : She's a lady 
So tender of rebukes, that words are strokes, 
And strokes death to her. 

Re-enter an Attendant. 

CYM. Where is she, sir ? How 

Can her contempt be answered ? 

ATTEN. Please you, sir, 

Her chambers are alllock'd; and there's no answer 
That will be given to the loud'st of noise we make. 

QUEEN. My lord, when last I went to visit her, 
She pray'd me to excuse her keeping close ; 
Whereto constrain'd by her infirmity, 
She should that duty leave unpaid to you, 
Which daily she was bound to proffer : this 
She wish'd me to make known; but our great court 
Made me to blame in memory. 

CYM. Her doors lock'd ? 

Not seen of late? Grant, heavens, that, which I 

Prove false ! [Exit. 

QUEEN. Son, I say, follow the king. 7 

* Son, I say t jblloiu the king."] Some word necessary to the 
metre, is here omitted. We might read : 

Go, son, I say; follow the king. STEEVENS. 


CLO. That man of hers, Pisanio, her old servant, 
I have not seen these two days. 

QUEEAT. Go, look after. 

[Exit CLOTEN. 

Pisanio, thou that stand'st so for Posthumus ! 
He hath a drug of mine: I pray, his absence 
Proceed by swallowing that ; for he believes 
It is a thing most precious. But for her, 
Where is she gone ? Haply, despair hath seiz'd her ; 
Or, wing'd with fervour of her love, she's flown 
To her desir'd Posthumus : Gone she is 
To death, or to dishonour ; and my end 
Can make good use of either : She being down, 
I have the placing of the British crown. 

Re-enter CLOTEN. 

How now, my son ? 

CLO. J Tis certain, she is fled : 

Go in, and cheer the king ; he rages j none 
Dare come about him. 

QUEEN. All the better : May 

This night forestall him of the coming day ! 8 

[Exit Queen. 

CLO. I love, and hate her : for she's fair and 

royal ; 

And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite 
Than lady, ladies, woman ; 9 from every one 


This night forestall him of the coming day !"] i.'e. May his 
grief this night prevent him from ever seeing another day, by an 
anticipated and premature destruction ! So, in Milton's Masque: 
" Perhaps fore-stalling night prevented them." 


And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite . 

Than lady, ladies, woman;} She has all courtly parts, say* 

JBP.T:.:-. CYMBELINE. .541 

The best she hath, 1 and she, of all compounded, 

Outsells them all : I love her therefore ; But, 

Disdaining me, and throwing favours on 

The low Posthumus, slanders so her judgment, 

That what's else rare, is chok'd ; and, in that point, 

I will conclude to hate her, nay, indeed, 

To be reveng'd upon her. For, when fools 


Shall Who is here? What! are you packing, 

sirrah ? 

Come hither : Ah, you precious pandar ! Villain, 
Where is thy lady ? In a word ; or else 
Thou art straightway with the fiends. 

Pis. O, good my lord ! 

CLO. Where is thy lady ? or, by Jupiter 
I will not ask again. Close villain, 2 
.I'll have this secret from thy heart, or rip 
Thy heart to find it. Is she with Posthumus ? 
From whose so many weights of baseness cannot 
A dram of worth be drawn. 

. Pis. Alas, my lord, 

he, more exquisite than any lady, than all ladies, than all woman* 
kind. JOHNSON. 

There is a similar passage in All's 'well that ends "well, Act II. 
sc. iii: ".To any count; to all counts; to what is man." - 


-from every one 

The best she hath,'] So,, in The Tempest: 

" but you, O you, 

" So perfect and so peerless, are created 
" Of every creature's best." MALONE. 

* Close villain,'] A syllable being here wanting to com- 
plete the measure, perhaps we ought to read : 

Close villain, thou, . STEEVEXS. 


How can she be with him ? When was she miss'd ? 
He is in Rome. 

CLO. Where is she, sir ? Come nearer ; 

No further halting : satisfy me home, 
What is become of her ? 

Pis. O, my all- worthy lord ! 

CLO. All-worthy villain ! 

Discover where thy mistress is, at once, 
At the next word, No more of worthy lord, 
Speak, or thy silence on the instant is 
Thy condemnation and thy death. 

Pis. Then, sir, 

This paper is the history of my knowledge 
Touching her flight. [Presenting a Letter* 

CLO. Let's see't : I will pursue her 

Even to Augustus* throne. 

Pis. Or this, or perish. 3 "] 

She's far enough ; and what he learns by I > , 

May prove his travel, not her danger. J 

3 Or this, or perish."] These words, I think, belong to Cloten, 

who requiring the paper, says : 

Let's see't: / will pursue her 

Even to Augustus' throne. Or this, or perish. 

Then Pisanio giving the paper, says to himself: 
She' s far enough; &c. JOHNSON. 

I own I am of a different opinion. Or this, or perish, properly 
belongs to Pisanio, who says to himself, as he gives the paper 
into the hands of Cloten, / must either give it him freely, or 
perish in my attempt to keep it; or else the words may be con- 
sidered as a reply to Cloten's boast of following her to the throne 
of Augustus, and are added slily : You will either do what you 
say, or perish, which is the more probable of the two. The sub- 
sequent remark, however, of Mr. Henley, has taught me dif- 
fidence in my attempt to justify the arrangement of the old 
copies. STEEVENS. 

sc.r. CYMBELINE. 543 

CLO. Humph ! 

Pis. I'll write to my lord she's dea.d. O Imogen, 
Safe may'st thou wander, safe return again ! 

CLO. Sirrah, is this letter true ? 

Pis. Sir, as I think. 

CLO. It is Posthumus* hand ; I know't. Sirrah, 
if thou would* st not be a villain, but do me true 
service ; undergo those employments, wherein I 
should have cause to use thee, with a serious indus- 
try, that is, what villainy soe'er I bid thee do, to 
perform it, directly and truly, I would think thee 
an honest man: thou shouldest neither want my 
means for thy relief, nor my voice for thy prefer- 

Pis. Well, my good lord. 

CLO. Wilt thou serve me? For since patiently 

I cannot but think Dr. Johnson in the right, from the ac- 
count of this transaction Pisanio afterwards gave : 

" Lord Cloten, 

" Upon my lady's missing, came to me, 

" With his sword drawn ; foam'd at the mouth, and 


*' If I discovered not which way she was gone, 
*' It tvas my instant death : By accident, 
" I had a feigned letter of my master's 
'* Then in my pocket, which directed him 
" To seek her on the mountains near to Milford." 
But if the words, Or this, or perish, belong to Pisanio as the let- 
ter was feigned, they must have been spoken out, not aside. 


Cloten knew not, till it was tendered, that Pisanio had such a 
letter as he now presents ; there could therefore be no question 
concerning his giving it freely or ivith-holding it. 

These words, in my opinion, relate to Pisanio's present con- 
duct, and they mean, I think, " I must either practise this de- 
ceit upon Cloten, or perish by his fury." MA LONE. 


and constantly thou hast stuck to the bare fortune 
of that beggar Posthumus, thou canst not in the 
course of gratitude but be a diligent follower of 
mine. Wilt thou serve me ? 

Pis. Sir, I will. 

CLO. Give me thy hand, here's my purse. Hast 
any of thy late master's garments in thy possession? 

Pis. I have, my lord, at my lodging, the same 
suit he wore when he took leave of my lady and 

Ciib. The first service thou dost me, fetch that 
suit hither : let it be thy first service ; go. 

Pis. I shall, my lord. [Exit. 

CLO. Meet thee at Milford-Haven : I forgot to 
ask him one thing ; I'll remember't anon : Even 
there thou villain, Posthumus, will I kill thee. I 
would, these garments were come. She said upon 
a time, (the bitterness of it I now belch from my 
heart,) that she held the very garment of Posthu- 
mus in more respect than my noble and natural 
person, together with the adornment of my quali- 
ties. With that suit upon my back, will I ravish 
her : First kill him, and in her eyes ; there shall 
she see my valour, which will then be a torment to 
her contempt. He on the ground, my speech of 
insultment ended on his dead body, andwhen my 
lust hath dined, (which, as I say, to vex her, I will 
execute in the clothes that she so praised,) to the 
court I'll knock her back, foot her home again. 
She hath despised me rejoicingly, and I'll be merry 
in my revenge. 

K. v. CYMBELINE. 545 

He-enter PISANIO, with the Clothes. 

Be those the garments ? 
Pis. Ay, my noble lord. 

CLO. How long is't since she went to Milfbrd- 
Haven ? 

Pis. She can scarce be there yet. 

CLO. Bring this apparel to my chamber ; that is 
the second thing that 1 have commanded thee : the 
third is, that thou shalt be a voluntary mute to my 
design. Be but duteous, and true preferment shall 
tender itself to thee. My revenge is now at Mil- 
ford; 'Would I had wings to follow it! Come, 
and be true. \_Exit. 

Pis. Thou bidd'st me to my loss : for, true to 


Were to prove false, which I will never be, 
To him that is most true. 4 To Milford go, 
And rind not her whom thou pursu'st. Flow, flow, 
You heavenly blessings, on her ! This fool's speed 
Be cross'd with slowness ; labour be his meed ! 


* To him that is most true.] Pisanio, notwithstanding his 
master's letter, commanding the murder of Imogen, considers 
him as true, supposing, as he has already said to her, that Post- 
humus was abused by some villain, equally an enemy to them 
both. MALONE. 




Before the Cave o/'Belarius. 
Enter IMOGEN, in Boy's Clothes. 

I MO. I see, a man's life is a tedious one : 
I have tir'd myself; and for two nights together 
Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick, 
But that my resolution helps me. Milford, 
When from the mountain-top Pisanio show'd thee, 
Thou wast within a ken : O Jove ! I think, 
Foundations fly the wretched : 5 such, I mean, 
Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told 


I could not miss my way : Will poor folks lie, 
That have afflictions on them ; knowing 'tis 
A punishment, or trial? Yes; no wonder, 
When rich ones scarce tell true : To lapse in ful- 


Is sorer, 6 than to lie for need ; and falsehood 
Is worse in kings, than beggars. My dear lord ! 
Thou art one o'the false ones: Now I think on 


My hunger's gone ; but even before, I was 
At point to sink for food. But what is this ? 
Here is a path to it : 'Tis some savage hold : 
I were best not call ; 7 I dare not call : yet famine, 

* Foundations fly the wretched:"] Thus, in the fifth Mntid; 
" Italiam seuimuri/zVntem." STEEVENS. 

' Is sorer,] Is a greater, or heavier crime. JOHNSON. 

7 I were best not call;~\ Mr. Pope was so little acquainted with 
the language of Shakspeare's age, that instead of this the original 
reading, he substituted 'Twere best not call. MALONE. 

so. vi. CYMBELINE. 547 

Ere clean it o'erthrow nature, makes it valiant. 
Plenty, and peace, breeds cowards ; hardness ever 
Of hardiness is mother.- Ho ! who's here ? 
If any thing that's civil, 8 speak ; if savage, 
Take, or lend. 9 Ho! No answer? then I'll enter. 

If any thing that's civil,] Civil t for human creature. 


9 If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage, 

Take, or lend.] I question whether, after the words, if 
savage, a line be not lost. I can offer nothing better than to read: 

i Ho ! who's here? 

If any thing that's civil, take or lend, 

If savage, speak. 

If you are civilised and peaceable, take a price for what I want, 
or lend it for a future recompense ; if you are rough inhospita- 
ble inhabitants of the mountain, spealc, that I may know my 
state. JOHNSON. 

It is by no means necessary to suppose that savage hold signi- 
fies the habitation of a beast. It may as well be used for the cave 
of a savage, or wild man, who, in the romances of the time, were 
represented as residing in the woods, like the famous Orson, 
Bremo in the play of Mucedorus, or the savage in the seventh 
canto of the fourth Book of Spenser's Fairy Queen, and the sixth 
B. c. 4. STEEVENS. 

Steevens is right in supposing that the word savage does not 
mean, in this place, a wild beast, but a brutish man, and in 
that sense it is opposed to civil: in the former sense, the word 
human would have been opposed to it, not civil. So, in the 
next Act, Imogen says : 

" Our courtiers say, all's savage but at court." 
And in As you like it, Orlando says : 

" I thought that all things had been savage here." 


The meaning, I think, is, If any one resides here that is ac- 
customed to the modes of civil life, answer me ; but if this be 
the habitation of a wild and uncultivated man, or of one banished 
from society, that will enter into no converse, let him at least 
silently furnish me with enough to support me, accepting a price 
for it, or giving it to me without a price, in consideration of 
future recompense. Dr. Johnson's interpretation of the words 
take, or lend, is supported by what Imogen says afterwards : 

2 N 2 

.548 CYMBELINE. ACT in. 

Best draw my sword ; ' and if mine enemy 

But fear the sword like me, he'll scarcely look on't. 

Such a foe, good heavens ! 

[She goes into the Cave. 


BEL. You, Polydore, have prov'd best woodman, 8 


Are master of the feast: Cadwal, and I, 
Will play the cook and servant ; 'tis our match :* 
The sweat of industry would dry, and die, 
But for the end it works to. Come ; our stomachs 
Will make what's homely, savoury : Weariness 
Can snore upon the flint, when restive sloth 4 

" Before I enter'd here, I call'd ; and thought 
" To have begg'd, or bought, what I have took." 
but such licentious alterations as transferring words from one 
line to another, and transposing the words thus transferred, 
ought, in my apprehension, never to be admitted. MALONE. 

1 Best draw my sword ;] As elliptically, Milton, where the 
2nd brother in Comus says : 

" Best draw, and stand upon our guard." STEEVENS. 

* "woodman,] A W>odman t in its common acceptation 

(as in the present instance) signifies a hunter. For the particular 
and original meaning of the word, see Mr. Reed's note in Mea- 
sure for Measure, Vol. VI. p. 372, n. 8. STEEVENS. 

So, in The Rape ofLucrece: 

. " He is no woodman that doth bend his bow 
" Against a poor unseasonable, doe." MALONE. 

1 'tis our match :] i. e. our compact. See p. 519, 1. 19. 


4 1- token restive sloth ] Resty signified, mouldy, rank. 

See Minsheu, in v. The word is yet used in the North. Per- 
haps, however, it is here used in the same sense in which it is 
applied to a horse. MALONK. 

Restive, in the present instance, I believe, means unquiet, 
shifting its posture, like a restive horse. STEEVENS. CYMBELINE. 549 

Finds the down pillow hard. Now, peace be here, 
Poor house, that keep'st thyself! 

GUI. I am throughly weary. 

An v. I am weak with toil, yet strong in appetite. 

GUI. There is cold meat i'the cave; we'll browze 

on that, 
Whilst what we have kill'd be cook'd. 

BEL. ' Stay ; come not in : 

[Looking in. 

But that it eats our victuals, I should think 
Here were a fairy. 

GUI. What's the matter, sir ? 

BEL. By Jupiter, an angel ! or, if not, 
An earthly paragon ! 5 Behold divineness 
No elder than a boy ! 

Enter IMOGEN. 

IMO. Good masters, harm me not : 
Before Lenter'd here, I call'd ; and thought 
To have begg'd, or bought, what I have took: 

Good troth, 
I have stolen nought ; nor would not, though I had 

Gold strew'd o'the floor. 6 Here's money for my 


I would have left it on the board, so soon 
As I had made my meal ; and parted 7 

3 An earthly paragon !~\ The same phrase has already occurred 
in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : 

" No ; but she is an earthly paragon." STEEVENS. 

5 o'thejtfoor.] Old copy i'the floor. Corrected by Sir 

T. Hanmer. MALONE. 

7 and parted ] A syllable being here wanting to the 


With prayers for the provider. 

GUI. Money, youth ? 

ARV. All gold and silver rather turn to dirt ! 
As 'tis no better reckon'd, but of those 
Who worship dirty gods. 

IMO. I see, you are angry : 

Know, if you kill me for my fault, I should 
Have died, bad I not made it. 

BEL. Whither bound ? 

IMO. To Milford- Haven, sir. 8 

BEL. What is your name ? 

IMO. Fidele, sir : I have a kinsman, who 
Is bound for Italy ; he embark'd at Milford ; 
To whom being going, almost spent with hunger, 
I am fallen in this offence. 9 

BEL. Pr'ythee, fair youth, 

Think us no churls ; nor measure our good minds 
By this rude place we live in. Well encountered ! 
'Tis almost night : you shall have better cheer 
Ere you depart ; and thanks, to stay and eat it. 
Boys, bid him welcome. 

GUI. Were you a woman, youth, 

I should woo hard, but be your groom. In ho- 

measure, we might read, with Sir Thomas Hanmer and parted 
thence. STEEVENS. 

8 sir.~] This word, which is deficient in the old copies, 

has been supplied by some modern editor, for the sake of metre. 


9 I am fatten in this offence."] In, according to the ancient 
mode of writing, is here used instead of Into. Thus, in Othello : 

" Fallen in the practice of a cursed slave." 
Again, in King Richard III: 

" But first, I'll turn yon fellow in his grave." 


sc. vi. CYMBELINE. 551 

I bid for you, as I'd buy. 1 

ARV. I'll make't my comfort, 

He is a man ; I'll love him as my brother : 
And such a welcome as I'd give to him, 
After long absence, such is yours : Most welcome ! 
Be sprightly, for you fall 'mongst friends. 

IMO. 'Mongst friends ! 

If brothers ? 'Would it had been so, that' 

Had been my father's sons ! then had my 


Been less ; and so more equal ballasting 2 
To thee, Posthumus. 


1 I should woo hardy but be your groom. In honesty, 

I bid for you, as I'd buy.~\ The old copy reads as I do 
buy. The correction was made by Sir T. Hanmer. He reads 
unnecessarily, Fd bid for you, &c. In the folio the line is thus 
pointed : 

/ should woo hard, but be your groom in honesty : 
I bid for you, &c. MALONE. 

I think this passage might be better read thus : 

/ should woo hard, but be your groom. In honesty, 
I bid for you, as I'd buy. 

That is, I should woo hard, but / would be your bridegroom. 

[And when I say that I should woo hard, be assured that] in 

honesty I bid for you, only at the rate at which I would purchase 


* then had my prize 

Been less; and so more equal ballasting ~\ Sir T. Hanmer 
reads plausibly, but without necessity, price for prize, and ba- 
lancing for ballasting. He is followed by Dr. Warburton. The 
meaning is, Had I been less a prize, I should not have been too 
heavy for Posthumus. JOHNSON. 

The old reading is undoubtedly the true one. So, in King 
Henry VI. P. III. 

" It is war's prize to take all vantages." 
Again, Ibidem : 

" Methinks, 'tis prize enough to be his son." 
The same word occurs again in this play of Cymbeline y as well 
as in Hamlet. STEEVENS. 


BEL. He wrings at some distress. 3 

GUI. 'Would, I could free't ! 

Anr. Or I ; whatever it be, 

What pain it cost, what danger ! Gods ! 

BEL. Hark, boys. 


IMO. Great men, 

That had a court no bigger than this cave, 
That did attend themselves, and had the virtue 
Which their own conscience seal'd them, (laying by 
That nothing gift of differing multitudes,) 4 

Between price and prize the distinction was not always ob- 
served in our author's time, nor is it at this day ; for who has 
not heard persons above the vulgar confound them, and talk of 
high-priz'd and \o\v-priz'd goods ? MALONE. 

The sense is, then had the prize thou hast mastered in me been 
less, and not have sunk thee, as I have done, by over-lading 
thee. HEATH. 

3 He tarings at some distress.] i. e. writhes with anguish. So, 
in our author's Muck Ado about Nothing: 

" To those that wring under the load of sorrow." 
Again, in Tom Tyler and his Wife, bl. 1. 

" I think I have made the cullion to wring." STEEVENS. 

4 That nothing gift of differing multitudes,] The poet must 
mean, that court, that obsequious adoration, which the shifting 
vulgar pay to the great, is a tribute of no price or value. I am 
persuaded therefore our poet coined this participle from the 
French verb, and wrote : 

That nothing gift qfdefermg multitudes: 

i. e. obsequious, paying deference. Deferer, Ceder par re- 
spect a quelqu'un, obeir, condescendre, &c. Deferent, civil, re- 
spectueux, &c. Richelet. THEOBALD. 

He is followed by Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton ; 
but I do not see why differing may not be a general epithet, and 
the expression equivalent to the many-headed rabble. JOHNSON. 

It certainly may ; but then nothing is predicated of the many- 
headed multitude, unless we supply words that the text does not 
exhibit, " That worthless boon of the differing or many-headed 
multitude, [attending upon them, and paying their court to CYMBELINE. 555 

Could not out-peer these twain. Pardon me, gods I 
I'd change my sex to be companion with them, 
Since Leonatus false. 5 

BEL. It shall be so : 

Boys, we'll go dress our hunt. Fair youth, come 

in : 
Discourse is heavy, fasting j when we have supp'd, 

them ; ] " or suppose the whole line to be a periphrasis for adu- 
lation or obeisance. 

There was no such word as defering or deferring in Shak- 
speare's time. " Deferer a une compaigne," Cotgrave, in his 
Dictionary, 1611, explains thus: " To yeeld, referre, or attri- 
bute much, unto a companie." MALONE. 

That nothing gift which the multitude are supposed to bestow, 
is glory, reputation, which is a present of little value from their 
hands ; as they are neither unanimous in giving it, nor constant 
in continuing it. HEATH. 

I believe the old to be the right reading. Differing multitudes 
means unsteady multitudes, who are continually changing their 
opinions, and condemn to-day what they yesterday applauded. 


Mr. M. Mason's explanation is just. So, in the Induction to 
The Second Part of King Henry IV: 

" The still discordant, luatfring multitude." 


* Since Leonatus false.'] Mr. M. Mason would read : 

Since Leonatus is false. 

but this conjecture is injurious to the metre. If we are to con- 
nect the words in question with the preceding line, and suppose 
that Imogen has completed all she meant to say, we might read : 

Since Leonate is false. 

Thus, for the convenience of versification, Shakspeare some- 
times calls Prospero, Prosper, and Enobarbws, Enobarbe. 


As Shakspeare has used " thy mistress' ear," and " Menelaus' 
tent," for thy mistresses ear, and Menelauses tent, so, with still 
greater licence, he uses Since Leonatus false, for Since Leo- 
natus is false. MALONE. 

Of such a licence, I believe, there is no example either in the 
works of Shakspeare, or of any other author. STEEVENS. 


We'll mannerly demand thee of thy story, 
So far as thou wilt speak it. 
GUI. Pray, draw near. 

ARV. The night to the owl, and morn to the 

lark, less welcome. 
IMO. Thanks, sir. 
ARF. I pray, draw near. \_Exeunt. 


Enter Two Senators and Tribunes. 

. This is the tenour of the emperor's writ ; 
That since the common men are now in action 
'Gainst the Pannonians and Dalmatians j 
And that 6 the legions now in Gallia are 
Full weak to undertake our wars against 
The fallen-off Britons ; that we do incite 
The gentry to this business : He creates 
Lucius pro-consul : and to you the tribunes, 
For this immediate levy, he commands 
His absolute commission. 7 Long live Cassar ! 

8 That since the common men are now in action 
'Gainst the Pannonians and Dalmatians; 
And that &c.] These facts are historical. STEEVENS. 

See p. 505, n. 9. MALONE. 

7 - and to you the tribunes, 

For this immediate levy, he commands 

His absolute commission."] He commands the commission to 
be given to you. So we say, I ordered the materials to the work- 
men. JOHNSON. 


Tsi. Is Lucius general of the forces ? 

2 SEN. Ay. 

TRI. Remaining now in Gallia ? 

1 SEN. With those legions 

Which I have spoke of, whereunto your levy 
Must be supplyant : The words of your commission 
Will tie you to the numbers, and the time 
Of their despatch. 

TRI. We will discharge our duty. 



The Forest, near the Cave. 
Enter CLOTEN. 

CLO. I am near to the place where they should 
meet, if Pisanio have mapped it truly. How fit 
his garments serve me ! Why should his mistress, 
who was made by him that made the tailor, not be 
fit too ? the rather (saving reverence of the word) 
for 8 'tis said, a woman's fitness comes by fits. 
Therein I must play the workman. I dare speak 
it to myself, (for it is not vain-glory, for a man 
and his glass to confer; in his own chamber, I 
mean,) the lines of my body are as well drawn as 
his j no less young, more strong, not beneath him 

../or ] i. e. because. See p. 568, n. 4. STEEVENS. 


in fortunes, beyond him in the advantage of the 
time, above him in birth, alike conversant in ge- 
neral services, and more remarkable in single op- 
positions : 9 yet this imperseverant 1 thing loves him 
in my despite. What mortality is ! rosthumus, 
thy head, which now is growing upon thy shoulders, 
shall within this hour be off; thy mistress enforced ; 
thy garments cut to pieces before thy face : 2 and 
all this done, spurn her home to her father ; 3 who 
may, haply, be a little angry for my so rough usage : 
but my mother, having power of his testiness, shall 
turn all into my commendations. My horse is tied 

9 in single oppositions :] In single combat. So, in King 

Henry I V.P.I: 

" In single opposition, hand to hand, 
" He did confound the best part of an hour, 
" In changing hardiment with great Glendower." 
An opposite was in Shakspeare the common phrase for an ad- 
versary, or antagonist. See Vol. XIV. p. 521, n. 4. M ALONE. 

1 imperseverant ] Thus the former editions. Sir T. 

Hanmer reads ill-per sever ant. JOHNSON. 

Imperseverant may mean no more than perseverant, like ini- 
bosomed, impassioned, z'm-masked. STEEVENS. 

* before thyjface.-] Posthumus was to have his head 

struck off, and then his garments cut to pieces before his face ! 
We should read her face, i. e. Imogen's : done to despite her, 
who had said, she esteemed Posthumus's garment above the per- 
son of Cloten. WARBURTON. 

Shakspeare, who in The Winter's Tale, makes a Clown say : 
" If thou'lt see a thing to talk on after thou art dead," would not 
scruple to give the expression in the text to so fantastick a cha- 
racter as Cloten. The garments of Posthumus might indeed be 
cut to pieces before hisjhce, though his head were off; no one, 
however, but Cloten, would consider this circumstance as any 
aggravation of the insult. MALONE. 

3 spurn her home to her father ;] Cloten seems to delight 

in rehearsing to himself his brutal intentions ; for all this he has 
already said in a former scene : " and when my lust hath 
dined, to the court I'll knock her back, foot her home again." 


sc. it. CYMBELINE. 557 

up safe : Out, sword, and to a sore purpose ! For- 
tune, put them into my hand ! This is the very 
description of their meeting-place j and the fellow 
dares not deceive me. [Exit. 


Before the Cave. 

Enter, from the Cave, BELARIUS, GUIDERIUS, 

BEL. You are not well: [To IMOGEN.] remain 

here in the cave ; 
We'll come to you after hunting. 

ARV. Brother, stay here ; 

Are we not brothers ? 

IMO. So man and man should be ; 

But clay and clay differs in dignity, 
Whose dust is both alike. I am very sick. 

GUI. Go you to hunting, I'll abide with him. 

IMO. So sick I am not ; yet I am not well : 
But not so citizen a wanton, as 
To seem to die, ere sick : So please you, leave me ; 
Stick to your journal course : the breach of custom 
Is breach of all. 4 I am ill ; but your being by me 
Cannot amend me : Society is no comfort 

* Stick to your journal course : the breach of custom 

Is breach of all."] Keep your daily course uninterrupted; 
if the stated plan of life is once broken, nothing follows but 
confueion. JOHNSON. 


To one not sociable : I'm not very 
Since I can reason of it. Pray you, trust me here: 
I'll rob none but myself; ana let me die, 
Stealing so poorly. 

GUI. . I love thee ; I have spoke it : 

How much the quantity, 5 the weight as much, 
As I do love my father. 

BEL. What? how? how? 

ARV. If it be sin to say so, sir, I yoke me 
In my good brother's fault : I know not why 
I love this youth ; and I have heard you say, 
Love's reason's without reason ; the bier at door, 
And a demand who is't shall die, I'd say, 
My father, not this youth. 

BEL. O noble strain ! [Aside. 

worthiness of nature ! breed of greatness ! 
Cowards father cowards, and base things sire base : 
Nature hath meal, and bran ; contempt, and grace. 

1 am not their father ; yet who this should be, 
Doth miracle itself, lov'd before me. 

'Tis the ninth hour o'the morn. 

AitV. Brother, farewell. 

IMO. I wish ye sport. 

A RT. You health. So please you, sir. 6 

IMO. [Aside."} These are kind creatures. Gods, 
what lies I have heard ! 

4 How much the quantity,] I read As much the quantity. 


Surely the present reading has exactly the same meaning. Hem 
much soever the mass of my affection to my father may be, so 
much precisely is my love for thee : and as much as my filial love 
weighs, so much also weighs my affection for thee. MALONE. 

So phase you, >.] I cannot relish this courtly phrase 
from the mouth of Arviragus. It should rather, I think, begin 
Imogen's speech. TYRWHITT. 


Our courtiers say, all's savage, but at court : 

Experience, O, thou disprov'st report ! 

The imperious seas 7 breed monsters j for the dish, 

Poor tributary rivers as sweet fish. 

I am sick still ; heart-sick : Pisanio, 

I'll now taste of thy drug. 

GUI. I could not stir him : s 

He said, he was gentle, but unfortunate ; 9 
Dishonestly afflicted, but yet honest. 

ARV. Thus did he answer me : yet said, hereafter 
I might know more. 

BEL. To the field, to the field : 

We'll leave you for this time ; go in, and rest. 

ARV. We'll not be long away. 

BEL. Pray, be not sick, 

For you must be our housewife. 

IMO. Well, or ill, 

I am bound to you. 

BEL. And so shalt be ever. 1 

[Exit IMOGEN. 

This youth,howe'erdistress'd, 2 appears,he hath had 
Good ancestors. 

7 The imperious seas "] Imperious was used by Shakspeare 
for imperial. See Vol. XV. p. 416, n. 8. MALONE. 

8 / could not stir him:] Not move him to tell his story. 


9 gentle, but unfortunates'] Gentle, is noell-born, of birth 

above the vulgar. JOHNSON. 

Rather, of rank above the vulgar. So, in King Henry V : 
" be he ne'er so vile, 
" This day shall gentle his condition." STEEVENS. 
1 And so shalt be ever.~\ The adverb so, was supplied by Sir 
Thomas Hanmer for the sake of metre. STEEVENS. 
8 Imo. Well, or ill, 
I am bound to you. 
Bel. And so shalt be ever. 
This youth, hawe'er distressed, &c.~] These speeches are 


Anr. How angel-like he sings ! 

GUI. But his neat cookery ! 3 He cut our roots in 

characters ; * 

And sauc'd our broths, as Juno had been sick, 
And he her dieter. 

ARV. Nobly he yokes 

A smiling with a sigh : as if the sigh 
Was that it was, for not being such a smile ; 
The smile mocking the sigh, that it would fly 
From so divine a temple, to commix 
With winds that sailors rail at. 

GUI. I do note, 

That grief and patience, rooted in him both, 5 
Mingle their spurs together. 6 

improperly distributed between Imogen and Belarius ; and I 
flatter myself that every reader of attention will approve of my 
amending the passage, and dividing them in the following 
manner : 

Imo. Well, or ill, 
I am bound to you; and shall be ever. 

Bel. This youth, howe'er distressed, &c. M. MASON. 

And shalt be ever.~] That is, you shall ever receive from me 
the same kindness that you do at present : you shall thus only be 
lound to me for ever. MALONE. 

3 Gui. But his neat cookery! &c.] Only the first four words 
of this speech are given in the old copy to Guiderius : The name 
of Arviragus is prefixed to the remainder, as well as to the next 
speech. The correction was made by Mr. Steevens. MALONE. 

4 He cut our roots in characters ;] So, in Fletcher's Elder 

Brother, Act IV : 

" And how to cut his meat in characters" STEEVENS. 

* rooted in him both,'] Old copy in them. Corrected 

by Mr. Pope. MALONE. 

6 Mingle their spurs together."} Spurs, an old word for the 
fibres of a tree. POPE. 

Spurs are the longest and largest leading roots of trees. Our 
poet has again used the same word in The Tempest : 

56'. ii. CYMBELINE. 561 

ARV. Grow, patience ! 

And let the stinking. elder, grief, untwine 
His perishing root, with the increasing vine ! 7 

BEL. It is great morning. 8 Come j away. Who's 
there ? 

Enter CLOTEN. 

CLO. I cannot find those runagates ; that villain 
Hath mock'd me : I am faint. 

BEL. Those runagates ! 

" -' - the strong bas'cl promontory 
" Have I made shake, and by the spurs 
" Pluck'd up the pine and cedar." 

Hence probably the spur of a post ; the short wooden buttress 
affixed to it, to keep it firm in the ground. MA LONE. 

, 7 And let the stinking elder, grief, untwine 

His perishing root, with the increasing vine !J Shakspeare 
had only seen English vines which grow against walls, and there- 
fore may be sometimes entangled with the elder. Perhaps we 
should read 'Untwine^from the vine. JOHNSON. 

Surely this is the meaning of the words without any change. 
May patience increase, and may the stinking elder, grief, jio 
longer twine his decaying [or destructive, if perishing is used 
actively, 3 root with the vine, patience, thus increasing! As to 
untwine is here used for to cease to twine, so in King Henry VIII. 
the word uncontemned having been used, the poet has constructed 
the remainder of the sentence as if he had written not contemned. 
See Vol. XV. p. 115, n. 6. MALONE. 

Sir John Hawkins proposes to read entwine. He says " Let 
the stinking elder \_Gric f~\ entwine his root with the vine 
\_Patience~] and in the end Patience must outgrow Grief." 


There is no need of alteration. The elder is a plant whose 
roots are much shorter lived than the vine's, and as those of the 
vine swell and outgrow them, they must of necessity loosen their 
hold. HENLEY. 

8 It is great morning.^ A Gallicism. Grand jour. See Vol. 
XV. p. 391, n. 1. STEEVEXS. 



Means he not us ? I partly know him ; 'tis 
Cloten, the son o'the queen. I fear some ambush. 
I saw him not these many years, and yet 
I know 'tis he: We are held as outlaws: Hence. 

GUI. He is but one : You and my brother search 
What companies are near : pray you, away ; 
Let me alone with him. 


CLO. Soft ! What