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0, for two special reasons ; Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinewd, But yet to me they are strong. The queen, his
mother, Lives almost by his looks; and for myself, (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? bear him : Who, dipping all his faults in their affection, Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone, Convert bis gyves to graces 3 ; so that my arrows, Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind“, 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, Stood challenger on mount of all the 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 dangero,
2 i. e. the common race of the people. We have the general and the million in other places in the same sense.
Would, like the spring which turneth wood to stone, convert his fetters into graces :' punishment would only give him more grace in their opinion. The quarto reads work for would.
my arrows Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind.' • Lighte shaftes cannot stand in a rough wind.'— Ascham's Toxophilus, 1589, p. 57.
If praises may go back again.' If I may praise what has been, but is now to be found no more.'
• Idcirco stolidam præbet tibi vellere barbam
Persius, Sat. ii.
And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more:
Enter a Messenger. Mess.
Letters, my lord, from Hamlet : 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 received 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. What should this mean! Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing? Laer. Know
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 come; It warms the
sickness in my heart,
If it be so, Laertes,
? How now is omitted in the quarto: as is letters in the next speech.
8 This hemistich is not in the folio.
Ay, my lord; So you
will not o'errule me to a peace9. King. To thine own peace. If he be now re
My lord, I will be rul'd;
It falls right.
What part is that, my lord ? King. A very riband 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,
9 First folio omitting Ay, my lord, reads If so you'll not o'errule me to a peace.
10 To check, to hold off, or fly from, as in fear. It is a phrase taken from falconry :
-For who knows not, quoth she, that this hawk, which comes now so fair to the fist, may to-morrow check at the lure.'-Hinde's Eliosto Libidinoso, 1606.
11 Of the unworthiest siege, of the lowest rank : siege for seat or place :
I fetch my birth
Importing health and graveness 1.-Two months
A Norman was't?
The very same.
of all the nation. King. He made confession of you; And gave you such a masterly report, For art and exercise in your defence 14, And for your rapier most especial, That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed, If one could match you: the scrimers 15 of their
nation, He swore,
had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
12 i. e. implying or denoting gravity and attention to health. If we should not rather read wealth for health,
" That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks.' • That I, in imagining and describing his feats,' &c.
14 Science of defence, i. e. fencing.
15 Scrimers, fencers, from escrimeur, Fr. This unfavourable description of French swordsmen is not in the folio.
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 16; And that I see, in passages of proof, Time qualifies the spark and fire of it. There lives within the very flame of love A kind of wick, or snuff, that will abate it: And nothing is at a like goodness still ; For goodness, growing to a plurisy 17, Dies in his own too-much: That we would do, We should do when we would; for this would changes, And hath abatements and delays as many, As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents ; And then this should is like a spendthrift's sigh 18,
16 • But that I know love is begun by time,' &c. 'As love is begun by time, and has its gradual increase, so time qualifies and abates it. Passages of proof are transactions of daily experi
The next ten lines are not in the folio. 17 Plurisy is superabundance ; our ancestors used the word in this sense, as if it came from plus, pluris, and not from alevpà. The disease was formerly thought to proceed from too much blood flowing to the part affected :
in a word,
Massinger's Unnatural Combat. 18 Johnson says it is a prevalent notion' that sighs impair the strength, and wear out the animal powers.' Steevens makes a ludicrous mistake in the quotation from the Governal of Helth, wherein he takes sythes (times) to signify sighs. Shakspeare in King Henry VI. has blood-consuming sighs. And in Fenton's Tragical Discourses :- Your scorching sighes that have already drained your body of his wholesome humoures. The reading of the old copies, which I have restored, had been altered in the modern editions to ' a spendthrift sigh, without reason. Mr. Blakeway justly observes, that . Sorrow for neglected opportu