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made the Spaniards in Q. Mary's day to wonder, and say, “ these English have their houses made of sticks and dirt, but they fare commonly so well as the king.” Harrison's Description of England, prefixed to Hollingsh. p. 187. Ellis's Specimen of Engl. Poets, 1811, 1. 322. Hume, in bis Hist. vol. V. note P. P. states Harrison's work to have been printed 1577.
Cotgrave, in 1611, cited by Mr. Malone, interprets “ Lis de vent, a gust or flaw of wind :" and Carew, in his Survey of Corn. wall, 1602, tells us, “one kind of these storms they call a flaw, or flaugh, which is a mightie gale of wind, passing suddainely to the shore, and working strong effects upon whatsoever it incountreth in his way." fo. 5, b. We find in Florio's Ital. Dict. 1598 : “ Groppo, a flaw, or berrie of wind." Todd's Dict. And here we will add from Roberte Whytinton, poet laureate's Tullyes offyces, “ That rageous pyrey of civyle and intestyne discensyon amonge them selfe. Illius civilis et intestini dissidii tumultus.” To the Reader, 8vo. 1534. For winter's, the quartos read “ water's flaw.”
(26) Shards] Broken pieces of earthenware, pot-sherds, something shorn off. Skærf, fragmen. Suio-Goth. testa. scherf. Belg. Angli f in d mutant. Shardes of an earthen pot. fragmentum testæ ruptæ." Ihre's Gloss. Suiog. Shards, scare, and shreds, are all derived, says Mr. Tooke, from the Sax. verb to divide or separate. Divers. of Purley, II. 173.: and consistently therewith, sheard, shard, and shern are used in the sense of fragment, shell, scale, or sheath, of insects' wings, and dung. “A sharde, or broken piece of a tyle. Testa.” Wythals's shorte Dict. 4to. 1568, fo. 32, b. “ Shardes, or pieces of stones, broken or shattered.” Sub voce Rubble. Baret. Mr. Ritson cites Job, ii. 8: “And he took him a potsherd, (i. e, a piece of a broken pot,) to scrape himself withal.”
In Baret it is also is the shell of an egg or snail.” For this sense, or that of sheath and scale, see Macb. III. 2. Macb.
“ the shard-borne beetle."
“ I scorn all earthly dung bred scarabies," Idea, XXXI. Mr. Tollet states, that in the north of Staffordshire cowsherd is the word generally used for cow-dung. “ The humble-bee taketh no scorn to loge on a cowe's foule shard." A petite palace of Pettie his pleasure, p. 164. “ Turf, and peat, and cow-sheards, are cheap fuels, and last long.” Bacon's Nat. Hist. exp. p. 775; and Mr. Holt White adds,“ how that nation, rising like the beetle from the cowshern, hurtleth against al things. A brief Discourse of the Spanish State, 1590, p. 3.
(27) virgin rites] For rites, crants, the reading of the quartos, is adopted by the modern editors : upon which Dr.
* I have been informed by an anonymous correspondent, that crants is the German word for garlands, and I suppose it was retained by us from the Saxons. To carry gar
lands before the bier of a maiden, and to hang them over her grave, is still the practice in rural parishes.
Crants therefore was the original word, which the author, discovering to be provincial, and perhaps not understood, changed to a term more intelligible, but less proper. Muiden rites give do 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.”
Mr. Tollet adds, in Minshieu's Dictionary, see Beades, where rovsen krants means sertum rosarium ; and such is the name of a character in this play. And Mr. Steevens observes, the names Rosenkrantz and Gyldenstiern occur frequently in Rostgard's Deliciæ Poetarum Danorum. (28) To sing sage requiem, and such rest to her
As to peace-parted souls] Whatever foundation there may have been for the course here taken, either in the rigid notions of the age, or the severity of ecclesiastical rules, to us she has ever appeared throughout, and as her story is told by the queen, to have been a most unhappy and pitiable maniac; and hence the prodigious interest she at all times excites. Sage, it is conceived, is grave and solemn requiem. The modern editors, with the quartos, read “ a requiem." (29) from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring]
“ Nascentur violæ ?" Pers. I. 37. (30) churlisb priest] Churlish is figuratively“ ill-humoured, and ill-bred;" and of course uncourtly, as in its primitive sense vř rustic and rude.” And we shall here present the reader with an extract from the Promptuar. parvulor, 1514.
“ Churlysshe prest. Ego nis vel econis." « Ego (onis et egona) ne. i. seculum: vel ut dicit papias. Egones in plurali sunt sacerdotes rustici, producen. penult." Ortus Vocabulorum, 4to. 1514. Churlysshe. rusticalis. churle or carle. rusticus." Prompt. parv.
We would not have it here inferred that our author meant to convey any other idea than that which the words present to us now; or that he meant more than to use such low phrase or general invective, as “ country parson, or hedge priest;' but the coincidence, the combination is at least singular, and may be thought not unworthy the notice of the curious.
(31) Wou'lt drink up Esile ? Esill, 4tos.] The Yssel. Of the vast river, Rhine, the most northern branch, (that which is the nearest to Denmark, and which runs by Zutphen and Deventer into the Zuyder Zee) is called Yssell, and gives name to one of the most northern of the united provinces. This name, the
Issell, or Izel, was familiar, as Mr. Steevens has shown, to Stowe and Drayton; and the idea of drinking up seas is elsewhere to be met with in our author :
" the task he undertakes
R. II. Green. II. 2. Neither is it impossible that it should be the Vistula, or Weissel, as Mr. Steevens intimates ; but, as he has given the name of Weissel only, without the least information beyond it, it may
be necessary to add, that in the Geography of Europe, from king Alfred's Anglo-Saxon version of Orosius, annexed to Ingram's Inaugural Lecture upon the Saxon language, 4to. 1808, we have “ Weonodland (the country from Pomerania to the Frisch Haff] was, &c. all which land is subject to Denmark. Weonodland was, &c. as far as Weisselmouth. The Weissel* is a very large river ; and near it lie Witland and Weonodland, and out of Weonodland flows the river Weissel, which empties itself into Estmere [Frisch Haff]."
But, though it was once subject to Denmark, and is, besides, by far the greatest river that empties itself into the Baltic, even if its name, as offered both to the eye and ear, were closer to the word in the text than it is, it is very little likely that Shakespeare was read in the early Danish history or geography, or that he would give himself any concern about them. He took his geography from more ready and accessible sources, and from points nearer home.
There is no doubt but that Esil was formerly a term in com. mon use for vinegar. Our early dictionaries (ever meagre and scanty compilations, and no evidence of the non-existence of words even of the most common uset) will confirm this. “ Esyll. Acetum." Promptuar. parvulor. 4to. 1514. Wynk. de W. “ Acetum. Aysell.” Ortus Vocabulor. 4to. 1514.
Yet, though this was the use of the word as low as Shakespeare's day, it is not to be conceived, that even in his rant a madman could propose to drink up all vinegar or all water. It was indeed his purpose to rant, to propose something wild and extravagant, something not practicable, but still not any thing so absurd as well as impossible, that even the most perverted understanding must revolt at it. He therefore proposes to do that, as an individual and extravagant enough that), which
Weitel, Weichsel or Weissel, called by the Poles Wisla (and in king Alfred's orthography Wisle), is called by the Latins Vistula. The mouth of the Vistula is now called Weissel-munde: and king Alfred calls Poland Wisleland.” Foster and Ingram's Notes.
+ Of the existence of a large portion of the words of the 16th century in common use, of words in use by scholars and persons of condition, as well as those used in common parlance and low life, our most copious modern dictionaries afford not the slightest hint or intimation. This, so far as respects literary men, will be evident to every one who will give himself the trouble of looking into the early translations of the Latin Poets: of Seneca by Newton, Heywood, &c., Ovid, by Arthur Golding, Horace, by Diant, or Virgil, by Phaer, &c.
Xerxes' myriads are said to have accomplished ; i. e. he proposes, he would set about drinking up a river (and the mention of a large river very possibly suggested to his mind the next image, that of a monstrous inhabitant of rivers, although there were no crocodiles in that region of the world), and about eating a crocodile.
(32) This speech in the 4tos. is given to the Queen, to whose character it is better suited. But if Shakespeare designed it for the King, he may be justified, perhaps, by some such reasoning as this.
He had told us before, that the King was under extreme apprehension, that the unhappy fate of Ophelia would make the heat of Laertes, which he had then with great difficulty appeased, flame out anew. His speech was therefore the dictate of this apprehension, and did not convey his sentiment. He dissembled: but his interference was more likely to have weight with Laertes than that of the Queen; and, after what had been concerted between him and Laertes, his affected tenderness for Hamlet would be perfectly understood.
(33) When that her golden couplets are disclos'd] Appear, are developed. See III. 1. King.
“ To disclose was anciently used for to hatch. So, in The Booke of Huntynge, Hawkyng, Fyshing, &c. bl. l. no date : “ First they bene eges; and after they ben disclosed, haukes ; and commonly goshaukes ben disclosed as sone as the choughes." To exclude is the technical term at present. During three days after the pigeon has hatched her couplets, (for she lays no more than two 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 considerable 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
(34) What is the reason that you use me thus ?
do not be so bitter with me,
(35) This grave shall have a living monument] There is an ambiguity in this phrase. In its more obvious sense it is a
durable monument, such as should outlive time; but from the tenor of the preceding and subsequent lines, it may be doubted whether our author did not here, in a covert way, glance at the impending fate and sacrifice of Hamlet ; and in a licentious, and even punning phraseology, not at all alien to his manner, mean, by the words “ living monument,” to shadow, or darkly and in masqued phrase, to convey to Laertes the sense of “a memorial raised by the extinction of life, or the wreck of some person in existence?"
(36) Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting,
That would not let me sleep] Misgiving and distrust of ill practices against him, produced this struggle or agitation in his bosom, not so much on any personal consideration, as on that of his revenge being unsatisfied; and, should he by any, impending chance be cut off, that his promise also, and his oath, would be upfulfilled. Mr. Malone refers to Tr. and Cr.
“ Within my soul there doth commence a fight,
« Of this strange nature," &c. (37) mutines in the bilboes] To mutine was formerly used for to mutiny. III. 4. Haml. 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.”
MALONE. 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 instruments of steel were fabricated in the utmost perfection. To understand Shakespeare's allusion completely, it should be known, that as these fetters connect the legs of the offenders
ether, 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. STEEVENS.
(38) When our dear plots do pall] Lose their spirit, poignancy, and virtue ; become abortive. Mr. Seymour says,
“ Miscarry surfeit-slain with policy." Mr. Malone cites Ant, and Cl.: “ I'll never follow thy pall'd fortunes more."
II. 7. Menas. (39) There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will] That points or fashions our purposes, brings them according to his good pleasure to a close, how ill soever or unskilfully conceived or entered upon.