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“ Whom faire Corinna sits, and doth comply
(56) commended him to you] Made a gracious and respectful intimation. “ The mayster commaundeth hym to you. Herus meus salutes tibi impertit.” Vulgaria Stanbrigi, 4to. Wynk. de Worde.
"'Tis a word
(57) the readiness is all. Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be] “ Ripeness is all," is a reflection upon leaving life made by Edgar in Lear, V. 2. Then “ since no man has (i. e. has any secure hold, or can properly be denominated the possessor, of) any portion of that which he leaves, or must leave, behind him, of what moment is it, that this leave-taking, or the parting with a possession so frail, should be made early? Let things take their course!" The reading of the quartos, adopted by the modern editors, is “ Since no man of aught he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.” And this, Dr. Johnson says, may mean,
66 since no man knows aught of the state of life which h: 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 happiness, 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 Providence."
(58) But in my terms of honour, I stand aloof ] There is a passage somewhat similar in The Maid's Tragedy:
“ Eved. Will you forgive me then?
(59) in the cup an union] In the first quarto we have unice, which in the subsequent quarto copies was made onyx. An union is a very precious pearl. See Bullokar's English Expositor, 1616, and Florio's Ital. Dict. 1598, in v. Malone,
Ay, were it Cleopatra's union.” Solim. and Perseda. “ And hereupon it is that our dainties and delicates here at Rome, &c. call them unions, as a man would say singular and by themselves alone." Holland's Plin. Nat. Hist.
In If you know not Me, you know Nobody, P. II, 1606, Sir Thomas Gresham says:
« Here 16,000 pound at one clap goes.
“ Unto his queen and mistress.” Pearls were supposed to possess an exhilarating quality. Thus, Rondelet. Lib. I. de Testac. c. XV : " Uniones quæ à conchis &c. valde cordiales sunt.” STEEVENS.
(60) The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet] In humbler language, drinks good luck to you. So David and Bethsabe, 1599 :
“ With full carouses to his fortune past." Steevens.
(61) make a wanton of me] Make child's play, trifle with me.
so citizen a wanton, as
Shall a beardless boy,
K. John, V. 1. Bast.
(62) We here find Laertes, who was not wounded till after Hamlet, first dying of a poison, described as singularly quick in its operation; and advising Hainlet, who is made to support a conversation some time afterwards, of a danger, of which he was not then aware. The purposes of the drama might require that Hamlet should survive, and the same, i. e. the same quantity or degree of poison, may affect different habits differently; but the poison of the “ anointed” sword, which had first entered the body and was steeped with the blood of Hamlet, must, one would think, in the second instance, have lost something of its active quality, and would consequently have been more slowly operative upon Laertes.
(63) (as this fell sergeant, death,
when that fell arrest,
(64) The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit] Overpowers, exults over; no doubt an image taken from the lofty carriage of a victorious cock. Mr. Steevens quotes
“ Shall I ? th' embassadress of gods and men,
« Like the vain bubble of Iberian pride,
Hall's Sat. V.2. This phrase, which often occurs in the controversial pieces of Gabriel Harvey, 1593, is also found in Chapman's Odyssey:
and told his foe
“ The poorest guest—" B. XXI. Mr. Malone instances “ These noblemen laboured with tooth and nayle to over-crow, and consequently to overthrow, one another." Holingsh. Hist. of Ireland : and the epistle prefixed to Nashe's Apology of Pierce Pennilesse, 1593 : “ About two
certayne demi-divine took upon him to set his foote to mine, and over-crowe me with comparative terms.”
See “grunt and sweat,” III. 2. Haml.
(65) occurrents] The word in use at that day for occurrences. “A newes-monger tels him there are excellent and happy occurrents abroad." Is. Healy's Theophrastus, 18mo. 1610,
(66) Now cracks a noble heart]
“ If thou liv'st, Pericles, thou hast a heart
O proud death! What feast is toward in thine eternal cell] “ How art thou glutted, what feast is now at hand in the open thrown gates of thy insatiable, endless, everlasting cell?” We have in I. 5. “ eternal blazon,” Ghost.
This wide waste of spoil, this quarry or pile of noble and royal victims, at once his trophy and prey, is represented as a provin sion for a feast, and is used in the same sense, as when in I. H. VI. Talbot tells his son,
“ Now thou art come unto a feast of death.' IV. 5. And in K. John, II. 2. Bast.
“ And now Death feasts, mousing the flesh of men." This allusion has no doubt some connexion with the usage of all the northern nations, their Ambarvalia or Arval suppers referred to by Hamlet, I. 2.
66 The funeral bak'd meats “ Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” An usage, which also probably originated in the ancient ceremonies of most nations; their parentalia, or oblations to the manes of the dead.
(68) give order, that these bodies
High on a stage be placed to the view] This idea was apparently taken from Arthur Brooke's Tragicall Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, 1562: “ The prince did straight ordaine, the corses that wer
founde, “ Should be set forth upon a stage hye raysed from the
grounde," &c. Steevens.
(69) Os carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts] Of sanguinary and unnatural acts, to which the perpetrator was instigated by, concupiscence, or, to use our poct's own words, by “ carnal stings.” The speaker alludes to the murder of old Hamlet by his brother, previous to his incestuous union with Gertrude.