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Textus Roffensis, instances, “ All priestly functions of houseling and aveyling.” The letter v, he says, is a misprint. And Mr. Tyrwhitt cites Morte d'Arthur, p. III. c. 175. “So when he was houseled and aneled, and had all that a Christian man ought to have.”
(102) pale his uneffectual fire] Make dim: shew less distinctly a flame that never shot a beam to any efficient purpose.
(103) from the table of my memory] Tables were books, which it was fashionable to carry for the purpose of minuting any thing that occurred. Mr. Steevens instances the Induction to the Malecontent, 1604. “I tell you I am one that hath seen this play often, and give them intelligence for their action: 1 have most of the jests of it here in my table-book." In Antonio's Revenge, Balurdo draws out his writing tables and writes,
“ Retort and obtuse, good words, very good words.” And Dr. Farmer, “ 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." Hall's Character of the Hypocrite.
And see II. H. IV. Archb. IV. 1.
(104) Now to my word] A soldier upon duty must bear in memory the word; and with this idea the play opens. Mr. Steevens instances, in the Devil's Charter, 1607,
“ Now to my watch-word;" adding, that at this time it was, Adieu, adieu ! remember me!”
(105) Hillo, ho, ho, boy] From the Fr. “ Ty a hillaut.* Venerie de Jacques Foilleux, 1633, p. 12. Steevens.
See “Holla," As you, &c. III. 2. Celia.
(106) 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.
“ Yet ere I journie, lle ge see the kyte:
Tyro's Roaring Megge, 1598. STEEVENS.
(107) Yes, by St. Patrick] That the whole northern world in early times drew their learning, as is said, from Ireland, may account, indeed, for St. Patrick being known in Denmark: but this will not very satisfactorily account for his name having become a familiar oath with a prince of Denmark. As Shakespeare gave the living manners, customs, and habits of thinking, of his own country, to those of all ages and countries that he
introduced upon the stage, he would little hesitate to make any stranger invoke the name of a saint familiar and popular in his
(108) true-penny] This word, as well as some of Hamlet's former exclamations, we find in The Malcontent, 1604: “ lllo, ho, ho, ho; art thou there old True-penny?"
STEEVENS, This conduct of Hamlet at such a moment has been thought by some to have been unwarrantable, far too trifling and ludi, crous, and ill corresponding with nature or the decorum of dramatic character. To us, on the contrary, it seenis to be a very natural process, that a mind, labouring under the impression of the importance of an awful secret in so awful a manner disclosed, of the “ bloody instructions” accompanying it, and the necessity of preventing any part of the transaction from transpiring, should, upon the first opportunity given him to reflect, use a forced gaiety, and assume an air of levity and carriage most opposite and foreign to his real feeling, for the purpose of inducing a belief in others, that nothing of deep interest or much more than ordinary concern had occurred.
Secresy was indispensably necessary to the success of his purposes: and there is scarce any thing more remarkable in the conduct of this play than the eagerness and repetition with which the Ghost enforces this necessity, and the obligation of such an oath. An assumed air of gaiety and hilarity was, by its tendency to quiet suspicion, the best course to attain this end.
(109) Swear by my sword] Mr. Garrick produced me a passage, 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. “ In the Passus Primus of Pierce Plowman,
• David in his daies dubbed knightes,
And did them swere on her sword to serve truth eyer.! “ 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:
• Shall be a worker of thy tragedy.'” FARMER.: “ Warwick kissed the cross of King Edward's sword, as it were a vow to his promise.” Holinsh. p. 664.
Again, p. 1038,“ Warwick drew out his sword, which other of the honourable and worshipful that were 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.
Again, in the Sloanian MSS. Brit. Museum, No. 2530. xxvi. D., 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 sword 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 articles as shall be heare declared unto you, and receve in the presence 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 antiquity; having prevailed, as we learn from Lucian, among the Scythians. MALONE.
Warburton refers to Bartholinus de contemptu mortis apud Danos. And Mr. Douce, in the Wint. T. II. 3, Leontes, cites the Penance of Arthur, Sig. S. 2. “And therewith King Marke yielded him unto Sir Gaheris, and then he kneeled downe and made his oath upon the crosse of the sword.”
(110) Here, as before, never, so help you, mercy-That, &c.] The grammar of this passage is defective, and its construction 'embarrassed.
· [Swear] here, as before, never that you never shall-by pronouncing some doubtful phrase, or the like, [do ought] to mark or denote, &c. We have a similar instance in the Tempest.
“ There is no soul
“ Beride." I. 2, Prospera. Mercy, is he, who dispenses mercy.
(111) Rest, rest, perturbed spirit] This word, which we have again in Cymbeline, III. 4, Mr. Malone says, is used by Holinshed, and quotes Bacon's Essay on Superstition : “ 'Therefore atheism did never perturb states." Mr. Steevens observes, the skill displayed in Shakespeare'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 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 dramatic 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 times has the royal semblance appeared, but till now has been withheld from speaking.
(1) Marry, well said: very well said] By this frivolity of manner and very phrase, Shallow characterises himself in II. H. IV. “ It is well said, Sir, and it is well snid indeed too." III, 2.
(2) Danskers] In Warner's Albion’s England Danske is the ancient name of England. STEEVENS.
“ Let us but look into the Giant's age,
“ Danske Corioneus, English Albion." Life and death of Sir J. Oldcastle, 4to. 1601. Signat, C. 2.
(3) Your party in converse—man and country] This “ filed phrase" or curiosity of language, as well as his method and tiresome deduction, is as much a part of the folly of this antiquated and prosing courtier, as the higher colouring of the same absurdity is of the court waterfly, Osric. Breathe of, is slightly touch, glance at.
(4) With windlaces, and with assays of bias] By engines and artifices, by trials and tricks of circumvention.
“ Assaying, from essayer, Fr. A proving before. Prætentans.” Baret's Alvearic.
(5) in yourself] The temptations you feel, suspect in liim,
“ For by the image of my cause,
I weigh'd my friend's affection with my own."
Timon. C. But it seems to be no more than “ of or by yourself” and as if the word in had been altogether omitted. He was at first to discover Laertes' inclinations by enquiry from others; and now to find them out by personal observation.
(6) 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.
(7) quoted him] Noted.
“ Yea, the illiterate-
Rape of Lucr. “ To quote, mark, or note, à quotus.
Numeris enim scribentes sententias suas notant et distinguunt.” Minshieu.
« Quoter. To quote or marke in the margent; to note by the way.” Cotgrave, 1611. MALONE.
It is the modern use of the word in the weekly reports or return of the price of grain.
(8) it is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,
To lack discretion] It is as much a property, as much belongs to, &c.
In Decker's Wonderful Yeare, 4to. 1603, we find an expression similar to that in the text: “ Now the thirstie citizen casts beyond the moone.” MALONE.
“ Of far casting." Epigr. 191.
John Heywood's Epigr. upon Proverbs, 4to. 1598. Dr. Johnson observes, this is always the failing of a little mind, made artful by long commerce with the world : and he adds, “ this remark is not that of a weak man."
(9) This must be known ; which, being kept close, might move More grief to hide, than hate to utter love]
The hiding Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us from him and the Queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate and resentment from Hamlet. The poet's ill and obscure expression seems to have been caused by his affectation of concluding the scene with a couplet. Johnson.
By this artificial, antithetical, and riddling style, our author, in other parts of his dramas, frequently embarrassed his sense: but to conclude acts and scenes with a couplet, was the very opposite of affectation. The custom of the age fully warranted