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Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.-
What shall I do ?
HAM. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do: Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed; Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you, his mouse"; And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses',
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.
5 Let the BLOAT king-] 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.
6 — 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 Menæchmi, 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 Gowt, 1575:
"She wan the love of all the house,
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 Enterlude, 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 propriety to the neck of a cook-maid in Coriolanus. Again, in Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Comedy, 1610:
bade him go
"And wash his face, he look'd so reechily,
"Like bacon hanging on the chimney's roof." STEEVENS. Reechy properly means steaming with exudation, and seems to have been selected, to convey, in this place, its grossest import.
HENLEY. Reechy includes, I believe, heat as well as smoke. The verb to reech, which was once common, was certainly a corruption of-to
Or padling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,
reek. In a former passage Hamlet has remonstrated with his mother, on her livingMALONE.
"In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed."
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."
Reeky, in the passage quoted from Romeo and Juliet, has a different meaning, and signifies wasted away. See the word to reek in Grose's Provincial Glossary. MALONE.
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 Historie 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 reasonable 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 madnesse, 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 these countryes shall for euer speake thereof. Neuerthelesse I must stay the time, meanes, and occasion, lest by making ouergreat hast, I be now the cause of mine own sodaine ruine and ouerthrow, and by that meanes end, before I beginne to effect my hearts desire: hee that hath to doe with a wicked, disloyall, cruell, and discourteous man, must vse craft, and politike inuentions, such as a fine witte can best imagine, not to discover his
For who, that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
QUEEN. Be thou assur'd, if words be made of
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
HAM. I must to England"; you know that?
interprise; for seeing that by force I cannot effect my desire, reason alloweth me by dissimulation, subtiltie, and secret practises to proceed therein." STEEVENS.
9a 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 Romaunt of the Rose, ver. 6204 :
gibbe our cat,
"That waiteth mice and rats to killen." STEEVENS. See Henry IV. Part I. Act I. Sc. II. MALONE. 1 Unpeg the basket on the house's top,
Let the birds fly ;] 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. STEEVENS.
3 I must to England;] Shakspeare does not inform us how Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England. Rosencrantz 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.
I had forgot; 'tis so concluded on.
HAM. There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust, as I will adders fang'd3,
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room :
4 There's letters seal'd, &c.] The nine following verses are added out of the old edition. POPE.
5 — adders FANG'D,] That is, adders with their fangs or poisonous teeth, undrawn. It has been the practice of mountebanks to boast the efficacy of their antidotes by playing with vipers, but they first disabled their fangs. JOHNSON.
- they must sweep my way, &c.] This phrase occurs again in Antony and Cleopatra:
some friends, that will
Sweep your way for you." STEEVENS.
7 HOIST with his own PETAR ;] Hoist, for hoised; as past, for passed. STEEVENS.
In Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn, we have a similar image :
"Gave heat unto the injury, which returned
"Of him gave fire to't." Boswell.
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. scene ult. :
"Now powers from home, and discontents at home,
9 I'll lug the GUTS into the neighbour room:] A line somewhat similar occurs in King Henry VI. P. III. :
"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 first attempt to polish our language) in his serious compositions. So, in his My
Mother, good night.-Indeed, this counsellor
[Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in Po
ACT IV 2. SCENE I.
Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, and Guilden
KING. There's matter* in these sighs; these profound heaves;
* Quarto, in's life a most foolish.
† First folio, matters.
das, 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 conster." Again, in Chapman's version of the sixth Iliad:
in whose guts the king of men imprest "His ashen lance." STEEVENS.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with 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 consequence.
2 Act IV.] This play is printed in the old editions without any separation of the Acts. The division is modern and arbitrary; 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.