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If this should blast in proof."
Soft! - let me
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings,
Enter the Queen. How, sweet queen !24
Queen. One woe doth tread upon another's heel, So fast they follow.— Your sister's drown’d, Laertes.
Laer. Drown'd! 0, where ?
Queen. There is a willow grows aslant a brook, a That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream: There with fantastic garlands did she come, Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
21 That is, as fire-arms sometimes burst in proving their strength.
22 Cunning is skill.
23 A stuck is a thrust. Stoccata, Ital. Sometimes called a staccado in English.
24 These words occur only in the folio. — “ That Laertes," says Coleridge, "might be excused in some degree for not cooling, the Act concludes with the affecting death of Ophelia ; who in the beginning lay like a little projection of land into a lake or stream, covered with spray-flowers, quietly reflected in the quiet waters ; but at length is undermined or loosened, and becomes a faery isle, and after a brief vagrancy sinks almost without an eddy."
25 Thus the folio; the quartos, all but the first, read “ascaunt the brook.” Also, in the next line but one, the quartos have make instead of come. - This exquisite passage is deservedly celebrated. Nothing could better illustrate the Poet's power to make the description of a thing better than the thing itself, by giving us his eyes to see it with.
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
Alas! then, she is drown'd?
Laer. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
Let's follow, Gertrude : How much I had to do to calm his rage ! Now fear I, this will give it start again ; Therefore, let's follow.
26 The ancient botanical name of the long purples was testiculis morionis, or orchis priupiscus. The grosser nume to which the queen alludes is sufficiently known in many parts of England. It had kindred appellations in other languages. In Sussex it is said to be called dead men's hands. Liberal here means free-spoken, licentious.
27 That is, old hymns or songs of praise. The folio has tunes instead of lauds; which, besides that it loses a fine touch of pathos, does not agree so well with chanting. — Incapable is evidently used in the sense of unconscious.
Enter two Clowns, with Spades, foc. 1 Clo. Is she to be buried in Christian burial, that wilfully seeks her own salvation ?
2 Clo. I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave, straight :' the crowner hath set on her, and finds it Christian burial.
1 Clo. How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defence ?
2 Clo. Why, 'tis found so.
1 Clo. It must be se offendendo ; it cannot be else. For here lies the point: If I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an act hath three branches ; it is, to act, to do, and to perform : argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.”
Straight for straightway; a common usage. 2 Shakespeare's frequent and correct use of legal terms and phrases has led to the belief that he must have served something of an apprenticeship in the law. Among the legal authorities studied in his time, were Plowden's Commentaries, a black-letter book, written in the old law French. One of the cases reported by Plowden, is that of Dame Hales, regarding the forfeiture of a lease, in consequence of the suicide of Sir James Hales ; and Sir John Hawkins has pointed out, that this rich burlesque of " crowner's-quest law was probably intended as a ridicule on certain passages in that case. He produces the following speech of one of the counsel : “Walsh said that the act consists of three parts. The first is the imagination, which is a reflection or meditation of the mind, whether or no it is convenient for him to destroy himself, and what way it can be done. The second is the resolution, which is a determination of the mind to destroy himself, and to do it in this or that particular way. The third is the perfection, which is the execution of what the mind has resolved to do. And this perfection consists of two parts, the beginning and the end. The be
2 Clo. Nay, but hear you, goodman delver.
1 Clo. Give me leave. Here lies the water ; good: here stands the man ; good : If the man go to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he, vill he, he goes; mark you that: but if the water come to him, and drown him, he drowns not himself : argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.3
2 Clo. But is this law ?
2 Clo. Will you ha' the truth on't ? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out of Christian burial.
1 Clo. Why, there thou say’st : and the more pity, that great folks shall have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even-Christian. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam's profession.
2 Clo. Was he a gentleman ?
gipning is the doing of the act which causes the death ; and the end is the death, which is only a sequel to the act.”
3 We must here produce another passage from Plowden, as given by Hawkins. It is the reasoning of one of the judges, and is nearly as good as that in the text : "Sir James Hales was dead, and how came he to his death? It may be answered, by drowning; and who drowned him ? Sir James Hales. And when did he drown him ? in his life-time. So that Sir James Hales, being alive, caused Sir James Hales to die ; and the act of the living man was the death of the dead man. And then for this offence it is reasonable to punish the living man who committed the offence, and not the dead man. But how can he be said to he punished alive, when the punishment comes after his death.? Sir, this can be done no other way but by divesting out of him, from the time of the act done in his life which was the cause of his death, the title and property of those things which he had in his life-time.”
4 Even-Christian for fellow-Christian, was the old mode of expression; and is to be found in Chaucer and the Chroniclers. Wicliffe has even-servant for fellow-servant.
1 Clo. He was the first that ever bore arms. 2 Clo. Why, he had none.
1 Clo. What! art a heathen ? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says Adam digg’d: could he dig without arms? I'll put another question to thee: if thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself
2 Clo. Go to.
1 Clo. What is he, that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter ?
2 Clo. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
1 Clo. I like thy wit well, in good faith : the gallows does well : But how does it well ? it does well to those that do ill: now, thou dost ill, to say the gallows is built stronger than the church : argal, the gallows may do well to thee.
2 Clo. Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwriglit, or a carpenter ?
1 Clo. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke."
Enter HAMLET and HORATIO, at a distance.
1 Clo. Cudgel thy brains no more about it; for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating : and, when you are ask'd this question next, say, a grave-maker: the houses that he makes last till
5 This speech and the next, as far as arms, are not in the quartos.
6 So the folio; frame is not in the quartos.
? This was a common phrase for giving over or ceasing to do a thing, a metaphor derived from the unyoking of oxen at the end of their labour.