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tracted, with a slight variation, from a little poem, called The ayed Lover renounceth Love, written by Henry Howard earl of Surrey, who flourished in the reign of king Henry VIII. and who was beheaded in 1547, on a strained accusation of treason. THEOBALD. 116

- the pate of a politician, one that would circumtent God,] This character is finely touched. Our great historian has well explained it in an example, where, speaking of the death of cardinal Mazarine, at the time of the Restoration, he says,

« The “ cardinal was probably struck with the wonder, if not " the agony of that undream'd-of prosperity of our “ king's affairs; as if he had taken it ill, and laid it to “ heart, that God Almighty would bring such a work “ to pass in Europe without his concurrence, and even “ against all his machinations." History of Rebellion, book 10.

WARBURTON. —now my lady Worni's;] The scull that was my lord Such-a-one's, is now my lady Worm's.

-play ut loggats-] This is a game played in several parts of England even at this time. A stake is fixed into the ground; those who play throw loggat's at it, and he that is nearest the stake wins: I have seen it played in different counties at their sheep sheering feasts, where the winner was entitled to a black fleece, which he afterwards presented to the farmer's maid to spin for the purpose of making a petticoat, and on condition that she knelt down on the fleece to be kissed by all the rusticks present,

STEEVENS.

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120

121

a

119 -Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases,] Quiddits, &c. i. e. subtilties. So, in Soliman and Perseda;

“ I am wise, but quiddits will not answer death." Again in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611: "Nay, good Sir Throat, forbear your quillets now."

STEEVENS. we must speak by the card,] The card is the paper on which the different points of the compass were described. To do any thing by the card, is to do it with nice observation.

JOHNSON. the age is grown so picked, fc.] So smart, so sharp, says Hanmer, very properly; but there was, I think, about that time, a picked shoe, that is, a shoe with a long pointed toe, in fashion, to which the allusion seems likewise to be made. Every man now is smart; and every man now is a man of fashion.

JOHNSON. 122 Foredo--) To foredo, is to destroy.

123 ---virgin crants,] 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 garlands before the bier of a maiden, and to hang them over her grave, is still the practice in rural parishes.

JOHNSON 124 drink up Esil? eat a crocodile?] This word has through all the editions been distinguished by Italick characters, as if it were the proper name of some river; and so, I dare say, all the editors have from time to time understood it to be. But then this must be some river in Denmark; and there is none there so called; nor is there any near it in name, that I know of, but Yssel, from which the province of Overyssel derives its title in the German Flanders. Besides, Hamlet is not proposing any impossibilities to Laertes, as the drinking up a river would be: but he rather seems to mean, Wilt thou resolve to do things the most shocking and distasteful to human nature? and, behold, I am as resolute. I am persuaded the poet wrote:

Wilt drink up Eisel? eat a crocodile ? i. e. Wilt thou swallow down large draughts of vinegar? The proposition, indeed, is not very grand: but the doing it might be as distasteful and unsavoury as eating the flesh of a crocodile. And now there is neither an impossibility, nor an anticlimax: and the lowness of the idea is in some measure removed by the uncommon term.

THEOBALD. Hanmer has,

Wilt drink up Nile? or eat a crocodile? Hamlet certainly meant (for he says he will rant) to dare Laertes to attempt any thing, however difficult or unnatural; and might safely promise to follow the example his antagonist was to set, in draining the channel of a river, or trying his teeth on an animal whose scales are supposed to be impenetrable. Had Shakspeare meant to make Hamlet say-Wilt thou drink vinegar? he probably would not have used the term drink up; which means, totally to exhaust; neip. 735.

ther is that challenge very magnificent, which only provokes an adversary to hazard a fit of the heartburn or the colic.

The commentator's Yssel would serve Hamlet's turn or mine. This river is twice mentioned by Stowe,

“ It standeth a good distance from the river Issell, but hath a sconce on Issel of incredible strength." Again, by Drayton, in the 24th Song of his Poly

olbion: The one o'er Isell's banks the ancient Saxons

taught; At Over Isell rests, the other did apply:And, in King Richard II. a thought, in part the same, occurs, Act 2. Sc. 2:

the task he undertakes “ Is numb'ring sands, and drinking oceans dry." But in an old Latin account of Denmark and the neighbouring provinces, I find the names of several rivers little differing from Esil, or Eisill, in spelling or pronunciation. Such are the Essa, the Oesil, and some others. The word, like many more, may indeed be irrecoverably corrapted; but, I must add, that no authors later than Chaucer or Skelton make use of eysel for vinegar: nor has Shakspeare employed it in any other of his plays. The poet might have written the Weisel, a considerable river which falls into the Baltic ocean, and could not be unknown to any prince of Denmark.

STBEVENS. Mr. Steevens appears to have forgot our author's il1th sonnet:

“ I will drinke

“ Potions of Eysell." I believe it has not been observed that many of these sonnets are addressed to his beloved nephew William Harte.

FARMER. I have since observed, that Mandeville has the same word.

STEEVENS. 125 As patient as the female dove,

When that her golden couplets are disclos'd,] 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 wbich she never entrusts to the male.

STEEVENS. 126-the mutines in the bilboes.] Mutines, the French word for seditious or disobedient fellows in the army or fleet. Bilboes, the ship's prison. JOHNSON.

Rashly,
And prais'd be rashness for it, -Lets us know,
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,

When, &c.] The sense in this reading is, Our rashness lets us know that our indiscretion serves us well, when, &c. But this could never be Shakspeare's sense. We should read and point thus :

Rashness
(And prais'd be rashness for it) lets us know;
Or indiscretion sometimes serves us well,

When, &c.] i. e. Rashness acquaints us with what we cannot penetrate to by plots.

WARBURTON.

127

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