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878. -curb ~] That is, bend and truckle. Fr. tourber. So, in Pierce Plowman : “ Then I courbid on my knees,' &c.

STEEVENS. 884. That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,

Of habit's devil, is angel yet in this;] This passage is left out in the two elder folios : it is cer. tainly corrupt, and the players did the discreet part to stifle what they did not understand. Habit's devil certainly arose from some conceited tamperer with the , text, who thought it was necessary, in contrast to angel. The emendation of the text I owe to the sagacity of Dr. Thirlby :

That monster custom, who all sense doth eat
Of habits evil, is angel, &c.

THEOBALD. I think Thirlby's conjecture wrong, though the sueceeding editors have followed it; angel and devil are evidently opposed.

JOHNSON. 890. the next, more easy :) This passage, as far as potency, is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS

903. One word more, &c.] This passage I have restored from the quartos.

STEEVENS. 907. -his mouse;] Mouse was once a term of en. dearment. So in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II. chap. 10.

“ God bless thee mouse, the bridegroom said," &c.

Again, in the Menachimi, 1595 : “ Shall I tell thee, sweet mouse? I never look upon thee, but I am quite out of love with my wife.”



908. -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, 1618:

"_bade him go “ And wash his face, he look'd so reechily, “ Like bacon hanging on the chimney's roof."

STEEVENS. Reechy is certainly not smoky, but in an abusive signification. It properly means, steaming with exsudation, and seems to have been selected, to convey, in this place, its grossest import.

HENLEY. 911. 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 juste occasion, that my gestures, countenances, and words, seeme to proceed from a madman, and that I desire to haue all men esteeme mee wholy depriued of sence and reasonable understanding, bycause I am well assured, that he that hath made no consci. ence 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



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my right sences as nature hath bestowed them upon

The bright shining clearnes thereof I am forced to hide under this shadow of dissimulation as the sun doth hir beams vnder 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 therin, I may preserue my life for the Danes and the



lare deceased father, for that the desire of reuenging his death is so ingrauen 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 ouer great hast, I be now the cause of mine own sodaine ruine and ouerthrow, and by that mcanes 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 inuen. tions, such as a fine witte can best imagine, not to discouer his interprise : for seeing that by force I cannot effect my desire, reason alloweth me, by dissimu. lation, subtilitie, and secret practices, to proceed. therein."

STEEVENS. 914. gib,] So in Drayton's Epistle from Elia nor 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 Ron of the Rose, ver. 6204:


" --gibbe

-gibbe our cat,
" That waiteth mice and rats to killen."

STEEVENS. 917. 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 is lost to thee, and then let'st out another, and 'starest after that till it is gone too."

WARNER. 919. To try conclusions] i.e. experiments.

Steevens. 924. I must to England; -] Shakspere does not inform us how Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England. Rosencrantz and Guildensterne 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 coinmunication with the prince since that time. Add to this, that in a subse. quent scene, when the king, after the death of Polonius, informs Hamlet he was to go to England, he expresses great surprise, 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. 926. There's letters seald, &c.] The nine follow, ing verses are added out of the old edition. Pope.

927. -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. 936. --the guts-] The word guts was not anciently so offensive to delicacy as it is at present; but was used by Lilly (who made the first attempt to polish our language) in his serious compositions. So in his Midas, 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 weens her fortune by guts hoate smoake to

STEEVENS, 940. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you:] Shakspere 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.


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