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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 conti. nuity of action than in almost any other of the scenes.
JOHNSON. Line 4. Bestow this place on us a little while.] This line is wanting in the folio.
STEEVENS. 5. -my good lord,-] The quartos read-mine
STEEVENS. 19. -out of haunt, ] Out of haunt, means out of company. So in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ Dido and her Sichæus shall want troops,
" And all the haunt be ours." Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, Book V.
“ And from the smith of heaven's wife allure the
amorous haunt," The place where men assemble, is often poetically called the haunt of men. So, in Romeo and Juliet: “ We talk here in the publick haunt of men."
STEEVENS, 26. -like some ore,] Shakspere seems to think one to be or, that is, gold. Base metals have ore no less than precious.
Minerals are mines. So, in the Golden Remains of Hales of Eton, 1673, p. 34. Controversies of the times like “ Spirits in the minerals, with all their labour nothing is done."
ST E EVENS. 42. Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,
As leuci as the cannon to his blank,
And hit the woundless air.-0, come away !] Mr. Pope takes notice, that I replace some verses that were imperfect (and, though of a modern date, seem to be genuine), by inserting two words. But to see what an accurate and faithful collator he is, I produced these verses in my Shakspere Restored, from a quarto edition of Hamlet, printed in 1637, and hap. pened to say, that they had not the authority of any earlier date in print, that I knew of, than that quarto, Upon the strength of this Mr. Pope comes and calls the lines modern, though they are in the quartos of 1605 and 1611, which I had not then seen, but both of which Mr. Pope pretends to have collated. The verses carry the very stamp of Shakspere upon them. The coin, indeed, has been clipt from our first receiving it, but it is not so diminished, but that with a small assistance we may hope to make it pass
current. I am far from affirming, that, by inserting the words, For haply, slander, I have given the poet's very words; but the supplement is such as the sentiment naturally seems to demand. The poet has the same thought, concerning the diffusive powers of slander, in another of his plays :
No, 'tis slander ; “ Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose
THEOBALD. 47. ---But soft,] I have added these two words from the quartos.
STEEVENS. 64. -like an ape,–] The quarto has apple, which is generally followed. The folio has ape, which Hanmer has received, and illustrated with the following note:
“ It is the way of monkies in eating, to throw that part of their food, which they take up first, into a pouch they are provided with on the side of their jaw, and then they keep it, till they have done with the rest."
JOHNSON, Surely this should be “ like an ape, an apple."
FARMER. 73. The body is with the king,–] This answer I do not comprehend. Perhaps it should be, The body is not with the king, for the king is not with the body.
JOHNSON. Perhaps it may mean this. The body is in the king's house (i. e. the present king's), yet the king (i. e. he who should have been king) is not with the body. Intimating that the usurper is here, the true king in a better place. Or it may mean--the guilt of
the murder lies with the king, but the king is not where the body lies. The affected obscurity of Hamlet must excuse so many attempts to procure something like a meaning
STEEVENS. 75. Guil. A thing, my lord ?
Ham. Of nothing ;] So, in the Spanish tragedy:
“ In troth, my lord, it is a thing of nothing." And in one of Harvey's Letters, “a silly bug-beare, a sorry puffe of winde, a thing of nothing." FARMER. So, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631 :
“ At what dost thou laugh?
" At a thing of nothing, at thee."
« And believe a little thing would please her,
STEEV ENS. Mr. Steevens has given here many parallelisms: but the origin of all is to be looked for, I believe, in the 144th Psalm, ver. 5. “ Man, is like a thing of nought." You must have observed, that the book of Common Prayer, and the translation of the Bible into English, furnished our old writers with many forms of expression, some of which are still in use.
WHALLEY. 76. —Hide fox,-] There is a play among chil. dren called, Hide fox, and all after. HANMER.
The same sport is alluded to in Decker's Satiromastix: "Lour unhandsonie-faced poet does play at
bo-peep with your grace, and cries--All hid, as boys do." This passage is not in the quarto.
STEEVENS. 104. Alas, alas!] This speech, and the following, are omitted in the folio.
STEEVENS. With fiery quickness:] These words are not in the quartos.
STEEV ENS. 123. —the wind at help,] i. c. at hand, ready,ready to help or assist you.
· Our sovereign process ;-] To set, is an expression taken from the gaming-table. STEEVENS.
146. By letters conjuring-] Thus the folio. The
By letters congruing.
STEEVENS. The reading of the folio is supported by the following passage in The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. let. "making the king of England minister of his massacring resolution; to whom he proposed to send him (Hamlet], and by letters desire him to put him to death.” So, also, by a subsequent line :
" Ham. Wilt thou know
“ Hor. Ay, good my lord.
&c. The circumstances mentioned as inducing the king to send the prince to England, rather than elsewhere, are likewise found in The Hystory of Hamblet.