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HAM. What, are they children ? who maintains them ? how are they escoted ?? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? will they
other etymology; “ And so bycause the best knowledge is by the eye, they be called eyessed. Ye may also know an eyesse by the paleness of the seres of her legges, or the sere over the heake.”
STEEVENS. From ey, Teut. ovum, q. d. qui recens ex ovo emersit. Skinner, Etymol. An aiery or eyry, as it ought rather to be written, is derived from the same root, and signifies both a young brood of hawks, and the nest itself in which they are produced.
An eyas hawk is sometimes written a nyas hawk, perhaps from a corruption that has happened in many words in our language, from the latter n passing from the end of one word to the beginning of another. However, some etymologists think nyas a legitimate word. Malone.
“— cry out on the top of question.” The meaning seems to be, they ask a coinmon question in the highest note of the voice.
Johnson. I believe question, in this place, as in many others, signifies conversation, dialogue. So, in The Merchant of Venice: “ Think, you question with a Jew.” The meaning of the passage may therefore be- Children that perpetually recite in the highest notes of voice that can be uttered. Steevens.
When we ask a question, we generally end the sentence with a high note. I believe, therefore, that what Rosencrantz means to say is, that these children declaim, through the whole of their parts, in the high note commonly used at the end of a question, and are applauded for it. M. Mason. .
2 - escoted ?7 Paid. From the French escot, a shot or reckoning. Johnson.
3 Will they pursue the QUALITY no longer than they can sing?] Will they follow the profession of players no longer than they keep the voices of boys, and sing in the choir ? So afterwards, he says to the player, “Come, give us a taste of your quality ; come, a passionate speech." Johnson.
So, in the players' Dedication, prefixed to the first edition of Fletcher's plays in folio, 1647 : “ — directed by the example of some who once steered in our quality, and so fortunately aspired to chuse your honour, joined with your now glorified brother, patrons to the flowing compositions of the then expired sweet swan of Avon, Shakspeare." Again, in Gosson's School of Abuse, 1579: “ I speak not of this, as though every one (of the players] that professeth the qualitie, so abused himself --.".
" Than they can sing,” does not merely mean, 'than they keep not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players, (as it is most like 4, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?
Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them on to controversyo: there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
HAM. Is it possible ?
Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Ham. Do the boys carry it away?
Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord ; Hercules and his load too?.] Ham. It is not very * strange : for my uncle ® is
* First folio omits very. the voices of boys,' but is to be understood literally. He is speaking of the choir-boys of St. Paul's. Malone.
4 — most like,] The old copy reads—“like most.” Steevens. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
S their writers do them wrong, &c.] I should have been very much surprised if I had not found Ben Jonson among the writers here alluded to. STEEVENS.
6- to TARRE them on to controversy :) To provoke any animal to rage, is to tarre him. The word is said to come from the Greek, Tapkrow. JOHNSON. So, already, in King John :
“ Like a dog, that is compelled to fight,
STEEVENS. 7 — Hercules and his load too.] i. e. they not only carry away the world, but the world-bearer too: alluding to the story of Hercules's relieving Atlas. This is humorous. WARBURTON.
The allusion may be to the Globe playhouse on the Bankside, the sign of which was Hercules carrying the Globe. STEEVENS.
I suppose Shakspeare meant, that the boys drew greater audiences than the elder players of the Globe theatre. MalonE.
8 It is not very strange : for my uncle-] I do not wonder that the new players have so suddenly risen to reputation, my uncle supplies another example of the facility with which honour is con. ferred upon new claimants. Johnson..
loure in little ' : ,ral, if philosophy of Trumpet
king of Denmark; and those, that would make mouths * at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little'. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
[Flourish of Trumpets within. Guil. There are the players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore, Your hands. Come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this of garb'; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome : but my uncle-father, and auntmother, are deceived.
Guil. In what, my dear lord ?
Ham. I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly?, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
* First folio, mowes. + First folio, the. “ It is not very strange," &c. was originally Hamlet's observation, on being informed that the old tragedians of the city were not so followed as they used to be : [see p. 290 :) but Dr. Johnson's explanation is certainly just, and this passage connects sufficiently well with that which now immediately precedes it.
MALONE. 9 - in little.] i, e. in miniature. So, in The Noble Soldier, 1634 :
“The perfection of all Spaniards, Mars in little." Again, in Drayton's Shepherd's Sirena :
“ Paradise in little done.” Again, in Massinger's New Way to Pay Old Debts :
“ His father's picture in little.” Steevens. 1- let me complY, &c.] Sir T. Hanmer reads-“let me compliment with you.” JOHNSON
To comply is again apparently used in the sense of—to compliment, in Act V.: “He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it.” Steevens.
- when the wind is SOUTHERLY, &c.] So, in Damon and Pythias, 1582 : “But I perceive now, either the winde is at the south, “Or else your tunge cleaveth to the roofe of your mouth."
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern;—and you too;at each ear a hearer: that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.
Ros. Happily, he's the second time come to them; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.
Ham. I will prophecy, he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.—You say right, sir : o'Monday morning ; 'twas then, indeed.
Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,--
Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.
Lor. My lowas then, indsay, right, tell me of the
3 — I know a hawk from a handsaw.] This was a common proverbial speech. The Oxford editor alters it to,-“ I know a hawk from an hernshaw," as if the other had been a corruption of the players; whereas the poet found the proverb thus corrupted in the mouth of the people : so that the critick's alteration only serves to show us the original of the expression. WARBURTON.
Similarity of sound is the source of many literary corruptions. In Holborn we have still the sign of the Bull and Gate, which exhibits but an odd combination of images. It was originally (as I learn from the title-page of an old play) the Boulogne Gaie, i. e. one of the gates of Boulogne ; designed perhaps as a compliment to Henry VIII. who took the place in 1544.
The Boulogne Mouth, now the Bull and Mouth, had probably the same origin, i, e. the mouth of the harbour of Boulogne.
STEEVENS. The Boulogne Gate was not one of the gates of Boulogne, but of Calais :. and is frequently mentioned as such by Hall and Holinshed. Ritson.
4 Buz, buz!) Mere idle talk, the buz of the vulgar. Johnson.
“ Buz, buz!” are, I believe, only interjections employed to interrupt Polonius. Ben Jonson uses them often for the same purpose, as well as Middleton in A Mad World, my Masters, 1608.
STEEVENS. Buz used to be an interjection at Oxford, when any one began a story that was generally known before. BLACKSTONE.
Pol. Upon my honour,
Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, (tragical-historical, tragicalcomical-historical-pastoral,] scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light?. For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men.
Buzzer, in a subsequent scene in this play, is used for a busy talker :
“And wants not buzzers, to infect his ear
“ With pestilent speeches." Again, in King Lear:
“ — on every dream,
“ Each buz, each fancy.” Again, in Trussel's History of England, 1635 : “ — who, instead of giving redress, suspecting now the truth of the duke of Gloucester's buzz,” &c.
It is, therefore, probable from the answer of Polonius, that buz was used, as Dr. Johnson supposes, for an idle rumour without any foundation.
In Ben Jonson's Staple of News, the collector of mercantile intelligence is called Emissary Buz. Malone.
Whatever may be the origin of this phrase, or rather of this interjection, it is not unusual, even at this day, to cry buz to any person who begins to relate what the company had heard before.
M. Mason. 5- Then came, &c.] This seems to be a line of a ballad.
Johnson. 6 — tragical-historical, &c.] The words within the crotchets I have recovered from the folio, and see no reason why they were hitherto omitted. There are many plays of the age, if not of Shakspeare, that answer to these descriptions. STEEVENS.
7- Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. The tragedies of Seneca were translated into English by Thomas Newton, and others, and published first separate, at different times, and afterwards all together in 1581. One comedy of Plautus, viz. the Menæchmi, was likewise translated and published in 1595. Steevens.
I believe the frequency of plays performed at publick schools, suggested to Shakspeare the names of Seneca and Plautus as dramatick authors. T. WARTON.
Prefixed to a map of Cambridge in the Second Part of Braunii