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Line 441. with the act of fear,] Fear was the cause, the active cause that distilled them by the force of operation which we strictly call act in voluntary, and power in involuntary agents, but popularly call act in both. JOHNSON.


Line 521. The perfume and suppliance of a minute ;] i. e. what was supplied to us for a minute: or, as Mr. M. Mason supposes, "an amusement to fill up a vacant moment, and render it agreeable." STEEVENS. Line 526. In thews,] i. e. in sineus, muscular strength.


529. And now no soil, nor cautel, doth besmirch
The virtue of his will;] Cautel is subtlety or deceit.


Virtue seems here to comprise both excellence and power, and

may be explained the pure effect.


Line 549. keep you in the rear &c.] That is, do not advance so far as your affection would lead you.


Line 551. The chariest maid-] Chary is cautious. STEEV. -recks not his own read.] That is, heeds not his

566. own lessons. Line 573.

sea phrase.

Line 576.


-the shoulder of your sail,] This is a common

And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou charácter.] i. e. write, strongly infix.


Line 582. But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

. Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade.] The literal sense is, Do not make thy palm callous by shaking every man by the hand. The figurative meaning may be, Do not by promiscuous conversation make thy mind insensible to the difference of characters. . JOHNSON.

Line 607.-yourself shall keep the key of it.] The meaning is, that your counsels are as sure of remaining locked up in my memory, as if yourself carried the key of it. STEEVENS.

Line 640.

fashion you may call it ;] She uses fashion for JOHNSON.

manner, and he for a transient practice.

Line 644. -springes to catch woodcocks.] A proverbial saying, Every woman has a springe to catch a woodcock.”

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Line 652. Set your entreatments—] Entreatments here mean company, conversation; from the French entrétien. JOHNSON. Line 655. larger tether-] Tether is that string by which an animal, set to graze in grounds uninclosed, is confined within the proper limits. JOHNSON.

Line 657. Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers-] A broker in old English meant a bawd or pimp.


Line 662. I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,

Have you so slander any moment's leisure,] Polonius says, in plain terms, that is, not in language less elevated or embellished before, but in terms that cannot be misunderstood: I would not have you so disgrace your most idle moments, as not to find better employment for them than lord Hamlet's conversation.



Line 676. quor, a debauch. Line 678. the swaggering up-spring-] The blustering upstart.

-takes his rouse,] A rouse is a large dose of liSTEEVENS.


Line 693. The pith and marrow of our attribute.] The best and most valuable part of the praise that would be otherwise attributed to us. JOHNSON.

Line 700.

-that too much o'er-leavens The form of plausive manners;] That intermingles too much with their manners; infects and corrupts them.


Line 705. As infinite as man may undergo,)] As large as can be accumulated upon man.

JOHNSON. questionable shape,] Questionable means capable of being conversed with. To question, certainly in our author's time

Line 716.

signified to converse.


Line 719.



Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements!] Hamlet, amazed at

an apparition, which, though in all ages credited, has in all ages been considered as the most wonderful and most dreadful operation of supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in the most emphatic terms, why he breaks the order of nature, by returning from the dead: this he asks in a very confused circumlocution, confounding in his fright the soul and body. The whole sentence is this: Why dost thou appear, whom we know to be dead?

JOHNSON. Line 728. to shake our disposition,] Disposition for frame. WARBURTON.


-pin's fee ;] The value of a pin. JOHNSON. That beetles o'er his base-] That hangs o'er his

base, like what is called a beetle-brow.

MALONE. puts toys of desperation,] Toys for whims. WARBURTON.

—that lets me:] To let among our old authors

Line 752.


signifies to prevent, to hinder.



Line 843.

-mine orchard,] Orchard for garden. STEEV. 846. With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,] Hebenon, i. e. henbane.

Line 860. Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, &c.] The very words of this part of the speech are taken (as I have been informed by a gentleman of undoubted veracity) from an old Legend of Saints, where a man, who was accidentally drowned, is introduced as making the same complaint. STEEVENS.

Line 861. Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd;] Unhousel'd is without having received the sacrament. Unanel'd is without extreme unction. STEEVENS.

Line 864. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!] It was ingeniously hinted to me by a very learned lady, that this line seems to belong to Hamlet, in whose mouth it is a proper and natural exclamation; and who, according to the practice of the stage, may be supposed to interrupt so long a speech.

So in

Line 867. A couch for luxury-] i. e. for lewdness. King Lear:

"To't luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers."


Line 874. pale his uneffectual fire :] i. e. shining without


Line 883. fused with thought.

Line 904.


-this distracted globe.] i. e. in this head con

STEEVENS. come, bird, come.] This is the call which

falconers use to their hawk in the air, when they would have him come down to them.



Line 11.

-Danskers-] Dunske (in Warner's Albion's

England) is the ancient name of Denmark.

Line 33. drinking, fencing, swearing,] Fencing, I suppose, means, piquing himself on his skill in the use of the sword, and quarrelling and brawling, in consequence of that skill.


Line 39. another scandal-] i. e. a very different and more scandalous failing, namely, habitual incontinency.


Line 46. Of general assault.] i. e. such as youth in general is WARBURTON. liable to. Line 98. Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle ;] Downgyved means, hanging down like the loose cincture which confines the fetters round the ancles.

foredoes itself,] To foredo is to destroy.


Line 123.


136. —it is as proper to our age

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,

As it is common for the younger sort

weak man.

To lack discretion.] This is not the remark of a The vice of age is too much suspicion. Men long accustomed to the wiles of life cast commonly beyond themselves, let their cunning go farther than reason can attend it. This is always the fault of a little mind, made artful by long commerce JOHNSON. with the world. Line 140. This must be known; which, being kept close, might move More grief to hide, than hate to utter love.] i. e. This

must be made known to the King, for (being kept secret) the hiding Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us from him and the Queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate and resentment from Hamlet. JOHNSON.


Line 170. To show us so much gentry,] Gentry, for complaisance. WARBURTON.

Line 172. For the supply &c.] That the hope which your arrival has raised may be completed by the desired effect. JOHNS. Line 180. in the full bent,] The full bent, is the utmost extremity of exertion. MALONE.

Line 204.

the trail of policy-] The trail is the course

of an animal pursued by the scent.

Line 226.



-borne in hand,] i. e. deceived, imposed on.


-at night we'll feast-] The King's intemper

ance is never suffered to be forgotten.


Line 289. -more above,] is moreover, besides. JOHNSON. 302. If I had play'd the desk, or table-book;

Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb ;

Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;

What might you think?] It may mean, if I had

locked up this secret in my own breast, as closely as it were confined in a desk or table-book.

MALONE. Line 361. conception is a blessing; &c.] The meaning seems to be, conception (i. e. understanding) is a blessing; but as your daughter may conceive (i. e. be pregnant,) friend look to't, i. e. have a care of that. STEEVENS.

Line 447. Then are our beggars, bodies;] Shakspeare seems here to design a ridicule of those declamations against wealth and greatness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty. JOHNSON.

Line 483. I have of late, &c.] This is an admirable description of a rooted melancholy sprung from thickness of blood; and artfully imagined to hide the true cause of his disorder from the penetration of these two friends, who were set over him as spies.


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