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What, the fair Ophelia ! Queen. Sweets to the sweet: Farewell!
[Scattering Flowers. I hop'd, thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife; I thought, thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid, And not have strew'd thy grave. Laer.
0, treble woe Fall ten times treble on that cursed head, Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense Depriy'd thee off!-Hold off the earth awhile, Till I have caught her once more in mine arms:
[Leaps into the Grave. Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead; Till of this flat a mountain
have made To o’ertop old Pelion, or the skyish head Of blue Olympus.
Ham. [Advancing.] What is he, whose grief Bears such an emphasis ? whose phrase of sorrow Conjures the wand'ring stars, and makes them stand Like wonder-wounded hearers ? this is I, Hamlet the Dane.
[Leaps into the Grave. Laer.
The devil take thy soul!
[Grappling with him.
King. Pluck them asunder.
Hamlet, Hamlet !
Good my lord, be quiet. [The Attendants part them, and they come
out of the Grave. Ham. Why, I will fight with him upon this theme, Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
Queen. O my son! what theme?
Ham. I lov’d Ophelia; forty thousand brothers
King. O, he is mad, Laertes.
Ham. Zounds, show me what thou'lt do:
34 The quarto of 1603 reads: Wilt drink up vessels :' and instead of Ossa, Oosell. Some of the commentators have supposed that by esill Hamlet means vinegar. But surely the strain of exaggeration and rant of the rest of the speech requires some more impossible feat than that of drinking up vinegar. What river, lake, or firth Shakspeare meant to designate is uncertain, perhaps the Issel, but the firth of Iyse is nearest to his scene of action, and near enough in name. What the late editors meant by their strange contraction woult I know not. Mr. Gifford observes that they appear none of them to have understood the grammatical construction of the passage. Woo't or woot'o, in the northern counties, is the common contraction of wouldst thou, and this is the reading of the old copies. This sort of hyperbole Malone has shown was common with our ancient poets :• Come drink up Rhine, Thames, and Meander dry.'
Eastward Hoe, 1609.
Greene's Orlando Furioso, 1599.
Marlowe's Jew of Malta. Shakspeare also in King Richard II.:
The task he undertakes Is numbering sands and drinking oceans dry.' And in Troilus and Cressida : When we vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers,' &c.
Singeing his pate against the burning zone,
This is mere madness:
Hear you, sir ;
may, The cat will mew, the dog will have his day. [Exit. King. I pray thee, good Horatio, wait upon him.
[Exit HORATIO. Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech;
[To LAERTES. We'll put the matter to the present push.Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.This grave
shall have a living monument: An hour of quiet shortly shall we see; Till then, in patience our proceeding be. (Exeunt.
SCENE II. A Hall in the Castle.
Enter HAMLET and HORATIO. Ham. So much for this, sir: now shall you see
Hor. Remember it, my lord !
35 See note 30 on Act iii. Sc. 1, p. 244. The golden couplets alludes to the dove only laying two eggs. The young nestlings when first disclosed are only covered with a yellow down, and the mother rarely leaves the nest, in consequence of the tenderness
of her young
That would not let me sleep: methought, I lay
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
That is most certain.
1 i. e, mutineers. See King John, Act ii. Sc. 2.
2 The bilboes were bars of iron with fetters annexed to them, by which mutinous or disorderly sailors were anciently linked together. The word is derived from Bilboa, in Spain, where implements of iron and steel were fabricated. To understand Shakspeare's allusion, it should be known that as these fetters connected the legs of the offenders very closely together, their attempts to rest must be as fruitless as those of Hamlet, in whose mind there was a kind of fighting that would not let him sleep. Every motion of one must disturb his partner in confinement. The bilboes are still shown in the Tower, among the other spoils of the Spanish Armada.
3 To pall was to fade or fall away; to become, as it were, dead, or without spirit: from the old French pasler. Thus in Antony and Cleopatra :
• I'll never follow thy palld fortunes more.' See vol. viii. p. 437, note 12.
4 Malone has told us that the sea-gown appears to have been the usual dress of seamen in Shakspeare's time; but not a word of what it was like. • Esclavine (says Cotgrave), a sea-gowne, a coarse high collar'd and shortsleeved gowne, reaching to the mid-leg, and used mostly by seamen and sailors.'
With, ho! such bugs5 and goblins in my life,
leisure. But wilt thou hear now how I did proceed ?
Hor. Ay, ’beseech you.
Ham. Being thus benetted round with villanies, Or? I could make a prologue to my brains, They had begun the play ;-I sat me down; Devis'd a new commission; wrote it fair: I once did hold it, as our statists 8 do, A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much How to forget that learning; but, sir, now It did me yeoman's service 9: Wilt thou know The effect of what I wrote ?
5 • With, ho! such brugs and goblins in my life.' • With such causes of terror arising from my character and designs. Bugs were no less terrific than goblins. We now call them bugbears.
6' on the supervise, no leisure bated. The supervise is the looking over; no leisure bated means without any abatement or intermission of time.
? Or for ere, before. See Tempest, Act i. Sc. 2, p. 12.
8 Statists are statesmen. Blackstone says, that most of our great men of Shakspeare's time wrote very bad hands; their secretaries very neat ones. This must be taken with some qualification ; for Elizabeth's two most powerful ministers, Leicester and Burleigh, both wrote good hands. It is certain that there were some who did write inost wretched scrawls, but probably not from affectation ; though it was accounted a mechanical and vulgar accomplishment to write a fair hand. The worst and most unintelligible scrawls I have met with, are Sir Richard Sackville's, in Elizabeth's time; and the miserable scribbling of Secretary Conway, of whom James said they had given him a secretary that could neither write nor read.
9 Yeoman's service I take to be good substantial service. The ancient yeomen were famous for their staunch valour in the field; and Sir Thomas Smyth says, they were the stable troop of footmen that affraide all France.'