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to tell his story as it had been told before. The fol. lowing extract therefore from The History of Hamblet, bl. let. relative to this point, will probably not be unacceptable to the reader: “ Fengon (the king in the present play] boldened and encouraged by such impunitie, durst venture to couple himself in marri. age with her, whom he used as his concubine during good Horvendille's life; in that sort spotting his name with a double vice, incestuous adulterie, and paracide murther. This adulterer and infamous murtherer slaundered his dead brother, that he would have slaine his wife, and that hee by chance finding him on the point ready to do it, in defence of the lady had slaine him. The unfortunate and wicked woman that had received the honour to be the wife of one of the va. liantest and wisest princes in the North, imbased her. selfe in such vile sort as to falsifie her faith unto him, and, which is worse, to marrie him that had bin the tyrannous murtherer of her lawful husband; which made diverse men think that she had beene the causer of the murther, thereby to live in her adultre without controle.” Hyst. of Hamb. sig. C. 1, 2.
In the conference, however, with her son, on which the present scene is founded, she strongly asserts her innocence with respect to this fact:
" I know well, my sonne, that I have done thee great wrong in marrying with Fengon, the cruel tyrant and murtherer of thy father, and my loyal spouse; but when thou shalt consider the sinall meanes Liij
of resistance, and the treason of the palace, with the little cause of confidence we are to expect, or hope for, of the courtiers, all wrought to his will, as also the power lie made ready if I should have refused to like him; thou wouldst rather excuse, than accuse me of lasciviousness or inconstancy, much less offer me that wrong to suspect that ever thy mother Geruth once consented to the death and murther of her husband: swearing unto thee by the majestie of the gods, that if it had layne in me to have resisted the tyrant, although it had beene with the losse of my blood, yea and of my life, I would surely have saved the life of my lord and husband." Ibid. sig. D. 4.
It is observable, that in the drama neither the king or queen make so good a defence. Shakspere wished to render them as odious as he could, and therefore has not in any part of the play furnished them with even the semblance of an excuse for their conduct.
MALONE. I know not in what part of this tragedy the king and queen
could have been expected to enter into a vindication of their mutual conduct. The former, indeed, is rendered contemptible as well as guilty; but for the latter, our poet seems to have felt all that tenderness which the ghost recommends to the imita. tion of her son.
STÉ EVENS. 740. As kill a king?] This interrogation may be considered as some hint, that the queen had no hand in the murder of Hamlet's father. STEEVENS.
755. -takes off the rose] Alluding to the custom of wearing roses on the side of the face. See a note on a passage in King John, act i.
WARBURTON. I believe Dr. Warburton is mistaken ; for it must be allowed that there is a material difference between an ornament worn on the forehead, and one exhibited on the side of the face. Some have understood these words to be only a metaphorical enlargement of the sentiment contained in the preceding line :
-blurs the grace and blush of modesty : but as the forehead is no proper situation for a blush to be displayed in, we may have recourse to another explanation.
It was once the custom for those who were be. trothed, to wear some flower as an external and conspicuous mark of their mutual engagement. So in Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar for April:
“ Bring coronations and sops in wine,
“ Worn of paramours." Lyte, in his Herbal, 1578, enumerates sops in wine among the smaller kind of single gilliflowers or pinks.
Figure 4, in the Morrice-dance (a plate of which is annexed to the First Part of King Henry IV.) has a flower fixed on his forehead, and seems to be meant for the paramour of the female character. The flower might be designed for a rose, as the colour of it is red in the painted glass, though its form is expressed with as little adherence to nature as that of the mary.
gold in the hand of the lady. It may, however, conduct us to affix a new meaning to the lines in ques. tion. This flower, as I have since discovered, is exactly shaped like the sops in wine, now called the Deptford Pink.
STEEVENS. 759. —from the body of contraction-] Contraction for marriage contraat.
WARBURTON 761. Heaven's face doth glow;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,
Is thought-sick at the act.] The old quarta reads :
Heaven's face does glow,
WARBURTON, The word heated, though it agrees well enough with glow, is, I think, not so striking as tristful, which
suppose, chosen at the revisal. I believe the whole passage now stands as the author gave it. In the first reading, Heaven's face glows with tristful visage ; and, Heaven's face is thought-sick. To the common reading there is no just objection. JOHNSON.
766. That roars so loud, &c.] The meaning is, What is this act, of which the discovery, or mention, cannot be made, but with this violence of clamour ?
JOHNSON, and thunders in the index?] Mr. Edwards oba serves, that the indexes of many old books were at
that time inserted at the beginning, instead of the end, as is now the custom. This observation I have often seen confirmed.
Só, in Othello, act ii. sc. 7. an index and obscure prologue to the history of lust and foul thoughts.”
ST&EVENS. 767. Look here, upon this picture, and on this ;] It is evident from the following words,
A station, like the herald Mercury, &c.
like Maia's son he stood,
STEEVENS. The introduction of miniatures in this place appears to be a modern innovation. A print prefixed to Rowe's edition of Hamlet, published in 1709, confirms Mr. Steevens's observation. There the two royal portraits are exhibited as half-lengths, hanging in the Queen's closet; and probably such had been the stage exhibition, from the time of the original performance of this tragedy to the death of Betterton.
MALONE. 770. Hyperion's curls ;-] It is observable that Hyperion is used by Spenser with the same error in quantity.
FARMER. I have never met with an earlier edition of Marston's Insatiate Countess than that in 1603. In this the