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Alack! what noise is this?
Enter d Gentleman.
Save yourself, my lord :
Queen. How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
Enter LAERTES, armed; Danes following. Laer. Where is this king ?-Sirs, stand you all without. Dan. No, let's come in. Laer.
pray you, give me leave. Dan. We will, we will. [They retire without the Door. Laer. I thank you :-keep the door.–0 thou vile
king, Give me my father. Queen.
Calmly, good Laertes. Laer. That drop of blood, that's calm, proclaims me
bastard ; Cries, cuckold, to my father; brands the harlot
- my Switzers?] In many of our old plays, the guards attendant on kings are called Switzers, and that without any regard to the country where the scene lies, because the Swiss in the time of our poet, as at present, were hired to fight the battles of other nations.-REED and MALONE.
list,] i.e. Boundary. • The ratifers and props of every word,] i.e. Of every word addressed to them by Laertes.
+ O, this is counter,] Hounds run counter when they trace the trail backwards. --JOnnson.
Even here, between the chaste unsmirched' brow
What is the cause, Laertes,
Laer. Where is my father?
But not by him. King. Let'him demand his fill.
Laer. How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with:
Who shall stay you?
go far with little. King.
Laer. None but his enemies.
you know them then? Laer. To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms; And, like the kind life-rend'ring pelican, Repast them with my blood.
- Unsmirched-] i.e. Not defiled.
like the kind life-rend'ring pelican,] In the old play of King Leir, 1605, we find,
“I am as kind as is the pelican
That kills itselfe, to save her young ones' lives.” It is almost needless to add that this account of the bird is entirely fabulous. --STEEVENS.
Why, now you speak
Let her come in.
Enter Ophelia, fantastically dressed with Straws and
Hey no nonny, nonny hey nonny:
And in his grave rain'd many a tear ;Fare you well, my dove!
Laer. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge, It could not move thus.
Oph. You must sing, Down a-down, an you call him adown-a. 0, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter.
'pear,] For appeur. Nature is fine in love: and, where 'tis fine, It sends some precious instance of itself
After the thing it loves.] Love (says Laertes) is the passion by which nature is most exalted and refined; and as substances, refined and subtilised, easily obey any impulse, or follow any attraction, some part of nature, so purified and refined, flies off after the attracting object, after the thing it loves.-Johnson.
how the wheel becomes it!] Wheel is supposed to have been the old word for the burthen of a song. Perhaps it means the musical instrument, which by Chaucer was called a rote, by others a vielle; and which was played on by the friction of a wheel.-Steevens and MALONE.
Laer. This nothing's more than matter.
Oph. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ;' pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts."
Laer. A document in madness; thoughts and remembrance fitted. Oph. There's fennel for you, and columbines :"—there's
you; and here's some for me:-we may call it, herb of grace o’Sundays:0—you may wear your rue with a difference. P- There's a daisy :- I would give you some violets;" but they withered all, when my father died :—They say, he made a good end,
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy,-- [Sings.
Laer. Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, She turns to favour, and to prettiness.
Oph. And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy death-bed,
1 There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ;] Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthen the memory, and was not only carried at funerals, but wom at ' weddings.-Steevens.
- pansies,] From pensées, Fr. thoughts.
-fennel for you and columbines :] Fennel was regarded as emblematical of fiattery; columbines of ingratitude: the reasons for attributing to them these qualities it is no longer possible to discover. Ophelia gives the courtiers fennel and columbines, “ to mark,” says archdeacon Nares, "that though they fiattered to get favours, they were thankless after receiving them.”
rue for you, &c.] Rue anciently signified the same as ruth, i.e. sorrow. It was called herb of grace from its being used in exorcisms against evil spirits. -STEEVENS and NARES.
you may wear your rue with a difference.] The slightest variation in the bearings, their position, or colour, constituted a different coat in heraldry; and between the ruth and wretchedness of guilt, and the ruth and sorrows of misfortune, it would be no difficult matter to distinguish.--Specimen of a New Edition of Shakspeure, published by Murray, 1819.
- a daisy:] This flower signified deceit. Green speaks of “the dissembling daisie."
violets;] The violet is thus characterized in an old collection of sonnets printed in 1584.
“Violet is for faithfulnesse."--MALONE. * Thought-] This word, as in many other places, here signifies melancholy. -Malone.
His beard was as white as snow,
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan;
And of all christian souls !u I pray God. God be wi'
[Exit OPHELIA. Laer. Do you see this, O God?
King. Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
Let this be so;
So you shall;
[Exeunt. - flaren)-Does not bere mean yellow, but white. “ The four colours signify these four virtues. The flary having whiteness, appertains to temperance, because it makes 'candidam et mundam animam.'” Sir W. Sandys, Ess. 1634.
God 'a mercy on his soul!
And of all christian souls!} This is the common conclusion to many of the ancient monumental inscriptions.-STEEVENS.
* No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,] It was the custom, in the times of our author, to hang a sword over the grave of a knight. This practice is uniformly kept up to this day. Not only the sword, but the helmet, gauntlet, spurs, and tabard (i.e. a coat whereon the armorial ensigns were anciently depicted, from whence the term coat of armour), are bung over the grave of every knight.-Johnson and Sir John Hawkins.