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A broken voice, and his whole function fuiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
For Hecuba!
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba",

by the words which he has put into the mouth of Polonius in this scene ; which add such support to the original reading, that I have without hesitation restored it. Immediately after the player has finitha ed his speech, Polonius exclaims,

“ Look, whether he has not turn'd bis colour, and has tears in bis eges.” Here we find the effort to fed tears, taking away, not giving a colour. If it be objected, that by furn'd bis colour, Shakipeare meant that the player grew red, a paffage in King Richard III. in which the poet is again deicribing an actor, who is master of his art, will at once answer the objection. Ricb. Come, coufin, can'st thou quake, and change i by colours

Murther thy breath in middle of a word;
And then again begin, and stop again,

As if thou wert diffraugbt and mad wirb terror ?
Buck. Tut, can counterfeit the deep tragedian ;

Tremble and start at wagging of a straw, &c. The words, quaki, and terror, and i emble, as well as the whole context, thew, that by * cbange tby colour,” Shakspeare meant grow pale.

MALONE. 5. Tears in his eyes, difraction in 's aspect,] The word asper (as Dr. Farmer very properiy obierves) was in Shaklpeare's time accented on the second syllable. The folio exhibits the pafiage as I have printed it.

STEEVENS. 6 What's Hecuba to bim, &c.] The expression of Hamlet, Wbat's Hecuba to bim, or be to Hecuba, is plainly an allufion to a passage in Plutarcb's Life of Pelopidas, lo exquisitely beautiful, and so pertinent, that I wonder it has never yet been taken notice of.

“ And another time, being in a theatie where the tragedy of Trades of Euripides was played, he [Alexander Pheræus) went out “ of the thea re, and lent word to the players notwithstanding, that « they should go on with their play, as if he had been ftill among them; faying, that he came not away for any milliking he had of “ them or of the play, but because he was ashamed his people should “ see him weep, to see the miieries of Hecuba and Andromache “ played, and that they never saw him pity the death of any one man, of so many of his citizens as he had caused to be Nain."

Sir John HAWKINS. This observation had been already made by Mr. Upton. STEEVENS.

Shakspeare, it is highly probable, had read the life of Pelopidas, but I see no ground for suppoling there is here an allufion to it. Hamlet is not ashamed of being scen to weep at a theatrical exhibition, but mortified that a player, in a dream of pohon, should appear more agitated by fictitious forrow, than the prince was by a real calamity. MALONE.


That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion?,
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ear 8 with horrid speech;
Make mad the guilty, and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant; and amaze, indeed,
The very faculties of eyes and ears.
Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John a-dreams', unpregnant of my cause',
And can say nothing ; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,
Adamn'd defeat was made ? Am I a coward?


7 8

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the cue for passion,] The bint, the direction. Johnson.

ibe general ear-] The ears of all mankind. So before, caviare to the general

, that is, to the multitude. JOHNSON. 9 Like John-a.dreams,-1 John-a-dreams, i. e. of dreams, means only Ybn the dreamer; nick-name, I suppose, for any ignorant filly fellow. Thus the puppet formerly thrown at during the season of Lent, was called Jack-a-lent, and the ignis fatuus Jack-a-lantern, Fobnoa-droynes, however, if not a corruption of this nick-name, feems to have been some well known character, as I have met with more than one allution to him. So, in Have with you to Saffren Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, by Nashe, 1596 : "The defcription of that poor Jobn-a-droynes his man, whom he had hired," &c. Jobn-a-droynes is likewise a foolith character in Whetstone's Promos and Casandra, 1578, who is seized by informers, has not much to say in his defence, and is cheated out of his money. STEEV.

unpregnant of my cause,] Unpregnant, for baving no due sense of. WARBURTON.

Rather, not quickened with a new defire of vengeance; not teeming wirb revenge. JOHNSON.

? A damn'd defeat was made.-) Defeat, for deftruétion. WARB. Rather, dispofleflion. JOHNSON.

The word defiat is very licentiously used by the old writers. Shak. fpeare in Orbello employs it yet more quaintly :-" Defeat thy favour with an ufurped beard;" and Middleton, in his comedy called Any Tbing for a Quiet Life, says—"I have heard of your defeat made upon a mercer. Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman:

so that he mighe meantime make a sure defeat

“ On our good aged father's life.” STEEVENS. In the passage quoted from Orbello, to defeat is used for unde or alter; defaire, Fr. See Minlleu in v. Mintheu confiders the sub


Who calls me villain ? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i'the throat,
As deep as to the lungs ? Who does me this?
Ha! Why, I hould take it : for it cannot be,
But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter; or, ere this,
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal : Bloody, bawdy villain !
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindlefs villains!
Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave 4;
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven, and hell,
Muft, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a cursing, like a very drab,
A scullion 5!
Fie upon't!foh! About my brains 6 ! Humph!Ihave heard,
That guilty creatures, sitting at a play",



Atantives defeat and defeature as synonymous. The former he defines an overibrow; the latter, execution or Naugbter of men. In K. Henry V. we have a similar phraseology:

Making defeat upon the powers of France." . And the word is again used in the same sense in the last act of this play:

Their defeat
“ Doth by their own insinuation grow." MALONE.

kindless—] Unnatural. JOHNSON. 4 Wby, what an oss am I? This is mof brave;] The folio reads,

O vengeance !
Who? what an ass am I? Sure this is most brave.

STEEVENS. 5 Ascullion!] Thus the folio. The quartos read,—a fallion.

STEEVENS. 6 Abcut, my brains!) Wirs, to your work. Brain, go about the present business. Johnson.

This expression occurs in the Second Part of the Iron Age, by Heywood, 1632:

My brain, about again! for thou haft found

“ New projects now to work on." STE EVENS. 7

I bave beard,
Tbat guilty creatures, forting at a play,] A number of these stories


Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions :
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father,
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks ;
I'll tent him 8 to the quick; if he do blench',
I know my course. The spirit, that I have seen,
May be a devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and, perhaps,
Out of my weakness, and my melancholy,
(As he is very potent with such spirits,)
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this'; The play's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. [Exit.


A Room in the Castle.
Enter King, Queen, POLONIUS, Ophelia, ROSEN-

King. And can you by no drift of conference
Get from him, why he puts on this confusion;
Grating fo harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?


are collected together by Thomas Heywood, in his Aor's Vindia carien. STELVENS.

tene bim-] Search his wounds. Johnson.

if be do blench,] If he forink, or fart. The word is used by Fletcher, in The Nigbt-walker :

Blencb at no danger, though it be a gallows." Again in Gower, De Confesione Amantis, lib. vi. fol. 128:

“ Without blencbinge of mine eie." STEEVENS. See Vol. IV. p. 142, n. 3. MALONE.

More relative iban ibis ;-) Relarive, for convi&live. WARB. Convi&tive is only the consequential sense. Relative is, nearly relosed, closely conneeled. Johnson. *conference-] The folio reads, circumstance. STILVENS.


Rof. He does confess, he feels himself distracted;
But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guil. Nor do we find him forward to be founded;
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.

Queen. Did he receive you well?
Ros. Most like a gentleman.
Guil. But with much forcing of his difpofition.
Rof. Niggard of question ; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.

Queen. Did you affay him
To any pastime?

Roj. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players
We o'er-raught on the way 4: of these we told him;
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it: They are about the court;
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.

Pol. 'Tis most true :
And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties,
To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclin’d.
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Ref. We shall, my lord. [Exeunt Ros. and Guil. King, Sweet Gertrude, leave us too:

3 Niggard of question; but, of our demands,

Mor free in bis reply. ] Slow to begin conversation, but free enough in his answers to our demands. Guildenstern has just said that Hamlet kept aloof when they wilhed to bring him to confess the cause of his diftration : Rosencrantz therefore here must mean, that upro ibat point, till they touch'd on that, he was free enough in his answers. MALONE.

4 — o'er-raught on tbe way :-) Over-raugbr is over-reached, that is, over-took. JOHNSON. So, in Spenser's Faery Queen, b. 6. c. 3:

“ Having by chance a close advantage viewid,
" He over-raugbr him," &c. STEEVENS.


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