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you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again 3.
Ros. I understand you not, my lord.
HAM. I am glad of it: A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear 6.
Ros. My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.
HAM. The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing
GUIL. A thing, my lord?
HAM. Of nothing; bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after 9.
5-and, SPONGE, you shall be dry again.] So, in the 7th Satire of Marston, 1598 :
"He's but a spunge, and shortly needs must leese
"His wrong-got juice, when greatnes' fist shall squeese
6- A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.] This, if I mistake not, is a proverbial sentence. MALONE.
Since the appearance of our author's play, these words have become proverbial; but no earlier instance of the idea conveyed by them, has occurred within the compass of my reading. STEEVENS.
7 The body is with the king,] This answer I do not comprehend. Perhaps it should be,-The body is not with the king, for the king is not with the body. JOHNSON.
Perhaps it may mean this,-The body is in the king's house, (i. e. the present king's,) yet the king (i. e. he who should have been king,) is not with the body. Intimating that the usurper is here, the true king in a better place. Or it may mean-the guil of the murder lies with the king, but the king is not where the body lies. The affected obscurity of Hamlet must excuse so many attempts to procure something like a meaning. STEEVENS.
8 Or nothing:] Should it not be read-Or nothing? When the courtiers remark that Hamlet has contemptuously called the king a thing, Hamlet defends himself by observing, that the king must be a thing, or nothing. JOHNSON.
The text is right. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
"In troth, my lord, it is a thing of nothing." And, in one of Harvey's Letters, "a silly bug-beare, a sorry puffe of winde, a thing of nothing." FARMER.
So, in Decker's Match Me in London, 1631:
"At what dost thou laugh?
At a thing of nothing, at thee."
Another Room in the Same.
Enter King, attended.
KING. I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.
How dangerous is it, that this man goes loose?
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
Or not at all.-How now? what hath befallen? Ros. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord, We cannot get from him.
Ros. Without, my lord; pleasure.
Again, in Look About You, 1600:
But where is he?
guarded, to know your
"A very little thing, a thing of nothing." STEEVENS. Mr. Steevens has given [i. e. edit. 1778] many parallelisms: but the origin of all is to be looked for, I believe, in the 144th Psalm, ver. 5: "Man is like a thing of nought." Mr. Steevens must have observed, that the Book of Common Prayer, and the translation of the Bible into English, furnished our old writers with many forms of expression, some of which are still in use. WHALLEY.
Hide fox, &c.] There is a play among children called, Hide fox, and all after. HANMER.
The same sport is alluded to in Decker's Satiromastix: "—our unhandsome-faced poet does play at bo-peep with your grace, cries-All hid, as boys do.”
This passage is not in the quarto. STEEVENS.
KING. Bring him before us.
Ros. Ho, Guildenstern! bring in my lord.
Enter HAMLET and GUILDENSTERN.
KING. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius ?
KING. At supper? Where?
HAM. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten : a certain convocation of politick worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else, to fat us; and we fat ourselves for maggots: Your fat king, and your lean beggar, is but variable service; two dishes, but to one table; that's the end.
KING. Alas, alas 1!
HAM. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king; and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
KING. What dost thou mean by this?
HAM. Nothing, but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar. KING. Where is Polonius ?
HAM. In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him i'the other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
KING. Go seek him there. [To some Attendants. HAM. He will stay till you come.
Alas, alas!] This speech, and the following, are omitted in the folio. STEEVens.
go a PROGRESS — -] Alluding to the royal journeys of state, always styled progresses; a familiar idea to those who, like our author, lived during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. STEEVENS.
KING. Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done,-must send thee hence
With fiery quickness: Therefore, prepare thyself;
KING. So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes. HAM. I see a cherub, that sees them -But, come; for England!-Farewell, dear mother. KING. Thy loving father, Hamlet.
HAM. My mother: Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England.
[Exit. KING. Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed
Delay it not, I'll have him hence to-night :
That else leans on the affair: Pray you, make haste. [Exeunt Ros. and GUIL.
And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught, (As my great power thereof may give thee sense;
* First folio, this deed of thine, for thine. † First folio, him. 3 With fiery quickness:] These words are not in the quartos. We meet with fiery expedition in King Richard III. STEEVENS. the wind at HELP,] I suppose it should be read
"The bark is ready, and the wind at helm." JOHNSON. "-at help," i. e. at hand, ready,-ready to help or assist you. RITSON.
Similar phraseology occurs in Pericles, Prince of Tyre:
"I'll leave it
"At careful nursing." STEEVENS.
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;
thou may'st not coldly SET
Our sovereign process ;] I adhere to the reading of the quarto and folio. Mr. M. Mason observes, that "one of the common acceptations of the verb set, is to value or estimate; as we say to set at nought; and in that sense it is used here." STEEVENS.
Our poet has here, I think, as in many other places, used an elliptical expression: "thou may'st not coldly set by our sovereign process:" thou may'st not set little by it, or estimate it lightly. "To set by," Cole renders in his Dict. 1679, by æstimo. "To set little by," he interprets parvi-facio. See many other instances of similar ellipses, in Cymbeline, Act V. Sc. V. MALOne.
6 By letters CONJURING] Thus the folio. The quarto reads: "By letters congruing-." STEEVENS.
The reading of the folio may derive some support from the following passage in The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. 1.: "making the king of England minister of his massacring resolution; to whom he purposed to send him, [Hamlet,] and by letters desire him to put him to death." So also, by a subsequent line:
"Ham. Wilt thou know the effect of what I wrote ?
"Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king," &c.
The circumstances mentioned as inducing the king to send the prince to England, rather than elsewhere, are likewise found in The Hystory of Hamblet.
Effect was formerly used for act or deed, simply, and is so used in the line before us. So, in Leo's Historie of Africa, translated by Pory, folio, 1600, p. 253: "Three daies after this effect, there came to us a Zuum, that is, a captaine," &c. See also supra, p. 399, n. 2.
The verb to conjure (in the sense of to supplicate,) was formerly accented on the first syllable. So, in Macbeth:
"I conjure you, by that which you profess. "Howe'er you come to know it, answer me. Again, in King John:
I conjure thee but slowly; run more fast." Again, in Romeo and Juliet :
"I conjure thee, by Rosaline's bright eyes-."
Again, in Measure for Measure:
"O prince, I conjure thee, as thou believ'st," &c. MALONE, 2 E