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To do't. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me:
Rightly to be great, Is, not to stir without, &c.) This passage I have printed according to the copy. Mr. Theobald had regulated it thus :
'Tis not to be great,
“But greatly," &c. The sentiment of Shakspeare is partly just, and partly romantick.
Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without great argument ; is exactly philosophical.
“ But greatly to find quarrel in a straw,
“ When honour's at the stake;" is the idea of a modern hero. But then, says he, honour is an argument, or subject of debate, sufficiently great, and when honour is at stake, we must find cause of quarrel in a straw. Johnson.
7 Excitements of my reason, and my blood,] Provocations which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance. Johnson.
8 — a plot.) A piece, or portion. Reed.
“Of grounde to win a plot, a while to dwell,
Which is not tomb enough, and continent',
Elsinore. A Room in the Castle.
Enter Queen and HORATIO.
Hor. She is importunate ; indeed, distract;
What would she have ? Hor. She speaks much of her father; says, she
hears, There's tricks i'the world; and hems, and beats her
heart; Spurns enviously at straws'; speaks things in doubt, That carry but half sense: her speech is nothing,
9 - continent,] Continent, in our author, means that which comprehends or encloses. So, in King Lear :
“Rive your concealing continents." Again, in Chapman's version of the third Iliad:
did take Thy fair form for a continent of parts as fair.” See King Lear, Act III. Sc. II. Steevens.
Again, Lord Bacon, On the Advancement of Learning, 4to. 1633, p. 7: “ — if there be no fulnesse, then is the continent greater than the content." Reed.
Spurns ENVIOUSLY at straws ;] Endy is much oftener put by our poet (and those of his time) for direct aversion, than for malignity conceived at the sight of another's excellence or happiness. So, in King Henry VIII.:
* You turn the good we offer into envy." Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, 1621, Hist. VI.“She loves the memory of Sypontus, and envies and detests that of her two husbands." Steevens.
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
them, Indeed would make one think, there might * be
thought, Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily 4. Queen. "Twere good, she were spoken with '; for
she may strew Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds :
* First folio, would.
? - to collection ;] i. e. to deduce consequences from such premises ; or, as Mr. M. Mason observes, “ endeavour to collect some meaning from them.” So, in Cymbeline, scene the last :
“ Make no collection of it.”
3 - they aim at it.] The quartos read they yawn at it. To aim is to guess. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
“ I aim'd so near, when I suppos'd you lov'd.” Steevens. • Though nothing sure, yet much UNHAPPILY.) i. e. though her meaning cannot be certainly collected, yet there is enough to put a mischievous interpretation to it. WARBURTON.
That unhappy once signified mischievous, may be known from P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, book xix. ch. vii.: “ — the shrewd and unhappie soules which lie upon the lands, and eat up the seed new sowne.” We still use unlucky in the same sense. STEEVENS.
5 "Twere good, she were spoken with ;] These lines are given to the Queen in the folio, and to Horatio in the quarto. Johnson.
I think the two first lines of Horatio's speech ["Twere good, &c.] belong to him; the rest to the Queen. Blackstone.
In the quarto, the Queen, Horatio, and a Gentleman, enter at the beginning of this scene. The two speeches,“ She is importunate," &c. and “She speaks much of her father," &c are there given to the Gentleman, and the line now before us, as well as the two following, to Horatio : the remainder of this speech to the Queen. I think it probable that the regulation proposed by Sir W. Blackstone was that intended by Shakspeare. Malone.
Let her come in.
[Exit HoRATIO. To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is, Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss ®: So full of artless jealousy is guilt, It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHELIA. Oph. Where is the beauteous majesty of Den
From another one?
And his sandal shoon. [Singing.
6 — to some great amiss ;] Shakspeare is not singular in his use of this word as a substantive. So, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584 :
“ Gracious forbearers of this world's amiss." Again, in Lyly's Woman in the Moon, 1597 :
“ Pale be my looks, to witness my amiss." Again, in Greene's Disputation between a He Coney-catcher, &c. 1592 : “ revive in them the memory of my great amiss.” Steevens.
Each toy is, each trifle. Malone.
7 How should I your true love, &c.] There is no part of this play in its representation on the stage, more pathetick than this scene; which, I suppose, proceeds from the utter insensibility Ophelia has to her own misfortunes.
A great sensibility, or none at all, seems to produce the same effect. In the latter the audience supply what she wants, and with the former they sympathize. Sir J. Reynolds.
By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon.] This is the description of a pilgrim. While this kind of devotion was in favour, love intrigues were carried on under that mask. Hence the old ballads and novels made pilgrimages the subjects of their plots. The cockle-shell hat was one of the essential badges of this vocation : for the chief places of devotion being beyond sea, or on the coasts, the pilgrims were accustomed to put cockle-shells upon their hats, to denote the intention or performance of their devotion.
Queen. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
He is dead and gone, lady, [Sings.
At his heels a stone.
Queen. Nay, but Ophelia,
Pray you, mark.
[Sings. Enter King Queen. Alas, look here, my lord. ОРН. . Larded all with sweet flowers';
Which bewept to the grave * did go',
With true-love showers. King. How do you, pretty lady? Oph. Well, God’ield you?! They say, the owl
* Quarto, ground. So, in Green's Never too Late, 1616 :
“ A hat of straw like to a swain,
“ With a scallop-shell before," &c. Again, in The Old Wives Tale, by George Peele, 1595: “I will give thee a palmer's staff of yvorie, and a scallop-shell of beaten gold.” Steevens.
9 LARDED all with sweet flowers;] The expression is taken from cookery. Johnson.
- did go,] The old editions read did not go. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Steevens.
? Well, God’ield you !) i. e. Heaven reward you! So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ Tend me to-night two hours, I ask no more,
“ And the Gods yield you for't!" So, Sir John Grey, in a letter in Ashmole's Appendix to his Account of the Garter, Numb. 46 : “ The king of his gracious lordshipe, God yeld him, hafe chosen me to be owne of his brethrene of the knyghts of the garter.” THEOBALD.
See Macbeth, Act I. Sc. VI. STEEVENS.