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in Richard III. iii. 7. 192 (“More bitterly could I expostulate") the word is evidently used in pretty much the customary sense; in Othello, iv. 1. 217 it may be taken either way. Caldecott quotes Stanley's Aurore, 1650, p. 44: "Pausanias had now opportunity to visit her and expostulate the favourable deceit, whereby she had caused his jealousie."
226. Line 105: Perpend.-This word is only used in Shakespeare as a sign of affectation or mockery; it is put into the mouth of the braggadocio Pistol, of the pedantic Polonius, and of the clowns in As You Like It and Twelfth Night.
227. Line 110: the most BEAUTIFIED Ophelia. - The word beautified occurs again, but participially, in Two Gent. of Verona, iv. 1. 55. It was not uncommon, however, as an adjective, and used in no affected sense. Nash dedicated his Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 1594, "to the most beautified lady, the lady Elizabeth Carey;" and Caldecott quotes another dedication (of Certaine Sonnets adjoyned to the amorous Poeme of Diego and Gineura by R. L. Gent, 1596) "to the worthily honoured and vertuous beautified Lady, the Ladie Anne Glemnham." It is evident, however, that in the passage in the text beautified is used either with a double meaning or else to emphasize the euphuism of the whole letter. In the Q. of 1603 we read "To the most beautiful Ophelia," and the change has evidently been made deliberately.
228. Lines 112, 113:
but you shall hear.
Thus: "In her excellent white bosom, these," &c. This is the reading of Malone, adopted substantially from Jennens, who follows, except for the punctuation, the Qq. F. 1 has but you shall heare these in her excellent white bosome, these, which Corson would print but you shall hear: "these in her excellent white bosom, these," taking the repetition of the word these for a part of the "studied oddness" of the letter.
232. Line 141: Lord Hamlet is a prince, OUT OF THY STAR.-Compare Twelfth Night, ii. 5. 55: "In my stars I am above thee." The word star, used as it is here for position-"the position in which fortune has placed you" -has no doubt some connection with the astrological significance of the stars. Especially after the confirmation afforded by the parallel passage in Twelfth Night, the emendation of F. 2-sphere-seems quite unnecessary.
233. Line 142: and then I PRESCRIPTS gave her. -Ff. print precepts. The durior lectio of the Qq. seems to me to give the better sense of the two, and it is found again in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 8. 4, 5: Do not exceed The prescript of this scroll.
234. Line 151: And all we MOURN for.-Ff. print waile. 235. Line 160: You know, sometimes he walks FOUR hours together.-Hanmer printed "for hours together." But the expression four hours together was a common one, four and forty being used loosely for an indefinite number. Compare Winter's Tale, v. 2. 148: "Ay, and have been so any time these four hours;" and Webster, Duchess of Malfy, iv. 1. 9: "She will muse four hours together." See Elze's list of similar expressions in the Shakespeare-Jahrbuch, bd. xi. Compare v. 1. 292: “forty thousand brothers."
236. Line 174: you are a FISHMONGER.-The word fishmonger is no doubt used in sous-entendre, but there are several meanings which can be assigned to it. Coleridge understands Hamlet to mean: "You are sent to fish out this secret.' Malone cites a slang meaning of the word from Barnabe Rich's Irish Hubbub: "Senex fornicator, an old fishmonger." Whiter (apud Furness) gives a passage from Jonson's Masque at Christmas (vol. vii. p. 277, ed. Gifford), where Venus says she was "a fishmonger's daughter," and observes that "probably it was supposed that the daughters of these tradesmen, who dealt in so nourishing a species of food, were blessed with extraordinary powers of conception." Probably the joke arose rather from the prolific nature of fish.
237. Lines 181-183: For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being A GOOD KISSING CARRION,-Have you a daughter? This is the reading of Qq. and Ff., generally abandoned in favour of Warburton's brilliant and plausible emendation: "a god, kissing carrion.' This makes admirable sense, but it may be questioned whether the change is necessary. Caldecott tentatively suggested that the passage "may mean that the dead dog is good for the sun, the breeder of maggots, to kiss for the purpose of causing putrefaction, and so conceiving or generating anything carrion-like, anything apt quickly to contract taint in the sunshine." This explanation is more elaborately and more convincingly worked out in Corson's Jottings on the Text of Hamlet, pp. 18-20. "The defect," he says, "in the several attempted explanations of this passage is due to one thing, and one thing only. and that is, to the understanding of 'kissing' as the present active participle, and not as the verbal noun. In the following passages, for example, the present active participle is used: 'Life's but a walking shadow,' Macbeth, v. 5. 24; 'the dancing banners
of the French,' King John, ii. 1. 308; labouring art can never ransom nature,' All's Well, ii. 1. 121, &c. But in the following passages the same words are verbal nouns used adjectively: a palmer's walking-staff,' Richard II. iii. 3. 151; 'you and I are past our dancing days,' Romeo and Juliet, i. 5. 32; 'you ought not walk upon a labouring day,' Julius Cæsar, i. 1. 4, &c.; and now we are all ready for 'kissing. In the following passages it is the participle: a kissing traitor,' Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 603; 'the greedy touch of common-kissing Titan,' Cymbeline, iii. 4. 166:
O, how ripe in show
Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow! -Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2. 139, 140. 'Kissing,' in the last passage, might be taken for the verbal noun, meaning, for kissing, or, to be kissed; but it must here be understood as the participle. Demetrius speaks of the lips of Helena, as two ripe cherries that kiss, or lightly touch, each other. But to say of a pair of beautiful lips that they are good kissing lips,1 would convey quite a different meaning, a meaning, however, which nobody would mistake: Kissing,' in such expressions, is the verbal noun used adjectively, and equivalent to 'for kissing.' And so the word is used in the passage in question: For if the sun breed magots in a dead dogge, being a good kissing carrion'—that is, a dead dog being, not a carrion good at kissing, as Mr. Knight and others understood it, and which would be the sense of the word, as a present active participle, but a carrion good for kissing, or, to be kissed, by the sun, that thus breeds a plentiful crop of maggots therein, the agency of 'breed' being implied in 'kissing.' In reading this speech, the emphasis should be upon 'kissing,' and not upon carrion,' the idea of which last word is anticipated in 'dead dog;' in other words, 'kissing carrion' should be read as a compound noun, which in fact it is, the stress of sound falling on the member of the compound which bears the burden of the meaning. The two words might, indeed, be hyphened, like 'kissing-comfits" in the Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 5. 23." With this passage compare King Edward III. ii. 1. 438, 439:
The freshest summers day doth soonest taint The lothed carrion that it seemes to kiss. -Ed. Warnke and Proescholdt, p. 27. 238. Line 197: I mean, the matter that you READ, my lord. This is the reading of all the Qq.; Ff., by an obvious misprint, have meane.
239. Line 198: the satirical ROGUE.-Ff. print slaue.
240. Line 233: On Fortune's CAP we are not the very button.-Qq. print lap, a misprint for Cap, as the Ff. spell it, with an initial capital. Elze, pp. 156, 157, has an interesting note on this allusion. "In Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps Folio edition," he says, "this passage has been illustrated with a cut copied from tapestry of the time of Henry VII., and showing a cap the flaps of which are turned up and secured by a strap and a button. 'It is obvious,' observes Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, 'that such a button might be of the most costly material, according to
1 Compare the very similar expression in Mr. Swinburne's translation of Villon's Regrets de la belle Heaulmière, stanza 6, "And sweet red splendid kissing mouth" (Poems and Ballads, and Series, p. 197).-A. S.
the wealth of the wearer.' This, however, is not to the point, as our poet does not introduce the button as the most costly, but as the uppermost part of the cap, in contrast to the soles as the nethermost part of dress. In Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps' illustration the button of the cap is, and from its destination must be, placed at the side, and it seems, therefore, most unlikely that the poet should have alluded to this kind of cap. The prototype of 'Fortune's cap' may rather be recognized in the flat round cap worn by citizens in the XV. and XVI. centuries. The most eloquent praise of this citizens' cap, in contradistinction to the square cap of the scholar on the one hand and the new fangled long hat on the other, is sung by Candido in Dekker's Honest Whore, Part II. i. 3 (Middleton, ed. Dyce, iii. 147). The citizens of London,' remarks Dyce on Part I. iii. 1 of the same play (Middleton, iii. 58), 'both masters and journeymen, continued to wear flat round caps long after they had ceased to be fashionable, and were hence in derision termed flat-caps [or simply caps; see Part II. of The Honest Whore, passim].' Although Dyce does not say that this round cap was crowned by a button at the top, yet this seems so much the more likely as the scholars' cap is distinguished by the same ornament; perhaps both of them resembled in this respect the well-known Tam-o'-Shanter of the Scotch."
241. Lines 269-271: Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Furness quotes several attempts to assign its precise meaning to this passage, which Coleridge confesses himself unable to understand. The best seem to me those of Hudson and Bucknill. The former observes: "Hamlet loses himself in the riddles he is making. The meaning, however, seems to be: our beggars can at least dream of being kings and heroes; and if the substance of such ambitious men is but a dream, and if a dream is but a shadow, then our kings and heroes are but the shadows of our beggars." Bucknill, more briefly and better still, says: "If ambition is but a shadow, something beyond ambition must be the substance from which it is thrown. If ambition, represented by a king, is a shadow, the antitype of ambition, represented by a beggar, must be the opposite of the shadow, that is, the substance."
While Date was in good case
Dabitur flourished too: For Dabitur's lenten face No wonder if Date rue. -Works, 1878, vol. iv. p. 217. 245. Line 330: we COTED them on the way.-The word cote is from the French côtoyer, which Boyer, after giving its primitive meaning, "to coast along, to go along or keep close to the Shore," translates "to go by the Side, or along." The word cote is found again in Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 3. 87:
Her amber hair for foul hath amber coted. See note 116 to that play. Steevens quotes The Return from Parnassus: "marry, we presently coted and outstript them." Furness quotes from an article, New Shakespearian Interpretations, in the Edinburgh Review, October, 1872: "Cote, in the language of venery, is applied to a brace of greyhounds slipped together at the stag or hare, and means that one of the dogs outstrips the other and reaches the game first. Thus we find in Turberville: 'In coursing at a Deare, if one Greyhound go endwayes by [that is beyond] another, it is accoumpted a Cote.' Again, 'In coursing at the Hare, it is not materiall which dog kylleth her (which hunters call bearing of a Hare), but he that giveth most Cotes, or most turnes, winneth the wager. A Cote is when a Greyhound goeth endwayes by his fellow and giveth the Hare a turn (which is called setting a Hare about), but if he coast and so come by his fellow, that is no Cote. Likewise, if one Greyhound doe go by another, and then be not able to reach the Hare himselfe and turne her, this is but stripping, and no Cote. To cote is thus not simply to overtake, but to overpass, to outstrip, this being the distinctive meaning of the term. Going beyond is the essential point, the term being usually applied under circumstances where overtaking is impossible,-to dogs who start together and run abreast until the cote takes place. So Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, having coted the players in their way, reach the palace first, and have been for some time in conversation with Hamlet before the strolling company arrives."
246. Lines 337, 338: the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are TICKLE O' THE SERE.-This clause is omitted in Qq.; Ff. print tickled, for which Staunton substituted tickle. The phrase was a proverbial one, which, however, has been generally misunderstood. The convincing interpretation was made by Dr. Brinsley Nicholson in Notes and Queries, July 22, 1871. He writes: "The sere, or, as it is now spelt, sear (or scear) of a gun-lock is the bar or balance-lever interposed between the trigger on the one side, and the tumbler and other mechanism on the other, and is so called from its acting the part of a serre, or talon, in gripping that mechanism and preventing its action. It is, in fact, a paul or stop-catch. When the trigger is made to act on one end of it, the other end releases the tumbler, the mainspring acts, and the hammer, flint, or match falls. Hence Lombard (1596), as quoted in Halliwell's Archaic Dictionary, says, 'Even as a pistole that is ready charged and bent will flie off by-and-by, if a man doe but touch the seare.' Now if the lock be so made of purpose, or be worn, or be faulty in construction, this sear, or grip, may be so tickle or ticklish in its adjustment that a slight touch or even jar may displace it, and then,
of course, the gun goes off. Hence 'light,' or 'tickle of the sear' (equivalent to, like a hair-trigger), applied metaphorically, means that which can be started into action at a mere touch, or on the slightest provocation, or on what ought to be no provocation at all." The Clarendon Press edd. (1872) independently hit on the same explanation. They remark: "In old matchlocks the sear and trigger were in one piece. This is proved by a passage from Barret's Theorike and Practike of Modern Warre (1598), p. 33 : "drawing down the serre with the other three fingers. He has given directions for holding the stock between the thumb and forefinger."
247. Lines 346, 347: I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.-The Variorum Ed. has four pages, the New Variorum two pages and a half, on this interesting and long-debated passage. The explanation of the allusion given by the Clarendon Press edd. in their Preface (pp. xii-xv) seems to be, as Furness styles it, conclusive. After quoting the readings of the Q. of 1603 and of the later Qq., they say: "In the earlier play the tragedians are driven to strolling because the public taste was in favour of the private plays and the acting of children; in the later, they are represented as being prohibited from acting in consequence of what is darkly called an innovation.' Both these causes are combined in the play as it stands in the Folios, where the inhibition' and the 'aery of children' are introduced to account for the tragedians having forsaken the city. Steevens explains the inhibition' in this way: Their permission to act any longer at an established house is taken away, in consequence of the new custom of introducing personal abuse into their comedies,' and then asserts that 'several companies of actors in the time of our author were silenced on account of this licentious practice.' But it is not clear that this is the reference intended. For a very long period there had been a strong opposition in the city to theatrical performances.
"It is difficult, therefore, to see at what precise period the explanation offered by Steevens could be true. In 1604 the indulgence of the actors in personal abuse could hardly be called an 'innovation;' on the contrary, it was a practice from which the stage had never been entirely free. If we were to add to the conjectures upon this point we should be disposed to suggest that the 'innovation' referred to was the license which had been given on 30th Jan., 1603-4 to the Children of the Queen's Revels to play at the Blackfriars Theatre and other convenient places. The Blackfriars Theatre belonged to the com pany of which Shakespeare was a member, formerly the Lord Chamberlain's, and at this time His Majesty's servants. The popularity of the children may well have driven the older actors into the country, and so have operated as an 'inhibition,' though in the strict sense of the word no formal inhibition' was issued. If by 'inhibition' Shakespeare merely meant, as we think most probable, that the actors were practically thrown out of employment, it seems also likely that by 'innovation' he meant the authority given to the children to act at the regularly licensed theatres. It must be borne in mind, in reference to this, that nothing is said either of 'inhibition' or 'innovation' in 1603, but that the sentenc
containing both is first introduced in 1604. It is to the interval therefore that we must look for the explanation. In offering this conjecture we have not lost sight of the fact that after all, remembering how chary Shakespeare is of contemporary allusions, no special occurrence may be hinted at, although in what follows in the Folio edition a satire upon the children's performances was clearly intended."
248. Line 354: an aery of children.-This relates, says Steevens, "to the young singing-men of the chapel royal, or St. Paul's, of the former of whom perhaps the earliest mention occurs in an anonymous puritanical pamphlet, 1569, entitled The Children of the Chapel Stript and Whipt: Plaies will neuer be supprest, while her maieesties unfledged minions flaunt it in silkes and sattens. They had as well be at their popish service in the deuils garments,' &c. Again (ibid.): 'Euen in her maiesties chapel do these pretty upstart youthes profane the Lorde's day by the lasciuious writhing of their tender limbes, and gorgeous decking of their apparell, in feigning bawdie fables gathered from the idolatrous heathen poets,' &c.
"Concerning the performances and success of the latter in attracting the best company, I also find the following passage in Jack Drum's Entertainment, or Pasquil and Katherine, 1601:
I saw the children of Powles last night;
-I like the audience that frequenteth there
To the barmy jacket of a beer-brewer.
It is said in Richard Flecknoe's Short Discourse of the English Stage, 1664, that both the children of the chappel and St. Paul's, acted playes, the one in White-Friers, the other behinde the Convocation-house in Paul's; till people growing more precise, and playes more licentious, the theatre of Paul's was quite supprest, and that of the children of the chappel converted to the use of the children of the revels.'"
249. Line 355: little EYASES.-Cotgrave has "Niais: A neastling, a young bird taken out of a neast; hence a youngling, nouice," &c. The word eyas should more probably be nias, as it is given in Boyer's French Dictionary: "A Nias hawk (a young hawk taken out of the Nest, that has not yet prey'd for her self) Un faucon niais." The Ff. print Yases.
250. Lines 355, 356: cry out on the top of question.-A great many explanations of this phrase have been put forward. Perhaps it merely means, as Steevens says: "Children that perpetually recite in the highest notes of voice that can be uttered;" or, in Elze's words: "The 'top of the question' means the top of conversation; namely, that point where the dialogue is most lively, where question and answer follow each other stroke on stroke, and the speakers are most excited. These 'little eyases,' therefore, continually cry out as though they were at the very height of conversation." Perhaps it had a further sense, such as that indicated by Staunton: "The
phrase, derived perhaps from the defiant crowing of a cock upon his midden, really meant, we believe, like'Stood challenger on mount of all the ages,' to crow over or challenge all comers to a contention. In line  Hamlet uses the phrase 'cried in the top,' where it evidently means crowed over. Again, in Armin's Nest of Ninnies, the author, alluding to fencers or players at single-stick, talks of making them expert till they cry it up in the top of question' [p. 55, Sh. Soc. vol. x.]."
257. Line 396–398: I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.F. A. Marshall, Study of Hamlet, pp. 187, 188, has the following note on this passage: "No adequate explanation of this passage appears to me to be offered by any of the commentators: the proverb 'he doesn't know a hawk from a hernshaw,' that is, from a heron, is said to have been a common one, and is found in Ray's Proverbs, p. 196, and in other collections; but the only passage quoted is from Langston's 'Lusus Poeticus,' 1675 (see Pennant's British Zoology, The Heron,' quoted in Richardson's Dictionary, sub voce Heron). The corruption of hernshaw into handsaw may have originated in a vulgar
mistake, or in a stupid attempt to be funny on the part of some person. 1
"Of the first part of this, in all the old commentators, I can find no explanation, and yet I cannot help thinking that the words 'I am but mad north-north-west' must have had some inner meaning, or conveyed a reference to some well-known expression. The only attempt to throw any light on this obscure passage is to be found in the Notes to the 'Clarendon Hamlet (Oxford, 1872); and for this explanation the editors acknowledge their indebtedness to Mr. J. C. Heath, formerly Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I take leave to insert it here:-"The expression obviously refers to the sport of hawking. Most birds, especially one of heavy flight, like the heron, when roused by the falconer or his dog, would fly down or with the wind, in order to escape. When the wind is from the north the heron flies towards the south, and the spectator may be dazzled by the sun, and be unable to distinguish the hawk from the heron. On the other hand, when the wind is southerly, the heron flies towards the north, and it and the pursuing hawk are clearly seen by the sportsman, who then has his back to the sun, and without difficulty knows the hawk from the hernsew. A curious reader may further observe that a wind from the precise point north-north-west would be in the eye of the sun at half-past ten in the forenoon, a likely time for hawking, whereas southerly' includes a wider range of wind for a good view.'
"This explanation is very ingenious; but I should like to have seen it supported by some passages from any of the books on Falconry to which Shakespeare might have had access. I have always thought that Hamlet here meant to intimate to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern that he was only mad in one direction (i.e. before the King and Court), and that possibly by some gesture he may have indicated his meaning. The hawk and heron are certainly as unlike as any two birds can be; the only point of resemblance between them being that they are both mischievous, for the heron is quite as destructive to fish as the hawk is to game. In the proverb the sense undoubtedly is, 'he does not know a hawk from its prey;' and Hamlet's meaning may be thus expressed: 'I am not so mad but I know a knave from a fool, even if that fool be a mischievous one.""
258. Line 412: Buz, buz!-This was an interjection, much used at Oxford, intended to interrupt a tiresome or twice-told story. It is found in Two Noble Kinsmen, iii. 5. 79 (ed. Littledale, p. 55). Elze notes that in Jonson's Staple of News the collector of mercantile intelligence is called Emissary Buz.
1 This corruption, Nares says, had taken place before the time of Shakespeare. Herneshaw is explained by Cotgrave as a "shaw of wood where hernes breed," Haironnière; so that Dr. Johnson had better authority for giving this interpretation than Nares supposed. Shaw is an old Saxon word for "shady place."
2 The quotation given by Steevens does not help us much:
But I perceive now, either the winde is at the south, Or else your tongue cleaveth to the roofe of your mouth. -Damon and Pythias, 1582. He might just as well have quoted the proverb:When the wind is in the south,
It blows the bait into the fishes' mouth.
259. Lines 418, 419: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.-A translation of the whole of Seneca's tragedies (Seneca his Tenne Tragedies, translated into English) was published in 1581; a version of the Menœchmi of Plautus appeared in 1595. See note on iii. 2. 93. The first English tragedy, Gorboduc, was formed on the Senecan model; the first English comedy, Ralph Roister Doister, somewhat on the model of Plautus, as the writer avows in his Prologue:
Suche to write neither Plautus nor Terence dyd spare, Whiche among the learned at this day beares the bell: These with such other therein dyd excell.
260. Lines 419-421: For the law of WRIT and the liberty, these are the only men.-The sense of these lines has been much debated, and its very existence has even been called in question. But while the phrase is intentionally fanciful, it seems pretty obviously to mean, that the players were equally excellent at written and at extemporary plays. The Q. of 1676 reads wit, which some editors adopt.
261. Line 422: Jephthah.-Jephthah was a popular subject for both tragedies and ballads. In the Stationers' Register there are two entries of ballads, or of the same ballad: the first is in 1567-68-" a ballet intituled the songe of Jesphas Dowgther at his death"--the second, Dec. 14, 1624, "Jeffa Judge of Israel." This ballad was communicated to Percy by Steevens, and inserted in the second edition of the Reliques, 1757. Halliwell gives a facsimile of A proper new ballad, intituled, Jepha Judge of Israel, of which the first stanza is as follows:
I read that many yeare agoe,
Had one fair Daughter and no more,
Whom he loved so passing well.
It came to passe most like it was,
and who should be the chiefe, but he, but he. 262. Line 437: the pious chanson.-This is the reading of Qq. (further confirmed by the parallel passage in Q. 1: "the first verse of the godly Ballet"). F. 1 has Pons Chanson, an obvious misprint, which some editors have endeavoured to torture into a meaning. Hunter (New Illustrations, vol. ii. p. 232) flatly declares that the French term for a trivial ballad, chanson du Pont Neuf, is also used in the form pons chanson, which, however, no one but himself seems to have met with.