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1 Make her grave straight. Johnson thought this meant, 'make her grave from east to west;' but it more obviously means immediately, forthwith.
2 Go, get thee in. So in the quarto editions. The folio has 'Go, get thee to Yaughan.'
3 In youth, when I did love, &c. The fragments sung by the gravedigger are taken from a poem said to be by Lord Vaux, and published in Tottel's Miscellany, 1557, and reprinted by Percy and others.
• Play at loggats-an English game, played with logs or loggats thrown at a stake stuck in the ground.
5 The age is grown so picked-so nice and precise. Thus in Love's Labour's Lost, we have 'too picked, too spruce.'
6 He galls his kibe. The word 'kibe' seems to have been applied to what would now be called chillblain.
7 Shards; broken pots or tiles, called potsherds, tilesherds.-RITSON. 8 Her virgin crants. All the quartos have crants (German, kranz), garlands carried before the bier of a maiden, and hung over her grave. The folio has 'virgin rites ;' but both Johnson and Warburton had noticed that rites gave no definite image, and that a specific term was required to answer to 'maiden strewments,' &c.
Woo't drink up eisel? 'Woo't' is, of course, Wilt (sometimes altered to woul't), but 'eisel' has occasioned vast controversy. Some consider that it means Yssel or Isel, a river (the northern branch of the Rhine); Steevens thought it might be Weisel, a river on the Baltic; Hanmer was for substituting 'the Nile,' &c. At length the commentators have subsided into acquiescence in Theobald's interpretation, 'Wilt thou drink up vinegar' (formerly known as eisel); 'which,' adds Theobald, 'is not very grand; but the doing it might be as distasteful and unsavoury as eating the flesh of a crocodile.' Shakespeare has the term in one of his Sonnets: 'I will drink
Potions of eisel [old ed. eysell] 'gainst my strong infection.'
10 Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Worse than mutineers in chains, called bilboes from being made at Bilboa in Spain. The bilboes, according to Mr Collier, consisted of an iron bar, with rings for confining the hands or legs.
11 Such bugs and goblins in my life. my character and designs.-JOHNSON.
Such causes of terror, arising from 'Bugs' were bugbears.
12 As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,
"The comma is
In the old editions, ‘And stand a comma.' Johnson says, the note of connection and continuity of sentences; the period is the note of abruption and disjunction.' But we cannot think that Shakespeare introduced such a pitiful illustration of his fine image of peace. Many emendations have been proposed, and co-mate seems the preferable reading.
13 Not shriving-time allow'd. No time for shrift or confession before death.
14 And yet but yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. 'Yaw' is a nautical term, signifying the deviation of a ship from her course. The verb yaw, as well as the substantive, was formerly, Mr Dyce says, in
15 Edified by the margent; alluding to the explanatory comments then given on the margin of books.
16 The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between you and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid on twelve for nine. The terms of this fencing-match, expressed in Osric's euphuistic style, have puzzled the commentators. The Quarterly critic, already quoted, endeavours to make it intelligible: ""He hath laid on twelve for nine," is not that he has laid twelve to nine, but he has wagered for nine out of twelve. The king backs Hamlet. Laertes, who is the celebrated fencer of the age, is to give the prince great odds: the king stipulates out of the twelve passes for nine hits from Laertes without his being declared winner. So also in the former part of the sentence, "he shall not exceed you three hits," does not mean that the sum of Laertes' hits over Hamlet's shall not be more than three. In a dozen passes, six hits each would place them on a par, and Osric calls Laertes' excess the number of hits that he makes above his own half. This, the king bets, will not surpass three, rendering the total amount nine, which tallies with the other form under which the bet is expressed.'
17 He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it. He was complaisant or complimentary-a satire on his forwardness and excessive civility.
18 Fanned and winnowed opinions. The reading of Warburton. The quarto, 1604, has 'prophane and trennowed;' the folio, 'fond and winnowed.'
19 And in the cup an union shall he throw. The 'union' signifies the richest pearl-one without spot.
20 He's fat, and scant of breath. This is a playful allusion to the
obesity of Burbage, Shakespeare's friend, who was the original Hamlet. An elegy on Burbage says:
'No more young Hamlet, though but scant of breath,
Shall cry revenge for his dear father's death.'
To shew the imperfect nature of the first edition of Hamlet, we extract verbatim the concluding passage:
Enter Voltemar and the Ambassadors from England.
enter Fortenbrasse with his traine.
Fort. Where is this bloudy sight?
Hor. If aught of woe, or wonder, you'ld behold,
Then looke vpon this tragicke Spectacle.
Fort. O Imperious death! how many Princes,
Hast thou at one draft bloudily shot to death!
Ambass. Our ambassie that we haue brought from England, Where be these Princes that should heare vs speake?
O most vnlooked for time! vnhappy country!
Hor. Content yourselves. Ile shew to all the ground,
The first beginning of this Tragedy.
Let there a scaffold be rearde vp in the market-place,
shall heare such a sad story tolde,
Fort. I haue some rights of memory to this Kingdome,
Which now to claime my leisure doth inuite mee:
Let foure of our chiefest Captaines
Beare Hamlet like a souldier to his graue;
For he was likely, had he liued,
To a prou'd most royall :
Take vp the bodie; such a sight as this
Becomes the fieldes, but here doth much amisse.