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cloud should resemble a weasel in shape, as an ouzle (i. e. black-bird) in colour.

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Mr. Tollet observes, that we might read is beck'd like a weasel," i. e. weasel-snouted. So, in Holinshed's Description of England, p. 172; "if he be wesell-becked. "Quarles uses this term of reproach in his Virgin Widow; “Go you weazel-snouted, addle-pated," &c. Mr. Tollet adds, that Milton in his Lycidas, calls a promontory beaked, i. e. prominent like the beak of a bird, or a ship. STEEVENS.

Ham. Methinks it is like a weazel, Pol. It is back'd like a weazel.] quarto, 1604, and the folio.

Thus the

In a more modern quarto, that of 1611, back'd the original reading, was corrupted into black.

Perhaps in the original edition the words camel and weazel were shuffled out of their places. The poet might have intended the dialogue to proceed thus:

"Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in the shape of a weazel? "Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a weazel, indeed.

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"Ham. Methinks, it is like a camel.
"Pol. It is back'd like a camel.

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The protuberant back of a camel seems more to resemble a cloud than the back of a weazel does. MALONE. P. 78, 1. 11. They fool me to the top of my bent. They compel me to play the fool, till I can endure it no longer. JOHNSON.


Perhaps a term in archery: i. e, as far as the bow will admit of being bent without breaking.




P. 78, 1. 20. 21. And do such business as the bitter day

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Would quake to look on.] The expression bitter business is still in use, and though at present a vulgar phrase, might not have been such in the age of Shakspeare. The bitter day is the day rendered hateful or bitter by the commission of some act of mischief.

Watts, in his Logick, says, "Bitter is an equivocal word; there is bitter wormwood, there are bitter words, there are bitter enemies, and a bitter cold morning." It is, in short, any thing unpleasing or hurtful. STEEVENS.

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P. 78, 1. 26. I will speak daggers to her,] A similar expression occurs in The Return from Parnassus, 1606: They are pestilent fellows, they speak nothing but bodkins." It has been already observed, that a bodkin anciently signified a short dagger. STEEVENS.

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P. 78, 1. 28.

How in my words soever she be shent,] To shend, is to reprove harshly, to treat with rough language.



Shent seems to mean something more than reproof, by the following passage from The Miror for Magistrates: Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, is the speaker, and he relates his having betrayed the Duke of Gloucester and his confederates to the King, "for which (says he) they were all tane and shent.

Hamlet surely means, "however my mother may be hurt, wounded, or punish'd, by my words, let me never consent" &c. HENDERSON.

P. 78, 1. 29. To give them seals] i. c. put them in execution. WARburton.

P. 79, 1. 6. Out of his lunes.] reads lunacies;— and the old quartos

The folioread brows:

I take brows to be, properly read, frows, which, I think, is a provincial word for perverse hu mours; which being, I suppose, not understood, was changed to lunacies. But of this I am not

confident. JOHNSON.

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The two readings of brows and lunes-when taken in connection with the passages referred to by Mr. Steevens, in The Winter's Tale and The Merry Wives of Windsor, plainly figure forth the image under which the King apprehended danger from Hamlet: viz. that of a bull, which, in his frenzy, might not only gore, but push him. from his throne. "The hazard that hourly grows out of his BROWS" (according to the quartos) corresponds to "the SHOOTS from the ROUGH PASH, [that is the TUFTED PROTUBERANCE on the head of a bull, from whence his horns spring] alluded to in The Winter's Tale; whilst the imputation of impending danger to "his LUNES" (according to the other reading) answers as obviously to the jealous fury of the husband that thinks he has detected the infidelity of his wife. Thus, in The Merry Wives of Windsor: "Why woman, your husband is in his old lunes-he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's daughters, and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying peer out! peer out! that any madness, I ever yet beheld, seem'd but tameness, civility, and patience, to this distemper he is now in." HENLEY.

P. 79, 1.,32. Behind the arras I'll convey myself,] The arras hangings in Shakspeare's time, were hung at such

distance from the walls, that a person might easily stand behind them unperceived. MALONE.

P. 80, 1, 4. of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation. WARBURTON. P. 80, 1. 11. Though inclination be as sharp as will;] Dr. War

burton would read,

Though inclination be as sharp as th' ill.

The old reading is as sharp as will. STEEVENS. I have followed the easier emendation of Mr. Theobald, received by Sir T. Hanmer: i. e. as 'twill. JOHNSON.

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Will is command, direction. Thus, Ecclesiasticus, xliii. 16: and at his will the south wind bloweth." The King says, his mind is in too great confusion to pray, even though his inclination were as strong as the command which requires that duty. STEEVENS.

What the King means to say, is, ・ “That though he was not only willing to pray, but strongly inclined to it, yet his intention was defeated by his guilt. M. MASON.

P. So, 1. 28 May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?] He that does not amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The King kept the crown from the right heir. JOHNSON

A similar passage occurs in Philaster, where the King, who bad usurped the crown of Sicily, and is praying to heaven for forgiveness, says,

But how can I

"Look, to be heard of gods, that must be


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"Praying upon the ground I hold my

wrong, M. MASON.

P. 84, -1. 2. Yet what can it, when one can not repent?] What

can repentance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who has only part of penitence, distress. of conscience, without the other part, resolution of amendment? JOHNSON. As y

P. 81, 1. 4. O limed soul;] This alludes to bird-lime. STEEVENS.

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P.81, 1. 13. That would be scann'd:] i. that should be considered, estimated. STEEVENS. P. 81, 1. 18. full of bread;] The uncommon expression, full of bread, our poet borrowed from the sacred writings: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." Ezekiel, xvi. 49, MALONE P. 81, 1. 20. how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven?] As it appears from the Ghost's own relation that he was in purgatory, Hamlet's doubt could only be how long he had to continue there. RITSON, P. 81, 1. 26. Up, sword; and know thou a 'more horrid hent :} To hent is used by Shakspeare for, to seize, to catch to lay hold on. Hent is, therefore, hold, or seizure. Lay hold on him, sword, at a more hor rid time. JOHNSON.


P. 81, 1. 32. 35.

that his soul may be as damn'd, and black,

As hell, whereto it goes.] This speech, in which Hamlet, represented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking blood for blood, bat contrives damnation for the man that he

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