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A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing !
For Hecuba ?
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba * 3,
That he should weep for her ? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passion 4,
That I have ? He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ears with horrid speech ;
Make mad the guilty, and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant ; and amaze, indeed,
The very faculties of of eyes and ears. Yet I,

* Quarto, to her.

† First folio, faculty.

Buck. Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian, i

Tremble and start at wagging of a straw," &c. The words quake, and terror, and tremble, as well as the whole context, show, that by change thy colour," Shakspeare meant grow pale. Gildon, in his observations on Hamlet, asserts, that he has seen Mrs. Barry change colour on the stage. Malone.

The word aspect (as Dr. Farmer very properly observes) was in Shakspeare's time accented on the second syllable. The folio exhibits the passage as I have printed it. STEEVENS.

3 What's Hecuba to him, &c.] It is plain Shakspeare alludes to a story told of Alexander the cruel tyrant of Pherae in Thessaly, who seeing a famous tragedian act in the Troades of Euripides, was so sensibly touched that he left the theatre before the play was ended; being ashamed, as he owned, that he who never pitied those he murdered, should weep at the sufferings of Hecuba and Andromache. See Plutarch in the Life of Pelopidas.

UPTON. Shakspeare, it is highly probable, had read the life of Pelopidas, but I see no ground for supposing there is here an allusion to it. Hamlet is not ashamed of being seen to weep at a theatrical exhibition, but mortified that a player, in a dream of passion, should appear more agitated by fictitious sorrow, than the prince was by a real calamity. Malone.

4 – the cue for passion,] The hint, the direction. Johnson.

This phrase is theatrical, and occurs at least a dozen times in our author's plays. Thus, says Quince to Flute in A MidsummerNight's Dream : “ You speak all your part at once, cues and all."

STEVENS. is – the general ear -] The ear of all mankind. So before, “ Cayiare to the general,” that is, to the multitude. Johnson.

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John a-dreams °, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,
A damn'd defeat was made 8. Am I a coward ?

6 Like John A-DREAMS,] John a-dreams, i. e. of dreams, means only John the dreamer ; a nick-name, I suppose, for any ignorant silly fellow. Thus the puppet formerly thrown at during the season of Lent, was called Jack-a-lent, and the ignis fatuus Jack-a-lanthorn.

At the beginning of Arthur Hall's translation of the second book of Homer's Iliad, 1581, we are told of Jupiter, that John dreaming God he callde to him, that God, chiefe God

of il, “ Common cole carrier of every lye,” &c.

John-a-droynes however, if not a corruption of this nick-name, seems to have been some well-known character, as I have met with more than one allusion to him. So, in Have With You to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is Up, by Nashe, 1596 : “ The description of that poor John-a-droynes his man, whom he had hired, " &c. John-a-Droynes is likewise a foolish character in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578, who is seized by informers, has not much to say in his defence, and is cheated out of his money. Steevens.

7 — UNPREGNANT of my cause,] Unpregnant, for having no die sense of. WARBURTON.

Rather, not quickened with a new desire of vengeance ; not teeming with revenge.' Johnson. 8 A damn'd defeat was made.] Defeat, for destruction.

. WARBURTON. Rather, dispossession. Johnson.

The word defeat, (which certainly means destruction in the present instance,) is very licentiously used by the old writers. Shakspeare in Othello employs it yet more quaintly :-“ Defeat thy favour with an usurped beard ;” and Middleton, in his comedy called Any Thing for a Quiet Life, says—“ I have heard of your defeat made upon a mercer." Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman :

“ That he might meantime make a sure defeat

“ On our good aged father's life." Again, in The Wits, by Sir W. D'Avenant, 1637: “Not all the skill I have, can pronounce him free of the defeat upon my gold and jewels."

Again, in The Isle of Gulls, 1606 : “My late shipwreck has made a defeat both of my friends and treasure." STEEVENS.

Who calls me villain ? breaks my pate across ? Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face? Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i'the

throat, As deep as to the lungs ? Who does me this ? Ha! Why *, I should take it: for it cannot be, But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall To make oppression bitter; or, ere this, I should have fatted all the region kites With this slave's offal: Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindlesso vil

ous, lecherous,

Why man lain!

Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave?; That I, the son of a dear father murder'd of 2 Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words, And fall a cursing, like a very drab,

* Quarto, Swounds. + First folio, the dear murthered; quarto, a dear murthered.

In the passage quoted from Othello, to defeat is used for undo or alter : defaire, Fr. See Minsheu in v. Minsheu considers the substantives defeat and defeature as synonymous. The former he defines an overthrow; the latter, execution or slaughter of men. In King Henry V. we have a similar phraseology:

Making defeat upon the powers of France.” And the word is again used in the same sense in the last Act of this play :

- Their defeat “ Doth by their own insinuation grow." Malone. 9 - kindless —] Unnatural. Johnson.

1 Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave;] The folio reads :

" ( vengeance !
“ Who? what an ass am I? Aye sure this is most brave."

Steevens. 2 A dear father murdered.) Father is not to be found either in the first quarto or the first folio, and is perhaps unnecessary. The dear murthered, for the dear person murthered, is very far from being a harsh ellipsis. BosWELL.

A scullion ?!
Fye upon't! foh! About my brains ! Humph! I

have heard,
That guilty creatures, sitting at a play",
Have by the very cunning of the scene

? A scullion!] Thus the folio. The quartos read—stallion.

STEBVENS. 3 - About my brains !] Wits, to your work. Brain, go about the present business. Johnson.

This expression (which seems a parody on the naval one,about ship?) occurs in the Second Part of the Iron Age, by Heywood, 1632:

My brain about again ! for thou hast found

“New projects now to work on.” About, my brain! therefore, (as Mr. M. Mason observes) appears to signify,“ be my thoughts shifted into a contrary direction.” Steevens. 4 - I have heard,

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,] A number of these
stories are collected together by Thomas Heywood, in his Actor's
Vindication. STEEVENS.
So, in A Warning for Faire Women, 1599 :

“ lle tell you, sir, one more to quite your tale.
“ A woman that had made away her husband,
“ And sitting to behold a tragedy
“ At Linne a towne in Norffolke,
Acted by players trauelling that way,
“ Wherein a woman that had murtherd hers
“ Was euer haunted with her husbands ghost :
“ The passion written by a feeling pen,
“ And acted by a good tragedian,
“ She was so mooued with the sight thereof,
As she cryed out, the play was made by her,

“ And openly confesst her husbands murder," TODD. ! These lines are thus exhibited in the old copies. In the quarto :

“ And fal a cursing, like a very drabbe; stallion ! fie upon't!

foh!

“ About my braines! hum ! I have heard," &c. In the folio:

" And fall a cursing, like a very drab,
“ A scullion ! fie upon't: foh! about my braine !
“ I have heard that guilty creatures, sitting at a play—"

BosweLL.

Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions ;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father,
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks ;
I'll tent him to the quick; if he do blench,
I know my course. The spirit, that I have seen,
May be a devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape ; yea, and, perhaps,
Out of my weakness, and my 'melancholy,
(As he is very potent with such spirits,)
Abuses me to damn me : I'll have grounds
More relative than this?: The play's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

Exit:

ACT III. SCENE I.

A Room in the Castle.

Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosen

CRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN.
King. And can you, by no drift of conference ®

5 — tent him-] Search his wounds. Johnson.

6 - if he do Blench] If he shrink, or start. The word is used by Fletcher, in The Night-walker:

" Blench at no danger, though it be a gallows." Again, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, lib. vi. fol. 128 :

“ Without blenchinge of mine eie." Chaucer, in his Knightes Tale, v. 1080, seems to use the verb to blent in a similar sense :

“ And therwithal he blent and cried, a!" Steevens. 7 More Relative than this :] Relative, for convictive.

WARBURTON. Convictive is only the consequential sense. Relative is nearly related, closely connected. Johnson.

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