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Oph. Ay, my lord.
Ham. O! your only jig-maker. What should a man do, but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.
Oph. Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
Ham. So long? Nay, then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens ! die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope, a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year: But, by'r-lady, he must build churches then: or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse;" whose epitaph is, For, 0, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot.
Trumpets sound. The dumb Show follows.3
Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly; the Queen
embracing him, and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck : lays him down upon a bank of flowers ; she, seeing him
-Nay, then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables.] Nay then, says Hamlet, if my father be so long dead as you say, let the devil wear black; as for me, so far from wearing a mourning dress, I'll wear the most costly and magnificent suit that can be procured : a suit trimmed with sables ; which in our poet's time was the richest dress worn in England.
suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse ;] Amongst the country May-games there was an hobby-horse, which, when the puritanical humour of those times opposed and discredited these games, was brought by the poets and ballad-makers as an instance of the ridiculous zeal of the sectaries : from these ballads Hamlet quotes a line or two. WARBURTON.
The dumb show follows.] and appears to contain every circumstance of the murder of Hamlet's father. Now there is no apparent reason why the Usurper should not be as much affected by this mute representation of his crimes, as he is afterwards when the same action is accompanied by words.
asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the King's ears, and exit. The Queen returns ; finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts ; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but, in the end, accepts his love. [Exeunt.
Oph. What means this, my lord ? Ham. Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.4
Oph. Belike, this show imports the argument of
Enter Prologue. Ham. We shall know by this fellow : the players cannot keep counsel ; they'll tell all.
Oph. Will he tell us what this show meant ?
Ham. Ay, or any show that you'll show him: Be not you ashamed to show,' he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
Oph. You are naught, you are naught; I'll mark
• Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.] The word miching is daily used in the West of England for playing truant, or sculking about in private for some sinister purpose ; and malicho, inaccurately written for malheco, signifies mischief! so that miching malicho is mischief on the watch for opportunity.
Be not you ashamed to show, &c.] The conversation of Hamlet with Ophelia, which cannot fail to disgust every modern reader, is probably such as was peculiar to the young and fashionable of the age of Shakspeare, which was, by no means, the age of delicacy. The poet is, however, blameable: for extravagance of thought, not indecency of expression, is the characteristick of madness, at least of such madness as should be represented on the
Pro. For us, and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently. Ham. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring? Oph. 'Tis brief, my lord. Ham. As woman's love.
Enter a King and a Queen. P. King. Full thirty times hath Phæbus' cart
Neptune's salt wash, and Tellus' orbed ground; And thirty dozen moons, with borrow'd sheen," About the world have times twelve thirties been; Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
P. Queen. So many journeys may the sun and moon
shortly too ;
For husband shalt thou—
O, confound the rest !
Ham. That's wormwood.
ourselves what to ourselves is debt ::
9 The instances,] The motives.
what to ourselves is debt:] The performance of a resolution, in which only the resolver is interested, is a debt only to himself, which he may therefore remit at pleasure.
? Their own enactures with themselves destroy :] What grief or joy enact or determine in their violence, is revoked in their abatement. Enactures is the word in the quarto; all the modern edi. tions have enactors. JOHNSON.
The great man down, you mark his favourite flies ;
[To Ophelia. P. King. 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here
a while; My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile The tedious day with sleep.
[Sleeps. P. Queen.
Sleep rock thy brain ; And never come mischance between us twain !
An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope ) May my whole liberty and enjoyment be to live on hermit's fare in a prison. Anchor is for anchoret. Johnson.