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prince Hamlet. But in sadnesse, then it were to be feared he would runne mad. In sooth I will not be moonesicke, to please: nor out of my wits though I displeased all."
"His breath he thinkes the smoke; his tongue a cole,
Tearmes him a mad-man; than of his Inkhorne drinks.
"Calls players fooles, the foole he judgeth wisest,
Scene 3. Page 422.
ОTH. Wherein of antres vast and desarts idle.
DR. JOHNSON has very properly taken notice of Mr. Pope's inadvertency in substituting wild for idle; but whether he is strictly right in regarding this word as "poetically beautiful," according to Shakspeare's use of it, may admit of some doubt. Perhaps in a modern writer it would be poetical, where designed to express infertility. It may be worth while to examine how it was originally used.
In Elfric's version of Genesis, ch. i. ver. 1, the inanis et vacua of the Vulgate is rendered ydel
æmtig. Now it is conceived that inanis never signified infertile, but useless, unprofitable; and such appears to be the meaning of idle. In two or three of the early Latin and English dictionaries, inanis is rendered idle; and in this sense
the latter word is used by Shakspeare in Richard the third, Act iii. :
"You said that idle weeds were fast in growth."
It is clear that in the last instance infertility is out of the question; but useless and unprofitable well denote the poet's meaning, or rather that of the inventor of the proverb, which was afterwards corrupted into "ill weeds," &c.
It is conceived therefore that Dr. Johnson is not accurate in his opinion, that idle in the beforecited Saxon translation is an epithet expressive of the infertility of the chaotic state. Wicliffe has ' not adopted this term; he has preferred vain : but in the first page of the English Golden legend, which contains a part of the first chapter of Genesis, we have "the erth was ydle and voyde." Here Caxton the translator must have followed the Vulgate, corroborating what is already stated on the construction of idle. The learned reader will not want to be informed why this term could not occur in any of the subsequent English versions of the Bible.
Sc. 3. p. 447.
IAGO. the food that to him now is as luscious as locusts, shall be to him shortly as bitter as coloquintida. There is another phrase of this kind, viz. tọ
exchange Herb John for coloquintida. It is used. in Osborne's Memoirs of James I., and elsewhere. The pedantic Tomlinson, in his translation of Renodaus's Dispensatory, says, that many superstitious persons call mugwort Saint John's. herb, "wherewith he circumcinged his loyps on holidays," p. 317. Shakspeare, who was extremely well acquainted with popular superstitions, might have recollected this circumstance, when, for reasons best known to himself, he chose to vary the phrase by substituting the luscious locusts of the Baptist. Whether these were the fruit of the tree so called, or the well known insect, is not likely to be determined.
Scene 4. Page 556.
I had rather have lost my purse
The following account of this Portuguese coin is presumed to be more correct than that already given. The cruzado was not current, as it should seem, at Venice, though it certainly was in England in the time of Shakspeare, who has here
indulged his usual practice of departing from national costume. It was of gold, and weighed two penny-weights six grains, or nine shillings English. The following varieties of it as to type, are given from an English almanac of the year 1586, whence also the weight has been taken. The sovereigns who struck this coin were Emanuel and his son John.
Sc. 4. p. 558.
The hearts, of old, gave hands;
But our new heraldry is-hands, not hearts.
There cannot be a doubt that the text is right, and that there is a punning allusion to the new heraldry of hands in the baronets arms. The plain meaning is formerly the heart gave away the hand in marriage; but now, as in the new heraldry, we have hands only: no cordiality nor affection. In The tempest, Ferdinand says to Miranda, "Here's my hand;" to which she answers, "And mine with my heart in it." In this latter instance, Shakspeare, not Miranda,