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watch. They were indeed so far rivals, as they
were fucceffors to others, and waiting to occupy
their places.


Some ftrange eruption to the state.
. Some political distemper, which will break out
in dangerous consequences.'


That hath a fomacb in it.
Stomach, says Dr. Johnson, in the times of Shak-
speare, was used for constancy and resolution. The
original, ftomachus, has various significations besides
the Romaih. - In Cicero, it means, in one place
choler; in another, humour, or fancy. Ille mihi ri-
fum magis quam ftomachum. Ludi apparatisimi, sed
non tui ftomachi.' In Shakspeare, stomach generally
stands for exceffive pride, or insolence of power.
Queen Katharine, speaking of Cardinal Wolsey,
• He was of an unbounded stomach. Henry VIII.
act IV. I think, in this place, hath a stomach in
it' means, 'the business is of an alarming nature.'


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Some say, that, ever 'gainst that season comes
la which our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning fingeth all night long.
Aod then, they say, no Spirit dare fir abroad ;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets Atrike,
No fairy takes, nor witch haih power to charm;

So hallow'd, and so gracious, is the time!
These lines, which are omitted in the represen-
tation of the play, are remarkably beautiful; they
are invigorated by fancy and harmonized by versi-


The word spirit, in the 4th line, should be, I think, contracted to sprite, or sp’rit; boih are, I believe, familiar to our old dramatists.

• No fairy takes,' in the 6th line, is explained by Lear's curse on Goneril, in the second act of

that play:

Strike her young bones,
Ye taking airs, with lameness !

Scene II.

The King, Queen, Hamlet, &c.

HAMLET. A little more than kin, and less than kind. Ilanmer fupposes that this might formerly have been a proverbial expression; but vulgar sayings or proverbs are gathered from such things as frequent. ly happen, and not from circumstances and events which are unusual.

The meaning of this line, however variously understood by different commentators, seems to be

very obvious.

• As I am the rightful heir to the crown, I am more than your relation; I am your king. As you have deprived me of my birthright, and committed the crime of incest with my mother, it is impossible I can have any affeaion or kindness for you.'

It should be observed, that, whenever Hamlet speaks of the King, it is in terms of reproach and of the utmost contempl; nor does he ever seem to pay him the least respect, in his behaviour or address, when he speaks to him.

Not so, my lord ; I am too much i'th' fun.


· I am so far from being obscured with shadows, that I am scorched with the



of your


- All that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity.

The thought is common; but the expression is awfully striking and extremely beautiful.


No jocund health, that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the loud cannon to the clouds shall tell.

I cannot think, with Dr. Johnson, that there lines particularly mark the king's fondness for drinking. Drunkenness was the national vice, as Hamlet himself afterwards confesses.

This seems to have been pointed out, by the author, as the King's first appearance in public after his ufurping the crown and marrying his sister; and is therefore celebrated as a gala-day. He therefore seizes an opportunity to compliment Hamlet's concession, as he would fain term it, in his own favour, by firing off the cannon to his honour at every toast.


To poft
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets.
Dexterity for rapidity.

Would I had met my dearest foe, in heaven,
Ere I had seen that day, Horatio !

This strongly marks the resentful, not to say implacable disposition, of Hamlet; and is of a piece with his not putting his uncle to death, in the third act of the play, when he was at his devotion, left, in that instant, he should send his soul to heaven.

-Me thinks I see my father !

My father!

HORA TI O. Where, my lord ? Horatio, by that question, imagined that Hamlet jaw the shade of his father.

Scene III.

Laertes and Ophelia.

The chariest maid is prodigal enough
If the unmasks her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious ftrokes ;
The canker galds the infants of the spring.

In the advice of Danaüs to his daughters, in the Suppliants of Æschylus, to guard against the inticements of youth, there are some lines, which bear a strong resemblance of Laertes's instructions to Ophelia.

I see your blooming age
Inforcing soft defire, I know how hard
To guard the lovely flowers that grace that season.
The queen of love proclaims their opening bloom :
Ah! would the suffer it to remain uncropt!
For, on the delicate tints that kindling glow
On beauty's vermeil cheek, each roving youth
With melting wishes darts the am'rous glance,

Potter's Æschylus.

Coftly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
Eut not exprefe'd in sancy.


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That is, not fantastic, tawdry, or foppish,


To thy own self be true,
Thou canst pas then be false to any man.
This is agreeable to one of the golden rules of

- Παντων δε μαλιστ' αισχυνεο σαντον.
Sed maxime omnium verere teipsum,

As he drains his draughıs of Rbenih down.
The kings of Denmark have been constant drink-
ers of Rhenish wine. It was the custom at Copenba-
gen, when Lord Molesworth was our ambassador
to that court, in 1692, for the king to have his
beaker of Rheniß.* Drinking to excess was the vice
of the court and nation ; and our author must have
known, that, in his time, the King of Denmark,
brother in-law to James I. had no averfion to large
draughts of wine. Sir John Harrington, in a let-
ter to a friend, describes a masque, called the Queen
of Sheba, at which the two kings and the whole
court were present, and all of them most shamefully
intoxicated. The Queen of Sheba and his Danish
majesty paid and received the same compliment as
Don Quixote and Sancho did to each other, from
the operation of a precious balsam in Sancho's sto-
mach, when the latter, after a bloody battle with
the flieep and their herdsmen, was examining the
don's mouth, and counting the grinders he had lost
in the confli&t. The two drunken majesties of Great-
Britain and Denmark, fays Harrington, were so far
inebriated, that the gentlemen of the bedchamber

B 5

were * The kettle.drums and trumpets, which are ranged in a large place before the palace, proclaim aloud the very minute when the king bts down to table. MOLESWORTH,

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