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PRINCE OF DENMARK.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle.
FRANCISCO on his Post. Enter to him Bernardo.
FRAN. You come most carefully upon your hour. BER. 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.
me:] i. e. me who am already on the watch, and have
a right to demand the watch-word. STEEVENS.
Long live the king!] This sentence appears to have been the watch-word. MALONE.
• 'Tis now struck twelve;] I strongly suspect that the true reading is-new struck, &c. So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act I. sc. i:
“But new struck nine.” STEEVENS.
FRAN. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter
And I am sick at heart.
Not a mouse stirring,
BER. Well, good night.
you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch,5 bid them make haste.
The rivals of my watch,] Rivals for partners.
So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1636; "Tullia. Aruns, associate him.
"Aruns. A rival with my brother," &c.
Again, in The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1637:
"And make thee rival in those governments." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. sc. v;
having made use of him in the wars against Pompey, presently deny'd him rivality." STEEVENS.
By rivals the speaker certainly means partners (according to Dr. Warburton's explanation,) or those whom he expected to watch with him. Marcellus had watched with him before; whether as a centinel, a volunteer, or from mere curiosity, we do not learn; but, whichever it was, it seems evident that his station was on the same spot with Bernardo, and that there is no other centinel by them relieved. Possibly Marcellus was an officer, whose business it was to visit each watch, and perhaps to continue with it some time. Horatio, as it appears, watches out of curiosity. But in Act II. sc. i. to Hamlet's question,"Hold you the watch to-night?" Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo, all answer,-" We do, my honour'd lord." The folio indeed, reads both, which one may with great propriety refer to Marcellus and Bernardo. If we did not find the latter gentleman in such good company, we might have taken him to have been like Francisco whom he relieves, an honest but common soldier. The strange indiscriminate use of Italian and Roman names in this and other plays, makes it obvious that the author was very little conversant in even the rudiments of either language. RITSON.
Rival is constantly used by Shakspeare for a partner or associate. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, it is de
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
FRAN. I think, I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who is there?
HOR. Friends to this ground.
fined" One that sueth for the same thing with another;" and hence Shakspeare, with his usual licence, always uses it in the same sense of one engaged in the same employment or office with another. Competitor, which is explained by Bullokar by the very same words which he has employed in the definition of rival, is in like manner (as Mr. M. Mason has observed,) always used by Shakspeare for associate. See Vol. IV. p. 233, n. 6. Mr. Warner would read and point thus:
If you do meet Horatio, and Marcellus
because Horatio is a gentleman of no profession, and because, as he conceived, there was but one person on each watch. But there is no need of change. Horatio is certainly not an officer, but Hamlet's fellow-student at Wittenberg: but as he accompanied Marcellus and Bernardo on the watch from a motive of curiosity, our poet considers him very properly as an associate with them. Horatio himself says to Hamlet in a subsequent
"In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
"And I with them the third night kept the watch."
A piece of him.“
BER. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Mar
HOR. What," has this thing appear'd again tonight?
BER. I have seen nothing.
MAR. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy;
• Hor. A piece of him,] But why a piece? He says this as he gives his hand. Which direction should be marked.
A piece of him, is, I believe, no more than a cant expression, It is used, however, on a serious occasion in Pericles:
“Take in your arms this piece of your dead queen.” STEEVENS.
7 Hor. What, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604. STEEVENS. These words are in the folio given to Marcellus. MALONE. the minutes of this night;] This seems to have been an expression common in Shakspeare's time. I found it in one of Ford's plays, The Fancies chaste and noble, Act V: "I promise ere the minutes of the night."
approve our eyes,] Add a new testimony to that of our eyes. JOHNSON.
So, in King Lear:
66 this approves her letter,
"That she would soon be here."
See Vol. XVII. p. 12, n. 4. STEEVENS.
may approve our eyes,] He may make good the testimony of our eyes; be assured by his own experience of the truth of that which we have related, in consequence of having been eyewitnesses to it. To approve in Shakspeare's age, signified to
HOR. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.
Sit down awhile;
And let us once again assail your ears,
Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
BER. Last night of all,
When yon same star, that's westward from the pole,
MAR. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!
BER. In the same figure, like the king that's dead.
MAR. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio."
make good, or establish, and is so defined in Cawdrey's Alphabetical Table of hard English Words, 8vo. 1604. So, in King
"Good king that must approve the common saw!
'What we two nights have seen.] This line is by Sir Thomas Hanmer given to Marcellus, but without necessity. JOHNSON.
Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.] It has always been a vulgar notion that spirits and supernatural beings can only be spoken to with propriety or effect by persons of learning. Thus, Toby, in The Night-walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher, says:
66 It grows still longer,
""Tis steeple-high now; and it sails away, nurse.