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And that I see, in passages of proof,8
The King reasons thus :-" I do not suspect that you did not love your father; but I know that time abates the force of affection." I therefore suspect that we ought to read:
- love is begone by time; I suppose that Shakspeare places the syllable be before gone, as we say be-paint, be-spatter, be-think, &c. M. Mason. 8 passages of proof,] In transactions of daily experience.
Fohnson. 9 There lives &c.] The next ten lines are not in the folio.
Steevens: 1 For goodness, growing to a plurisy,] I would believe, for the honour of Shakspeare, that he wrote plethory. But I observe the dramatick writers of that time frequently call a fulness of blood a plurisy, as if it came, not from aneupa, but from plus, pluris.
Warburton. I think the word should be spelt-plurisy. This passage is fully explained by one in Mascal's Treatise on Cattle, 1662, p. 187: “ Against the blood, or plurisie of blood. The disease of blood is, some young horses will feed, and being fat will increase blood, and so grow to a plurisie, and die, thereof if he have not soon help.” Tollet.
We should certainly read plurisy, as Tollet observes. Thus, in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, Malefort says
in a word, “ Thy plurisy of goodness is thy ill.” And again, in The Picture, Sophia says:
* A plurisy of blood you may let out,” &c. The word also occurs in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Arcite, in his invocation to Mars, says:
" that heal'st with blood
• Of the plurisy of people !” M. Mason. Dr. Warburton is right. The word is spelt plurisy in the quarto, 1604, and is used in the same sense as here, in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, by Ford, 1633:
“ Must your hot itch and plurisie of lust,
"Up to a surfeit?” Malone. Mr. Pope introduced this simile in the Essay on Criticism, v. 303:
“ For works may have more wit than does them good,
“ As bodies perish through excess of blood.” Ascham has a thought very similar to Pope's: “Twenty to one,
Dies in his own too-much: That we would do,
offend more, in writing too much, then to litle :. euen as twenty, fall into sicknesse, rather by ouer much fulnes, then by any lacke, or emptinesse.” The Schole-Master, 4to. bl. I. fol. 43. H. White. 2 And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh,
That hurts by easing.] A spendthrift sigh is a sigh that makes an unnecessary waste of the vital flame. It is a notion very prevalent, that sighs impair the strength, and wear out the animal powers. Yohnson.
So, in the Governall of Helthe &c. printed by Wynkyn de Worde: “f.nd for why whan a man casteth out that noble humour too moche, he is hugely dyscolored, and his body moche febled, more then he lete four sythes, soo moche blode oute of his body.” Steevens.
Hence they are called, in King Henry VI,-blood-consuming sighs. Again, in Pericles, 1609:
“ Do not consume your blood with sorrowing." The idea is enlarged upon in Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 1579: “ Why staye you not in tyme the source of your scorching sighes, that have already drayned your body of his wholesome humoures, appoynted by nature to gyve sucke to the entrals and in ward parts of you ?”
The original quarto, as well as the folio, reads-a spendthrift's sigh; but I have no doubt that it was a corruption, arising from the first letter of the following word sigh, being an s. I have, therefore, with the other modern editors, printed spendthrift sigh, following a late quarto, (which however is of no authority) printed in 1611. That a sigh, if it consumes the blood, hurts us by easing, or is prejudicial to us on the whole, though it affords a temporary relief, is sufficiently clear: but the former part of the line, and then this should, may require a little explanation, I suppose the King means to say, that if we do not promptly execute that we are convinced we should or ought to do, we shall afterwards in vain repent our not having seized the fortunate moment for action: and this opportunity which we have let go by us, and the reflection that we should have done that, which, from supervening accidents, it is no longer in our power to do, is as prejudicial and painful to us as a blood-consuming sigh, that at once hurts and eases us.
I apprehend the poet meant to compare such a conduct, and the consequent reflection, only to the pernicious quality which he supposed to be annexed to sighing, and not to the temporary ease which it affords. His similes, as I have frequently had oca casion to observe, seldom run on four feet. Malone.
Hamlet comes back; What would you undertake,
To cut his throat i' the church.
3 he, being reniss,] He being not vigilant or cautious.
Fohnson. 4 A sword unbated,] i.e. not blunted as foils are. Or, as one edition has it, embaited or envenomed. Pope. ; There is no such reading as embaited in any edition. In Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, it is said of one of the Metelli, that “shewed the people the cruel fight of fencers, at unrebated swords.” Steevens,
Not blunted, as foils are by a button fixed to the end. So, in Love's Labour's Lost: “ That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge.”
Malone. 5 a pass of practice, ] Practice is often by Shakspeare, and other writers, taken for an insidious stratagem, or privy treason, a sense not incongruous to this passage, where yet I rather believe, that nothing more is meant than a thrust for exercise.
Johnson. So, in Look about You, 1600 :
“I pray God there be no practice in this change." Again:
- the man is like to die:
“ Practice, by the Lord, practice, I see it clear." Again, more appositely, in our author's Twelfth Night, Act V, sc. ult: “ This practice hath most shrewdly pass'd upon thee."
Steevens A pass of practice is a favourite pass, one that Laertes was well practised in.--In Much Ado about Nothing, Hero's father says: .
“I'll prore it on his body, if he dare,
Requite him for your father.
I will do 't:
Let's further think of this;
The treachery on this occasion, was his using a sword unbated and envenomed. M. Mason.
6 It may be death.] It is a matter of surprise, that no one of Shakspeare's numerous and able commentators has remarked, with proper warmth and detestation, the villainous assassin-like treachery of Laertes in this horrid plot. There is the more occasion that he should be here pointed out an object of abhorrence, as he is a character we are, in some preceding parts of the play, led to respect and admire. Ritson.
? May fit us to our shape:] May enable us to assume proper characters, and to act our part. Johns 01.
8_ blast in proof.] This, I believe, is a metaphor taken from a mine, which, in the proof or execution, sometimes breaks out with an ineffectual blast. Fohnson.
The word proof shows the metaphor to be taken from the try. ing or proving fire-arms or cannon, which often blast or burst in the proof. Steevens.
9- I'll have preferr'd him-] i.e. presented to him. Thus the quarto, 1604. The word indeed is mispelt, prefard. The folio reads_I'll have prepard him. Malone. 'To prefer, (as Mr. Malone observes) certainly means to preso sent, offer, or bring forward. So, in Timon of Athens :
A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
Queen. One woe doth tread upon another's heel,4 So fast they follow:-Your sister 's drown'd, Laertes.
Laer. Drown'd! O, where!
Queen. There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook,5 That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream; Therewith fantastick garlands did she make
“Why then preferrd you not your sums and bills ?”
Steevens. 1 If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,] For stuck, read tuck, a common name for a rapier. Blackstone.
Your venom'd stuck is, your venom'd thrust. Stuck was a term of the fencing-school. So, in Twelfth Night: “- and he gives ine the stuck with such a mortal motion, —.” Again, in The Res turn from Parnassus, 1606: “ Here is a fellow, Judicio, that carried the deadly stocke in his pen.”-See Florio's Italian Dict. 1598: “ Stoccata, a foyne, a thrust, a stoccado given in fence.”
2 - But stay, what noise?] I have recovered this from the quartos. Steevens.
3 How now, sweet queen?] These words are not in the quarto. The word now, which appears to have been omitted by the carelessness of the transcriber or compositor, was supplied by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
4 One woe doth tread upon another's heel,] A similar thought occurs in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, 1609:
“ One sorrow never comes, but brings an heir,
“ That may succeed as his inheritor. Steevens.. Again, in Drayton's Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596: "
“ miseries, which seldom come alone,
“ Thick on the neck one of another fell.” Again, in Shakspeare's 131st Sonnet:
“ A thousand groans, but thinking on thy fall,
“ One on another's neck, .” Malone. Again, in Locrine, 1595:
« One mischief follows on another's neck." And this also is the first line of a queen's speech on a lady's drowning herself. Ritson.
5_ ascaunt the brook,] Thus the quartos. The folio reads aslant. Ascaunce is interpreted in a note of Mr. Tyrwhitt's on Chaucer-askew, aside, sideways. Steedens. .