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The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine: and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.

Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock."
Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;1
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

7 The extravagant] i. e. got out of his bounds. Warburton. So, in Nobody and Somebody, 1598: ". they took me up for a 'stravagant."

Shakspeare imputes the same effect to Aurora's harbinger in the the last scene of the third Act of the Midsummer Night's Dream. See Vol. II, p. 330. Steevens.

8 erring spirit,] Erring is here used in the sense of wandering. Thus, in Chapman's version of the fourth Book of Homer's Odyssey, Telemachus calls Ulysses

"My erring father: -"

And in the ninth Book, Ulysses describing himself and his companions to the Cyclop, says


―erring Grecians we,

"From Troy were turning homewards"

Erring, in short, is erraticus.

9 It faded on the crowing of the cock,] This is a very ancient superstition. Philostratus giving an account of the apparition of Achilles' shade to Apollonius Tyaneus, says that it vanished with a little glimmer as soon as the cock crowed. Vit. Apol. iv, 16. Steevens.

Faded has here its original sense; it vanished. Vado, Lat. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book I, c. v, st. 15:

"He stands amazed how he thence should fade." That our author uses the word in this sense, appears from the following lines:



The morning cock crew loud;

"And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,

"And vanish'd from our sight." Malone.

can walk.

dares stir abroad;] Thus the quarto. The folio readsSteevens.

Spirit was formerly used as a monosyllable: sprite. The quarto, 1604, has-dare stir abroad. Perhaps Shakspeare wrote-no spirits dare stir abroad. The necessary correction was made in a late quarto of no authority, printed in 1637. Malone.

2 No fairy takes,] No fairy strikes with lameness or diseases. This sense of take is frequent in this author. Johnson.

Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill :3
Break we our watch up; and, by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen to-night
Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him:
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

Mar. Let's do 't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most convenient.



The same. A Room of State in the same.

Enter the King, Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS, LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and Attendants.

King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green; and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe;

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature,

So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

"And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle."


3 high eastern hill:] The old quarto has it better eastward. Warburton.

The superiority of the latter of these readings is not, to me at least, very apparent. I find the former used in Lingua, &c. 1607: and overclimbs


"Yonder gilt eastern hills."

Again, in Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, Book IV, Sat. iv, p. 75, edit. 1616:

"And ere the sunne had clymb'd the easterne hils." Again, in Chapman's version of the thirteenth Book of Homer's Odyssey:


Ulysses still

"An eye directed to the eastern hill.”

Eastern and eastward, alike signify toward the east. Steevens. and that it us befitted -] Perhaps our author elliptically

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That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
The imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy,—
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye;5
With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,--
Taken to wife nor have we herein barr'd
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along :-For all, our thanks.

Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,—
Holding a weak supposal of our worth;

Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death,
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bands of law,

To our most valiant brother.-So much for him.
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting.
Thus much the business is: We have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,-
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose,-to suppress
His further gait herein; in that the levies,

5 With one auspicious, and one dropping eye;] Thus the folio. The quarto, with somewhat less of quaintness:

With an auspicious and a dropping eye.

The same thought, however, occurs in The Winter's Tale: "She had one eye declined for the loss of her husband; another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled."

After all, perhaps, we have here only the ancient proverbial phrase "To cry with one eye and laugh with the other," buckram'd by our author for the service of tragedy. See Ray's Collection, edit. 1768, p. 188. Steevens.

6 Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,] The meaning is,-He goes to war so indiscreetly, and unprepared, that he has no allies to support him but a dream, with which he is colleagued or confederated. Warburton.

This dream of his advantage (as Mr. Mason observes) means only "this imaginary advantage, which Fortinbras hoped to derive from the unsettled state of the kingdom." Steevens.

The lists, and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject:-and we here despatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king, more than the scopes
Of these dilated articles? allow.

Farewel; and let your haste commend your duty.
Cor. Vol. In that, and all things, will we show our duty.
King. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewel.

[Exeunt VoL. and COR.

And now, Laertes, what 's the news with you ?
You told us of some suit; What is 't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,

And lose your voice: What would'st thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?

The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.1

7 to suppress

His further gait herein,] Gate or gait is here used in the northern sense, for proceeding, passage; from the A. S. verb gae. gate for a path, passage, or street, is still current in the north.


So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act. V, sc. ii:

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Every fairy take his gait." Harris.


8 more than the scope - More is comprized in the general design of these articles, which you may explain in a more diffused and dilated style. Johnson.



these dilated articles &c.] i. e. the articles when diMusgrave.

The poet should have written allows. Many writers fall into this error, when a plural noun immediately precedes the verb; as I have had occasion to observe in a note on a controverted passage in Love's Labour's Lost. So, in Julius Cæsar:

"The posture of your blows are yet unknown."

Again, in Cymbeline: “ and the approbation of those are wonderfully to extend him," &c. Malone.

Surely, all such defects in our author, were merely the errors of illiterate transcribers or printers. Steevens.

1 The head is not more native to the heart,

The hand more instrumental to the mouth,

Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.] The sense seems to be this: The head is not formed to be more useful to the heart, the hand is not more at the service of the mouth, than

What would'st thou have, Laertes?

My dread lord,

Your leave and favour to return to France;

From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,
To show my duty in your coronation;

Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,

My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.

King. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?

Pol. He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leave,2 By laboursome petition; and, at last,

Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:]

I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy best graces: spend it at thy will.
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,

Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.a


my power is at your father's service. That is, he may command me to the utmost, he may do what he pleases with my kingly authority. Steevens.

By native to the heart Dr. Johnson understands, "natural and congenial to it, born with it, and co-operating with it."

Formerly the heart was supposed the seat of wisdom; and hence the poet speaks of the close connection between the heart and head. See Coriolanus, Act I, sc. i, Vol. XIII. Malone.

2 wrung from me my slow leave,] These words and the two following lines are omitted in the folio. Malone.

3 Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,

And thy best graces: spend it at thy will.] The sense is,You have my leave to go, Laertes; make the fairest use you please of your time, and spend it at your will with the fairest graces you are master of. Theobald.

So, in King Henry VIII:


and bear the inventory

"Of your best graces in your mind," Steevens.

I rather think this line is in want of emendation. I read :
time is thine,

And my best graces: spend it at thy will. Johnson.

4 Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.] Kind is the Teutonick word for child. Hamlet therefore answers with propriety, to the titles of cousin and son, which the king had given him, that he was somewhat more than cousin, and less than son.


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