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Will you know them then ? Laer. To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my
Why, now you speak
Danes. [Within.] Let her come in.
LAER. How now ! what noise is that? Enter Ophelia, fantastically dressed with Straws
and Flowers. O heat, dry up my brains ! tears seven times salt,
* First folio, politician. 7-life-rend'ring Pelican,] So, in the ancient Interlude of Nature, bl. I. no date :
“ Who taught the cok hys watche-howres to observe,
“ For she nolde suffer her byrdys to dye?” Again, in the play of King Leir, 1605 :
“ I am as kind as is the pelican,
“ That kils itselfe, to save her young ones lives." It is almost needless to add that this account of the bird is entirely fabulous. STEEVENS.
most sensiblY -] Thus the quarto 1604. The folio, following the error of a later quarto, reads—most sensible.
MALONE. 9 - to your judgment 'PEAR,] So the quarto. The folio, and all the later editions, read :
to your judgment pierce," less intelligibly. JOHNSON.
This elision of the verb to appear, is common to Beaumont and Fletcher. So, in The Maid in the Mill:
“They 'pear so handsomely, I will go forward." Again :
“ And where they 'pear so excellent in little,
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!-
Hey no nonny, nonny hey nonny :
* First folio, by.
Nature is fine in love: and, where 'tis fine,
After the thing it loves.] These lines are not in the quarto, and might have been omitted in the folio without great loss, for they are obscure and affected ; but, I think, they require no emendation. Love (says Laertes) is the passion by which nature is most exalted and refined; and as substances, refined and subtilised, easily obey any impulse, or follow any attraction, some part of nature, so purified and refined, flies off after the attracting object, after the thing it loves :
“ As into air the purer spirits flow,
“ So Aew her soul.” Johnson. The meaning of the passage may be-That her wits, like the spirit of fine essences, flew off or evaporated. Fine, however, sometimes signifies artful. So, in All's Well that Ends Well: “Thou art too fire in thy evidence.” Steevens.
They bore him barefac'd on the bier ; &c.] So, in Chaucer's Knighte's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 2879:
“ He laid him bare the visage on the bere,
“ Therwith he wept that pitee was to here.” Steevens. 3 Hey no nonny, &c.] These words, which were the burthen of a song, are found only in the folio. See King Lear, Act III. Sc. III. Malone. These words are also found in old John Heywood's Play of The
Gyve boys wether, quoth a nonny nonny." I am informed, that among the common people in Norfolk, to nonny signifies to trifle or play with. Steevens.
Fare you well, my dove !
Oph. You must sing, Down a-down", an you call him a-down-a. O, how the wheel becomes it'! It is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter.
4 — sing, Down A-down,] Perhaps Shakspeare alludes to Phæbe's Sonnet, by Thomas Lodge, which the reader may find in England's Helicon, 1600 :
“ Downe a-downe,
“ By fancie once distressed : &c.
“ And so sing I, with downe a-downe,” &c. Down a-down is likewise the burthen of a song in The Three Ladies of London, 1584, and perhaps common to many others.
STEEVENS. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598 : “ Filibustacchina, The burden of a countrie song; as we say, Hay doune a doune, douna.
MALONE. SO, how the wheel becomes it! &c.] The story alluded to I do not know ; but perhaps the lady stolen by the steward was reduced to spin. Johnson.
The wheel may mean no more than the burthen of the song, which she had just repeated, and as such was formerly used. I met with the following observation in an old quarto black-letter book, published before the time of Shakspeare:
“ The song was accounted a good one, thogh it was not moche graced by the wheele which in no wise accorded with the subject matter thereof."
I quote this from memory, and from a book, of which I cannot recollect the exact title or date ; but the passage was in a preface to some songs or sonnets. I well remember, to have met with the word in the same sense in other old books.
Rota, indeed, as I am infornied, is the ancient musical term in Latin, for the burden of a song. Dr. Farmer, however, has just favoured me with a quotation from Nicholas Breton's Toyes of an Idle Head, 1577, which at once explains the word wheel in the sense for which I have contended :
“ That I may sing, full merrily,
“ Not heigh ho wele, but care away! i. e. not with a melancholy, but a cheerful burthen.
I formerly supposed that the ballad alluded to by Ophelia, was that entered on the books of the Stationers' Company : “ OctoLAER. This nothing's more than matter.
Oph. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember : and there is pansies, that's for thoughts .
ber 1580. Four ballades of the Lord of Lorn and the False Steward,” &c. but Mr. Ritson assures me there is no corresponding theft in it. Steevens.
I am inclined to think that wheel is here used in its ordinary sense, and that these words allude to the occupation of the girl who is supposed to sing the song alluded to by Ophelia. The following lines in Hall's Virgidemiarum, 1597, appear to me to. add some support to this interpretation :
“ Some drunken rimer thinks his time well spent,
Sung to the wheele, and sung unto the payle,
" He sends forth thraves of ballads to the sale." So, in Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1614: “She makes her hands hard with labour, and her head soft with pittie ; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheele, she sings a defiance to the giddy wheele of fortune.”
Our author likewise furnishes an authority to the same purpose. Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. IV.:
Come, the song we had last night:
“ Do use to chaunt it.”. A musical antiquary may perhaps contend, that the controverted words of the text allude to an ancient instrument mentioned by Chaueer, and called by him a rote, by others a vielle; which was played upon by the friction of a wheel. Malone.
6 There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ;—and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.] There is probably some mythology in the choice of these herbs, but I cannot explain it. Pansies is for thoughts, because of its name, Pensees; but why rosemary indicates remembrance, except that it is an ever-green, and carried at funerals, I have not discovered. Johnson. So, in All Fools, a comedy, by Chapman, 1605 :
“What flowers are these?
“O, that's for lovers' thoughts !” Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthan the memory, and was not only carried at funerals, but worn at weddings, as appears from a passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's Elder Brother, Act III. Sc. III.
LAER. A document in madness ; thoughts and remembrance fitted.
Oph. There's fennel for you, and columbines?:
And from another in Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:
will I be wed this morning,
“A piece of rosemary." Again, in The Noble Spanish Soldier, 1634 : “ I meet few but are stuck with rosemary: every one asked me who was to be married.”
Again, in Greene's Never too Late, 1616: -she hath given thee a nosegay of flowers, wherein, as a top-gallant for all the rest, is set in rosemary, for remembrance.”
Again, in A Dialogue between Nature and the Phænix, by R. Chester, 1601 :
“ There's rosemarie; the Arabians justifie
“ It comforteth the braine and memorie," &c. STEVENS. Rosemary being supposed to strengthen the memory, was the emblem of fidelity in lovers. So, in A Handfull of Pleasant Delites, containing Sundrie New Sonets, 16mo. 1584:
Rosemary is for remembrance
“ You present in my sight." The poem in which these lines are found, is entitled A Nosegaie alwaies Sweet for Lovers to send for Tokens of Love, &c.
MALONE. 7 There's Fennel for you, and COLUMBINES :) Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1620, calls fennel, women's weeds: “ fit generally for that sex, sith while they are maidens, they wish wantonly.”
Among Turbervile's Epitaphes, &c. p. 42, b. I likewise find the following mention of fennel :
“ Your fennell did declare
(As simple men can shewe)
“Where friendship ought to grow." I know not of what columbines were supposed to be emblematical. They are again mentioned in All Fools, by Chapman, 1605:
“ What's that?-a columbine?
“ No: that thankless flower grows not in my garden." Gerard, however, and other herbalists, impute few, if any, virtues to them; and they may therefore be styled thankless, because they appear to make no grateful return for their creation.