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royal ward-robe, but made expressly for me, and at my own expense.'
Here is an elaborate display of ingenuity without accuracy. He that will wantonly sacrifice the sense of his author to a supererogatory refinement, may gain the admiration of the unlearned, and excite the wonder of the ignorant; but of obtaining the praise of the illuminated, and the approbation of the erudite, let him despair.
My eye and Tommy (i. e. fudge) is the true reading ; and the passage, as it stands, is correct.
In the Ryghte Tragycall Hystorie of Master Thomas Thumbe, bl. let. no date, I find, “ 'Tis all my eye and Betty Martin” used in the same sense. If the substitution of “ Tommy" for “ Betty Martin" be allowed, Dr. Johnson's explanation is just.
From what follows (No more foul weather), it occurs to me that our author intended a perfect and very beautiful metaphor from the weather, which the present reading has totally destroyed: if, instead of cheer up, we read clear up, it will be restored.
I was for some time of Mr. Malone's opinion ; but a serious reconsideration of the arguments upon which it was founded, has convinced me of its fallacy. Cheer up is so frequently used by the King, as to leave but little doubt of its being one of his Danish Majesty's cant phrases.
(1)My dear, take
I question whether Belchers were known in Denmark as early as the time of Hamlet. This is an evident anachronism.
In a very old bl. let. Detaille of y. Workes of y, Loome, I find mention of “ BELLE-CHERE, a Kerchief (so called, because of ytts Beautie and of ytts Dearnesse) used only by Folke of Degree.” With greater propriety might Dr. Johnson have doubted the existence of Umbrellas in Denmark.
(d)—No quizzing— From the verb “to quiz,” i. e. to make game. Respecting the derivation of this verb, our best etymologists are undecided; and so am I.
(e)—CheerThe folio reads chear.
Mr. Pope is, I think, incorrect. I have consulted, not only all the folios, but also all the quartos, octavos, and duodecimos, extant, and find that they concur in reading cheer. As I consider this a point of too much importance to be left in uncertainty, I have been the more careful in my examination of it.
(s)- I'm sitting upon pins and needlesI suppose that corking-pins are here intended. I once had a very strong reason for this supposition ; but it has unfortunately escaped my memory.
The ingenious Mr. Theobald is wrong in his conjecture. If a distinction was at all intended, it was certainly in favour of blanket-pins. In the catalogue of the curious and valuable collection of Lord article 19,375, is “an antique bronze representing the Genius of Irritability seated upon blanket-pins;” to which it is probable our author is indebted for his forcible figure, till then I'm sitting upon pins and needles.
The caprice of conjecture, puerile and impertinent, can only be vanquished by the overwhelming force of fact. Weak, frivolous, and imbecile, I shall dismiss Mr. Theobald without a comment: the puissant lion, exulting in his prowess, and secure in his strength, ranges the desert regardless of the innocuous mouse. Unfortunately for the suggestion of Mr. Steevens, the collection of Lord
was not formed until long after the death of our poet. As a mere illustration of the passage, it
may be sufficient to remark, “ that sitting upon pins and needles” is to this day used, in the more elegant and the graver sort of compositions, as an expression of impatience.
(8)—If dad will get it frank’dAn ingenious friend has suggested to me, that for get it frank'd we should read frank it. Polonius, it must be remembered, was a privy-counsellor, and consequently enjoyed the privilege of franking ex officio.
Notwithstanding the plausibility of this suggestion, the present reading may be the right one. In a “Tretys offe Fraunckynge,” bl. let. 1589, Syr Edouarde Gulle is noticed as “destraynt offe hys Fraunckes for divers unduetyfulle Libertys ynne y, useage thereoffe.” pp. 1342–3. As it happened in the time of our author, may not this be a satirical allusion to the circumstance?
(5)—A flannel under-petticoat
In this last admonition of Laertes to Ophelia, our author doubtless intends a sarcasm on a practice very prevalent in his time, but which has long since become obsolete: I mean the omission of the petticoat as an article of female habiliment. Something similar occurs in a MS. entitled, “Brytchet her Goolden Rules,” deposited in the Museum, dated 1506.-—“Albeit I graunte ye Kyrtel thyn and slyte ys myghtelie favourynge toe a faunciefule dysplaye offe y' fayre shapis,