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(h)-We're bewitch'd, 'tis plain.
Hamlet's meaning appears to me to be this : ' I know not how to account for the succession of calamities which has befallen us, otherwise than by supposing, that we labour under the malevolent influence of witchcraft.'.
Probably the name of the royal watch-dog.
(k) Anon he's patient as a hungry mouser.
This passage is incorrect. I cannot believe that patience is characteristic of a hungry animal.
The difficulty of this passage will be solved by supplying an apostrophe, which, doubtless, was intended to mark the elision of the a in hungry; and by substituting a capital H for a small one.
We must understand a Hungary (for Hungarian)
This emendation is so ingenious that I am sorry it is not just: for the passage, in its present state is not only correct, but eminently beautiful. The Queen compares the patience of Hamlet to that which, after a long privation from food, is exhibited by a mouser whilst watching for its prey.
There is yet a beauty which Dr. Johnson has passed without notice. The Queen not only compares Hamlet's occasional patience to that of a hungry mouser, but, at the same time, contrasts it with his paroxysms of ferocity, resembling the growlings of a watch-dog: whence it is common to say of two persons who live discordantly, that “they agree like cat and dog."
It may not be altogether uninteresting to the curious reader, to know that a mouser is a cat which is trained up for the purpose of killing Rats as well as mice. So in Chaucer's Romaunt de la rose, ver. 6204:
-Gibbe, our cat,
(l) The trumpet's tantarara, post, shall set off
Either this passage is in itself a nonsensical rhapsody, or, partly through the caprice and partly through the negligence of successive editors, it has been corrupted. By substituting a hyphen for the comma, between tantarara and post, we obtain a faint glimmering of its meaning; and even then it remains to discover what is meant by a tantarara-post.
The punctuation of this passage requires no alteration. Tantarara is a word imitative of the note of the trumpet, as tattoo is of the beat of the drum. The trumpet's tantarara, post, shall set off, means the tantarara of the trumpet shall set off after (post) the loud tattoo of the drum.
Dr. Warburton has very far exceeded Mr. Theobald in his approaches towards the sense of this difficult passage; yet he has not quite hit the mark. Our poet, doubtless, intended, the trumpet's tantarara, post (i.e. post-haste), shall set off, which is more poetical, and much finer than it is rendered by Dr. Warburton's common-place explanation of post.
Sir John Hawkins is of opinion that tān-tă-ră-ră is not exactly imitative of the note of the trumpet, which is tān-iă-ră-rā-rā; but Dr. Burney assures me that it was not until about the middle of the seventeenth century that this innovation in trumpetology was known, when it was introduced by one Hans Von Puffenblowenschwartz, trumpeter to the gallant Prince Rupert. Of this our author could not possibly have had any knowledge.
This is poetical. Hamlet strikes Laertes in the stomach: the stomach being the depository for food (the pantry, as it were, of the human frame), it is metaphorically termed the bread-basket.
In culinary language, “ to be dished" is to be served up: but, by a licentia poetica, “ I'm dish’d" is here used for I'm served out.
WARBURTON. So in another part of this play:
46 'That last cross-buttock dish'd ine."
If I might hazard a conjecture upon this, I should suppose that the Queen of Denmark wore a wig.
Saxo-Grammaticus, Olaus Wormius, and all the old Danish writers, concur in stating that the Queen of Denmark wore a wig. As to its colour they are all silent; but they are at considerable variance respecting its shape : for, whilst some declare it to have been a Brutus, others as confidently assert that it was a Perruque à lu Greque. I have consulted one hundred and fourteen controversial traçts, (bl. let.) expressly upon the subject, and am still at a loss which side of the question to espouse. I shall, however, resume the inquiry, and communicate the result of my laborious researches to the literary world.
Whether the Queen of Denmark wore a Brutus or a Perruque à la Greque is a question which, at this distance of time, to determine were difficult, and which, if determined, would tend only to the gratification of