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an idle and impertinent curiosity; while the time bestowed upon the inquiry might be more usefully, more advantageously, and more beneficially, employed in improving the wigs which are worn by co-temporaneous heads, or in anticipating improvements for those which may be, hereafter, displayed on the heads of posterity.
The meaning of this is, the game is up with us; or, we have gone the length of our tether.
So in an old ballad called Gabriel Gubbyns hys Lamentation, bl. let. 1602 ;
“ No more Larke I trowe,
“ For I shall bee hangyt for coynynge."
(9) I promised to die game; but ru expose
That dirty scamp; for you am I a nose.
Nose, or nosey, is a term of reproach applied to one who impeaches his comrades for an offence, in the commission of which he has been concerned.
This speech is deservedly celebrated for its admirable pathos. Laertes, at the point of death, feels his former friendship for Hamlet returning upon him, in its fullest force: “ I promised,' says he,' to die game; but, though I have forfeited my honour, by exposing that dirty scamp, (the king,) do not you, Hamlet, despise me for my baseness; consider, it is for your sake that I am forsworn
--for you am I a nose.' Who, that has a heart alive to the osoft touch of sensibility, can read this tender address
without emotion." For you am I a nose.” How elegantly refined ! how exquisitely pathetic !
This is a noble emendation, which almost sets the critic on a level with the author.
(r) I'm dead at least I shall be in a minute.
Thus the folio. The quarto reads,
I'm dead at last-or shall be in a minute.
We might, without much violence, read and point thus:
I'm dead: at rest I shall be in a minute.
By at rest is meant buried.
What authority Dr. Warburton has for this alteration I know 'not: and I am equally ignorant of his reasons for so unequivocally asserting, that at rest means buried. ' Surely, when once the principle of vitality has quitted his frame, a inan is as much at rest above ground as under. So feebly is he armed, that, in the present instance, I consider the reverend critic as an unequal adversary, and, therefore, scorn to meet him within the lists of controversy. Impotency demands our pity; but, when it affects Herculean muscularity, it but provokes
our contempt. We disdain to punish, but we are bound to expose. Were the proposed reading admitted, we should make Hamlet positively announce his own death, and afterwards advert to his own funeral. But of this. too much.
(s 8 s)
To a literary friend of mine I am indebted for the following very acute observation : “ Throughout this “ play," says he,“ there is nothing more beautiful than
these dashes ; by their gradual elongation, they dis“ tinctly mark the balbucination and the increasing 4 difficulty of utterance observable in a dying man. To which let me add, that, although dashes are in frequent use with our tragic poets, yet are they seldom introduced with so good an effect as in the present instance.