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might Dr.Johnson have doubted the existence of Umbrellas in Denmark.
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)-Cheer The 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.
(f)-I'm sitting upon pins and needles
I 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
at article 19,375, is “ an antique bronze representing the Genius of Irritability seated upon blanket-pius;" 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 kon, 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'd
An 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.
Tretys offe Fraunckynge," bl. let. 1589, Syr Edouarde Gulle is noticed as “ destraynt offe hys Fraunckes for divers unduetyfulle Libertys ynne ye useage thereoffe." pp. 1342-3. As it happened in the time of our author, may not this be a satirical allusion to the circumstancer
(h) --A flannel under-petticoatIn 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 yk fayre shapis,
nonne ye more wod ytte bee hydden bie ye onder Gaurmente offe Flaunnyn, and then wdst thou haue wherewithall toe deffend thie Lymbes from ye rothlesse Ayr: moreover thou wdst profyt therebie ynne divers Waies.”
An elegant prosopopæia of cold.
Jack Frost is, I believe, a' very powerful agent in the Scandinavian mythology.—He is a personage of no little importance in many of the traditionary stories of the north.
(k) -My watch says twelve
Horatio says, 'tis half past eleven at most. That Marcellus's watch indigitates the time more rately than Horatio's, is proved by the appearance of the ghost; as it is well known that ghosts are never disincarcerated until midnight.
For a man to wear a good watch, although there be neither a moral obligation nor a physical necessity; yet he who, disdaining the equivocating offspring of Geneva, carries one whose motions are regulated with
rigid scrupulosity, and whose information is delivered with oracular veracity, deserves praise, and merits commendation.
There is so surprising a display of intellect in this observation, that I shall forbear to question the truth of the position.
A row; a kick-up.
Rig is not, strictly, a row, but rather a go; in which sense it is used in another part of this play.
(m) You'd better hold your jaw
The folio reads mag; but I adopt jaw (from the quarto) as the more elegant, and as being more in the spirit of our author.