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Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.-
Queen. Alas, how is't with you !
(53) Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements,
Start up and stand on end) I took notice, in my Shakespeare Restored, that this exprefffon as much waniéd an explanation, as any the most antiquated word in our Poet wants a gloss. Mr Hughes, in his impression of this play, has left it out; either because he could make nothing of it; or thought it alluded to an image too nauseous. The Poet'smeaning is founded on a phyfical determination, that the bair and nails are excrementitious parts of the body (as indeed they are) without life or sensation. Maerobus, in his Saturnalia, (lib. vii. cap. 9 ) not only speaks of those parts of the human body which have on sensation, but likewise affigns the reasons why they can have none. Ofa, dentes, cum unguibus et capillis, nima ficcitate ita denfata sunt, ut penetrabilia non fint effeftui animæ qui fenfum minil.rat. Therefore the Poet means to say, fear and surprise had such an effect upon Hamlet, that his hairs, as if there were life in those excrementitious parts, started up and stood on end. He has ex pressed the same thought more plainly in Macbeth;
-and my fell of, hair
As life were in't. That our Poet was acquainted with this notion in physics, of the hair being without life, we need no stronger warrant, ihan that he frequently mentions it as an excrement.
Why is time such a niggard of hair, being, as it is, so plena tiful an excrement?
Comedy of Errors,
Start up, and stand on end. O gentle fon,
Queen. To whom do you speak this?
[Pointing to the Ghost.
Ham. Why, look you there! look, how it steals. My father in his habit as he lived !
[away! Lcok, where he goes even now, out at the portal.
[Exit Ghost. Queen. This is the very coinage of your brain : This bodiless creation ecstasy Is very cunning in.
Ham. What ecstasy ? My pulse, as yours, doni temperately keep time, And makes as healthful mufic. 'Tis not madness That I have uttered; bring me to the test, And I the matter will re-word; which madness Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, Lay not that flattering unction to your soul, That not your trespals, but my madness, fpeaks ;
For I must tell thee, it will please his grace (by the world) fonetime to lean ipon my poor bloulder, and with bis royal enger thus c'ally with my excrement, with my musiacius. &c. &ca
Love's Labour Loft.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place; (54).
(54) It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Why rank corruption, running all withir,
Infelts urleen.] So, our Poet elsewhere speaking of the force of power;
Because authority, though it err like others,
Meas. for Menjo But why, in the passage before us, has Mr Pope given usa reading that is warranted by none of the copies, and door graded one that has the countenance of all of them?
Whilft rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen, The Poet describes corruprion as having a corrosive quality, eating its secret way, and undermining the parts that are skinned over, and seem found io exteriour viciv He, in another place, uses the limpie verb for the compound.
He lets me feed with his hinds, bars me the place of a bros ther, and, as much as in hinr lyes, mines my gentility withmy education,
As You Like it, (55) That monster custom, zuha al! les se doth eat,
of babit's devil, is angel yet in this;
Of habits evil, is angel yet in this;
[Pointing to Polonius..
Queen. What shall I do?
That aptly is put on.] This paffage is left out in the two. elder Folios; it is certainly corrupt, and the players did the discreet part to ftifle what they did not understand. Habit's. devil certainly arose from some conceited tamperer with the text, who thought it was neecffary, in contrast to ano
The emendation of the text. I owe to the fagacity of Dr TMirlby :
That monster custom, who all sense doth cat:
Of babits evil, is angel, &c. 3. e. Custom, which by inuring us to .ill habits, makes us lose: the apprehension of their being really ill, as easily will 12: concile us to the practice of good actions..
Make you to ravel all this matter out,
Queen. Be thou assured, if words be made of breath,
Ham. I must to England, you know that?
[Exit Hamlet, tugging in Polonius.