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It sends some precious instance of itself
Oph. They bore him barefac'd on the bier ;
And in his grave rain'd many a tear ;
Fare you well, my dove!
Laer. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
Oph. You must sing, Down-a-down, an you call him a-down-a. O, how the wheel 33 becomes it! it is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter. mental energies fly off, or are sent after the beloved object; when bereft of that object they are lost to us, and we are left in a state of mental privation:
Even so by love the young and tender wit
Is turned to folly.'
'Love is a smoke, rais'd with the fume of sighs;
33 The wheel is the burthen of a ballad, from the Latin rota, a round, which is usually accompanied with a burthen frequently repeated. Thus also in old French, roterie signified such a round or catch, and rotuenge, or rotruhenge, the burthen or refrain as it is now called. Our old English term refrette, the foote of the dittie, a verse often interlaced, or the burden of a song,' was probably from refrain; or from refresteler, to pipe over again. It is used by Chaucer in The Testament of Love. This term was not obsolete in Cotgrave's time, though it would now be as difficult to adduce an instance of its use as of the wheel, at the same time the quotation will show that the down of a ballad was another term for the burthen. 'Refrain, the refret, burthen, or downe of a ballad.' All this discussion is rendered necessary, because Steevens unfortunately forgot to note from whence he made the following extract, though he knew it was from the preface to some black letter collection of songs or sonnets:- The song was accounted a good one, though it was not moche graced with the wheele, which in no wise accorded with the subject matter thereof.' Thus also Nicholas Breton, in his Toyes for Idle Head, 1577:
'That I may sing full merrily
Not heigh ho wele, but care away.'
It should be remembered that the old musical instrument called
Laer. This nothing's more than matter.
Oph. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; 'pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts 34.
a rote, from its wheel, was also termeḍ vielle, quasi wheel. It must surely have been out of a mere spirit of controversy that Malone affected to think that the spinning-wheel was alluded to by Ophelia.
34 Our ancestors gave to almost every flower and plant its emblematic meaning, and like the ladies of the east, made them almost as expressive as written language, in their hieroglyphical sense. Perdita, in The Winter's Tale, distributes her flowers in the same manner as Ophelia, and some of them with the same meaning. In The Handfull of Pleasant Delites, 1584, recently reprinted in Mr. Park's Heliconia, we have a ballad called ‘Å Nosegaie alwaies sweet for Lovers to send for Tokens,' where we find :
Rosemarie is for remembrance
Rosemarie had this attribute because it was said to strengthen the memory, and was therefore used as a token of remembrance and affection between lovers, and was distributed as an emblem both at weddings and funerals. Why pansies (pensées) are emblems of thoughts is obvious. Fennel was emblematic of flattery, and Dare finocchio, to give fennel,' was in other words to flatter, to dissemble,' according to Florio. Thus in the ballad above cited:
Fennel is for flatterers,
An evil thing 'tis sure.'
Browne, in his Britannia's Pastorals, says :-
Is then ascribed to such as are forsaken.'
Rue was for ruth or repentance. It was also commonly called herbgrace, probably from being accounted' a present remedy against all poison, and a potent auxiliary in exorcisms, all evil things fleeing from it.' By wearing it with a difference (an heraldic term for a mark of distinction) Ophelia may mean that the queen should wear it as a mark of repentance; herself as a token of grief. The daisy was emblematic of a dissembler : 'Next them grew the dissembling daisy, to warne such light of love wenches not to trust every fair promise that such amorous batchelors make.'-Green's Quip for an Upstart Courtier. The violet is for faithfulness, and is thus characterised in The Lover's
Laer. A document in madness; thoughts and remembrance fitted.
Oph. There's fennel for you, and columbines:there's rue for you; and here's some for me:-we may call it, herb of grace o'Sundays:-you may wear your rue with a difference.-There's a daisy: -I would give you some violets; but they withered all, when my father died:-They say, he made a good end,
For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy,—
[Sings. Laer. Thought 35 and affliction, passion, hell it
She turns to favour, and to prettiness.
Oph. And will he not come again?
Go to thy death-bed,
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll :
He is gone, he is gone,
Nosegaie. In Bion's beautiful elegy on the death of Adonis, Mr. Todd has pointed out:
πάντα σὺν αὐτω
Ως τήνος τέθνακε, καὶ ἄνθεα πάντ' ἐμαράνθη.
35 Thought, among our ancestors, was used for grief, care, pen'Curarum volvere in pectore. He will die for sorrow and thought.'-Baret. Thus in Antony and Cleopatra:'Cleo. What shall we do, Enobarbus?
• Eno. *
Think and die.'
See note on that passage, vol. vii. p. 468, note 1.
36 Poor Ophelia in her madness remembers the ends of many old popular ballads. "Bonny Robin' appears to have been a favourite, for there were many others written to that tune. The editors have not traced the present one. It is introduced in
And of all christian souls! I pray God. God be [Exit OPHELIA. Laer. Do you see this, O God?
King. Laertes, I must commune37 with your grief, Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
Make choice of whom your wisest friends
you will, And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me: If by direct or by collateral hand
They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give,
Be you content to lend your patience to us,
Let this be so;
His means of death, his obscure funeral 39,
Eastward Hoe, written by Jonson, Chapman, and Marston, where some parts of this play are apparently burlesqued. Hamlet is the name given to a foolish footman in the same scene. I know not why it should be considered an attack on Shakspeare; it was the usual licence of comedy to sport with every thing serious and even sacred. Hamlet Travestie may as well be called an invidious attack on Shakspeare.
37 The folio reads common, which is only a varied orthography of the same word. 'We will devise and common of these mat
38 Thus in the quarto 1603 :
King. Content you, good Leartes, for a time,
Although I know your grief is as a flood,
Brim full of sorrow, but forbear a while,
And think already the revenge is done
On him that makes you such a hapless son.
'Lear. You have prevail'd, my lord, a while I'll strive,. To bury grief within a tomb of wrath,
Which once unhearsed, then the world shall hear
Leartes had a father he held dear.
'King. No more of that, ere many days be done
You shall hear that you do not dream upon.' 99 Folio-burial.
No noble rite, nor formal ostentation 40,
Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,
And where the offence is, let the great axe fall.
I pray you, go with me.
SCENE VI. Another Room in the same.
Enter HORATIO and a Servant.
Hor. What are they that would speak with me? Serv.
They say, they have letters for you.
Let them come in.
I do not know from what part of the world
1 Sail. God bless you, sir. Hor. Let him bless thee too.
1 Sail. He shall, sir, an't please him. There's a letter for you, sir: it comes 2 from the ambassador that was bound for England; if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.
Hor. [Reads.] Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the king; they have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase: Finding ourselves too slow of sail,
40 The funerals of knights and persons of rank were made with great ceremony and ostentation formerly. Sir John Hawkins (himself of the order) observes that 'the sword, the helmet, the gauntlet, spurs, and tabard are still hung over the grave of every knight.'
2 Folio-it came. E E