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Ham. How chances it, they travel?" their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.

Ros. I think, their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.

Ham. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed? Ros. No, indeed, they are not.

Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: But there is, sir, an aiery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question," and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion; and so berattle the common stages, (so they call them) that many, wearing rapiers, are afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thither.

Ham. What, are they children? who maintains them? how are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing?" will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players, (as it is most like, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?

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7 How chances it, they travel?] To travel in Shakspeare's time was the technical word, for which we have substituted to stroll. an aiery of children, &c.] Relating to the play houses then contending, the Bankside, the Fortune, &c. 'played by the children of his majesty's chapel.


little eyases, that cry out on the top of question,] Little eyases; i. e. young nestlings, creatures just out of the egg. The meaning seems to allude to boys who ask a common question in the highest note of the voice, and declaim in common conversation. escoted?] Paid. From the French escot, a shot or


2 Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing?] Will they follow the profession of players no longer than they keepthe voices of boys, and sing in the choir?


their writers do them wrong, &c.] I should have been very much surprised if I had not found Ben Jonson among the writers here alluded to. STEEVENS.

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Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them on to controversy: there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.

Ham. Is it possible?

Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Ham. Do the boys carry it away?

Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too."]

Ham. It is not very strange: for my uncle is king of Denmark; and those, that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. [Flourish of Trumpets within.

Guil. There are the players.

Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. yours. You

to tarre them on to controversy:] To provoke any animal to rage, is to tarre him. The word is said to come from the Greek word ταράσσω.


Hercules and his load too.] The allusion may be to the Globe playhouse on the Bankside, the sign of which was Hercules carrying the Globe.

6 It is not very strange: for my uncle-] I do not wonder that the new players have so suddenly risen to reputation, my uncle supplies another example of the facility with which honour is conferred upon new claimants. JOHNSON.



in little.] i. e. in miniature.

let me comply, &c.] To comply is apparently used in the sense of-to compliment.

are welcome: but my uncle-father, and aunt-mother, are deceived.

Guil. In what, my dear lord?

Ham. I am but mad north-north west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a hand-saw."


Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen!

Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern;-and you too;at each ear a hearer: that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.

Ros. Hapily, he's the second time come to them; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.

Ham. Iwill prophecy, he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.-You say right, sir: o'Monday morning; 'twas then, indeed.

Pol. My lord, I have news to tell
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell

Roscius was an actor in Rome,


you. When

Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.

Ham. Buz, buz!

Pol. Upon my honour,

Ham. Then came each actor on his ass,

Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ,' and the liberty, these are the only men.

Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel,-what a treasure hadst thou!

Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord?

9 I know a hawk from a hand-saw.] A proverbial speech. For the law of writ,] Writ, for writing, composition.


I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine." Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring,-Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at any thing we see: We'll have a speech straight: Come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.

1 Play. What speech, my lord?

Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once,but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once: for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general: but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgments, in such matters, cried in the top of mine,') an excellent play; well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said, there were no sallets in the lines, to make the matter savoury; nor no matter in the phrase, that might indite the author of affection:2 but called it, an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved: 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: If it live in your memory, begin at this line; let me see, let me see;

The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,

by the altitude of a chopine.] A chioppine is a high shoe, or rather, a clog, worn by the Italians.

be not cracked within the ring.] That is, crack'd too much This is said to a young player who acted the parts of

caviare to the general:] Caviare is a Russian delicacy made of the roe of the sturgeon. The general, the common people.

cricd in the top of mine,] were higher than mine,

indite the author of affection :] i. e. convict the author of being a fantastical affected writer.

an honest method.] Honest, for chaste.

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