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What majesty should be, what duty is,
beginning of the second azt. But I will venture to say, these criticks have not entered into the poet's art and address in this particular. He had a mind to ornament his scenes with those fine lessons of social life; but his Polonius was too weak to be author of them, though he was pedant enough to have met with them in his reading, and fop enough to get them by heart, and retail them for his own. And this the poet has finely shewn us was the case, where, in the middle of Polonius's instructions to his servant, he makes him, though without having received any interruption, forget his lesson, and say,
" And then, fir, does he this;
“ I was about to say something where did I leave?" The servant replies,
At, closes in the consequence. This sets Polonius right, and he goes on,
“ At clofes in the consequence.
“ He closes thus: - I know the gentleman,” &c. ' which shews the very words got by heart which he was repeating. Otherwise closes in the consequence, which conveys no particular idea of the subject he was upon, could never have made him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary instance of the poet's art, and attention to the preservation of character.
WARBURTON. This account of the character of Polonius, though it sufficiently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory is truly represented as designed to ridicule the practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time,
QUEEN. More matter, with less art,
Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all. That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true, 'tis pity; And pity 'tis, 'tis true: a foolish figure; But farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then: and now remains, That we find out the cause of this effect; Or, rather say, the cause of this defect; For this effect, defective, comes by cause : Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend. I have a daughter; have, while she is mine; Who, in her duty and obedience, mark, Hath given me this : Now gather, and surmise,
While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his res positories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas and entangles himfelf in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phænomena of the character of Polonius. JOHNSON.
Nothing can be more juft, judicious, and masterly, than Johnson's delineation of the character of Polonius; and I cannot read it without heartily regretting that he did not exert his great abili- . ties and discriminating powers, in delineating the strange, inconfiftent, and indecisive character of Hamlet, to which I confefs myself unequal. M. Mason.
-To the celestial, and my foul's idol, the most beautified
3 –To the celestial, and my foul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,] Mr. Theobald for beautified substituted beatified. MALONE.
Dr. Warburton has followed Mr. Theobald; but I am in doubt whether beautified, though, as Polonius calls it, a vile phrase, be not the proper word, Beautified seems to be a vile phrase, for the ambiguity of its meaning. Johnson.
Heywood, in his History of Edward VI. says “ Katherine Parre, queen dowager to king Henry VIII, was a woman beautified with many excellent virtues.” FARMER. So, in Tbe Hog hath left his Pearl, 1614:
• A maid of rich endowments, beautified
“ With all the virtues nature could bestow." Again, Nash dedicates his Chrift's Tears over Jerusalem, 1594: " to the most beautified lady, the lady Elizabeth Carey."
Again, in Greene's Mamillia, 1593: " - although thy person is fo bravely beautified with the dowries of nature.”
Ill and vile as the phrase may be, our author has used it again in The Two Gentlemen of Verona :
seeing you are beautified “ With goodly shape," &c. STEEVENS. By beautified Hamlet means beautiful. But Polonius, taking the word in the more strictly grammatical sense of being made beautiful, calls it a vile phrase, as implying that his daughter's beauty was the effect of art. M. MASON.
4 In her excellent white bofom, these,] So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ Thy letters
“ Even in the milk-white bofom of thy love." Sce Vol. III. p. 236, n. 2.
These in her excellent white bofom, these, &c. In our poet's time the word These was usually added at the end of the superscription of letters, but I have never met with it both at the beginning and end. MALONE,
Pol. Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faith
Doubt, that the sun doth move :
But never doubt, I love.
O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers ; I bave not art to reckon my groans : but that I love thee best, O most belt, believe it. Adieu. Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this
machine is to him, Hamlet.
But how hath she
What do you think of me? King. As of a man faithful and honourable. Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might
you think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing,
Omolt beft, ] So, in Acolaffus, a comedy, 1540 : that same most beft redresser or reformer, is God.”
STEEVENS. - whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.] These words will not be ill explained by the conclusion of one of the Letters of the Pafton Family, Vol. II. p. 43:“ - for your pleasure, whyle my wytis
owne." The phrase employed by Hamlet seems to have a French construction. Pendant que cette machine eft a lui. To be one's own man is a vulgar expression, but means much the same as Virgil's Dum memor ipfe mei, dum fpiritus hos regit artus.
STEEVEXS. more above,] is, moreszier, besides. JOHNSON.
(As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that,
. If I bad play'd the desk, or table-book;
What might you think?) i. e. If either I had conveyed intel. ligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the desk or table-book,) or had connived at it, only observed them in secret, without acquainting my daughter with my discovery (given my heart a mule and dumb working ;] or lastly, had been negligent in observing the intrigue, and overlooked it [looked upon this love with idle fight;] what would you have thought of me! WARBURTON.
I doubt whether the first line is rightly explained. It may mean, if I had lock’d up this secret in my own breast, as closely as if it were confined in a desk or table-book. MALONE.
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb ;] The folio reads a winking. STEVENS.
The fame pleonasm (mute and dumb] is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
“ And in my hearing be you mute and dumb.” MALONE.
round-] i. e. roundly, without reserve. So Polonius says in the third act: “ be round with him."
STEVENS. · Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere;] The quarto, 1604, and the first folio, for sphere, have star. The correction was made by the editor of the second folio. Malone. 3
- precepts gave her,] Thus the folio. The two elder quartos read-prescripts. I have chosen the most familiar of the Io readings. Polonius has already said to his son:
" And these few precepts in thy memory