Page images

another passage of this author, that breathes all the enthusiasm of pure, genuine poetry-simul ipsa silentia terrent.

I shall not enter into the comparative merit of Homer's night-piece, and the copy of it in Pope's translation. The curious reader may find this subject handled with great ingenuity by two eminent writers; Cooper in his elegant Letters concerning Taste, and Melmoth in the Letters of Sir Thomas Fitzosborne. Caerhaes, near Tregony, in Cornwall,

Q. Feb. 18. 1774, March.

LVIII. Critical Illustrations of 'obsolete Passages in Shakespeare.

Mr. URBAN, THERE is a passage or two in the tragedy of Hamlet, which I have never yet seen explained to my satisfaction by any commentator. In Act. I. Sc. 2, the King thus addresses himself to the Prince, his nephew:

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son; to which Hamlet (aside) replies,

A little more than kin, and less than kind. Bishop Warburton, without the least necessity, considers kind, as an adjective; having first, without the least authority, proposed an alteration in the text, as stiff* as it is arbitrary:

But now, my cousin Hamlet, kind my son.


* When I say this, I do not forget the frequent use of the epithet Good before the pronoun possessive in this author; as good my Lord,” “good my Liege," good my Sovereign,” good my Mother,” &c. &c.—but this use of the addition good seems to have been a familiar mode of expression in the days of Shakespeare, as may, I think, be collected from a passage in Henry VI. 3d. Part, Act. v. Sc. 6.

Gloc. Good day, my Lord! what, at your book so hard ?
king. Ay, my good Lord: my Lord, I should say rather;
'Tis sin to flatter, good was little better:
Good Gloster and good devil were alike,

And both preposterous; therefore not good Lord.
And even in this inverted order of construction, “ good my Lord,” since it se

Dr. Johnson remarks, that kind is the Teutonic word for thild; Hamlet therefore,” says he, “ answers with pro priety to the titles of cousin and son, which the king bad given him, that he was somewhat more than çorisin, and less than son." The explanation is plausible; but does not, I think, come up to the full meaning of the text, frittering away all the smartness and sting of the reply.

I have always supposed, with Sir Thomas Hanmer, that " this was a proverbial expression," of very ancient date; and have lately been confirmed in this opinion by the fol lowing passage in Gorboduc, a tragedy, written by Lord Buckhurst, and first printed about two years after Shakespeare was born, 1565. Videna, Gorboduc's Queen, Act iv. Sc. 1, thus expresses her resentment against her younger son Porrex, the murderer of Ferrex, her elder son:

Thou, Porres, thou this damned deed has wrought,
Thou, Porrex, thou shalt dearly bye the same;
Traitor to kin and kind, to sire and me,

To thine own flesh, and traitor to thyself.
A passage also in Shakespcare, Richard II. Act iv. Sc. 1.

Peace shall go sleep with Turks and infidels,
And, in this seat of peace, tumultuous wars

Shall kin with kin, and kind with kind confoundserves to prove the truth of Hanmer's observation, that this was indeed "a proverbial expression;" though I cannot agree with him, when he adds, “known in former times for a relation so confused and blended, that it was hard to de. fine it." For nothing can be more certain, than that the word kind, which occasions all the difficulty, in the passages above produced, uniformly signifies nature, as may still farther appear, by comparing them with the quotations


frequently occurs in Shakespeare in that order. This may have led the learned Bishop into a mistake, and induced him to believe, that the epithet kind night be used with the same freedom, kind my son :" whereas, though we do fre. quently meet with that epithet in our author (Henry V. Activ, Sc. 3. Henry VI. 1st. Part, Act iï: Sc. 1, and elsewhere), yet it is always in the proper and re. gular form of construction; nor can there be a single instance produced, in all his works, where it is placed before thc pronoun possessive.

- A father? no : In kind a father, not in kindliness.

Gorboduc, Act. i. Sc. I. And eke that they, whom nature hath prepared

In time to take my place in princely scat, VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

below, from the same authors, where that word will evidently admit of no other sense. Hence we easily discover Hamlet's meaning to be, that the relation which he hore to the King, his uncle, was something more than that of cousin, or nephew-{a little more than kin)-the King having now married his mother; but though he was become his son by this marriage, yet was his new relationship still inferior to that of naturi, still an unnatural one,-[aru less than kind) the marriage being founded in two unnatural crimes, murder and incest; hereby sarcastically glancing at the enormity of the king's villainy, who, by such a complication of vice, was against nature, entitled to call him his son, as well as his nephew, or cousin.

The other passage is in Act i. Sc. 8, where the Ghost, describing the unprepared state in which he was hurried by

May not be thought for their unworthy life,
And for their lawless swerving out of kind,
Worthy to lose what law and kind them gave.

Ibid. Sc...

Only I mean to shew by certain rules,
Which kind hath graft within the inind of man,
That nature hath her order and her course.


Ferrex, my Lord, your elder son, perhaps,
Whom kind and custom gives a right ul hope.
To be your heir, and to succeed your reign,)
Shall think, &c.

This kind and custom," and the law and kind,” in the passage before
quoted, are afterwards explained by law and nature.
Ferrex. I marvel mirch what reason led the King,

My father, thus, without all my desert,
To reve me half the kingdom, which by course
Of law and nature should remain to me.

Ibid. Acti. Sc. i.
But if you would consider the true cause
Why birds and beasts, from quality and kind,
Why all these things change from their ordinance,
Their natures, and presumed faculties,
To monstrous quality

Jul. Cæsar, Aet i. Sc. 3.
The forest walks are wide and spacious.
And many unfrequented plots there are,
Fitted by kind for cape and villainy:

Tit. Andronic. Act ii. Sc. I. You must think this, look you, that the worm will do his kind.

Ant, and Cleop. Act v. Sc. %.


his brother to the grave, uses the term unanneal'd. The line, in Mr. Capell's edition, runs thus :

Unhousel'd, unanointed *, unanneald. This word has been variously written, and variously interpreted :-unanel'd-importing, according to Pope, knell rung"_"unknell’d," as it were, or “unknollid:"

. unaneald--signifying, in Theobald's opinion, “ unanointed, not having the extreme unction; from the Teutonic preposition an, and ole, i. e. oil :"_and unanneald," that is (says Hanmer) unprepared;" because to anneal metals is to prepare them in manufacture.-Perhaps, after all, the proper reading may be unannul’d, from annulus [a ring],"the obvious signification of which is, without a ring on the finger. Dr. Ducarel, in a curious work published a few years ago, entitled “ Anglo-Norman Antiquities considered,” &c. shews it to have been the general practice to bury our ancient kings with rings upon their fingers; and mentions particularly the will of Richard II. who directs that he would be buried in this manner, according to royal custom. This custom might, probably, prevail in Denmark, as it did in this kingdom; and, if so, will serve to explain this passage, which has been given up by Dr. Johnson, with some others of the critics, and has proved a puzzle to all. Caerhaes, Cornwall, Oct. 18.



YOU will much oblige some of your northern readers by inserting in your collection the following remarks on a difficult passage in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Scene III. Act. I. Folio Edit. Hemings and Condell. 1685.

"Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,

Unhouzzled, disappointed, unaneld.The word unaneld has perplexed all the commentators :

* Dr. Johnson reads disappointed, in the sense of unprepared; but it is not probable that the poet should use so general a term, when he is specifying the pare ticular kinds of preparation the King wanted when sent to the grave, viz. the hoste, unhouslod...confession and absolution-"no reckoning made,&c. The idea of his general unpreparedness had been fully expressed in the line pre.. ceding,

“Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin."

Pope explains it “having no knell rung."--Hanmer sup poses it to signify unprepared, because to anneal metals is to prepare them in manufacture. Theobald, indeed, guessed at the true meaning, but his explication has been invalidated by the learned Dr. Johnson, who, after having given the notes of his predecessors, observes, on his own authority," that it is a difficult passage, and that he had not by his inquiry been able to satisfy himself.” The subsequent.extract from a very scarce and curious


of Fabian's Chronicle, printed by Pynsen, 1516, seems to remove every possibility of doubt concerning the true signification of the words vinhouseld and unanell. The historian, speaking of Pope Innocent's having laid the whole kingdom of Engand under an interdict, has these words; 66 of the maper of this Enterdiccion of this Lande have I seen dyverse opynyons, as some ther be that saye that the Lande was enterdyted thorowly and the Churchis and Housys of Relygyon closyd, that no where was used Masse, nor dyvyne Servyce, by whiche reason none of the VII, Sacramentis all this terme shulde be mynystred or occupyed, nor Chylde crystened, nor Man confessyd, nor marryed; but it was not so strayght. For there were dyverse placys in Englond, whiche were occupyed with dyvyne Servyce all that season by Lycence purchaсed thau or before, also Chyldren were crystenyd thoroughe all the Lande and Men houselyd and anelyjd." Fol. 14. Septima Pars Johannis.

The Anglo-Saxon noun-substantives husel (the eucharist) and ele (oil) are plainly the roots of these last quoted compound adjectives. For the meaning of the affix an to the last, I quote Spelman's Gloss. in loco. “Quin et dictionibus (an) adjungitur, siquidem vel majoris notationis gratia, vel ad singulare aliquid, vel unicum demonstrandum.” Hence an-elyd should seem to signify oiled or unointed by way of emmence, i. e. having received extreme unction. For the confirmation of the sense given here there is the strongest internal evidence in the passage. The historian is speaking of the VII. Sacraments, and he expressly names five of them, viz. baptism, marriage, auricular confession, the eucharist, and extreme unction.

The publishing a discovery made by accident cannot justly subject me to the imputation of vanity, yet I cannot help thinking it rather a lucky hit to have stumbled upon a passage that leads to the certain investigation of that which has perplexed the most eininent commentators on the text of Shakespeare. The antiquary is desired to consult the edition of Fabian, printed by Pynsen, 1516, because there are

« PreviousContinue »