« PreviousContinue »
K. More than the scope,” &c. This passage is perplexed, and Dr. Johnson has not succeeded in clearing it up. “We dispatch,” says the King, “ you, Cornelius, &c. to Norway, giving you no further personal power to business with the King, than the scope of these dilated articles allows;" but, as the sentence stands, there is both bad grammar and tautology in it. : ve - We here dispatch you "Giving to you no further personal power * To business with the king, more than the scope "Of these dilated articles allow.” i I would propose: 66. We have dispatched you, &c. "Giving to you no further personal power “ To business with the king, than does the scope
Of thess dilated articles allow."
This, indeed, as well as most of the other de viations from grammar, occurring in these plays, I readily admit, with, Mr. Steevens, to be the blunders of ignorant or careless printers, or transcribers. -" To business” seems here as if it were a verb; but I rather think the sense is, power for business, or power of business; the prepositions are frequently perverted , use ...,
' 6s You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, 6..5 And lose your voice:”. : This may either mean, you cannot speak, &c. and waste your breath, by speaking in vain, or lose the object of your request, that which you wish to have, your will or desire : thus, in Othello, " Your voices, lords !” i. e. declare your wills, lords.
31. “ But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my
son, Ham. “ A little more than kin, and less than
kind.” We are more than mere relations, and less than cordial friends. 32. “ I am too much i' the sun."
Too directly in the radiance of your majestic presence. Hamlet is here impatient, fretful, and sarcastic; every reply is a contradiction of what is said to him. The king calls him cousin and son; Hamlet at once disclaims both distinctions-he is more than a cousin and less than a son. The queen then remarks, “ thou know'st 'tis common," meaning only, that mortality is common. Hamlet reproachfully and perversely answers, “Ay, madam, it is common,” adverting to her indecent forgetfulness of his father: .“ if it be so," adds she, “why seems it so particular with thee ?” here again he detorts the queens words from their obvious meaning; she only asked why he was particular? but the Prince lays hold of the word seems, and sarcastically infers from it, his mother's hypocrisy. “Seems! madam !” he exclaims, with indignation,' “ nay, it.is I know not seems."
The actors who would exhibit Hamlet in this scene as meek, gentle, and pathetic, appear to misconceive the character. It is not till he comes to these words, “ But I have that within which passeth shew,” that he is actuated by tender sentiment. 33. “ Thou know'st, 'tis common ; all, that live,
I believe we should point thus : " Thou know'st'tis common-all that live,” &c.
i. e. Thou knowest this truth-pay, it is known to all men—it is “a common proof.” ". I have that within, which passeth shew ; “ These, but the trappings,” &c.
So says Richard II. “ My grief lies all within, “And these external manners of lamenti “ Are merely shadows to the unseen grief “ That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.” “ 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature,
Hamlet.” The hypermeter here was probably occasioned by the poet's having altered the expression, without expunging what he meant to amit; or else by the transcriber's resolution to retain the old word, while he inserted the new; the line at first might have been“ 'Tis commendable in your nature, Hamlet.”
The desire of more animation, perhaps, suggested the epithet “sweet,” and, what the author undoubtedly would have expunged, might, by haste or ignorance, have been retained ; a similar fatality has attended another line in this speech, where, by an error of the press, the word " lost,” having carelessly been caught from the preceding line, continues to be twice repeated, in defiance of propriety and the metre: “
Your father lost a father, “ That father (lost, lost) his, and the survivor
bound,” &c. These lines were doubtless intended to run thus :
“ 'Tis sweet and commendable in you, Hamlet.”
And, «« That father his; and the survivor bound,” &c.
Mr. Pope, indeed, very properly corrected the last line, which, nevertheless, is still exhibited in its old deformity. 35.“ The most vulgar thing to sense.”
“Vulgar,” for trite, common. “ From the first corse, till he that died to-day.”
The construction here is elliptic, or broken. “From the first corse till-he that died to-day," (will illustrate my position.) 37. "
Bend you to remain.” * Yield, comply with our entreaty. 38. “ Resolve itself into a dew !" .
Resolve, says Mr. Steevens, is the same as “ dissolve.”
I cannot directly agree with the critic: “resolve," seems to have an active, as dissolve a neuter sense. 39. “ The uses of this world !”
" This world” appears not to be mentioned in any reference or contradistinction to the world hereafter, as some actors would express. “The uses of this world,” is merely “ the habitudes and usages of life.” 40. “ He might not beteem the winds of
; heaven “ Visit her face too roughly.” I cannot be reconciled to “ beteem,” and know
not what word to propose in its place. The sen-
month.” " And” should be omitted here, as useless to the sense, and burthensome to the metre. And again, the next line, “ Let me not think on't; Frailty, thy name is
woman," should be, “ Let me not think ;--- Frailty, thy name is
woman." 42. “ Horatio, -or I do forget myself."
I am not certain whether the latter part of this line is spoken familiarly—“ I forget myself,” for I forget-or emphatically, with compliment to Horatio ; whom the speaker would say he valued as himself. “ This surely is my friend Horatio, or I have lost the knowledge even of myself.” "
I'll change that name with you.” Dr. Johnson's explanation may be right; but perhaps Hamlet means to say, that between Ho. ratio and himself the name of friend shall be current-Do not call yourself my servant-you are my friend-so I shall call you, and so I would have you call me. If this be the sense, the line should be pointed thus : “Sir, my good friend ; I'll change that name with you."