« PreviousContinue »
43. “We'll teach you to drink deep, ere you de
part.” Hamlet would intimate that drunkenness was the only thing that could be learned at the usurper's court. 45. “ He was a man, take him for all in all,
" I shall not look upon his like again." This, I believe, is not rightly pointed. I take it to be a thought twice broken or interrupted, Horatio had called Hamlet's father “a goodly king.”—“O!” exclaims the prince, “ he was a man,” but not knowing which excellence to prefer in describing him, he breaks off with the general remark-“ take him for all in all, yet here again, not knowing adequate terms of applause, he concludes abruptly." I shall not look upon his like again.”
“ Saw ! who go
This is a common ellipsis, rather than wrong grammar,
i. e. “Who (was it whom you saw ?)” “ In the dead waist and middle of the night.”
The quarta of 1637 reads "vast,” and that, perhaps, is right; but the folio hạs " wąst," which appears more naturally, and with better sepse, than “ waist” affords, to suggest “ waste." Milton has an expression somewhat similar:
The void profound “ Of unessential night." Parad. Lost,
The “ void" is the “waste.” 47. “ Did you not speak to it go
A modern actor of great merit, while he keeps lovely caprice in the rear of good sense, endeavours, in me brengen this scene, to impress a meaning which I suppose to could never have occurred to any body but himself-a distinction as to the persons he is address is more sing :
“ Did you not speak to it ?" This conceit, no doubt, arises from a passage in Horatio's description, where he says, of Marcellus and Bernardo, that they stood dumb; but it is a petty distinction, unworthy of the actor I allude to, and incompatible with the spirit of the scene, which prompts Hamlet to ask merely the question, if they had not drawn the ghost into conversation ? Hamlet did not care who it was that spoke ; all he wanted was, that the ghost should have been spoken to. From this question, there is no inference that what had been said about the silence of Bernardo and Marcellus, was unattended to by Hamlet; his words, on the contrary, refer to that very remark; as if he had said,
“What! and did ye not speak to it?" “ Did you not speak to it ?» This censure (in which Mr. Steevens also concurs) of the emphasis lately introduced in de ivering this passage on the stage, is very justiy called forth. The desire of novelty, and the atfectation of superior acuteness, frequently betrays the actor alluded to into egregious errors.
What Bishop Hurd says of writers, may (mutatis mutandis) be applied to this actor's performances. “When a writer, who (as we have seen) is driven by so many powerful motives to
the imitation of preceding models, revolts against them all, and determines, at any rate, to be original, nothing can be expected but an awkward straining in every thing; improper method, forced conceits, and affected expression, are the certain issue of such obstinacy: the business is to be unlike; and this he may very possibly be, but at the expence of graceful ease and true beauty ; for he puts himself, at best, into a forced, unnatural state; and it is well if he be not forced, beside his purpose, to leave common sense, as well as good models, behind him, like one who would break loose from an impediment which holds him fast; the very endeavour to get clear throws him into uneasy attitudes and violent contortions; and if he gain his liberty at last, it is by an effort which carries him much further than the point he would wish to stop at.”
Discourse on Poetic Imitation, Hurd's
Horace, Vol. 3, P. 107, 4th Ed. 1766. This gentleman's first wish seems to have been to avoid the imputation of being the servile imitator of Mr. Garrick; but from all I have been able to learn of that great actor, whom I had not the felicity of seeing more than once, I am persuaded, that “ To copy nature, were to copy him.”
LORD CHEDWORTH. 48. “ Indeed, indeed, sirs,” &c.
The repetition of " indeed” incumbers the verse, and is not in the quarto, which runs thus : . ." To let you know of it.” Ham. “ Indeed, sirs, but
“ This troubles me :---hold you the watch .. to-night?" . .
And again :
“My lord, from head to foot.” The words “ my lord” only load the measure. Ham. “ Arm’d, say you." Hor. "
Arm’d, my lord.”
From top to toe?”
Then saw you not his face.”
This repetition of “ very like,” which encumbers the line, is not in the quarto. We should, perhaps, read :: Hor. “ It would have much amaz'd you.” Ham." Very like:
“ Did it stay long?" Hor. “ While one with moderate haste
Might tell a hundred.” Mar. & Ber. “ Longer, longer." Hor.
Not w " When I did seet." Ham. “ His beard was grizzl'd-no—"
“ His beard,” &c. I cannot understand this otherwise than as the eruption of a mind in part distracted; it is something between a remark and a question; I would point it thus : “ His beard-was-grizzled-no." 50." Your loves, as mine to you : Farewell.”
This line is deficient by a foot-we might easily repair it: “ Your loves, as mine to you: So fare you well.”
“My father's spirit in arms !" &c.
The prodigy was his father's spirit“ in arms," was a circumstance, but a circumstance so important, as fully to justify Mr. Whalley's reading : “My father's spirit ! in arms !"
SCENE III. 51. “ The youth of primy nature."
The early days of manhood. B. Strutt. " Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting."
The sense and the metre both require the conjunction though before “ sweet.” 53. “Whereof he is the head; then if he says
he loves you." The redundancy here might easily be avoided :
" Whereof he's head; then if he says,” &c. “ His unmaster'd importunity.” “Unmaster'd,” says Dr. Johnson, is “ licentious.” And so it often is; but here, I believe, it only means, not kept in subjection by the austere virtue of Ophelia. 54. “ Whilst, like a puft and reckless libertine."
The quarto reads, “Whiles a puft,” &c. Per
“While as a puft and reckless libertine.”
treads." The relative here does not agree with its antesedent-“ Pastors.” We might read: