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To let, undoubtedly, signifies “to hinder," but I cannot help considering this expression as the offspring of that preposterous disposition which often prevails in these works, to - palter with us in a double sense.” 77. “ Heaven will direct it."
Will take care of Denmark, or the state of Denmark.
77. “ Speak, I am bound to hear.”.
1 Lend thy serious hearing
I am bound to hear." 78. “ What ?”
Some words, I suppose, have been lost: perhaps the verse proceeded thus:
“ So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt
hear.” Ham. “ Revenge ! what? how g Gh. “ I am thy father's spirit.”
"_ But that I am forbid.” This is exuberant; I suppose we should read:
“ But being forbid.” i. e. Only that I am forbid. 79.“ Harrow up thy soul.”
See note on, “It harrows me with fear,” scene Ist, p. 138 of this Vol. : 80...“ If thou didst ever thy dear father love," Ham.“ O heaven,"
This apostrophe by Hamlet I have always considered as interpolated; it is not, indeed, an unnatural exclamation, but it is unnecessary, and interrupts the metre.-It was, I doubt not, the gratuitous ejaculation of one of the actors, and so taken down by the transcriber. Of the same description is the hypermeter immediately following: Ham. “ Murder !” Ghost. “ Murder most foul, as in the
: best it is." The Ghost's repetition of "murder” is quite superfluous. 81. “ And duller should'st thou be than the fat
weed “ That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf."
The authority of the quarto editions being, in my opinion, of more value than that of the folio, I generally prefer it, and, in the present instance, I think the early reading the better of the two, “roots itself.” But there is a passage in Julius Cæsar, "rots itself with motion," which appears to countenance the altered reading. 82. “ Now wears his crown.”
“ O my prophetic soul! my uncle." There is disorder here that wants correction:
“ Now wears his crown..
“My uncle !
“ To those of mine.” I always suspect corruption or loss when I meet with a hemistic:-perhaps there was added here;
“ Surpasses, almost, thinking.”
83. “Will sate itself,” &c.
The quarto reads “sort itself,” which, perhaps, is right-suit, match, or accommodate itself.
" And prey on garbage." Here again something has been lost : perhaps, " Then sink to misery, and prey on garbage.” 84. “ It doth posset,
“ And curd, like eager droppings into milk.' This allusion to the acescence of milk occurs in Timon of Athens :
“ Has friendship such a pale and milky heart, “ It turns in less than two nights !" “Of life, &c. despatch'd.” “ Despatch'd” for bereft, says Dr. Warburton. This certainly is sense; but can either of these words take place of the other? or does not the difficulty of explanation lie in the wrong use of the preposition “ of” instead of “ from?” a licence not uncommon with the writers of the age of Shakspeare, 86. “ A couch for luxury,” &c,
“ Luxury” is here lust; thus, in Much Ado About Nothing;
“ She knows the heat of a luxurious bed.” 87. “ And shall I couple hell ?-O fie!-hold,
hold my heart !" . The quarto does not repeat“ hold.” We might read : " And shall I couple hell? O hold my heart !"
“ Bear me stiffly up.” The quarto, “ Bear me swiftly up;" and the sense may be,-sinews, be quick to exercise your function, swiftly endue my limbs with their wonted vigour.
" Remember thee!” The sense varies in the repetition of this apostrophe, and requires a variation of emphasis; at first it is, remem'ber thee! ay, so long as memory shall exist; the second time it is, remember thée ! yes, and to make that the more sure, I will exclude from my memory, every thing else. 88. “ My tables,” &c.
I once doubted the propriety of Hamlet's re- ; sorting to his tables ; for what is to be noted ? all that is proposed is trite and superfluous; that “a man may smile and be a villain,” is no more than what every one who ever knew or heard of villany must already be apprised of:--but let us not too hastily condemn the poet; or, proceeding on confined and frigid rules, restrain the liberal scope of his genius. The prince, by the sublime conference with his father's ghost, is elevated almost to phrenzy; habituated, as a scholar and philosopher, to note every thing strange and important, he, on this extraordinary occasion, mechanically snatches forth his pocket-book; but, having opened and prepared it, he has nothing to insert, and so concludes carelessly and sarcastically, while his serious thoughts are otherwise employed :
“ Meet it is, I set it down,” &c.
Hamlet, I conceive, begins these words in the ardour of confidence and sincerity; but, suddenly alarmed at the magnitude of the disclosure, he was going to make, and considering that, not his friend Horatio only, but another person was present; he breaks off suddenly:-There's ne’er à villain in all Denmark that can match (perhaps he would have said) my uncle in villany; but recollecting the danger of such a declaration, he pauses for a moment, and then abruptly concludes: -" but he's an arrant knave.” 91. “ And much offence too." The quarto:
“ And much offence to.” Perhaps it is a broken sentence: " And much offence to-touching this vision.”
" Give me one poor request.” : " What is't, my lord ?
“ IVe will.” The latter part of Horatio's speech is premature with regard to the sense, and a burthen to the metre. The following line, too, requires a slight correction. 92. “Indeed, upon my sword, indeed, now.” Ghost.“
Swear.” . “ True-penny."
This phrase is used by Beaumont and Fletcher in the Loyal Subject, Act 1:
“Go thy ways old true-penny.” 93. Ghost. “ Swear.”
Some words again are wanting for the metre: .we might regulate it thus: Ham. “Swear by my sword.” Ghost.“ - Swear.”