Page images

Ham. " Hic et ubique.”

" Then we'll shift ground: come hither,

gentlemen.” Again we meet, in the lines succeeding, two awkward hemistics that may yet be accommodated in the verse: Ham. “Swear by my sword, never to speak of


“That you have heard to-night." Ghost. “ Swear by his sword.” 94. A worthy pioneer ! Once more remove,

good friends." The “ good friends,” indeed, ought to be removed from the verse.

" But come; Here, as before,&c. Interpolation again intrudes to spoil the metre; we should read: “But, as before, never so help you mercy,” &c. “- I, perchance, hereafter, shall think

.meet To put an antick disposition on.

Hamlet seems to have adopted the expedient of putting on this " antic disposition” from the example of Junius Brutus's assumed fatuity, in order to prevent, until the time of execution, any suspicion, in the usurper's mind, that he was forming a systematic plan of revenge. This revenge, as the judicious remarker quoted by Mr. Malone observes, could not be taken before the poet was prepared to end the play ; yet, doubtless, it was a defect, not to exhibit some specious pretext for the delay; and the death of Claudius at last, as Dr. Johnson justly observes,

is produced incidentally, and not by any contrivance of Hamlet himself.

As, Well, well,&c. There is no reason for these detached sentences being unmetrical, except the last hemistic, which the interruption will excuse: I would read, “ As well, we know, or we could an we would; “ Or if we list to speak, or there be THOSE; An if they might ! 66

To note.Mr. Henley, whose remarks are, in general, useful, pointed, and ingenious, appears, in this instance at least, to be chargeable with all that oversight which he imputes to Mr. Theobald ; and the error of his conception has led him to misstate the text, which is substantially this :swear, as before, that you never shall-what? to note ? is this English ? Mr. Theobald appears to have restored the author's word, denote, 95. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit.

This double rest only perturbs the metre: Ghost. “ Swear.” Ham." — Rest perturbed spirit. So, gentle

men." 96. “ O cursed spite !

That ever I was born to set it right.Hamlet does not lament that the disjointed time is to be set right by him, but that he, the son to the criminal queen, and, to the king that must be immolated, though “ less than kind a little more than kin," and whose duty it of necessity becomes, to set the time right, should have been bor'n:

“ The time is out of joint.-O cursed spight! “ That ever I was born—to set it right.”

Nay, come, let's go together.It must often have been observed, throughout these works, that after a scene has apparently been closed with a studied rhyme; other words are superadded without necessity, as here; and this, if, indeed, the additions be supposed to have proceeded from the poet himself, would furnish ground for a conjecture that he disapproved of the very practice he was indulging in.

ACT II. SCENE I. 97. Inquire me first what Danskers are in

Paris." " Danskers" are Danes: “ It is the King of Denmarke doth your prince

his daughter craue, “ And note it is no little thing with us allie to

haue; By league or leigure Danske can fence or fronte

you, friend or foe, “ Our neighbourhood doth fit to both your wel.

fare or your woe." Again : “Let Cutlake, with his crowne of Danske, un

crowne me if he can; “Of England, Danske, and Norway, then Ca..

nut was perfect lord.” Come you more nearer " Than your particular demands will touch it." This is obscure: in the quarto, as Mr. Malone

remarks, there is no stop after “ nearer," and " then” seems, there, to be the comparative particle anciently so spelled: the sense may be, when you have informed yourself thus far, inquire, with more minute curiosity, than should seem to belong to you individually or personally; announce yourself as one acquainted with his father and friends: perhaps for “ touch it” we should read “ vouch it.” 99.Open to incontinency.Apt, addicted, prone to incontinency.

Of general assault.

Attacking the constitutions of most young men.

" A fetch of warrant.A fair or justifiable device; as, in King Lear: “They are sick, they are weary, &c. mere fetches!" " Soild i the working. Mark you, Your party in converse, him you would sound, Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes, The youth you breathe of, guilty, be assur'd, He closes with you in this consequence.- The construction is embarrassed : the sense is this; the person whom you would sound, as to his having ever seen the youth you speak of guilty in the commission of the forementioned crimes, will, be assured, close with you, &c. “ Him" should be he, and the superfluous repetition of the nominative pronoun might be avoided by reading: "Will strait close with you in this conséquence." The words, “ mark you” might well be omitted, or find place in the preceding line :

“ As à thing a little soil'd i' the working, mark

you.' 100. “ Or then, or then; with such and such ;

and, as you say.Or then” is uselessly repeated here, and burthens the line. 101. “ You have me."

You are possessed of my meaning. 102.“ And with a look so piteous in purport..

If“ piteous” be not here a trisyllable, purport must be accentuated on the last syllable, purpórt: piteous we find presently a dissyllable.

He rais'd a sigh, so piteous and profound, As it did seem,&c.

“As” for “ as that.” 104. This must be known ; which, being kept

close, might move More grief to hide, than hate to utter

love." The construction of this passage is very perplexed, and Dr. Johnson has in vain endeavoured to disentangle it :-the best explanation I can offer is this; this must be known, which would eventually, in the concealment, occasion of grief a greater measure than could of anger attend the disclosure, which would be an act of love..


106. “ To be commanded.This useless hemistic should be removed: what

« PreviousContinue »