Page images

“My distresses are so great, that I cannot afford to part with my spirits.'

School for Scandal. To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor

be flatter'd?The word “ why” is useless to the sense, and only spoils the metre. 192.“- I eat the air, promise-crammed."

The same thought is introduced in King Henry IV. Part 2 :

“Eating the air, on promise of supply.” 194. “ They stay upon your patience.

This is right :-they wait attendance for a patient hearing. The prologue presently says

“We beg your hearing patiently." . . 205. That's wormwood.—" To this hemistic I suppose belonged words like these :

To her, Mark, Horatio.206. Nor earth to give me food, nor Heaven

light.Should we not read: . “Nor earth do give me food,” &c.

The sense is optative. 209. “ I could interpret between you and your

love, if I could see the puppets dallying." This may refer, as Mr. Steevens observes, to the interpretators at puppet-shews; but the

immediate sense of, “ if I could see the puppets dallying,” is—if I could observe the agitations of your bosom. See a note upon this line in King Henry the Fourth : “To play with mammets, and to tilt with lips.” 210.“ Begin, murderer ;-leave thy damnable

s faces, and begin.This appears to be a spontaneous reproof from the actor, to check the grimace and buffoonery of the murderer, and is, perhaps, among a multitude, an instance to shew that the best authority existing, for many passages and scenes in these plays, is transcription from oral and capricious utterance. Presently, in the quarto, the -following words are set down without any regard to the change of the speakers. “They fool me to the top of my bent; I will : come by and by. “Leave me friends. “I will say so ; by and by is easily said.” 211. "

The croaking raven Deth bellow for revenge.It is not apparent how these words, or whatever sense they contain, should be applied ; but I am inclined to think that Hamlet, who is supposed to know the play and the catastrophe, af. fects, before the king and the court, (the better to conceal his contrivance) to treat the composition with a shew of contempt. 214. This realm dismantled was *...**Of Jove himself.;?

1. e. Of Hamlet's father. B. Strutt. This is a very shrewd conjecture. . ,

216. “ Your wisdom should show itself more

richer.“Should” instead of " would.” 219. “If my duty be too bold, my love is too

unmannerly.If I appear too bold in my duty to the king, it is owing to the unmannerliness of my love to you, by which I am excited.

B. STRUTT. Perhaps the meaning is only this,-if my duty be too strongly urged, my love is also in excess. “ Unmannerly" may signify, not duly restrained or regulated. 222. They fool me to the top of my bent." :-. They act the fool with me to the top of my inclination.

:. B. STRUTI. “ The bitter day." .::: . I believe we should read, “better day,” the day too good to be a witness to the acts I am ready to commit. “ Better” is often used absolutely, thus, for good, as better fortune, better angel, better stars.;.

SCENE III. . 226. “ Never alone Did the king sigh, but with a general

groan.This is a match for the notorious passage in Julius Cæsar: “ Cæsar doth never wrong but with just cause."

The word "always" is wanting, or must be implied, after “but," with a 'semicolon after “sigh."

Fetters put upon this fear." “ Fear” is danger, cause of fear; as in other places :

Present fears are less “ Than horrible imaginings.” Macbeth. 227. A brother's murder !Pray can I not.

A word has been lost; perhaps: "A brother's murder ! pray! that can I not.”

Though inclination be as sharp as will." I suspect that some words have been lost here. As the text stands it is impossible to obtain a meaning.

Though inclination be as sharp, as will." As I do not understand the distinction between inclination and will, in this place, I incline to read, with Theobald, “ as't will.” I cannot think that Mr. Steevens's explanation of " will” is the true one; Mr. M. Mason's explanation reminds me of Mr. Johnson's interpretation of the first couplet uttered by Drawcansir, " that is, Mr. Bayes, as much as to say, that though he would rather die than not drink, yet he would fain drink for all that, too.”

LORD CHEDWORTH. 228. “ What if this cursed hand Were thicker than itself with brother's

blood ? Is there not rain enough in the sweet

heavens, To wash it white as snow ?" A similar thought occurs in Macbeth: “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood “ Clean from my hands?"

229.Try what repentance can : what can it

not? " Yet what can it, when one cannot re

pent ?" Dr. Johnson's words, I believe, afford no explanation of these, the sense of which I take to be, let me try what repentance can do-repentance can do any thing--ay, I know that is true; but with him who cannot repent, repentance is a word of no efficacy,-it is an empty name. I cannot perceive that the words in the text at all admit of Dr. Johnson's wide inference-penitence, detached from a resolution to amend.

All may be well.More idle interpolation : according to my judgment they are the arbitrary words of some actor. 230.JVhen he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;

Or in th' incestuous pleasures of his bed; At gaming, swearing; or about some act That has no relish of salvation in't :

Then trip him," &c. Nat. Lee makes the Duke of Guise meditate similar revenge: " Kill him in riot, pride, and lust of pleasures, " That I may add damnation to the rest, “ And foil his soul and body both at once.

Massacre of Paris,

About some act
That has no relish of salvation in't :

Then trip him,&c. This horrid sentiment cannot be too strongly reprobated; there is no passage in our author's

« PreviousContinue »