« PreviousContinue »
Ham. In the secret parts of fortune ? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What news?
Rof. None, my lord; but that the world's grown honeft.
Ham. Then is dooms-day near: But your news is not true. Let me : question more in particular : What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that the lends you to prison hither?
Guil. Prison, my lord!
Ham. A goodly one ; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons ; Denmark being one of the worst. Rof. We think not so, my
lord. Ham. Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is no. thing either good or bad, but thinking makes it fo: to me it is a prison.
Rof. Why, then your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for
your mind. Ham. O'God! I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space; were it not that I have had dreams.
Guil. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition ; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream 4.
Ham. A dream itself is but a shadow.
Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow.
Ham. Then are our beggars, bodiess; and our mo
3 Let me, &c.] From here to the word attended in p. 261, 1.7, (ae Mr. Steevens bas observed,) is wanting in the quarto. MALONE.
- the shadow of a dream.] Shakipeare has accidentally inverted an expreffion of Pindar, that the state of humanity is on.cz irag, the dream of a shadow. JOHNSON. So Davies :
“ Man's life is but a dreame, nay, less than so,
“ A snadow of a dreame." FARMER. So, in the tragedy of Darius, 1603, by Lord Sterline:
“ Whole best was but the shadow of a dream.” STEEVENS. 5 Tben are our beggars, bodies; -] Shakspeare seems here to design a ridicule of those declamations against wealth and greatness, that seem to make happiness conlist in poverty. JOHNSON,
barchs, and out-ftretch'd heroes, the beggars' shadows : Shall we to the court ? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
Ros. Guil. We'll wait upon you.
Ham. No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my servants; for, to speak to you like an honeft man, I am moft dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Ellinore ?
Rof. To visit you, my lord; no other occafion.
Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you : and fure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear, a half-penny* Were you not fent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come ; deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
Guil. What should we say, my lord?
Ham. Any thing—but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour ; I know, the good king and queen have sent for you.
Rof. To what end, my lord?
Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no? Roj. What say you?
[to Guil. Ham. Nay, then I have an eye of you o;if you love me, hold not off.
Guil. My lord, we were sent for.
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late?, (but, where
- too dear, a balf-penny.) i.e. a half-penny too dear: they are worth nothing. The modern editors read a half-penny.
MALONE. Nay, tben I bave an eye of you ;-) An eye of you means, I have a glimpse of your meaning. STIEVENS.
7 I have of late, &c.] This is an admirable description of a rooted melancholy sprung from thickness of blood; and artfully imagined to
fore, I know not,) loft all my mirth, forgone all cuftom of exercises : and, indeed, it goes fo heavily with my difpofition, that this goodly frame, the earth, feems to me a fteril promontory ; this moft excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'er-hanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire', why, it appears no other thing to me, than a foul and peftilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties ! in form, and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehenfion, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of duft ? man delights not me, nor woman neither ; though, by your smiling, you seem to say fo.
Rof. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
Ham. Why did you laugh then, when I faid, Man de lights not me?
Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment' the players shall receive from you: we coted them on the way; and hither are they coming, to offer you service,
hide the true cause of his disorder from the penetration of these twa friends, who were set over him as (pies. WARBURTON.
8 - ibis brave o'er-banging firmament,] Thus the quarto. The folio reads,-this brave o'er-hanging, this, &c. STLIVENS:
9 – bis most excellent canopy, ibe air,-ibis majestical roof fretted witb golden fire,] So, in our authour's 2 ift funnet:
“ As those gold candles, fix'd in heaven's air." Again, in the Merchant of Venice :
« - Look, how the floor of beaver
“ Is thick inlaid with patins of bright gold !" MALONE. 1 lenten entertainment-] i. e. fparing, like the entertainments given in Lent. So, in the Duke's M Press, by Shirley, 1638:
to maintain you with bišket,
« And lenten lectures." STEEVENS. 2 We coted ebem on the way ;-) To cote is to overtake. I meet with this word in Tbe Return from Barnesjus, a comedy, 1606:
“ - marry we presently cored and outstript them.” Again, in Warner's Albions England, 1602, book 6, chap. 30: " Gods and goddeffes for wantonness out-cored."
Ham. He that plays the king, shall be welcome; his majefty shall have tribute of me: the adventurous knight shall use his foil, and target: the lover shall not figh gratis; the humorous man mall end his part in peace : She clown shall make those laugh, whose lungs are tickled o the sere; and the lady Ihall say her mind freely, or Again, in Drant's translation of Horace's satires, 1567:
« For he that thinks to coat all men, and all to overgoe.” Chapman has more than once used the word in his version of the 23d Iliad.
In the laws of coursing, says Mt. Tollet, “ a cole is when a greyhound goes endways by the side of his fellow, and gives the hare a turn." This quotation seems to point out the etymology of the verb to be from the French coté, the fide. STEEVENS.
2tbe clown pall make rbose lougb wbose lungs are tickledo' tbe fere ;] i. e. those who are afthmatical, and to whom laughter is most uneasy.
This is the case (as I am told) with those whole lungs are tickled by the fere or ferum: bat about this passage I am neither very confident, Dor very solicitous.
The word seare occurs as unintelligibly in an ancient Dialogue beo tweene tbe Comen Secretary and Jealowsy, toucbynge tbe unftablenes of barlottes, bl. l. no date:
“ And wyll byde whyfperynge in the eare,
“ Thynke ye her tayle is not lyght of the feare." The sere is likewise a part about a hawk.' STLEVENS.
These words are not in the quarto. I am by no means satisfied with the explanation given, though I have nothing satisfactory to propose. I believe Hamlet only means, that the clown shall make those laugh who have a disposition to laugh; who are pleased with their entertain. ment. That no asthmatick disease was in contemplation, may be in. ferred from both the words used, tickled and lungs; each of which feems to have a relation to laughter, and the latter to have been confidered by Shakspeare, as (if I may fo express myself,) its natural seats So, in Coriolanus:
6 —with a kind of smile,
“ Which ne'er came from the lungs" Again, in As you Like it :
When I did hear
“ My lungs began to crow like chanticleer." O'zbe fere, or of ebe sere, means, I think, by the sere; but the word fere I am unable to explain, and suspect it to be corrupt. Perhaps we Thould read the clown shall make those laugh, whose lungs are tickled o the scene, i. e. by the scene. A fimilar corruption has happened in another place, where we find scare for scene. See Vol. I. p. 291, n. 3.
MALONE. 3 - tbe lady fall say ber mind, &c.] Tbe lady fall bave no oba fru&tion, unless for the lameness of the verse. Johnson.
the blank verse shall halt for't.—What players are they?
Rof. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.
Ham. How chances it, they travel“? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
Ros. I think, their inhibitions comes by the means of the late innovation.
4 How chances it, they travel ?] To travel, in Shakspeare's time was the technical word, for which we have substituted to Aroll. So, in the Office-book of Sir Henry Herbert, Master of the Revels to king Charles the First, a manuscript of which an account is given in Vol. 1. Part the second : “ 1622. Feb. 27, for a certificate for the Palsgrave's servants to travel into the country for fix weeks, ios." Again, in Ben Jonson's Poetaster, 1601 : “ If he pen for thee once, thou shalt not need to travell, with thy pumps full of gravell, any more, after a blinde jade and a hamper, and talk upon boords and barrel-heads to an old crackt trumpet." These words are addressed to a player. MALONI,
$ I ibink, ibeir inbibition, &c.] 1 fancy this is transpured : Hamlet enquires not about an inbibition, but an innovation; the answer therefore probably was, I tbink, ibeir innovation, ibat is, their new practice of strolling, comes by means of ibe lare inhibition. JOHNSON.
The drift of Hamlet's question appears to be this.- How chances it they travel?-. e. How bappens ir ibey are become frollersi-Their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.-i.e. to bave remained in a seriled ibeatre, was the more bonourable as well as tbe more lucrative fituation. To this, Rosencrantz replies – Their inbibition comes by means of the late innovation.-i. c. ibeir permision 80 at any longer at an eftablished bouse is taken away, in consequence of the NEW CUSTOM of introducing personal abuse into their comedies. Several companies of actors in the time of our author were filenced on account of this licentious practice. See a dialogue between Comedy and Envy at the conclusion of Mucedorus 1598, as well as the Preludium to Aristippus, or tbe Yovial Pbilosopber, 1630, from whence the following passage is taken : “ Sbews having been long intermitted and forbidden by authority, for their abuses, could not be raised but by conjuring." Shew enters, whipped by two furies, and the prologue says to her :
" - with tears wash off that guilty fin,
spare the persons," &c. Alteration therefore in the order of the words seems to be quite vou necessary. STILVENS,