Page images
PDF
EPUB

No fairy takes 9, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious 30 is the time.

Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn 31, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill:
Break we our watch up; and, by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen to-night
Unto
young

Hamlet: for, upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him:
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty ?

Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most convenient. [Exeunt.

SCENE II.

The same. A Room of State in the same. Enter the King, Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS,

LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and Attendants. King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's

death The memory

be

green: and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe; Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature, That we with wisest sorrow think on him, Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,

29 i. e. No fairy blasts, or strikes. Thus in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Act iv. Sc. 4:

And there he blasts the tree and takes the cattle.' See note on that passage.

30 It has already been observed that gracious is sometimes used by Shakspeare for graced, favoured. Vide note on As You Like It, Aot i. Sc. 2.

31 First quarto, sun.'

The imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as ’twere, with a defeated joy,-
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye?;
With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along :-For all, our thanks.
Now follows, that you know, young Fortin-

bras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth ;
Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death,
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bands * of law,
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting.
Thus, much the business is: We have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose, -to suppress
His further gait.5 herein; in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions, are all made
1 Thus the folio. The quarto reads:-

• With an auspicious and a dropping eye.' The same thought occurs in The Winter's Tale :- She had one eye declined for the loss of her husband, another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled. There is an old proverbial phrase, To laugh with one eye, and cry with the other.'

2 i. e. grief.
3 i.e. united to this strange fancy of, &c.

4 The folio reads, bonds; but bands and bonds signified the same thing in the poet's time.

5 Gait here signifies course, progress. Gait for road, way, path, is still in use in the north. We have this word again in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act v. Sc. 2 :

Every fairy takes his guit.'

Out of his subject:--and we here despatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king, more than the scope
Of these related articles allow 6.
Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty.
Cor. Vol. In that, and all things, will we show

our duty. King. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewell.

[Exeunt VoLTIMAND and CORNELIUS.
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit; What is't, Laertes ?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
And lose your voice: What would'st thou beg,

Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking ?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father?.
What would'st thou have, Laertes ?

6 The folio reads, “More than the scope of these dilated articles allow.' I have not scrupled to read related, upon the authority of the first quarto, as more intelligible. Malone says, “ the poet should have written allows ;' but the grammar and practice of Shakspeare's age was not strict in the concordance of plural and singular in noun and verb; and numerous examples might be adduced from his cotemporaries to prove this. The question is, Are the writers of that time to be tried by modern rules of grammar, with which they were not acquainted ? Steevens, with a sweeping assertion, which no one conversant with MSS, of the time will allow, would atttribute all such inaccuracies to illiterate transcribers or printers. We have Malone's assertion, that such errors are to be met with in almost every page of the first folio. The first quarto reads :

no further personal power To business with the king

Than those related articles do shew.' ? The various parts of the body enumerated are not more allied, more necessary to each other, than the throne of Denmark (i. e. the king) is bound to your father to do him service.

Laer.

My dread lord, Your leave and favour to return to France; From whence though willingly I came to Denmark, To show my duty in your coronation; Yet now, I must confess, that duty done, My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France, And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon. King. Have you your father's leave? What says

Polonius?
Pol. He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow

leave,
By laboursome petition; and, at last,
Upon his will I seald my hard consent :)
I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will 8. —
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,
Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind 9.

[Aside. 8 In the first quarto this passage stands thus:

· King. With all our heart, Laertes, fare thee well.

Laert. I in all love and dutie take my leave. [Exit. The king's speech may be thus explained :

1:- Take an auspicious hour, Laertes; be your time your own, and thy best virtues guide thee in spending of it at thy will.' Johnson thought thạt we should read, • And my best graces. The editors had rendered this passage doubly obscure by erroneously placing a colon at graces.

9 • A little more than kin, and less than kind. This passage has baffled the commentators, who are at issue about its meaning; but have none of them rightly explained it. A cotemporary of the poet will lead us to its true meaning. A little more than kin has been rightly said to allude to the double relationship of the king to Hamlet, as uncle and step-father, his kindred by blood and kindred by marriage. By less than kind Hamlet means degenerate and base. . Going out of kinde (says Baret), which goeth out of kinde, which dothe or worketh dishonour to his kinred. Degener; forlignant.'-ALVEARIE, K, 59. Forligner (says Cotgrave), to degenerate, to grow out of kind, to differ in conditions with his ancestors. That less than kind and out of kind have the same meaning who can doubt?

10

King. How is it that the clouds still hang on you? Ham. Not so, my lord, I am too much i’the sun

Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not, for ever, with thy vailed lids 11
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st, ’tis common; all, that live, must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Ham. Ay, madam, it is common.
Queen.

If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not

seems. "Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the

eye, Nor the dejected haviour of the visage, Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief, That can denote me truly: These, indeed, seem, For they are actions that a man might play; But I have that within, which passeth show; These, but the trappings and the suits of woe 12. King. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your na

ture, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father:

son.

[ocr errors]

10 It is probable that a quibble is intended between sun and

The old spelling is sonne. 11 i. e. with eyes cast down.

Vail

your regard
Upon a wrong'd, I'd fain have said a maid.'

Measure for Measure, vol. i.
My grief lies all within;
And these external manners of lament
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief,
That swells with silence in the tortur'd soul.'

King Richard II.

12

« PreviousContinue »