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ever meaning it can convey, was already implied in the preceding words.
“ Come.” See last note, Ist Act. 107. “ Thou still hast been the father of good
news.” The reporter of news might be called the midwife or the deliverer; but how the father? Perhaps the compliment extends so far as to infer that Polonius, by the wisdom and efficacy of his counsels, was commonly the progenitor of good news. 108. “ Borne in hand.”
Speciously misled by false professions of good will; as in Much Ado About Nothing: “What bear her in hand until they come to take hands.” 113. “ Doubt thou, the stars are fire;
“Doubt, that the sun doth more:
“ But never doubt, I love." Here is a bare-faced instance of a common abuse of the verb “to doubt,” which commonly and properly signifies, to be unsettled in opinion : -doubting is a modest and retiring action of the mind; but sometimes it is made, as here, impertinently officious, as in the third line of these shymes:
“ Doubt truth to be a liar.” 8. e. Suspect or believe this.
“ But never doubt I love." i. e. Never suppose or believe that I do not love.
Most best." I know not whether the degrees of comparison formerly exceeded three, or that the forms of the
ci Doubt that the stars
second and third degrees have been altered. We commonly find, in the writings of Shakspeare's time,“ more richer,” “ more worthier," " most worthiest," "most unkindest,” &c. Are these an augmentation of the comparative and the superlative-richermore richer-richest-most richest, &c. (which extends the degrees to five) or was the order of the three degrees anciently this: rich--more richer-most richest? 116. “ Thence to a watch.”
He could not sleep. 117. “ I'll loose iny daughter to him.” . I will take off the restraint that I had laid upon her. 119. “ For if the sun breed maggots,” &c.
I have often wondered how any one could hesitate about admitting Dr. Warburton's explanation of this passage, and am myself peculiarly convinced of its justness—having exactly understood it so before I saw Warburton's note, in which, it must yet be confessed, he refines too much.
“ For if the sun breed maggots,” &c. I think Warburton has corrected this passage rightly; but I think, with Mr. Malone, that · Shakspeare had not any of that profound mean
ing which Warburton has ascribed to him. Mr. Malone has, in my opinion, produced sufficient reasons why his own emendation should not be admitted.
LORD CHEDWORTH. 122.“ Between who ?»
“ Who” should be corrected in the text to whom.
123. “ Yourself, sir, shall be as old as I am, if,
like a crab, you could go backward." This is not conclusive. The quarto reads :
"For yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.”
Perhaps, we should read
It is, perhaps, superfluous to remark, that Hamlet, in his sarcastic vein, is inferring that he is the old man, whose deformity and weakness corresponds with “ the satirical rogue's" description, which, though undoubtedly true (as he says) with respect to him, he yet condemns, because Polonius, notwithstanding his present youth and comeliness, will grow old-old even as himself-that is, adds he, (with more seriousness) if the order of nature were reversed, and the course of your life should go backward. 127. "Your discovery.”
Your disclosure of what you were enjoined to conceal.
" I have of late
“ Lost all my mirth,” &c. Thomson seems to have had Hamlet in view, when he wrote the following lines : “ 'Tis nought but gloom around; the darken'd
sun “ Loses his light; the rosy-bosom'd spring “ To weeping fancy pines--and yon bright arch, “ Contracted, bends into a dusky vault."
130. “ And the lady shall say her mind freely,
or the blank verse shall halt for't.' The scene shall be subject to no restraint; each character shall be freely represented; or if the lady, through affectation of delicacy, should suppress any thing, her omission will be detected n the lameness of the metre. 137. “ There was—no money bid for argument.",
Contention was deçm'd worthless. ,;. . “ Much throwing about of brains.”
In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick says,
"If a man will be beaten with brains, he shall wear nothing handsome about him.” .!,, 138. “ Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsi
nore. “ Your hands. Come then,” &C.... Hamlet, hearing that the players are approaching, is impatient to receive them, but chooses first to dismiss Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with civility. You are welcome. Your hands. The form and the appurtenance of welcome is just what fashion makes it. Let me tell you, in this plain and cordial manner, that you are welcome, and let not the more ceremonious deportment, which it will become me, by and by, to use towards the players, be mistaken by you for superior respect. 143. “ My abridgement.”
Hamlet here uses “ abridgement” in a double sense : as a dramatic scene- an epitome or brief representation of life; and as the occasion of cutting short his speech to Polonius. .
145. “ Pray God, your voice, like a piece of
uncurrent gold, be not cracked within
the ring." There is here, I believe, a wanton reference to puberty, and the change in the tone of the voice which at that period takes place with young men. It is well known that the female characters on the stage were, in our author's time, represented by boys. 150. “The rugged Pyrrhus,” &c.
Though few people, I believe, will be found agreeing in Dr. Warburton's notion, that Shakspeare had any thoughts of writing a play on the model of the Greek drama, or of departing from his own Gothic manner, yet the judgment which that critic has pronounced upon this episodic drama, will probably be considered as better founded than what Mr. Steevens has advanced. There can hardly be a serious doubt that the praise bestowed on it by Hamlet himself is sincere; and he must needs be mad, not in craft, but reality, if he had deliberately selected, for the purpose of probing the king's conscience, a composition that was nothing but contemptible bombast. I am pretty clearly of opinion, that the piece in question is the work of Shakspeare himself, and a good deal of it does him no discredit: but he seems to have thought it proper to make a distinction in the style of it, from that which prevails generally in the tragedy itself. 156. “ Is it not monstrous, that this player
here, “ But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, “ Could force his soul so to his own conceit, “ That from her working, all his visage