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Ay, good my lord. Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king,As England was his faithful tributary; As love between them like the palm might flourish; As peace
should still her wheaten garland wear, And stand a comma 10 'tween their amities; And many such like ases of great charge,That, on the view and knowing of these contents, Without debatement further, more, or less, He should the bearers put to sudden death, Not shriving-time allow'd 11. Hor.
How was this seal'd? Ham. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant; I had my father's signet in my purse, Which was the model of that Danish seal: Folded the writ up in form of the other; Subscrib'd it; gave 't the impression; plac'd it safely, The changeling never known: Now, the next day Was our seafight; and what to this was sequent Thou know'st already.
Hor. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't. Ham. Why, man, they did make love to this em
ployment; They are not near my conscience; their defeat Does by their own insinuation grow: 'Tis dangerous, when the baser nature comes Between the pass and fell incensed points Of mighty opposites.
Why, what a king is this ! Ham. Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon 12?
stand a comma 'tween their amities.] This is oddly expressed, as Johnson observes : but the ineaning appears to be, • Stand as a comma, i. e. as a note of connexion between their amities, to prevent them from being brought to a period.'
11 [Not shriving-time allow’d.] That is, without allowing time for the confession of their sins.
[Bethink thee, does it not become incumbent upon me to re
He that hath kill'd my king, and whor'd my mother;
Ham. It will be short: the interim is mine;
Peace: who comes here?
Enter OSRIC 14. Osr. Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.
Ham. I humbly thank you, sir.-Dost know this water-fly 15?
Hor. No, my good lord.
quite him, &c.] Vide note upon King Ricbard II. Act ii. Sc. 3, vol. v. p. 55. This passage and the three following speeches are not in the quartos. 13 [
-I'll count his favours.] Rowe changed this to · I'll court his favour ;' but there is no necessity for change. Hamlet means, “I'll make account of his favours,' i. e. of his good will ; for this was the general meaning of favours in the poet's time.
14 The quarto of 1603—' Enter a braggart Gentleman.'
15 In Troilus and Cressida, Thersites says, How the poor world is pestered with such water-flies; diminutives of nature.' The gnats and such like ephemeral 'insects are not inapt enblems of such busy triflers as Osrick.
Ham. Thy state is the more gracious; for 'tis a vice to know him: He hath much land, and fertile; let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's mess: 'Tis a chough; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.
Osr. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.
Ham. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit: Your bonnet to his right use; 'tis for the head.
Osr. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot.
Ham. No, believe me, sir, 'tis very cold : the wind is northerly.
Osr. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
Ham. But yet, methinks, it is very sultry and hot; or my complexion
Osr. Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry 16,as 'twere,–I cannot tell how“My lord, his majesty bade me signify to you, that he has laid a great wager on your head: Sir, this is the matter,– Ham. I beseech you, remember
[HAMLET moves him to put on his Hat. Osr. Nay, good my lord; for my ease, in good faith 17. Sir, here is newly come to court, Laertes: believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences 18, of very soft society, and great showing: Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card 19 or calendar of gentry, for you shall find 16 [Exceedingly, my lord; 'tis very sultry.]
igniculum brumæ si tempore poscas Accipit endromidem ; si dexeris æstuo, sudat.'
Juvenal. 17 The folio omits this and the following fourteen speeches ; and in their place substitutes, “Sir, you are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is at his weapon.'
18 i. e. distinguishing excellencies.
19 • The card or calendar of gentry. The general preceptor of elegance; the card (chart) by which a gentleman is to direct his course; the calendar by which he is to order his time.
in him the continent 20 of what part a gentleman would see.
Ham. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you;—though, I know, to divide him inventorially, would dizzy the arithmetick of memory; and yet but raw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article; and his infusion of such dearth 21 and rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his mirrour; and, who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more 22.
Osr. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.
Ham. The concernancy, sir? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath?
Osr. Sir ?
Hor. Is't not possible to understand in another tongue! You will do't, sir, really 23. Ham. What imports the nomination of this
20 • You shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see. You shall find him containing and comprising every quality which a gentleman would desire to contemplate for imitation. Perhaps we should read, “ You shall find him the continent.'
21 Dearth, according to Tooke, is 'the third person singular of the verb to dere; it means some cause which dereth, i. e. maketh dear; or hurteth, or doth mischief.' That dearth was, therefore, used for scarcity, as well as dearness, appears from the following passage in a MS. petition to the council, by the merchants of London, 6 Edw. VI.: speaking of the causes of the dearness of cloth they say, “ This detriment cometh through the dearth of wool, the procurers whereof being a few in number for the augmentation of the same.'- Conway Papers. See vol. i. p. 382, note 5.
22 This speech is a ridicule of the Euphuism, or court jargon of that time.
23 [Is it not possible to understand in another tongue? You will do't, sir, really.) This interrogatory remark is very obscure. The sense may be, "Is it not possible for this fantastic fellow to understand in plainer language? You will, however, imitate his jargon admirably, really, sir. It seems very probable that * another tongue’ is an error of the press for ' mother tongue.'
Osr. Of Laertes ?
Hor. His purse is empty already; all his golden words are spent.
Ham. Of him, sir.
Ham. I would, you did, sir; yet, in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me
24.-Well, sir. Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is
Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence; but, to know a man well, were to know himself25.
Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed 26 he's unfellowed.
Ham. What's bis weapon?
Osr. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses: against the which he has impawned 27, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers 28, and so:
24 [If you did, if would not tend much toward proving me or confirming me.]—What Hamlet would have added we know not; but surely Shakspeare's use of the word approve, upon all occasions, is against Johnson's explanation of it—' to recommend to approbation. There is no consistency in the commentators; they rarely look at the prevalent sense of a word in the poet, but explain it many ways, to suit their own views of the meaning of a passage.
[I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him, &c.] I dare not pretend to know him, lest I should pretend to an equality: no man can completely know another, but by knowing himself, which is the utmost extent of human wisdom. 26 Meed is merit. Vide King Henry VI. Part III. Actii. Sc. l.
27 · Impawned.' The folio reads imponed. Pignare, in Italian, signifies both to impawn and to lay a wager. The stakes are, indeed, a gage or pledge.
28 Hangers, that part of the belt by which the sword was suspended.