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That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;'
all his visage wann’d;] [The folio-warm’d.] This might dlo, did not the old quarto lead us to a more exact and pertinent reading, which is-visage wan'd; i.e. turned pale or wan. For so the visage appears when the mind is thus affectioned, and not warm'd or fush’d. Warburton.
1 That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspéct,] Wan'd (wann'd it should have been spelt) is the reading of the quarto, which Dr. Warburton, I think rightly, restored. The folio reads warm'd, for which Mr. Steevens contends in the following note:
“ The working of the soul, and the effort to shed tears, will give a colour to the actor's face, instead of taking it away. The visage is always warm’d, and flush’d by any unusual exertion in a passionate speech; but no performer was ever yet found, I believe, whose feelings were of such exquisite sensibility as to pro. duce paleness in any situation in which the drama could place him. But if players were indeed possessed of that power, there is no such circumstance in the speech uttered before Hamlet, as could introduce the wanness for which Dr. Warburton contends." The same expression, however, is found in the fourth Book of Stanyhurst's translation of the Æneid:
“ And eke all her visage waning with murther approach
ing." Whether an actor can produce paleness, it is, I think, unnecessary to enquire. That Shakspeare thought he could, and considered the speech in question as likely to produce wanness, is proved decisively by the words which he has put into the mouth of Polonius in this scene; which add such support to the original reading, that I have without hesitation restored it. Immediately after the Player has finished his speech, Polonius exclaims,
“ Look, whether he has not turned his colour, and has tears in his eyes.” Here we find the effort to shed tears, taking away, not giving a colour. If it be objected, that by turned his colour, Shaks. peare meant that the player grew red, a passage in King Richard III, in which the poet is again describing an actor, who is master of his ari, will at once answer the objection:
“ Rich. Come, cousin, canst thou quake, and change thy
“ Bucé. Tut, I can counterfeit the deep tragedian,
“ Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,” &c. The words quake, and terror, and tremble, as well as the whole context, show, that by “ change thy colour,” Shakspeare neant grow pale. Malone.
The word aspect (as Dr. Farmer very properly observes) was
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
in Shakspeare's time accented on the second syllable. The folio exhibits the pasaage as I have printed it. Steevens.
2 What's Hecuba to him, &c.] It is plain Shakspeare alludes to a story told of Alexander the cruel tyrant of Pherae in Thessaly, who seeing a famous tragedian act in the Troades of Euripides, was so sensibly touched that he left the theatre before the play was ended; being ashamed, as he owned, that he who never pitied those he murdered, should weep at the sufferings of Hecuba and Andromache. See Plutarch in the Life of Pelopidas.
Upton. Shakspeare, it is highly probable, had read the life of Pelopidas, but I see no ground for supposing there is here an allusion to it. Hamlet is not ashamed of being seen to weep at a theatrical exhibition, but mortified that a player, in a dream of passion, should appear more agitated by fictitious sorrow, than the prince was by a real calamity. Malone.
3. the cue for passion,] The hint, the direction. Fohnson.
This phrase is theatrical, and occurs at least a dozen times in our author's plays. Thus, says Quince to Flute in A MidsummerNight's Dream: “ You speak all your part at once, cues and all." See also Vol. IX, p. 295, n. 9. Steevens.
the general ear – ] The ear of all mankind. So before, -Caviare to the general, that is, to the multitude. Johnson.
5 Like John a-dreams,] Fohn a-dreams, i. e. of dreams, means only John the dreamer; a nick-name, I suppose, for any ignorant silly fellow. Thus the puppet formerly thrown at during the sea. son of Lent, was called Fack-a-Lent, and the ignis fatuus Jack. a-lanthorn.
At the beginning of Arthur Hall's translation of the second Book of Homer's Iliad, 1581, we are told of Jupiter, that“ John dreaming God he callde to him, that God, chiefe
God of il,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Fohn-a-droynes however, if not a corruption of this nick-name, seems to have been some well-known character, as I have met with more than one allusion to him. So, in Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, by Nashe, 1596: " The description of that poor Fohn-a-droynes his man, whom he had hired,” &c. John-a-Droynes is likewise a foolish character in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578, who is seized by informers, has not much to say in his defence, and is cheated out of his money. Steevens.
unpregnant of my cause,] Unpregnant, for having no due sense of. Warburton.
Rather, not quickened with a new desire of vengeance; not teeming with revenge. Johnson.
17 A damnd defeat was made.] Defeat, for destruction. Warburton. Rather, dispossession. Fohnson.
The word defeat, (which certainly means destruction in the present instance,) is very licentiously used by the old writers. Shakspeare in Othello employs it yet more quaintly:" Defeat thy favour with an uşurped beard;" and Middleton, in his come. dy, called Any Thing for a quiet Life, says-“ I have heard of your defeat made upon a mercer.” Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman:
“ That he might meantime make a sure defeat
“ On our good aged fatiser's life.” Again, in The Wits, by Sir W. D'Avenant, 1637: “Not all the skill I have, can pronounce him free of the defeat upon my gold and jewels.”
Again, in The Isle of Gulls, 1606: “ My late shipwreck has made a defeat both of my friends and treasure.” Steevens.
In the passage quoted from Othello, to defeat is used for undo or alter: defaire, Fr. See Minsheu in v. Minsheu considers the substantives defeat and defeature as synonymous. The former he defines an overthrow; the latter, execution or slaughter of men. In King Henry V we have a similar phraseology:
Making defeat upor: the powers of France."
of this play:
Why, I should take it: for it cannot be,
kindless -] Unnatural. Johnson. 9 Why, what an ass am 1? This is most brave;] The folio reads:
Steevens. 1 A scullion!] Thus the folio. The quartos read, -A stallion.
Steevens. About my brains'] Wits, to your work. Brain, go about the present business. Fohnson.
This expression (which seems a parody on the naval one, about ship!) occurs in the Second Part of the Iron Age, by Heywood, 1632:
“ My brain about again! for thou hast found
“ New projects now to work on.” About, my braintherefore, (as Mr. M. Mason observes) appears to signify, “ be my thoughts shifted into a contrary direction.” Steevens.
I have heard,
“ Ile tell you, sir, one more to quite your tale.
Have by the very cunning of the scene
ACT III.....SCENE I,
A Room in the Castle,
CRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN.
“ She was so mooued with the sight thereof,
tent him -] Search his wounds. Johnson.
if he do blench,] If he shrink, or start, The word is used by Fletcher, in The Night-Walker :
“ Blench at no danger, though it be a gallows.". Again, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, Lib. VI, fol. 128 :
“ Without blenchinge of mine eie." Chaucer, in his Knightes Tale, v. 1080, seems to use the verb to blent in a similar sense :
“ And there withal he blent and cried, a!” Steevens. See Vol. VI, p. 188, n. 1. Malone. 6 More relative than this:] Relative, for convictive. Warburton.
Convictive is only the consequential sense. Relative is nearly related, closely connected. Johnson.
7. conference -] The, folio reads-circumstance. Steevens.