« PreviousContinue »
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
In her excellent white bosom, these,&c.-
But never doubt, I love.
7- To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,] Mr. Theobald for beautified substituted beatified.
.Malone. Dr. Warburton bas followed Mr. Theobald; but I am in doubt whether beautified, though, as Polonius calls it, a vile phrase, be not the proper word. Beautified seems to be a vile phrase, for the ambiguity of its meaning. Fohnson.
Heywood, in his History of Edward VI, says, “ Katherine Parre, queen dowager to king Henry VIII, was a woman beautified with many excellent virtues." Farmer. So, in The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614:
“ A maid of rich endowments, beautified
“ With all the virtues nature could bestow.” Again, Nash dedicates his Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 1594 : “to the most beautified lady, the lady Elizabeth Carey."
Again, in Greene's Mamillia, 1593: although thy person is so bravely beautified with the dowries of nature."
III and vile as the phrase may be, our author has used it again in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
seeing you are beautified “ With goodly shape,” &c. Steevens. By beautified Hamlet means beautifu'. But Polonius, taking the word in the more strictly grammatical sense of being made beautiful, calls it a vile phrase, as implying that his daughter's beauty was the effect of art. M. Mason.
8 In her excellent white bosom these,] So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ Thy letters
“ Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love."
These in her excellent white bosom, these, &c. In our poet's time the word These was usually added at the end of the superscription of letters, but I have never met with it both at the beginning and end. Malone.
O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;. I have not art to reckon my groans : but that I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu,
Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this
machine is to him, Hamlet.1
But how hath she
What do you think of me?
Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing, (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me,) what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb; Or look'd upon this love with idle sight; What might you think ?3 no, I went round4 to work,
O most best,] So, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540:" that same most best redresser or reformer, is God.” Steevens.
whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.] These words will not be ill explained by the conclusion of one of the Letters of the Paston Family, Vol. II, p. 43: for your pleasure, whyle my wytts be my owne."
The phrase employed by Hamlet seems to have a French construction. Pendant
cette machine est d lui. To be one's own man is a vulgar expression, but means much the same as Virgil's
Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus. Steevens. 1 more above,] is, moreover, besides. Johnson. If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb; Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;
What might you think?] i. e. If either I had conveyed intelligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the desk or table-book,] or had connived at it, only observed them in secret, without acquainting my daughter with my discovery [giving my heart a mute and dumb working;] or lastly, had been negligent in observing the intrigue, and overlooked it (looked upon this love with idle sight;] what would you have thought of me? Warburton. VOL XV,
And my young mistress thus did I bespeak;
I doubt whether the first line is rightly explained. It may mean, if I had locked up this secret in my own breast, as closely as if it were confined in a desk or table-book. Malone.
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb;] The folio reads a winking. Steevens.
The same pleonasm (mute and dumb] is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
" And in my hearing be you mute and dumb.” Malone.
- round - ] i. e. roundly, without reserve. So Polonius says in the third Act: “ be round with him.” Steevens.
5 Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere;] The quarto, 1604, and the first folio, for sphere, have star. The correction was made by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
precepts gave her,] Thus the folio. The two elder quartos read--prescripts. I have chosen the most familiar of the two readings. Polonius has already said to his son
“ And these few precepts in thy memory
“ Look thou cháracter.” Steevens. The original copy in my opinion is right. Polonius had ordered his daughter to lock herself from Hamlet's resort, &c. See p. 47.
“I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
“ Look to't, I charge you.” Malone. 7 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;] She took the fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruitful. Johnson.
(a short tale to make) Fell into a sadness; then into a fast ; &c.] The ridicule of this character is here admirably sustained. He would not only be thought to have discovered this intrigue by his own sagacity, but to have remarked all the stages of Hamlet's disorder, from his sadness to his raving, as regularly as his physician could have done; when all the while the madness was only feigned. The humour of this is exquisite from a man who tells us, with a confidence peculiar to small politicians, that he could find
“ Where truth was hid, though it were hid indeed
Thence to a lightness; and, by this declension,
Do you think, 'tis this?
Pol. Hath there been such a time, (I'd fain know that) That I have positively said, 'Tis so, When it prov'd otherwise? King.
Not that I know. Pol. Take this from this, if this be otherwise :
[Pointing to his Head and Shoulder, If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed Within the centre. King.
How may we try it further? Pol. You know, sometimes he walks four hours to.
gether, Here in the lobby. Queen.
So he does, indeed. Pol. At such a time I 'll loose my daughter to him: Be you and I behind an arras then; Mark the encounter: if he love her not, And be not from his reason fallen thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state, But keep a farm, and carterş.1
- four hours together,] Perhaps it would be better were we to read indefinitely
for hours together. Tyrwhitt. I formerly was inclined to adopt Mr. Tyrwhitt's proposed emendation; but have now no doubt that the text is right. The expression, four hours together, two hours together, &c. appears to have been common. So, in King Lear, Act I:
“ Edm. Spake you with him?
Edg. Ay, two hours together." Again, in The Winter's Tale:
ay, and have been, any time these four hours.” Again, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623 :
“ She will muse four hours together, and her silence
“ Methinks expresseth more than if she spake.” Malone. 1 At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him: Be you and I behind an arras then; Mark the encounter : if he love her not, And be not from his reason fallen thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state, But keep a farm, and carters.] The scheme of throwing Ophe
We will try it.
Enter HAMLET, reading.
lia in Hamlet's way, in order to try his sanity, as well as the ada dress of the King in a former scene to Rosencrantz and Guil. denstern:
" I entreat you both
“ That, open'd, lies within our remedy; " seem to have been formed on the following slight hints in The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. let. sig. C 3: “They counselled to try and know if possible, how to discover the intent and meaning of the young prince; and they could find no better nor more fit inven. tion to entrap him, than to set some faire and beautiful woman in a secret place, that with flattering speeches and all the craftiest meanes she could, should purposely seek to allure his mind to have his pleasure of her.-To this end, certain courtiers were appointed to lead Hamlet to a solitary place, within the woods, where they brought the woman, inciting him to take their pleasures together. And surely the poore prince at this assault had beene in great danger, if a gentleman that in Horvendille's time had been nourished with him, had not showne himselfe more affectioned to the bringing up he had received with Hamblet, than desirous to please the tyrant.-This gentleman bare the courtiers company, making full account that the least showe of perfect sence and wisdome that Hamblet should make, would be sufficient to cause him to loose his life ; and therefore by certaine signes he gave Hamblet intelligence in what danger he was like to fall, if by any meanes he seemed to obeye, or once like the wanton toyes and vicious provocations of the gentlewoman sent thither by his uncle: which much abashed the prince, as then wholly being in affection to the lady. But by her he was likewise informed of the treason, as one that from her infancy loved and favoured him.-The prince in this sort having deceived the courtiers and the lady's expectation, that affirmed and swore hee never once offered to have his pleasure of the woman, although in subtlety he affirmed the contrary, every man there. upon assured themselves that without doubt he was distraught of his sences;-so that as then Fengon's practise took no effect."
Here we find the rude outlines of the characters of Ophelia, and Horatio,-the gentleman that in the time of Horvendille (the father of Hamlet) had been nourished with him. But in this piece there are no traits of the character of Polonius. There is indeed