« PreviousContinue »
the dialogue of Dives, and for seven years' space was absolute interpreter of the puppets."
STEEVENS. 458. Still better, and worse.] i, e. better in regard to the wit of your double entendre, but worse in respect of the grossness
your meaning. STEEVENS. 459. So you mistake your husbands.] Read, So you must take your husbands; that is, for better, for worse.
JOHNSON Theobald proposed the same reading in his Shakspere Restored, however he lost it afterwards.
your husbands. ] I believe this to be right : the word is sometimes used in this ludicrous
“ Your true trick, rascal (says Ursula in Bartholomew-Fair), must be to be ever busie, and mistake away the bottles and cans, before they be half drunk off."
FARMER. Again, in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs: “—To mistake six torches from the chandry, and give them one." Again, in the Elder Brother of Fletcher: “ I fear lie will persuade me to mistake him."
SreeVENS. 473. What! frighted with false fire!] This speech is omitted in the quartos.
STEEVENS. 477. Lights, lights, lights !] The quartos give this speech to Polonius.
STEEVENS. 483. -turn Turk with me -] This expression has occurred already in Much Ado about Nothing; and
I have met with it in several old comedies. Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614: “ This it is to turn Turk, from an absolute and most complete gentleman to a most absurd, ridiculous, and fond lover.” It means, I believe, no more than to change condition fantasti. cally. Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635 :
6 —'tis damnation,
“ If you turn Turk again." Perhaps the phrase had its rise from some popular story like that of Ward and Dansiker, the two famous pirates ; an account of whose overthrow was published by A. Barker, 1609; and, in 1612, a play was written on the same subject, called, A Christian turn'd Turk.
STEEVENS. 484. Provincial roses] Derived from Provençal, French. He means roses of Provence, a beautiful species of rose, and formerly much cultivated.
WARTON. 485. ---a cry of players, - ] There is surely here no allusion to hounds (as Dr. Warburton supposes) whatever the origin of the term might have been. Cry means a troop or company in general, and is so used in Coriolanus :
-You have made good work, " You and your cry.” Again, in A strange Horse-race, by Thomas Decker, 1613 : “ The last race they ran (for you must know they had many) was from a cry of serjeants."
486. Hor. Half a share.
Ham. A whole one, I.] It should be, I think,
A whole one;--ay
For, &c. The actors in our author's time had not annual sala. ries as at present. The whole receipts of the theatres were divided into shares, and each actor had one or more shares, or part of a share, according to his merit. See The Account of the Ancient Theatres.
MALONE. 488. -O Damon dear,] Hamlet calls Horatio by this name, in allusion to the celebrated friendship be. tween Damon and Pythias. A play on this subject was written by Richard Edwards, and published in 1582.
STEEVENS. 491. A very, verympeacock.] This alludes to a fable of the birds choosing a king, instead of the eagle, a peacock.
РОРЕ. . The old copies have it paiock, paicocke, and pajocke. I substitute paddock, as nearest to the traces of the corrupted reading. I have, as Mr. Pope says, been willing to substitute any thing in the place of his peacock. He thinks a fable alluded to, of the birds choosing a king; instead of the cagle, a peacock. I suppose he must mean the fable of Barlandus, in which it is said, the birds, being weary of their state of anarchy, moved for the setting up of a king; and the peacock was elected on account of his gay feathers, But, with submission, in this passage of our Shak
spere, there is not the least mention made of the eagle in antithesis to the peacock; and it must be by a very uncommon figure, that Jove himself stands in the place of his bird. I think, Hamlet is setting his father's and uncle's characters in contrast to each other: and means to say, that by his father's death the state was stripped of a godlike monarch, and that now in his stead reigned the most despicable poisonous animal that could be; a mere paddock, or toad. PAD, bufo, rubeta major; a toad. This word I take to be of Hamlet's own substituting. The verses, repeated, seem to be from some old ballad ; in which, rhyme being necessary, I doubt not but the verse ran thus: A very, very
THEOBALD. A peacock seems proverbial for a fool. Thus Gascoigne in his Weeds : “ A theefe, a cowarde, and a peacocke foole."
FARMER I believe paddock to be the true reading. In the last scene of this act, Hamlet, speaking of the king, uses the same expression :
“Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
$« Such dear concernings hide ?" MALone. 500. Why then, belike,-) Hamlet was going on to draw the consequence, when the courtiers entered..
JOHNSON. i she likes it not, perdy.] Perdy is a corruption of par Dieu, and is not uncommon in the old plays. So in The Play of the Four P's, 1569:
“ In that, you Palmer, as deputie,
Steevens. 507. With drink, sir ?] Hamlet takes particular care that his uncle's love of drink shall not be forgotten.
JOHNSON. 541. -by these pickers, &c.] By these hands.
JOHNSON. By these hands, says Dr. Johnson; and rightly. But the phrase is taken from our Church catechism, where the catechumen, in his duty to his neighbour, is taught to keep his hands from picking and stealing.
WHALLEY. 548. Ay, sir, but while the grass grows,-) The proverb is something musty. The remainder of this old proverb is preserved in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578 :
Whylst grass doth growe, oft sterves the secly
steede." Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the succession to the throne of Denmark, he may himself be taken off by death.
MALONE. 550. -recorders:-] i. e. a kind of large fute. To record anciently signified to sing or modulate.
STEEVENS. 551. -recover the wind of me.] So, in an ancient Ms. play entitled The Second Maiden's Tragedy:
Is that next?