« PreviousContinue »
crown by means which he suspects to be unjustifiable. In the fifth act, the prince accuses his uncle of hav. ing popt in between the election and his hopes, which obviates Dr. Warburton's objection to the old reading, viz. that “ the king had given no occasion for such a reflection."
A jingle of the same sort is found in Mother Bombie, 1594, and seems to have been proverbial, as I have met with it more than once : " the nearer we are in blood, the further we must be from love; the greater the kindred is, the less the kindness must be.'' Again, in Gorboduc, a tragedy, 1565:
“ In kinde a father, but not kindelyness." As kind, however, signifies nature, Hamlet may mean that his relationship was become an unnatural one, as it was partly founded upon incest. Our anthor's Julius Cæsar, Antony and Cleopatra, King Richard II. and Titus Andronicus, exhibit instances of kind being used for nature; and so too in this play of Hamlet, act ii, scene the last : “Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless
villain." Dr. Farmer, however, observes, that kin is still used for cousin in the midland counties. STEEVENS.
Hamlet does not, I think, mean to say, that his uncle is a little more than kin, &c. The king had called the prince-"My cousin Hainlet, and my son." His reply therefore is" I am a little more than thy kinsman (for I am thy step-son;] and somewhat less than kind to thee (for I hate thee, as being the per.
son who has entered into an incestuous marriage with my mother.]” Or, if we understand kind in its ancient şense, then the meaning will be-l am more than thy kinsman, for I am step-son ; being such, I am less near to thee than thy natural offspring, and therefore not entitled to the appellation of son, which you have now given me.
MALONE. 258. -too much i' the sun.] He perhaps alludes to the proverb, Out of heaven's blessing into the warm sun.
JOHNSON. too much ¿' the sun.
n.] Meaning probably his being sent for from his studies to be exposed at his uncle's marriage as his chiefest courtier, &c.
STEEVENS. I question whether a quibble between sun and son be not here intended.
FARMER. 261. -vailed lids,] With lowering eyes, cast down eyes.
JOHNSON 274. -shews of grief,] Thus the folio. The first quarto readschapes—I suppose for shapes.
STEEVENS. 281. ---your father lost a father ;
That father lost, lost his ;] The meaning of the passage is no more than this: Your father lost a father, i. e. your grandfather, which lost grandfather, also lost his father.
STEEVENS, 984. -obsequious sorrow. Obsequious is here from obsequies or funeral ceremonies. JOHNSON. So in Titus Andronicus :
" To shed obsequious tears upon his trunk.'
STEEVENS. 285. In obstinate condolement, -] Condolement, for sorrow.
WARBURTON. 287. - will most incorrect-] Incorrect, for untutor'd.
WARBURTON, 295. To reason most absurd,] Reason is here used in its common sense, for the faculty by which we form conclusions from arguments. JOHNSON.
302. And, with no less nobility of love] Nobility, for magnitude.
WARBURTON. Nobility is rather generosity.
JOHNSON 304. Do I impart toward you ?-] Impart for profess.
WARBURTON. I believe impart is, impart myself, communicate what. ever I can bestow.
JOHNSON Do I impart toward you ? -] The crown of Den. mark was elective. So in Sir Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599 :
“ Aud me possess for spoused wife, who in elece
“ To have the crown of Denmark here, as heir
unto the same." The king means, that as Hamlet stands the fairest chance to be next elected, he will strive with as much love to ensure the crown to him, as a father would shew in the continuance of heirdom to a son.
agree with Mr. Steevens, that the crown of Denmark (as in most of the Gothick kingdoms) was elec
tive, and not hereditary; though it might be customary, in elections, to pay some attention to the royal blood, which by degrees produced hereditary suc. cession. Why then do the rest of the commentators so often treat Claudius as an usurper, who had deprived young Hamlet of his right by heirship to his father's crown? Hamlet calls him drunkard, mur. derer, and villain ; one who had carried the election by low and mean practices; had
“ Popt in between the election and my hopes" had
“ From a shelf the precious diadem stole,
“ And put it in his pocket :" but never hints at his being an usurper. His discontent arose from his uncle's being preferred before him, not from any legal right which he pretended to set up to the crown. Some regard was probably had to the recommendation of the preceding prince, in electing the successor. And therefore young Hamlet had “ the voice of the king hiniself for his succession in Denmark;' and he at his own death prophesies, that “ the election would light on Fortinbras, who had his dying voice," conceiving that by the death of his uncle, he himself had been king for an instant, and had therefore a right to recommend. When in the fourth-act the rabble wished to choose Laeries king, I understood that antiquity was forgot, and custoni violated, by electing a new king in the life-time of the old one, and perhaps also by the calling in a stranger to the royal blood,
307. pabend you to remain] is e. subdue your incli. nation to go from hence, and remain, &c.
: STEVENS. 317. No jocund health, -] The king's intem perance is very strongly impressed ; every thing that happens to him gives him occasion to drink.
JOHNSON 322. resolve itself into a dew!] Resolve means the same as dissolve. Ben Jonson uses the word in his Volpone, and in the same sense :
« Forth the resolved corners of his eyes. "A biv Again, in the Country Girl, 1647: Was -my swoln grief resolved in these tears:
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter 14**]The generality of the editions read thus, as if the poet's thoughts were, Or that the Almighty had not planted his artillery, or arms of vengeance, against self-murdere But the word which I restored (and which was esk, poused by the accurate Mr. Hughes, who gave an edition of this play) is the true reading, ii eo that he had not restrained suicide by his express law and peremptory prohibition.
LiTHEOBALD. There are yet those who suppose the old reading to be the true one, as they say the word fixed seems to decide very strongly in its favour. I would advise such to recollect Virgil's expression : "fixit leges pretio, atque refixit."