« PreviousContinue »
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
throwing Ophelia in Hamlet’s way, in order to try
his sanity, as well as the address of the king in a former scene to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “I entreat you both “That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court “Some little time; so by your companies “To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather “So much as from occasion you may glean, “Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus, “That open'd lies within our remedy.” Seem to have been formed on some slight hints in The Hystory of Hamblet, bl. let. sig C 3. MA LoN e. 31o. I’ll board him—l That is, accost him. o HEN LEY. 322. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, Being a god, kissing carrion—] As to the sense we may observe, that the illative particle [for] shews the speaker to be reasoning from something he had said before : what that was we learn in these words, to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one picked out of ten thousand. Having said this, the chain of ideas led him to reflect upon the argument which libertines bring against Providence from the circumstance of abounding evil. In the next speech therefore he endeavours to answer that objećtion, and vindicate Providence, even on a supposition of the - fact,
fact, that almost all men were wicked. His argument in the two lines in question is to this purpose. But why need we wonder at this abounding of evil? For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, which though a god, yet shedding its heat and influence upon carrion Here . he stops short, lest talking too consequentially the hearer should suspect his madness to be feigned; and so turns him off from the subject, by inquiring of his daughter. But the inference which he intended to make, was a very noble one, and to this purpose. If this (says he) be the case, that the effect follows the things operated upon [carrion] and not the things operating [a god] why need we wonder, that the supreme cause of all things diffusing its blessings on mankind, who is, as it were, a dead carrion, dead in original sin, man instead of a proper return of duty, should breed only corruption and vices This is the argument at length ; and is as noble a one in behalf of Providence as could come from the schools of divinity. But this wonderful man had an art not only of acquainting the audience with what his actors say, but with what they think. The sentiment too is altogether in character, for Hamlet is perpetually moralizing, and his circumstances make this reflection very natural. The same thought, something diversified, as on a different occasion, he uses again in Measure for Mcasure, which will serve to confirm these observations:
The tempter or the tempted, who sins most 2
Mot she i nor doth she tempt ; but it is I
That lying by the violet in the sin,
Do as the carrion does, not as the flower,
Common-kissing Titan. WARBURT on. This is a noble emendation, which almost sets the critick on a level with the author. Jo HNso N.
325. —conception is a blessing, &c.] Thus the folio. The quartos read thus: —conception is a blessing; But as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to't. The meaning seems to be, conception (i.e. understanding) is ablessing; but as your daughter may conceive (i.e. be pregnant), friend, look to't, i.e. have a care of that. The same quibble occurs in the first scene of K. Lear: “ Kent. I cannot conceive you, sir. “Clo. Sir, this young fellow's mother could.”
STE even S. 350. How pregnant, &c.] Pregnant is ready, dexterous, apt. STE Ev ENs.
354. and suddenly, &c.] This, and the greatest part of the two following lines, are omitted in the quartos. STE E v ENs. 361. Rosencrantz] There was an embassador of that name in England about the time when this play was written. STE Eve N. S. 382. —Let me, &c.] All within the crotchets is wanting in the quartos. - STE Ev ENs. 402. —the shadow of a dream.] Shakspere has accidently inverted an expression of Pindar, that the state of humanity is axia; oyap, the dream of a shadow. Johnso N.
So Davies, “Man’s life is but a dreame, may, less than so, “A shadow of a dreame.” FARMER. So, in the tragedy of Darius, 1603, by lord Sterline : “Whose best was but the shadow of a dream.” STE Eve Ns. 406. . Then are our beggars, bodies ;-] Shakspere seems here to design a ridicule of these declamations against wealth and greatness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty. Johnso N. 437. Nay, then I have an eye of you ;—] An eye of jou means, I have a glimpse of your meaning. STE Eve Ns. 442. I have of late, &c.] This is an admirable description of a rooted melancholy sprung from thickness of blood; and artfully imagined to hide the true cause of his disorder from the penetration of these two friends, who were set over him as spies.
WARBUR To N. 447. —this brave over-hanging firmament, — 3 Thus the quarto. The folio reads,-this brave o'erhanging, this, &c. STE e v ENs.
463. —lenten entertainment j i. e. sparing, like the entertainments given in Lent. So, in the Duke's Mistress, by Shirley, 1631: “—to maintain you with bisket, “Poor John, and half a livery, to read moral Virtue “And lenten lečtures.” STE Eve Ns.
464. we coted them on the way;-] To cote is to overtake. I meet with this word in The Return from Parnassus, a comedy, 1666: “—marry we presently coted and outstript them.” I have observed the same verb to be used in several more of the old plays. In the laws of coursing, says Mr. Tollet, “a cote is when a greyhound goes endways by the side of his fellow, and gives the hare a turn.” This quotation seems to point out the etymology of the verb to be from the French coté, the side. STE EVEN s. 469. —shall end his part in peace : J After these words the folio adds, the clown shall make those daugh whose lungs are tickled o' th' sere. WARB URT on. The clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickled o' th' sere, i. e. those who are asthmatical, and to whom laughter is most uneasy. This is the case (as I am told) with those whose lungs are tickled by the sere or serum; but about this passage I am neither very confident, nor very solicitous. The word seare occurs as unintelligibly in an ancient Dialogue betweene the Comen Secretary and jealowsy, touchynge the unstablenes of Harlottes, bl.let. no date: “And wyll byde whysperynge in the eare, “Thynke ye her tayle is not light of the seare.” The sere is likewise a part about a hawk. STEEVENs.