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Though all thy hairs
Were bristles rang'd like those that ridge the back
Qq read fearefull instead of the fretfull of the Ff., and have been followed by one or two editors. The word, however applicable, seems to me more commonplace than the F. reading.
136. Lines 21, 22:
But this ETERNAL BLAZON must not be
Eternal blazon seems to be used in the sense of a revelation or description of eternity. Some understand it in the sense of "infernal," as in Julius Caesar, i. 2. 160: "The eternal devil;" and Othello, iv. 2. 130: "some eternal villain." With this sense Rolfe amusingly compares the Yankee slang "tarnal." Blazon is used as here in Much Ádo, ii. 1. 307. See note 128 to that play.
137. Line 22: List, list.-So Qq.; Ff. have list Hamlet. 138. Line 24.-Ff., as usual, substitute Heaven for God. 139. Line 29: HASTE ME to know 't.-This is Rowe's emendation. Qq. print Hast me, F. 1 Hast, hast me; F. 2, F.3, F. 4 Haste, haste me. Ff. have know it.
140. Lines 29-31:
Compare Wily Beguiled, Prologue: "I'll make him fly swifter than meditation;" and Dekker, The Honest Whore, part i i. 10:
I was, on meditation's spotless wings, Upon my journey thither.
-Works, ed. Dyce, vol. viii. p. 79. 141. Line 33: That ROOTS itself in ease on Lethe wharf. -All the Qq. have rootes, Ff. rots, which is, to say the least, as good a word. There does not seem much to choose between them. Each has a beauty and aptness of its own. Steevens quotes from Beaumont and Fletcher, The Humorous Lieutenant, iv. 3, a confirmation of the Ff. reading: "This dull root pluck'd from Lethe flood" (Works, ed. Dyce, vol. vi. p. ?), and Caldecott compares with the Qq. reading Antony and Cleopatra, i. 4. 47: "To rot itself with motion."
149. Line 56: sate.-So F. 1, F. 2; F. 3, F. 4 have seat, and Qq. sort.
150. Line 60: My custom always IN the afternoon. -So Ff. and Q. 1; the other Qq. have of, which is a quite correct expression, and as likely to come from Shakespeare as in.
151. Line 61: my SÉCURE hour.-Secure is here used in the sense of the Latin securus, unguarded, careless. Staunton quotes More's Life of Edward V.: "When this lord was most afraid, he was most secure; and when he was secure, danger was over his head.' Sécure is accentuated on its first syllable in Othello, iv. 1. 72.
152. Lines 61-64:
Upon my sécure hour thy uncle stole, With juice of cursed HEBENON in a vial, And in the porches of mine ears did pour The leperous distilment.
Hebenon is the reading of Ff.; all the Qq. print hebona. No such word as hebenon or hebona has ever been met with elsewhere, but the word "hebon" (from which hebenon might have been corrupted) is found in Marlowe's Jew of Malta, iii. 4:
As fatal be it to her as the draught
Of which great Alexander drunk, and died:
Break from the fiery kingdom.
-Works, ed. Cunningham, pp. 104, 105; ed. Dyce, p. 164.
"Heben" is found in Spenser, i. 3 (Introduction), and ii. 7. 52, and "ebene" in Holland's Pliny, xxv. 4, in both cases meaning ebony, while (as Douce notes) the chapter on the wood ebony in the English ed. by Batman of Bartholomæus de Proprietatibus Ribus, is entitled "De Ebeno." We have no reason, however, to suppose that ebony was ever regarded as poisonous. Grey understood hebenon to be used by metathesis for henebon, or henbane, of which Pliny says: "An oile is made of the seed thereof, which if it be but dropped into the eares, is ynough to trouble the braine" (Holland's translation, ad loc. cit.). Elze suggests that Shakespeare may have derived the device of poisoning through the ears from Marlowe's Edward II. v. 4:
'Tis not the first time I have killed a man:
Or open his mouth, and pour quicksilver down. -Works, ed. Dyce, p. 217. It may be noted that in the old German play on the subject of Hamlet, of which an account is given in the Introduction, the word ebeno occurs in sc. v. vi., as the name of the poison by which the murder had been effected. I quote from Furness's translation: "behold, my brother came, thirsty for the crown, and had with him the subtile [subtilen] juice of so-called Hebenon [ebeno].1 This oil, or
1 Dr. Latham renders this: "the subtile (subtilen) juice of ebenon (ebeno)."
juice, has this effect: that as soon as a few drops of it mix with the blood of man, they at once clog the veins and destroy life" (vol. ii. p. 125).
153. Line 68: posset.-So Ff.; Qq. read possesse.
154. Line 69: EAGER droppings into milk.-Ff. print Aygre, which is nearer the French form of the word, aigre. See note 107 above. Compare Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, p. 249: "¶A charme against vineager. That wine wax not eager, write on the vessell, Gustate & videte, quoniam suavis est Dominus."
155. Line 71: bark'd.-Ff. read bak'd.
156. Line 77: Unhousell'd, disappointed, unanel'd.— Unhousell'd without having taken the sacrament; it is from the Anglo-Saxon husel, the sacrament. Disappointed = unappointed, unprepared. Compare Measure for Measure, iii. 1. 60:
Therefore your best appointment make with speed; i.e. preparation for death. Unanel'd without having received extreme unction. Nares cites Sir Thomas More, Works, p. 345: "The extreme vnccion or anelynge and confirmacion, he sayed be no sacraments of the church." Compare Morte d'Arthur (vol. iii. p. 350, ed. Wright): "So when hee was howseled and eneled, and had all that a christian man ought to have, hee prayed the bishop that his fellowes might beare his body unto Joyousgard."
157. Line 80: 0, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!— Some have conjectured that this line should be given to Hamlet, and Knight states that it was always so spoken by Garrick. I do not see the slightest reason for the change, but many against it-this in chief, that the course of the versification would be broken, very awkwardly, if this line were spoken as an interruption of the speech in which it occurs. There may be, however, a slight shade of evidence in favour of the change in the reading of Q. 1, where Hamlet is made to utter an exclamation, though not the one in the text.
158. Line 84: But, HOWSOEVER thou PURSU'ST this act. -Qq. print howsomever (now the usual vulgarism), and all but Q. 6 read pursues.
159. Line 89: The glow-worm shows the MATIN to be near. Matin, used here for morning, is usually in the plural, matins, and the Clarendon Press edd. say that they can find no instance of this word in the sense here used. Elze, however, quotes Milton, L'Allegro, 114: Ere the first cock his matin rings; and Paradise Lost, vi. 525, 526: and to arms The matin-trumpet sung. Neither of these passages is an absolutely precise parallel; in the former, matin being used in the common sense of matins, in the latter adjectively.
160. Line 91: Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.The reading and punctuation in the text are Rowe's. Ff. read as above, but with a colon after Hamlet. Qq. print Adiew, adiew, adiew, remember me, which seems to me less expressive than the reading of the Ff.
161. Line 95: stiffly.-Qq. print swiftly.
Opinions are divided as to what Hamlet wrote on his tables, and why he is represented as writing at all. Marshall, Study of Hamlet, p. 128, says: "The stage direction (Writing), which follows here, shows that Hamlet was intended to record something of what proceeded on his tablets, and the very fact of his doing so is a proof of the nervous agitation under which he laboured; his furious indignation against his uncle found vent in this mere act of writing him down a 'smiling villain.'"
165. Line 109: I'm.-So Ff.; Qq. have I am.
166. Line 113: HEAVEN secure him !—Qq. have Heavens.
167. Line 114: Ham. So be it!-This is given to Hamlet in Qq., and to Marcellus in Ff. Editors have generally decided in favour of the latter, but the former seems to me much more effective. I take it to be spoken by Hamlet in a low tone to himself, as he hears Horatio's benediction -a moment's solemn earnestness in secret before he assumes the mask of levity before his friends. Taken in this sense, the words have a very significant weight of meaning.
168. Line 115: Mar. Illo, ho, ho, my lord!-Ff., and many editors, give this line to Horatio. But I think it agrees much better with Marcellus, and comes in the dialogue more naturally from him, so that I have adopted the reading of Qq.
169. Line 116: Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, BIRD, come.Q.1 prints boy, the other Qq. and. Hamlet mocks the shouts of his friends with terms of falconry. Compare the Birth of Merlin, ii. 1. (Tauchnitz ed. p. 292), where the clown shouts "So ho, boy, so ho, so ho!' and is answered by Prince Uter (within) "So ho, boy, so ho, illo, ho, illo, ho!" Hamlet's behaviour in the remainder of this scene is well described by Strachey (Shakespeare's Hamlet, pp. 45, 46): "His head is, as he himself says, distracted; his words are 'wild and hurling;' he tries to relieve his overstrained mind by passing from the terrific to the ludicrous, taking out his note-book to make a memorandum that a man may smile and smile, and be a villain, at least in Denmark;' answering his friends with a falconer's hillo; and interrupting the solemnity of swearing secresy with jokes at the 'fellow in the cellarage,' and the 'old mole that works i' the ground so fast. It is, [as Coleridge says] 'a sort of cunning bravado, bordering on the flights of delirium: for you may, perhaps, observe that Hamlet's wildness is but half false; he plays that subtle trick of pretending to act only when he is very near really being
what he acts.' I may quote here some of the brilliant and expressive sentences in which Mr. George Meredith sums up the character of Hamlet (The Tragic Comedians, vol. i. p. 84): " Before the ghost walked he was an elementary hero; one puff of action would have whiffed away his melancholy. After it, he was a dizzy moralizer, waiting for the winds to blow him to his deed-or out. The apparition of his father to him poisoned a sluggish run of blood, and that venom in the blood distracted a head steeped in Wittenberg philosophy. With metaphysics in one and poison in the other, with the outer world opened on him and this world stirred to confusion, he wore the semblance of madness; he was throughout sane; sick, but never with his reason dethroned."
170. Line 133: These are but wild and WHIRLING words, my lord.-Qq. (except Q. 1, which has wherling) print whurling; Ff. hurling.
171. Line 136: Horatio.-Ff., by a natural confusion with the line above, read my Lord.
172. Line 147: Upon my SWORD.-In chivalrous times oaths were very generally taken on the cross of the sword. References to the custom are often met with in the Elizabethan dramas and old poems. See Caldecott, notes, pp. 38, 39. Elze quotes, very aptly, Kyd's Spanish Tragedy, act ii. sc. 1, where Lorenzo makes Pedringano swear in the same manner. Lorenzo says "Swear on this cross, that what thou say'st is true," and after Pedringano has done so, adds:
In hope thine oath is true, here's thy reward:
But if I prove thee perjur'd and unjust,
This very sword, whereon thou took'st thine oath,
Shall be the worker of thy tragedy.
-Hazlitt's Dodsley, vol. v. p. 41. 173. Line 150: Ah, ha, boy! say'st thou so? art thou there, TRUE-PENNY? This line is evidently parodied or plagiarized in Marston's Malcontent, 1604, iii. 3:
Illo, ho, ho, ho! arte there, olde true penny? The word true-penny, says Collier, "is (as I learn from some Sheffield authorities) a mining term, and signifies a particular indication in the soil of the direction in which ore is to be found. Hence Hamlet may with propriety address the Ghost underground by that name." Forby, in his Vocabulary of East Anglia, gives it as "hearty old fellow; staunch and trusty; true to his purpose or pledge." The word was colloquially used in a familiar sense, and thus, no doubt with a recollection of Hamlet, Congreve represents Valentine, counterfeiting madness, as addressing his father, Love for Love, iv. 10: "A ha! Old True-penny, say'st thou so: thou hast nick'd it" (ed. 1735, p. 92).
174. Line 156: Hic et ubique?-See note 7 in reference to the courteous medieval practice of addressing ghosts in Latin-probably, though I have not met with the suggestion in print, because one is not always sure of the nationality of ghosts, and it was therefore both polite and sensible to speak to them in the language of general communication, which in the middle ages was Latin.
175. Lines 157-160.--The arrangement in the text is that of the Ff. Lines 159, 160 are transposed in Qq.
176. Line 161: Swear.--So Ff. and Q. 1; the other Qq. have Sweare by his sword.
177. Line 162: Well said, OLD MOLE! canst work i the EARTH so fast?-Elze compares Ford, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, ii. 2: "Work you that way, old mole? then I have the wind of you" (ed. Hartley Coleridge, 1840, p. 31), an evident allusion to the passage in the text. Earth is the reading of all the Qq.; Ff. have ground.
178. Line 167: YOUR philosophy.-So Qq.; Ff. read our, which seems less effective than the half-colloquial, halfpersonal your.
179. Lines 169-188.-It has always seemed to me singular, that anyone who has read these lines can be found to defend the notion that Hamlet was really mad. Let maddoctors say what they please, here is Shakespeare's own account of the matter, and anything more clear and definite could not be imagined. Hamlet here, once for all, defends himself against all misconstruction, by expressly intimating that he intends, for reasons of his own, to bear himself oddly and strangely, "To put an antic disposition on." I am quite aware that persons who are really mad can be found to express themselves, at times, quite sanely, even on the subject of their own malady-like the half-witted pauper who confessed to Thoreau that he was "deficient in intellect.' But a possible symptom in insanity, and a positive fact in a play, are two quite different things; it must be remembered that we are reading a play, constructed to be understood; and it is obvious that Shakespeare has introduced this passage at the beginning of his play in order that the purport of what was to come might be quite clearly understood. To say, after carefully considering this passage, that Hamlet was really mad, is equivalent to saying that Shakespeare did not know what he was about in his own work.
We have made inquiry of you; and we hear Such goodness of your justice.
186. Line 7: Inquire me first what DANSKERS are in Paris. The word Dansk (of Danish origin) occurs in Webster's White Devil, ii. 1: "like a Danske drummer."
187. Line 25: fencing.-The mention of fencing among the "wanton, wild, and usual slips" of youth has puzzled some editors, but no doubt, as Malone remarks, the meaning of Polonius is, that quarrelling and brawling which was of frequent occurrence at the fencing-schools, and a common consequence of too boastful a skill in the art; he quotes Gosson, Schoole of Abuse, 1579: "The cunning of fencers is now applied to quarreling: they think themselves no men, if for stirring of a straw, they prove not their valure upon some bodies fleshe." Elze quotes Marston's Insatiate Countesse, act iv. (Works, ed. Halliwell, vol. iii. p. 164), where "Fencer" is used, side by side with "dogg-killer" and "monster," as a term of abuse.
188. Line 28: no.-Omitted in Qq.
189. Line 31: but breathe his faults 80 QUAINTLY.Quaintly is used here for "artfully," as in Merchant of Venice, ii. 4. 6:
'Tis vile, unless it may be quaintly ordered. See Midsummer Night's Dream, note 132.
190. Line 34: A savageness in UNRECLAIMED blood.Compare with this use of unreclaimed = untamed, that of reclaimed (in the corresponding sense of "tamed ") which occurs in Romeo and Juliet, iv. 2. 47:
Since this same wayward girl is so reclaim'd; and II. Henry VI. v. 2. 54, 55:
And beauty that the tyrant oft reclaims Shall to my flaming wrath be oil and flax.
191. Line 38: a fetch of WARRANT.-So Ff.; Qq. read wit, which makes excellent sense. A fetch of warrant would mean a warranted device; a fetch of wit would mean an artful one.
192. Line 44: breathe.-This is Rowe's correction of the breath of Qq. Ff.
193. Line 50: By the mass.-Omitted in Ff.
194. Lines 52, 53: at "friend or so,” and “gentleman.”— This is omitted in Qq.
195. Line 55: closes with you thus.--So Ff.; Qq. omit with you.
196. Line 63: carp.-So Qq.; Ff. have Cape.
197. Line 65: With WINDLASSES and with assays of bias. -Windlass, or windlace, as it should be spelt, was a word used in Shakespeare's time meaning "a circuit," "a circuitous way." Hunter (vol. ii. p. 227) quotes a passage from the 7th book of Golding's Ovid:
And like a wily fox he runs not forth directly out,
Skeat says that this word was distinct from the word windlass, "a machine for raising heavy weights." The latter word is found in Baret's Alvearie, 1573: “A windlasse or pulley to drawe vp heauy thinges;" no other
form of the word being given. Minsheu, 1599, has “Windlas or pulley, vide Carillo;" and under the latter "Also the truckle, pully or windle wherwith a thing is easily drawen vp on high." The true Middle English form of this word, according to Skeat, was windas, while windlace is compounded of wind and lace, the latter word being used in its older sense of a snare, or a bit of twisted string.
Assays of bias, a metaphor taken from the game of bowls, referring to the "twist" which is communicated to the bowl by the lead in one end of it, by the skilful use of which a player makes the bowl curve in whichever direction he wishes to send it.
198. Line 69: God be wi' you!-Qq. have “God buy ye,” and F. 1, F. 2, F. 3 "God buy you," which mode of contracting be wi' into buy is frequent in Shakespeare and in the writers of his time. It occurs below, in the next scene, line 575, when Hamlet dismisses Rosencrantz and Guil. denstern. It is only worth noticing as being one of the last stages in the transition of the common phrase God be with ye before it assumed its present form Good bye.
199. Line 71: Observe his inclination in yourself.--Surely it is needless to take this in any but the most obvious sense-"do you yourself observe his inclination." Both the meanings given by the Clarendon Press edd. seem to me very far-fetched: "Judge of his temptations by your own," or possibly, "Conform your own conduct to his inclinations." Polonius has just been instructing Reynaldo how he is to find out about Laertes from others; he now calls him back to add, Observe his inclination, too, on your own account. The use of the word in does not seem to me to present any real difficulty.
200. Line 75: O my lord, my lord. So Qq.; Ff. have the weaker reading Alas, a change made for the sake of the metre.
201. Line 77 : chamber.-So Ff.; Qq. have closet, a word which was already becoming obsolete in the sense in which it is used in the New Testament, e.g. in Matthew vi. 6: "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet."
202. Line 95: As it did seem to shatter all his BULK.— Ff. have That. For bulk compare Richard III. i. 4. 40, and see note 166 to that play. Cotgrave has: "Buste: the whole bulke or body of a man from his face to his middle."
203. Line 97: And, with his head over his Shoulder turn'd. So Q. 2, Q. 3; all the other Qq. and the Ff. have shoulders. In line 101 below Ff. omit come (the syllable probably being supplied by a pause on the part of the actor). In line 111 Ff. have (probably by a blunder) speed instead of heed.
204. Line 112: quoted.-So Ff.; Qq. have coted (Q. 6 coated). Cotgrave has "Quoter. To quote, or marke in the margint, to note by the way." Compare Romeo and Juliet, i. 4. 31: What curious eye doth quote deformities? On the verb to cote, as distinguished from to quote, see Love's Labour's Lost, note 116. In this same line feard is the reading of Qq., preferable to the feare of Ff.
205. Line 114: By heaven.-So all the Qq.; Ff. read It seems, probably in order to avoid the oath.
but can cast be separated here from beyond, and is not the meaning rather "to get out of our depth," "to overreach ourselves," with the idea perhaps of casting or throwing a quoit or a dart beyond the mark, as well as the idea of "calculation," which we have in the compound word forecast, still in use, and in such a well-known expression, now out of date, as "to cast a nativity?" Baret (1573) gives a number of meanings for to cast, such as "to muse and consider upon" (=versare animo), "to conject," "to devine," &c.
207. Lines 118, 119:
This must be known; which, being kept close, might move More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
The Clarendon Press edd. well say: "In the couplets which conclude scenes the sense is frequently sacrificed to the rhyme. The sense here seems to be-Hamlet's mad conduct might cause more grief if it were hidden than the revelation of his love for Ophelia would cause hatred, i.e. on the part of the King and Queen. Yet the Queen afterwards expresses her approval of the match, iii. 1. 38. Compare also, v. 1. [266-269]." Whatever the sense may be, Shakespeare seems to have taken very little trouble to make it clear.
208. Line 120: Come.-So Qq.; the word is omitted in Ff.
ACT II. SCENE 2.
209. Line 1: Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!-"The poet, no doubt," says Elze (pp. 149, 150), "learnt these names from some of his friends who had been in Denmark, either as players or in some other capacity, such as the two actors Pope and Bryan, the celebrated musician Dowland, the no less celebrated architect Inigo Jones, and others. See Cohn, Shakespeare in Germany, p. xxiii, seq., and my Biography of Shakespeare, p. 162 and 175, seq. At a later date a Danish courtier or ambassador of the name of Rosencrantz is reported to have attended the coronation of James I. For curiosity's sake it may be added that two young Danish noblemen of the names of Rosencrantz and Güldenstern were students at Padua in Shakespeare's time; the former in 1587-9, the latter in 1603. See Jahrbuch der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft, xiii, 155." The form Rosencrantz is due to Malone; the Qq. read Rosencraus (no doubt by a misprint for Rosencrans), and F. 1 has Rosinerance, F. 2 Rosineros, F. 3, F. 4 Rosincross.
210. Line 6: SITH NOR the exterior nor the inward man. -Ff. have Since not. Shakespeare uses sith and since indifferently. In line 12 it is the Qq. that have sith, the Ff. since.
211. Line 10: dream of.-So Qq.; Ff. have deem, which gives good sense. With the superfluous of, compare Richard III. i. 3. 6: "what would betide of me?"
212. Line 12: And sith so NEIGHBOUR'D to his youth and HUMOUR.-Neighbour'd is similarly used in Lear, i. 1. 120-122:
shall to my bosom
Be as well neighbour'd, pitied, and reliev'd,
Humour is the reading of Ff.; Qq. print (in one or another form of spelling) haviour, which occurs in i. 2. 81 and makes excellent sense here, but seems on the whole more commonplace than humour, which, of course, means "mental disposition.'
213. Line 17: Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus.-Omitted in Ff.
214. Line 22: To show us so much GENTRY; i.e. courtesy. Compare v. 2. 114: "he is the card or calendar of gentry." Singer quotes from Baret's Alvearie: "Gentlemanlinesse, orgentrie, kindelinesse, naturall goodnesse. Generositas."
215. Line 29: BUT we both obey.-Ff. omit But; and below, in line 31, read Seruices instead of service.
216. Line 43: Assure you, my good liege.-So Ff.; Qq. read I assure my good liege.
217. Line 45: Both to my God AND to my gracious king. -So Qq.; Ff. print one.
218. Line 48: it hath.-So Qq.; Ff. read I have.
219. Line 52: My news shall be the FRUIT to that great feast. So Qq.; Ff. print Newes, which is an evident misprint arising out of the accidental repetition of the word from the earlier part of the line. Elze compares Marston, The Malcontent, Induction:
Sly. What are your additions!
But. Sooth, not greatly needfull, only as your sallet to your great feast. -Works, ed. Halliwell, vol. ii. p. 202. 220. Line 54: He tells me, MY DEAR GERTRUDE, he hath found. So (substantially) Qq.; Ff. read:
He tels me my sweet Queene, that he hath found.
221. Line 56: I doubt it is no other but the MAIN.-The main is here an elliptical expression for the main source (compare similar construction in Troilus and Cressida, ii. 3. 273). II. Henry VI. i. 1. 208:
Then let's away, and look unto the main
is usually given as an example of the same form of ellipsis; but see the note on that passage, no. 48.
222. Line 67: borne in hand. -See Taming of the Shrew, note 146.
223. Line 73: Gives him THREE thousand crowns in annual fee.-So Ff. and Q. 1; the other Qq. have threescore thousand. Probably the larger sum was inserted because the copyist thought three thousand not enough; but considering the value of money at the time, it was a good addition to Fortinbras's income; taking the gold crowns 48. 6d., it would be equivalent to £900.
224. Line 85: this business is WELL ended.-Ff. have very well, perhaps in order to mark it as a sentence of prose.
225. Line 86: expostulate. That is, "discuss in full." Expostulate occurs five times in Shakespeare, which are all inserted in Schmidt under the meaning of discuss. But