in the Nicomachean as well as in the Eudemian Ethics (Book III., cap 1). The latter passage is: He is not a brave man who exposes himself to danger knowingly, in consequence of fury (dà pé, like the Celtae who take up arms and rush upon the waves of the sea. . . .

"The former passage is in the Nicomachean Ethics (Book III., cap. 4, vii.):

But the man who, like the Celts, fears nothing, neither earthquake nor waves, may be called, not courageous, but rather mad or insensate. Mr. Irving sends the following note, giving a somewhat different view of the passage, from "God in Shakspeare," by "Clelia," 1890:

"In modern editions there is always a note of interrogation (?) where in the 1623 edition there was a colon (:). If a note of interrogation (?) in the fifth line were correct, we should have the question asked, "Is it nobler in the mind to consent to life or to consent to suicide?" And the question would be thus answered: "It is nobler in the mind to consent to suicide, because death is more desirable than life, and because a brave man should risk the mere possibility that the soul may be immortal, and that present conduct may affect injuriously happiness in another world." But if this be, as indeed it is, completely unsatisfactory as an answer to the question supposed, then surely it will be our bounden duty to the poet to examine the opening lines as originally printed not as a question, and to accept the meaning they shall then appear to have, if any, and if less in conflict with the soliloquy as a whole. Is it noble in the mind at all to do what is simply desirable? And when the mind acknowledges the possibility of immortality, acknowledges a portentous risk in suicide, can it be considered noble in the mind to be reckless of this risk? No, to both questions.

"My final reason for not accepting this 'emendation, this grotesque protest against itself-?, is that there was never any need to change the colon in the 1623 edition, even if a question was asked. But no question was asked, and so the change entirely destroyed the sense of this whole soliloquy. I will now restore the sense, so long lost. Here it is in paraphrase: "Whether it is nobler in the mind to bear evil or resist it, after all the great question is, Is there a life after death? If there be not, let death come and end all. If there be,-ah, that is the thought which makes men endure the ills of life. Conscience makes cowards of them. They dare not die. And thus, conscience, and thinking generally, stand as with me in the way of action."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


302. Line 65: ay, there's the RUB.-See Richard II. note The word is a technical term in the game of bowls. 303. Line 67: When we have shuffled off this mortal COIL. -The word coil is often used by Shakespeare in its old sense (not yet quite evaporated) of turmoil or troublesome confusion. This mortal coil might thus mean what Poe terms "the fever called living." There is also the other sense of coil, as in a coil of ropes; so that with the general idea of turmoil there may be a special reference to something coiled round the body, entangling and fettering it, or to the body as what Fletcher (Bonduca, iv. 1) calls the "case of flesh."

304 Line 70: the whips and scorns of TIME. It is not

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


305. Line 71: the PROUD man's contumely.-The Ff. have poore in place of the proud of Qq. The latter seems decidedly the most expressive, and has been adopted all but universally. The two expressions are of course really synonymous, only, as Corson remarks (Jottings on the Text of Hamlet, p. 24): "the genitive is differently used: in the first, it is objective, the poor man's contumely,' meaning the contumely or contemptuous treatment the poor man suffers; in the second, it is subjective, 'the proud man's contumely,' meaning the contumely or contemptuous treatment the proud man exercises." Johnson acutely remarks that "Hamlet, in his enunciation of miseries, forgets, whether properly or not, that he is a prince, and mentions many evils to which inferior stations only are exposed." To Mr. Furness it is "evident that Shakespeare is speaking in his own person:" but why? Surely it is not necessary to suffer all "the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to" in order to record them burningly in a dramatic soliloquy.

306. Line 72: The pangs of DESPIS'D love.-This is the reading of Q. 2 and Q. 3.; the Ff. have dispriz'd, i.e. undervalued, which a few editors adopt, including Furness who defends the reading not only on sentimental grounds, but as durior lectio. The word disprize occurs once elsewhere in the Folio, Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5. 74: disprizing the Knight oppos'd," where the Q. has misprizing. Either reading gives an admirable sense, and Corson throws out an ingenious suggestion on behalf of the Ff. by saying that "a disprized or undervalued love, a love that is only partially appreciated and responded to, would be apt to suffer more pangs than a despised love." This subtle point in love's casuistry can only be elucidated by the help of those whom it particularly concerns.

307. Line 75: quietus. This is a legal term, from the writ beginning Quietus est, for an acquittance or settlement of account. Compare the Italian form of receipt, "per quietanza." Cotgrave has: "Descharge: f. A discharge; acquittance; Quietus est." Compare Sonnet cxxvi. 11, 12:

Her audit, though delay'd, answer'd must be,
And her quietus is to render thee;

and see also Webster, Duchess of Malfy, i. 1:

And 'cause you shall not come to me in debt,
Being now my steward, here upon your lips
I sign your Quietus est.
-Works, vol. i. p. 198.

308. Line 76: a bare BODKIN.-Bodkin is an old word for a dagger. Chaucer uses it in speaking of the murder of Cæsar (Monkes Tale, 1. 714, ed. Morris):

And in the capitoll anoon him hent
This false Brutus, and his other foon,
And stiked him with bodekyns anoon.

Randolph uses the word in the same connection in The Muses Looking Glass, 1638, ii. 2:

App. A rapier's but a bodkin.

Dei. And a bodkin

Is a most dangerous weapon: since I read
Of Julius Cæsar's death, I durst not venture
Into a barber's shop for fear of bodkins.

-Works, ed. W. C. Hazlitt, 1875, p. 202. In Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (Nicholson's Reprint, p. 291) there is a cut of these bodkins used in juggling tricks. Perhaps, however, as Mr. Marshall says in his Study of Hamlet, "bodkin here does not mean dagger, but a woman's bodkin, or perhaps a 'writing steel,' or 'stylus. (See the passage quoted in Richardson's Dictionary sub Bodkin,' from Holland's translation of Suetonius-doe nothing else but catch flies, and with the sharp point of a bodkin or writing-steel prick them through.) I think there is no doubt that Hamlet wishes to mention the most contemptible instrument which could take away his life" (p. 156, n.).

309. Line 76: who would FARDELS bear.-Ff. have these fardels, which is perhaps right, as, though the metre is not improved, the sense gains somewhat by the massing together of all the evils specified, under the contemptuous term, these fardels. The word means a bundle or burden. Cotgrave has "Fardeau: a fardle, burthen, trusse, packe, bundle." Furness quotes Acts xxi. 15, version of 1581: "after these days we trussed up our fardels and went vp to Jerusalem." Shakespeare uses the word only here and in The Winter's Tale, where it recurs many times in the 4th and 5th acts, always in reference to the bundle found with Perdita (see note 203).

310. Line 77: To GRUNT and sweat under a weary life. --The word grunt has seen better days. Steevens quotes several testimonies to its respectability; but neither Turberville nor Stanyhurst is a great authority. The latter translates "supremum congemuit"-" for sighing it grunts"-but then Stanyhurst's translation of the first four books of the Eneid (Leyden, 1582) is probably the most outrageous specimen extant of printed English. Chaucer, however, has (Monkes Tale, line 718, ed. Morris): But never gront he at no strook but oon. And Cotgrave defines gronder, “. also to grunt, groane, grumble, &c." In Tottel's Miscellany, 1557, in Nicholas Grimald's The death of Zoroas, &c., we have:

Here grunts, here grones, echwhere strong youth is spent. -Arber's Reprint, p. 120. And in Armin's Nest of Ninnies, 1608, we find: "the fat fooles of this age will gronte and sweat under this massie burden," &c. -Sh. Soc. ed. Collier, p. 26. Pope of course altered grunt into groan, having a certain colour for his linguistic prudery in the following line in Julius Cæsar, iv. 1. 22:

To groan and sweat under the business. Groan was first introduced into the text in the Q. of 1676. 311. Lines 79, 80:

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns.

It certainly seems strange that Hamlet should give utterance to this sentiment when he has just had "ocular

demonstration to the contrary. Malone ingeniously remarks: "Our poet without doubt in the passage before us intended to say, that from the unknown region of the dead no traveller returns with all his corporeal powers; such as he who goes on a voyage of discovery brings back, when he returns to the port from which he sailed." Perhaps this may be so; but it seems to me quite possible that the passage had been written by Shakespeare on another occasion-jotted down perhaps on his "tables" --and that in introducing it here he overlooked the contradiction which the words as they stand certainly do imply. The thought here expressed is, one need hardly say, the common property of all writers, as it must be the inevitable reflection of all thinkers. Douce compares Job x. 21 and xvi. 22, and Malone cites Marlowe, Edward II. v. 6:

weep not for Mortimer, That scorns the world, and, as a traveller, Goes to discover countries yet unknown. -Works, ed. Dyce (Moxon), p. 221. Steevens makes the inevitable comparison with Catullus, iii. 11, 12:

Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum Illuc, unde negant redire quemquam.

312. Line 83: Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.- Compare Richard III. i. 4. 137, et seq., where the thought is further developed. Of us all is omitted in the Qq.

313. Line 85: the pale cast of THOUGHT.-Shakespeare probably had in mind both meanings of the word thought, its customary one, and the other meaning, of anxious care, familiar to us from Matthew vi. 34: "Take therefore no thought for the morrow," which the Revised Version renders, "Be not anxious for the morrow."

314. Line 86: And enterprises of great PITH and moment. -Qq. here read pitch, and the Cambridge editors prefer this reading, stating in a note: "In this doubtful passage we have retained the reading of the Quartos, although the players' Quartos of 1676, 1683, 1695, 1703, have, contrary to their custom, followed the Folios, which may possibly indicate that 'pith' was the reading according to stage tradition." "Pith and marrow" occurs in i. 4. 22; pitch is used in Twelfth Night, i. 1. 12, &c. Either word is quite appropriate, and if one is a printers' error for the other, it is impossible to tell, or even to conjecture, which is the true reading. On the whole pith seems to me preferable. Corson (Jottings on the Text of Shakespeare's Hamlet, pp. 24, 25) gives a number of quotations from Shakespeare in defence of this reading.

315. Line 87: With this regard their currents turn AWRY.-Ff. have away, doubtless a printers' error, in any case a weaker reading.

316. Line 97: My honour'd lord, YOU know right well you did. All the Qq. print you, the Ff. I. Corson defends the latter reading by suggesting that Ophelia's meaning is "The remembrances you gave me may have been trifles to you, such trifles as left no impression on your mind of your having given them; but I know right well they did, as they were most dear to me at the time" (Jottings, p. 25). The Qq. reading, however, still seems to me the more natural of the two.

317. Lines 106-108: That if you be honest and fair, YOUR HONESTY should admit no discourse to your beauty. This is the reading of Ff.; the Qq. print you. Caldecott well explains the passage, which has sometimes been misunderstood: "If you really possess these qualities, chastity and beauty, and mean to support the character of both, your honesty should be so chary of your beauty as not to suffer a thing so fragile to entertain discourse, or to be parleyed with.' The lady, 't is true, interprets the words otherwise, giving them the turn that best suited her purpose."

318. Lines 130, 131: What should such fellows as I do crawling between HEAVEN AND EARTH?-This is the reading of Ff. and of Q. 1; the other Qq. have earth and heaven. There is not much to choose between the two readings. The Cambridge editors follow the Ff. in the Cambridge edition, the Qq. in the Globe and Clarendon Press editions.

319. Line 135: no where.-Ff. print no way.

320. Lines 149-153: I have heard of your PAINTINGS too, well enough; God has given you one FACE, and you make yourselves another: you JIG, you AMBLE, and you lisp, and NICKNAME God's creatures.-F. 1 has pratlings for paintings, and instead of face, pace. Both readings I take to be mere misprints, though a faint defence has been set up on the ground that lisp, in the succeeding clause, gives countenance to prattlings, and jig and amble to pace. Jig is spelt gig in the Qq., gidge in the Ff.; and the former read and amble instead of you amble. Compare Love's Labour's Lost, iii. 1. 11, 12: "to jig off a tune at the tongue's end;" and Julius Cæsar, iv. 3. 137:

What should the wars do with these jigging fools! See note 350 below, where jig is spelt gigge in the quotation from Florio. Amble is used of an affected smoothness of gait. (See note 41 to Richard III.) Nickname is used as a verb only here and in Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. 349; as a substantive only in Romeo and Juliet, ii. 1. 12.

321. Line 159: The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye, tongue, sword. This is very likely a misprint, soldier's and scholar's having been accidentally transposed; and several editors have adopted the more precise reading, which is indeed that of Q. 1. But Farmer quotes in defence of the reading of Qq. and Ff., Lucrece, 615, 616, in which a similar transposition occurs, perhaps, however, for the sake of the rhyme:

For princes are the glass, the school, the book, Where subjects' eyes do learn, do read, do look.

322. Line 166: Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh. This is the reading of Ff., which I prefer to Capell's usually followed emendation: Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh. Qq. have jangled out of time, no doubt a misprint.

323. Line 174: the hatch and the DISCLOSE.- Disclose is a technical term, explained in the passage quoted by Steevens from Randle Holme, Academy of Armory and Blazon, bk. ii. ch. ii. p. 238: “Disclose is when the young just peeps through the shell. It is also taken for the laying, hatching, or bringing forth young: as 'she disclosed three birds.'" See below, v. 1. 310.

324. Line 192: To show his GRIEF.-Ff. have griefs, which is followed by Furness, who cites Corson's explanation that griefs grievances, as it does in iii. 2. 352.

325. Line 194: If she FIND him not.-Compare All's Well, ii. 3. 216, 217: "I have now found thee; when I lose thee again, I care not;" where found is used, in double entendre, for found out, as it is, entirely, here.


326-François-Victor Hugo, in the Introduction to his translation of the play (ed. 1873, p. 77, translated in Furness, New Var. Ed. vol. ii. p. 390), has the following admirable note on the strict dramatic relevancy of the "Erudite critics, while acknowledging Players scenes: the fine wisdom of Hamlet's counsels to the players, have nevertheless stoutly denied the dramatic propriety of introducing these counsels at all. The two scenes, in which Hamlet makes the actors rehearse, have been regarded by these critics as hors-d'œuvre, very magnificent, it is true, but none the less as hors-d'œuvre. Herein lies, in my opinion, a very grave error. Hamlet wishes to have a piece acted, the sight of which will force the guilty King to reveal his crime. It is readily perceived that the manner in which this piece is to be interpreted is of great importance to him. Hamlet has before him mere strolling players, buffoons addicted to low clap-trap or grotesque contortions, decked out in ridiculous costume. Wherefore, if the scene to be acted before Claudius has not due decorum, if one of the actors mouths it like a town crier, if another has his periwig befrouzled, if the clown, just at the most important point, cuts some of the wretched jokes that clowns are so fond of, why then, forsooth, the whole effect that Hamlet is aiming at is ruined. The terrible tragedy, whereof the last scene is to be acted off the stage, will end like a farce in a market-place amid peals of laughter. But if, on the other hand, the acting proceeds smoothly, the result is sure. The more natural the actor, the deeper will be Claudius's emotion; the truer the acting of the fictitious murderer, the more manifest will be the panic of the real one. It is therefore essential that Hamlet should have the piece rehearsed with the greatest care before it is performed in public."

327. Line 7: the whirlwind of passion.-This is the reading of Ff., and is followed by many editors. Qq. have "whirlwind of your passion." It is difficult to decide between the two readings, but the Qq. reading is held by some to be more characteristic in its cumulative vehemence.

328. Line 10: to HEAR a ROBUSTIOUS PERIWIG-PATED fellow. Instead of hear, Ff. have see, which some defend. But, as Furness says: "the 'ears of the groundlings' are not 'split' by what they see.”—Robustious is used again by Shakespeare in Henry V. iii. 7. 158, 159: "the men do sympathize with the mastiffs in robustious and rough coming on." It occurs in the quotation from Taylor given in note 273 to Henry VIII. Mr. Browning has the word in his Parleyings (1887), p. 219:

Join in, give voice robustious rude and rough. Periwig-pated, used of players, is explained by Steevens'

quotation from Every Woman in her Humour (1609): "As none wear hoods but monks and ladies; and feathers but fore-horses, &c.-none periwigs but players and pictures."

329. Line 12: the groundlings.-This was a common term of contempt for "the understanding gentlemen of the ground" (Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair, Induction, p. 366, ed. Gifford), or that part of the audience who paid a penny for admission, and stood on the unfloored ground in the pit of the theatre. See Dekker's Gull's Hornbook, ch. vi.: "your groundling and gallery-commoner buys his sport by the penny, and, like a haggler, is glad to utter it again by retailing." Nares cites Lady Alimony, i. 1: "Besides, sir, all our galleries and ground-stands are furnished, and the groundlings within the yard grow infinitely unruly."

330. Line 15: I WOULD have such a fellow whipped.-So Qq.; Ff. have could, which seems a little more considerate.

331. Line 15: Termagant.-Termagant, so frequently alluded to in the plays of the period, is represented in the early metrical romances as the god of the Saracens; as in Guy of Warwick, where the Soudan says:

So helpe me Mahoune of might
And Termagaunt my God so bright.

Ritson quotes Bale's Acts of English Octaries, Reliques, i. 77:"Grennyng upon her lyke Termagauntes in a play." His character, from all accounts, must have been extremely outrageous and violent. Shakespeare uses the word in one other place, but as an adjective, I. Henry IV. v. 4. 114:"that hot termagant Scot."

332. Line 16: it out-herods Herod.-Herod was the typical tyrant of the mystery-plays. Furness gives some specimens of his diction (Var. Ed. p. 227), with the significant stage-direction (Coventry miracle-play of the Nativity, Marriott, p. 83): "Here Erode ragis in thys pagond, and in the strete also." Compare Chaucer, The Miller's Tale (Harl. MS. lines 3383, 3384):

Som tyme to schewe his lightnes and maistrye He pleyeth herody on a scaffold hye.

333. Line 27: pressure.-Shakespeare only uses the word pressure in one other place, ante, i. 5. 100:

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past.

334. Line 36: nor man.-The Ff. have or Norman, which is an evident misprint of the reading in the text, that of the Qq., nor man. Q. 1 has nor Turk.

335. Line 38: had made MEN.-Theobald's suggestion, adopted by Rann and Furness, "had made them," is ingenious, and may very possibly be right. But I do not think the reading of Qq. and Ff. must necessarily give bad sense; for Hamlet is merely recording his sensations on looking at certain actors, who had made him wonder at men being so unlike humanity. Compare Lear, ii. 2. 59-65:

Kent. nature disclaims in thee: a tailor made thee. Corn. Thou art a strange fellow: a tailor make a man? Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter or a painter could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two hours o' the trade.

336 Lines 42-50: And let those that play your clowns


speak no more than is set down for them, &c.-The advice which Hamlet here gives to the comic actors who insist upon giving their own gag" in place of, or in addition to, the words "set down for them," is not inapplicable to-day; in Shakespeare's time it was greatly needed. "The clown," says Malone, " very often addressed the audience, in the midst of the play, and entered into a contest of raillery and sarcasm with such of the audience as chose to engage with him"-after the manner, one may suppose, of some modern "artistes" of the musichall.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

342. Line 84: the very comment of THY soul.-Ff. here read my, a pretty evident misprint, which Knight endeavours to defend on psychological grounds. The defence seems to me extremely weak. "Hamlet," he says, "having told Horatio the 'circumstances' of his father's death, and imparted his suspicions of his uncle, entreats his friend to observe his uncle with the very comment of my soul,'-Hamlet's soul." Surely Dyce is right in replying, that what Hamlet wanted was for Horatio to observe the king on his own account, quite independently

And after we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming.

343. Line 89: stithy.-Stithy (as also stithe, the reading of Ff.) is and was used both for a smith's anvil and for his shop. Here it evidently means the latter. Shakespeare employs the word as a verb in Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5. 255: "the forge that stithied Mars his helm."

344. Line 95: I must be IDLE.-Compare iii. 4. 12: Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue;

and Lear, i. 3. 16: "Idle old man," used of the crazy king. The Clarendon Press editors state that idle is still used in Suffolk for foolish, light-headed, crazy. It is more than once used emphatically in this sense in Q. 1.

345. Lines 98, 99: the chameleon's dish; i.e. air, teste Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica: or, Enquiries into very many received Tenets, and commonly presumed Truths, 1646. Bk. iii. chap. xx. "Of the Cameleon," pp. 157-163, begins thus: "Concerning the Chameleon there generally passeth an opinion that it liveth onely upon ayre, and is sustained by no other aliment; thus much is in plaine termes affirmed by Selinus, Pliny, and divers other, and by this periphrasis is the same described by Ovid; All which notwithstanding upon enquiry, I finde the assertion mainly controvertible, and very much to faile in the three inducements of beliefe." Compare Two Gent. of Verona, ii. 1. 178, 179: "though the chameleon Love can feed on the air;" and Nat. Field, A Woman is a Weathercock: "I do live like a chameleon upon the air, and not like a mole upon the earth" (Hazlitt's Dodsley, vol. xi. p. 45).

346. Line 104: you played I' THE UNIVERSITY, you say? -The Cambridge editors, who should be authoritative on the subject, say in their Clarendon Press edition: The halls of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge were the scenes of theatrical performances on special occasions, such as Commencement at Cambridge, or the visit of royal or distinguished personages. In 1564, on Sunday evening, August the 6th, Queen Elizabeth saw the Aulularia of Plautus in the antechapel of King's College Chapel. On the occasion of the visit of James I. and Prince Charles to Cambridge in 1614 plays were performed in the hall of Trinity College; among them the comedies of Ignoramus and Albumazar, which have escaped oblivion. On the title-page of the quarto of Hamlet, 1603, it is said, 'As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse seruants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Vniversities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where.'"

347. Line 108: I did enact Julius Cæsar.-Possibly an allusion by Shakespeare to his own play of Julius Cæsar, which probably appeared in 1601. A play called Cæsar's Fall (by Webster, Middleton, Drayton, and others) was acted in 1602. A Latin play on the subject of Cæsar's death was performed at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1582; and perhaps it was in this that Polonius did enact Julius Cæsar.

348. Line 119: in your lap. —Steevens thinks it was a common act of gallantry to lie at a mistress' feet "during any dramatic representation." Douce, however, reasonably limits the custom to masques and entertainments in private houses. See Beaumont and Fletcher, The Queen of Corinth, i. 2:

Ushers her to her coach, lies at her feet
At solemn masques.

-Works, p. 26. Lines 121, 122 are omitted in Qq.

349. Line 123: Do you think I meant COUNTRY MATTERS? -Elze compares Greene, Dorastus and Fawnia (Hazlitt's Sh. Library, part i. vol. iv. p. 58): "delighting as much to talke of Pan and his cuntrey prankes, as Ladies to tell of

Venus and her wanton tozes;" and Marston's Malcontent, ii. 3 (Works. ed Halliwell, vol. ii. p. 229).

350 Line 132: your only jig-maker. The Clarendon Press edd. quote Cotgrave: "Farce: f. A (fond and dissolute) Play, Comedie, or Enterlude; also, the Iyg at the end of an Enterlude, wherein some pretie Knauerie is acted. Florio has: "Frottola, a country gigge, or round, or countrie song, or wanton verse." Collier says that a jig "seems to have been a ludicrous composition, in rhyme, sung, or said by the clown, and accompanied by dancing and playing upon the pipe and tabor" (History of English Dramatic Poetry, iii. 380).

351. Lines 137, 138: let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of SABLES.-It is not clear whether by sables Shakespeare meant mourning garments or robes trimmed with sable fur; or whether, as the Clarendon Press editors plausibly suggest, he intended an equivoque on the two meanings of the word, as in Massinger and Middleton, The Old Law, ii. 1:

A cunning grief,

That's only faced with sables for a show, But gawdy-hearted.

-Massinger's Works, p. 421.

Malone quotes a number of passages to show the high estimation in which sable-trimmed robes were held in England in the time of Shakespeare, as much as a thousand ducats being sometimes given for "a face of sables," and the statute of apparel, 24 Henry VIII. c. 13, having ordained that sables might be used by no one under the degree of an earl. A suit of sables may therefore be equi valent to rich and gaudy attire, and thus the greatest possible contrast to a mourning suit of black. Capell (Notes, vol. i. p. 136, apud Furness) says: "It is scarce worth remarking, being a fact of such notoriety, that 'sables,' the furs so called, are the finery of most northern nations; so that Hamlet's saying amounts to a declaration, that he would leave off his blacks, since his father was so long dead."

352. Lines 144, 145: For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot. See note 59 to Love's Labour's Lost (iii. 1. 30, where the same quotation is made). Compare Beaumont and Fletcher's Women Pleased, iv. 1: "Shall the hobby-horse be forgot then?" and Ben Jonson's Entertainment of the Queen and Prince at Althorpe: "the hobby-horse is forgot.”

353. Line 145: The dumb-show enters.-The necessity for this dumb-show is not very obvious. As Pye remarks, in his Comments on the Commentators (quoted in Furness, iv. 1. 241), "there is no apparent reason why the Usurper should not be quite as much affected by this mute representation of his crimes as he is afterwards when the same action is accompanied by words." Calde cott attempts an explanation by suggesting that "Hamlet, intent on catching the conscience of the king,' would naturally wish that his 'mouse-trap' should be doubly set, and could never be supposed willing to relinquish any one of those engines, the use of which custom had authorized." This last statement, however, is far from correct, for, as Hunter says (vol. ii. p. 249): "To represent the story of a play in dumb-show when the play itself is going to be performed appears a most extraordinary mode of procedure, and nothing like it has been traced

« VorigeDoorgaan »