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412. Lines 50, 51:
Queen. Ay me, what act,
That roars so loud, and thunders in the INDEX? The latter line is given in the Qq. to Hamlet; in the Ff. the two lines are correctly attributed to the queen, but are printed as prose. Index is used five times in Shakespeare, always in the sense of preface or prologue. Compare Othello, ii. 1. 262, 263: “an index and obscure prologue." In Shakespeare's time the index was frequently placed at the beginning of a book. The name generally implies merely a table of contents. Compare Pericles, ii. 3. 3-5: To place upon the volume of your deeds, As in a title-page, your worth in arms, Were more than you expect, or more than 's fit.
413. Line 53: Look here, upon this picture, and on this. -Marshall, in his Study of Hamlet, has a long note on "the two pictures in the closet scene," pp. 166-173. He quotes Davies, Dramatic Miscellanies, vol. iii. pp. 106, 107: "It has been the constant practice of the stage, ever since the Restoration, for Hamlet, in this scene, to produce from his pocket two pictures in little, of his father and uncle, not much bigger than two large coins or medallions. ... But, if the scantiness of decorations compelled the old actors to have recourse to miniature pictures, why should the playhouse continue the practice when it is no longer necessary; and when the same scene might be shown to more advantage by two portraits, at length, in different panels of the Queen's closet?" Steevens and Malone both express their approval of whole lengths rather than miniatures, on the ground that Hamlet could not, in the latter case, have referred to "a station, like the herald mercury," &c. It also seems obvious that Hamlet would not be likely to have with him a miniature of his uncle. Fechter, indeed, gets out of that difficulty by tearing the miniature of Claudius from the queen's neck, and flinging it away; Rossi tears off the miniature, dashes it to the ground, and tramples on the fragments. Mr. Irving and Salvini suppose the pictures to be seen with the mind's eye alone, a conclusion which Mr. Marshall strongly, and, as I think, conclusively, argues against in his note. "The very first line
Look here upon this picture, and on thisseems to me totally inconsistent with anything but two actual pictures then before the Queen's eyes. If the portraits existed but in the mind's eye' of Hamlet, what sense is there in his using the two demonstrative pronouns?-how could he point out any contrast between two portraits which he had not yet drawn? He might have said, 'Look upon this picture-that I am now going to draw in imagination,' but he could not say, 'Compare it with this which I am going to draw afterwards.' The word counterfeit' seems to me inapplicable to a mere ideal representation; it is always used by Shakespeare of some actual imitation" (p. 170).
414. Line 54: The COUNTERFEIT presentment of two brothers.-Counterfeit is often used in Shakespeare for portrait, as in Timon, v. 1. 83, 84:
Thou draw'st a counterfeit
Cotgrave has: "Pourtraict: m. A pourtrait, image, picture, counterfeit, or draught of."
415. Line 58: A STATION like the herald Mercury.—Station is used for an attitude in standing in Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 3. 22:
Her motion and her station are as one; and perhaps in Macbeth, v. 8. 42: "the unshrinking station where he fought;" but, though given by Schmidt in his Lexicon under the same heading as those previously mentioned, I think it more properly means "post."
416. Line 59: New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill.— Malone suggests that Shakespeare may have had in his mind three lines of Phaer's Aeneid, 1558, bk. iv. 1. 246 et seq.:
And now approaching neere, the top he seeth and mighty lims
417. Line 67: batten; i.e. feed oneself fat. The word is used both transitively and intransitively; in Shakespeare only transitively. It is found in one other passage, Coriolanus, iv 5. 35: "go and batten on cold bits." Compare Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, iii. iv.: "Why, master, will you poison her with a mess of rice porridge? that will preserve life, make her round and plump, and batten more than you are aware' (ed. Dyce, 1862, p. 163). The Clarendon Press edd. quote Cotgrave, who gives "to battle' as equivalent to "Prendre chair.” They add: "The word 'battels is no doubt derived from the same root."
418. Line 69: hey-day.-Hey-day occurs as an exclamation in the Qq. of Troilus, v. 1. 73 (Ff. hoyday), and is given by many editors for the hoyday of Richard III. iv. 4. 458, and Timon, i. 2. 137, and the high-day of Ff. in Tempest, ii. 2. 190. Steevens quotes from Ford, "Tis Pity She's a Whore (or, as the Clarendon Press edd. say, "a play of Ford"), iv. 3:
421. Line 77: hoodman-blind. - Hoodman-blind is the old name for blindman's-buff. Shakespeare has Hoodman in All's Well, iv. 3. 136. There is a very entertaining scene of hoodman-blind in Day's Humour out of Breath, 1608, iv. 3 (ed. Bullen, pp. 58 et seq.). Baret's Alvearie has: "The Hoodwinke play, or hoodmanblinde, in some places called the blindmanbuf." Compare The Merry Devil of Edmonton, i. 3 (ed. Warnke and Proescholdt, p. 15).
422. Line 81: Could not so MOPE.-The word is used again in this sense-to be dazed, or to act blindly, per
haps from myope-in Tempest, v. 1. 240. Compare Two Noble Kinsmen, iii. 2. 25: "I am mop't." Littledale, in his note on the line in his edition, compares Fletcher, The Humorous Lieutenant, iv. 6:
Sure, I take it,
He is bewitch'd, or mop'd, or his brains melted;
and the Queen of Corinth, ii. 3:
How am I tranced and moped!
423. Line 83: mutine.-Mutine, here used as a verb, is found in v. 2. 6, and in King John, ii. 1. 378, as a substantive. Cotgrave has "Mutiner: to mutine." The Clarendon Press edd. quote Jonson's Sejanus, iii. 1:
Had but thy legions there rebell'd or mutin'd. Mutineer occurs in Tempest, iii. 2. 40, and mutiner in Coriolanus, i. 1. 254.
424 Line 90: such black and GRAINED spots.-Cotgrave has: "Graine: f. The seed of herbs, &c., also, grain, wherewith cloth is dyed in graine, Scarlet dye, Scarlet in graine." Grain was originally used only of scarlet dye, but came afterwards to be applied to any fast colour. The word comes from the Latin granum, a seed, a term which was used of the seed-like form of the ovarium of the coccus insect, from which red dyes were obtained. In Spanish the word grana is used for grain in general, and also for scarlet grain, cochineal. Thus Isaiah i. 18 is in Valera's version: "si vuestros pecados fueran como la grana," &c.
not occur at all. The Clarendon Press edd. (note on Macbeth, i. 3. 81) cite examples of both forms from Milton; as, for instance, Paradise Lost, iv. 585:
To exclude spiritual substance with corporeal bar; and Samson Agonistes, 616:
Though void of corporal sense.
430. Line 121: Your bedded hair, like life in EXCREMENTS.-In five out of the six instances of this word in Shakespeare, excrement is used for hair-a meaning commonly (and, in strict etymology, correctly) given to it at the time, as in the passage quoted by the Clarendon Press edd. from Bacon, Natural History, cent. 1, sect. 58: "Liv. ing creatures put forth (after their period of growth) nothing that is young but hair and nails, which are excrements and no parts." See Love's Labour's Lost, note 159, and Winter's Tale, note 205.
431. Lines 152-155.-Staunton considers these lines as an aside, addressed by Hamlet to his "virtue," and points: "Forgive me this, my virtue." This view is followed by many editors, though few even of those who profess to believe have had the courage to adopt it. It is a view that does not commend itself to me. I think Hamlet is still speaking to his mother.
432. Line 155: Yea, CURB and woo for leave to do him good.-Curb (spelt courb in Ff., and by some later editors for distinctness' sake) is from the French courber, to bend or bow. Steevens quotes the Vision of Piers Ploughman, 1. 617 (ed. Wright):
Thanne I courbed on my knees, And cried hire of grace.
433. Lines 161-165:
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on.
This passage is not in Ff. In Qq. (except in that of 1676) there is no stop between eat and of. Many emendations have been suggested, and many far-fetched explanations Who put forth. The passage is certainly a difficult one. all sense doth eat is well paraphrased by the Clarendon Press edd.: "who destroys all natural feeling, and prevents it from being exerted;" Of habits devil, is rendered by the same edd.: "and is the malignant attendant on habits." Might not devil possibly stand as a sort of adjective to habits, meaning that custom is a monster of diabolical habits?
434. Line 169: And either LAY the devil, or throw him out. This line is not in Ff.; Q. 2, Q. 3 read and either the devil, an evident misprint, which the printer of Q. 4 changed to and Maister the devil, which makes no sort of metre, and is doubtless a mere conjecture, without authority. A word is evidently wanting, and that word is evidently a single syllable, or something which by the help of elision will be equivalent to a single syllable. So much we know, and no more; though it seems probable (by no means certain) from the alternative word either, that the lost verb is one which would contrast with throw him out. The field for guess-work is thus illimitable, and to me it seems scarcely worth guessing when the most
brilliant guess will be a guess only. I have inserted in the text the word lay (Cartwright's conjecture), not because I have any confidence that that is the right word, but because some insertion is necessary in order to fill up the hiatus, and lay will at least do as well as anything else. Dr. Ingleby, naming the five conjectures which do not seem to him" utterly imbecile," says very reasonably (The Still Lion, 1874, pp. 115-119): "It is not easy to see why the five verbs, curb, quell, lay, aid, and house found more favour than a score of others, apparently as well suited to the sense and measure of the line as any of these. How soon are the resources of the conjectural critics exhausted! how meagre is the evidence adduced in favour of any single conjecture! yet the requirements of the passage are by no means severe, nor are the means for complying with them either narrow or recherché. It is rather an embarras des richesses that hinders our decision. To call over a few of the candidates for admission into the text: curb suggests rein, rule, thrall, bind, chain, &c., quell and lay suggest charm, worst, quench, foil, balk, cross, thwart, daunt, shame, cow, &c.; while aid and house suggest fire, rouse, stir, serve, lodge, feed, &c. Besides which there are many dissyllables that would answer the purposes of sense and measure, as abate, abase, &c." The whole passage is very interesting and acute, and seems to me the most sensible consideration that has been made of the subject. Dr. Ingleby's conclusion is that the missing word "must at least import the subduing of the devil of habit," and that, while it is obviously impossible to come to a positive decision, lay and shame are perhaps the best of the innumerable conjectures. It is impossible to leave this subject without mentioning Dr. George Mac Donald's note on this passage in his edition of the play, p. 179: "I am inclined to propose a pause and a gesture, with perhaps an inarticulation"! The italics are the author's, the note of admiration mine.
435. Line 182: the BLOAT king.-Bloat is Warburton's extremely probable emendation of the Qq. blowt. Ff. have blunt. Bloat (i.e. bloated) is adopted by almost all the editors. Compare (for the form) deject, iii. 1. 163; hoist, iii. 4. 207; distract, iv. 5. 2. Nothing could be more appropriate, as to the sense. The numerous references to drinking leave no doubt that Claudius is intended to be somewhat of a drunkard.
436. Line 183: call you his MOUSE.-This was used as a term of endearment. See Twelfth Night, note 49; and compare Beaumont and Fletcher, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, i. 2: "What is it, mouse?" and "I prithee, mouse, be patient."
437. Line 184: a pair of REECHY kisses.-Reechy means, literally, smoky. Compare Coriolanus, ii. 1. 224, 225: the kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck.
It is used here, as in Much Ado, iii. 3. 143, for dirty, filthy, in the more general sense. The Clarendon Press edd. suggest that "in the present passage the word may have been suggested by 'bloat,' two lines before, which has also the meaning 'to cure herrings by hanging them in the smoke.'
438. Line 185: Or PADDLING in your neck with his damn'd
440. Line 194: like the famous ape.-This ape has not yet been identified. Warner (Var. Sh. vol. vii. p. 405) thinks that Sir John Suckling, in one of his letters, may possibly allude to the same story: "It is the story of the jackanapes and the partridges; thou starest after a beauty till it be lost to thee, and then let'st out another, and starest after that till it is gone too." The Clarendon Press edd. say: "The reference must be to some fable in which an ape opened a basket containing live birds, then crept into it himself, and 'to try conclusions,' whether he could fly like them, jumped out and broke his neck."
441. Line 200: I must to England.-Malone (Var. Ed. vol. vii. p. 405) says: "Shakespeare does not inform us how Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were made acquainted with the King's intentions for the first time in the very last scene; and they do not appear to have had any communication with the Prince since that time. Add to this, that in a subsequent scene, when the King, after the death of Polonius, informs Hamlet he was to go to England, he expresses great surprise, as if he had not heard anything of it before.-This last, however, may, perhaps, be accounted for, as contributing to his design of passing for a madman." Marshall, Study of Hamlet, pp. 188, 189, has the following note on the subject: "The first mention of the scheme of sending Hamlet to England occurs in Act III. scene 1, lines 168-175. . . . The Queen apparently was not present, only Polonius: the next allusion to it is in the third scene of the same act, when the King broaches the plan to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The action would seem to be continuous, at any rate to the end of scene 1, if not to the end of the act. We must mark the Queen's answer: Hamlet's words I must to England; you know that? To which his mother replies
I had forgot: 't is so concluded onshowing that she had heard of the proposed embassy to England. Unless we suppose that an interval of time is intended to elapse between the first and second scenes of this act, she must have been informed of his intention by Claudius, when they retired so abruptly in the middle of the play represented before the Court. Hamlet could only
have heard of the project in the short interval which elapsed between his leaving the King kneeling in his closet (scene 3) and his interview with his mother (scene 4). It is quite possible that Shakespeare meant us to suppose that, while Hamlet passed through the corridors of the palace, some of the courtiers, if not Rosencrantz and Guildenstern themselves, had told him of the King's intention. I cannot conceive that it was a mere oversight on Shakspeare's part; for we must not forget that he revised the whole play, and this very scene in particular. Surely Malone is not justified in saying, as far as the text is concerned, that Hamlet expresses any surprise when (act iv. scene 3, lines 47, 48) the King tells him that everything is ready for his journey to England; he merely repeats the words, "For England;" and twice afterwards, "Come, for England" (line 51 and line 55); this very repetition might have warned the King that Hamlet was not without suspicion of his design; but he seems to have had no apprehension on this point. It is very likely that, by repeating these words, Hamlet desired to remind his mother of what he had said to her; and to assure her that she need have no fear of his incurring any danger from over-trusting the companions which the King had chosen for him."
442. Lines 206, 207:
For 't is the sport to have the ENGINER Hoist with his own PETAR.
Q (1676) gives the modern form engineer, Compare Troilus and Cressida, ii. 3. 8: "Then there's Achilles,a rare enginer." And see cognate forms, such as pioner, Hamlet, i. 5. 163, and Othello, iii. 3. 346. Petar was formerly an alternative spelling of petard. Cotgrave has: "Petart: m. A Petard, or Petarre; an engine (made like a Bell, or morter) wherewith strong gates are burst open.' Elze compares Dekker, The Honest Whore, Part I. v. 2: Then all our plots
Are turn'd upon our heads, and we 're blown up
-Works, vol. ii. p 75. 443. Line 212: I'll lug the GUTS into the neighbour room. -The word guts had not so vulgar a sound in Shakespeare's age as it has in ours. Steevens quotes Lyly's Mydas, 1592: "Could not the treasure of Phrygia, nor the tributes of Greece, nor mountains in the East, whose guts are gold, satisfy thy mind?" Halliwell states that he has seen a letter, written about a century ago, in which a lady of rank, addressing a gentleman, speaks of her guts with the same nonchalance with which we should now write stomach. In any case, the use of the word here is unquestionably coarse and unfeeling. Compare the other passage in which it is applied to a person, I. Henry IV. ii. 4. 251: "thou clay-brain'd guts," &c.
ACT IV. SCENE 1.
444. Lines 6, 7:
King. What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet? Queen. Mad as the sea and wind, &c.
The Queen has promised her son, in lines 197-199 of the preceding scene, that she will not betray the secret of his pretended madness; she here keeps her promise, and, as
Clarke says (apud Furness, vol. i. pp. 311, 312), maternal ingenuity makes it the excuse for his rash deed. This affords a clue to Hamlet's original motive in putting 'an antic disposition on and feigning insanity; he foresaw that it might be useful to obviate suspicion of his having a steadily-pursued object in view, and to account for whatever hostile attempt he should make." In Q.1 there is a scene not found in any other edition, in which the Queen and Horatio are seen counselling together how best they can aid Hamlet in his counterplots against the plots of Claudius. This scene precedes what is now iv, 7. On the question of the Queen's character as it finally leaves Shakespeare's hands, see note 405 above.
445. Line 18: Should have kept SHORT, restrain'd and OUT OF HAUNT.-Kept short means kept in restraint, under control. Compare Henry V. ii. 4. 72. Out of haunt is out of company ("exempt from public haunt," As You Like It, ii. 1. 15). The verb is two or three times used by Shakespeare in the similar sense of frequent (as the French hanter).
446. Lines 25, 26:
like some ORE Among a MINERAL of metals base.
In the English-French Dictionary annexed to Cotgrave ore is used only of gold: "Oare of gold, Balluque." Minsheu defines mineral as "anything that grows in mines, and contains metals.' In Hall's Satires, vi. 148, it is used for a mine ("fired brimstone in a mineral"). Here it means apparently a metallic vein or lode. 447. Lines 39-44:
And let them know, both what we mean to do,
So, haply, slander was first inserted by Capell, who modified Theobald's conjecture: "For, haply, slander" The words do not occur in either Ff. or Qq.; but that something is omitted is evident, and the reading adopted seems to supply the omission in a fairly satisfactory way. It has been generally followed, and there seems no reason why, in the utter absence of all original authority, it should not be accepted as a plausible enough make-shift.
ACT IV. SCENE 2.
448. Line 6: COMPOUNDED IT WITH DUST, whereto 't is kin.-Compare II. Henry IV. iv. 5. 116:
Only compound me with forgotten dust,
449. Lines 12-23.-Marshall, Study of Hamlet, p. 190, has the following note on this passage: "In Caldecott's Edition (1819), p. 98, the following passages are given:'When princes (as the toy takes them in the head) have used courtiers as sponges to drinke what juice they can from the poore people, they take pleasure afterwards to wringe them out into their owne cisternes.' R. C.'s 'Henr. Steph. Apology for Herodotus,' Fo. 1608, p. 81: 'Vespasion, when reproached for bestowing high office upon persons most rapacious, answered 'that he served
his turn with such officiers as with spunges, which, when they had drunke their fill, were then the fittest to be pressed' (Barnabe Rich's "Faultes, faults and nothing else but faults," 4to, 1606, p. 44b). (See Suetonius, Vespas. c. 16.)
This last passage bears such a remarkable similarity to the lines in the play, that it is almost certain Shakespeare, or the author of the older play of "Hamlet," must have borrowed the idea from the same source to which Barnabe Rich was indebted-viz. Suetonius.
This speech about the sponge, &c., was restored by Mr. Irving; the first time, I believe, it has been given on the stage: he spoke it in act iv, scene 2, where, as I have said in the text, it is placed in the Quarto, 1603. ́
450. Lines 13, 14: what REPLICATION should be made by the son of a king?-Replication, says Rushton (Shakespeare a Lawyer, p. 34, quoted by Furness), is "an exception of the second degree made by the plaintiff upon the answer of the defendant." In simple English, it is a reply; and is used in Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 2. 15, as a part of Holofernes' jargon. The word is used in Julius Cæsar, i. 1. 51, in the sense of echo, reverberation.
451. Lines 19, 20: he keeps them, LIKE AN APE DOTH NUTS, in the corner of his jaw.-Ff. have like an Ape, Qq. like an apple; the reading in the text is introduced from Q. 1 (first adopted by Singer), which reads: "As an Ape doth nuttes." The reading of the Ff. is, of course, quite admissible as it stands, but the phrase seems to me much more expressive, much more like Shakespeare, as we find it in Q. 1. The apple of Qq., though that too makes a sense of its own, is pretty obviously a misprint for ape. Ritson gives an example of the same misprint in Peele's Arraignment of Paris, where the familiar phrase about old maids is rendered "to halter apples in hell."
452. Lines 29, 30: The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.-See Furness' Variorum Ed. p. 316, for various conjectures as to Hamlet's meaning in this dark paradox. If any explanation is required, perhaps Jenner's is as good as any: "the body, being in the palace, might be said to be with the king; though the king, not being in the same room with the body, was not with the body." But very likely it is intentional nonsense.
453. Line 32: Hide fox, and all after.-Perhaps another name for hide-and-seek. Hanmer declares definitely that "there is a play among children called, Hide fox, and all after," but no one else seems to know anything about such a game. See Much Ado, note 146.
ACT IV. SCENE 3.
454. Lines 9, 10:
diseases desperate grown By desperate appliance are reliev'd. Rushton (Shakespeare's Euphuism, p. 11) quotes a passage from Lyly's Euphues (p. 67, ed. Arber) which contains a phrase not unsimilar to the one in the text ("a desperate disease is to be committed to a desperate doctor"). The juxtaposition of words is so obvious that it is a little rash to suppose that Shakespeare had this passage in mind, or owed his thought to it.
455. Line 38: you shall NOSE him.-Shakespeare uses nose as a verb in one other place, Coriolanus, v. 1. 28: "And still to nose th' offence," where the word means simply smell; here I think it has the further sense of tracking by the scent. Browning uses the word as the equivalent of part in his translation of the Agamemnon, p. 99:
And witness, running with me, that of evils Done long ago, I nosing track the footstep.
456. Line 46: the wind AT help. -Compare Winter's Tale, v. 1 140: "at friend." At is a corruption of a, itself the contraction of on (as in asleep: compare "fell on sleep," Acts xiii. 36). See Abbott's Shakespearean Grammar, § 143. "At foot," 57 below, is a different construction, and means, apparently, at his heel.
457. Lines 64, 65:
thou mayst not coldly SET Our sovereign PROCESS.
Set seems to be used here in the sense of set aside, set at nought. Process is, I think, unnoticed by any of the commentators, except that the Clarendon editors explain it as "procedure, action;" but it is not the king's action, it is his command which is in question, and here it seems necessary to accept the word in that sense. See note 16 to Antony and Cleopatra.
458. Line 66: By letters CONGRUING to that effect.—This is the reading of Qq.; Ff. have conjuring. It is very doubtful which of the two words is the right one, and which the misprint. On the whole congruing seems to me the better reading. The word does not occur anywhere else in Shakespeare, except in the pirated and spurious Qq. of Henry V. i. 2. 182, where the reading of Ff. is congreeing—a word not met with elsewhere, and perhaps, as Mr. Stone suggests in his edition of the play, formed by Shakespeare by analogy with agree.
459. Line 68: For like the HECTIC in my blood he rages. -Cotgrave has "Hectique: Sicke of an Hectick, or continual Feauer." The word is not used elsewhere by Shakespeare.
460. Lines 69, 70:
till I know 't is done, Howe'er my haps, my joys WERE NE'ER BEGUN. Qq. read will nere begin, which, though better English, is obviously inadmissible here on account of the rhyme.
ACT IV. SCENE 4.
461.-F. A. Marshall, Study of Hamlet, pp. 193, 194, has the following note on this scene: "That Shakespeare intended to refer to some particular expedition in this passage I have not the slightest doubt; but, unfortunately, I have not been able to trace the source of this description. The particulars given are very remarkable; it was a little patch of ground-not worth five ducats to farm-yet it was garrisoned by the Polack. I hoped to find the original of this unprofitable expedition in some of the 'adventures' undertaken by Sir Walter Raleigh, or by one of the Earls of Essex; but I have not succeeded to my own satisfaction. There are certain points of resemblance between the enterprise of Walter Devereux in 1573, the