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1 Play. I warrant your honour.
Ham. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action : with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first, and now, was, and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirrour up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure*. Now this, overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one, must, in your allowances, o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players, that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly,—not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted, and bellowed, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
1 Play. I hope, we have reformed that indifferently with us.
Ham. O, reform it altogether. And let those, that play your clowns, speak no more than is set the brother of death.'- World of Words, 1611. Hence this personage was introduced into the old mysteries and moralities as a demon of outrageous and violent demeanour; or as Bale says, • Termagauntes altogether, and very devils incarnate :' and again,
this terrible Termagaunt, this Nero, this Pharaoh. A tyrant was always ' a part to tear a cat in.'—The murder of the innocents was a favourite subject for a mystery; and wherever Herod is introduced, he plays the part of a vaunting braggart, a tyrant of tyrants, and does indeed outdo Termagant.
* Pressure is impression, resemblance. 5 i. e. approval, estimation. Vide King Lear, Act ii. Sc. 4. .
down for them: for there be of them, that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too; though, in the mean time, some necessary question of the play be then to be considered : that's villanous; and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.
[Exeunt Players. Enter POLONIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and Guil
DENSTERN. How now, my lord ? will the king hear this piece of work?
Pol. And the queen too, and that presently.
Exit POLONIUS. Will
you two help to hasten them? Both. Ay, my lord.
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Ham. What, ho; Horatio!
Ham. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
Hor. O, my dear lord,-
Nay, do not think I fatter: 6 The quarto, 1603, · Point in the the play then to be observed.? Afterwards is added, “And then you have some again that keeps one suit of jests, as a man is known by one suit of apparel; and gentlemen quotes his jests down in their tables before they come to the play, as thus :- Cannot you stay till I eat my porridge; and you owe me a quarter's wages; and your beer is sour; and blabbering with his lips : And thus keeping in his cinque a pace of jests; when, God knows, the warme Clown cannot make a jest unless by chance, as the blind man catcheth a hare: Masters, tell him of it.'—This passage was evidently levelled at the particular folly of some injudicious player contemporary with the poet.
For what advancement may I hope from thee,
may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
7 Pregnant, quick, ready.
According to the doctrine of the four humours, desire and confidence were seated in the blood, and judgment in the phlegm, and the due mixtures of the humours made a perfect character.'
Johnson. 9 Quarto, 1604_co-medled.'
10 Vulcan's stithy is Vulcan's workshop or smithy; stith being an unvil.
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face 11;
Well, my lord:
Ham. They are coming to the play; I must be idle: Get you a place.
Danish March. A Flourish. Enter King, Queen,
POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUIL-
Ham. Excellent, i'faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed; You cannot feed capons so.
King. I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not mine.
Ham, No, nor mine now. My lord,—you played once in the university, you say? [To POLONIUS.
Pol. That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor. Ham. And what did
enact? Pol. I did enact Julius Cæsar: I was killed i' the Capitol; Brutus killed me 13
11 Here the first quarto has :
• And if he do not blench and change at that,
Hor. My lord, mine eyes shall still be on his face,
That shall appear in him, but I shall note it.' 12 i. e. judgment, opinion.
13 A Latin play on the subject of Cæsar's death was performed at Christ Church, in Oxford, in 1582. Malone thinks that there was an English play on the same subject previous to Shak
Ham. It was a brute part of him, to kill so capital a calf there.—Be the players ready?
Ros. Ay, my lord; they stay upon your pati
Queen. Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
Ham. No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.
Pol. O ho! do you mark that? [To the King. Ham. Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
[Lying down at OPHELIA's Feet. Oph. No, my lord. Ham. I mean, my head upon your lap? Oph. Ay, my lord. Ham. Do you think, I meant contray 15 matters? Oph. I think nothing, my lord.
Ham. That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs. Oph. What is,
lord ? Ham. Nothing Oph. You are merry, my lord.
Ham. Who, I? speare's. Cæsar was killed in Pompey's portico, and not in the Capitol : but the error is at least as old as Chaucer's time.
This Julius to the Capitolie wente
Chaucer's Monkes Tale, v. 14621. I have cited this passage to show that Chaucer uses bodkin for dagger, like Shakspeare. See p. 240.
14 i.e. they wait upon your sufferance or will? Johnson would have changed the word to pleasure; but Shakspeare has again used it in a similar sense in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act iii. Sc. 1 :
Is privilege for thy departure hence.' 15 This is the reading of the quarto 1603. The quarto 1604 and the folio read country.