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Holt White conceives it to be a depravation; as in Shirley's Gent. of Venice, quoted by Dr. Farmer, we find
“ The moon does mobble up herself,” and from Ogilby's Fables, Part II. he instances:
« Mobbled nine days in my considering cap." In his North Country Words Ray says, that “to mab is to dress carelessly. Mabs are slatterns." And Dr. Warburton quotes Sandys: “Their heads and faces (the Turkish women) are mabled in fine linen, that no more is to be seen of them than their
(55) Threatening the flames with bisson rheum] Blinded with tears, and wildly and distractedly menacing the flames. “ Blind or beasome born. Cæcigenus. Huloet's Dict.” Todd's Dict. See “ bisson conspectuities." Coriol. II. 1. Menen. (56) Made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
And passion in the gods.] Made the fiery orbs of heaven to melt and weep, and excited passion, moved the settled calm of the immortal gods. Mr. Steevens quotes Drayton's Polyolbion, Song XIII, " exhaling the milch dew," and Mr. Douce " Milchehearted. Lemosus.” Hulæt’s Abeced. 1552 ; and “ Lemosi, those that wepe lyghtly." Biblioth, Eliotæ. 1545. Illustr. II. 238.
(57) Turn'd his colour, and-tears in his eyes. Prythee, no more.] Then, when he exhibits the perfection of his art, and shews that he enters into and feels his character, then to urge that the actor should cease to exercise it, seems again to be in the character of a "
great baby in swaddling clouts.” (58) Study a speech] A technical term for learning to give effect to. “ If you have the part written, pray you, give it me, for I am slow of study.”. M. N. Dr. I. 1. Snug. Though here it may not
nean any thing more than, in the common phrase, “get by heart."
(59) Is it not monstrous) Shakespeare's plays by their own power, must have given a different turn to acting, and almost new-created the performers of his age. Mysteries, Moralities, and Enterludes, afforded no materials for art to work on, no discriminations of character or variety of appropriated language. From tragedies like Cambyses, Tamburlaine, and Jero nymo, nature was wholly banished; and the comedies of Gammer Gurton, Common Condycyons, and The Old Wives Tale, might have had justice done to them by the lowest order of human beings.
Sanctius his animal, mentisque capacius alte was wanting, when the dramas of Shakspeare made their first appearance ; and to these we were certainly indebted for the ex
cellence of actors, who could never have improved so long as their sensibilities were unawakened, their memories burthened only by pedantic or puritanical declamation, and their manners vulgarized by pleasantry of as low an origin. Steevens,
(60) All his visage warm'd] Wanned, or turned pale, the reading of the quartos, presents an image as well adapted to the passion meant to be expressed as that of our text. To the knack, and professional habit of modelling the features to the expression of any passion or character, that the purposes of the drama may require, our author refers in R. IÌI. * Buckingh. III. 5. “ Tut, I can counterfeit” &c.
(61) His whole function suiting] Each power and facultythe whole energies of soul and body.
"Nature within me seems
Sams. Agon. V. 596. It is “ the doing of a thing" used for “ the power or faculty by which the thing is done.”
(62) With forms to his conceit] Supplying each corporal feeling or passion, each faculty or energy of the soul, with ma. terial forms ; i. e. with tone or gesture, expression or attitude, according to the ideas or unimbodied figures, that floated in his conceit or mind.
The construction of the sentence, after “ that all his visage warmed,” is [that] tears (should be) in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, [that there should be) a broken voice, and [that] his whole function [should be] suiting, i, e. agreeing, with &c.
(63) the cue] For the cue the quartos give that only. For cue seé M. N. Dr. III. 1. Quince. It is hint or direction.
(64) Like John a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause.) A John a-dreams is any one, heavy, lethargic, stupid. The word is formed, as Jack a Lent, Jack a Lanthorn, John a Nokes, John a Drones, or a Droynes; and is found, as Mr. Steevens says, in Whetstone's Promos & Cassandra, 1578, and in Nashe's Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, 1596. He adds from the beginning of Arth. Hall's Iliad. B. II. 1581. “ John dreaming God he callde to him, that God, chiefe
God of il, « Common cole carrier of every lye." Unpregnant of, is, not quickened with or having a lively sense of. See M. for M. IV. 4. Ang.; and Polon, supra.
I have heard, That guilty creatures, sitting at a play] A number of these stories are collected together by Thomas Heywood, in his Actor's Vindication. Steevens.
(1) closely] Privately. “ Having closely drawn a short dagger, hid of purpose." Reeves of the present miseries of Rushia, 4to. 1614. p. 27. “ Done so closely and so secretly as-not discovered till the larum given.” Ib. p. 39. See K. John IV. 1. Hub.
(2) Affront Ophelia) “ To come face to face, v. encounter. Affrontare, Ital." Minshieu, 1617. 'Tis to confront.
“ There she comes, “ Afront her, Synon.” Heywood's Iron Age. Part II.
(3) Whether 'tis nobler—to suffer, or] Dr. Johnson says, that “ this celebrated soliloquy, bursting from a man distracted with contrariety of desires and overwhelmed with the magnitude of his own purposes, is connected rather in the speaker's mind than on his tongue; and that he will endeavour to discover the train, and to show how one sentiment produces another."
We insist, on the contrary, that in its connexion it is beautifully perspicuous: neither can any thing disclose itself more naturally. It is not the train of thought, which is obvious enough, it can only be the grammatical thread, the want of regular deduction of this sort (the quick transitions and abruptness of the speech, which constitute its real merits) that technically may call for some unwinding or explanation ; and here, as far as Dr. Johnson appears to us to have correctly given the sense, we shall transcribe it.
“ If to die, were to sleep, no more, and by a sleep to end the miseries of our nature, such a sleep were devoutly to be wished; but . if to sleep in death, be to dream, to retain our powers of sensibility, we must pause to consider, in that sleep of death what dreums may come. This consideration makes calamity so long endured; for who would bear the vexations of life, which might be ended by a bare bodkin, but that he is afraid of something in unknown futurity? This fear it is that gives efficacy to conscience, which by turning the mind upon this regard, chills the ardour of resolution, checks the vigour of enterprise, and makes the current of desire stagnate in inactivity,"
“ We may suppose that he would have applied these general observations to his own case, but that he discovered Ophelia.”
Neither, as has by the same writer been alleged (he says, the question is, whether, after our present state, we are to be or not to be), is any doubt here raised by Hamlet respecting a future state of existence; but solely what the condition of such existence is to be: a consideration, which, he argues, operates to check the free course and bent of the mind; and entangles it, when discussing, whether it is more noble for a man, who is unfortunate in life, to kill himself, or endure misery?
A desire to be out of the world is one of the most strongly marked features of Hamlet's character. It is the first wish he utters when alone. “ ( that this too, too solid flesh would melt !” 1. 2. But he is then restrained from any thing beyond a wish for suicide by religious scruples, by the sense that the law of God is against it. The inclination now returns upon him more forcibly (having more cause for such an impulse), and the prohibition of heaven does not enter into this question, does not make any part of his present consideration. It is here only, what he shall change this life for. This is the language and subject of a man's mind who is nearer to death, than he who only wishes that it were lawful to kill himself.
(4). Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.] “ Provide means of resistance against an overwhelming flood.” This mode of speaking is proverbial, and has been so, in all ages and languages: neither can any metaphor be conceived more apt than that of the sea, to convey the idea of an overwhelming mass or multitude : and “ multitudinous” our author denominates it in II. 2. Macb. in which place Mr. Steevens tells us, that " a sea of heads” is a phrase employed by one of our legitimate poets. With the closest analogy we say, a flood of transport, a torrent of abuse; a peck, a world of troubles. · He uses it himself every where and in every form; and the integrity of his metaphor is that which, by him, is of all things the least thought of. In Timon, IV. 2. he speaks of “ a sea of air.” In Pericles, V. 1. of' “ a sea of joys." In H. VIII. III. 2. of“ a sea of glory." In Tarq. and Lucr. of “a sea of care.” In R. C.'s Hen. Steph. Apol, for Herodotus. Fol. 1608. p. 159. (and few books have more of the phraseology of Shakespeare), we have a " a sea of sorrow;” and it is not a dissimilar, but a more licentious and less common figure, that Leonato uses when he says, he will “ bring Benedict and Beatrice into a mountain of affection with each other.” M. ado &c. II. 1. We shall produce instances of the popular use of this figure to express both this feeling and its opposite; and one also of its use in early times to express a great quantity generally. 1. “ Comforteth me a midde the main seas of niy sorrowes and heavinesse.” Cicero to P. Lentulo, Abr. Flemming's Panoplie of Epistles, 4to. 1570. p. 4.
16 Me in summo dolore consolatur.”. Epist. 1. 6. “I am replenished therefore with seas of pleasure."* Cicero to Appio Pulchro. Ib. p. 16.
Itaque capio magnam voluptatem." Epist. III. 10.-2. “ Had not this, as ye would saie an hougemain sea of thynges stil freshe and freshe comyng to mynde, enforced and driven ine to blowe retreacte and to recule backe.” Nic. Udall's Erasmus's Apopthegmes, 12mo. 1542. Pref. III. b.
It will perhaps be some relief to the weary reader to see a proper note upon this subject: and to those who retain a memory and just sense of that which they must not expect to see and hear again, it must be peculiarly gratifying to know, that it proceeds from the pen of one, whose living comments upon Shakespeare have never been equalled, and throughout all time, as is most probable, never will.
“ His language, like his conceptions, is strongly marked with the characteristic of nature: it is bold, figurative, and significant: his terms rather than his sentences are metaphorical : he calls an endless multitude a sea, by a happy allusion to the perpetual succession of wave to wave; and he immediately expresses opposition, by taking up arms :' which being fit in itself, he was not solicitous to accommodate it to his first image. This is the language in which a figurative and rapid conception will always be expressed; this is the language both of the prophet and the poet, of native eloquence and divine inspiration." -David Garrick's Oration in honour of Shakespeare's Jubilee.
(5) To die-to sleep--no more] This passage is ridiculed in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady.
-be deceased, that is, asleep, for so the word is taken, “ To sleep, to die; to die, to sleep; a very figure, sir,” &c. &c.
THEOBALD. We have much the same idea in M. for M. III. 1. where the duke, as a friar, tells Claudio :
“ Thy best of rest is sleep;
(6) might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin) Dismiss himself, obtain his discharge or acquittance (for which quietus is the technical term in the Exchequer, on settling sheriffs' accounts, &c.) by the mere point of a dagger.
“ The antique death
“ Bores thro' his castle wall.” R. II. King R. II. 2. Our Chronicles from Rastell 1529, (See edit. 4to. 1811. p. 17.) as well as most other writers for more than a century afterwards, speak of Cæsar as slain by bodkins ; so it is, says Mr. Steevens, in the margin of Stowe's Chronicle, edit. 1614, and to this point he further cites: