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Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
At, closes in the consequence.
- Ay marry, He closes thus; I know the gentleman, &c. which shews they were words got by heart which he was repeating. Otherwise closes in the consequence, which conveys no particular idea of the subject he was upon, could never have made him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary instance of the poet's art, and attention to the preservation of character. WARBURTON.
This account of the character of Polonius, though it sufficiently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. intended a nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident of his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory is truly represented as designed to ridicule the practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom, will folve all the phænomena of the character of Polonius.
JOHNSON. to expoftulate] To expostulate, for to enquire or difcuss. WARBURTON,
What is't, but to be nothing else but mad :
Queen. More matter, with less art,
Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all.That he is mad, 'tis true : 'tis true, 'tis pity ; And pity 'tis, 'tis true: a foolish figure, Bur farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then: and now remains That we find out the cause of this effect; Or, rather say, the cause of this defect; For this effect, defective, comes by cause : Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.--Perpend. I have a daughter ; have, whilst she is mine ; Who, in her duty and obedience, mark, Hath given me this.—Now gather, and surmise.
"To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase :
To the celestial, and my foul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia— ] I have ventur’d at an emendation here, against the authority of all the copies ; but, I hope, upon examination it will appear probable and reasonable. The word beautified may carry two distinct ideas, either as applied to a woman made up of artificial beauties, or to one rich in native charms. As Shakespeare has therefore chose to use it in the latter acceptation, to express natural comeliness ; I cannot imagine, that here, he would make Polonius except to the phrase, and call it a vile one.
But a stronger objection still, in my mind, lies against it. As celestial and soul's idol are the introductory characteristics of Ophelia, what a dreadful anticlimax is it to defcend to such an epithet as beautified? On the other hand, beatified, as I have conjeâured, raises the image: but Polonius might very well, as a Roman Catholic, call it a vile phrase, i. e, favouring of profanation ; since the epithet is peculiarly made an adjunct to the Virgin Mary's honour, and therefore ought not to be employed in the praise of a mere mortal.
THEOBALD. Both Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton have followed Theobald, but I am in doubt whether beautified, though, as Polonius calls it, a vile phrase, be not the proper word. Beautified seems to be a vile phrase, for the ambiguity of its mcaning. JOHNSON.
beautified is a vile phrase; but you shall hear — These to ber excellent white bosom, these
, &c. Queen. Came this from Hainlet to her? Pol. Good Madam, stay a while; I will be faithful.
Doubt thou, the stars are fire, [Reading
But never doubt, I love. Oh, dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers ; I have not art to reckon my groans : but that I love thee best, ob most best, believe it. Adieu. Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilft
this machine is to him, Hamlet.
King. But how hath she receiv'd his love?
more above,] is, morcover, besides. JOHNSON. 3 If I had plar'd the desk or table-book ;
Or giv’n my heart a working, mute and dumb;
What might you think?ie. If either I had conveyed intelligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the desk or table-book] or had connived at it, only observed them in secret, without acquainting my daughter
4 Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb,
with my discovery (given my heart a mute and dumb working); or latly, had been negligent in obferving the intrigue, and overlooked it [looked upon this love with idle fight]; what would you have thought of me? WARBURTON.
* Or given my heart a working, --] The folio reads a winking. Steevens.
Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy Sphere,] All princes were alike out of her sphere. I give it thus: Lord Hamlet is a prince :
:-out of thy Sphere. STEEVENS. • Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;
And be, repulfed—] The fruits of advice are the effets of advice. But how could nhé be said to take them ? The reading is corrupt. Shakespeare wrote,
Which done, see TOO the fruits of my advice;
WARBURTON. She took the fruits of advice when the obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruitful. JOHNSON.
a sport tale to make, Fell into a sadness; then into a faft, &c.] The ridicule of this character is here admirably fuftained. He would not only be thought to have discovered this intrigue by his own fagacity, but to have remarked all the stages of Hamlet's diforder, from his sadness to his raving, as regularly as his physician could have done; when all the while the madness was only feigned. The humour of this is exquisite from a man who tells us, with a confidence peculiar to small politicians, that he could find
W'bere truth was hid, though it were hid indeed
King. Do you think, 'tis this?
King. Not that I know.
[Pointing to his head and shoulder.
King. How may we try it further?
Queen. So he does, indeed.
Pol. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:
Enter Hamlet reading.
-four hours together,] Perhaps it would be better were