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Both my copies read,
- Rashly, And prais'd be rashness for it, let us know. Hamlet delivering an account of his escape, begins with saying, That he rashly—and then is carried into a reflection upon the weakness of human wisdom. I rashly-praised be rashness for it — Let us not think these events casual, but let us know, that is, take notice and remember, that we sometimes succeed by indiscretion, when we fail by deep plots, and infer the perpetual superintendence and agency of the Divinity. The observation is just, and will be allowed by every human being who shall reflect on the course of his own life.
Ham. Up from my cabin, &c. So that rashly may be joined in construction with in the dark grop'd I to find out them.
TYRWHITT. - as our statists do,] A statist is a statesman. 1.9 As peace should still, &c.] The expression of our author is like many of his phrases, sufficiently constrained and affected, but it is not incapable of explanation. The conma is the note of connection and continuity of
sentences; the period is the note of abruption and disjunction. Shakspeare had it perhaps in his mind to write, That unless England complied with the mandate, war should put a period to their amity; he altered his mode of diction, and thought that, in an opposite sense, he might put, that Peace should stand a comma between their amities. This is not an easy style; but is it not the style of Shakspeare?
JOHNSON. for my ease, in good faith.] This seems to have been the affected phrase of the time. Thus in Marston's Malcontent, “I beseech you, sir, be covered."-"No, in good faith for my case." And in other places.
131 Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you ;] This is designed as a specimen, and ridicule of the court-jargon amongst the precieux of that time. The sense in English is, “Sir, he suffers nothing in your
account of him, though to enumerate his good qua“ lities particularly would be endless; yet when we “ had done our best, it would still come short of him. “ However, in strictness of truth, he is a great ge“ nius, and of a character so rarely to be met with, “ that to find any thing like him we must look into “ his mirrour, and his imitators will appear no more “ than his shadows."
WARBURTON. 132 Is't not possible to understand in another tongue?] Of this interrogatory remark the sense is very obscure. The question may mean, Might not all this be understood in plainer language. But then, you will do it, sir, really, seems to have no use, for who could doubt but plain language would be intelligible? I would there fore read, Is't possible not to be understood in a mother tongue ? You will do it, sir, really. JOHNSON.
Suppose we were to point the passage thus: Is't not possible to understand? In another tongue you will do it, sir, really.
The speech seems to be addressed to Osrick, who is puzzled by Hamlet's imitation of his own affected language.
STEEVENS. 133 I knew, you must be edified by the margent,] Dr. Warburton very properly observes, that in the old books the gloss or comment was usually printed on the margent of the leaf.
134 This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.) I see no particular propriety in the image of the lapwing. Osrick did not run till he had done his business. We may read, This lapwing ran away-That is, this fellow was full of unimportant bustle from his birth.
JOHNSON. 195 - comply-] Shakspeare seems to have used comply in the sense in which we use the verb compliment. See before, Act 2. Sc. 2. let me comply with you in this garb.
TYRWHITT. 136 —the most fond and winnowed opinions;] The metaphor is strangely mangled by the intrusion of the word fond, which undoubtedly should be read fann'd; the allusion being to corn separated by the fan from chaff and dust. But the editors seeing, from the character of this yesty collection, that the opinions through which they were so currently carried, were false opinions;
and fann'd and winnow'd opinions, in the most obvious sense, signifying tried and purified opinions; they thought fann'd must needs be wrong, and therefore made it fond, which word signified, in our author's time, foolish, weak, or childish. They did not consider that fann'd and winnow'd opinions had also a different signification; for it may mean the opinions of great men and courtiers, men separated by their quality from the vulgar, as corn is separated from chaff. This yesty collection, says Hamlet, insinuates itself into people of the highest quality, as yest into the finest flour. The courtiers admire him, when he comes to the trial, &c.
WARBURTON. Fann'd and winnow'd seems right to me. Both words winnowed, fand and drest, occur together in Markham's English Husbandman, p. 117. So do fan'd and winnow'd, fanned and winnowed in his Husbandry, p. 18, 76, and 77. So Shakspeare mentions together the fan and wind in Troilus and Cressida, Act 5. Sc. 3.
TOLLET. 137 Since no man, of aught he leaves, &c.] The meaning may be this --Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaves, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leaving life betimes? Why should he dread an early death, of which he cannot tell whether it is an exclusion of happiness, or an interception of calamity? I despise the superstition of augury and omens, which has no ground in reason or piety; my comfort is, that I cannot fall but by the direction of Providence. Hanmer has, Since no man owes aught, a conjece ture not very reprehensible. Since no man can call any possession certain, what is it to leave? JOHNSON.
138 Give me your pardon, sir:) I wish Hamlet had made some other defence; it is unsuitable to the character of a good or a brave man, to shelter himself in falsehood.
JOHNSON 139 Set me the stoups of wine-] The stoup is a flaggon or goblet.
140 And in the cup an union shall he throw,] An union is the finest sort of pearl, and has its place in all crowns and coronets.
THEOBALD. 141 – Hamlet, this pearl is thine ;] Under pretence of throwing a pearl into the cup, the king may be supposed to drop some poisonous drug into the wine. Hamlet seems to suspect this, when he afterwards discovers the effects of the poison, and tauntingly asks him, Is the union here?
occurrents,] i. e. incidents. This quarry cries on havock!] Hanmer reads,
cries out, havock ! To cry on, was to erclaim against. I suppose,
when unfair sportsmen destroyed more quarry or game than was reasonable, the censure was to cry, Hacock.
JOHNSON 144 What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,] Shakspeare has already employed this allusion to the Chox, or feasts of the dead, which were anciently celebrated at Athens, and are mentioned by Plutarch in the life of Antonius.