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way which the Annotator (as I have already hinted) has assumed for him while in his kindness he has honored him at once with reproof and excuse. But Shakspeare was not a pseudo-philosopher, and his knowledge of nature, as it was intuitive, so was his reasoning on her operations at all times just and superlatively grand. When, therefore, he uses the expression,'no traveller returns,' it is with refero ence to bodily substance : he speaks of that traveller as of one, who, if returning, must again assume not only an earthly shape, but materiality, a formal existence: in a word, that he should appear as before, and as a living man. Thus we perceive that the charge of inadvertency, so has. tily and confidently brought against this distinguished writer, is wholly unfounded; illusory as the shadow of the Danish king.–And yet this very charge has been tamely admitted: it has been looked on with a believing eye; but the dawn of reason will oblige it to fade. · Bourn' must be changed to Borne, i. e. a Bourn is a river. B.
Ham. And enterprizes of great pith and mo
ment, -great pith] Thus the folio. The quartos read, of great pitch. STEEV.
Pitch seems to be the better reading. The allusion is to the pitching or throwing the bar ;-a manly exercise, usual in country villages. REMARKS.
“ Enterprises of great pith and moment,” is, enterprises of great matter and moment. Pith is unquestiouably the true reading. B.
Ham. You jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance;
-make your wantonness your ignorance. You mistake by wanton affectation, and pretend to mistake by ignorance.
“ Make your wantonness your ignorance.” The meaning is, when you are guilty of any improper behaviour you would have it attributed to simplicity or ignorance, when the fact is, that it is studied. B.
Ham. Are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and noise.
- inerplicable dumb shews,] I believe the meaning is, shows, withuut words to explain them. JOHN. - Rather, I believe, shows which are too confusedly conduct. ed to explain themselves.
“ Inexplicable dumb shows."— Inexplicable shows, are evidently such as are out of nature; and to explain them is therefore impossible. B.
Ham. 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 mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own iinage, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
-age and body of the time,] The age of the time can * hardly pass. May we not reall, the face and body, or did the
author write, the page? The page suits well with form and pressure, but ill with body. JOHN.
To exhibit the form and pressure of the age of the time, is, to represent the manners of the time suitable to the period that is treated of, according as it may be ancient, or modern, STEEV.
“ Age and body of the time.” Johnson has rightly objected to “ age and body of time;" but the reading proposed by him, I do not well understand. I would alter the passage thus : “ Show virtue her own feature; and the age, the very body of the time, &c.” The meaning is “ show the times ” [age,] as they really are. The words “ very body of the time,” are in fact superfluous, but used in order to impress the object on the attention :
or that the speaker may be thoroughly understood. Such redundance is frequent, not only in written language, but in ordinary discourse. B.
Ham. 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 bellow'd, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
-0, there be players,]I would read thus : “ There be players, that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly (not to speak profanely) that peither having the accent nor the gait of Christian, Pagan, nor Mussulman, have so strutted and bellowed, that I thought some of nature's journcyinen had made the men, and not made them well," &c. Farm,
I have no doubt that our author wrote_" that I thought some of nature's journeymen had made them, and not made them well, &c." Them and men are frequently confounded in the old copies. See the Comedy of Errors, act ii. sc. folio 1623: -" because it is a blessing that he bestows on bcasts, . and what he hath scanted them, [r. men] in bair, he hath given them in wit." In the present instance the compositor probably caught the word men from the last syllable of journey. men. Sbakspeare could not mean to assert as a general truth, that nature's journeymen had made men, i.e. all mankind : for, if that were the case, the strutting players would have been on a footing with the rest of the species. Mal.
“ (, there be players, &c." The objection raised against nature's journeymen haring made men, is weak, and frivolous, since the words cannot be understood as involving in them all mankind. Nothing more is meant by the expression than that nature, like to every capital artist, bad her journeymen, and that the players, of whom he speaks, were not the work of her hands, but of the bunglers she had been led to employ: iu a word,
that these her journeymen were occasionally put on the business of making men. There is no necessity whatever for Dr. Farmer's mussulman. Christian, Pagan, nor man'- by “nor mun," the poet ineans that they had scarcely any thing human about them. The text is every way right.
Ham. Be the players ready?
Ros. Ay, my lord ; they stay upon your patience.
- they stay upon your patience.) May it not be read more intelligibly, They stay upon your pleasure. In Macbeth it is :
“Noble Macbeth, we stay upon your leisure." Joun. "? Stay upon your patience.” This is not very clear. I think we should read, stay upon your patents, i. e. they remain at court in consequence of the grant, or permission which you were pleased to give them. B.
Ham. O! your only jig-maker. What should a man do, but be merry ?
- your only jig maker.] There 'may have been some humor in this passage, the force of which is now diminished:
“ many gentlemen
Changes, or Love in a Maze, by Shirley, 1632. In the Hog has lost his Pearl, 1614, one of the players comes to solicit a gentleman to write a jig for him. A jig was not in Shakspeare's time a dance, but a ludicrous dialogue in metre, and of the lowest kind, like Hamlet's conversation with Ophelia. Many of these jiggs are entered in the books of the Stationers' company: “ Philips his Jigg of the slyppers, · 1595. Kempe's Jigg of the Kitchen-stuff woman, 1595." STEEV.
The following lines in the prologue to Fletcher's Love's Pilgrimage confirm Mr. Steevens's remark:
" for approbation,
“. Prais'd and applauded by a clamorous cbime." A jig was not always in the form of a dialogue. Many historical ballads were formerly called jigs. MaL.
The author of The Remarks observes that a jig, though it certainly signified a ludicrous dialogue in metre, yet it also was used for a dance. In the extract from Stephen Gosson in the next page, we have,
" tumbling, dancing of gigges." Ed. An equivoque, I believe, is here intended. Hamlet may mean either jig-maker, or gig-maker. Gigge, in Chaucer, is an harlot, a strumpet." B.
Ham. Nay, then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables.
Nay, then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. The conceit of these words is not taken. They are an ironical apology for his mother's cheerful looks : two months was long enough in conscience to make any dead hus. band forgotten. But the editors, in their nonsensical blunder, have made Hamlet say just the contrary. That the devil and he would both go into mourning, though his mother did not. The true reading is Nay, then let the devil wear black, 'fore I'll have a suit of sable. 'Fore, i.e. before. As much as to say, Let the devil wear black for me, I'll have none. The Oxford Editor despises an emendation so easy, and reads it thus, Nay, then let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of ermine. And you could expect no less, when such a critic had the dressing of him. But the blunder was a pleasant one. The senseless editors had wrote sables, the fur so called, for sable, black. And the critic only changed this fur for that; by a like figure, the common people say, You rejoice the cockles of my heart, for the muscles of my heart ; an unlucky mistake of one shell-fish for another. WARB.
I know not why our editors should with such implacable anger persecute their predecessors. Oi vengoà un daxvovou, the dead, it is true, can make no resistance, they may be attacked with great security ; but since they can neither feel nor mend, the safety of mauling them seems greater than the pleasure; nor perhaps would it much misbeseem us to remember, amidst our triumphs over the nonsensical and the senseless, that we likewise are mev; that debemur morti, and as Swift observed to Burnet, shall soon be among the dead ourselves.
I cannot find how the common reading is nonsense, nor why Hamlet, when he laid aside his dress of mourning, in a