Page images


Mr. Knight gives the passage thus;

“I have heard of your prattlings too, well enough. God hath given you one pace, and you make yourselves another; you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance." and with the following note ;

“Such is the reading of the folio. In the quartos, which have supplied the received text, we have paintings instead of prattlings, and face instead of pace. The context justifies the change of the folio. You jig and you amble' - you go trippingly and mincingly in your gait—(as the daughters of Sion are said, in Isaiah, to 'come in tripping so nicely with their feet')-refers to pace; as, 'you lisp and you nick-name God's creatures,' does to prattlings. The face-painting, although a vice of Shakspere's day, would, according to the read. ing of the quarto, be disconnected from the second member of the sentence.”

That the reading of the folio is mere nonsense and confusion, Mr. Knight has shewn by his attempt to explain it, by making the words "you lisp and nickname God's creatures” refer to "prattlings" in the earliest portion of the speech, while "you jig, you amble,” which precede those words, are made to refer to “pace,” standing later in the speech than

prattlings”! And that the quartos exhibit the right reading, we have a confirmation in the earliest of them all, that of 1603, where the passage stands thus;

“Nay, I haue heard of your paintings too,

God hath giuen you one face,

make your selues another," &c.


SCENE 2.-C. p. 268; K. p. 93.

“ Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,

And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself.”

which may

No commentator has observed, that a passage, have suggested the above, occurs in The Case is altered, act i. sc. 2;

“ Dear Angelo, you are not every man,

But one, whom my election hath design'd
As the true proper object of


soul.” Whether The Case is altered was written by Jonson or not (and, for my own part, I believe it to be his), we are at least certain that it was produced before 1599, as it is familiarly mentioned in Nash's Lenten Stuff, which appeared during that year.

There is a play to-night before the king;

One scene of it comes near the circumstance,
Which I have told thee, of my father's death ;
I pr’ythee, when thou seest that act a-foot,
Even with the
very comment of


Observe mine uncle : if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note ;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And, after, we will both our judgments join

In censure of his seeming.” “So the folio, for thy soul of the quartos. Hamlet is putting Horatio in his place, for the purpose of watching the king, for though he intends to rivet his eyes on the face of the king, he must appear to be `idle'—' I must be idle: get you a place,' are the words Hamlet afterwards employs." COLLIER.

Mr. Knight also prints “my;" and remarks ;

Hamlet, having told Horatio the 'circumstance' of his father's death, and imparted his suspicions of his uncle, entreats his friend to observe his uncle with the very comment of my soul,' — Hamlet's soul. To ask Horatio to observe him with the comment of his own soul (Horatio's), is a mere feeble expletive."

Mr. Collier has in so many other places of this play rejected the readings of the folio as decidedly erroneous, that I am the more surprised at his retaining the misprint “my” in the present passage. For Mr. Knight to adopt it, was only consistent with the deference which he has elsewhere paid to the authority of the folio in Hamlet,-of which tragedy his text is beyond all doubt the worst that has appeared in modern times.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Mr. Collier's explanation of the passage is self-contradictory. It would have been all very well for Hamlet to have

put Horatio in his place for the purpose of watching the king,” if he himself had been unable, or had not intended, to do so; but, on the contrary, he expressly declares that he “ will rivet his eyes to the face of his uncle.” What Hamlet afterwards says,

They are coming to the play : I must be idle ;

Get you a place,has no sort of connexion with the present speech. When Mr. Knight objects to the reading of the quartos,

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Observe mine uncle,”

to ask Horatio to observe him with the comment of his own soul (Horatio’s), is a mere feeble expletive,” he shews by omitting all mention of the important word “very,” that he has totally misunderstood the passage.


very comment of thy soul” is (as Caldecott well interprets it) “the most intense direction of every faculty;" and Hamlet concludes the speech by informing Horatio why he wished him to watch his uncle with such close attention ;

· Give him heedful note;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And, after, we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.

that "

SCENE 2.-C. p. 275.

Begin, murderer : leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come :-The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge. Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing," &c.

“ This ['The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge'] perhaps was a quotation from some other play in Hamlet's memory: it does not seem to belong to that under representation, for Lucianus does not begin with it.” COLLIER.

“Lucianus does not begin with it"! no, truly; one would wonder if he did; it would come rather oddly from his mouth.

Whether the words in question be cited from some other play or not, Hamlet seems to mean, ' Begin without more delay; for the raven, prescient of the deed, is already croaking, and, as it were, calling out for the revenge which will ensue.'


[ocr errors]


SCENE 2.-C. p. 279; K. p. Ham. It is as easy as lying : govern these ventages with your finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony: I have not the skill.

Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of

You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops ; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would sound me from

my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak.” Mr. Knight gives the conclusion of the last speech thus ;

“and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it."

So,” he observes, “ the folio; in the quartos 'yet cannot you make it speak.' The poet certainly meant to say, yet cannot you make this music, this excellent voice. Guilderstern could have made the pipe speak, but he could not command it to any utterance of harmony. We believe that even in the quarto the passage has not the meaning which we find in the modern text, but that it should be printed, there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it. Speak !'” &c.

Here Mr. Knight defends the error of the folio with the same dreadful subtlety which he has previously employed to defend another of its errors in act ii. sc. 2,- the accidental omission of the word “ firmament” in the passage, “ this brave o'erhanging — this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,” &c., where he labours to prove that “o'erhanging” is a substantive!

Can any thing possibly be plainer than that in the reading, “yet cannot you make it speak,” the word “speak” does not mean "give forth a sound, but 'utter some of the “much music, excellent voice,” ' mentioned immediately before ? Be

sides“ speak” in the present passage answers to “discourse" in the preceding speech of Hamlet; “ govern these ventages with your finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.”

SCENE 3.-C. p. 284.
A villain kills my father; and for that,

I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.

*This is the reading of the quartos, 1604, &c. The folio has foul son,' which may be right." Collier.

The reading, “foul," is such a ludicrous misprint, that Mr. Knight, who has adopted so many other errors of the folio, did not venture even to mention it.

your brain :

SCENE 4.-C. p. 291.
Queen. This is the very coinage of
This bodily creation ecstasy

Is very cunning in." This new lection must, of course, be attributed to Mr. Collier's printer.—Read “ bodiless."


Scene 1.-C. p. 294. King. There's matter in these sighs: these profound heaves You must translate ; 'tis fit we understand them.”

This punctuation is quite against the sense. pointing is;

There's matter in these sighs, these profound heaves :

You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.”

The proper

SCENE 7.-C. p. 318 ; K. p. 135.
“ For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,

Dies in his own too-much.”
What! “goodness" with a laterum dolor!

« PreviousContinue »