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My operant powers3 their functions leave to do:
0, confound the rest!
Ham. That's wormwood.
P. Queen. The instances, that second marriage move, Are base respects of thrift, but none of love; A second time I kill my husband dead, When second husband kisses me in bed.
P. King. I do believe, you think what now you speak; But, what we do determine, oft we break. Purpose is but the slave to memory;" Of violent birth, but poor validity : Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree; But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be. Most necessary ’tis, that we forget To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:6 What to ourselves in passion we propose, The passion ending, doth the purpose lose. The violence of either grief or joy Their own enactures with themselves destroy:? Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
operant powers - ] Operant is active. Shakspeare gives it in Timon of Athens as an epithet to poison. Heywood has likewise used it in his Royal King and Loyal Subject, 1637:
may my operant parts “Each one forget their office!" The word is now obsolete. Steevens.
4 The instances,] The motives. Johnson.
5 Purpose is but the slave to memory;] So, in King Henry IV, Part I:
“But thought 's the slave of life.” Steevens.
what to ourselves is debt:) The performance of a resolu. tion, in which only the resolver is interested, is a debt only to himself, which he may therefore remit at pleasure. Johnson. 7 The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy:] What grief or joy enact or determine in their violence, is revoked in their abatement. Enactures is the word in the quarto; all the modern edi. tions have enactors. Fohnson.
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
- seasons him his enemy.] This quaint phrase infests ala most every ancient English composition. Thus, in Chapman's translation of the fifteenth Book of Homer's Odyssey:
taught with so much woe “ As thou hast suffer'd, to be season'd true.” Steevens. 9 Nor earth to me give food,] Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio and the late editors read:
Nor earth to give me food, An imperative or optative verb was evidently intended here, as in the following line:
“ Sport and repose lock from me,” &c. Malone. A very similar imprecation,
Day, yield me not thy light; nor night, thy rest!” &c. occurs in King Richard III. See Vol. XI, p. 155. Steevens.
1 To desperation &c.] This and the following line are omitted in the folio. Steevens.
2 An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope ! ] May my whole liberty and enjoyment be to live on hermit's fare in a prison. Anchor is for anchoret. Johnson.
This abbreviation of the word anchoret is very ancient. I find it in the Romance of Robert the Devil, printed' by Wynken de Worde: “ We haue robbed and killed nonnes, holy aunkers, preestes, clerkes,” &c. Again: “ the foxe will be an aunker, for he begynneth to preche.” VOL. XV.
Each opposite, that blanks the face of joy,
[To Oph. P. King. 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here a
while; My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile The tedious day with sleep.
[Sleeps. P. Queen.
Sleep rock thy brain;
Ham. Madam, how like you this play?
King. Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?
Ham. No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' the world.
King. What do you call the play?
Ham. The mouse-trap.3 Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is the duke's name ;4 his wife, Baptista:5 you shall see
Again, in The Vision of Pierce Plowman:
“ As ankers and hermits that hold them in her selles." This and the foregoing line are not in the folio. I believe we should read-anchor's chair. So, in the second Satire of Hall's fourth Book, edit. 1602, p. 18:
“ Sit seven yeres pining in an anchore's cheyre,
“To win some parched shreds of minivere.” Steevens. The old copies read — And anchor's cheer. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Malone. 3 The mouse-trap.] He calls it the mouse-trap, because it is
Steevens. Gonzago is the duke's name;] Thus all the old copies: yet in the stage-direction for the dumb-show, and the subsequent entrance, we have “ Enter a king and queen,” &c. and in the latter part of this speech both the quarto and folio read :
Lucianus, nephew to the king." This seeming inconsistency, however, may be reconciled. Though the interlude is the image of the murder of a duke of Vienna, or in other words founded upon that story, the poet might make the principal person of his fable a king. Malone.
Baptista:] Baptista is, I think, in Italian, the name always of a man. Johnson.
anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: But what of that? your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not: Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung..
Oph. You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
Ham. I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see the puppets dallying."
Oph. You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
Ham. So you mistake your husbands.—Begin, murderer;-leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:
I believe Battista is never used singly by the Italians, being uniformly compounded with Giam (for Giovanni,) and meaning of course, Fohn the Baptist. Nothing more was therefore necessary to detect the forgery of Shebbeare's Letters on the English Nation, than his ascribing them to Battista Angeloni. Ritson.
6 Let the galled jade wince,] This is a proverbial saying. So, in Damon and Pythias, 1582:
“I know the galld horse will soonest wince.” Steevens.
nephew to the king: ] i. e. to the king in the play then represented. The modern editors, following Mr. Theobald, read ---nephew to the duke,-though they have not followed that editor in substituting duke and dutchess, for king and queen, in the dumb show and subsequent entrance. There is no need of departing from the old copies. See n. 4. Malone.
8 You are as good as a chorus, &c.] The use to which Shakspeare converted the chorus, may be seen in King Henry V. Henley.
9 Ham. I could interpret &c.] This refers to the interpreter, who formerly sat on the stage at all motions or puppet-shows, and interpreted to the audience. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
“ O excellent motion! O exceeding puppet!
“ Now will he interpret for her.” Again, in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, 1621: “ It was I that penned the moral of Man's wit, the dialogue of Dives, and for seven years' space was absolute interpreter of the puppets.”
Steevens. 1 Still better, and worse.] i. e. better in regard to the wit of your double entendre, but worse in respect to the grossness of your meaning. Steevens.
mistake husbands. ] Read-So you must take your husbands ; that is, for better, for worse. Johnson.
2 So you
The croaking raven
[Pours the Poison into the Sleeper's Ears. Ham. He poisons him i' the garden for his estate. His name 's Gonzago: the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian : You shall see anon, how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
Oph. The king rises.
[Exeunt all but HAM. and Hor. Ham. Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play:
Thus runs the world away.
Mr. Theobald proposed the same reading in his Shakspeare Restored, however he lost it afterwards. Steevens.
So mistake your husbands.] I believe this to be right: the word is sometimes used in this ludicrous manner: “ Your true trick, rascal, (says Ursula, in Bartholomew Fair,) must be to be ever busie, and mistake away the bottles and cans, before they be half drunk off.” Farmer.
I believe the meaning is-you do amiss for yourselves to take husbands for the worse. You should take them only for the better.
Tollet. - midnight weeds -] The force of the epithet midnight, will be best displayed by a corresponding passage in Macbeth:
“ Root of hemlock, digg'd i' the dark.” Steevens. 4 What! frighted with false fire!] This speech is omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
5 Lights, lights, lights.?] The quartos give this speech to Polonius. Steevens. In the folio All is prefixed to this speech. Malone.
strucken deer go weep,] See Vol. V, p. 36, n. 8. Steedens.