Page images


Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, (if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me,8) with two Provencial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?



7 Would not, this, sir, and a forest of feathers, &c.] It appears 'from Decker's Gul's Hornbooke, that feathers were much worn on the stage in Shakspeare's time. Malone.

I believe, since the English stage began, feathers were worn by every company of players that could afford to purchase them.

Steevens. turn Turk with me,] This expression has occurred already in Much Ado About Nothing, and I have met with it in several old comedies. So, in Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614: “This it is to turn Turk, from an absolute and most compleat gentleman, to a most absurd, ridiculous, and fond lover.” It means, I believe, no more than to change condition fantastically. Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635:

'tis damnation, “ If you turn Turk again.” Perhaps the phrase had its rise from some popular story like. that of Ward and Dansiker, the two famous pirates; an account of whose overthrow was published by A. Barker, 1609: and, in 1612, a play was written on the same subject called A Christian turn'd Turk. Steevens.

Provencial roses on my razed shoes,] [Old copies--provincial.] Why provincial roses ? Undoubtedly we should readProvencial, or (with the French g) Provençal. He means roses of Provence, a beautiful species of rose, and formerly much cultivated. T. Warton.

They are still more cultivated than any other flower of the same tribe. Steevens.

When shoe-strings were worn, they were covered, where they met in the middle, by a ribband, gathered in the form of a rose. So, in an old Song :

“ Gil-de-Roy was a bonny boy,

“ Had roses tull his shoon.Johnson. These roses are often mentioned by our ancient dramatick writers. So, in The Devil's Law Case, 1623:

“ With overblown roses to hide your gouty ancles.” Again, in The Roaring Girl, 1611 : “ many handsome leg's in silk stockings have villainous splay-feet, for all their great proses."

The reading of the quartos is raz'd shoes; that of the folio rac'd shoes. Razed shoes may mean slashed shoes, i. e. with cuts or openings in them. The poet might have written raised shoes, i. e. shoes with high heels; such as by adding to the stature, are supposed to increase the dignity of a player. In Stubbs's Anatomie of Abuses, 1595, there is a chapter on the corked shoes in

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]


England, “ which (he says) beare them up two inches or more
from the ground, &c. some of red, blacke, &c.razed, carved, cut,
and stitched,” &c.
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. 1X, ch. xlvii:
“ Then wore they shoes of ease, now of an inch-broad,

corked high.
Mr. Pope reads-rayed shoes, i. e. (as interpreted by Dr.
Johnson) “shoes braided in lines.” Stowe's Chronicle, anno 1353,
mentions women's hoods reyed or striped. Raie is the French
word for a stripe. Johnson's Collection of Ecclesiastical Laws in.
forms us, under the years 1222 and 1353, that in disobedience
of the canon, the clergy's shoes were checquered with red and
green, exceeding long, and variously pinked.

The reading of the quartos may likewise receive additional support. Bulwer, in his Artificial Changeling, speaks of gallants who pink and raze their satten, damask, and Duretto skins. To raze and to race, alike signify to streak. See Minsheu's Dict. in v. To rase. The word, though differently spelt, is used in nearly the same signification in Markham's Country Farm, p. 585: “ - baking all (i. e. wafer cakes) together between two irons, having within them many raced and checkered draughts after the manner of small squares.” Steevens. - a cry of players, ] Allusion to a pack of hounds.

Warburton. A pack of hounds was once called a cry of hounds. So, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, by Beaumont and Fletcher:

and well have halloo'd To a deep cry of hounds." Again, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :

a cry more tuneable Was never halloo'd to, or cheer'd with horn.” Milton, likewise, has_"A cry of hell-hounds.” Steevens.

a cry of players, ] A troop or company of players. So, in. Coriolanus :

You have made good work, “ You and your cry.” Again, in a Strange Horse-race, by Thomas Decker, 1613; * The last race they ran, (for you must know they ran many,) was from a cry of serjeants.” Malone. 2 Hor. Half a share. Ham. A whole one, I.] It should be, I think,

A whole one ;-ay,

For &c. The actors in our author's time had not annual salaries as at present. The whole receipts of each theatre were divided into shares, of which the proprietors of the theatre, or house-keepers, as they were called, had some; and each actor had one or more shares, or part of a share, according to his merit Malone


For thou dost know, ( Damon dear,3

This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here

A very, very-peacock.
Hor. You might have rhymed.



A whole one, 1, in familiar language, means no more thafter I think myself entitled to a whole one. Steevens.

O Damon dear,] Hamlet calls Horatio by this name, in allusion to the celebrated friendship between Damon and Pythias. A play on this subject was written by Richard Edwards, and published in 1582. Steevens.

The friendship of Damion and Pythias is also enlarged upon in a book that was probably very popular in Shakspeare's youth, Sir Thomas Eliot's Governour, 1553. Malone.

4 A very, very--peacock.] This alludes to a fable of the birds choosing a king ; instead of the eagle, a peacock. Pope.

The old copies have it paiock, paicocke, and pajocke. I substitute paddock, as nearest to the traces of the corrupted reading. I have, as Mr. Pope says, been willing to substitute any thing in the place of his peacock. He thinks å fable alluded to, of the birds choosing a king; instead of the eagle, a peacock. I suppose,

1 he must mean the fable of Barlandus, in which it is said, the birds, being weary of their state of anarchy, moved for the setting up of a king; and the peacock was elected on account of his gay feathers. But, with submission, in this passage of our Shak. speare, there is not the least mention made of the eagle in antithesis to the peacock; and it must be by a very uncommon figure, that Jove himself stands in the place of his bird. I think, Hamlet is setting his father's and uncle's characters in contrast to each other: and means to say, that by his father's death the state was stripped of a godlike monarch, and that now in his stead reigned the most despicable poisonous animal that could be; a mere paddock or toad. PAD, bufo, rubeta, major ; a toad. This word I take to be of Hamlet's own substituting. The verses repeated, seem to be from some old ballad ; in which, rhyme being ne. cessary, I doubt not but the last verse ran thus:

A very, very-ass. Theobald. A peacock seems proverbial for a fool. Thus, Gascoigne, in his Weeds :

“ A theefe, a cowarde, and a peacocke foole.” Farmer. In the last scene of this Act, Hamlet, speaking of the King, uses the expression which Theobald would introduce:

“ Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,

“ Such dear concernments hide ?” The reading, peacock, which I believe to be the true one, was first introduced by Mr. Pope.

Mr. Theobald is unfaithful in his account of the old copies. No copy of authority reads--paicocke. The quarto, 1604, has paiock; the folio, 1623, paiocke.


Ham. O good Horatio, I 'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

Hor. Very well, my lord.
Ham. Upon the talk of the poisoning,
Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ha!-- Come, some musick; come, the recorders.

For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike,5-he likes it not, perdy.

Come, some musick.

Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
Ham. Sir, a whole history.
Guil. The king, sir,
Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?
Guil. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.
Ham. With drink, sir??
Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer, to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation, would, perhaps, plunge him into more choler.

Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.

Ham. I am tame, sir:-pronounce.

Guil. The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

Ham. You are welcome.

Guil. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment:


Shakspeare, I suppose, means, that the King struts about with a false pomp, to which he has no right. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1568: “ Pavornegiare. To jet up and down, fondly gazing upon himself, as a peacock doth" Malone.

Why then, belike,] Hamlet was going on to draw the consequence, when the courtiers entered. Fuhnson.

he likes it not, perdy.] Perdy is the corruption of par Dieu, and is not uncommon in the old plays. So, in The Play of the Four P's, 1569:

“ In that, you Palmer, as deputie,

“ May clearly discharge him, pardie.Steevens. 7 With drink, sir?] Hamlet takes particular care that his udcle's love of drink shall not be forgotten. Johnson.


if not, your pardon, and my return, shall be the end of my business.

Ham. Sir, I cannot.
Guil. What, my lord?

Ham. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit 's discased: But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command; or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: My mother, you say,

Ros. Then thus she says; Your behaviour hath struck her into amazement and admiration.

Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! -But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? impart.

Ros. She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.

Ham. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?

Ros. My lord, you once did love me.
Ham. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend.

Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.

Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

Ham. Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows, the proverb is something musty.2




- further trade -] Further business; further dealing.

Johnson. by these pickers &c.] By these hands. Johnson. By these hands, says Dr. Johnson, and rightly. But the phrase is taken from our church catechism, where the catechumen, in his duty to his neighbour, is taught to keep his hands from picking and stealing. Whalley.

when you have the voice of the king himself for your suecession in Denmark?] Act I, sc. ii. Malone.

Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows,—the proverb is something musty,] The remainder of this old proverb is preserved in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578:

“Whylst grass doth growe, oft sterves the seely steede.Again, in 'The Paradise of daintie Devises, 1578:

“'To whom of old this proverbe well it serves,

While grass doth growe, the silly horse he staroes.” Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the suc.


« PreviousContinue »