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Enter the Players, with Recorders.3 O, the recorders:-let me see one.
e.—To withdraw with you::- Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
Guil. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly..
cession to the throne of Denmark, he may himself be taken off by death. Malone.
Recorders.] i. e. a kind of large flute. See Vol. II, p. 360, n. 3.
To record anciently signified to sing or modulate. Steevens.
4 To withdraw with you :] These last words have no meaning, as they stand; yet none of the editors have attempted to amend them. They were probably spoken to the Players, whom Hamlet wished to get rid of:- I therefore should suppose that we ought to read, withdraw you;” or, “ so withdraw, will you ?"
M. Mason, Here Mr. Malone adds the following stage direction :- [Taking Guildenstern aside.] But the foregoing obscure words may refer to some gesture which Guildenstern had used, and which, at first, was interpreted by Hamlet into a signal for him to at. tend the speaker into another room. “To withdraw with you ?" (says he) Is that your meaning? But finding his friends continue to move mysteriously about him, he adds, with some resentment, a question more easily intelligible. Steevens.
recover the wind of me,] So, in an ancient MS. play entitled The Second Maiden's Tragedy:
Is that next? “ Why, then I have your ladyship in the wind.” Steevens. Again, in Churchyard's Worthiness of Wales :
“ Their cunning can with craft so cloke a troeth,
Henderson. 60, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.] i. e. if my duty to the king makes me press you a little, my love to you makes me still more importunate. If that makes me bold, this makes me even unmannerly. Warburton.
I believe we should read my love is not unmannerly. My conception of this passage is, that, in consequence of Hamlet's moving to take the recorder, Guildenstern also shifts his ground, in order to place himself beneath the prince in his new position. This, Hamlet ludicrously calls “going about to recover the wind," &c. and Guildenstern may answer properly enough, I think, and like a courtier: “if my duty to the king makes me too bold in pressing you upon a disagreeable subject, my love to you will make me not unmannerly, in showing you all possible marks of respect and attention." Tyrwhitt.
Ham. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
Guil. My lord, I cannot. Ham. I pray you. Guil. Believe me, I cannot. Ham. I do beseech you. Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord. Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages? with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent musick. Look you, these are the stops.
ventages —] The holes of a Aute. Johnson.
and thumb,] The first quarto reads--with your fingers and the umber. This may probably be the ancient name for that piece of moveable brass at the end of a flute which is either raised or depressed by the finger. The word umber is used by Stowe the chronicler, who, describing a single combat between two knights, says—"he brast up his umber three times.” Here, the umber means the visor of the helmet. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queene, B. III, c. i, st. 42:
“ But the brave maid would not disarmed be,
“ And so did let her goodly visage to appere.” Again, Book IV, sc. iv:
“ And there with smote him on his umbriere." Again, in the Second Book of Lidgate on the Trojan War, 1513:
“ Thorough the umber into Troylus' face.” Steevens. If a recorder had a brass key like the German Flute, we are to follow the reading of the quarto; for then the thumb is not concerned in the government of the ventages or stops. If a recorder was like a tabourer's pipe, which has no brass key, but has a stop for the thumb, we are to read-Govern these ventages with your finger and thumb. In Cotgrave's Dictionary, ombre, ombraire, ombriere, and ombrelle, are all from the Latin umbra, and signify a shadow, an umbrella, or any thing that shades or hides the face from the sun ; and hence they may have been applied to any thing that hides or covers another; as for example, they may have been applied to the brass key that covers the hole in the German flute. So, Spen er used umbriere for the visor of the hel. met, as Rous's. History of the Kings of England uses umbrella in the same sense.
Tollet. the stops.] The sounds formed by occasionally stopping the holes, while the instrument is played upon. So, in the Prologue to King Henry V:
“ Rumour is a pipe-
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 me? 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 niusick, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think, I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me.
Enter PoloNIUS. God bless you, sir!
Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.
Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that 's almost in shape of a camel ?
Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
1 Methinks, &c.] This passage has been printed in modern editions thus :
Ham. Methinks, it is like an ouzle, &c.
Pol. It is black like an ouzle.
Pol. It is back'd like a weazel -: and what occasion for altera. tion there was, I cannot discover. The weasel is remarkable for the length of its back, but though I believe a black weasel is not easy to be found, yet it is as likely that the cloud should resemble a weasel in shape, as an ouzle (i. e. black-bird) in colour.
Mr. Tollet observes, that we might read~" it is beck'd like a weasel,” i. e. weasel-snouted. So, in Holinshed's Description of England, p. 172: "if he be wesell-beck’d.” Quarles uses this term of reproach in his Virgin Widow : “Go you weazel-snouted, addlepated,” &c. Mr. Tollet adds, that Milton in his Lycidas, calls a promontory beaked, i. e. prominent like the beak of a bird, or a ship. Steevens.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weazel.
Pol. It is backed like a weazel.] Thus the quarto, 1604, and the folio. In a more modern quarto, that of 1611, backed, the original reading, was corrupted into black.
Perhaps in the original edition the words camel and weazel were shuffled out of their places. The poet might have intended the dialogue to proceed thus: “ Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in the
shape of a weazel?
Pol. It is back'd like a weasel.
a Ham. Or, like a whale? Pol. Very like a whale.
Ham. Then will I come to my mother by and by.They fool me to the top of my bent.--I will come by and by Pol. I will say so.
[Exit Pol. Ham. By and by is easily said.-Leave me, friends.
(Exeunt Ros. Guil. Hor. &c. 'Tis now the very witching time of night; When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world: Now could I drink hot blood, And do such business as the bitter day3 Would quake to look on. Soft; now to my mother.O, heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom: Let me be cruel, not unnatural: I will speak daggers to her, but use none; My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
“ Ham. Methinks, it is like a camel.
" Pol. It is backed like a camel. The protuberant back of a camel seems more to resemble a cloud, than the back of a weazel does. Malone.
They fool me to the top of my bent.] They compel me to play the fool, till I can endure it no longer. Johnson.
Perhaps a term in archery; i. e. as far as the bow will admit of being bent without breaking. Douce.
3 And do such business as the bitter day --] Thus the quarto. The folio reads:
And do such bitter business as the day &c. Malone. The expression bitter business is still in use, and though at present a vulgar phrase, might not have been such in the age of Shakspeare. The bitter day is the day rendered hateful or bitter by the commission of some act of mischief.
Watts, in his Logick, says, “ Bitter is an equivocal word ; there is bitter worm wood, there are bitter words, there are bitter ene. mies, and a bitter cold morning.” It is, in short, any thing unpleasing or hurtful. Steevens.
4 I will speak daggers to her,] A similar expression occurs in The Return from Parnassus, 1606: “ They are pestilent fellows, they speak nothing but bodkins.” It has been already observed, that a bodkin anciently signified a short dagger.
It may, however, be observed, that in the Aulularia of Plautus, Act II, sc. i, a phrase not less singular occurs :
“Me. Quia mitri misero cerebrum excutiunt
“ Tua dicta, soror: lapides loqueris.” Steevens. VOL. XV.
How in my words soever she be shent,5
A Room in the same.
Enter King, RosENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN.
be shent,] To she is to reprore harshly, to treat with rough language. So, in The Coxcomb of Beaumont and Fletcher:
We shall be shent soundly.” Steevens. See Coriolanus, Act V, sc. ii, Vol. XIII. Malone. Shent seems to mean something more than reproof, by the following passage from The Mirror for Magistrates : Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, is the speaker, and he relates his having betrayed the Duke of Gloucester and his confederates to the King, " for which (says he) they were all tane and shent.”
Hamlet surely means,“ however my mother may be hurt, wounded, or punish’d, by my words, let me never consent" &c.
Henderson, 6 To give them seals - ] i. e. put them in execution. Warburton. 7 I like him not; nor stands it safe with us,
To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you;
your commission will forthwith despatch,
And he to England shall along with jou:] In The Hystory of Hamblett, bl 1. the king does not adopt this scheme of sending Hamlet to England till after the death of Polonius; and though he is described as doubtful whether Polonius was slain by Hamlet, his apprehension lest he might himself meet the same fate as the old courtier, is assigned as the motive for his wishing the Prince out of the kingdom. This at first inclined me to think that this short scene, either from the negligence of the copyist or the printer, might have been misplaced; but it is certainly printed as the author intended, for in the next scene Hamlet says to his mother, "I must to England; you know that,” before the King could have heard of the death of Polonius. Malone.
8 Out of his lunes.] [The folio reads-Out of his lunacies.] The old quartos:
Out of his brows. This was from the ignorance of the first editors; as is this unne