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Why day is day, night, night, and time is time,
Queen. More matter, with less art.
Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all.
delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory is truly repre. sented as designed to ridicule the practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phænomena of the character of Polonius. Fohnson.
Nothing can be more just, judicious, and masterly, than John. son's delineation of the character of Polonius; and I cannot read it without heartily regretting that he did not exert his great abi. lities and discriminating powers, in delineating the strange, inconsistent, and indecisive character of Hamlet, to sihich I con. fess myself unequal. M. Mason.
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.-
But never doubt, I love.
7- To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,] Mr. Theobald for beautified substituted beatified.
Malone. Dr. Warburton has followed Mr. Theobald; but I am in doubt whether beautified, though, as Polonius calls it, a vile phrase, be not the proper word. Beautified seems to be a vile phrase, for the ambiguity of its meaning. Johnson.
Heywood, in his History of Edward VI, says, “ Katherine Parre, queen dowager to king Henry VIII, was a woman beautified with many excellent virtues.”
“ A maid of rich endowments, beautified
" With all the virtues nature could bestow." Again, Nash dedicates his Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 1594 : “ to the most beautified lady, the lady Elizabeth Carey."
Again, in Greene's Mamillia, 1593: “ although thy pero son is so bravely beautified with the dowries of nature.”
Ill and vile as the phrase may be, our author has used it again in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
seeing you are beautified “ With goodly shape,” &c. Steevens. By beautified Hamlet means beautifu'. But Polonius, taking the word in the more strictly grammatical sense of being made beauti. ful, calls it a vile phrase, as implying that his daugliter's beauty was the effect of art. M. Mason.
8 In her excellent white bosom these,] So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona :
Which, being writ to me, shall be deliver'd
“ Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love." See Vol. II, p. 195, n. 7. Steevens. I have followed the quarto. The folio reads:
These in her excellent white bosom, these, &c. In our poet's time the word These was usually added at the end of the superscription of letiers, but I have never met with it both at the beginning and end. Malone.
O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to reckon my groans: but that I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu,
Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this
machine is to him, Hamlet.
But how hath she
What do you think of me?
Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing, (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me,) what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb); Or look'd upon this love with idle sight; What might you think ?3 no, I went round4 to work,
O most best,] So, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540:“ that same most best redresser or reformer, is God.” Steevens.
whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.] These words will not be ill explained by the conclusion of one of the Letters of the Paston Family, Vol. II, p. 43: “ for your pleasure, whyle my wytts be my owne.”
The phrase employed by Hamlet seems to have a French con. struction. Pendant
cette machine est à lui. To be one's own man is a vulgar expression, but means much the same as Virgil's
Dum memor ipse mei, dum spiritus hos regit artus. Steevens. 3—more above,] is, moreover, besides. Johnson. 3 If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb; Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;
What might you think?] i. e. If either I had conveyed intelligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the desk or table-book,] or had connived at it, only observ. ed them in secret, without acquainting my daughter with my discovery [giving heart a mute and dumb working ;] or lastly, had been negligent in observing the intrigue, and overlooked it [looked upon this love with idle sight;] what would you have thought of me? Warburton. VOL. XV.
And my young mistress thus did I bespeak;
I doubt whether the first line is rightly explained. It may mean, if I had locked up this secret in my own breast, as closely as if it were confined in a desk or table-book. Malone.
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb;] The folio reads—a winking. Steevens.
The same pleonasm (mute and dumb] is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
“ And in my hearing be you mute and dumb." Malore.
round -] i. e. roundly, without reserve. So Polonius says in the third Act: " be round with him.” Steevens.
5 Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere;] The quarto, 1604, and the first folio, for sphere, have star. The correction was made by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
precepts gave her,] Thus the folio. The two elder quartos read-prescripts. I have chosen the most familiar of the two readings. Polonius has already said to his son
“ And these few precepts in thy memory
“ Look thou character.” Steevens. The original copy in my opinion is right. Polonius had ordered his daughter to lock herself from Hamlet's resort, &c. See p. 47,
“ I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
“ Look to't, I charge you.” Malone. 7 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;] She took the fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruitful. Fohnson.
(a short tale to make) Fell into a sadness; then into a fast; &c.] The ridicule of this character is here admirably sustained. He would not only be thought to have discovered this intrigue by his own sagacity, but to have remarked all the stages of Hamlet's disorder, from his sadness to his raving, as regularly as his physician could have done; when all the while the madness was only feigned. The humour of this is exquisite from a man who tells us, with a con. fidence peculiar to small politicians, that he could find
" Where truth was hid, though it were hid indeed
Thence to a lightness; and, by this declension,
Do you think, 'tis this?
Pol. Hath there been such a time, (I ’d fain know that) That I have positively said, 'Tis 80, When it prov'd otherwise? King
Not that I know. Pol. Take this from this, if this be otherwise:
[Pointing to his Head and Shoulder. If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed Within the centre. King.
How may we try it further? Pol. You know, sometimes he walks four hours 10
gether, Here in the lobby. Queen.
So he does, indeed. Pol. At such a time I 'll loose my daughter to him: Be you and I behind an arras then; Mark the encounter: if he love her not, And be not from his reason fallen thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state, But keep a farm, and carters.1
four hours together,] Perhaps it would be better were we to read indefinitely
for hours together. Tyrwhitt. I formerly was inclined to adopt Mr. Tyrwhitt's proposed emendation; but have now no doubt that the text is right. The expression, four hours together, two hours together, &c. appears to have been common. So, in King Lear, Act I:
" Edm. Spake you with him?
“ Edg. Ay, two hours together." Again, in The Winter's Tale:
ay, and have been, any time these four hours." Again, in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy, 1623 :
“ She will muse four hours together, and her silence
“ Methinks expresseth more than if she spake.” Malone. 1 At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him: Be you and I behind an arras then; Mark the encounter : if he love her not, And be not from his reason fallen thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state, But keep a farm, and carters.] The scheme of throwing Ophe.