Page images

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 un. wrung.

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king ?

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. It would cost you a groaning, to take off my edge.
Oph. Still better, and worse.

Ham. So you'mistake your husbands.2-Begin, murderer;-leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:

muut fake


I believe Battista is never used singly by the Italians, being uniformly compounded with Gium (for Giovanni,) and meaning of course, John 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 Shak. speare 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-shous, 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. 2 So you mistake your husbands. ] Read-S

must take your husbands; that is, for better, for worse. Fohnson.


The croaking raven
Doth bellow for revenge.
Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time

Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds3 collected,
With Hecat’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magick and dire property,
On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[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.
Ham. What! frighted with false fire !4
Queen. How fares my lord?
Pol. Give o'er the play.
King. Give me some light:-away!
Pol. Lights, lights, lights!5

[Exeunt all but Ham. and Hor. Ham. Why, let the strucken deer go weep,

The hart ungalled play:
For some must watch, while some must sleep;

Thus runs the world away.-

Mr. Theobald proposed the same reading in his Shakspeare Restored, however he lost it afterwards. Steevens.

So you 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.

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, ] Sec Vol. V, p. 36, n. 8. Steedens.



Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, (if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me,8) with two Proven cial roses on my razed shoes,o 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 gentle. man, 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 read Provencial, 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 honny boy,

“ Had roses tull bis 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 legs in silk stockings have villainous splay-feet, for all their great

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


Hor. Half a share.
Ham. A whole one, 1.2

[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. IX, ch. xlvii : “ Then wore they shoes of ease, now of an inch-broad,

corked high.Mr. Pope readsrayed 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 informs 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, baving 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 Malore:

Por thou dost know, O 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, I, in familiar language, means no more than 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.

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 a fable alluded to, of the birds choosing a king; instead of the eagle, a peacock. I suppose, 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 Shakspeare, 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 necessary, 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.

« PreviousContinue »