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And what's untimely done: so, haply, slander, -
A mineral Minsheu defines in his Dictionary, 1617: “ Any thing that grows in mines, and contains metals.” Shakspeare seems to have used the word in this sense,-for a rude mass of metals. In Bullokar's English Espositor, 8vo. 1616, Mineral is defined, “ mettall, or any thing digged out of the earth.” Malone.
Minerals are mines. So, in The Golden Remains of Hales of
“ Shall it not be a wild fig in a wall,
so, haply, slander, &c.] Neither these words, nor the following three lines and an half, are in the folio. In the quarto, 1604, and all the subsequent quartos, the passage stands thus:
And what's untimely done. “ Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,” &c. the compositor having omitted the latter part of the first line, as in a former scene, (see p. 154, n. 9,) a circumstance which gives additional strength to an observation made on Antony and Cleopatra, Act V, sc. i, Vol. XIII. Mr. Theobald supplied the lacuna by reading -For haply slander, &c. So appears to me to suit the context better; for these lines are rather in apposition with those immediately preceding, than an illation from them. Mr. M Mason, I find, has made the same observation.
Shakspeare, as Theobald has observed, again expatiates on the diffusive power of slander, in Cymbeline :
No, 'tis slander; “ Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue “ Out-venoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath “ Rides on the posting winds, and doth bely
“ All corners of the world.” Malone. Mr. Malone reads-So viperous slander. Steevens.
cannon to his blank,] The blank was the white mark at which shot or arrows were directed. So, in King Lear :
let me still remain
- the woundless air.] So, in a former scene:
Another Room in the same.
Enter HAMLET. Ham. -Safely stowed,[Ros. &c. within. Hamlet lord Hamlet!] But soft,2—what noise? who calls on Hamlet? O, here they come.
Enter RosenCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Ros. What have you done, my lord, with the dead body? Ham. Compounded it with dust,3 whereto 'tis kin.
Ros. Tell us where 'tis; that we may take it thence, And bear it to the chapel.
Ham. Do not believe it.
Ham. That I can keep your counsel, and not mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge-what replication should be made by the son of a king?
Ros. Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
Ham. Ay, sir; that soaks up the king's countenance, liis rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end: He keeps them, like an ape, ,in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to be last
But soft.] I have added these two words from the quarto, 1604.
“ Ham. Safely stowed.
“ Ham. What noise,” &c. In the quarto, 1604, the speech stands thus: “ Ham. Safely stowed; but soft, what noise ? who calls on Hamlet?” &c.
I have therefore printed Hamlet's speech unbroken, and inserted that of Rosencrantz, &c. from the folio, before the words, but soft, &c. In the modern editions Hamlet is made to take notice of the noise made by the courtiers, before he has heard it.
Malone Compounded it with dust,] So, in King Henry IV, P. II:
“ Only compound me with forgotten dust." Again, in our poet's 71st Sonnet:
“ When I perhaps compounded am with clay.” Malone.
like an ape,] The quarto has apple, which is generally followed. The folio has ape, which Sir T. Hanmer has received, and illustrated with the following note:
“ It is the way of monkeys in eating, to throw that part of their food, which they take up first, into a pouch they are pro
swallowed: When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again.5 Ros. I understand you not, my lord.
Ham. I am glad of it: A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.6
Ros. My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.
vided with on each side of their jaw, and there they keep it, till they have done with the rest." Johnson.
Surely this should be “like an ape, an apple." Farmer.
The reading of the folio, like an ape, I believe to be the true one, because Shakspeare has the same phraseology in many other places. The word ape refers to the King, not to his cour. tiers. He keeps them like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, &c. means, he keeps them, as an ape keeps food, in the corner of his jaw, &c. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:
- your chamber-lie breeds feas like a loach," i. e. as fast as a loach breeds loaches. Again, in King Lear: “They flattered me like a dog ;" i. e. as a dog fawns upon and flatters his master.
That the particular food in Shakspeare's contemplation was an apple, may be inferred from the following passage in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher : “ And lie, and kiss
my hand unto my mistress, “ As often as an ape does for an apple.” I cannot approve of Dr. Farmer's reading. Had our poet meant to introduce both the ape and the apple, he would, I think, have written not like, but “ as an ape an a ple."
The two instances above quoted show that any emendation is unnecessary. The reading of the quarto is, however, defensible.
Malone. Apple in the quarto is a mere typographical error. So, in Peele's Araygnement of Paris, 1584 :
you wot it very well “ All that be Dian's maides are vowed to halter apples in
hell.” The meaning, however, is clearly “as an ape does an apple.”
Ritson. and, sponge, you shall be dry again.] So, in the 7th Satire of Marston, 1598:
“ He 's but a spunge, and shortly needs must leese
A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.] This, if I mis. take not, is a proverbial sentence. Malone.
Since the appearance of our author's play, these words have become proverbial; but no earlier instance of the idea conveyed by them, has occurred within the compass of my reading. Steevens:
Ham. The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing
Guil. A thing, my lord? Ham. Of nothing:8 bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after.9
[Exeunt. SCENE III.
Another Room in the same.
Enter King, attended. king. I have sent to seek him, and to find the body. How dangerous is it, that this man goes loose?
7 The body is with the king,] This answer I do not comprehend. Perhaps it should be,-The body is not with the king, for the king is not with the body. Johnson.
Perhaps it may mean this,-The body is in the king's house, Vi. e. the present king's) yet the king (i. e. he who should have been king,) is not with the body. Intimating that the usurper is here, the true king in a better place. Or it may mean-the zuilt of the murder lies with the king, but the king is not where the body lies. The affected obscurity of Hamlet must excuse so many attempts to procure something like a meaning Steevens.
8 Of nothing :] Should it not be read-Or nothing? When the courtiers remark that Hamlet has contemptuously called the king a thing, Hamlet defends himself by observing, that the king must be a thing, or nothing. Johnson. The text is right. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“ In troth, my lord, it is a thing of nothing." And, in one of Harvey's Letters, “a silly bug-beare, a sorry puffe of winde, a thing of nothing." Farmer. So, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631:
" At what dost thou laugh?
“At a thing of nothing, at thee.” Again, in Look about You, 1600:
“ A very little thing, a thing of nothing." Steevens. Mr. Steevens has given [i. e. edit. 1778] many parallelisms: but the origin of all is to be looked for, I believe, in the 144th Psalm, ver. 5: “Man is like a thing of nought.” Mr. Steevens must have observed, that the Book of Common Prayer, and the translation of the Bible into English, furnished our old writers with many forms of expression, some of which are still in use.
Whalley. Hide fox &c.] There is a play among children called, Hide fox, and all after. Hanmer.
The same sport is alluded to in Decker's Satiromastix: - our unhandsome-faced poet does play at bo-peep with your grace, and cries-- All hid, as boys do."
This passage is not in the quarto. Steevens.
Yet must not we put the strong law on him:
Ros. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,
But where is he?
King. Bring him before us.
Enter Hamlet and GUILDENSTERN.
Ham. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politick' worms are e'en at him. palake? Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else, to fat us; and we fat ourselves for maggots: Your fat king, and your lean beggar, is but variable service; two dishes, but to one table; that 's the end.
King. Alas, alas !!
Ham. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king; and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
King. What dost thou mean by this?
Ham. Nothing, but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
King. Where is Polonius?
Ham. In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him i' the other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
1 Alas, alas' ] This speech, and the following, are omitted in the folio. Steevens. 2
go a progress - ] Alluding to the royal journeys of state, always styled progresses; a familiar idea to those who, like our author, lived during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. Steevens.