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Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
[Exeunt King, Queen, Lords, &c. Pol. and LAER. Ham. O, that this too too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew !? Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter!3 () God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fy on't! O fy! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank, and gross in nature, Possess it merely.* That it should come to this ! But two months dead!--nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr:5 so loving to my mother,
resolve itself into a dew'] Resolve means the same as dissolve. Ben Jonson uses the word in his Volpone, and in the
" Forth the resolved corners of his eyes.” Again, in The Country Girl, 1647:
my swoln grief, resolved in these tears.” Pope has employed the same word in his version of the second Iliad, 44:
“ Resolves to air, and mixes with the night.” Steevens. s Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter ?] The generality of the edi. tions read-cannon, as if the poet's thought were, -Or that the Almighty had not planted his artillery, or arms of vengeance, against self-murder. But the word which I restored (and which was espoused by the accurate Mr. Hughes, who gave an edition of this play) is the true reading, i. e, that he had not restrained suicide by his express law and peremptory, prohibition. Theobald.
There are yet those who suppose the old reading to be the true one, as they say the word fixed seems to decide very strongly in its favour. I would advise such to recollect Virgil's expression :
fixit leges pretio, atque refixit." Steevens. If the true reading wanted any support, it might be found in Cymbeline :
“ That cravens my weak hand.” In Shakspeare's time canon (norma) was commonly spelt cannon.
Malone. merely.] is entirely, absolutely. See Vol. II, p. 12, n. 2; and Coriolanus, Act III, sc. i, Vol. XIII.
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
be a little far-fetched; but it has an exquisite beauty. By the Sa. tyr is meant Pan, as by Hyperion, Apollo. Pan and Apollo were brothers, and the allusion is to the contention between those gods for the preference in musick. Warburton.
All our English poets are guilty of the same false quantity, and call Hyperion Hypērion; at least the only instance I have met with to the contrary, is in the old play of Fuimus Troes, 1633 :
Blow gentle Africus,
“ Shall couch in west.” Shakspeare, I believe, has no allusion in the present instance, except to the beauty of Apollo, and its immediate opposite, the deformity of a Satyr. Steevens.
6 That he might not beteem the winds of heaven -] In former editions:
That he permitted not the winds of heaven This is a sophisticated reading, copied from the players in some of the modern editions, for want of understanding the poet, whose text is corrupt in the old impressions : all of which that I have had the fortune to see, concur in reading :
so loving to my mother,
Visit her face too roughly. Beteene is a corruption without doubt, but not so inveterate a one, but that, by the change of a single letter, and the separation of two words mistakenly jumbled together, I am verily persuaded, I have retrieved the poet's reading That he might not let e’en the winds of heaven &c.
Theobald. The obsolete and corrupted verb-beteene, (in the first folio) which should be written (as in all the quartos) beteeme, was changed, as above, by Mr. Theobald; and with the aptitude of his conjecture succeeding criticks appear to have been satisfied.
Beteeme, however, occurs in the tenth Book of Arthur Golding's version of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 4to. 1587; and, from the corresponding Latin, must necessarily signify, to vouchsafe, deign, permit, or suffer:
Yet could he not beteeme “ The shape of anie other bird than egle for to seeme.".
Sign. R. 1. b. nulla tamen alite verti
Dignatur, nisi quæ possit sua fulmina ferre.” V. 157. Jupiter (though anxious for the possession of Ganymede) would not deign to assume a meaner form, or suffer change into an hum. bler shape, than that of the august and vigorous fowl who bears the thunder in his pounces.
As if increase of appetite had grown
Enter HORATIO, BERNARDO, and MARCELLUS.
I am glad to see you well: Horatio,mor I do forget myself.
Hor. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
The existence and signification of the verb beteem being thus established, it follows, that the attention of Hamlet's father to his queen was exactly such as is described in the Enterlude of the Life and Repentaunce of Marie Magdalaine, &c. by Lewis Wager, 4to. 1567 :
“ But evermore they were unto me very tender,
“ They would not suffer the wynde on me to blowe.” I have therefore replaced the ancient reading, without the slightest hesitation, in the text.
This note was inserted by me in The Gentleman's Magazine, some years before Mr. Malone's edition of our author (in which the same justification of the old reading—beteeme, occurs,) had made its appearance. Steevens.
7 Like Niobe, all tears ;] Shakspeare might have caught this idea from an ancient ballad entitled The falling out of Lovers is the renewing of Love :
“ Now I, like weeping Niobe,
May wash my handes in teares,” &c.
l'll change that name --] I'll be your servant, you shall be my friend. Johnson.
And what make you' from Wittenberg, Horatio ? -
Mar. My good lord,
Ham. I am very glad to see you; good even, sir.1 But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg ?
Hor. A truant disposition, good my lord.
Ham. I would not hear your enemy say so;
Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Ham. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;
Hor. Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.
what make you -] A familiar phrase for what are you doing. Johnson. See Vol. V, p. 9, n. 4. Steevens.
good even, sir.] So the copies. Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton put it-good morning. The alteration is of no importance, but all licence is dangerous. There is no need of any change. Between the first and eighth scene of this Act it is apparent, that a natural day must pass, and how much of it is already over, there is nothing that can determine. The King has held a council. It may now as well be evening as morning.
Fohnson. The change made by Sir T. Hanmer might be justified by what Marcellus said of Hamlet at the conclusion of sc. i:
and I this morning know “Where we shall find him most convenient.” Steevens.
the funeral bak'd meats - ] It was anciently the general custom to give a cold entertainment to mourners at a funeral. In distant counties this practice is continued among the yeomanry. See The Tragique Historie of the Faire Valeria of London, 1598: “ His corpes was with funerall pompe conveyed to the church, and there sollemnly enterred, nothing omitted which necessitie or custom could claime; a sermon, a banquet, and like observa. tions." Again, in the old romance of Syr Degore, bl. I. no date :
“ A great feaste would he holde
“ That was buryed in an abbay.” Collins. See also, Hayward's Life and Raigne of King Henrie the Fourth, 4to. 1599, p. 135: “Then hee (King Richard II) was conveyed to Langley Abby in Buckinghamshire,--and there obscurely in
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Ham. In my mind's eye, Horatio.
Ham. He was a man, take him for all in all,
terred, -without the charge of a dinner for celebrating the funeral." Malone.
dearest foe in heaven -] Dearest for direst, most dread. ful, most dangerous. Fohnson.
Dearest is most immediate, consequential, important. So, in Romeo and Juliet:
a ring that I must use “ In dear employment.” Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Maid in the Mill:
“ You meet your dearest enemy in love,
- With all his hate about him.” Steevens. See Timon of Athens, Act 1, sc. ii, Vol. XV. Malone. 4 Or ever -] Thus the quarto, 1604. The folio reads-ere
This is not the only instance in which a familiar phraseology has been substituted for one more ancient, in that valuable copy. Malone.
5 In my mind's eye,] This expression occurs again in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
himself behind “ Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind.” Again, in Chaucer's Man of Lawes Tale:
“ But it were with thilke eyen of his minde,
“ With which men mowen see whan they ben blinde." Ben Jonson has borrowed it in his Masque called 'Love's Triumph through Callipolis:
“ As only by the mind's eye may be seen." Again, in the Microcosmos of John Davies of Hereford, 4to. 1605:
“ And through their closed eies their mind's eye peeps." Telemachus lamenting the absence of Ulysses, is represented in like manner : « “ 'Ogrólesvos narig' icondy evi øgerin.” Odyss. L. I, 115.
Steevens. This expression occurs again in our author's 113th Sonnet:
" Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind.” Malone.