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Ham. O good Horatio, I 'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

Hor. Very well, my lord.
Ham. Upon the talk of the poisoning,
Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ha!--Come, some musick; come, the recorders,

" For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike,

she likes it not, perdy. Enter RosENCRANTZ and GuildENSTERN. Come, some musick.

Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
Ham. Sir, a whole history.
Guil. The king, sir,
Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?
Guil. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.
Ham. With drink, sir?7
Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer, to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation, would, perhaps, plunge him into more choler.

Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my afiair.

Ham. I am tame, sir:-pronounce.

Guil. The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

Ham. You are welcome.

Guil. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment:

Shakspeare, I suppose, means, that the King struts about with a false pomp, to which he has no right. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1568: “ Pavoniegiare. To jet up and down, fondly gazing upon himself, as a peacock doth.” Malone.

5 Why then, belike,] Hamlet was going on to draw the consequence, when the courtiers entered. Johnson.

he likes it not, perdy.] Perdy is the corruption of par Dieu, and is not uncommon in the old plays. So, in The Play of the Four P's, 1569 :

“ In that, you Palmer, as deputie,

May clearly discharge him, pardie.Steevens. ? With drink, sir ?] Hamlet takes particular care that his uidcle's love of drink shall not be forgotten. Johnson.


if not, your pardon, and my return, shall be the end of my business. Ham. Sir, I cannot. Guil. What, my lord?

Ham. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit 's diseased: But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command; or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: My mother, you say,

Ros. Then thus she says; Your behaviour hath struck her into amazement and admiration.

Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! --But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? impart.

Ros. She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.

Ham. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?

Ros. My lord, you once did love me.
Ham. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.9

Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend.

Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.

Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

Ham. Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows--the proverb is something musty.2




- further trade -] Further business; further dealing.

Johnson. by these pickers &c.] By these hands. Johnson. By these hands, says Dr. Johnson, and rightly. But the phrase is taken from our church catechism, where the catechumen, in his duty to his neighbour, is taught to keep his hands from picking and stealing. Whalley.

when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?] Act I, sc. ii. Malone.

Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows,-the proverb is something musty, ] The remainder of this old proverb is preserved in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578:

“Whylst grass doth growe, oft sterves the seely steede.Again, in The Paradise of daintie Devises, 1578:

“ To whom of old this proverbe well it serves,

While grass doth growe, the silly horse he starves." Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the suc


Enter the Players, with Recorder8.3 O, the recorders:-- let me see one.-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.

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, “ so, 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.Steevents.

in Churchyard's Worthiness of Wales :
“ Their cunning can with craft so cloke a troeth,
That hardly we shall have them in the winde,
“ To smell them forth or yet their fineness finde.”

Henderson. 6 O, 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. Guit. 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.9



ventages - ] The holes of a fute. 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,
“ But only vented up her umbriere,

“ 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 veiitages 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 helmet, 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 piper
And of so easy and so plain a stóp,Soc. Malone.


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 musick, 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.

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.
Ham. Methinks, it is like a weasel."

1 Methinks, &c.] This passage has been printed in modern edi. tions thus :

Ham. Methinks, it is like an ouzle, &c.

Pol. It is black like an ouzle.
The first folio reads,- It is like a weazel.

Pol. It is back'd like a weazel - and what occasion for alterą. 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.

Mi. 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, addle. pated,” &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.

Hm. Methinks it is like a weazel.

Pol. It is hacked like a weazel.] Thus the quarto, 1604, and the folio. In a more modern quarto, that of 1611, backed, the origina) reading, was corrupted into black.

Perhaps in the original edition the words camel and weazel were shuffied 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. By the mass, and 'tis like a weazel, indeed.

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