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my daughter:-yet he knew me not at first; he said, I was a fishmonger: He is far gone, far gone: and, truly, in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.-What do you read, my lord ?
Ham. Words, words, words!
Ham. Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here, that old men have grey beards ;5 that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick amber, and plum-tree gum; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: All which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, shall be as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
s Slanders, sir : for the satirical rogue says here, that old men &c.] By the satirical rogue he means Juvenal in his 10th Satire :
“ Da spatium vitæ, multos da Jupiter annos :
“ Dissimilemque sui,” &c. Nothing could be finer imagined for Hamlet, in his circumstances, than the bringing him in reading a description of the evils of long life. Warburton. Had Shakspeare read Fuvenal in the original, he had met with
“ De temone Britanno, Excidet Arviragus.”— and
“ Uxorem, Posthume, ducis?” We should not then have had continually in Cymbeline, Arvirāgus, and Posthūmus. Should it be said that the quantity in the former word might be forgotten, it is clear from a mistake in the latter, that Shakspeare could not possibly have read any one of the Ro. man poets.
There was a translation of the 10th Satire of Juvenal by Sir John Beaumont, the elder brother of the famous Francis : but I cannot tell whether it was printed in Shakspeare's time. In that age of quotation, every classick might be picked up by piece-meal.
I forgot to mention in its proper place, that another description of Old Age in As You Like it, has been called a parody on a passage in a French poem of Garnier. It is trifling to say any thing about this, after the observation I made in Macbeth : but one may remark once for all, that Shakspeare wrote for the people; and could not have been so absurd as to bring forward any allusion, which had not been familiarized by some accident or other. Farmer.
Pol. Though this be madness, yet there's method in it. (Aside.] Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
Ham. Into my grave?
Pol. Indeed, that is out o'the air.—How pregnant sometimes his replies are !6 a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him, and suddenly" contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.-My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal; except my life, except my life, except my life.
Pol. Fare you well, my lord.
Enter ROSENCRANTZ8 and GUILDENSTERN.
[To POL. Exit Pol. Guil. My honour'd lord! Ros. My most dear lord! -
Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guil. Happy, in that we are not overhappy;
Ham. Nor the soles of her shoe?
Ham. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?
Guil. 'Faith, her privates we.
Ham. In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What news?
6 How pregnant &c.] Pregnant is ready, dexterous, apt. So, in Twelfth Night :
a wickedness “Wherein a pregnant enemy doth much.” Steevens. 1 and suddenly &c.] This and the greatest part of the two following lines are omitted in the quartos. Steevens.
i Rosencrantz - ] There was an embassador of that name in England about the time when this play was written. Steevens.
Ros. None, my lord; but that the world 's grown honest.
Ham. Then is dooms-day near: But your news is not true. (Let me question more in particular: What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?
Guil. Prison, my lord!
Ham. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons; Denmark being one of the worst.
Ros. We think not so, my lord.
Ham, Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.
Ros. Why, then your ambition makes it one ; 'tis too narrow for your mind.
Ham. O God! I could be bounded in a nut-shell, and count myself a king of infinite space; were it not that I have bad dreams.
Guil. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition ; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.1
Ham. A dream itself is but a shadow.
Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow.
Ham. Then are our beggars, bodies;? and our monarchs, and outstretch'd heroes, the beggars' shadows: Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
Ros. Guil. We'll wait upon you.
'[Let me &c.] AU within the crotchets is wanting in the quartos. Steevens.
1- the shadow of a dream.] Shakspeare has accidentally inverted an expression of Pindar, that the state of humanity is oxias ovoce, the dream of a shadow. Johnson. , So, Davies :
“ Man's life is but a dreame, nay, less than “so,
“ A shadow of a dreame." Farmer. So, in the tragedy of Darius, 1603, by Lord Sterline :
" Whose best was but the shadow of a dream.” Steevens. 2 Then are our beggars, bodies ;] Shakspeare seems here to design a ridicule of those declamations against wealth and great. ness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty. Fohnson.
Ham. No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended.) But in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear, a halfpenny.Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come; deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
Guil. What should we say, my lord ?
Ham. Any thing—but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour: I know, the good king and queen have sent for you.
Ros. To what end, my lord ?
Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no? Ros. What say you?
[To Guil. Ham. Nay, then I have an eye of you ;4 [aside]—if you love me, hold not off.
Guil. My lord, we were sent for.
Ham. I will tell you, why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late, (but, wherefore,'I know not,) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises: and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a steril promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look
3— too dear a halfpenny.] i. e. a halfpenny too dear: they are worth nothing. The modern editors read-at a halfpenny.
Malone. 4 Nay, then I have an eye of you ;] An eye of you means, I have a glimpse of your meaning. Steevens.
5 I have of late, &c.] This is an admirable description of a rooted melancholy sprung from thickness of blood ; and artfully imagined to hide the true cause of his disorder from the pene. tration of these two friends, who were set over him as spies.
you, this brave o’erhanging firmament,o this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,7 why, it appears no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties ! in form, and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel ! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me, nor woman neither; though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
Ham. Why did you laugh then, when I said, Man de.' lights not me?
Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainments the players shall receive from you: we coted them on the way ;' and hither are they coming, to offer you service.
0_ this brave o'erhanging firmament,] Thus the quarto. The folio reads,--this brave o'er-hanging, this &c. Steevens. 7 t his most excellent canopy, the air,--this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,] So, in our author's 21st Sonnet:
“ As those gold candles, fix'd in heaven's air." Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
" Look, how the floor of heaven
“ Is thick inlaid with patins of bright gold.!” Malone. 8 l enten entertainment -Ti. e. sparing, like the entertain. ments given in Lent. So, in The Duke's Mistress, by Shirley, 1631 :
' to maintain you with bisket,
" And lenten lectures.” Steevens. 9- we coted them on the way;] To cote is to overtake. I meet with this word in The Return from Parnassus, a comedy, 1606:
“ marry we presently coted and outstript them.” Again, in Golding's Ovid's Metamorphosis, 1587, Book II:
" With that Hippomenes coted her.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. VI, chap. xxx;
“ Gods and goddesses for wantonness out-coted.” Again, in Drant's translation of Horace's satires, 1567:
“ For he that thinks to coat all men, and all to overgoe.” Chapman has more than once used the word in his version of the 23d Iliad.
See Vol. IV, p. 80, n. 7.
In the laws of coursing, says Mr. Tollet, “a cote is when a greyhound goes endways by the side of his fellow, and gives the hare a turn." This quotation seems to point out the etymology of the verb to be from the French côté, the side. Steevens.