Imatges de pàgina

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither;
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelias: Her father, and myself
Will so beltow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge;
And gather by him, as he is behav'd,
It't be the affliction of his love, or no,
That thus he suffers for.

Queen. I shall obey you :
And, for your part?, Ophelia, I do wish,
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness; so shall I hope, your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.
Oph. Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen. Pol.Ophelia, walk you here: -Gracious, lo please you, We will bestow ourselves:-Read on this book ;

(to Ophelia. That Mow of such an exercise may colour Your loneliness 8.—We are oft to blame in this,'Tis too much proy'd”,-that, with devotion's visage, And pious action, we do sugar o'er The devil himself.

King. O, 'tis too true! how smart A lath that speech doth give my conscience ! [-Aside. The harlot's cheek, beauty'd with plast'ring art,

5 Affront Opbelia :] To affront, is only to meet dire&tly. JOHNSON. Affrontare, İtal. So, in the Devil's Charter, 1607: Affronting that port where proud Charles should enter.”

STEEVENS. 6 Her farber, and myself-] Thus the quarto. The folio after these words adds -lawful e pials, i. e. spies. MALONE.

? And, for your pari,] Thus the quarto 1604, and the folio. The modern editors, following a quarto of no authority, read — for my part.

MALONE. 8 Your loneliness.] Thus the folio. The first and second quartos read lowliness. STEEVENS. 9 'Tis too mucb provider] It is found by too frequent experience.


Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it,
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!
Pol. I hear him coming ; let's withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt King, and POLONIUS.

Ham. To be, or not to be”, that is the question :-
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer

The - more ugly to the tbing ibar belps it,] That is, compared wirb the thing that helps it. JOHNSON.

2 To be, or not to be, - ] Of this celebrated foliloquy, which bursting from a man distracted with contrariety of desires, and overwhelmed with the magnitude of his own purposes, is connected rather in the speaker's mind, than on his tongue, I fall endeavour to discover the train, and to thew how one sentiment produces another.

Hamlet, knowing himself injured in the most enormous and atro. cious degree, and seeing no means of redress, but such as must er. pose him to the extremity of hazard, meditates on his situation in this manner: Before I can form any rational sebeme of a&ior urder ibis prefsure of distress, it is necessary to decide, whether, after our prefest fate, we are to be, or not to be. That is the question, which, as it

Thall be answered, will determine, wbet ber Pris nobler, and more suitable to the dignity of realon, to suffer tbe outrages of fortune patiently, or to take arms against obem, and by opposing end them, tbougb per baps with the loss of life. If to die, were to sleep, no more, and by a jleep to end the miseries of our nature, such a deep were devoutly to be wished; but if to feep in death, be to dream, to retain our powers of sensibility, we must pause to confider, in that pleep of death wbat dreams may come. This consideration makes calamity so long endured; for who would bear the vexations of life, which might be ended by a bare bodkin, but chat he is afraid of something in unknown futurity? This fear it is that gives efficacy to conscience, which, by turning the mind upon this regard, chills the ardour of resolution, checks the vigour of enterprize, and makes the current of de. Fire stagnate in inactivity.

We may suppose that he would have applied these general observa. tions to his own case, but that he discovered Ophelia. JOHNSON.

Dr. Johnson's explication of the firft five lines of this paffage is surely wrong. Hamlet is not deliberating whether after our present ftate we are to exist or not, but whether he should continue to live or put an end to his life: as is pointed out by the second and the three following lines, which are manifestly a paraphrase on the first; “ whether 'tis nobler in the mind to fuffer, &c. or to take arms.” The question concerning our existence in a future state is not considered till the tenth line:-" to Deep! perchance, to dream,&c. The train of


The slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes ;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles 4,
And, by oppofing, end them ?- To die,-to fleep,
No more ;-and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,-'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be with’d. To die ;-to sleep ;-
To sleep! perchance, to dream ;-ay, there's the rub;
Hamlet's reasoning from the middle of the fifth line, “ If to die, were
to sleep," &c. Dr. Johnson has marked out with his usual accuracy.

In our poet's Rape of Lucrece we find the fame question stated, which is proposed in the beginning of the present soliloquy:

" - with herself the is in mutiny,

To live or die, wbicb of the twain were better." MALONI, 3 - arrows of outrageous fortune ; ] “ Homines nos ut effe meminerimus, eâ lege natos, ut omnibus telis fortuna propofita fit vita noftra." Cic. Epift. Fam. v. 16. STEIVENS.

4 Or to take arms againf a sea of troubles,] One cannot but wonder that the smallest doubt should be entertained concerning an expression which is so much in Shakspeare's manner; yet, to preserve the intega rity of the metaphor, Dr. Warburton reads assail of troubles, and Mr. Pope proposed fiege. In the Prometbeus Vinčius of Æjcbylus a fimilar imagery is found!

Δυσχειμερον γε πελαγος ατερας δυης. .

The stormy sea of dire calamity. and in the same play, as an anonymous writer has observed, (Gent. Magazine, Aug. 1772,) we have a metaphor no less hardha than that of the text :

Θολεροι δε λογοι ταιουσ' εικη
Στυγιης προς κυμασιν ατης.
« My plaintive words in vain confusedly beat

“ Against the waves of bateful misery." Shakspeare might have found the very phrase that he has employed, in Tbe Tragedy of Queen Cordila, MirroUR For MagistRATES, 1575, which undoubtedly he read:

" For lacke of frendes to tell my seas of gildlede smart." MALONE.

A fea of troubles among the Greeks grew into a proverbial usage; λακων θαλασσα, κακών τρικυμία. So that the expreflion iguratively means, the troubles of human life, which flow in upon us, and encompass us round, like a sea. THEOBALD.

I know not why there thould be so much folicitude about this metaphor. Shakspeare breaks his metaphors often, and in this desultory fpeech there was less need of preserving them. JOHNSON.

- To die,10 sleep,–] This paffage is ridiculed in the Scoreful Lady of B. and Fletcher, as follows:

be deceas'd, that is, alleep, for so the word is taken. * To sleep, to die; 10 die, to feep į a very figure, fir," &c. &c. STELV.


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For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coilo,
Muft give us pause: There's the respect',
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,



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morial coil,] i.e. turmoil, bustle. WARBURTON. 7 There's the respect,] i. e. the consideration. See Vol. X. p. 102, n. 3. MALONE.

the whips and scorns of time,] The evils here complained of are not the product of time or duration simply, but of a corrupted age or manners. We may be sure, then, that Shakspeare wrote

ibe whips and scorns of th' time. And the description of che evils of a corrupt age, which follows, confirms this emendation. WARBURTON.

It may be remarked, that Hamlet, in his enumeration of miseries, forgets, whether properly or not, that he is a prince, and mentions many evils to which inferior stations are exposed. JOHNSON.

I think we might venture to read the whips and scorns o't b' times, i. e. of times satirical as the age of Shaklpeare, which probably furnished him with the idea.

In the reigns of Elizabeth and James (particularly in the former) there was more illiberal private abuse and peevith satire published, than in any others I ever knew of, except the present one. I have many of these publications, which were almost all pointed at individuals. Daniel, in his Musopbilus, 1599, has the same complaint:

“ Do you not see these pamphlers, libels, rhimes,
“ There strange confused tumults of the mind,
“ Are grown to be the sickness of these times,

“ The great disease inflicted on mankind ?"
Whips and scorns are surely as inseparable companions, as public
punishment and infamy.

Quips, the word which Dr. Johnson would introduce, is derived, by all etymologists, from wbips. Hamlet is introduced as reasoning on a question of general concern

He therefore takes in all such evils as could befall mankind in general, without considering himself at present as a prince, or wishing to avail himself of the few exemptions which high place might once have claimed.

In part of K. James It's Entertainmene paffing to his Coronarion, by Ben Jonson and Decker, is the following line, and note on that line :

And firf account of years, of months, OF TIME." “ By time we understand the present.This explanation affords the sense for which I have contended, and without alteracion. STLIV.



The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?? who would fardels bear,


The word whips is used by Marston in his Satires, 1599, in the sense required here:

“ Ingenuous melancholy,
“ Inthrone thee in my blood; let me entreat,
“ Stay his quick jocund skips, and force him run

“ A sad-pac'd course, untill my whips be done.” MALONE. 9. - ibe proud man's contumely,] Thus the quarto. The folio reads - the poor man's contumely; the contumely which the poor man is obliged to endure.

“ Nil habet infelix paupertas durius in se,
« Quam quod ridiculos homines facit.” MALONE.
of despis'd love,] The folio reads--of difpriz'd love. STEIVO

migbe bis quietus make

With a bare bodkin?-] The first expression probably alluded to the writ of discharge, which was formerly granted to those barons and knights who personally attended the king on any foreign expedition. This discharge was called a quietus.

It is at this time the term for the acquittance which every sheriff receives on settling his accounts at the exchequer.

The word is used for the discharge of an account, by Webster, in his Dutebess of Malfy, 1623:

« You had the trick, in audit-time to be fick,

« Till I had fign’d your quietus." A bodkin was, the ancient term for a small dagger. So, in the Sea cond Part of Tbe Mirrour of Knighthood, 4to. bl. let. 1598: “ Not having any more weapons but a poor poynado, which usually he did weare about him, and taking it in his hand, delivered these speeches unto it: Thou, Ally bodkin, Inalt finish the piece of worke," &c

In the margin of Stowe's Chronicle, edit, 1614, it is said, that Cæfar was sain with bodkins.

Again, in Cbancer, as be is quoted at the end of a pamphlet called The Serpent of Division, &c. whereunto is annexed obe Tragedy of Goro bodus, &c. 1591:

“ With bodkins was Cæsar Julius

“ Murder'd at Rome, of Brutus Crassus." STEEVENS. Lydgate in his Fall of Princes, ays that Julius Cæsar was slain in the Capitol with bodkins.

The first Lord Lyttelton, it seems, was of opinion that Pope's edition of Shakspeare was better than that of Theobald's, because VOL. VII.


( Theobald

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