« AnteriorContinua »
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
Re-enter King, and POLONIUS.
8 — the mould of form,] The model by whom all endeavoured to form themselves. Johnson 9 - mojt deje&-) So, in Heywood's Silver Age, 1613:
-What knight is that « So passionately deject?" STLEVENS. Imout of tune) Thus the folio. The quarto--out of time. STELV,
These two words in the hand-writing of Shakspeare's age are almost jodiftinguishable, and hence are frequently confounded in the old copies. See Vol. IV. p. 40, n. 1.
MALONE. 2 cand feature) Thus the folio. The quartos read faturo. STEEV.
3 -wirb ecstasy :) The word ecftasy was anciently used to fignify fome degree of alienation of mind. So G. Douglas, translating—ftetit acri fixa dolore :
“ In ecstasy she stood, and mad almaist." STIEVENS. See Vol. IV. p. 361, n. 9.
« One aierie with proportion ne'er discloses
Whereon his brains still beating, puts him thus
Pol. It shall do well : But yet do I believe,
King. It shall be so:
SC EN E II.
A Hall in the same. Enter HAMLET, and certain Players. Ham. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue : but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lieve the town-crier fpoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus; but use all gently: for in the very torrent, tempeft, and (as I may say) whirlwind of your paflion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to hear a robuftious perriwig-pated fellow tear a passion
s-be round wirb bim;] To be round with a person, is to repri. mand him with freedom. So, in A Mad World my Mafters, by Middleton, 1640; "She's round with her i'faith.” MALONE.
0 -- perriwig-pated] This is a ridicule on the quantity of false hair worn in Shakspeare's time, for wigs were not in common use till che xign of Charles II. In the Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julia says" I'll get me a colour'd perriwig."
Goff, who wrote several plays in the reign of James I. and was no mean scholar, has the following lines in his tragedy of the Courageous Turk, 1632 :
to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings?; who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb thews, and noise 8 : I would have
How now, you heavens,
“ And clothe yourselves in perriwigs of fire ?” Players, however, seem to have worn them most generally. So, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609: “ as none wear hoods but monks and ladies; and feathers but fore-horses, &c;-none perriwigs but players and pictures." STEEVENS.
1begroundlings;-) The meaner people then seem to have fat below, as they now fit in the upper gallery, who, not well understanding poetical language, were sometimes gratified by a mimical and mute sepresentation of the drama, previous to the dialogue, JOHNSON.
Before each act of the tragedy of Jocafia, translated from Euripides, by Geo. Gascoigne and Fra. Kinwelmerth, the order of these dumb shews is very minutely described. This play was presented at Gray's Inn by them in 1566. The mute exhibitions included in it are chiefly emblematical, nor do they display a picture of one single scene which is afterwards performed on the stage. In some other pieces I have observed, that they serve to introduce such circumstances as the limits of a play would not admit to be represented. Thus in Herod and Antiparer, 1622 :
Let me now
“ Out of this DUMB SHOW, tell your memories." In short, dumb thews sometimes Iupplied deficiencies, and, at others, filled up the space of time which was necessary to pass while business was supposed to be transacted in foreign parts. With this method of preserving one of the unities, our ancestors appear to have been satisfied.
Ben Jonson mentions the groundlings with equal contempt. “ The understanding gentlemen of the ground here.”
Again, in The Case is Alter'd, 1609:-“ a rude barbarous crew, that have no brains, and yet grounded judgments; they will hiss any thing that mounts above their grounded capacities.”.
In our early play-houses the pit had neither floor nor benches. Hence the term of groundlings for those who frequented it.
The groundling, in its primitive fignification, means a fish which always keeps at the bottom of the water. STEEVENS.
8 - are capable of norbing but inexplicable dumb shews, and noise :) i. e, have a capacity for nothing but dumb thews; underfiand nothing elle. So, in Heywood's Hiftory of Women, 1624: " l' have therein
such a fellow whipp'd for o'er-doing Termagant"; it out. herods Herod': Pray you, avoid it. 1. Play. I warrant your honour.
imitated our biftorical and comical poets, that write to the stage; who, left the auditory should be dulled with serious discourses, in every act present some zany, with his mimick gesture to breed in the less capable mirth and laughter." See Vol. VI. p. 525, n. 7. MALONI.
- inexplicable dumb fbews,] I believe the meaning is, fews, wirbo our words so explain obem. JOHNSON.
Rather, I believe, shews which are too confusedly conducted to explain themselves.
I meet with one of these in Heywood's play of the Four Prentices of London, 1632, where the Presenter says,
" I must entreat your patience to forbear
". Their infant fortunes I will soon express :" &c. Then follow the dumb foews, which well deserve the character Hamlet has already given of this species of entertainment, as may be seen from the following pariage: “ Enter Tancred, with Bella Franca richly attired : the fomewbat offeeting bim, though she makes no foow of it.” Surely this may be called an inexplicable dumb few." STEEVENS.
9 Termagant;] Termagant was a Saracen deity, very clamorous and violent in the old moralities. PERCY.
Termagant is mentioned by Spenser in his Fairy Queen, and by Chaucer in The Tale of Sir Topas; and by B. and Fletcher in A King and no King, as follows:
" This would make a faint swear like a soldier, and a soldier like Termagant." Again, in Ram- Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:
swears, God bless us,
a hundred thousand Turks
out-berods Herod : ] The character of Herod in the ancient myfteries was always a violent one: See the Conventriæ Ludus among the Cotton M, Vespasian D. VIII.
6 Now I regne lyk a kyng arayd ful rych,
Ham. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor : suit the action to the word, the word to the action ; with this special observance, that you o'er-step not the modesty of nature: for any thing lo overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end,
Again, in the Chester Wbitfun Plays, Mss. Harl. 2013 :
“ I kynge of kynges, non soe keene,
The sonne it dare not shine on me,
See the Vintner's Play, p. 67. Chaucer describing a parish clerk, in his Miller's Tale, says,
" He playeth Herode on a skaffold high." The parish clerks and other subordinate ecclesiasticks appear to have been our first actors, and to have represented their characters on diso tinct pulpits or scaffolds. Thus, in one of the stage directions to the 27th pageant in the Coventry collection already mentioned ; “ What tyme that procession is entered into yt place, and the Herowdys takyn his fcbaffalde, and Annas and Cayphas their sobaffaldys," &c. STEEV.
to the instances given by Mr. Steevens of Herod's lofty language, may be added these lines from the Coventry plays among the Cotton Mís. p. 92.
« Of bewte and of boldnes I ber evermor the belle,