Imatges de pàgina

That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,3
Come short of what he did.

A Norman, was 't?
King. A Norman.
Laer. Upon my life, Lamord.4

The very same.
Laer. I know him well: he is the brooch, indeed,
And gem of all the nation.

King. He made confession of you;
And gave you such a masterly report,
For art and exercise in your defence,5
And for your rapier most especial,
That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed,
If one could match you: the scrimers of their nation,
He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
If you oppos’d them: Sir, this report of his
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy,
That he could nothing do, but wish and beg
Your sudden coming o'er, to play with you.
Now, out of this, -

What out of this, my lord?
King. Laertes, was your father dear to you?
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart?

Why ask you this?
King. Not that I think, you did not love your father;
But that I know, love is begun by time ;)

* As if, Centaur-like, he had been one peece with the horse."

Steevens, 3 i n forgery of shapes and tricks, ] I could not contrive so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform. Johnson.

4 Lamord.] Thus the quarto, 1604. Shakspeare, I suspect, wrote Lamode. See the next speech but one. The folio hasLamound. Malone. 5 in your defence,] That is, in the science of defence.

Fohnson. 6 the scrimers -] The fencers. Yohnson. From escrimeur, Fr. a fencer. Malone.

This unfavourable description of the French swordsmen is not in the folio. Steevens.

7 love is begun by time;] This is obscure. The meaning may be, love is not innate in us, and co-essential to our nature, but begins at a certain time from some external cause, and eing always subject to the operations of time, suffers change and diminution. Fohnson.

And that I see, in passages of proof,S .
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
There lives within the very flame of lově
A kind of wick, or snuff, that will abate it;
And nothing is at a like goodness still;
For goodness, growing to a plurisy,

The King reasons thus :-"I do not suspect that you did not love your father; but I know that time abates the force of affection. I therefore suspect that we ought to read:

love is begone by time; I suppose that Shakspeare places the syllable be before gone, as we say be-paint, be-spatter, be-think, &c. M. Mason. 8 passages of proof,] In transactions of daily experience.

Yohnson. 9 There lives &c.] The next ten lines are not in the folio.

Steevens. i For goodness, growing to a plurisy,] I would believe, for the honour of Shakspeare, that he wrote plethory. But I observe the dramatick writers of that time frequently call a fulness of blood a plurisy, as if it came, not from a reupd, but from plus, pluris.

Warburton. I think the word should be spelt-plurisy. This passage is fully explained by one in Mascal's Treatise on Cattle, 1662, p. 187: Against the blood, or plurisie of blood. The disease of blood is, some young horses will feed, and being fat will increase blood, and so grow to a plurisie, and die, thereof if he have not soon help.” Tollet.

We should certainly read plurisy, as Tollet observes. Thus, in Massinger's Unnatural Combat, Malefort says

in a word, " Thy plurisy of goodness is thy ill.” And again, in The Picture, Sophia says:

“ A plurisy of blood you may let out," &c. The word also occurs in The Two Noble Kinsmen. Arcite, in his invocation to Mars, says:

“S o that heal'st with blood
" The earth, when it is sick, and cur'st the world

• Of the plurisy of people!” M. Mason. Dr. Warburton is right. The word is spelt plurisy in the quarto, 1604, and is used in the same sense as here, in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, by Ford, 1633:

“ Must your hot itch and plurisie of lust,
“ The hey-day of your luxury, be fed

"Up to a surfeit?" Malone. · Mr. Pope introduced this simile in the Essay on Criticism, v.

“ For works may have more wit than does them good,

As bodies perish through excess of blood.Ascham has a thought very similar to Pope's : “Twenty to one,


Dies in his own too-much: That we would do,
We should do when we would; for this would changes;
And hath abatements and delays as many,
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh,
That hurts by easingBut, to the quick o' the ulcer:

offend more, in writing too much, then to litle: euen as twenty, fall into sicknesse, rather by ouer much fulnes, then by any lacke, or emptinesse." The Schole-Master, 4to, bl. 1. fol. 43. H. White. 2 And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh,

That hurts by easing.] A spendthrift sigh is a sigh that makes an unnecessary waste of the vital flame. It is a notion very pre. valent, that sighs impair the strength, and wear out the animal powers. Johnson.

So, in the Governall of Helthe &c. printed by Wynkyn de Worde: “ And for why whan a man casteth out that noble hu. mour too moche, he is hugely dyscolored, and his body moche febled, more then he lete four sythes, soo moche, blode oute of his body.” Steevens.

Hence they are called, in King Henry VI,-blood-consuming sighs. Again, in Pericles, 1609:

“ Do not consume your blood with sorrowing." The idea is enlarged upon in Fenton's Tragical Discourses, 1579: “ Why staye you not in tyme the source of your scorching sighes, that have already drayned your body of his wholesome humoures, appoynted by nature to gyve sucke to the entrals and in ward parts of you?”

The original quarto, as well as the folio, reads-a spendthrift's sigh; but I have no doubt that it was a corruption, arising from the first letter of the following word sigh, being an s. I have, therefore, with the other modern editors, printed spendthrift sigh, following a late quarto, (which however is of no authority) printed in 1611. That a sigh, if it consumes the blood, hurts us by easing, or is prejudicial to us on the whole, though it affords a temporary relief, is sufficiently clear: but the former part of the line, and then this should, may require a little explanation. I suppose the King means to say, that if we do not promptly execute that we are convinced we should or ought to do, we shall afterwards in vain repent our not having seized the fortunate moment for action: and this opportunity which we have let go by us, and the reflection that we should have done that, which, from supervening accidents, it is no longer in our power to do, is as prejudicial and painful to us as a blood-consuming sigh, that at once hurts and eases us.

I apprehend the poet meant to compare such a conduct, and the consequent reflection, only to the pernicious quality which he supposed to be annexed to sighing, and not to the temporary ease which it affords. His similes, as I have frequently had occasion to observe, seldom run on four feet. Malone:

Hamlet comes back; What would you undertake,
To show yourself in deed your father's son
More than in words?

To cut his throat i' the church.
King. No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;
Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
Will you do this, keep close within your chamber:
Hamlet, return’d, shall know you are come home:
We 'll put on those shall praise your excellence,
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you, in fine, together,
And wager o'er your heads: he, being remiss,3
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
Or with a little shuffing, you may choose
A sword unbated,4 and, in a pass of practice,5

3. he, being remiss,] He being not vigilant or cautious.

Johnson. 4 A sword unbated,] i. e. not blunted as foils are. Or, as one edition has it, embaited or envenomed. Pope.

There is no such reading as embaited in any edition. In Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, it is said of one of the Metelli, that “ shewed the people the cruel fight of fencers, at unrebated swords.” Steevens.

Not blunted, as foils are by a button fixed to the end. So, in Love's Labour's Lost: “ That honour, which shall bate his scythe's keen edge."

, Malone. 5 a pass of practice,] Practice is often by Shakspeare, and other writers, taken for an insidious stratagem, or privy treason, a sense not incongruous to this passage, where yet I rather believe, that nothing more is meant than a thrust for exercise.

Johnson: So, in Look about You, 1600:

“ I pray God there be no practice in this change." Again :

the man is like to die :
Practice, by th' mass, practice by the &c.

Practice, by the Lord, practice, I see it clear.” Again, more appositely, in our author's Twelfth Night, Act V., sc. ult: “ This practice hath most shrewdly pass'd upon thee.”

Steevens. A pass of practice is a favourite pass, one that Laertes was well practised in. In Much Ado about Nothing, Hero's father says:

“I'll prove it on his body, if he dare,
“ Despite his nice fence, and his active practice."

Requite him for your father.

I will do 't:
And, for the purpose, I 'll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal, that, but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
Collected from all simples that have virtue
Under the moon, can save the thing from death,
That is but scratch'd withal: I 'll touch my point
With this contagion; that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.

King. Let 's further think of this;
Weigh, what convenience, both of time and means,
May fit us to our shape:7 if this should fail,
And that our drift look through our bad performance,
"Twere better not assay’d; therefore, this project
Should have a back, or second, that might hold,
If this should blast in proof.8 Soft ;-let me see:-
We 'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings-
I ha't:
When in your motion you are hot and dry,
As make your bouts more violent to that end)
And that he calls for drink, I 'll have preferr’d him,

The treachery on this occasion, was his using a sword unbated and envenomed. M. Mason.

6 It may be death.] It is a matter of surprise, that no one of Shakspeare's numerous and able commentators has remarked, with proper warmth and detestation, the villainous assassin-like treachery of Laertes in this horrid plot. There is the more occasion that he should be here pointed out an object of abhorrence, as he is a character we are, in some preceding parts of the play, led to respect and admire. Ritson.

? May fit us to our shape:] May enable us to assume proper cha: racters, and to act our part. Johnson.

8- blast in proof.] This, I believe, is a metaphor taken from a mine, which, in the proof or execution, sometimes breaks out with an ineffectual blast. Johnson.

The word proof shows the metaphor to be taken from the trying or proving fire-arms or cannon, which often blast or burst in the proof. Steevens.

9-- I'll have preferr'd him-]i.e. presented to him. Thus the quarto, 1604. The word indeed is mispelt, prefard. The folio reads—I'll have prepar'd him. Malone.

To prefer, (as Mr. Malone observes) certainly means to present, offer, or bring forward. So, in Tiinon of Athens :

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