Puslapio vaizdai

King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes, time be thine; (3)

And thy beft graces fpend it at thy will. But now, my coufin Hamlet, and my fon--Ham. A little more than ́kin, and less than kind. [Afide. King: How is it that the clouds ftill hang on you? Ham. Not fo, my Lord, I am too much i' th' fun.

Queen. Good Hamlet, caft thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not, for ever, with thy veiled lids, Seek for thy noble father in the duft ;

Thou knoweft 'tis common; all that live must die,
Paffing through nature to eternity.

Ham. Ay, Madam, it is common.
Queen. If it be,

Why feems it fo particular with thee?

Ham. Seems, Madam? nay, it is; I know not feems:

'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor cuftomary fuits of folemn black,
Nor windy fufpiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, fhews of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed feem,
For they are actions that a man might play;

(3) Take thy fair hour, Laertes, time be thine,

And thy fair graces; Spend it at thy will.] This is the pointing in both Mr Pope's editions; but the Poet's meaning is loft by it, and the clofe of the fentence miferably flattened. The pointing I have reftored, is that of the beft copies, and the fenfe this; "You have my leave to go, Laertes; make the faireft ufe you pleafe of your time, and spend it at your will with the fairest graces you are-mafter of."

But I have that within which passeth fhew:
Thefe but the trappings and the fuits of woe.
King. 'Tis fweet and commendable in your na
ture, Hamlet,

To give these mourning duties to your father:
But you must know, your father loft a father; (4)-
That father loft, loft his; and the furviver bound
In filial obligation, for fome term,

To do obfequious forrow.. But to perfevere
In obftinate condolement, is a course
Of impious ftubbornness, unmanly grief.
It fhews a will most uncorrect to Heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding fimple and unfchooled
For what we know mult be, and is as common:
As any the most vulgar thing to fense,
Why should we, in our peevith opposition,
Take it to heart? fy! 'tis a fault to Heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to Nature,
To Reafon most abfurd; whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the firit corfe till he that died to-day,
"This muit be fo." We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father: for let the world take note,
You are the molt immediate to our throne;.

(4) But you muit krow, your father left a fiber; That father his. This fuppofed refinement is from Mr Pope; but all the editions elfe, that I have met with, old and modern, read;

That father loft, lost bis.

The reduplication of which word kere gives an energy and elegance, which is much easier to be conceived than explained in terms. And every judicious reader of this Poet must have obferved fow frequent it is with him to make this reduplication, where he intends either to alert or deny, augment or dinimith, or add a degree of velismence↑ to his expreilion.

And with't no lefs nobility of love, (5).
Than that which dearest father bears his fon,
Do I impart tow'rd you. For your intent (6)
In going back to fchool to Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our defire:
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefeft courtier, coufin, and our fon.

Queen. Let not thy mother lofe her prayers

I pr'ythee, stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
Ham. I fhall in all my beft obey you, Madam..
King. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply;
Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits fimiling to my heart, in grace whereof
No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the great cannon to the clouds fhall tell;

(5) And with no less nobility of love

Than that which dearest father bears his fon,

Do I impart towards you] But what does the King im part? We want the fubftantive governed of the verb The King had declared. Hamlet his immediate fucceffor, and with that declaration, he must mean, he imparts to him as noble: a love, as ever fond father tendered to his own fon. I have. ventured to make the text conform with this fenfe.


For your intent

In going back to School to Wittenberg;] The Poet ufes a prolepfis here; for the university at Wittenberg was opened by Frederick III. elector of Saxony, in the year 1502, feveral ages later in time than the date of Hamlet. But I defign this remark for another purpofe. I would take notice, that a confiderable fpace of years is fpent in this tragedy; or Hamlet, as a Prince, fhould be too old to go to an univerfity. We here find him a fcholar refident at that univerfity; but, in act fifth, we find him plainly thirty years old; for the gravedigger had taken up that occupation the very, day on which young Hamlet was born, and had followed it, as he fays, thirty years.

And the King's rowfe the heaven fhall bruit again, Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.



Ham. Oh, that this too-too-folid flesh would melt, Thaw, and refolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlafting had not fixed (7)

(7) Or that the Everlasting had not fixed

His cannon 'gainst felf-flaughter!] The generality of the editions read thus, as if the Poet's thoughts were, Or that the Almighty had not planted his artillery, his refentment, or arms of vengeance against felf-murder. But the word which I have restored to the text, (and which was efpoufed by the accurate Mr Hughes, who gave an edition of this play) is the Poet's true reading. i. e. That he had not refh ained fuicide by his exprefs law, and peremptory prohibition. Miftakes are perpetually made in the old editions of our Poet, betwixt thofe two words, cannon and canon. I fhall now fubjoin my reasons why I think the Poet intended to fay Heaven had fixed its injunction rather than its artillery. In the first place, I much doubt the propriety of the phrafe, fixing cannon, in the meaning here fuppofed The military expreflion, which imports what would be neceffary to the fenie of the Poct's thought, is mounting or planting cannon; and whenever cannon is faid to be fixed, it is when the enemy become mafters of it and nail it down. In the next place, to fix a canon, or law, is the term of the civilians peculiar to this bufinefs. This Virgil had in his mind when he wrote; -Leges fisit pretio, atque refixit.

Æneid. VI. So Cicero, in his Philippic orations; Num figentur rurfus he Tabula, quas vos decretis veftris refixytis? And it was the conftant cuftom of the Romans to fay, upon this occafion, figere legem, as the Greeks before them ufed the fynonymous term νόμον παραπῆξαι, and called their fatues thence παρα

hura. But my laft reason, and which sways most with. me, is from the Poet's own turn and caft of thought. For, as he has done in a great many more inftances, it is the very fentiment which he falls into in another of his plays, though he has clothed it in different expreffion;

gainft jelf-flaughter

There is a prohibition fo divine,
That cravens my weak hand.


His canon 'gainft felf-flaughter! O God! oh God!
How weary, ftale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the ufes of this world!
Fy on't! oh fy! 'tis an unweeded garden, [ture,
That grows to feed; things rank, and grofs in na-
Poffefs it merely. That it fhould come to this!
But two months dead! nay, not fo much; not


So excellent a King, that was, to this,

Hyperion to a fatyr: fo loving to my mother, (8); That he might not let e'en the winds of heaven Vifit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Muft I remember?---why, fhe would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown

By what it fed on; yet, within a month,
Let me not think---Frailty, thy name is woman! (9).


-fo loving to my mother,

That he permitted not the winds of heaven

Vifit her face too roughly. This is a fophifticated reading, copied from the players in fome of the modern editions, for want of understanding the Poet, whofe text is corrupt in the old impreffions; all of which that I have had the fortune to fee, concur in reading;

-fo loving to my mother,

That he might not beteene the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly.

Beteene is a corruption, without doubt, but not so inveterate a one, but that, by the change of a fingle letter, and the feparation of two words mistakenly jumbled together, I am verily perfuaded, I have retrieved the Poet's reading That he might not let e'en the winds of heaven, &c. (9) -Frailty, thy name is woman!] But that it would difplease Mr Pope to have it fuppofed that fatire. can have any place in tragedy, (of which I fhall have occafion to speak farther anon) I should make no fcruple to pronounce this reflection a fine laconic farcafin. It is as concife in the terms, and, perhaps, more fprightly in the thought and image, than that fling of Virgil upon the fex, in hist fourth Æncid;

-varium et mutabile femper


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