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King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes, time be
thine; (3) And thy belt graces spend it at thy will. But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my fon--Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.
[Aide. King. How is it that the clouds still hang on you? Ham. Not so, my Lord, I am too much i' th’
sun. Queen. Good Hamlet, cast 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 dust ; Thou knowest 'tis common; all that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
Ham. Ay, Madam, it is common. Queen. If it be, Why seems it fo particular with thee? Ham. Seems, Madam ? nay, it is; I know not
seems : 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits 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, shews of grief, That can denote me truly. These indeed seem, 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 meana ing is lost by it, and the close of the sentence miserably flattened. "The pointing I have restored, is that of the best copies, and the sense this; “You have my icave to go, Laertes; make the faireft use you please of your time, and spend it at your will with the fairelt graces you are mafter of."
But I have that within which passeth fhew:
This must be so." 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 most immediate to our throne; (4) Bitt you mult k10w, your frither loft a father;
Thai father his. } This supposed refinement is from Mr Pope; but all the editions else, that I have met with, old and modern, read;
That father loft, lofi his. The reluplication of which word here gives an energy and elegance, which is much ea her to be conceived than explajued in terms. And evity judicious reader of this Poet must have observed how frequeor it is with him to make this reduplication, where he intends either to ailers of deny, augment or diasinill, or add a degrec of vchemendo to his expreilion.
And with't no less nobility of love, (5)
King. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply;
Than that which deareft father bears his fon,
DI impart towards you.] But what does the King im. part? We ivant the substantive governed of the verb. The King had declared Hamlet his immediate suceefior, and with that declaration, he must mean, he imparts to him as noble a love, as ever fond father tendered to his own son. I have ventured to make the text conform with chis sense. (6)
For your interit In going back to school to Wittenberg : The Poet uses a prolepfis here; for the university at Wittenberg was opened. by irederick !!!..elector of Saxony, in the year 1502, feve. sal ages later in time than the date of Hamlet. But I defign this remark for another purpołe. I would take notice, that a considerable space of years is spent in this tragedy; or Hamlet, as a Prince, thould be too old to go to an uni-. versity. We here find him a scholar 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 bad followed it, as he says, thirty years.
And the King's rowse the heaven shall bruit again, Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away,
[Exeunt, Manet HAMLET. Ham. Oh, that this too-too-folid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fixed (7) (7) Or thut the Everlasting had not fixed
His cannon 'gainst fell-flaughter!! The generality of the editions read tlus, as if the Poet's thoughts were, Or that the Almighty had not planted his artillery, his refentneri, or grms of vengeance against self-murder. But the word which I have restored to the text, (and which was espoused by the accurate Mr Hughes, who gave an edition of this play) is the Poct's true reading. i.e. That he bad not restrained suicide by his express law, and peremptory prohibition. Mira takes are perpetually made in the old editions of our Puet, betwixt those two words, cannon and canon. I shall now fube join my reasons why I think the l'oet intended to say Heaven bad fixed its injunction rather than its artillery. In the first place, I much doubt the propriety of the phrase, fixing cannon, in the meaning here supposed. The military expression, which imports what would be neecfsary to the sente of the Poet's thought, is mounting or planting cannon; and whenever Cannon is faid to be fixed, it is when the enemy become masters 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 business. This Virgil had in his mind when he wrote;
-Leges fixit pretio, atque refixit. Æneid. VI. So Cicero, in his Philippic orations; Num figentur rurjus he Tabula, quas vos decretis veftris refixisiis? And it was the constant cuftom of the Romans to say, upon this occasion, figere legem, as the Greeks before them used the synonymous term vóp.ox auparñžan, and called their statues thence napan any pata. But my last reafun, and which fways most with
is from the Poet's own turn and cast of thought. For, as he has done in a great many more instances, it is the very featinent which he falls into in another of his plays, though hc has clothed it in different expreflion;
-'gainst felf-Slaughter There is a prohibition fo divine, That cravens my weak hand.
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! oh God!
(8) -So loving to my mother,
That he permitted not the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. This is a sophisticated read ag, copied from the players in fome of the modern editions, for want of understanding the Poet, whose text is corrupt in the old impressions; all of which that I have had the fortune to fee, concur in reading;
-fo loving to my mother,
Visit her face too roughly. Beteeneis a corruption, without doubt, but not fo inveterate a one, but that, by the change of a fiogle letter, and the separation of two words miltakenly jumbled trigether, I am verily persuaded, I have retrieved the Poet's rcading That he might not lit e'en the winds of heaven, &c. (9)
Frailty, thy name is woman!] But that it would displease Mr Pope to have it suppo ed that satire can have any place in tragedy, (of which I Mall have occafion to speak farther anon) I Mhould make no fcruple to pronounce this reflection a fine laconic farcasın. It is as concise in the terms, and, perhaps, more spriglitly in the thought and image, than that fling of Virgil upon the lux, in his fourth Æneid;
-varium et mutabile femper Femina,