Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

that cry out on the top of the question,' and are most tyrannically clapped for't. These are now the fashion ; and so berattle the common stages, (so they call them,) that many, wearing rapiers, are afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thither.

Ham. What, are they children? who maintains them ? how are they escoted ?? Will they pursue the quality,” no longer than they can sing ?4 will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players, (as it is most like, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession ?

Ros. Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre 5 them on to controversy. There was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.

Ham. Is it possible ?

Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Ham. Do the boys carry it away?

Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.

Ham. It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, and those that would make mouths? at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece, for his picture in little. Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. [Flourish of trumpets within.

Guil. There are the players.

6

1 Question is speech, conversation. The meaning may therefore be, they cry out on the top of their voice.

2 i. e. paid.

3 i. e. profession. Mr. Gifford has remarked, that “this word seems more peculiarly appropriated to the profession of a player by our old writers.”

4 “ No longer than they can sing," i. e. no longer than they keep the voices of boys, and sing in the choir.

5 i. e. set them on; a phrase borrowed from the setting on a dog.

6 i. e. carry all the world before them: there is, perhaps, an allusion to the Globe theatre, the sign of which is said to have been Hercules carry ing the globe.

First copy, “niops and moes;" folio, “mowes."

1

Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Come, then; the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome; but my uncle-father, and aunt-mother, are deceived.

Guil. In what, my dear lord ?

Ham. I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.?

Enter POLONIUS. Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen!

Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern and you too ;-at each ear a hearer. That great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.

Ros. Happily, he's the second time come to them; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.

Ham. I will prophesy, he comes to tell me of the players; mark it. You say right, sir; o' Monday morning ; 'twas then, indeed.

Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.

Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,

Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.
Ham. Buzz, buzz!
Pol. Upon my honor,-
Ham. Then came each actor on his ass,

Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical

1 Hamlet has received his old schoolfellows with somewhat of the coldness of suspicion hitherto, but he now remembers that this is not courteous : he therefore rouses himself to give them a proper reception. “Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Conne, then; the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me embrace you in this fashion ; lest I should seem to give you a less courteous reception than I give the players, to whom I must behave with at least exterior politeness." To comply with was to embrace.

2 The original form of this proverb was, undoubtedly,“ To know a hawk from a hernshaw;" that is, to know a hawk from the heron which it pursues. The corruption is said to be as old as the time of Shakspeare.

[ocr errors]

pastoral, (tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historicalpastoral,"] scene individable, or poem unlimited.Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light for the law of writ? and the liberty. These are the only men.

Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel,—what a treasure hadst thou !

Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
Ham. Why-One fair daughter, and no more,

The which he loved passing well.'
Pol. Still on my daughter.

[ Aside. Ham. Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah ?

Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.

Ham. Nay, that follows not.
Pol. What follows then, my lord ?

Ham. Why, As by lot, God wot, and then, you know, It came to pass, As most like it was,- The first row of the pious chanson · will show you more; for look, my abridgmentó comes.

Enter four or five Players. You are welcome, masters; welcome, all.—I am glad to see thee well ;-welcome, good friends.-0 old friend! Why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark ?-What!

i The words within crotchets are not in the quartos. 2 Writ for writing, a common abbreviation, which is not yet obsolete. The quarto of 1603 reads, " for the law hath writ.” The modern editions have pointed this passage in the following manner :-"Scene individable, or poem unlimited; Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men."

3 An imperfect copy of this ballad, of “ Jephtha, Judge of Israel," was given to Dr. Percy by Steevens. See Reliques, ed. 1794, vol. i. p. 189. There is a more correct copy in Mr. Evans's Old Ballads, vol. i. P.

7. ed. 1810.

4 Pons chanson is the reading of the first folio; three of the quartos read pious ; and the newly-discovered quarto of 1603,the godly ballad;" which puts an end to controversy upon the subject. The first row is the first column. Every one is acquainted with the form of these old carols and ballads.

5 The folio reads, “ abridgments come.” My abridgment, i. e. who "ule to abridge my talk. 6 i. e. fringed with a beard.

my young lady and mistress! By-'r-lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven, than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine.? 'Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.–Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at any thing we see; we'll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality ; come, a passionate speech.

1 Play. What speech, my lord ?

Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech, once—but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million ; : 'twas caviare to the general; 4 but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgments, in such matters, cried in the top of mine) an excellent play; well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said there were no sallets in the lines, to make the matter savory; nor no matter in the phrase, that might indite the author of affection ; 6 but called it, an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved; 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line; let me see, let me see ;

The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,’tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus.

5

1 A chopine, a kind of high shoe, or rather clog, worn by the Spanish and Italian ladies, and adopted at one time as a fashion by the English. Coriate describes those worn by the Venetians as some of them “ half a yard high."

2 The old gold coin was thin, and liable to crack. There was a ring or circle on it, within which the sovereign's head, &c. was placed; if the crack extended beyond this ring, it was rendered uncurrent.

3 The quarto of 1603, vulgar.

4 “ 'Twas caviare to the general.Caviare is said to be the pickled roes of certain fish of the sturgeon kind, called in Italy caviale, and much used there and in other Catholic countries. Great quantities were prepared on the river Volga formerly. As a dish of high seasoning and peculiar flavor, it was not relished by the many, i. e. the general.

5 The force of this phrase will appear from the following passage, cited by Steevens, from A Banquet of Jests, 1665:-“ For junkets, joci, and for sallets, sales.”

6 i e. impeach the author with affectation in his style.

The rugged Pyrrhus,—he whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble,
When he lay couched in the ominous horse,-
Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
With heraldry more dismal ; head to foot
Now he is total gules ;' horridly tricked
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons ;
Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
To their lord's murder. Roasted in wrath, and fire,
And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks. So proceed you.

Pol. Fore God, my lord, well spoken; with good accent, and good discretion.

1 Play. Anon he finds him
Striking too short at Greeks ; his antique sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,
Pyrrhus at Priam drives ; in rage, strikes wide;
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
Stoops to his base; and with a hideous crash
Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear; for lo! his sword,
Which was declining on the milky head
Of reverend Priam, seemed i the air to stick.
So as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood;
And, like a neutral to his will and matter,
Did nothing.
But, as we often see, against some storm,
A silence in the heavens, the rack 2 stand still,
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
As hush as death; anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
A roused vengeance sets him new a-work;
And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall

| Gules, i. e. red, in the language of heraldry. To trick is to color. ? The rack is the clouds.

« ZurückWeiter »