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ACT І. SCENE I.-In the quartos the acts and scenes are not marked ; in the: folios they are indicated only as far as ii. 2.
Elsinore. “The scene is at the celebrated castle of Kronborg, commanding the entrance of the Sound. In its vaults the mythic Danish champion Holger was thought to be seated at the board, asleep for age after age, till the day of fate awakens hir.” (M.). The cut on p. 41 is taken from this castle.
1. Who's there? For the “interjectional line,” see Gr. 512.
Coleridge says: “That S. meant to put an effect in the actor's power in these very first words is evident from the impatience expressed by the startled Francisco in the line that follows. A brave man is never so peremptory as when he fears that he is afraid.”
2. Me. Emphatic; as the measure shows.
3. Long live the king! Commonly explained as the watchword of the night; but, as Delius points out, Horatio and Marcellus in 15 below give a different response to the same challenge. Pye believes that it corresponds to the old French usage of replying Vive le roi! to the chals lenge Qui vive ?
6. Upon your hour. Just at your hour. Wr. compares Rich. III. iii, 2. 5: “upon the stroke of four;" M. for M. iv. I. 17: “much upon this time,” etc. See also Gr. 191. Cf. the modern “on time.”
7. Now struck. Steevens conjectured “new struck ;” as in R. and 7. i. 1. 167: “But new struck nine."
8. Much thanks. Thanks is a quasi-singular. Cf. Luke, xii. 19: “much goods,” etc. For the old use of much=great, see Gr. 51 ; and for the adverbial use of bitter, Gr. 1.
9. Sick at heart. F. quotes Strachey : “The key-note of the tragedy is struck in the simple preludings of this common sentry's midnight guard, to sound afterwards in ever - spreading vibrations through the complicated though harmonious strains of Hamlet's own watch through a darker and colder night than the senses can feel.”
10. Not a mouse stirring Coleridge remarks : “The attention to minute sounds-naturally associated with the recollection of minute objects, and the more familiar and trifling, the more impressive from the unusualness of their producing any impression at all-gives a philosophic pertinency to this last image ; but it has likewise its dramatic use and purpose. For its commonness in ordinary conversation tends to produce the sense of reality, and at once hides the poet, and yet approximates the reader or spectator to that state in which the highest poetry will appear, and in its component parts, though not in the whole composition, really is, the language of nature. If I should not speak it, I feel that I should be thinking it; the voice only is the poet's, the words are my own.”
13. Rivals. · Partners, companions. The ist quarto has“ partners." S. does not use the word again in this sense ; unless, with Schmidt, we see it in M. N. D. iii. 2. 156: “And now both rivals to mock Helena.” We find, however, corrival = companion in 2 Hen. IV. iv. 4. 31, and rivality=partnership in A. and C. iii. 5. 8. For the origin of the word, see Wb.
15. Dane. King of Denmark; as in i. 2. 44 below.
16. Give you good night. That is, God give, etc. For other contractions of like greetings, cf. A. Y. L. v. I. 16: “God ye good even;" R. and 7. i. 2. 58: "God gi' good-den;" Hen. V. iji. 2. 89: “God-den,” etc. We have the full form in L. L. L. iv. 2. 84: “God give you good morrow,” etc. Wr. quotes B. and F., K’nt. of Burning Pestle, epil. : “God give you good night.”
19. A piece of him. “As we say, “something like him.' The phrase
has none of the deep meaning which some of the German editors find in it” (M.). For these German comments, see F.
21. Has this thing, etc. Coleridge remarks that “even the word again has its credibilizing effect ;” and he points out how Marcellus from this thing rises to this dreaded sight, and then to this apparition, "an intelligent spirit, that is, to be spoken to.”
23. Fantasy. Imagination; as in 54 below. Cf. i Hen. IV. v. 4. 138: “Or is it fantasy that plays upon our eyesight?” See also M. N. D. v. 1. 5, M. W. v. 5. 55, etc. For another sense see iv. 4. 62 below; and for another (=love), M. N. D. i. 1. 32, A. Y. L. ii. 4. 31, v. 2. 1oo, etc.
25. Seen of us. The ist quarto has “seene by vs.” Of=by is very common in S. Cf. iv. 2. 12 below; also Macb. iii. 6. 27, etc. Gr. 170.
27. The minutes of this night. “Through this night, minute by minute” (M.). Steevens quotes Ford, Fancies Chaste and Noble, v. I: “Ere the minutes of the night warn us to rest.”
29. Approve. Prove, confirm. Cf. M. of V. iii. 2. 79: "approve it with a text,” etc.
33. What, etc. “What depends on a verb of speech, implied either in assail your ears or in story ; that is, ‘let us tell you what we have seen,' or our story describing what we have seen?" (Gr. 252).
Sit we. First person imperative; or, as Abbott calls it (Gr. 361), subjunctive=suppose we sit. Cf. 168 below : “Break we our watch up,” etc.
35. Last night, etc. Coieridge observes : “In the deep feeling which Bernardo has of the solemn nature of what he is about to relate, he makes an effort to master his own imaginative terrors by an elevation of style-itself a continuation of the effort-by turning off from the apparition, as from something which would force him too deeply into himself, to the outward objects, the realities of nature, which had accompanied it.”
36. Yond. See 7. C. p. 134 or Temp. p. 121.
Clarke remarks: “Nothing more natural than for a sentinel to watch the course of a particular star while on his lonely midnight watch; and what a radiance of poetry is shed on the passage by the casual allusion !"
37. Illume. Used nowhere else by S. He has illuminate twice, and illumine three times.
39. Beating. The ist quarto has.“towling,” and the Coll. MS.“tolling.”
40. Thee. Apparently=thou, as often after imperatives. See Macb. p. 170 (note on Hie thee), or Gr. 212.
Coleridge remarks : “Note the judgment displayed in having the two persons present, who, as having seen the Ghost before, are naturally eager in confirming their former opinions, whilst the skeptic is silent, and after having been twice addressed by his friends, answers with two nasty syllables-Most like '—and a confession of horror
'It harrows me with fear and wonder.' o heaven! words are wasted on those who feel, and to those who do not feel the exquisite judgment of Shakspeare in this scene, what can be said? -Hume himself could not but have had faith in this Ghost dramatically, let his anti-ghostism have been as strong as Samson against other ghosts less powerfully raised.”
42. Scholar. Alluding to the use of Latin in exorcisms. Cf. Much Ado, ii. 1. 264: “I would to God some scholar would conjure her !"' Reed quotes B. and F., Night Walker, ii. 1:
“Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,
And that will daunt the devil.” In like manner the honest butler in Addison's Drummer recommends the steward to speak Latin to the ghost.
44. Harrows." Steevens quotes Milton, Comus, 565: “Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear.” Cf. i. 5. 16 below.
45. It would be spoke to. For would, see Gr. 329; and for spoke, Gr. 343. “There was, and is, a notion that a ghost cannot speak until it is spoken to” (Wr.).
46. Usurp'st. “Zeugma : the Ghost invades the night and assumes the form of the king” (M.).
49. Sometimes. Used by S. interchangeably with sometime=formerly. Cf. Rich. 11. i. 2. 54, Hen. VIII. ii. 4. 181, etc.
55. On 't. Of it. See Gr. 181. M. thinks it is used here in its ordinary sense.
56. Might. Could. See Gr. 312.
57. Sensible. For adjectives used like this in both an active and a passive sense, see Gr. 3.
Avouch is not elsewhere made a noun by S. For other examples of verbs used as nouns (Gr. 451), see 73 (“cast”), iii. 1. 166 (“ hatch” and “ disclose”), iv. 5. 64 ("remove ”), v. 2. 23 (“supervise”), v. 2. 207 (“repair”), etc.
60. Armour. F. asks: “Was this the very armour that he wore thirty years before, on the day Hamlet was born (see v. I. 136-141)? How old is Horatio ?”
61. Norway. The King of Norway. See Macb.p. 239, note on England. 62. Parle. Parley. See Hen. V. p. 164.
63. Sleddeid Polacks. Polanders on sleds, or sledges. The ist quarto has “sleaded pollax,” the ist and 2d folios “sledded Pollax” (changed to “Polax” in the 3d and “Poleaxe” in the 4th folio). Rowe has “Pole. axe,” and Pope (followed by Capell, Steevens, and Sr.)“ Polack.” The Germans, who have been much troubled by the passage, generally adopt “Pole-axe.” Schmidt explains sledded as “probably=having a sled or sledge, that is, a heavy hammer to it, or similar to a heavy hammer." He adds, “ Hamlet, provoked to anger in a conference with the king of Norway, struck the ice with his pole-axe as with a heavy hammer." F. gives nearly two pages of comical German comments on the passage, with sume English ones equally amusing.
For Polack=Polander or Polish, cf. ij. 2. 63, 75, iv. 4. 23, and v. 2. 364 below; also Webster, White Devil: “Like a shav'd Polack.” S. uses the word in no other play, and sledded only here.
65. Jump. The quarto reading; the folios have “just,” which means
the same. Cf. v. 2. 363 below : "jump upon this bloody question.” See also Oth. ii. 3. 392.
Dead. Cř. i. 2. 198 below : “the dead vast and middle of the night.” See also Sonn. 43. 11, Hen.V. iii. chor. 19, Rich. III. v. 3. 180, etc.
67, 68. In what, etc.. I know not what particular line of thought to follow, but in a general way my opinion is, etc.
70. Good now. For this “vocative use" of good (with or without now), cf. Temp. i. 1. 3, 16, 20, C. of E. iv. 4. 22, T. and C. iii. 1. 122, A. and C. i. 2. 25, etc. Johnson makes it here=“in good time, à la bonne heure.” See Gr. 13.
72. Toils. For the transitive use, cf. M. N. D. v. I. 74: “have toiled their memories ;” 2 Hen. VI. i. 1. 83 : “ toil his wits,” etc. Abbott refers to Gr. 290 (verbs formed from nouns, etc.), but 291 (intransitive verbs used transitively) would be better.*
Subject. Used collectively (=people) as in i. 2. 33 below. Cf. M. for M. iii. 2. 145, v. 1. 14, W.T. i. 1. 43, etc.
74. Mart. Marketing, buying. The word is also used as a verb (=buy or sell); as in W. T. iv. 4. 363, 7. C. iv. 3. II, etc.
75. Impress. Impressment; as in T. and C. ii. 1. 107 and A. and C. iii. 7. 37. Lord Campbell remarks: “Such confidence has there been in Shakespeare's accuracy that this passage has been quoted both by text-writers and by judges on the bench as an authority upon the legality of the press-gang, and upon the debated question whether shipwrights, as well as common seamen, are liable to be pressed into the service of the loyal navy."
77. Toward. At hand, forthcoming. Cf. M. N. D. jji. 1. 81: “a play toward,” etc. See also v. 2. 353 below.
81. Even but now. See Gr. 130.
82. Fortinbras. According to Latham (quoted by F.), a corrupt French form, equivalent to Fierumbras or Fierabras, which is a derivative from ferri brachium (arm of iron).
83. Emulate. Emulous. Used by S. only here. Cf. adulterate, i. 5. 42 below. Gr. 342.
84. The combat. “That is, the combat that ends all dispute” (Gr. 92).
86. Wr. makes this line an Alexandrine ; Abbott (Gr. 469) counts this Fortinbras as one foot. It might be scanned thus : “Did sláy this Fórt | inbras, whó | by a seál'd | compáct.” For com páct, see Gr. 490.
87. Law and heraldry. Wr. and Schmidt explain this as =“heraldic law,” or “law of heraldry.” M. says: “Law would be wanted to draw up accurately the contract, heraldry to give it a binding force in honour; as the court of chivalry ‘has cognizance of contracts touching deeds of arms or of war out of the realm.?"
88. Those his lands. See Macb. p. 179 (note on That their fitness), and Hen. V. p. 169 (note on This your air). Gr. 239.
89. Seiz'd of. Possessed of; still a legal term.
* In quoting the passage he gives the preceding line, “Why this same toil and most observant watch," which would favour his explanation ; but I do not know where he gets that reading. It is given neither in the collation of the Camb. ed. nor in that of F. S. has the intransitive toil nine times.