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And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out1
The triumph of his pledge.


Ham. Ay, marry, is 't:

Is it a custom?

But to my mind,-though I am native here,
And to the manner born,-it is a custom

More honour'd in the breach, than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel, east and west,

Makes us traduc'd, and tax'd of other nations:
They clepe us, drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and, indeed it takes

From our achievements, though perform'd at height,


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thus bray out-] So, in Chapman's version of the 5th Iliad: he laid out such a throat

"As if nine or ten thousand men had brayd out all their breaths

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This heavy-headed revel, east and west,] This heavy-headed revel makes us traduced east and west, and taxed of other nations. Johnson.

By east and west, as Mr. Edwards has observed, is meant, throughout the world; from one end of it to the other.-This and the following twenty-one lines have been restored from the quarto. Malone.

& They clepe us, drunkards,] And well our Englishmen might; for in Queen Elizabeth's time there was a Dane in London, of whom the following mention is made in a collection of characters entitled, Looke to it, for Ile stab ye, no date :

"You that will drinke Keynaldo unto deth,

"The Dane that would carowse out of his boote." Mr. M. Mason adds, that" it appears from one of Howell's letters, dated at Hamburgh in the year 1632, that the then King of Denmark had not degenerated from his jovial predecessor.In his account of an entertainment given by his majesty to the Earl of Leicester, he tells us, that the king, after beginning thirty-five toasts, was carried away in his chair, and that all the officers of the court were drunk." Steevens.

See also the Nuge Antique, Vol. II, p. 133, for the scene of drunkenness introduced into the court of James I, by the King of Denmark, in 1606.

Roger Ascham in one of his Letters, mentions being present at an entertainment where the Emperor of Germany seemed in drinking to rival the King of Denmark: "The Emperor, (says he) drank the best that ever I saw; he had his head in the glass five times as long as any of us, and never drank less than a good quart at once of Rhenish wine." Reed.

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The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So, oft it chances in particular men,

That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin,)5
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;
Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens
The form of plausive manners; 7-that these men,-
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect;

Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,

4 The pith and marrow of our attribute.] The best and most valuable part of the praise that would be otherwise attributed to us. Johnson.

5 That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,

As, in their birth, (wherein they are not guilty,

Since nature cannot choose his origin,)] We have the same sentiment in The Rape of Lucrece:

"For marks descried in man's nativity

"Are nature's fault, not their own infamy."

Mr. Theobald, without necessity, altered mole to mould. The reading of the old copies is fully supported by a passage in King John:

"Patch'd with foul moles, and eye-offending marks."


complexion,] i. e. humour; as sanguine, melancholy,

phlegmatick, &c. Warburton.

The quarto, 1604, for the has their; as a few lines lower it has his virtues, instead of their virtues. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Malone.

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The form of plausive manners;] That intermingles too much with their manners; infects and corrupts them. See Cymbeline, Act III, sc. iv. Plausive in our poet's age signified gracious, pleasing, popular. So, in All's Well that Ends Well:


his plausive words

"He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them,
"To grow there, and to bear."

Plausible, in which sense plausive is here used, is defined by Cawdey, in his Alphabetical Table, &c. 1604: ceived joyfully and willingly." Malone.


"Pleasing, or re

-fortune's star,] The word star in the text signifies a scar of that appearance. It is a term of farriery: the white star or mark so common on the forehead of a dark coloured horse, is usually produced by making a scar on the place. Ritson.

- fortune's star,] Some accidental blemish, the consequence of the overgrowth of some complexion or humour allotted to us by

Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,)9

Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: The dram of base
Doth all the noble substance often dout,
To his own scandal.1

fortune at our birth, or some vicious habit accidentally acquired afterwards.

Theobald, plausibly enough, would read-fortune's scar. The emendation may be supported by a passage in Antony and Cleopatra:

"The scars upon your honour therefore he
"Does pity as constrained blemishes,

"Not as deserv'd."


9 As infinite as man may undergo,)] As large as can be accu mulated upon man. Johnson.

So, in Measure for Measure:


"To undergo such ample grace and honour,-." Steevens. The dram of base

Doth all the noble substance often dout,

To his own scandal.] I once proposed to read-Doth all the noble substance (i. e. the sum of good qualities) oft do out. Wo should now say,-To its own scandal; but his and its are perpetually confounded in the old copies.

As I understand the passage, there is little difficulty in it. This is one of the phrases which at present are neither employed in writing, nor perhaps are reconcileable to propriety of language. To do a thing out, is to extinguish it, or to efface or obliterate any thing painted or written.

In the first of these significations it is used by Drayton, in the 5th Canto of his Barons' Wars:

"Was ta'en in battle, and his eyes out-done."

My conjecture-do out, instead of dout, might have received support from the pronunciation of this verb in Warwickshire, where they always say" dout the candle,"-" dout the fire;" i. e. put out or extinguish them. The forfex by which a candle is extinguished is also there called-a douter.

Dout, however, is a word formed by the coalescence of two others,-(do and out) like don for do on, doff for do off, both of which are used by Shakspeare.

The word in question (and with the same blunder in spelling) has already occurred in the ancient copies in King Henry V: 66 make incision in their hides,

"That their hot blood may spin in English eyes,
"And doubt them with superfluous courage:"

i. e. put or do them out. I therefore now think we should read: Doth all the noble substance often dout, &c.

for surely it is needless to say


Enter Ghost.

Look, my lord, it comes!

Ham. Angels and ministers of grace defend us! *-
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,3
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,

Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,4

That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee, Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me:

the noble substance of worth dout,

because the idea of worth is comprehended in the epithet-noble.


2 Angels and ministers of grace defend us! &c.] Hamlet's speech to the apparition of his father seems to consist of three parts. When first he sees the spectre, he fortifies himself with an invocation :

Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

As the spectre approaches, he deliberates with himself, and determines, that whatever it be he will venture to address it. Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd,

Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,

Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,

That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee, &c.

This he says while his father is advancing; he then, as he had determined, speaks to him, and calls him—Hamlet, King, Father, Royal Dane: 0! answer me. Johnson.

3 Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd, &c.] So, in Acolastus his After-wit, 1600:

"Art thou a god, a man, or else a ghost?

"Com'st thou from heaven, where bliss and solace dwell? "Or from the airie cold-engendering coast?

"Or from the darksome dungeon-hold of hell?"

The first known edition of this play is in 1604.

The same question occurs also in the MS. known by the title of William and the Werwolf, in the Library of King's College, Cambridge:

“Whether thou be a gode gost in goddis name that speakest,

"Or any foul fiend fourmed in this wise,

"And if we schul of the hent harme or gode." p. 36.

Again, in Barnaby Googe's Fourth Eglog:

"What soever thou art yt thus dost com,
"Ghoost, hagge, or fende of hell,
"I the comaunde by him that lyves
"Thy name and case to tell." Steevens.

— questionable shape,] By questionable is meant provoking question. Hanmer.

Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell,
Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements!" why the sepulchre,

So, in Macbeth:

"Live you, or are you aught

"That man may question?" Johnson.

Questionable, I believe, means only propitious to conversation, easy and willing to be conversed with. So, in As you Like it: "An unquestionable spirit, which you have not." Unquestionable in this last instance certainly signifies unwilling to be talked with. Steevens.

Questionable perhaps only means capable of being conversed with. To question, certainly in our author's time signified to converse. So, in his Rape of Lucrece, 1594:

"For after supper long he questioned

"With modest Lucrece

Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"Out of our question wipe him."

See also King Lear, Act V, sc. iii, Vol. XIV. Malone.

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Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,

He burst their cerements!] Hamlet, amazed at an apparition, which, though in all ages credited, has in all ages been considered as the most wonderful and most dreadful operation of supernatural agency, enquires of the spectre, in the most emphatick terms, why he breaks the order of nature, by returning from the dead; this he asks in a very confused circumlocution, confounding in his fright the soul and body. Why, says he, have thy bones, which with due ceremonies have been entombed in death, in the common state of departed mortals, burst the folds in which they were embalmed? Why has the tomb, in which we saw thee quietly laid, opened his mouth, that mouth which, by its weight and stability, seemed closed for ever? The whole sentence is this: Why dost thou appear, whom we know to be dead ? Johnson.

By the expression hearsed in death is meant, shut up and secured with all those precautions which are usually practised in preparing dead bodies for sepulture, such as the winding-sheet, shrowd, coffin, &c. perhaps embalming into the bargain. So that death is here used, by a metonymy of the antecedent for the consequents, for the rites of death, such as are generally esteemed due, and practised with regard to dead bodies. Consequently, I understand by cerements, the waxed winding-sheet or winding sheets, in which the corpse was enclosed and sown up, in order to preserve it the longer from external impressions from the humidity of the sepulchre, as embalming was intended to preserve it from internal corruption. Heath.

By hearsed death, the poet seems to mean, reposited and confined in the place of the dead. In his Rape of Lucrece he has again used this uncommon participle in nearly the same sense :

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