Графични страници
PDF файл

Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day! and, at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air 3,


"And now the cocke, the morning's trumpeter, "Play'd huntsup for the day-star to appear." Mr. Gray has imitated our poet :

"The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

"No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed." MALONE. Our Cambridge poet was more immediately indebted to Phillips's Cider, b. i. 753:

"When Chanticleer, with clarion shrill, recalls

"The tardy day.-"

Thus also, Spenser, in his Fairy Queen, b. i. c. ii. s. 1:

"And cheerful Chanticleer with his note shrill." STEEVENS. * Whether in sea, &c.] According to the pneumatology of that time, every element was inhabited by its peculiar order of spirits, who had dispositions different, according to their various places of abode. The meaning therefore is, that all spirits extravagant, wandering out of their element, whether aërial spirits visiting earth, or earthly spirits ranging the air, return to their station, to their proper limits in which they are confined. We might read: And at his warning


"Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
"To his confine, whether in sea or air,
"Or earth, or fire. And of," &c.

But this change, though it would smooth the construction, is not necessary, and, being unnecessary, should not be made against authority. JOHNSON.

A Chorus in Andreini's drama, called Adamo, written in 1613, consists of spirits of fire, air, water, and hell, or subterraneous, being the exiled angels. "Choro di Spiriti ignei, aerei, acquatici, ed infernali," &c. These are the demons to which Shakspeare alludes. These spirits were supposed to controul the elements in which they respectively resided; and when formally invoked or commanded by a magician, to produce tempests, conflagrations, floods, and earthquakes. For thus says The Spanish Mandeville of Miracles, &c. 1600: "Those which are in the middle region of the ayre, and those that are under them nearer the earth, are those, which sometimes out of the ordinary operation of nature doe moove the windes with greater fury than they are accustomed; and do, out of season, congeele the cloudes, causing it to thunder, lighten, hayle, and to destroy the grasse, corne, &c. &c.—Witches and negromancers worke many such like things by the help of those spirits," &c. Ibid. Of this school therefore was Shakspeare's Prospero in The Tempest. T. WARTON.

The extravagant and erring spirit' hies
To his confíne: and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.

MAR. It faded on the crowing of the cock 2.
Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

Bourne of Newcastle, in his Antiquities of the Common People, informs us, "It is a received tradition among the vulgar, that at the time of cock-crowing, the midnight spirits forsake these lower regions, and go to their proper places.-Hence it is, (says he) that in country places, where the way of life requires more early labour, they always go chearfully to work at that time; whereas if they are called abroad sooner, they imagine every thing they see a wandering ghost." And he quotes on this occasion, as all his predecessors had done, the well-known lines from the first hymn of Prudentius. I know not whose translation he gives us, but there is an old one by Heywood. The pious chansons, the hymns and carrols, which Shakspeare mentions presently, were usually copied from the elder Christian poets.


9 The extravagant-] i. e. got out of his bounds.

So, in Nobody and Somebody, 1598: " for a 'stravagant."

[ocr errors]


WARBURTON. -they took me up

Shakspeare imputes the same effect to "Aurora's harbinger" in the last scene of the third Act of the Midsummer Night's Dream. See vol. v. p. 281, n. 2. STEEVENS.


-ERRING Spirit,] Erring is here used in the sense of wandering. Thus, in Chapman's version of the fourth book of Homer's Odyssey, Telemachus calls Ulysses

My erring father."

And in the ninth book, Ulysses, describing himself and his companions to the Cyclop, says―

"Erring Grecians we,

"From Troy were turning homewards—." Erring, in short, is erraticus. STEEVENS.

2 It faded on the crowing of the cock.] This is a very ancient superstition. Philostratus, giving an account of the apparition of Achilles' shade to Apollonius Tyaneus, says that it vanished with a little glimmer as soon as the cock crowed. Vit. Apol. iv. 16.

Vado, Lat.

Faded has here its original sense; it vanished. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, book i. c. v. st. 15:

"He stands amazed how he thence should fade."


bird of dawning singeth all night long : And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad *; The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, No fairy takes*, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

HOR. So have I heard, and do in part believe it. But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill 5 Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet: for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him:

* First folio, The.

Quarto, that.

That our author uses the word in this sense, appears from the following lines:

The morning cock crew loud;

"And at the sound it shrunk in haste away;
"And vanish'd from our sight." MALONE.

3 DARES STIR abroad ;] Thus the quarto. The folio reads66 can walk." STEEVENS.

Spirit was formerly used as a monosyllable: sprite. The quarto 1604, has-" dare stir abroad." Perhaps Shakspeare wrote 'no spirits dare stir abroad.' The necessary correction was made in a late quarto of no authority, printed in 1637. MALONE.

4 No fairy TAKES,] No fairy strikes with lameness or diseases. This sense of take is frequent in this author. JOHNSON.

So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor:

“And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle." STEEVENS. high EASTERN hill:] The old quarto has it better eastward. WARBURTON. The superiority of the latter of these readings is not, to me at least, very apparent. I find the former used in Lingua, &c. 1607: and overclimbs

"Yonder gilt eastern hills."

Again, in Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, book iv. sat. iv. p. 75, edit. 1616:

"And ere the sunne had clymb'd the eastern hils." Again, in Chapman's version of the thirteenth book of Homer's Odyssey:




[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Ulysses still

"An eye directed to the eastern hill.” Eastern and eastward, alike signify toward the cast. STEEVENS.

Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

MAR. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most convenient. [Exeunt.


The Same. A Room of State in the Same.

Enter the King, Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS, LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and Attendants.

KING. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death

The memory be green; and that it us befitted "
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature,
That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime * sister, now our queen,
The imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy,-
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye 7;

* First folio, sometimes.

+ Quarto, to.


and THAT IT us befitted-] Perhaps our author elliptically wrote

—and us befitted —'

i. e. and that it befitted us. STEEVENS.

7 With ONE auspicious, and ONE dropping eye ;] Thus the folio. The quarto, with somewhat less of quaintness :

"With an auspicious and a dropping eye."

The same thought, however, occurs in The Winter's Tale: "She had one eye declined for the loss of her husband; another elevated that the oracle was fulfilled."

After all, perhaps, we have here only the ancient proverbial phrase "To cry with one eye and laugh with the other," buck

With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,—
Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along :-For all, our thanks.

Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,——
Holding a weak supposal of our worth;
Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death,
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage®,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bands
To our most valiant
much for him.
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting.

of law,

*First folio, the.

t First folio, bonds.

ram'd by our author for the service of tragedy. See Ray's Collection, edit. 1768, p, 188. STEEVENS.

[ocr errors]

Dropping in this line probably means depressed or cast downwards: an interpretation which is strongly supported by the passage already quoted from The Winter's Tale. It may, however, signify weeping. "Dropping of the eyes" was a technical expression in our author's time." If the spring be wet with much south wind, the next summer will happen agues and blearness, dropping of the eyes, and pains of the bowels." Hopton's Concordance of Years, 8vo. 1616.

Again, in Montaigne's Essays, 1603: "- they never saw any man there with eyes dropping, or crooked and stooping through age."

[ocr errors]

The reason of the change pointed out by Mr. Steevens was probably this: an auspicious and a dropping eye might be one and the same;' the alteration marks them to be different. MAlone.

8 COLLEAGUED with this dream of his advantage,] The meaning is, He goes to war so indiscreetly, and unprepared, that he has no allies to support him but a dream, with which he is colleagued or confederated. WARBURton.

Mr. Theobald, in his Shakspeare Restored, proposed to readcollogued, but in his edition very properly adhered to the ancient copies. MALONE.

"This dream of his advantage" (as Mr. Mason observes) means only this imaginary advantage, which Fortinbras hoped to derive from the unsettled state of the kingdom.' STEEVENS.

« ПредишнаНапред »