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Possess it merely”. That it should come to this ! But two months dead !--nay, not so much, not
two: So excellent a king ; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr': so loving to my mother, That he might not beteeme the winds of heaven
9 - merely.) is entirely, absolutely. Steevens. 1 So excellent a king; that was, to this,
HYPERION to a satyr:] This similitude at first sight seems to be a little far-fetched; but it has an exquisite beauty. By the Satyr is meant Pan, as by Hyperion, Apollo. Pan and Apollo were brothers, and the allusion is to the contention between those gods for the preference in musick. WARBURTON.
All our English poets are guilty of the fame false quantity, and call Hypěrion Hypērion ; at least the only instance I have met with to the contrary, is in the old play of Fuimus Troes, 1633 :
"— Blow, gentle Africus,
“ Shall couch in west.”. Shakspeare, I believe, has no allusion in the present instance, except to the beauty of Apollo, and its immediate opposite, the deformity of a Satyr. Steevens.
Hyperion or Apollo is represented in all the ancient statues, &c. as exquisitely beautiful, the satyrs hideously ugly.-Shakspeare may surely be pardoned for not attending to the quantity of Latin names, here and in Cymbeline; when we find Henry Parrot, the author of a collection of Epigrams printed in 1613, to which a Latin preface is prefixed, writing thus :
“ Posthumus, not the last of many more,
“ Asks why I write in such an idle vaine,” &c. Laquei Ridiculosi, or Springes for Woodcocks, 16mo. sign. c. 3, So, in Whitney's Emblems, p. 14:
“ The wretched world, so false and full of crime,
“ Did always move Heraclitus to weep.” Malone. ? That he might not beteem the winds of heaven -] In former editions :
“ That he permitted not the winds of heaven —." This is a sophisticated reading, copied from the players in some 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 see, concur in reading :
so loving to my mother,
“ Visit her face too roughly.” Beteene is a corruption without doubt, but not so inveterate a Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
one, but that, by the change of a single letter, and the separation of two words mistakenly jumbled together, I am verily persuaded, I have retrieved the poet's reading* That he might not let e'en the winds of heaven," &c.
THEOBALD. The obsolete and corrupted verb-beteene, (in the first folio) which should be written (as in all the quartos) beteeme, was changed, as above, by Mr. Theobald ; and with the aptitude of his conjecture succeeding criticks appear to have been satisfied.
Beteeme, however, occurs in the tenth book of Arthur Golding's version of Ovid's Metamorphosis, 4to. 1587; and, from the corresponding Latin, must necessarily signify, to vouchsafe, deign, permit, or suffer :
Yet could he not beteeme
Sign. R. I. b. nulla tamen alite verti Dignatur, nisi quæ possit sua fulmina ferre. V. 157. Jupiter (though anxious for the possession of Ganymede) would not deign to assume a meaner form, or suffer change into an humbler shape, than that of the august and vigorous fowl who bears the thunder in his pounces.
The existence and signification of the verb beteem being thus established, it follows, that the attention of Hamlet's father to his queen was exactly such as is described in the Enterlude of the Life and Repentaunce of Marie Magdalaine, &c. by Lewis Wager, 4to. 1567 :
“ But evermore they were unto me very tender,
“ They would not suffer the wynde on me to blowe.” I have therefore replaced the ancient reading, without the slightest hesitation, in the text.
This note was inserted by me in The Gentleman's Magazine, some years before Mr. Malone's edition of our author (in which the same justification of the old reading—beteeme, occurs,) had made its appearance. Steevens.
This passage ought to be a perpetual memento to all future editors and commentators to proceed with the utmost caution in emendation, and never to discard a word from the text, merely because it is not the language of the present day.
Mr. Hughes or Mr. Rowe, supposing the text to be unintelligibly, for beteeme boldly substituted permitted. Mr. Theobald, in order to favour his own emendation, stated untruly that all the old copies which he had seen, read beteene. His emendation
As if increase of appetite had grown
man!A little month; or ere those shoes were old, With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears" ;-why she, even she,(O heaven! a beast, that wants discourse of reason“,
appearing uncommonly happy, was adopted by all the subsequent editors.
We find a sentiment similar to that before us, in Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1613:
she had a lord,
Malone. Rowe has an elegant imitation of this passage in Jane Shore :
“ When she was mine no care came ever nigh her;
I thought the gentlest breeze that wakes the spring,
“ Too rough to breathe upon her.” Boswell. 3 Like Niobe, all tears ;) Shakspeare might have caught this idea from an ancient ballad intitled The Falling out of Lovers is the renewing of Love :
Now I, like weeping Niobe,
“ May wash my handes in teares,” &c. Of this ballad Amantium iræ, &c. is the burden. Steevens. Or from Whitney's Emblems, p. 13, 1586 :
“ Of Niobe behoulde the ruthefulle plighte,
Malone. 4 A beast, that wants DISCOURSE OF REASON.] This is finely expressed, and with a philosophical exactness. Beasts want not reason, but the discourse of reason, i. e. the regular inferring one thing from another by the assistance of universals. WARBURTON.
Mr. Gifford, in a note on Massinger's Unnatural Combat, has ridiculed this note, and maintains that we should read~"discourse and reason.” But the phraseology of the text may be supported by numerous examples. Out of many collected by Mr. Malone, I will produce two. Our author himself uses the same language in Troilus and Cressida, Act II. Sc. II.:
Would have mourn'd longer,)-married with my
uncle, My father's brother ; but no more like my father, Than I to Hercules : Within a month; Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the Aushing in her galled eyes, She married :-0 most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not, nor it cannot come to, good; But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue !
Enter Horatio, BERNARDO, and MARCELLUS.
I am glad to see you well : Horatio,-or I do forget myself.
Hor. The same, my lord, and your poor servant
Is your blood
“ Can gratify the same.” Sir John Davys in the preface to his Reports: “And this idea have I conceived of him, not out of mine own imagination, or weak discourse of reason, &c.” I will add but one more from Sir Henry Savile's translation of Tacitus's Life of Agricola, 1591, p. 242: “Agricola, though brought up in the field, upon a naturali wit, and discourse of reason." Hamlet himself will best explain the phrase :
“ Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after.". Brutes certainly have not what Warburton in his dashing language terms reason, but they have faculties which philosophers in all ages have been puzzled to define. They have memory; and they have that degree of judgment which enables them to distinguish between two objects directly before them; as a dog knows his master from a stranger. Hamlet means to say that even their imperfect faculties, without an abstract knowledge of good or evil, would have made them capable of feeling such a loss as his mother had sustained, and of seeing the difference between his father and his uncle. BosweLL.
Ham. Sir, my good friend; I'll change that names
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio ?Marcellus ?
Mar. My good lord,-
Ham. I am very glad to see you; good even, sir?—. But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg ?
Hor. A truant disposition, good my lord.
Ham. I would not hear your enemy say so;
Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Hor. Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.
I'll change that name — ] I'll be your servant, you shall my friend. Johnson.
what make you —] A familiar phrase for what are you doing. Johnson. See As You Like It, Act I. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
good even, sir.] So the copies. Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton put it-good morning. The alteration is of no importance, but all licence is dangerous. There is no need of any change. Between the first and eighth Scene of this Act it is apparent, that a natural day must pass; and how much of it is already over, there is nothing that can determine. The King has held a council. It may now as well be evening as morning. Johnson.
The change made by Sir T. Hanmer might be justified by what Marcellus said of Hamlet at the conclusion of Sc. I.:
and I this morning know
STEEVENS. the funeral bak'd meats -] It was anciently the general custom to give a cold entertainment to mourners at a funeral,