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Get from him, why he puts on this confusion;
Guil. Nor do we find him forward to be sounded; But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof, When we would bring him on to some confession Of his true state. QUEEN.
Did he receive you well ? Ros. Most like a gentleman. Guil. But with much forcing of his disposition.
Ros. Niggard of question; but, of our demands, Most free in his reply 9. QUEEN.
Did you assay him To any pastime?
Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players
8- conference -] The folio reads-circumstance. STEEVENS. 9 NIGGARD of question ; but, of our demands,
Most Free in his reply.) This is given as the description of the conversation of a man whom the speaker found not forward to be sounded ; and who kept aloof when they would bring him to confession : but such a description can never pass but at crosspurposes. Shakspeare certainly wrote it just the other way:
Most free of question ; but, of our demands,
Niggard in his reply. That this is the true reading, we need but turn back to the preceding scene, for Hamlet's conduct, to be satisfied. WARBURTON.
Warburton forgets that by question, Shakspeare does not usually mean interrogatory, but discourse ; yet in which ever sense the word be taken, this account given by Rosencrantz agrees but ill with the scene between him and Hamlet, as actually represented. M. Mason.
Slow to begin conversation, but free enough in his answers to our demands. Guildenstern has just said that Hamlet kept aloof when they wished to bring him to confess the cause of his distraction : Rosencrantz therefore here must mean, that up to that point, till they touch'd on that, he was free enough in his answers.
We o'er-raught on the way': of these we told
'Tis most true:
[Exeunt RosENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. King.
Sweet Gertrude, leave us too * : For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither ; That he, as 'twere by accident, may here? Affront Ophelia ? : Her father, and myself (lawful espials",)
* Quarto, two.
1- O'ER-RAUGHT on the way:] O'er-raught is over-reached, that is, over-took. Johnson. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, b. vi. c. iii:
“ Having hy chance a close advantage view'd,
“ He over-raught him," &c. Again, in the 5th Book of Gawin Douglas's translation of the Æneid : “War not the samyn mysfortoun me over-raucht."
Steevens. 2 — may HERE -] The folio, (I suppose by an error of the press,) reads-may there. Steeyens. 3 - AFFRONT Ophelia :] To affront, is only to meet directly.
Johnson. Affrontare, Ital. So, in The Devil's Charter, 1607 :
“ Affronting that port where proud Charles should enter.' Again, in Sir W. D'Avenant's Cruel Brother, 1630 :
“ In sufferance affronts the winter's rage?" Steevens. 4 - espials )] i. e. spies. So, in King Henry VI. P. I. :
as he march'd along,
Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen,
I shall obey you:
Madam, I wish it may.
[Exit Queen. sita sit i. Ophelia, walk you here :-Gracious, SP
Or to tani ase you, 10Su the Gre: » ourselves :-Read on this book ; QUEĚ. m.
TO OPHELIA. That Suedis such an exercise may colour • lonen. ss 6.—We are oft to blame in this,—
ch prov'd',—that, with devotion's visage, And piu. í uction, we do sugar o'er The devil himself.
0, 'tis too true! how smart A lash that speech doth give my conscience! The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art, Is not more ugly to the thing that helps ito,
“ Bv your espials were discovered
“ Two mightier troops."
STEEVENS. s And, for your part,] Thus the quarto 1604, and the folio. The modern editors, following a quarto of no authority, read-for my part. MALONE.
oo Your loneliness.] Thus the folio. The first and second quartos read-lowliness. STEEVENS. * 7 'Tis too much prov'd,] It is found by too frequent experience.
Johnson. 8 — more ugly to the thing that helps it,] That is, compared with the thing that helps it. Johnson.
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
[Aside. Pol. I hear him coming ; let's withdraw, my lord.
[Ereunt King and POLONIUS.
redre : 3e us todtiop
So, Ben Jonson :
“ All that they did was piety to this.” STEEVENS. 9 To be, or not to be,] Of this celebrated soliloquy, which bursting from a man distracted with contrariety of desires, and overwhelmed with the magnitude of his own purposes, is con nected rather in the speaker's mind, than on his tongue as eme endeavour to discover the train, and to show how one cor Manis produces another.
Hamlet, knowing himself injured in the m esse STERN. atrocious degree, and seeing no means of redre: .af us too #ou expose him to the extremity of hazard, meditates in this manner: Before I can form any rational me of an under this pressure of distress, it is necessary to fitcide. verb after our present state, we are to be, or not to be! . question, which, as it shall be answered, will deters - whetnuto 'tis nobler, and more suitable to the dignity of reaso's, to suffer the outrages of fortune patiently, or to take arms against them, and by opposing end them, though perhaps with the loss of life. If to die, were to sleep, no more, and by asleep to end the miseries of our nature, such a sleep were devoutly to be wished; but if to sleep in death, be to dream, to retain our powers of sensibility, we must pause to consider, in that sleep of death what dreams nay come. This consideration makes calamity so long endured ; for who would bear the vexations of life, which might be ended by a bare bodkin, but that he is afraid of something in unknown futurity? This fear it is that gives efficacy to conscience, which, by turning the mind upon this regard, chills the ardour of resolution, checks the vigour of enterprize, and makes the current of desire stagnate in inactivity.
We may suppose that he would have applied these general observations to his own case, but that he discovered Ophelia.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's explication of the first five lines of this passage is surely wrong. Hamlet is not deliberating whether after our present state we are to exist or not, but whether he should continue
to live, or put an end to his life : as is pointed out by the second ' and the three following lines, which are manifestly a paraphrase on the first : " whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer, &c. or to take
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
arms." The question concerning our existence in a future state is not considered till the tenth line :-" To sleep! perchance, to dream;" &c. The train of Hamlet's reasoning from the middle of the fifth line, “ If to die, were to sleep," &c. Dr. Johnson has marked out with his usual accuracy.
In our poet's Rape of Lucrece we find the same question stated, which is proposed in the beginning of the present soliloquy :
— with herself she is in mutiny,
“ To live or die, which of the twain were better." MALONE. 1 - ARROWs of outrageous FORTUNE:] “ Homines nos ut
esse meminerimus, eâ lege natos, ut omnibus telis fortunæ proposita sit vita nostra.” Cic. Epist. Fam. v. 16. Steevens.
? Or to take arms against A SEA of troubles,] A sea of troubles among the Greeks grew into a proverbial usage; xaxőv Sandvik, narūv tpix upcícle : So that the expression figuratively means, the troubles of human life, which flow in upon us, and encompass us round, like a sea. TheoBALD.
Mr. Pope proposed siege. I know not why there should be so much solicitude about this metaphor. Shakspeare breaks his metaphors often, and in this desultory speech there was less need of preserving them. Johnson
A similar phrase occurs in Rycharde Morysine's translation of Ludovicus Vives's Introduction to Wysedome, 1544 : “ — how great a sea of euils euery day ouerunneth," &c.
The change, however, which Mr. Pope would recommend, may be justified from a passage in Romeo and Juliet, scene the last : “You-to remove that siege of grief from her—,"
STEEVENS. One cannot but wonder that the smallest doubt should be entertained concerning an expression which is so much in Shakspeare's manner; yet, to preserve the integrity of the metaphor, Dr. Warburton reads assail of troubles. In the Prometheus Vinctus of Æschylus, a similar imagery is found:
Δυσχειμερον γε πελαγος ατηρας δυης.
“ The stormy sea of dire calamity." And in the same play, as an anonymous writer has observed, (Gent. Magazine, Aug. 1772,) we have a metaphor no less harsh than that of the text :
Θολεροι δε λογοι σαιουσ' εικη
Στυγης προς κυμασιν ατης.