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Alack, I had forgot ; 'tis so concluded on. Ham. There's letters seald*: and my two school
fellows, Whom I will trust, as I will adders fang'd', They bear the mandate ; they must sweep my way®, And marshal me to knavery: Let it work; For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer Hoist with his own petar?: and it shall go hard, But I will delve one yard below their mines, And blow them at the moon : 0, 'tis most sweet, When in one line two crafts directly meet. This man shall set me packing. I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room':
4 There's letters seald, &c.] The nine following verses are added out of the old edition. Pope.
s — adders fang:D,] That is, adders with their fangs or poisonous teeth, undrawn. It has been the practice of mountebanks to boast the efficacy of their antidotes by playing with vipers, but they first disabled their fangs. Johnson.
they must sweep my way, &c.] This phrase occurs again in Antony and Cleopatra :
some friends, that will
Sweep your way for you.” Steevens. 7 Hoist with his own Petar ;] 'Hoist, for hoised ; as past, for passed. Steevens. In Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn, we have a similar image :
“ Of him gave fire to't.” Boswell. 8 When in one line two crafts directly meet.] Still alluding to a countermine. Malone.
The same expression has already occurred in K. John, Act IV. scene ult. :
“ Now powers from home, and discontents at home,
“ Meet in one line." STEEVENS. 9 I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room :] A line somewhat similar occurs in King Henry VI. P. III. :
“ I'll throw thy body in another room The word guts was not anciently so offensive to delicacy as it is at present ; but was used by Lyly' (who made the first attempt to polish our language) in his serious compositions. "So, in his My
Mother, good night.--Indeed, this counsellor
[Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in Po
ACT IV? SCENE I.
Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, and GUILDEN
King. There's matter * in these sighs; these
profound heaves ;
* Quarto, in's life a most foolish.
+ First folio, matters.
das, 1592 : “Could not the treasure of Phrygia, nor the tributes of Greece, nor mountains in the East, whose guts are gold, satisfy thy mind?” In short, guts was used where we now use entrails. Stanyhurst often has it in his translation of Virgil, 1582 :
Pectoribus inhians spirantia consulit exta. “She weenes her fortune by guts hoate smoakye to conster.” Again, in Chapman's version of the sixth Iliad :
in whose guts the king of men imprest “ His ashen lance" Steevens. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you :) Shakspeare has been unfortunate in his management of the story of this play, the most striking circumstances of which arise so early in its formation, as not to leave him room for a conclusion suitable to the importance of its beginning. After this last interview with the Ghost, the character of Hamlet has lost all its consequence.
STEVENS. Act IV.) This play is printed in the old editions without any separation of the Acts. The division is modern and arbitrary; and is here not very happy, for the pause is made at a time when there is more continuity of action than in almost any other of the
You must translate: 'tis fit we understand them:
[To ROSENCRANtz and GUILDENSTERN, who
Ah, my good lord", what have I seen to-night!
King. What, Gertrude ? How does Hamlet ? Queen. Mad as the sea, and wind, when both
contend 5 Which is the mightier: In his lawless fit, Behind the arras hearing something stir, He whips his rapier out, and cries, * A rat! a rat! And, in this apo brainish apprehension, kills The unseen good old man. King.
O heavy deed! It had been so with us, had we been there : His liberty is full of threats to all ; To you yourself, to us, to every one. Alas ! how shall this bloody deed be answer'd ? It will be laid to us, whose providence Should have kept short, restrain’d, and out of
* Quarto, Whips out his rapier, cries.
+ First folio, his.
3 Bestow this place on us a little while.] This line is wanting in the folio. Steevens.
Which does not bring Rosencrantz, or Guildenstern, on the stage at all. Boswell. 4 — MY GOOD lord,] The quartos read—“ mine own lord.”
STEEVENS. s Mad as the sea, and wind, when both contend, &c.] We have precisely the same image in King Lear, expressed with more brevity:
he was met even now,
Johnson. “Out of haunt,” means, out of company. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
** Dido and her Sichæus shall want troops,
This mad young man : but, so much was our love,
Queen. To draw apart the body he hath kill'd:
King. O, Gertrude, come away ! The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch, But we will ship him hence : and this vile deed We must, with all our majesty and skill, Both countenance and excuse.—Ho! Guildenstern!
* First folio, lets.
Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, b. v. ch. xxvi. :
" And from the smith of heaven's wife allure the amorous haunt." The place where men assemble, is often poetically called the haunt of men.
So, in Romeo and Juliet : “We talk here in the publick haunt of men.” Steevens.
like some ore,] Shakspeare seems to think ore to be or, that is, gold. Base metals have ore no less than precious.
Johnson. Shakspeare uses the general word ore to express gold, because it was the most excellent of ores.- I suppose we should read “ metal base" instead of metals, which much improves the construction of the passage. M. Mason. He has perhaps used ore in the same sense in his Rape of Lu
“ When beauty boasted blushes, in despite
“ Virtue would stain that ore with silver white." A mineral Minsheu defines in his Dictionary, 1617: “Any thing that grows in mines, and contains metals.” Shakspeare seems to have used the word in this sense, -for a rude mass of metals. Malone.
Minerals are mines. So, in The Golden Remains of Hales of
“ Shall it not be a wild fig in a wall,
Enter RosENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Friends both, go join you with some further aid : Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain, And from his mother's closet hath he dragg’d him : Go, seek him out ; speak fair, and bring the body Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.
[Exeunt Ros, and Guil. Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends ; And let them know, both what we mean to do, And what's untimely done : so, haply, slander ®, Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter, As level as the cannon to his blank ?, Transports his poison'd shot, -may miss our name, And hit the woundless air '.-come away! My soul is full of discord, and dismay. [Exeunt.
so, haply, slander, &c.] Neither these words, nor the following three lines and a half, are in the folio. In the quarto 1604, and all the subsequent quartos, the passage
stands thus : And what's untimely done. “ Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter," &c. the compositor having omitted the latter part of the first line, as in a former scene, (see p. 355, n. 9,) a circumstance which gives additional strength to an observation made in Antony and Cleopatra, Act V. Sc. I. Mr. Theobald supplied the lacuna by reading,—" For haply slander," &c. So, appears to me to suit the context better; for these lines are rather in apposition with those immediately preceding, than an illation from them. Mr. M. Ma. son, I find, has made the same observation.
Shakspeare, as Theobald has observed, again expatiates on the diffusive power of slander, in Cymbeline :
No, 'tis slander;
“ All corners of the world.” Malone.
- cannon to his blank] The blank was the white mark at which shot or arrows were directed. So, in King Lear:
let me still remain
" It is as the air invulnerable." Malone.