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ACT II. Leave wringing of your hands : Peace; sit you
down, And let me wring your heart: for so I shall, If it be made of penetrable stuff ; If damned custom have not braz'd it so, That it be * proof and bulwark against sense. Queen. What have I done, that thou dar'st wag
thy tongue In noise so rude against me ? Ням.
Such an act, That blurs the grace and blush of modesty; Calls virtue, hypocrite; takes off the rose 8
* First folio, is.
marriage,” can easily be supposed; but Mr. Malone has not suggested what defence could have been set up by the royal fratricide. My acute predecessor, as well as the novelist, must have been aware that though female weakness, and an offence against the forms of the world, will admit of extenuation, such guilt as that of the usurper could not have been palliated by the dramatick art of Shakspeare; even if the father of Hamlet had been represented as a wicked instead of a virtuous character.
STEEVENS. The notes on this subject are already so long that I will content myself with asking if it can be supposed that Shakspeare intended so important a point to be left in doubt ; or that Hamlet, in this interview, would directly reproach his mother with her marriage alone, if she had added to it guilt so much more enormous as the murder of her husband ? Boswell. : 8 — takes off the ROSE, &c.] Alluding to the custom of wearing roses on the side of the face. See a note on a passage in King John, Act I. WARBURTON.
I believe Dr. Warburton is mistaken ; for it must be allowed that there is a material difference between an ornament worn to the forehead, and one exhibited on the side of the face. Some have understood these words to be only a metaphorical enlargement of the sentiment contained in the preceding line :
“ blurs the grace and blush of modesty :" but as the forehead is no proper situation for a blush to be displayed in, we may have recourse to another explanation.
It was once the custom for those who were betrothed, to wear some flower as an external and conspicuous mark of their mutual engagement. So, in Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar for April :
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
* First folio, makes.
“ Bring coronations and sops in wine,
“ Worn of paramours." Lyte, in his Herbal, 1578, enumerates sops in wine among the smaller kind of single gilliflowers or pinks.
Figure 4, in the Morrice-dance (à plate of which is annexed to The First Part of King Henry IV.) has a flower fixed on his forehead, and seems to be meant for the paramour of the female character. The flower might be designed for a rose, as the colour of it is red in the painted glass, though its form is expressed with as little adherence to nature as that of the marygold in the hand of the lady. It may, however, conduct us to affix a new meaning to the lines in question. This flower, as I have since discovered, is exactly shaped like the sops in wine, now called the Deptford Pink.
An Address“ To all Judiciall Censurers,” prefixed to The Whipper of the Satyre his Pennance in a white Sheete, or the Beadle's Confutation, 1601, begins likewise thus :
“ Brave sprited gentles, on whose comely front
“ The rose of favour sits majesticall ." Sets a blister there, has the same meaning as in Measure for Measure:
“Who falling in the flaws of her own youth,
“ Hath blister'd her report.” Steevens. I believe, by the rose was only meant the roseate hue. The forehead certainly appears to us an odd place for the hue of innocence to dwell on, but Shakspeare might place it there with as much propriety as a smile. In Troilus and Cressida, we find these lines :
“ So rich advantage of a promis'd glory,
“ As smiles upon the forehead of this action." That part of the forehead which is situated between the eyebrows, seems to have been considered by our poet as the seat of innocence and modesty. So, in a subsequent scene :
- brands the harlot,
“ Of my true mother." And our poet's contemporary, John Ford, has placed honour and wisdom on the same part of the countenance :
“ As noble by his wit as by his bloud,
“ Honour and wisdom on his forehead stood. Malone. Rose is put generally for the ornament, the grace, of an innocent love. Boswell.
As false as dicers' oaths : 0, such a deed
In the foregoing quotation from Troilus and Cressida, I understand that the forehead is smiled upon by advantage, and not that the forehead is itself the smiler. Thus, says Laertes in the play before us :
“ Occasion smiles upon a second leave." But it is not the leave that smiles, but occasion that smiles upon it.
In the subsequent passage, our author had no choice ; for having alluded to that part of the face which was anciently branded with a mark of shame, he was compelled to place his token of innocence in a corresponding situation. STEEVENS.
9 - from the body of contRACTION-] Contraction, for marriage contract. WARBURTON. i - Heaven's face doth glow;
Yea, the solidity and compound mass,
Is thought-sick at the act.] If any sense can be found here, it is this. The sun glows (and does it not always ?] and the very solid mass of earth has a tristful visage, and is thought-sick. All this is sad stuff. The old quarto reads much nearer to the poet's sense:
“ Heaven's face does glow,
“ Is thought-sick at the act.”
• Heaven's face doth glow,
With tristful visage ; and, as 'gainst the doom,
• Is thought-sick at the act.' This makes a fine sense, and to this effect. The sun looks upon our globe, the scene of this murder, with an angry and mournful countenance, half hid in eclipse, as at the day of doom.
WARBURTON. The word heated, though it agrees well enough with glow, is, I think, not so striking as tristful, which was, I suppose, chosen at the revisal. I believe the whole passage now stands as the author gave it. Dr. Warburton's reading restores two improprieties,
Ah me, what act, That roars so loud, and thunders in the index ?
HAM. Look here, upon this picture, and on this * ;
which Shakspeare, by his alteration, had removed. In the first, and in the new reading, “ Heaven's face glows with tristful visage ;” and, “Heaven's face is thought-sick.” To the common reading there is no just objection. Johnson.
I am strongly inclined to think that the reading of the quarto 1604 is the true one. In Shakspeare's licentious diction, the meaning may be, -The face of heaven doth glow with heated visage over the earth : and heaven, as against the day of judgment, is thought-sick at the act.'
Had not our poet St. Luke's description of the last day in his thoughts? " And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, and in the stars ; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring : men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking on those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken,” &c.
MALONE: · That roars so loud,] The meaning is,-'What is this act, of which the discovery, or mention, cannot be made, but with this violence of clamour?' Johnson.
3 — and thunders in the index ?] Mr. Edwards observes, that the indexes of many old books were at that time inserted at the beginning, instead of the end, as is now the custom. This observation I have often seen confirmed.
So, in Othello, Act II. Sc. VII.: “ an index and obscure prologue to the history of lust and foul thoughts." Steevens.
Bullokar, in his Expositor, 8vo. 1616, defines an Index by “A table in a booke." The table was almost always prefixed to the books of our poet's age. Indexes, in the sense in which we now understand the word, were very uncommon. MALONE.
4 Look here, upon this picture, and on this ;] It is evident, from the following words,
“ A station, like the herald Mercury," &c. that these pictures, which are introduced as miniatures on the stage, were meant for whole lengths, being part of the furniture of the Queen's closet :
“— like Maia's son he stood,
“ And shook his plumes." Paradise Lost, book v. Hamlet, who, in a former scene, had censured those who gave “ forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece” for his uncle's “picture in little," would hardly have condescended to carry such a thing in his pocket. STEEVENS.
The introduction of miniatures in this place appears to be a
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
* First folio, his. . modern innovation. A print prefixed to Rowe's edition of Hamlet, published in 1709, proves this. There the two royal portraits are exhibited as half-lengths, hanging in the Queen's closet ; and either thus, or as whole-lengths, they probably were exhibited from the time of the original performance of this tragedy to the death of Betterton. To half-lengths, however, the same objection lies, as to miniatures. Malone
We may also learn, that from this print the trick of kicking the chair down on the appearance of the Ghost, was adopted by modern Hamlets from the practice of their predecessors. Steevens.
s HYPERION's curls ;] It is observable, that Hyperion is used by Spenser with the same error in quantity. FARMER.
I have never met with an earlier edition of Marston's Insatiate Countess than that in 1613. In this the following lines occur, which bear a close resemblance to Hamlet's description of his father:
“ A donative he hath of every god;
dignos et Apolline crines. Ovid's Metam. b. iii. thus translated by Golding, 1587 : “ And haire that one might worthily Apollo's haire it deeme."
STEEVENS. 6 A station like the herald MERCURY, &c.] Station, in this instance, does not mean the spot where any one is placed, but the act of standing. So, in Antony and Cleopatra, Act III. Sc. III. :
“Her motion and her station are as one." On turning to Mr. Theobald's first edition, I find that he had made the same remark, and supported it by the same instance. The observation is necessary, for otherwise the compliment designed to the attitude of the King would be bestowed on the place where Mercury is represented as standing. STEEVENS. .
In the first scene of Timon of Athens, the poet, admiring a picture, introduces the same image :
“ How this grace
“ Speaks his own standing !” Malone. I think it not improbable that Shakspeare caught this image from Phaer's translation of Virgil, (fourth Æneid,) a book that without doubt he had read :
“ And now approaching neere, the top he seeth and mighty lims