Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

44

cidentally addresses Gertrude. There is no doubt that, in that version at least, the two scenes were continuous; and if we look at scene 2 of act iv. (according to the general division of the scenes), we shall see that, evidently, Hamlet has just returned from stowing away the body of Polonius; so that this scene must take place on the same night as the interview with his mother and the accidental killing of Polonius. The same is true of scene 3, act iv., in which the King is waiting for the return of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern with Hamlet, to fetch whom the King has sent them; nor between scenes 3 and 4 can there be an interval of any length; for the King says in his speech, act iv. scene 3, Follow him;" and therefore when Hamlet meets Fortinbras it is on the same night as, or rather in the early morning after, the interview with his mother. But after scene 4, act iv. there must be a considerable interval, during which Laertes has had time to get from Paris to Elsinore, and Hamlet has evidently been away for several days, during which he was captured by the pirates, with whom he appears to have remained some little time. When this tragedy is played on the stage, and any portions of scenes 1, 2, 3, 4 of act iv. are retained, we cannot help being struck by the abruptness of Ophelia's madness, and the remarkable expedition with which Laertes has reached Denmark from Paris; nor can we help wondering how, in an age when news travelled slowly, he could possibly have heard of his father's death in so short a time. In fact the modern division into acts and scenes-at least as far as acts iii. and iv. are concerned-is a very lame one. But as act iii. is, even at present, of preposterous length, it would be impossible to divide the play, consistently with probability, without making it in six acts. It may be interesting to see which of the tragedies in F. 1 are divided into acts and scenes; we therefore give a list of them in the order in which they are printed, showing how far they are so divided:

Troilus and Cressida (Q. and F.); not divided into acts and scenes.

Coriolanus (F.); divided into acts only. Titus Andronicus (Q. and F.); no division in Q.; divided into acts only in F.

Romeo and Juliet (Q. and F.); act i. scene 1; no other division.

Timon of Athens (F.); no

divided into acts and

scenes.

Julius Cæsar (F.); divided into acts only.
Macbeth (F.); divided into acts and scenes.
Lear (Q. and F.); no division in Q.; divided into acts
and scenes in F.

[blocks in formation]

Tschischwitz, has noticed the significance of the fact that Bernardo, who is going to relieve guard, challenges Francisco, who is a sentinel still on duty, and who, of course, should challenge him, as he points out in his answer: Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself. This is one of the many dramatic touches in this opening scene, which, so far from being unnecessary—as Seymour, in his Remarks, with a singular obtuseness, declared it to be-is one of the most remarkable examples of Shakespeare's skill in construction. Coleridge, whose subtle and eloquent remarks on this scene should be read in their entirety, fully perceived its dramatic force. The author here puts before us a vivid picture of the state of vague disquiet and alarm which existed in Denmark at the time the action of the play commences; the rapidity with which events had succeeded one another in the last month or so; the sudden death of the elder Hamlet, so quickly followed by the marriage of his widow with her late husband's brother; and the accession of the latter to the throne instead of the young heir-apparent; the mysterious warlike preparations and rumours; and last, but not least, the alarming whispers of the appearance of the late king's spectre near the scene of his mysterious death; all these circumstances form a fitting prologue to the tragedy that is to follow. The nervous anxiety of Bernardo, who is afraid to be left alone on his watch, and the simple and reverent faith in the apparition which Marcellus shows, are contrasted with the scepticism of Horatio; whose attitude towards the Ghost is that of doubt, exactly as we should have expected in the chosen intimate of Hamlet. But Horatio, once having seen the Ghost, is thoroughly convinced, and doubts no more; while Hamlet, though he has much more reason to be thoroughly con vinced of the genuineness of the apparition, yet is persecuted with doubts almost to the very last.

We should naturally expect the challenge here to come from Francisco; but Q. 2 and F. 1 both agree in giving the line to Bernardo; and as, in both cases, the question Who's there? is printed as a separate line, we are scarcely justified in supposing that it was intended to be given to Francisco. In Q. 1 the scene opens thus:

Enter two Centinels.

1 Stand; who is that?

2 T is I.

1 O you come most carefully upon your watch.

It is clear that there the challenge is given by the sentinel on duty, and not by the one coming to relieve him. It would be interesting to know if the alteration, found in Q. 2 and F. 1, was made deliberately by Shakespeare himself. Tschischwitz suggests that "in thus representing Bernardo as so forgetful of all military use and wont as to challenge Francisco who is on guard" there was a “psy chological motive;" but if we imagine the scene a dark night, and that Francisco, pacing on his watch, sees the dim outline of a figure advancing, challenges it, pauses for an answer, then impatiently says, Nay answer me, the "psychological motive" is, perhaps, quite as intelligible.

2. Line 3: Long live the king!-Malone suggested that this might be a watchword; but, as Delius pointed out, in line 15, below, Horatio and Marcellus make each a different answer to the challenge. Furness (vol. i. p. 4) quotes

from Pye's Comments on the Commentators, 1807, a very probable conjecture; the writer "believes that it corresponds to the former usage in France, where, to the common challenge Qui vive? the answer was Vive le Roi, like the modern answer 'A friend.'"'

3. Line 6: You come most carefully UPON your hour.— We have given to upon the sense of "exactly" or "just at." The Clarendon editors notice this as an unusual phrase, and explain it "just as your hour is about to strike," and compare Richard III. iii. 2. 5: “Upon the stroke of four," and iv. 2. 111 in the same play, "Upon the stroke of ten." We may also compare Measure for Measure, iv. 1. 34-36:

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

5. Line 21: What, has THIS THING appear'd again tonight?-The Ff. and Q. 1. give this speech to Marcellus, the Qq. to Horatio. Surely it should belong to Horatio. Bernardo addresses in the previous line and welcomes Horatio first, then Marcellus. It is natural Horatio should answer first, and the line is characteristic of his sceptical attitude at this time with regard to the Ghost. Marcellus would never use such a vague and contemptuous expression as this thing of that which is always to him a dreaded sight, an apparition. It appears to me that much of the wonderful dramatic force of this opening scene, noticed in note 1 above, would be missed if Horatio does not speak this line in a tone of polite incredulity, an incredulity which is soon to be changed for reverent horror when with his own eyes he beholds the spectre whose existence he now doubts.

6. Line 33: What we two nights have seen. So Ff. Qq. (including Q. 1) read What we have two nights seen. The reading of Ff. here seems preferable, because it is better not to separate the auxiliary verb from the participle if possible, and because the speaker particularly wishes to emphasize the fact that the sight has been seen by them not once but twice before (line 25 above). As to the construction, it is rather awkward, but the sense is quite intelligible. We may either take What to equal "With what" or "Concerning what;" or we may take the

whole sentence to be the explanation of the story in the preceding line. Hanmer gave this line to Marcellus, as if in his eagerness to tell the story he interrupted Bernardo; an arrangement which, perhaps, makes the next speech of Horatio more forcible, wherein he declares that he wants to hear Bernardo's version of the story, and not that of Marcellus.

7. Line 42: Thou art a SCHOLAR; speak to it, Horatio. -The supposed power of Latin over ghosts is a very familiar superstition, arising doubtless from the Church's exorcisms being in Latin. Tschischwitz, quoted by Furness, says: "Evil spirits were not exorcised by the sign of the cross alone, but cried out to the exorciser the Latin hexameter Signa te signa, temere me tangis et angis, a verse which being a palindrome reveals its diabolic ori- gin." Compare Much Ado, ii. 1. 264: "I would to God some scholar would conjure her." Reed quotes Beaumont and Fletcher's Night-Walker, ii. 1:

Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin, And that will daunt the devil.

-Works, Edn. Dyce, vol. v. p. 143.

8. Line 44: it HARROWS me with fear and wonder.This is substantially the reading of Ff.; F. 1, F. 2 print the word harrowes. Qq. all read horrowes. The Players' Quarto, 1676, coolly alters it to startles. Q. 1 has a peculiar reading, horrors, which has not, I think, received the attention it deserves. There is no other instance, that I am aware of, of the use of horror as a verb; but it certainly is a most forcible expression, especially if we remember the original meaning of the Latin word horreo, from which horror is derived. The substantive is frequently used of "that which causes horror," so that there is no reason why a verb coined from that word should not be used in a transitive sense. As to harrow, Shakespeare only uses the verb three times; twice in this play, figuratively in both cases, and in a quibbling sense in Coriolanus, v. 3. 33, 34:

Let the Volsces Plough Rome, and harrow Italy.

In the other passage of this play where it occurs, i. 5. 16, in the speech of the Ghost, it is used with up; and here I think it is used in a similar sense, and that there is no idea of referring to haro, a cry of distress. Johnson thought that the word should be written harry, and should have the same sense as in the well-known phrase, "the harrowing of hell;" but if harrow be the right reading, there can be little doubt, though it occurs here without the preposition, that it is used, as in the passage below, in a sense derived from its ordinary and agricultural meaning. It would be a bold measure, in the text of a play so familiar as this, to introduce any innovation; but certainly the reading of Q. 1, if a misprint, is a singularly felicitous one; for it exactly describes that effect of fear which makes the skin "bristle" as it were, that peculiar feeling which, in vulgar parlance, is called "goose flesh."

Nearly all the commentators quote Milton's use of the word harrow, in a similar figurative sense, in Comus, line 565:

Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear.

9. Line 45: Question it.-This is the reading of Ff. and Q. 1; Qq. have Speake to it.

10. Lines 62, 63:

when, in an angry PARLE, He smote the SLEDDED POLACKS on the ice. Sledded (formed from sled or sledge) is so spelt in Ff.; all the Qq. print sleaded. Polacks is Malone's conjecture. Q. 1, Q. 2, Q. 3, Q. 4 have pollax; Q. 5, F. 1, F. 2, Q. 6 Pollax; F. 3 Polax; and F. 4 Poleaxe, which Rowe adopted, changing its form to pole-axe. Dyce remarks that it would seem that Pollax of the old editions was intended for the plural of the word, as when the word occurs in the singular number-as it does in ii. 2. 63, 75— it is spelt there Polacke (Q. 1), Pollacke (Qq.), Poleak (F. 1), Polak (F. 2, F. 3, F. 4), but never with x. As to the derivation of the word, Caldecott quotes Giles Fletcher's Russe Commonwealth, 12mo. 1591, fo. 65: "The Polonian, whom the Russe calleth Laches, noting the first author or founder of the nation, who was called Laches or Leches, whereunto is added Po, which signifieth people, and so is made Polaches; that is, the people or posteritie of Laches: which the Latines, after their manner of writing, call Polanos" (Caldecott's edn. of Hamlet, note 3). Malone's emendation Polacks has been very generally accepted; but there is much to be said on the other side. In the first place the word parle clearly points to a peaceful conference and not to a battle. Shakespeare uses the word in the sense of parley several times; and once in the sense of mere conversation, in The Two Gent. of Verona, i. 2. 5. True, the word is here qualified in the text by the epithet angry; but it is very unlikely that the elder Hamlet, who is represented as a man of great dignity and selfrestraint, should have struck at a number of the enemy at a parley, however angry. As to the use of the word smite, Shakespeare seems never to use it in what may be called its Scriptural sense. He generally uses it of a single sharp blow; and we may compare with this passage one in Lucrece, line 176:

His falchion on a flint he softly smiteth. Nor, when we look at the whole passage, does it seem to refer so much to the brave and passionate attack of one man on a number of the enemy, as to the rare expression of anger on the part of one who generally had his temper under complete control. Compare also what Horatio says in describing the countenance of the Ghost to Hamlet, i. 2. 232:

A countenance more in sorrow than in anger. The chief difficulty in accepting pole-axe lies in the word sledded, the reading of Ff.; Qq. (including Q. 1) read sleaded, which might easily be a misprint for leaded; but we should have expected, in this case, his instead of the. The final 8 of his might easily have got attached to leaded. It is true that Shakespeare does not use the word leaded anywhere; but then he does not use sledded; so that it is only the choice between two apax-legomena. The word leaded occurs in Baret's Alvearie, 1573 (sub Lead): " a vessel or other thing that is leaded or tinned." What we want to find is, first, some early use of the word leaded="weighted with lead," and, secondly, some mention of the fact that the poleaxe so weighted was a weapon used by the Northern peoples of Europe. On this point it is worth noticing Boswell's quotation from Milton's Brief History of Moscovia: "After that the same day he sent a great and glorious Duke, one of them that held the golden

pole-ax, with his retinue, and sundry sorts of meath to drink merrily with the ambassador" (Var. Ed. vol. vii. p. 177).

11. Line 65: JUMP at this dead hour.-All the Qq. have jump, the Ff. just, which means precisely the same—“ a familiar word," as Malone notes, "substituted for the more ancient. But jump is decidedly the more significant word of the two. It is used again, v. 2. 386 below, and in Othello, ii. 3. 392. Steevens quotes Chapman's May-Day: "Your appointment was jump at three." Compare Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft: "wherein they meete and agree jumpe with the papists;" and "so that they fall jumpe in judgement and opinion, though verie erroniouslie, with the foresaid Psellus" (Reprint, Nicholson, 1886, pp. 413, 416).

"

12. Line 75: Why such IMPRESS of shipwrights?—Some commentators have endeavoured to twist the line in the text into an argument for supposing that, in the reign of Elizabeth, shipwrights as well as seamen were liable to a forcible impressment; but Steevens points out that impress was merely giving the men "prest money (from pret Fr.)" as an earnest of their being engaged, and he quotes from Chapman's Homer's Odyssey, bk. ii., where press could hardly bear the sense of "a forcible impressment:"

I, from the people straight, will press for you,
Free voluntaries.

Tschischwitz says that "the word must be imprest (Ital. impresto), equivalent to 'handsel "" (Furness, vol. i. p. 14). This may be all perfectly true; but it is an undoubted fact that, in the only two other passages in which Shakespeare uses the word impress, he uses it in a sense of forcible or involuntary impressment; viz. in Troilus and Cressida, ii. 1. 106, 107: "Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress;" and Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 7. 35-37: Your ships are not well mann'd,Your mariners are muleters, reapers, people Ingross'd by swift impress.

Perhaps the latter passage may justify us in explaining the word impress, not in the sense of forcible impressment in the modern sense, by a press-gang, but as simply used for enrolment under an emergency such as a sudden war. 13. Lines 93, 94:

the same CO-MART,

And carriage of the ARTICLE DESIGN'D. Co-mart is the reading of Qq., and is both a more vivid word and better for the rhythm of the line than the cov'nant of Ff. Co-mart would mean, as Malone says, "a joint bargain," and may have been coined by Shakespeare, who uses mart as a verb to traffic, in Cymbeline, i. 6. 151:

to mart

As in a Romish stew.

In the latter part of the sentence we follow in the text the reading of F. 2, F. 3, F. 4. F. 1 prints Article designe, Q. 2, Q. 3 article desseigne, Q. 4 articles deseigne, Q. 5, Q. 6 Articles designe. The phrase means, "the import of the article drawn up between them."

14. Line 96: UNIMPROVED mettle hot and full.—The word unimproved may be taken here in any one of several senses, all of which apply well enough to the context, and have more or less authority-untutored, unquestioned, untried. The Clarendon Press edd. consider that the

first meaning "seems to accord best with the context, 'young,' 'hot,' 'full.'" Q.1 has inapproved, a very probable reading.

15. Line 98: SHARK'D up a LIST of lawless resolutes.— On shark compare S. Rowley, When you see me, you know me [D4, verso]: "I thinke if a fat purse come ith' way, thou wouldst not refuse it. Therefore leave the Court and sharke with mee." Q. 1 has a reading here "a sight of landless resolutes" which deserves to be noticed. The use of sight = quantity, was quite a legitimate use of the word in the sixteenth century. For instance, we find that Andrew Boorde (in his Boke of Knowledge), speaking of St. Sophia's Church at Constantinople, says: "the church is called Saynte Sophyes Churche, in the whyche be a wonder-full syght of preistes: they say that there is a thowsande prestes that doth belong to the church" (Reprint, 1870, p. 172). Sight, in this sense, is now accounted a vulgarism. It certainly was not so in Shakespeare's time, and Hunter is perhaps right when he prefers the reading of Q. 1 to that of any older copy.

16. Line 103: terms COMPULSATIVE.-Qq. print compulsatory.-Neither form of the word appears anywhere else in Shakespeare. Compulsive occurs iii. 4. 86 below.

17. Line 107: romage. -Furness, New Variorum Ed. p. 17, quotes Wedgwood's Dictionary, s. v. Rummage: "Two words seem confounded. 1. Rummage, the proper stowing of merchandise in a ship, from Dutch ruim, French rum, the hold of a ship. Hence to rummage, to search among the things stowed in a given receptacle. 2. But in addition to the foregoing the word is sometimes used in the sense of racket, disturbance [as here]." Nares derives the word from "room," "roomage."

18. Lines 108-125.-This passage is, unfortunately, found only in Qq.

19. Line 112: A MOTE it is to trouble the mind's eye.Q. 2, Q. 3, Q. 4 print moth, which Q. 5, Q. 6 modernized into mote. The two spellings were formerly interchangeable. Compare Florio: "Festucco, a little sticke, a feasestrawe, a tooth-picke, a moth, a little beame."

20. Lines 113-120.-Compare Julius Cæsar, ii. 2, and especially lines 18 and 24:

And graves have yawn'd and yielded up their dead;

And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets. The description, in both cases, seems to have been suggested by passages in North's Plutarch. See note 127 to Julius Cæsar.

21. Lines 117, 118:

AS, STARS with trains of fire, and dews of blood,
DISASTERS in the sun.

It is pretty clear that one line, if not more, preceding this passage has been omitted; for by no manner of twisting the words can one make anything but an imperfect sentence of the lines as they stand. The fact is, this speech was never spoken on the stage so far as we know. It is not in Q. 1, nor in Ff., and it is marked for omission in the Players' Quarto of 1695. Singer proposed, for the missing line:

And as the earth, so portents fill'd the sky.

I think that Shakespeare would have avoided the word portents, because of the occurrence of portentous in line 109 above. Perhaps the missing line might have been something like

The sky itself was fill'd with prodigies;

or he may have used the word firmament = sky. Some commentators would substitute for disasters in some verb or other. It is much more probable that a line was overlooked by the transcriber, and that, the passage never being spoken, the want was not supplied. Malone, who is followed by some other commentators, thought that the corruption lay in the words As stars, for which he proposed to substitute Asters or Astres = stars, and he refers to an old collection of poems called Diana, by John Southern, 1580, where this word is used; but there it is evidently only taken from the French astre, a star. Furness quotes from Florio's Dictionary: "Stella: a starre, an aster, a planet." Malone is wrong in saying that stars occurs in the next line; because the word in Qq. is distinctly starre (the singular); nor do any of the other Qq. read the plural, so that we may reject the affected word astres as unnecessary. As for the other emendations, I do not see that the sense of the passage is at all improved by changing Disasters in to Disastering, or to "Disasters dimm'd the sun," because, as a fact, these fiery stars and dews of blood would not affect the sun, while Disasters in the sun has a very natural sense if we take it to mean that there were peculiar appearances on the sun's face that were held to indicate disasters. In that curious book, Lycosthenes De Prodigiis, there are many illustrations of such phenomena as fiery stars, rains or dews of blood, and singular appearances in the sun. We have therefore followed most editors in leaving a vacant space between lines 116 and 117, supposing a line to have dropped out.

22. Line 118: the moist star.-Compare Winter's Tale, i. 2. 1:

Nine changes of the watery star hath been.

23. Line 122: As HARBINGERS preceding still the fates. -Compare Comedy of Errors, iii. 2. 12; Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2. 380; and Macbeth, i. 4. 45, and see note 50 of that play.

24. Line 125: climatures.-Perhaps we should read the singular, climature, so Dyce. The word does not occur again in Shakespeare, nor can we find any instance of its occurrence elsewhere in Elizabethan literature. Even the French word climateure is not given in Cotgrave, and it is at present doubtful whether Shakespeare invented the word or whether he had met with it in some out-of-theway book of his time. The Clarendon Press edd. suggest that "possibly it is used for those who live under the same climate."

25. Line 127: I'll cross it, though it blast me.-"The person," says Blakeway (Variorum Ed. vol. vii. p. 186), "who crossed the spot on which a spectre was seen, became subjected to its malignant influence. Among the reasons given in a curious paper, printed in the third volume of Mr. Lodge's Illustrations of British History, p. 48, for supposing the young Earl of Derby (Ferdinando, who died April, 1594) to have been bewitched, is the following: 'On

[blocks in formation]

29. Line 163: No FAIRY TAKES.-On the question of malignant fairies see Comedy of Errors, note 103. For the use of take in this peculiar sense compare Merry Wives, iv. 4. 32:

And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle. And see taking, as an adjective in the same sense, in Lear, ii. 4. 165, 166: Strike her young bones, You taking airs, with lameness! And, as a substantive, Lear, iii. 4. 60, 61: "Bless thee from whirlwinds, star-blasting, and taking!"

The Clarendon edd. explain takes here as="infects;" but the sense given in our foot-note seems to be the nearest one can get for this very singular use of the verb take. In Baret's Alvearie, 1573, we have among the numerous uses of this word the following: "To be blasted: to be taken: to haue a member sodenly benummed, dead, and mortified. Aflari sydere;" and also: "The ague taketh. Febris aliquem occupat;" and "A taking or benumming when one is sodainly depriued of the use of his limmes, a totall putrefaction of any member. Syderatio." Halliwell (Archaic and Provincial Dict.) quotes

from Palsgrave (sub voce)" Taken, as chyldernes lymmes be by the fayries, faée," (Cotgrave has under Feé: “taken, betwitched"), and this explanation of the word is further borne out by a passage from Markham: "Of a horse that is taken. A horse that is bereft of his feeling, mooving, or styrring, is said to be taken, and in sooth so hee is, in that he is arrested by so villainous a disease; yet some farriers, not well understanding the ground of the disease, conster the word taken to be striken by some planet or evil spirit, which is false" (Treatise on Horses, ch. viii. ed. 1595); take (sub.), in the Dorsetshire dialect, means a sudden illness, and is also a vulgar name for sciatica.

These two latter meanings are connected with the common meaning of the verb " to seize suddenly;" but from all the passages quoted it is evident that the special malignant effect supposed to be produced, whether by stars or by fairies, was a numbing effect upon the limbs.

30. Line 164: So hallow'd and so gracious is THE time. -All the Qq. have that.

31. Lines 166, 167:

But, look, the morn, in RUSSET mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high EASTERN hill.

For russet-not "rosy," as Hunter explains it, but "grey"-see Midsummer Night's Dream, note 173. Everyone who has kept watch out of doors all through the night knows that grey light which is the first precursor of morning, after which comes, if it comes at all, the red and golden colour. Shakespeare refers to this characteristic of early dawn in Much Ado, v. 3. 24-26:

the gentle day, Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey; and in Romeo and Juliet, iii. 5. 19:

I'll say yon grey is not the morning's eye. Qq. read eastward; but Steevens very aptly cites from Chapman's Odyssey, bk. xiii. lines 49, 50:

Ulysses still An eye directed to the Eastern hill; and Staunton quotes from Spenser:

Phoebus' fiery car

In haste was climbing up the eastern hill.

32. Line 175: Where we shall find him most CONVENIENT. This is the reading of Qq.; Ff. and Q. 1. have conveniently. Shakespeare often uses the adjective adverbially; and here it seems to suit the rhythm better not to have the weak double ending which the reading of Ff. necessitates.

ACT I. SCENE 2.

33. Line 11: With ONE auspicious and ONE dropping eye. -So Ff., which most editors follow. Qq. have: With an auspicious and a dropping eye. My coadjutor, Mr. Symons, says of the reading of Ff.: "This to my ear is mere burlesque. The antithesis in this and the next two lines is certainly strained, purposely, but I do not think Shakespeare intended Claudius to say anything quite so ridiculous as the Ff. and their followers would have us suppose. Compare a very similar passage in Winter's Tale, v. 2. 80-82 (which is a piece of mere sprightly fancifulness, very different in spirit from the cold balancing of the hypocritical King): "She had one

« PredošláPokračovať »