« PreviousContinue »
Another Room in the same.
Enter HAMLET. Ham. Safely stowed,-[Ros. &c. within. Hamlet ! lord Hamlet !] But soft”, —what noise ? who calls on Hamlet ? O, here they come.
Enter RosENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Ros. What have you done, my lord, with the
dead body? Ham. Compounded it with dust"), whereto 'tis
kin. Ros. Tell us where 'tis ; that we may take it
Ham. Do not believe it.
But soft,] I have added these two words from the quarto 1604. Steevens. The folio reads :
“ Ham. Safely stowed.
“ Ham. What noise,” &c.
“ Ham. Safely stowed; but soft, what noise ? who calls on Hamlet ? ” &c.
I have therefore printed Hamlet's speech unbroken, and inserted that of Rosencrantz, &c. from the folio, before the words, but soft, &c. In the modern editions Hamlet is made to take notice of the noise made by the courtiers, before he has heard it.
MALONE. 3 Compounded it with dust,] So, in King Henry IV. P. II. :
“Only compound me with forgotten dust." Again, in our poet's 71st Sonnet :
“When I perhaps compounded am with clay.” Malone,
mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! -what replication should be made by the son of a king ?
Ros. Take you me for a sponge, my lord ?
Ham. Ay, sir; that soaks up the king's countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end : He keeps them, like an ape 4, in the corner of his jaw: first mouthed, to be last swallowed: When he needs what
4—like an ape,] The quarto has apple, which is generally followed. The folio has ape, which Sir T. Hanmer has received, and illustrated with the following note :
“ It is the way of monkeys in eating, to throw that part of their food, which they take up first, into a pouch they are provided with on each side of their jaw, and there they keep it, till they have done with the rest.” Johnson.
Surely this should be “ like an ape, an apple.” FARMER.
The reading of the folio, like an ape, I believe to be the true one, because Shakspeare has the same phraseolegy in many other places. The word ape refers to the King, not to his courtiers
. He keeps them like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, &c. means, he keeps them, as an ape keeps food, in the corner of his jaw, &c. So, in King Henry IV. P. I. : your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach;” i. e. as fast as a loach breeds loaches. Again, in King Lear: “
They flattered me like a dog ;" i. e. as a dog fawns upon
and flatters his master. That the particular food in Shakspeare's contemplation was an apple, may be inferred from the following passage in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
mistress, “As often as an ape does for an apple.” I cannot approve of Dr. Farmer's reading. Had our poet meant to introduce both the ape and the apple, he would, I think, have written not like, but “ as an ape an apple."
The two instances above quoted show that any emendation is unnecessary. The reading of the quarto is, however, defensible.
MALONE. Apple in the quarto is a mere typographical error. So, in Peele's Araygnement of Paris, 1584 :
well “ All that be Dian's maides are vowed to halter apples in hell.” The meaning, however, is clearly “ as an ape does an apple."
" And lie,
- you wot it
you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again. Ros. I understand you not, my lord.
. Han. I am glad of it: A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear
Ros. My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.
Ham. The body is with the king", but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing,
Guil. A thing, my lord ?
Ham. Of nothing ® ; bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after'.
s-and, sponge, you shall be dry again.] So, in the 7th Satire of Marston, 1598 :
“ He's but a spunge, and shortly needs must leese
A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.] This, if I mistake not, is a proverbial sentence. Malone.
Since the appearance of our author's play, these words have become proverbial; but no earlier instance of the idea conveyed by them, has occurred within the compass of my reading. Steevens.
7 The body is with the king,] This answer I do not comprehend. Perhaps it should be, -The body is not with the king, for the king is not with the body. Johnson.
Perhaps it may mean this, -The body is in the king's house, (i. e. the present king's,) yet the king (i. e. he who should have been king,) is not with the body. Intimating that the usurper is here, the true king in a better place. Or it may mean—the guild of the murder lies with the king, but the king is not where the body lies. The affected obscurity of Hamlet must excuse so many attempts to procure something like a meaning. STEEVENS.
8 Or nothing :) Should it not be read—Or nothing ? When the courtiers remark that Hamlet has contemptuously called the king a thing, Hamlet defends himself by observing, that the king must be a thing, or nothing. Johnson. The text is right. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“In troth, my lord, it is a thing of nothing." And, in one of Harvey's Letters, “a silly bug-beare, a sorry puffe of winde, a thing of nothing." Farmer. So, in Decker's Match Me in London, 1631 :
“ At what dost thou laugh ?
Another Room in the Same.
Enter King, attended. King. I have sent to seek him, and to find the
body How dangerous is it, that this man goes loose ? Yet must not we put the strong law on him : He's lov'd of the distracted multitude, Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes ; And, where 'tis so, the offender's scourge is weigh’d, But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even, This sudden sending him away must seem Deliberate pause : Diseases, desperate grown, By desperate appliance are reliev'd,
Enter RosenCRANTZ. Or not at all.-How now? what hath befallen?
Ros. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord, We cannot get from him. King.
But where is he? Ros. Without, my lord; guarded, to know your
pleasure. Again, in Look About You, 1600 :
“A very little thing, a thing of nothing.” Steevens. Mr. Steevens has given [i. e. edit. 1778] many parallelisms : but the origin of all is to be looked for, I believe, in the 144th Psalm, ver. 5 : “ Man is like a thing of nought.” Mr. Steevens must have observed, that the Book of Common Prayer, and the translation of the Bible into English, furnished our old writers with many forms of expression, some of which are still in use. WHALLEY.
Hide fox, &c.] There is a play among children called, Hide for, and all after. HANMER.
The same sport is alluded to in Decker's Satiromastix : “- our unhandsome-faced poet does play at bo-peep with your grace, and cries—All hid, as boys do." This
passage is not in the quarto. STEEVENS.
King. Bring him before us.
Enter HAMLET and GUILDENSTERN.
King. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius ?
Ham. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politick worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else, to fat us; and we fat ourselves for maggots : Your fat king, and your lean beggar, is but variable service; two dishes, but to one table : that's the end.
King. Alas, alas ? !
Ham. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king; and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
King. What dost thou mean by this ?
Ham. Nothing, but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
King. Where is Polonius ?
Han. In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him i'the other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.
King. Go seek him there. (To some Attendants. Ham. He will stay till you come.
* Alas, alas !] This speech, and the following, are omitted in the folio. Steevens.
go a PROGRESS — -] Alluding to the royal journeys of state, always styled progresses; a familiar idea to those who, like our author, lived during the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. STEEVENS.