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A Plain in Denmark.
Enter FORTINBRAS, and Forces, marching.
I will do 't, my lord.
How purpos'd, sir,
Against some part of Poland.
Who Commands them, sir?
Cap. The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
Ham. Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Can. Truly to speak, sir, and with no addition,
that a certain act has been done, whatever may befal me, my joys never had a beginning, is surely nonsense. Malone.
Craves --] Thus the quartos. The folio--Claims. Steevens. 1 We shall express our duty in his eye,] So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
- tended her i the eyes." In his eye, means, in his presence. The phrase appears to have been formularly See The Establishment of the Household of Prince Henry, A. D. 1610: “ Also the gentleman-usher shall be careful to see and informe all such as doe service in the Prince's eye, that they perform their dutyes” &c. Again, in The Regulations for the Government of the Queen's Household, 1627:
all such as doe service in the Queen's eye.” Steevens. 2 Good sir, &c.] The remaining part of this scene is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
Το pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
Ham. Why, then the Polack never will defend it.
Ham. Two thousand souls, and twenty thousand ducats,
sir. Cap. God be wi' you, sir.
[Exit Cap. Ros.
Will 't please you go, my lord? Ham. I will be with you straight. Go a little before.
[Exeunt Ros. and GUIL. How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge! What is a man, If his chief good, and market of his time,3 Be but to sleep, and feed? a beast, no more. Sure, he, that made us with such large discourse,4 Looking before, and after, gave us not That capability and godlike reason To fust in us unus'd. Now, whether it be Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruples Of thinking too precisely on the event A thought, which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom, And, ever, three parts coward,—I do not know Why yet I live to say, This thing is to do; Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means, To do 't. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me: Witness, this army, of such mass, and charge, Led by a delicate and tender prince; Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff'd, Makes mouths at the invisible event;
chief good, and market of his time, &c.} If his highest good, and that for which he sells his time, be to sleep and feed.
Fohnson. Market, I think, here means profit. Malone.
large discourse,] Such latitude of comprehension, such power of reveiwing the past and anticipating the future. Johnson.
some craven scruple - ] Some cowardly scruple. See Vol. VI, p. 68, n. 7. Malone. So, in King Henry VI, P. I:
" Or durst not, for his craven heart, say this.” Steevens.
Exposing what is mortal, and unsure,
Rightly to be great, Is, not to stir without &c.] This passage I have printed according to the copy. Mr. Theobald had regulated it thus :
'Tis not to be great,
But greatly &c.
Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without great argument; is exactly philosophical.
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw,
When honour 's at the stake. is the idea of a modern hero. But then, says he, honour is an argument, or subject of debate, sufficiently great, and when honour is at stake, we must find cause of quarrel in a straw. Johnson.
? Excitements of my reason, and my blood, ] Provocations which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance. Johnson.
a plot.] A piece, or portion. See King Lear, Act III, sc. ii, Vol. XIV. Reed. So, in The Mirror for Magistrates :
“ Of grounde to win a plot, a while to dwell,
continent, ] Continent, in our author, means that which comprehends or encloses. So, in King Lear:
“ Rive your concealing continents." Again, in Chapman's version of the third Iliad:
did take “ Thy fair form for a continent of parts as fair, -." See King Lear, Act III, sc. ii. Steevens. Again, Lord Bacon, On the Advancement of Learning, 4to. 1633,
if there be no fullnesse, then is the continent greater than the content." Reed.
Elsinore. A Room in the Castle,
Enter Queen and HORATIO.
Hor. She is importunate; indeed, distract;
What would she have? Hor. She speaks much of her father; says, she hears, There's tricks i’ the world; and hems, and beats her
heart; Spurns enviously at straws;' speaks things in doubt, That carry but half sense: her speech is nothing, Yet the unshaped use of it doth move The hearers to collection;2 they aim at it,3 And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts; Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them, Indeed would make one think, there might be thought, Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.4
Spurns enviously at straws;] Enoy is much oftener put by our poet (and those of his time) for direct aversion, than for ma lignity conceived at the sight of another's excellence or happiness. So, in King Henry VIII:
“ You turn the good we offer into enoy.' Again, in God's Revenge against Murder, 1621, Hist. VI. “She loves the memory of Sypontus, and envies and detests that of her two husbands.” Steevens. See Vol. X, p. 84, n. 1; and Vol. XI, p. 240, n. 7. Malone.
to collection ;] i. e. to deduce consequences from such premises; or, as Mr. M. Mason observes, “endeavour to collect some meaning from them.” So, in Cymbeline, scene the last:
“ Make no collection of it.”
they yawn at it. To aim is to guess. So, in Romeo and Juliet :
“I aim'd so near, when I suppos'd you lov’d.” Steevens. 4 Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.] i. e. though her meaning cannot be certainly collected, yet there is enough to put a mischievous interpretation to it. Warburton.
That unhappy once signified mischievous, may be known from P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, Book XIX, ch. vii : the shrewd and unhappie foules which lie upon
Queen. 'Twere good, she were spoken with;s for she
may strew Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds: Let her come in.
[Erit HOR. To my
sick soul, as sin's true nature is,
Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHELIA.
From another one?
the lands, and eat up the seed new sowne.” We still use unlucky in the same sense. Steedens.
See Vol. V, p. 286, n. 7; and Vol. XI, p. 235, n. 2. Malone.
5 "Twere good she were spoken with ; ! These lines are given to the Queen in the folio, and to Horatio in the quarto. Johnson.
I think the two first lines of Horatio's speech ['Twere good, &c.] belong to him; the rest to the Queen. Blackstone.
In the quarto, the Queen, Horatio, and a Gentleman, enter at the beginning of this scene. The two speeches, “She is importunate, &c. and “She speaks much of her father,” &c. are there given to the Gentleman, and the line now before us, as well as the two following, to Horatio: the remainder of this speech to the Queen. I think it probable that the regulation proposed by Sir W. Blackstone was that intended by Shakspeare. Malone.
to some great amiss :] Shakspeare is not singular in his ause of this word as a substantive. So, in The Arraignment of Paris, 1584:
“ Gracious forbearers of this world's amiss." Again in Lyly's Woman in the Moon, 1597 :
“Pale be my looks, to witness my amiss." Again, in Greene's Disputation between a He Coneycatcher, &c. 1592: “revive in them the memory of my great amiss.” Steedens.
Each toy is, each trifle. Malone.
? How should I your true love &c.] There is no part of this play in its representation on the stage, more pathetick than this scene; which, I suppose, proceeds from the utter insensibility Ophelia has to her own misfortunes.
A great sensibility, or none at all, seems to produce the same effect. In the latter the audience supply what she wants, and with the former they sympathize. :Sir . Reynolds.