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Hor. I knew, you must be edified by the margent, ere you had done.
Osr. The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
Ham. The phrase would be more germano to the mat. ter, if we could carry a cannon by our sides; I would, it might be hangers till then. But, on: Six Barbary horses against six French swords, their assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages; that 's the French bet against the Danish: Why is this impawned, as you call it?
Osr. The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid, on twelve for nine; and it would come to immediate trial, if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.
Ham. How, if I answer, no? Osr. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.
you must be edified by the margent,] Dr. Warburton very properly observes, that in the old books the gloss or com. ment was usually printed on the margent of the leaf. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, Part II, 1630 :
I read “ Strange comments in those margins of your looks." Again, in The Contention betwyxte Churchyeard and Camell, &c. 1560:
“ A solempne processe at a blussshe
“ He quoted here and there,
“With matter in the margent set” &c. This speech is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
more german - ] More a-kin. Fohnson. So, in The Winter's Tale : “ Those that are german to him, though removed fifty times, shall come under the hangman.”
Steevens. 1 The king, sir, hath laid,] This wager I do not understand. In a dozen passes one must exceed the other more or less than three hits. Nor can I comprehend, how, in a dozen, there can be twelve to nine. The passage is of no importance; it is sufficient that there was a wager. The quarto has the passage as it stands. The folio-He hath one twelve for mine. Johnson.
As three or four complete pages would scarcely hold the remarks already printed, together with those which have lately been communicated to me in MS. on this very unimportant passage, I shall avoid both partiality and tediousness, by the omission of them all. I therefore leave the conditions of this wager to be adjusted by the members of Brookes's, or the Jockey-Club at Newmarket, who on such subjects may prove the most enlightened commentators, and most successfully bestir themselves in the cold unpoetick dabble of calculation. Steevens.
Ham. Sir, I will walk here in the hall: If it please his majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me: let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hoid his purpose, I will win for him, if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame, and the odd hits.
Osr. Shall I deliver you so? Ham. To this effect, sir; after what flourish your nature will.
Osr. I commend my duty to your lordship.
Ham. Yours, yours.--He does well, to commend it him. self; there are no tongues else for 's turn.
Hor. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.2
Ham. He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same breed,
? This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.] I see no particular propriety in the image of the lapwing. Osric did not run till he had done his business. We may read-This lapwing run away.--- That is, this fellow was full of unimportant bustle from his birth. Fohnson. The same image occurs in Ben Jonson's Staple of News :
“ Thorough the streets." And I have since met with it in several other plays. The mean. ing, I believe is- This is a forward fellow. So, in The White Devil, or Vittoria Corombona, 1612:
“ Forward lapwing,
“ He flies with the shell on 's head." Again, in Greene's Neder too Late, 1616: “ Are you no sooner hatched, with the lapwing, but you will run away with the shell on your head?” Again, in Revenge for Honour, by Chapman :
“ Boldness enforces youth to hard atchievements
“ Unto their downy heads.” Steevens. I believe, Hamlet means to say that Osric is bustling and impetuous, and yet “but raw in respect of his quick sail.” So, in The Character of an Oxford Incendiary, 1643: "This lapwing incendiary ran away half-hatched from Oxford, to raise a combustion in Scotland."
In Meres's Wit's Treasury, 1598, we have the same image expressed exactly in our poet's words: “As the lapwing runneth away with the shell on her head, as soon as she is hatched," &c.
Malone. 3 He did comply with his dug, &c.] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, reads-A [i. e. he] did, sir, with his dug, &c. For comply
that, I know, the drossy age dotes on,) only got the tune of the time, and outward habit of encounter;" a kind of yesty .collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions;and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.?
Dr. Warburton and the subsequent editors, read-compliment. The verb to compliment was not used, as I think, in the time of Shakspeare. Malone.
I doubt whether any alteration be necessary. Shakspeare seems to have used comply in the sense in which we use the verb compliment. See before, Act II, sc. ü: “- let me comply with you in this garb.” Tyrwhitt.
Comply is right. So, in Fuller's Historie of the Holy Warre, p. 80 : “Some weeks were spent in complying, entertainments, and visiting holy places; —.” To compliment was, however, by no means, an unusual term in Shakspeare's time. Reed.
Again, ibid. p. 219: “But sure, so cunning a companion had long conversed with—and Princes, as appeareth by his complying carriage," &c.
and many more of the same breed,] The first folio has -and mine more of the same beavy. The second folio-and nine more &c. Perhaps the last is the true reading. Steevens.
There may be a propriety in bevy, as he has just called him a lapwing. Tollet.
“Many more of the same breed,” is the reading of the quarto, 1604. Malone.
-outward habit of encounter ;] Thus the folio. The quartos read-out of an habit of encounter. Steevens.
Outward habit of encounter, is exterior politeness of address; in allusion to Osric's last speech. Henley. We should, I think, read an outward habit, &c. Malone.
a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions ;] This passage in the quarto stands thus:-“They have got out of the habit of encounter, a kind of misty collection, which carries them through and through the most profane and trennowned opinions.” If this printer preserved any traces of the original, our author wrote " the most sane and renowned opinions ;" which is better than fanned and winnowed.
The meaning is, “these men have got the cant of the day, a superficial readiness of slight and cursory conversation, a kind of frothy collection of fashionable prattle, which yet carries them through the most select and approving judgments. This airy facility of talk sometimes imposes upon wise men.”
Who has not seen this observation verified ? Johnson.
The quarto, 1604, reads, “. dotes on; only got the tune of the time, and out of an habit,” &c. and—not misty, but histy; the folio, rightly, yesty: the same quarto has not trenowned, but
Enter a Lord. Lord. My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him, that you attend him in the hall: He sends to know, if your pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will take longer time.
Ham. I am constant to my purposes, they follow the king's pleasure: if his fitness speaks, mine is ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able as now.
Lord. The king, and queen, and all are coming down. Ham. In happy time.
trennowed (a corruption of winnowed,) for which (according to the usual process) the next quarto gave trennowned. Fond and winnowed is the reading of the folio. Malone.
Fond is evidently opposed to winnowed. Fond, in the language of Shakspeare's age, signified foolish. So, in The Merchant of Venice :
“ Thou naughty jailer, why art thou so fond,” &c. Winnowed is sifted, examined. The sense is then, that their conversation was yet successful enough to make them passable not only with the weak, but with those of sounder judgment. The same opposition in terms is visible in the reading which the quartos offer. Profane and vulgar is opposed to trenowned or thrice renowned. Steevens.
Fanned and winnowed seems right to me. Both words, winnowed, fand* and drest, occur together in Markham's English Husbandman, p. 117. So do fan’d and winnow'd, fanned, and winnowed, in his Husbandry, p. 18, 76, and 77. So, Shakspeare mentions together the fan and wind, in Troilus and Cressida, Act V, sc. iii. Tollet.
On considering this passage, it always appeared to me that we ought to read, "the most sound and winnowed opinions :” and I have been confirmed in that conjecture by a passage I lately met with in Howel's Letters, where speaking of a man merely contemplative, he says: “Besides he may want judgment in the choice of his authors, and knows not how to turn his hand either in weighing or winnowing the soundest opinions." Book III, Letter viii. M. Mason.
do but blow them &c.] These men of show, without so. lidity, are like bubbles raised from soap and water, which dance, and glitter, and please the eye, but if you extend them, by blowing hard, separate into a mist; so if you oblige these specious talkers to extend their compass of conversation, they at once discover the tenuity of their intellects. Johnson.
My lord, &c.] All that passes between Hamlet and this Lord is omitted in the folio. Steevens.
* So written without the apostrophe, and easily might in MS. be mistaken for fond.
Lord. The queen desires you, to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes, before you fall to play. Ham. She well instructs me.
[Exit Lord. Hor. You will lose this wager, my lord.
Ham. I do not think so; since he went into France, I have been in continual practice; I shall win at the odds.) But thou would'st not think, how ill all 's here about my heart: but it is no matter.
Hor. Nay, good my lord,
Ham. It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gaingiving, 2 as would, perhaps, trouble a woman.
Hor. If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:3 I will forestal their repair hither, and say, you are not fit.
Ham. Not a whit, we defy augury; there is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all: Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is 't to leave betimes ?4 Let be.
gentle entertainment -] Mild and temperate conversation. Johnson.
I shall win at the odds.] I shall succeed with the advantage that I am allowed. Malone.
- a kind of gain-giving,] Gain-giving is the same as misgiving. Steevens. 3 If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:]
Urgent presagia mille Funeris, et nigræ præcedunt nubila mortis. With these presages of future evils arising in the mind, the poet has fore-run many events which are to happen at the conclusions of his plays; and sometimes so particularly, that even the circumstances of calamity are minutely hinted at, as in the instance of Juliet, who tells her lover from the window, that he appears like one dead in the bottom of a tomb. The supposition that the genius of the mind gave an alarm before approaching dissolution, is a very ancient one, and perhaps can never be totally driven out: yet it must be allowed the merit of adding beauty to poetry, however injurious it may sometimes prove to the weak and superstitious. Steevens.
4 Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is ’t to leave betimes?] The old quarto reads. Since no man of aught he leaves, knows, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be. This is the true reading. Here the premises conclude right, and the argument drawn out at length is to this effect: “It is true, that, by death, we lose all the goods of life; yet seeing this loss is no otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it, and since death removes all sense