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For like the hectick in my blood he rages ?,
A Plain in Denmark.
Enter Fortinbras, and Forces, marching.
7 — like the hectick in my blood he rages,] So, in Love's Labour's Lost :
“I would forget her, but a fever, she
“ Reigns in my blood." Malone. Scaliger has a parallel sentiment :-" Febris hectica uxor, et non nisi morte avellenda.” Steevens.
8 Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin.] This being the termination of a scene, should, according to our author's custom, be rhymed. Perhaps he wrote:
. Howe'er my hopes, my joys are not begun.' If haps be retained, the meaning will be, 'till I know 'lis done, I shall be miserable, whatever befal me. Johnson. The folio reads, in support of Dr. Johnson's remark :
“ Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun." Mr. Heath would read : “Howe'er 't may hap, my joys will ne'er begin.”
Steevens. By his haps, he means his successes. His fortune was begun, but his joys were not. M. Mason.
" Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin," This is the reading of the quarto. The folio, for the sake of rhyme, reads :
“Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun." But this, I think, the poet could not have written. The King is speaking of the future time. To say, till I shall be informed that a certain act has been done, whatever may befal me, my joys never had a beginning, is surely nonsense. MALONE. 9 Craves --] Thus the quartos. The folio-Claims.
STEBVENS, Claims agrees better with promise. Boswell.
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
I will do't, my lord.
[Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Forces. Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, &c.
Ham. Good sir, whose powers are these ? ?
How purpos'd, sir,
Who Commands them, sir?
CAP. The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
Ham. Goes it against the main of Poland, sir, Or for some frontier ?
CAP. Truly to speak, sir, and with no addition, We go to gain a little patch of ground, That hath in it no profit but the name. To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it; Nor will it yield to Norway, or the Pole, A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
* First folio, safely.
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 Quecn's eye." STEEVENS. 2 Good sir, &c.] The remaining part of this scene is omitted in the folio. STEEVENS.
Ham. Why, then the Polack never will defend it.
CAP. God be wi'you, sir. [Èxit Captain. 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, Be but to sleep, and feed ? a beast, no more. Sure, he, that made us with such large discourse *, 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 scruple 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's to do; Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means,
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.
Johnson, Market, I think, here means profit. Malone.
4 — large DISCOURSE,] Such latitude of comprehension, such power of reviewing the past, and anticipating the future.
Johnson. - some CRAVEN scruple-] Some cowardly scruple. A craven is a mean spirited cock. So, in The Taming of a Shrew :
“ No cock of mine, you crow too like a craven.” MALONE. So, in King Henry VI. Part I. :
“ Or durst not, for his craven heart, say this.” Steevens.
To do't. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me:
Rightly to be great,
I have printed ace cording to the copy. Mr. Theobald had regulated it thus :
'Tis not to be great,
“ But greatly,” &c. The sentiment of Shakspeare is partly just, and partly romantick.
— 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.
7 Excitements of my reason, and my blood, ] Provocations which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance. Johnson.
8 – a plot.) A piece, or portion. REED.
“ Of grounde to win a plot, a while to dwell,
Which is not tomb enough, and continento,
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,
9 - 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, p. 7: “— if there be no fulnesse, then is the continent greater than the content.” Reed.
Spurns ENVIOUSLY at straws ;] Envy is much oftener put by our poet (and those of his time) for direct aversion, than for malignity conceived at the sight of another's excellence or happiness. So, in King Henry VIII. :
*You turn the good we offer into envy." 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.