Page images
PDF
EPUB

The portraiture of his: I'll count his favours:9
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion.
Hor.

Peace; who comes here?

Enter OSRIC.

Osr. Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.

Ham. I humbly thank you, sir.-Dost know this water-fly?

Hor. No, my good lord.

Ham. Thy state is the more gracious; for 'tis a vice to know him: He hath much land, and fertile: let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's mess: 'Tis a chough; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.

Osr. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.

Ham. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit: Your bonnet to his right use; 'tis for the head.

Osr. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot.

Ham. No, believe me, 'tis very cold; the wind is northerly.

Osr. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

Ham. But yet, methinks it is very sultry and hot; or my complexion

Ośr. Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry,– as 'twere,- I cannot tell how.-My lord, his majesty bade me signify to you, that he has laid a great wager on your head: Sir, this is the matter,

9

1

I'll count his favours :) I will make account of them, i. e. reckon upon them, value them.

Dost know this water-fly!] A water-fly skips up and down upon the surface of the water, without any apparent purpose or reason, and is thence the proper emblem of a busy trifler.

'Tis a chough ;] A kind of jackdaw.

see.6

Ham. I beseech

you, remember

[Hamlet moves him to put on his Hat. Osr. Nay, good my lord; for my ease, in good faith. Sir, here is newly come to court, Laertes: believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society, and great showing: Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or calendar of gentry,” for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would

Ham. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you;?—though, I know, to divide him inventorially, would dizzy the arithmetick of memory; and yet but raw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article; and his infusion of such dearth and rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his mirrour; and, who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more.

Osr. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him. Nay, good my lord; for my case, in good faith.] This seems to have been the affected phrase of the time.

—full of most excellent differences,] Full of distinguishing excellencies.

the card or calendar of gentry,] The general preceptor of elegance; the card by which a gentleman is to direct his course; the calendar by which he is to choose his time, that what he does may be both excellent and seasonable. JOHNSON.

- for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gertleman would see.) You shall find him containing and comprising every quality which a gentleman would desire to contemplate for imitation.

? Sir, his definement, &c.] This is designed as a specimen, and ridicule of the court-jargon amongst the precieux of that time. The sense in English is, “ Sir, he suffers nothing in your account of him, though to enumerate his good qualities particularly would be endless ; yet when we had done our best, it would still come short of him. However, in strictness of truth, he is a great genius, and of a character so rarely to be met with, that to find any thing like him we must look into his mirrour, and his imitators will appear no more than his shadows.”

5

6

Ham. The concernancy, sir? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath?

Osr. Sir?

Hor. Is't not possible to understand in another tongue? You will do't, sir, really.

Ham. What imports the nomination of this gentleman?

Osr. Of Laertes?

Hor. His purse is empty already; all his golden words are spent.

Ham. Of him, sir.
Osr. I know, you are not ignorant-

Ham. I would, you did, sir; yet, in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me;8–Well, sir.

Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is

Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare

with him in excellence; but, to know a man well, were to know himself.

Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meedo he's unfellowed.

Ham. What's his weapon?
Osr. Rapier and dagger.
Ham. That's two of his weapons: but, well.

Osr. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses: against the which he has impawned, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so: Three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very

1

8

9

if you did, it would not much

approve
me;] If

you

knew I was not ignorant, your esteem would not much advance my reputation. To approve, is to recommend to approbation.

in his meed—] In his excellence.
impawned,] wagered and staked.

hangers,] Under this term were comprehended four graduated straps, &c. that hung down in a belt on each side of its receptacle for the sword.

2

responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of very liberal conceit.

Ham. What call you the carriages?

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 german to the matter, 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.

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 hold his purpose, I will win

[ocr errors]

4

you must be edified by the margent,] Dr. Warburton very properly observes, that in the old books the gloss or comment was usually printed on the margent of the leaf.

more german-] More a-kin. 5 The king, sir, hath Taid,] 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.

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.

[Exit. Ham. Yours, yours.--He does well, to commend it himself; there are no tongues else for's turn.

Hor. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

Ham. He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same breed, 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;s and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.

[ocr errors]

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

7

8

He did comply-] for compliment.

outward habit of encounter ;] i. e. exterior politeness of address; in allusion to Osric's last speech.

a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions ;] 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.”

« PreviousContinue »