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Trumpets sound. The dumb Show follows ?. Enter a King and a Queen, very lovingly; the Queen
embracing him, and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers ; she, seeing him
merated in the list of dances : “For the devil (says this author) beeside the beautie of the houses, and the stages, sendeth in gearish apparell, maskes, vauting, tumbling, dauncing of gigges, galiardes, morisces, hobbi-horses, " &c. and in Green's Tu Quoque, 1614, the same expression occurs: “The other hobby-horse I perceive is not forgotten.”
In TEXNOTAMIA, or The Marriage of the Arts, 1618, is the following stage-direction :
“ Enter a hobby-horse, dancing the morrice," &c. Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Women Pleased :
• Soto. Shall the hobby-horse be forgot then,
" The hopeful hobby-horse, shall he lie founder'd ?" The scene in which this passage is, will very amply confirm all that Dr. Warburton has said concerning the hobby-horse.
Again, in Ben Jonson's Entertainment for the Queen and Prince at Althorpe :
“ But see the hobby-horse is forgot,
Fool, it must be your lot,
“ And some other buffoon graces.” See figure 5, in the plate at the end of The First Part of King Henry IV. with Mr. Tollet's observations on it. Steevens. ? — The dumb show follows.] And appears to contain every
cireumstance of the murder of Hamlet's father. Now there is no apparent reason why the Usurper should not be as much affected by this mute representation of his crimes, as he is afterwards when the same action is accompanied by words.
I once conceived this might have been a kind of direction to the players, which was from mistake inserted in the editions ; but the subsequent conversation between Hamlet and Ophelia, entirely destroys such a notion. Pye.
I cannot reconcile myself to the exhibition in dumb show preceding the interlude, which is injudiciously introduced by the author, and should always be omitted on the stage ; as we cannot well conceive why the mute representation of his crime should not affect as much the conscience of the King, as the scene that follows it. M.. Mason.
asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the King's ears, and exit. The Queen returns ; finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The poisoner woos the Queen with gifts; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but, in the end, accepts his love. [Exeunt. Oph. What means this, my lord ?
Ham. Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief
3 Marry, this is MICHING MALLECHO; it means mischief.) To mich signified, originaily, to keep hid and out of sight; and, as such men generally did it for the purposes of lying in wait, it then signified to rob. And in this sense Shakspeare uses the noun, a micher, when speaking of Prince Henry amongst a gang of robbers : “ Shall the blessed sun of heaven prove a micher? Shall the son of England prove a thief?” And in this sense it is used by Chaucer, in his translation of Le Roman de la Rose, where he turns the word lierre, (which is larron, voleur,) by micher.
WARBURTON. Dr. Warburton is right in his explanation of the word miching. So, in The Raging Turk, 1631 :
wilt thou, envious dotard,
Strangle my greatness in a miching hole?" Again, in Stanyhurst's Virgil, 1582:
wherefore thus vainely in land Lybye mitche you?” The quarto reads—munching Mallico. Steevens.
“ — miching mallecho." A secret and wicked contrivance; a concealed wickedness. To mich is a provincial word, and was probably once general ; signifying to lie hid, or play the truant. In Norfólk michers signify pilferers. The signification of miching in the present passage may be ascertained by a passage in Decker's Wonderful Yeare, 4to. 1603 : “ Those that could shift for a time, -went most bitterly miching and muffled, up and downe, with rue and wormwood stuft into their ears and nostrills."
See also, Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, in v. Acciapinare : “ To miche, to shrug or sneak in some corner.”
Where our poet met with the word mallecho, which in Minsheu's Spanish Dictionary, 1617, is defined malefactum, I am unable to ascertain. In the folio, the word is spelt malicho. Mallico [in the quarto] is printed in a distinct character, as a proper name.
Oph. Belike, this show imports the argument of the play.
Enter Prologue. Ham. We shall know by this fellow *: the players cannot keep counsel; they'll tell all. Oph. Will he up tell us what this show meant ?
* First folio, these fellows. + First folio, they.
'The word miching is daily used in the West of England for playing truant, or sculking about in private for some sinister purpose ; and malicho, inaccurately written for malheco, signifies mischief; so that miching malecho is mischief on the watch for opportunity. When Ophelia asks Hamlet—" What means this ? " she applies to him for an explanation of what she had not seen in the show : and not, as Dr. Warburton would have it, the purpose for which the show was contrived. Besides, malhechor no more signifies a poisoner, than a perpetrator of any other crime. Henley.
If, as Capell declares, (I know not on what authority) Malicho be the Vice of the Spanish Moralities, he should at least be distinguished by a capital. FARMER.
It is not, however, easy to be supposed that our readers discover pleasantry or even sense in “ this is miching (or munching] mallico," no meaning as yet affixed to these words has entitled them to escape a further investigation. Omit them, and the text unites without their assistance :
“ Oph. What means this, my lord ?
“ Ham. Marry, it means mischief.” Among the Shakspearian memoranda of the late Dr. Farmer, I met with the following—“At the beginning of Grim the Collier of Croydon, the Ghost of Malbecco is introduced as a prolocutor." Query, therefore, if the obscure words already quoted, were not originally :-" This is mimicking Malbecco ; " a private gloss by some friend on the margin of the MS. Hamlet, and thence ignorantly received into the text of Shakspeare."
It remains to be observed, that the mimickry imagined by Dr. Farmer, must lie in our author's stage-directions, &c. which, like Malbecco's legend, convey pointed censure on the infidelity of married women. Or, to repeat the same idea in different wordsthe drift of the present dumb show and succeeding dialogue, was considered by the glosser as too congenial with the well-known invective in Spenser's Fairy Queen, book iii. or the contracted copy from it in the Induction to Grim the Collier, &c. a comedy which was acted many years before it was printed. See Mr. Reed's Old Plays, vol. xi. p. 189. Steevens. VOL. VII.
Ham. Ay, or any show that you'll show him: Be not you ashamed to show *, he'll not shame to tell you
what it means. Oph. You are naught, you are naught; I'll mark
Pro. For us, and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently. Ham. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring ? Oph. "Tis brief, my lord. HAM. As woman's love.
Enter a King and a Queen. P. King. Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart
Neptune's salt washo, and Tellus' orbed ground?;
Be not you ashamed to show, &c.] The conversation of Hamlet with Ophelia, which cannot fail to disgust every modern reader, is probably such as was peculiar to the young and fashionable of the age of Shakspeare, which was, by no means, an age of delicacy. The poet is, however, blameable ; for extravagance of thought, not indecency of expression, is the characteristick of madness, at least of such madness as should be represented on the scene. STEEVENS.
But how is he blameable if he did not produce it as a characteristic of madness; and if it was, as Mr. Steevens has remarked, the fashionable style of conversation at that time? Bos WELL.
s cart --] A chariot was anciently so called. Thus, Chaucer, in 'The Knight's Tale, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 2024:
“ The carter overidden with his cart." STEEVENS. Mr. Steevens's quotation from Chaucer will not prove what he produces it for. Our old poet has introduced circumstances much more lowly than that of a carter overridden by his cart; for instance:
“The coke yscalled for all his long ladell." Boswell. 6 Full thirty times hath Phæbus' cart gone round
Neptune's salt wash, &c.] This speech of the Player King appears to me as a burlesque of the following passage in The Comicall Historie of Alphonsus, by R. G. 1599 :
“ Thrise ten times Phoebus with his golden beames
And thirty dozen moons, with borrow'd sheen,
“ Thrise ten times Ceres hath her workemen hird,
“Since first in priesthood I did lead my life.” Todd. 7 — orbed ground ;] So, also, in our author's Lover's Complaint : “ Sometimes diverted, their poor
even as they love ;) Here seems to have been a line lost, which should have rhymed to love. Johnson.
This line is omitted in the folio. Perhaps a triplet was designed, and then instead of love, we should read lust. The folio gives the next line thus :
“ For women's fear and love holds quantity." Steevens. Some trace of the lost line is found in the quartos, which read :
“ Either none in neither aught," &c. Perhaps the words omitted might have been of this import :
* Either none they feel, or an excess approve ;
• In neither aught, or in extremity.' In two preceding passages in the quarto, half a line was inadvertently omitted by the compositor. "See p. 307, “then senseless Ilium, seeming,” &c. and p. 328, “thus conscience does make cowards of us all :"-the words in Italick characters are not found in the quarto. Malone.
Mr. Malone, in his Appendix to Mr. Steevens's Shakspeare, 1778, had hastily observed, in the foregoing note, “ There is, I believe, no instance of a triplet being used in our author's time;" but having discovered his mistake, expunged the remark in his own edition. Mr. Steevens, most disingenuously, restored it to its former place, in order that he might triumphantly refute, in the