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To give these mourning duties to your father:
But, you must know, your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his ; and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term


To do obsequious sorrow*: But to perséver
In obstinate condolement ", is a course

Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief:
It shows a will most incorrect" to heaven;


father lost a father;

That father lost, lost his ;] Mr. Pope judiciously corrected the faulty copies thus:



your father lost a father;


On which the editor Mr. Theobald thus descants :-" This supposed refinement is from Mr. Pope, but all the editions else, that I have met with, old and modern, read: "

"That father, his

"That father lost, lost his -."

"The reduplication of which word here gives an energy and an elegance, which is much easier to be conceived than explained in terms." I believe so: for when explained in terms it comes to this:-That father after he had lost himself, lost his father. But the reading is ex fide codicis, and that is enough. WARBURTON.

I do not admire the repetition of the word, but it has so much of our author's manner, that I find no temptation to recede from the old copies. JOHNSON.

The meaning of the passage is no more than this,-Your father lost a father, i. e. your grandfather, which lost grandfather also lost his father.

The metre, however, in my opinion, shows that Mr. Pope's correction should be adopted. The sense, though elliptically expressed, will still be the same. STEEVENS.


OBSEQUIOUS SOTTOw:] Obsequious is here from obsequies, or funeral ceremonies. JOHNSON. So, in Titus Andronicus :


"To shed obsequious tears upon his trunk." STEEvens. So, in Richard III.:

"Whilst I a while obsequiously lament." MALONE. 5 In obstinate CONDOLEMENT,] Condolement, for sorrow.


a will most INCORRECT] Incorrect, for untutored. WARBURTON.

Incorrect does not mean untutored, as Warburton explains it; but ill-regulated, not sufficiently subdued. M. MASON.

Not sufficiently regulated by a sense of duty and submission to the dispensations of Providence. MALONE.

A heart unfortified, or mind impatient;
An understanding simple and unschool'd:
For what, we know, must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we, in our peevish opposition,
Take it to heart? Fye! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd; whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse, till he that died to-day,
This must be so. We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe; and think of us
As of a father: for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne;
And, with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart toward you1.



For your intent

7 TO REASON most absurd ;] Reason is here used in its common sense, for the faculty by which we form conclusions from arguments. JOHNSON.


UNPREVAILING Woe.] Unprevailing was anciently used in the sense of unavailing. Dryden, in his Essay on Dramatick Poetry, employs prevail for avail: "He may often prevail himself of the same advantages in English." So, in his Absalom and Achitophel, 1st edition :

"Prevail yourself of what occasion gives,
"But try your title while your father lives."

In subsequent editions, probably thinking the word obsolete, he altered it to avail. MALONE.

9 And, with no less NOBILITY of love,] Nobility, for magnitude. WARBURTON.

Nobility is rather generosity. JOHNSON.

By "nobility of love," Mr. Heath understands, eminence and distinction of love. MALone.

So, afterwards, the Ghost, describing his affection for the Queen :

"To me, whose love was that of dignity," &c. STEEVENS. Do I impart toward you.] I believe impart is, impart myself, communicate whatever I can bestow. JOHNSON.

The crown of Denmark was elective. So, in Sir Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599:


In going back to school in Wittenberg 2
It is most retrograde to our desire:

"And me possess for spoused wife, who in election am

"To have the crown of Denmark here, as heir unto the same." The King means, that as Hamlet stands the fairest chance to be next elected, he will strive with as much love to ensure the crown to him, as a father would show in the continuance of heirdom to a son. STEEVENS.

I agree with Mr. Steevens, that the crown of Denmark (as in most of the Gothick kingdoms) was elective, and not hereditary; though it must be customary, in elections, to pay some attention to the royal blood, which by degrees produced hereditary succession. Why then do the rest of the commentators so often treat Claudius as an usurper, who had deprived young Hamlet of his right by heirship to his father's crown? Hamlet calls him drunkard, murderer, and villain; one who had carried the election by low and mean practices; had


Popp'd in between the election and my hopes-."


"From a shelf the precious diadem stole,
"And put it in his pocket: "

but never hints at his being an usurper.
His discontent arose
from his uncle's being preferred before him, not from any legal
right which he pretended to set up to the crown. Some regard
was probably had to the recommendation of the preceding prince,
in electing the successor. And therefore young Hamlet had
"the voice of the king himself for his succession in Denmark;"
and he at his own death prophesies that "the election would
light on Fortinbras, who had his dying voice," conceiving that
by the death of his uncle, he himself had been king for an in-
stant, and had therefore a right to recommend. When, in the
fourth Act, the rabble wished to choose Laertes king, I under-
stand that antiquity was forgot, and custom violated, by electing
a new king in the life-time of the old one, and perhaps also by
the calling in a stranger to the royal blood. BLACKSTONE.

2- to school in Wittenberg.] In Shakspeare's time there was an university at Wittenberg, to which he has made Hamlet propose to return.

The university of Wittenberg, as we learn from Lewkenor's Discourse on Universities, 1600, was founded in 1502, by Duke Frederick, the son of Ernestus Elector: "which since in this latter age is growen famous by reason of the controversies and disputations there handled by Martin Luther and his adherents." Luther and Melancthon, he adds, were both bred there. MALONE. Our author may have derived his knowledge of this famous

And, we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
QUEEN. Let not thy mother lose her prayers,


I pray thee, stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
HAM. I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
KING. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply;
Be as ourself in Denmark.-Madam, come;
This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,
No jocund health, that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell;
And the king's rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.


[Exeunt King, Queen, Lords, &c. POLONIUS, and LAERTES.

HAM. O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,

university from The Life of lacke Wilton, 1591, or The Hystory of Doctor Faustus, of whom the second report (printed in the same year) is said to be "written by an English gentleman, student at Wittenberg, an University of Germany in Saxony.


Or from Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, or a multitude of other publications of that period. BoS WELL.

3 - bend you to remain] i. e. subdue your inclination to go from hence, and remain, &c. STEEVENS.

4 Sits smiling to my heart :] Thus, the dying Lothario: "That sweet revenge comes smiling to my thoughts." STEEVENS.

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"Sits smiling to my heart." Surely it should be: Sits smiling on my heart.' RITSON.

"To my heart," I believe, signifies-near to, close, next to, my heart. STEEVENS,

5 No jocund health,] The King's intemperance is very strongly impressed; every thing that happens to him gives him occasion to drink. JOHNSON.


the king's ROUSE] i. e. the king's draught of jollity. See Othello, Act II. Sc. III. STEEVENS.

So, in Marlowe's Tragicall Historie of Doctor Faustus:
"He tooke his rouse with stoopes of Rhennish wine."


Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew"!

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God *!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fye on't! O fye! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank, and gross in na-


* Quarto, O God! God!


RESOLVE itself into a dew!] Resolve means the same as dissolve. Ben Jonson uses the word in his Volpone, and in the

same sense:

"Forth the resolved corners of his eyes." Again, in The Country Girl, 1647:


my swoln grief, resolved in these tears."

Pope has employed the same word in his version of the second Iliad, 44:

"Resolves to air, and mixes with the night."

STEEVENS. Again, in Giles Fletcher's Russe Commonwealth, 1591: “In winter time, when all is covered with snow, the dead bodies (so many as die all the winter time) are piled up in a house in the suburbs, like billets on a woodstack, as hard with the frost as a very stone, 'till the spring tide come and resolve the frost, what time every man taketh his dead friend and committeth him to the ground." REED.

8 Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His CANON 'gainst self-slaughter!] The generality of the editions read-cannon, as if the poet's thought were,- Or that the Almighty had not planted his artillery or arms of vengeance, against self-murder.' But the word which I restored (and which was espoused by the accurate Mr. Hughes, who gave an edition of this play) is the true reading, i. e. that he had not restrained suicide by his express law and peremptory prohibition. THEOBALD.

There are yet those who suppose the old reading to be the true one, as they say the word fixed seems to decide very strongly in its favour. I would advise such to recollect Virgil's expression: -fixit leges pretio, atque refixit. STEEVENS.

If the true reading wanted any support, it might be found in Cymbeline:


-gainst self slaughter

"There is a prohibition so divine,
"That cravens my weak hand."

In Shakspeare's time canon (norma) was commonly spelt cannon.


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