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King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy beft graces fpend it at thy will.-
Ham. A little more than kin, and lefs than kind.
Take thy fair bour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy fair graces: Spend it at thy will.] This is the pointing in both Mr. Pope's editions; but the poet's meaning is loft by it, and the close of the fentence miferably flatten'd. The point. ing, I have restored, is that of the best copies; and the fenfe, this "You have my leave to go, Laertes; make the fairest use "you please of your time, and fpend it at your will with the fair"eft graces you are mafter of." THEOBALD.
I rather think this line is in want of emendation. I read,
And my beft graces: Spend it at thy will. JOHNSON. Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.] Kind is the Teutonick word for child. Hamlet therefore anfwers with propriety, to the titles of coufin and fon, which the king had given him, that he was somewhat more than coufin, and lefs than fon.
In this line, with which Shakspeare introduces Hamlet, Dr. Johnfon has perhaps pointed out a nicer diftinction than it can. justly boast of. To eftablish the fenfe contended for, it should have been proved that kind was ever used by any English writer for child. A little more than kin, is a little more than common relation. The king was certainly fomething lofs than kind, by having betrayed the mother of Hamlet into an indecent and incestuous marriage, and obtained the crown by means which he fufpects to be unjustifiable. In the 5th Act, the Prince accuses his uncle of having popt in between the election and his hopes, which obviates Dr. Warburton's objection to the old reading, viz. that "the king had given no occafion for fuch a reflection."
A jingle of the fame fort is found in Mother Bombie 1594, and feems to have been proverbial, as I have met with it more than the nearer we are in blood, the further we must be from love; the greater the kindred is, the less the kindness must be."
once : "
Again, in Gorboduc, a tragedy, 1565:
"In kinde a father, but not kindelynefs."
As kind, however, fignifies nature, Hamlet may mean that his relationship was become an unnatural one, as it was partly founded upon inceit. Our author's Julius Cæfar, Antony and Cleopatra,
King. How is it that the clouds ftill hang on you? Ham. Not fo, my lord, I am too much i'the fun.
Queen. Good Hamlet, caft thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not,-for ever, with thy + vailed lids Seek for thy noble father in the duft:
Thou know'ft, 'tis common; all, that live, must die.
Ham. Ay, madam, it is common.
Why feems it fo particular with thee?
Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not feems.
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
King Richard II, and Titus Andronicus, exhibit inftances of kind being used for nature; and fo'too in this play of Hamlet, a& ii. fc. the laft:
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindlefs villain.
Dr. Farmer, however, obferves that kin, is still used for confin in the midland counties. STEEVENS.
Hamlet does not, I think, mean to fay, that his uncle is a little more than kin, &c. The king had called the Prince-“ My coufin Hamlet, and my fon."-His reply therefore is—“I am a little more than thy kinfman, [for I am thy step-fon ;] and fomewhat less than kind to thee, [for I hate thee, as being the perfon who has entered into an incestuous marriage with my mother.] Or, if we understand kind, in its ancient fenie, then the meaning will be-I am more than thy kinfman, for I am fep-fon; being fuch, I am lefs near to thee than thy natural offpring, and therefore not entitled to the appellation of fon, which you have now given me. MALONE.
3 too much i' the fun.] He perhaps alludes to the proverb, Out of beaven's bleffing into the swarm fun. JOHNSON. too much i fun. Meaning probably his being fent for from his ftudies to be expofed at his uncle's marriage as his chiefeft courtier, &c.
I question whethere a quibble between fun and fon be not here intended. FARMER.
4ailed lids,] With lowering eyes, caft down eyes.
Nor cuftomary fuits of folemn black,
To give thefe mourning duties to your father: But, you must know, your father loft a father; That father loft, loft his; and the furvivor bound In filial obligation, for fome term
To do obfequious forrow; But to perféver
5-hews of grief] Thus the folio. The first quarto reads chapes-1 fuppofe for fhapes. STEEVENS.
-your father loft a father;
That father, his; and the furvivor bound] Thus Mr. Pope judicioufly corrected the faulty copies. On which the editor Mr. Theobald thus defcants: This fuppofed refinement is from Mr. Pope, but all the editions elfe, that I have met with, old and modern, read,
That father loft, loft bis ;
The reduplication of which word here gives an energy and an ele• gance, WHICH IS MUCH EASIER TO BE CONCEIVED THAN EXPLAINED IN TERMS. I believe fo for when explained in terms it comes to this: That father after he had loft himself, loft 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 fo much of our author's manner; that I find no temptation to recede from the old copies. JOHNSON,
your father loft a father; That father loft, loft bis;
The meaning of the paffage is no more than this. Your father loft a father, i. e. your grandfather, which loft grandfather, alfo loft his father. STEEVENS.
7- obfequious forrow. funeral ceremonies. "JOHNSON."
Obfequious is here from obfequies or
8 In obftinate condolement, is a courfe
A heart unfortify'd, or mind impatient;
To reafon moft abfurd, whofe common theme
And, with no lefs nobility of love
Than that which deareft father bears his fon,
So, in Titus Andronicus :
"To fhed obfequious tears upon his trunk." See vol. vii. STEEVENS.
8 In obftinate condolement,] Condolement, for forrow.
9- a will most incorrect-] Incorrect, for untutor'd. WARBURTON,
To reafon meft abfurd;} Reafon for experience.
Reafon is here ufed in its common fense, for the faculty by which we form conclufions from arguments. JOHNSON.
2 And with no less nobility of love,] Nobility, for magnitude. WARBURTON.
Nobility is rather generofity. JOHNSON.
Impart, for profess.
I believe impart is, impart myfelf, communicate whatever I can beftow. JOHNSON,
Do I impart toward you
The crown of Denmark was elective. So, in Sir Clyemon Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599;
In going back to fchool in Wittenberg,
I pray thee, ftay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
"And me poffefs for spoused wife, who in ele ion am
"To have the crown of Denmark here, as heir unto the fame." The king means, that as Hamlet ftands the fairest chance to be next elected, he will strive with as much love to enfure the crown to him, as a father would fhew in the continuance of heirdom to a fon. STEVENS.
I agree with Mr. Steevens, that the crown of Denmark (as in most of the Gothic kingdoms) was elective, and not hereditary; though it might be customary, in elections, to pay fome attention. to the royal blood, which by degrees produced hereditary fuc ceffion. Why then do the rest of the commentators fo often treat Claudius as an ufurper, who had deprived young Hamlet of his right by heirship to his father's crown? Hamlet calls him drunk. ard, murderer, and villain; one who had carried the election by low and mean practices; had
"Popt in between the election and my hopes
"From a fhelf the precious diadem stole,
but never hints at his being an ufurper. His difcontent arose from his uncle's being preferred before him, not from any legal right which he pretended to fet up to the crown. Some regard was probably had to the recommendation of the preceding prince, in electing the fucceffor. And therefore young Hamlet had "the voice of the king himself for his fucceffion in Denmark;" and he at his own death prophefies 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 inftant, and had therefore a right to recommend. When in the fourth act, the rabble wished to choose Laertes king, I understood that antiquity was forgot, and cuftom violated, by electing a new king in the life-time of the old one, and perhaps also by the calling in a ftranger to the royal blood. BLACKSTONE.
4-bend you to remain] i. e. fubdue your inclination to go from hence, and remain, &c. STEEVENS,