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Line 3671, etc. - Commentary Note (CN) More Information

3671-3 since no | man {of} <ha’s> ought <of what> he leaues, {knowes} what ist to leaue be|times, 3671-3 
3673+1 {let be.}
1747 warb
warb
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Warburton (ed. 1747) : “This the Editors called reasoning. I should have thought the premises concluded just otherwise: for since death strips a man of every thing, it is but fit he should shun and avoid the despoiler. The old Quarto reads, Since no man, of ought he leaves, KNOWS, what is’t to leave betimes. Let be. This is the true reading. Here the premises conclude right, and the argument drawn out at length is to this effect. It is true, that, by death, we lose all the goods of life; yet seeing this loss is no otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it; and since death removes all sense of it, what matters it how soon we lose them: Therefore come what will I am prepared.. But the ill pointing in the old book hindered the editors from seeing Shakespear’s sense, and encouraged them to venture at one of their own, though, as usual, they are come very lamely off
1765 john1
john1 = warb +
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Johnson (ed. 1765) : “The reading of the quarto was right, but in some other copy the harshness of the transposition was softened, and the passage stood thus, Since no man knows aught of what he leaues. For knows was printed in the later copies has, by a slight blunder in such typographers.
“I do not think Dr. Warburton’s interpretation of the passage the best that it will admit. The meaning may be this, Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaues, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leauing life betimes? Why should he dread an early death, of which he cannot tell whether it is an exclusion of happiness, or an interception of calamity. I despise the superstition of augury and omens, which has no ground in reason or piety; my comfort is, that I cannot fall but by the direction of providence. Hanmer has, Since no man owes aught, a conjecture not very reprehensible. Since no man can call any possession certain, what is it to leave? JOHNSON”
1773 v1773
v1773 = john1
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1773 jen
jen : john1
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Jennens (ed. 1773) : “J.[ohnson] reads, Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, &c. and says it stood so in some copy; but does not tell us what copy.”
1774 capn
capn
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Capell (1774: 1:1:148-9) : <p. 148> The argument in the page after this, l. 9, [129, 9] upon which Hamlet rests his security against whatever might happen, is of a sceptical nature; implying—that, since death takes away all memory of whatever things a man leaves behind him, the time of leaving them signify’d little: The conclusion is not just, even upon the principles of that philosophy out of </p. 148> <p. 149>which the argument rises. The speaker shews himself further, in founding his excuse to Laertes upon a circumstance of which he knew the fictitiousness.” </p. 149>
1778 v1778
v1778 = v1773
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1784 ays1
ays1 ≈ v1778 (only “Since no man knows aught . . . direction of providence”)
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1785 v1785
v1785 = v1778
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1790 mal
mal = v1785 (WARB minus “This editors . . . despoiler”) + magenta underlined
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Malone (ed. 1790) : “Dr. Warburton has truly stated the reading of the first quarto, 1604. The folio reads—Since no man has ought of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?
“In the late editions neither copy has been followed. MALONE
-1790 mWesley
mWesley
3668-3673+1 Wesley (typescript of ms. notes in ed. 1785): “I marvel that Johnson did not attack this passage as profane, it being a plain allusion to the words of Christ. For my own part, I confess that nothing appears a profane quotation but what is intended to ridicule the authority whence it is taken; and such a quotation is rarely (if at all) to be found in this Authour.”
mWesley
3671-3 since no man of ought he leaues] Wesley (typescript of ms. notes in ed. 1785): “I like this conjecture of Hanmer [‘since no man owes aught’. To woe in the sense of ‘to possess’ is a favourite verb of Shakspeare.”
1791- rann
rann
3671-3 Since no man of ought he leaues] Rann (ed. 1791-) : “Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaves, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leauing life betimes? Why should he dread an early death, of which he cannot tell whether it is an exclusion of happiness, or an interception of calamity? I despise the superstition of augury and omens, which has no ground in reason or piety; my comfort is, that I cannot fall but by the direction of Providence; and my only care is to be duly prepared.”
1793 v1793
v1793 = mal
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1803 v1803
v1803 = v1793
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1811-12 CLRLec
Lectures
3668-73+1 Coleridge (Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, Lecture 12, 1812 rept. in John Payne Collier longhand transcript; rpt. Coleridge, 1987, 5.1:390): <p. 390>“Even after the scene with Osrick, we see Hamlet still indulging in reflections, and thinking little of the action new task he has just undertaken; he is all meditation, all resolution <as far as words are concerned>, but all hesitation & inaction, so that irresolution when called upon to act; so that resolving to do everything he <in fact> does nothing. He is full of purpose, but void of disposition that quality of mind wch wod lead him at the proper time to carry his purpose into effect.”</p.390>
1813 v1813
v1813 = v1803
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1815 Becket
Becket : warb ; john1 + magenta underlined
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Becket (1815, pp. 77): <p. 77> “‘Since no man has aught of what he leaves.’ Dr. Warburton justly objects to the reasoning here laid down. The reading of the quarto is no doubt the true one, unless for ‘has aught ,’ we substitute ‘has thought ,’ and which, perhaps, would be better. In either case, the Bishop’s interpretation of the pssage will be right, while that of Dr. Johnson is manifestly wrong. We find in the elder quarto---’Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows,’—that is, ‘no man of aught he leaves, has any sense or care : death has wholly ended them.’ In the present text we have ‘no man knows aught of what he leaves, which gives a totally different meaning: It asserts that there is no man who knows what it is he leaues , which is far from being strictly or philosophically true. Man knows, not only waht he quits , but what he is to possess : he knows that he leaves the pins and sorrows of earthly existence, for the joys of eternal life. This, I e known, or the gospel has been promulgated in vain. B” </p. 77>
1818-19 mCLR2
mCLR2:
3668-3673+1Coleridge (ms. notes 1819 in Ayscough, ed. 1807; rpt. Coleridge, 1998, 12.4:859): <p. 859>“and his [[Hamlet]] & Shakespear’s fondness for presentiment[[3668-3673+1]]—O my prophetic Soul[[728]]—and his ‘Most generous and free from all contriving’ in his D Fencing-Duel—and all at last done by [? shock] & accident at the conclusion.”</p. 859>
1819 cald1
cald1: john1 +
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes] Caldecott (ed. 1819) : “‘Ripeness is all,’ is a reflection upon leaving life made by Edgar in Lear, V.2.? (0000). Then ‘since no man has (i.e. has any secure hold, or can properly be denominated the possessor, of) any portion of that which he leaves, or must leave, behind him, of what moment is it, that this leave-taking, or the parting with a possession so frail, should be made early? Let things take their course!” The reading of the quartos, adopted by the modern editors, is ‘Since no man of aught he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.’
1821 v1821
v1821 = v1813 (reordering commentary: MAL ; WARB ; JOHN1)
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1821 BOSWELL (1821 ed., p. 505) reverses the order of the 1793 note from the 1813 edition, by putting MALONE’s 1793 commentary at the head before WARBURTON’s note.
1826 sing1
sing1 : john1 ; warb +
3671-363+1 since . . . betimes] Singer (ed. 1826) : “Ha’s is evidently here[in Folio reading] a blunder for knows. Johnson thus interprets the passage :—’ Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaues, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leauing life betimes? Warburton’s explanation is very ingenious, but perhaps strains the poet’s meaning farther then he intended. ‘It is true, that, by death, we lose all the goods of life; yet seeing this loss is no otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it; and since death removes all sense of it, what matters it how soon we lose them.’ This argument against the fear of death has been dilated and placed in a very striking light by the late Mr. Green.—See Diary of a Louer of Literature , Ipswich , 1810 4to. p. 230—Shakspeare himself has elsewhere said, ‘the sense of death is most in apprehension.’
1832 cald2
cald2 = cald1
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1843 col1
col1 : standard
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes] Collier (ed. 1843) : “We have preferred here the reading of the quarto, 1604, which Warburton adopted: the folio has, ‘Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes!’ omitting ‘Let be.’
1844 verp
verp = col1 w/o attribution +
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes] Verplanck (ed. 1844): “Johnson thus paraphrases, ‘Since no man can tell what other years will produce, why should he be afraid of leaving life betimes? Why should he dread an early death, of which he cannot tell whether it be an exclusion of happiness or an interruption of calamity.’”
1850 Grinfield
Grinfield
3668-73] we . . . betimes] Grinfield (1850, pp. 47-8): <p. 47> “A brief, but very sententious and remarkable speech; especially as illustrative of Hamlet’s deep and difficult character. The sentiment is in exact harmony with his noted soliloquy on Death, as ‘a consummation devoutly to be wish’d,’ by those who would, by dying, ‘end their heart-ache.’ Just before the present passage, the melancholy Prince had said to his friend Horatio,—’Tho wouldst not hink how ill all’s here about my heart; but it is no matter.’ This is said in expectation of his fencing with Laertes, which proves fatal to both. There is great signification in the brief remark—’the readiness is all;’ it is a sermon in a word; and reminds us of the Divine Warning: ‘Be ye ready.’ The meaning is unfolded in those few memorable words of the Angel to Adam: ‘Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv’st Live well: how long, or short, permit to heaven.’ Paradise Lost, Book XI. ‘Since the time of our dying is foreordered by Providence, and we retain no knowledge of what we leave behind; what </p. 47> <p. 48>matter how soon we die? The readiness for death is all.’ One of the many noble thoughts, and mighty truths, flung over his pages by our wild, deep, universal Shakspeare; thick, and bright, and varied as the stars over the midnight heavens!” </p. 48>
1854 del2
del2 : standard
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes] Delius (ed. 1854) : “has aught of what he leaves, has, ]] So die Fol. mit einfach klarem Sinn: da Niemand etwas besitzt von dem, was er hinterlässt; was liegt also daran, früh zu scheiden?—Die Herausgeber lesen meistens mit den Qs. Since no man, of aught, he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Das folgende let be, das keinenfalls zu dem vorhergehenden Satze gehört, fehlt in der Fol. ohne Schaden.” [“So the Fol with a simple, clear sense: when no one possesses something of what he leaves behind; what is thus left of importance from which to depart early? The editors read generally with the Qq. Since no man, of aught, he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? The following let be, which by no means belongs to the previous lines, is absent in the Fol without harm.”]
DEL2 DELIUS (18?? ed, p. 151) inserts I suspect errantly a ‘has” after “leaves” which I don’t think was intended. From his note, he seems to indicate that he is following the Ff: <p. 151>
1856 hud1 (1851-6)
hud1 = sing1 without attribution
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1856 sing2
sing2 = sing1
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1857 elze1
elze1: warb
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes] Elze (ed. 1857, 258): <p. 258>"Die Lesart der Fs giebt keinen verständlichen Sinn; vom Besitze des Irdischen ist zudem gar nicht die Rede. Die meisten herausgg. folgen daher den Qs. Der sinn ist nicht wie Warburton erklärt: Da kein Todter vondem, was er verlässt, Bewusstsein hat, sondern: Was ist, da Niemand von dem, was er verlässt, d.h. was ihm bei längerem Leben bevorstehen würde, Kenntniss hat, daran gelegen, frühzeitig von hier zu scheiden." ["The reading of the Ff provides no comprehensible meaning; from the possession of the mortal the discourse is moreover not even. Most editors therefore follow the Qq. The meaning is not as Warburton explains: ’Because no deceased person has consciousness of that which he loses, on the contrary, what is it that he leaves if nobody has knowledge of it, i.e. what might be in store for him for a longer life, placed before him cut from here early?
1858 col3
col3 = col1
3671-3673+1 since . . . betimes]
1861 wh1
wh1
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes] White (ed. 1861) : “Since no man has aught of what he leaues,]] So the folio, except the omission of ‘Let be,’ at the end of the speech; the 4tos., ‘since no man of ought he leaves, knowes what ist to leaue betimes let be.’ The text of the folio is not very clear in its application, but that of the 4tos. is manifestly wrong.”
1862 N&Q
Warwick
3669-3671 if . . . come] Warwick (1862, p. 266): <p. 266> “On the fatalism of the ancient Danish religion, note a curious parallel to the above passage as follows:—’They (the Icelanders) say that if they were not fey (i.e. fated or fore-doomed to die) they must live; and that if they were fey, they must die.’—Edinburgh Review No. 232, Oct. 1861, p. 450.
“The doomed man was conscious of approaching death. ‘How ill all’s about my heart.’—[Ham. a.s.l. (0000)].”
1864-68 c&mc
c&mc ≈ john1
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Clarke & Clarke (ed. 1864-68, rpt. 1874-78): “This is the Quarto reading; while the Folio gives, ‘Since no man ha’s ought of what he leaves.’ We adopt the former; believing it to be more characteristic of Hamlet that he thinks leaving life of little consequence because he cannot come to a right knowledge of its many mysteries and perplexities, than because he cannot carry with him life’s goods and advantages. Nay, we think (agreeing in this particular with Johnson) it not improbable that the Folio reading was a simplified construction of the original passage; and that ‘ha’s’ was merely a misprint for ‘knows.’”
1866 dyce2
dyce2 : standard VN
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Dyce (ed. 1866) : “A very suspicious passage. I give it as it stands in the folio.—The quartos, 1604, &c. have ‘since no man of ought he leaues, knowes what ist to leaue betimes, let be.”
1866 cam1
cam1: standard
3671-363+1 the readines . . . let be] Clark & Wright (ed. 1866) : “The reading in the text is taken partly from the Folios and partly from the Quartos, altering however the punctuation.
“The second Quarto, followed substantially by the rest, has as follows: [cites Q2 reading]
“The first Folio, followed, except in spelling, by the rest, has: [cites F1 reading]
“The Quartos of 1676, 1683, 1695, and 1703 have: ‘The readiness is all, since no man of ought he leaves knows what ‘tis to leave betimes, let be.’
“Rowe, Pope, and Theobald followed the Folios.
“Hanmer: ‘The readines is all. Since no man owes aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’
“Warburton: ‘The readiness is all. Since no man, of ought he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.’
“Johnson: ‘The readiness is all. Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’
“Steevens (1773, 1778, 1785) and Rann adopt the reading of Johnson, adding the words ‘Let be.’
“Warburton’s reading was followed by Capell, Malone, Steevens (1793), the Editors of the three Variorum Shakespeares, 1803, 1813, 1821, Singer, Harness and Mr. Collier.
“Caldecott first adopted the reading given in our text. Mr. Grant White follows him.
“Becket would substitute ‘has thought’ for ‘has aught.’
“Mr. Keightley prints thus, marking the sentence as unfinished: ‘The readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what it is to leave betimes . . . Let be.’
1869 tsch
tsch
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Tschischwitz (ed. 1869): “Verstehe: Da kein Mensch von irgend etwas, das er verlässt, Kenntniss hat. Ein philosophischer in die Naturbetrachtung H.’s stimmender Gedanke, der Durchaus nicht mit der kurz vorher ausgesprochenen religiösen Ueberzeugung im Widerspruch steht. Ueer of bei Verben des Denkens, Urtheilens, Wissens, Vermuthens s.M. II. p. 245.” [“Understand: If no one has knowledge of nearly anything that he leaves. A philospher in natural observation agreeable with Hamlet’s thoughts, who stands throughout not in contradiction with the brief, previously spoken religious beliefs. For of with verbs of thought, judgment, knowledge, suppositions, s[[ee]] M. II. p. 245.”]
1869 stratmann
stratmann : john1
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Stratmann(ed. 1869): “If ‘ha’s’ in D [F1] is a mistake for ‘knowes’, the passage may originally have run, as Johnson prints it, ‘since no man knowes ought of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’ The quarto of 1676 [Q6] has ‘’tis’ for ‘is’t’.”
1872 del4
del4 ≈ del2
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Delius (ed. 1872) : “has aught of what he leaves, has, ]] So die Fol. mit einfach klarem Sinn:Da Niemand etwas besitzt von dem, was er hinterlässt; was liegt also daran, früh zu scheiden?—Die Herausgeber lesen meistens mit den Qs. Since no man, of aught, he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Das folgende let be, das keinenfalls zu dem vorhergehenden Satze gehört, fehlt in der Fol. ohne Schaden.” [“So the Fol with a simple, clear sense: when no one possesses something of what he leaves behind; what is thus left of importance from which to depart early? The editors read generally with the Qq. Since no man, of aught, he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes? The following let be, which by no means belongs to the previous lines, is absent in the Fol without harm.”]
1872 cln1
cln1 : standard
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Clark & Wright (ed. 1872): “The first folio has, ‘since no man ha’s ought of what he leaves. What is’t to leave betimes?’ and this, spelling apart, is the reading of the other folios. the quarto of 1604 [Q2], followed substantially bhe rest, reds, ‘since no man of ought he leaues, knowes what ist to leaue betimes, let be.’ Perhaps the true reading is that of Johnson: ‘since no man knows aught of what he leaves, ‘ &c.’”
cln1 : standard
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Hudson (ed. 1872): “This is the reading of the quartos: the folio reads, ‘Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’ Johnson thus interprets the passage: ‘Since no man knows aught of the state which he leaves; since he cannot judge what others years may produce; why should we be afraid of leaving life betimes.’”
1874 Tyler
Tyler
3668-71 there . . . all] Tyler (1874, p. 23): <p. 23): “It is worth while to observe that in the Quarto of 1603, instead of ‘there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow,’ we have ‘there’s a predestinate providence in the fall of a sparrow.’” </p. 23>
1875 Marshall
Marshall
3668-3673+1 Marshall (1875, p. 104): <p. 104> “Hamlet’s last speech to Horatio points to the fact that his fatalism has been growing upon him until it has entirely usurped the place of any other faith. true that it is not a pagan fatalism, but neither is it the resignation of a Christian, in spite of the allusion to the New Testament. It is at best the negative courage of a conscientious doubter, who knows that death must come, but is content to leave the hereafter in uncertainty.” </p. 104>
1877 col4
col4 : standard
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Collier (ed. 1877): “This intricate passage has puzzled every editor and commentator: no explanation is satisfactory, and we leave the precise words of the fol. 1623.”
v1877 : tsch
3669-73 if . . . betimes] Furness (ed. 1877): “Tschischwitz (Sh. Foprschungen, 1.62) calls attention to an ‘exactly parallel’ passage in the Dedication to Giordano Bruno’s Candelajo. ‘By this philosophy my soul is elevated and my capacity for thinking enlarged. but whatsoever may be the appointed hour of that evening which I am awaiting, when the change will take place, I, who am in the night, await the day, and those who are in the day await the night. Everything that exists is either at hand or at a distance, near or far, now or later, instantly or hereafter.’”
v1877 : ≈ warb (only It is true . . . am prepared”) ; ≈ john1 ; ≈ cald2 (only‘since no man . . . made early”) ; ≈ col4 ; ≈ dyce2 ; ≈ whi ; clarke ; clarendon
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Furness (ed. 1877): “The Ff have received their best interpretation from Caldecott [cites CALD2 section mentioned above]. Collier truly remarks that no old copy is at all well printed in this scene; and Dyce pronounces the present passage suspicious. White thinks the Qq are manifestly wrong. Clarke prefers the Qq on what, I think, is the true ground, so finely paraphrased by Johnson: That is it more characteristic of Ham. to think little of leaving life, becaus ehe cannot solve its many mysteries, than because he cannot carry with him life’s goods. Clarendon thinks that Johnson’s is perhaps the true reading.”
1879 irv (Act. ed.)
irv (Act. ed.)
3673+1 let be] Marshall (ed. 1879, Preface): <p.xi> “At the end of Hamlet’s speech commencing, ‘Not a whit, we defie augury,’ &c. we find in the second quarto the words ‘Let be,’ indicating probably that as he saw the king and court approaching, he did not wish to continue the conversation with Horatio.”
1881 hud3
hud3 ≈ hud2
3672 since no man of ought he leauves, knowes]
hud3 : hud2 ; cam1
3671-3 the readines . . . let be] Hudson (ed. 1881): “The readiness is all. Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?]] So Johnson. The quartos read ‘The readines is all, since no man of ought he leaves, knowes what ist to leave betimes, let be.’ The folio reads ‘The readinesse is all, since no man ha’s aught of what he leaves. What is’t to leave betimes?’ Modern editors differ a good deal in their readings of the passage. The Cambridge editors print as follows: ‘The readiness is all; since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.’
1883 wh2
wh2
3671-3 White (ed. 1883): “The ‘it’ of this speech [“what ist”] might refer to retribution for the murder of Hamlet’s father, but this passage shows that he is dreamily thinking about himself and his own death.”
1883 Kinnear
Kinnear
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Kinnear (1883, p. 413): <p. 413> “Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?]] i.e. Since no man is the owner of aught, &c. Compare [MM 3.1.25-8 (1228-31)]—’If thou art rich, thou’rt poor; For, like an ass whose back with ingots bows, Thou bear’st thy heavy riches but a journey, And death unloads thee.’ The above is the reading of the folio; the quartos have,—’Since no man of ought he leaues, knowes what ist to leaue betimes, et be [sic].’ which Singer adopts, placing a semicolon after ‘knows.’ The compared eds. print as the folio.” </p. 413>
1885 macd
macd
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] MacDonald (ed. 1885): “‘Point: ‘all. Since’; ‘leaves, what’— Since no man has anything of what he has left, those who left it late are in the same position as those who left it early.’ Compare the common saying, ‘It will be all the same in a hundred years.’ The Q. reading comes much to the same thing—’knows of ought he leaves’—’has any knowledge of it, anything to do with it, in any sense possesses it.’
“We may find a deeper meaning in the passage, however—surely not too for Shakspere!—’Since nothing can be truly said to be possessed as his own which a man must at one time or another yield; since that which is own can never be taken from the owner, but solely that which is lent him; since the nature of a thing that has to be left is not such that it could be possessed, why should a man mind parting with it [early?]—There is far more in this than merely that at the end of the day it will be all the same. The thing that eve was really a man’s own, God has given, and God will not, and man cannot, take away. Note the unity of religion and philosophy in Hamlet: he takes the one true position. Note also his courage: he has a strong presentiment of death, but will not turn a step from his way. If Death be coming, he will confront him. he does not believe in chance. He is ready—that is willing. All that is needful is, that he should not go as one who cannot help it, but as one who is [for?] God’s will, who chooses that will as his own.”
“There is so much behind in Shakspere’s characters—so much that can only be hinted at! The dramatist has not the word-scope of the novelist; his art gives him little room; he must effect in a phrase what the other may take pages to. He needs good seconding by his actors as sorely as the composer needs good rendering of his music by the orchestra. It is a lesson in unity that the greatest art can least work alone; that the greatest finder most needs the help of others to show his findings. The dramatist has live men and women for the very instruments of his art—who must not be mere instruments, but fellow-workers; and upon them [he is?] greatly dependent for final outcome.
“Hence the actor should show a marked calmness and elevation in Hamlet. He should have around him as it were a luminous cloud, the cloud of his coming end. A smile not all of this world should close the speech. He has given himself up, and is at peace.”
1885 mull
mull ≈ cln1 +
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Mull (ed. 1885): “Perhaps the Scripture reference seems here expressed, that since man brought nothing into the world, he cannot take aught when leaving it.”
1890 irv2
irv2 : v1877 w/o attribution (only cald1 and john1)
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Symons (in Irving & Marshall, ed. 1890): “The reading in the text, which follows chiefly the Ff, was first introduced by Caldecott. The meaning seems to be: ‘since no man has (as a real and firm possession) aught of what he must leave behind him, what matter if he leaves it early or late?’ It is very possible that Jonson’s conjecture may be right, and the true reading be: ‘Since no man kows aught of what he leaves,’ &c: the meaning being, in Johnson’s own words, [cites JOHN1 from “Since no man . . . calamity”]
1890 Orger
Orger
3670-3 if . . . betimes] Orger (1890, pp. 86-7): <p. 86>“The substance of Hamlet’s reflections seems to be the uncertainty of the time when we shall die, whence he infers that all times are pretty much alike if only we are ready; and therefore as well betimes as later.</p. 86> <p. 87>
“We may obtain this sense by borrowing ‘knows’ from the quarto, and changing ‘what’ to ‘when,’ and read—’The readiness is all, since no man knows aught of when he leaves.’”</p. 87>
1895 cam2
cam2 = cam1 +
3670-3 if . . . betimes] Wright (ed. 1895, p. 611): <p. 611>“Mr. Orger conjectures, [cites ‘The readiness is all . . . he leaves”].” </p. 611>
1899 ard1
ard1 ≈ v1877 (warb ; john1) +
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Dowden (ed. 1899): “The [Q2] certainly gives a fine and characteristic meaning: since no man knows what life may bring, since no man can solve its mysteries. But the idea of [F1] is vulgarised by reducing it to ‘If a man cannot carry away with him life’s goods’; it is rather: If we possess nothing except our personality, what matters it to leave the adventitious things of life soon or late. Hanmer read ‘since no man owes aught of what he leaves.’”
1907 Brandes
Brandes
3673+1 Brandes (1907, rpt. 1920, p. xi), in contrast to those who see in Hamlet a new-found serenity, thinks that <p. xi> “Hamlet’s fire is never quenched; his wound never heals. Laertes’ poisoned blade gives the quietus to a still tortured soul.” </p. xi>
1929 trav
trav : contra Q2 ; F1 (≈ ard1)
3672 since no man of ought he leaues, knowes] Travers (ed. 1929): “Has (F.), emphatic and thus equivalent to ‘really has, possesses as not to be taken from him.’ The reading in Q2 is ‘no man of ought he leaves, knows,’ which some commentators have preferred, inserting a comma after ‘man’ (cp. end of n. 8 ,p. 230}, construing ‘of ought he leaves’ as the object of ‘knows,’ and understanding: ‘knows anything of what happiness or misery the life he leaves would have meant for him.’ But the inversion is harsh; and the folio text expresses much the same thought, more naturally and more nervously at once.”
1934 Wilson
Wilson
3668-3673+1 Wilson (1934, 2:214-15): <p. 214>“My final example of Q2 punctuation . . . provides an even more triumphant proof of its general superiority over that of F1, since it makes sense of an important and difficult passage which has hitherto baffled every editor of Hamlet. 1
“Hamlet is troubled with his ‘gain-giving’ before the fencing with Laertes, and Horatio offers to have the match postponed; to which offer Hamlet replies, in the two versions, as follows (5.2.230-55 [3668-3673+1]): [cites Q2 and F1 versions] The passage illustrates the quality of both texts in admirable fashion. We have the inevitable omission in Q2, together with the spelling ‘well’ for ‘will’ in the third line, while the stops are commas throughout. In F1, on the other hand, there is not merely the heavier, and at first sight far more intelligible, punctuation, but high-handed interference with the sense, amounting to a complete re-writing of the last line, with the result that obscurity becomes more </p. 214 <p. 215>obscure. Editors, as usual, have attempted to make the best of both worlds. Here, for example, is the Globe text: [cites Glo version] Dr. Johnson, who proposed to conclude the speech ‘since no man knows aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’, criticises the F1 text and points out truly enough that Hamlet is much more likely to leave life willingly because he cannot fathom it than because he cannot take this world’s goods away with him. But Dr. Johnson, like every other editor, has been misled by the F1 query after ‘betimes’, as the F1 scribe in his turn was clearly misled by the word ‘is’t’. Yet ‘is’t’ may of course be affirmative just as well as interrogative (cf. 1.4.13 ‘Ay, marry is’t’.). And if we restore the Q2 comma after ‘betimes’ and thus make ‘let be’ the principal clause of the last sentence of the speech, there is no difficulty whatever with the text, though a modern editor will do well to translate some of the commas into dashes and periods so as to break the speech up for the reader’s convenience. Thus modernised it runs: ‘Not a whit, we defy augury, there is special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ‘tis not to come—if it be not to come, it will be now—if it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all. Since no man of aught he leaves knows what is’t to leave betimes, let be.’ Hamlet’s argument is: ‘early’ or ‘late’ is no matter, so long as one is prepared; and since we can gather from nothing in this life whether we are leaving it early or late, why bother about it?” </p. 215>
<n> <p. 214>“1Mommsen (vide vol. I, p. 12n.), however, came very near to solving it.” </p. 214>
Wilson
3668-3673+1 Wilson (1934, 2:277): <p. 277>“This has been already dealt with under the head of punctuation on pp. 214-15.” </p. 277>
Wilson
3672-3673+1 of . . . be] Wilson (1934, 2:272): Wilson feels that Q2 offers the more “attractive reading” than F1. He observes that “none” follow Q2 and that “most” follow F1
1934 rid1
rid1
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Ridley (ed. 1934): “There has been much dispute and conjecture, mostly coloured by the question-mark of F [betimes?]. But Dover Wilson excellently points out that Q2 makes good sense as it stands so soon as we remember that is’t can stand for the affirmative ‘tis or it is as well as the interrogative is it?
1934 cam3
cam3
3671 the readines is all] Wilson (ed. 1934): “The whole speech, as Brandes notes (Will. Shak. p. 354), is a distillation of Montaigne, I. 19 ‘That to Philosophie is to learne how to die.’ To quote one or two passages from Florio’s trans.: ‘At the stumbling of a horse, at the fall of a stone, at the least prick with a pinne, let us presently ruminate and say with our selves, what if it were death itself? and thereupon let us take heart of grace, and call our wits together to confront her. . . . It is uncertain where death looks for us; let us expect her everie where. . . . I am ever prepared about that which I may be. . . . A man should ever, as much as in him lieth, be ready booted to take his journey, and above all things, looke he have then nothing to doe but with himselfe. . . . For why should we feare to lose a thing, which being lost, cannot be moaded? . . . what matter is it when it cometh, since it is unavoidable?’
cam3
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Wilson (ed. 1934): “Most edd. folow F1 but add ‘Let be’ from Q2 as a separate sentence. No one has ever yet tried to make sense of Q2 as it stands. To paraphrase: since no one can tell from anything on earth (‘of aught he leaves’) what is the right moment to die (v.G. ‘betimes’), why trouble about it?”
cam3 : OED
3672-3 betimes] Wilson (ed. 1934, Glossary): “in good time, at the right moment, before it is too late (N.E.D. quotes from 1545 ‘Repent betymes, and . . . fall diligently to prayer’ and Milton, Par. Lost, iii.186 ‘To appease betimes Th’incensed Deity’).”
1938 parc
parc
3672-73 betimes] Parrott (ed. 1938): “early.”
1939 kit2
kit2
3673+1 let be] Kittredge (ed. 1939): “Let it to. Do not try to dissuade me.”
kit2 ≈ standard
3673+1 let be] Kittredge (ed. 1939, Glossary):
kit2 ≈ standard (john1 ; cam3 ) +
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Kittredge (ed. 1936): “Brandes notes the resemblance of Hamlet’s reflections to Montaigne’s Essay (I, 19) on ‘Learning how to Die.’ . . . The text follows Dr. Johnson’s emendation [“knows aught of what he leaves”] but keeps ‘Let be,’ which he and the Folio omit (see Textual Notes).
1947 Cln2
Cln2
3672-3 leaue betimes] Rylands (ed. 1947): “die young.”
cln2
3671 the readines is all] Rylands(ed. 1947, Notes): “cf. [Lr. 5.2.11(2928)], ‘Ripeness ia all.’”
cln2 : Lewis
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Lewis (apud Rylands, ed. 1947, Notes): “I think . . . that Shakespeare had come across Seneca’s Nihil peris ex tuo tempore, nam quod relinquis alienum est (Epist. lxix).’”
1956 Sisson
Sisson
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Sisson (1956, 2:228-9): <p. 228>“This passage has offered great difficulty. Some editors follow the obvious editorial version of F1, since no man ha’s ought of what he leaves. What is’t to leave betimes?, omitting let be. Kittredge reads Since no man knows aught of what he leaves, and Alexander ((after Hanmer)) Since no man owes of aught he leaves, both desperate conjectures. New Cambridge follows Quarto with a variation of punctuation, Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what it’s to leave beimtes, let be. Dover Wilson’s interpretation turns the is’t of Quarto into it is, in effect, and presents </p. 228> <p. 229>other difficulties. I suggest the following reading, which makes good sense of the Quarto text: ‘Since no man of aught he leaves knows, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.
“‘Since no man knows about ((of)) anything he is leaving, what does it matter if he leaves early? Let fate take its course.’”
1974 evns1
evns1
3672 of ought] Evans (ed. 1974): “i.e. whatever.”
evns1
3672-3 knowes . . . betimes] Evans (ed. 1974): “knows what is the best time to leave it.”
1980 pen2
pen2
3673+1 let be] Spencer (ed. 1980): “do not try to postpone the fencing match. Alternatively Let be may be part of the previous sentence, giving the meaning ‘since a man cannot find out from anything on earth (of aught he leaves) what is the appropriate moment for his dying, don’t bother about it’. The words are in Q2, not in F.”
pen2 : Q2, F1 +
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Spencer (ed. 1980): “Many amendments have been suggested. On the whole, the simplest is to suppose that knows in Q2 has got out of place. The meaning is then: ‘To be ready (for death) is all that matters. As no one has knowledge of what happens after his death, what does an early death matter?’”
1982 ard2
ard2
3673+1 let be] Jenkins (ed. 1982): “Enough, forbear. Cf. [Ant. 4.4.6, WT 5.3.61, and 5.2.343] below. Many eds. wrongly take this to be part of Hamlet’s reflections, expressing his resignation to the course of events. A misplaced ingenuity has even tried to make it answer ‘to be or not to be’. But is merely recognizes an interruption which requires their dialogue to break off. Cf. variously [2.2.416]((‘my abridgement’)), [5.1.210] ((‘But soft’)), [5.2.80] ((‘Peace’)), [3.2.90].”
ard2 : contra cln1 ; contra ard1; contra Wilson (MSH)
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Jenkins (ed. 1982): “Since no man has knowledge of anything he is leaving, what signfies an early death? LN [Longer Notes].”
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Jenkins (ed. 1982, Longer Notes, 565-6): <p. 565> “About this much-debated passage some things are clear: that Q2 (since no man of ought he leaves, knowes)) and F ((since no man ha’s ought of what he leaues.)) doe not mean the same thing; that F is an attempt to tidy and make sense of what was found awkward and obscure; and that the sense it makes is not the sense required. The period in F [leaves.] conceals that the since clause provides the reason for the question which follows; but with the substitution of a comma many of the earlier editors ((down to the Cambridge [CLN1] and Dowden [Ard1] were content to accept F’s wording. Yet in Q2 it is not a question of not having but of not knowing. This follows more naturally on the preceding acceptance of uncertainties; one cannot regret what one does not know. Hence Q2 may be held to have, along with higher authority, the better sense. Johnson’s paraphrase is cogent: ‘Since no man knows aught of the state of life which he leaves, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leavinglife betimes?’ Yet to relate ‘an early death’ to an ignorance of whether life would bring ‘happiness or . . . calamity’ may restrict the sense of know unduly. A more metaphysical meaning also may be in character for a hero whose frustrated inquiry into the nature of man gives way to an acceptance of man’s inability to know. What does it signify how soon we leave that which eludes our knowledge?
“Textually, however, Johnson’s conflation of the two texts by adopting the verbal order of F while replacing has by knows, although followed by Chambers and Kittredge among others, is a more than dubious procedure. Those who have believed in </p. 565> <p. 566> knows have more often followed Warburton in retaining while repunctuating the reading of Q2: ‘Since no man ((,)) of aught he leaves ((,)) knows, what is’t to leave betimes?’ This gives the general sense ((since no man has knowledge of aught he leaves)) but, with or without the commas, in a way that is harsh and strained. For knows requires an object, and although I cannot quite share Dover Wilson’s belief in Q2’s propensity to omit words, I suspect that this may have happened in the present case. By repeating aught, which, if it was not Shakespeare’s word, at least does not pervert what Q2 points to as his sense, I have supplied the missing object in the simplest and I hope most plausible way.
Dover Wilson attempted a different solution by retaining not only the wording but ((substantially)) the pointing of Q2, ‘Since no man . . . knows what is’t to leave betimes, let be’. This makes what is’t to leave betimes the object of knows and extends the sentence to include let be as its main clause. It yields the interpretation, ‘Since no one can tell . . . what is the right moment to die, why trouble about it?’ But, although it has been followed by Evans and has influenced some criticism, I think we must pronounce it indubitably wrong. It proceeds from the false premise that Elizabethan commas have their modern value and, apart from suspending of aught he leaves in the air, equating what is’t with what it is, and straining the meaning of betimes, it makes let be the climax of the moral reflection ((cf. MSH, pp. 214-15)) instead of a mere formula breaking off the conversation and effecting a transition to the fencing preparations and the entry of the court. Cf. [n. 3673+1].
“This exhortation against the fear of an early death belongs to the tradition of stoic consolation. Cf. Seneca, Epistles, 69, ‘Nihil perdis ex tuo tempore, nam quod relinquis alienum est’; Montaigne’s Essays ((Florio)), I.19, ‘What matter is it when it cometh, since it is unavoidable? . . . No man dies before his hour. The time you leave behind was no more yours, than that which was before your birth, and concerneth you no more.’” </p. 566>
1984 chal
chal : john1 ("since no man knows aught of the state . . . calamity")
3671-3673+1 since . . . be]
1985 cam4
cam4 ≈ standard
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Edwards (ed. 1985): “I follow Q2 fairly closely, regarding F as a deliberate simplification ((you can’t take it with you)). ‘Since no one has any knowledge of the life he leaves behind hi, what does it matter if one dies early?’ An early death may be a blessing.”
3673+1 let be] Edwards (ed. 1985): “Do not try to alter the course of things.”
1987 oxf4
oxf4
3673+1 let be] Hibbard (ed. 1987): “i.e. say no more ((OED let v. 1 20c)).”
oxf4 ≈ standard
3671-3673+1 since . . . be]
1988 bev2
bev2: standard
3671 the readines is all] Bevington (ed. 198): “since no one has knowledge of what he is leaving behind, what does an early death matter after all? Enough; don’t struggle against it.”
1992 fol2
fol2
3671-3673+1 since . . . be] Mowat & Werstine (ed. 1992): “knows anything about what he leaves behind.”
fol2
3672-3673+1betimes]
2008 oed
oedstandard
3673+1 let be]OED c. absol. c1000 Sax. Leechd. II. 206 Lt beon ealne d . a1250 Owl [and] Night. 1735 Late beo and beo isome. c1320 Seuyn Sag. (W.) 1757 Lat ben, moder, for hit is nede. c1386 CHAUCER Pard. T. 619 Lat be quod he, it shal nat be. 1450-80 tr. Secreta Secret. 18 God saith him silf.. lete be, lete be, for in me is the vengeaunce, and y shalle quyte it. [etc.]
3671 3672 3673 3673+1