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Line 2355 - Commentary Note (CN) More Information

2355 To heauen. 23553.3.79
2355 {Why,} <Oh> this is {base and silly} <hyre and Sallery>, not reuendge,3.3.79
1733- mtby3
2355 base and silly] Thirlby (1733-): “male.”
Thirlby is here judging “base and silly” to be bad.
1791- rann
2355 base and silly] Rann (ed. 1791-): hire and salary] “the act of a ruffian.”
1819 cald1
2355 base and silly] Caldecott (ed. 1819): hire and salary] “A thing, for which from him I might claim a recompense.”
1857 fieb
fieb = v1778 (check VN for hyre and Sallery)
1877 v1877
v1877 = cald1
1877 col4
2355 base and silly] Collier (ed. 1877): “‘Hire and salary’ here, of course, mean reward and payment.”
1882 elze
elze: Ford, Machin, Webster analogues
2355 base and silly] Elze (ed. 1882): “The sentiment expressed in these lines does by no means belong to Shakespeare exclusively, but is to be found in other Elizabethan dramatists as well. See Ford, ‘Tis Pity she’s a Whore, 5.4 (Works, ed. Hartley Coleridge, p. 45 a): Let my hot hare have law ere he be hunted to his death, that, if it be possible, he post to hell in the very act of his damnation. Lewis Machin, The Dumb Knight (1608), 3.1 (Dodsley, ed. Hazlitt, X, 173):— ‘Nay, be but patient, smooth your brow a little, And you shall take them as they clip each other, Even in their height of sin, then damn them both, And let them sink before they ask God pardon, That your revenge may stretch unto their souls.
“Webster, The White Devil; or, Vittoria Corombona (Works, ed. Dyce, in I vol., p. 36b):— ‘To have poison’d his prayer-book, or a pair of beads, The pummel of his saddle, his looking-glass, Or the handle of his racket, -- O, that, that! That while he had been bandying at tennis, He might have sworn himself to hell, and strook His soul into the hazard.’”
1891 dtn
2355 Why . . . silly] Deighton (ed. 1891): “O . . . salary] such a deed as that would be something for which I might well ask payment, i.e. I should be doing him the greatest possible kindness, not punishing him, as I ought.”
1907 Werder
Werder: Werder, Klein
2355 Why . . . reuendge] Werder (1907; rpt. 1977, p.17): “And why? ‘Werder does not give the natural interpretation to the first commission of the Ghost, the demand for revenge. . . . To revenge does not naturally mean ‘to bring to confession, to unmask, to convict.’ But, as Klein and Werder plainly show, anything short of this, in a case like this, would not be true revenge. As Werder says in a passage which our critic quotes in outlining the theory, ‘Killing the King before the proof is adduced would be, not killing the guilty, but killing the proof; it would be, not the murder of the criminal, but the murder of justice!’ Verily, in Hamlet’s own words, this would be ‘hire and salary, not revenge.’”
1924 vand
2355 base and silly] Van Dam (1924, p. 147): <p.147> “When Hamlet in 3.3 sees his uncle kneeling down in prayer, he first intends to kill him; by doing so he would have performed his task of avenging his father. But Hamlet reflects—one who dies while praying inherits heaven—would it be a proper fulfillment of his duty to avenge, if he sent his uncle to heaven? ‘Why, this is base and silly, not reuendge,’ (Q2 [3.3.79 (2355)]. This would be an act befitting an inferior person or an imbecile. I revenge myself properly only by sending my uncle to hell, while he is committing a sin, for then there is for him no chance of salvation.
“Thus Q2, and notwithstanding this reading affords a perfectly clear and logical text, it is not accepted by anyone, as far as we know. All editors accept F1: ‘Oh this is hyre and Sallery, not Reuenge.’
“Especially in poetry, but also in other domains, the majority of people admire most what they least understand. Hence, it is, presumably, that all editors agree with F1; however this may be, it is certain that this text is unintelligible. With the words hyre and sallary is inseparably connected the idea of a compensation for labour done, according to agreement or according to custom. From whatever point of view we look at it this idea is quite inappropriate here; the reading of F1 is certainly corrupt. How is this corruption to be accounted for, how can it have arisen? We have found a plausible answer to this question: the scribe or the compositor has made the primary mistake of writing or printing sallery instead of silly. next, in reading over the text, the printer or a corrector saw that base and sallery are incompatible, and instead of looking at the MS and correcting the wrong word he changed the correct word base into hyre to make it fit in with sallery!” </p.147>
1934 Wilson
2355 base and silly] Wilson (1934, rpt. 1963, 2:325-6): <2:325> “All editors follow F1, which makes tolerable sense; and so far as I know no one has ever considered the possibilities of the Q2 reading. And yet, base and silly as that reading seems, if there is anything at all in the principles hitherto pursued in this book, it is to that we must look for our true text. It makes a sort of sense, just the sort of sense indeed that the Q2 press-corrector might have perpetrated. And though the ‘hyre and Sallery’ of F1 gives a tolerable reading, as I have said, it is after all much more brilliant than what Q2 prints? It is tautological and tame, in short just the sort of reading that Scribe P might have perpetrated. Only one thing can, I think, be said with for certainty: ‘Sallery’ must be Shakespeare’s word. Its graphical similarity with the Q2 ‘silly’ lends it support, and it leads on naturally to the word ‘audit’ at [2358]. If this be admitted, then ‘silly’ can be easily explained as a misprint of ‘sallery’ through the omission of letters, very much as the word printed ‘soultery’ (=sultry) at [3505] get misprinted ‘sully’ two lines earlier. But if the Q2 ‘silly’ helps us to accept the F1 ‘sallery,’ ‘base’ offers no aid whatever to ‘hyre.’ It bears neither graphical or typographical resemblance to it, and cannot therefore be either </2:325><2:326> a compositor’s misreading or a press-corrector’s emendation: it must accordingly represent some other word altogether. In short ‘hyre’ is almost certainly a makeshift by Scribe P for something he could not read, and what Shakespeare actually wrote must be similar in form to ‘base.’ The guess I offer is ‘bate,’ a spelling of ‘bait,’ which at this period meant refreshment on a journey, for man as well as beast.1 Thus we have Lyly writing in Euphues2 ‘a pleasant companion is a bait in a journy.’ Such a reading would suit the context well, since it anticipates ‘grossly full of bread’ at [2356], as ‘salary’ anticipates ‘audit’ two lines further on [2358]. Furthermore, a passage in Nashe—’he could have found in his hart to haue packt vp hys pipes and to haue gone to heauen without a bait’3—suggests that ‘to go to heaven without a bait’ was proverbial at the time for one who was, like Hamlet’s father, ‘cut off even in the blossoms’ of his sins, and died ‘unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled.’ Finally, if ‘base’ was the original misprint of the compositor, who also omitted a couple of letters from ‘sallery’ and whose propensity for omitting letters was ell known to the corrector, the later would imagine he had full warrant for changing ‘base and sally’ to ‘base and silly.’” </2:326>
[<2:326> “1Indeed, ‘Good bait for man and beast’ is an advertisement still to be seen in some inns.” </2:326>]
[<2:326> “2Euphues, Arber’s ed. p. 198.” </2:326>]
[<2:326> “3The Vnfortunate Traveller, McKerrow’s ed. Nashe’s Works, II, 222.” </2:326>]
1934 rid
2355 base and silly] Ridley (ed. 1934): “hire and salary; so F. Q2 reads base and silly. This is clearly nonsense, but equally clearly it could hardly be a misreading of something which could be read correctly as hire and salary. Q1 reads this is a benefit, And not . . . It is just worth observing that nefitt, followed by one of the forms of ampersand, could easily be read as nd silly, though it is harder to extract is base a from is a be, unless sabe got read as base.”
1934 cam3
cam3: MSH; Nashe analogue
2355 base and silly] Wilson (ed. 1934): bait and salary] “Q2 ‘base and silly,’ F1 ‘hyre and Sallery.’ Again I amend Q2 (assuming the sp. ‘bate’) rather than adopt a word of quite different graphical formation from F1; v. MSH. pp. 325-6 for discussion. ‘Bait’ = refreshment on a journey (in the K.’s case, to the next world); cf. Nashe (McKerrow’s ed. ii. 222) “gone to heaven without a bait,’ i.e. without the last sacrament. It anticipates ‘grossly, full of bread’ in the next line, as ‘salary’ anticipates ‘audit’ in l. 82.”
1937 pen1
2355 To heauen] Harrison (ed. 1937): “the rest of the line is silent, as Hamlet remembers the Ghost’s words. Shakespeare’s silences are often most effective.”
1938 parc
2355 base and silly] Parrott and Craig (ed. 1938): “low and foolish.”
1939 kit2
2355 this is base and silly] Kittredge (ed. 1939): hire and salary] “This would be to act as if I had hired him to murder my father and were now paying him his wages. The text follows the Folios. The Quartos read ‘this is base and silly.’”
1947 cln2
cln2: Wilson
2355 base and silly] Rylands (ed. 1947): hyre and Sallery] “payment and reward. Dover Wilson suggests ‘bait’ (food, refreshment).”
1947 yal2
2355 base and silly] Cross & Brooke (ed. 1947): hire and salary] “i.e., a reward; cf. n.”
1980 pen2
2355 base and silly] Spencer (ed. 1980): hire and salary] “(like a payment for services, instead of punishment for crimes).”
1982 ard2
ard2: Dover Wilson; Florio and Nashe analogues
2355 hire and salary] Jenkins (ed. 1982): “On the variants, LN. The Q2 compositor evidently had trouble with his copy; silly is fairly obviously his misreading of sallery; but the same is not true for base and hyre. Hence Dover Wilson argues that the true reading must be one which could have been taken for base and plausibly proposes bait, perhaps spelt bate (MSH, pp. 325-6). Cf. Florio’s Montaigne, 2.12, ‘Have you paid him well, have you given him a good baite or fee?’ (Tudor Trans., ii.286). Bait meant food, esp. food for travellers on a journey, and it has been suggested that it had a particular use in reference to man’s last journey. This meaning has not been demonstrated and cannot reasonably be inferred from a passage in The Unfortunate Traveller (Nashe, 2.222), ‘He could have found in his heart to have packed up his pipes and to have gone to heaven without a bait’; but the idea of giving Claudius the viaticum which Hamlet’s father had been denied (cf. 1.5.77 [562]) would accord with the irony of the passage.”
1984 chal
2355 base and silly] Wilkes (ed. 1984): hire and salary] “i.e. as though the murderer were employed in the victim’s service.”
1984 klein
klein: contra parc
2355 base and silly] Klein (ed. 1984): “Nearly all editors (even Hoy and Evans) follow F1. Parrott/Craig energetically defend Q2 base and silly, arguing that Sh. nowhere uses salary. However, the word was by then long established; above all, revenge demands a noun to balance it.”
1985 cam4
cam4: xref.
2355 base and silly] Edwards (ed. 1985): hire and salary] “So F. Q2’s ‘base and silly’ seems to be not so much a misreading as a conjecture, from the context, of what two almost illegible words might be. Compare ‘particular act and force’ at [1.3.26 (489)].”
1985 Belsey
2355 base and silly] Belsey (1985, pp. 111-113, quoted by Griffiths, 2005, p. 116): hire and salary] “When Hamlet differentiates revenge from hire and salary, he specifies the gap between vengeance and justice. Revenge is always in excess of justice.”
2006 ard3q2
ard3q2: Mack, Boynton, Jenkins
2355 Why. . . silly] Thompson & Taylor (ed. 2006): “F’s reading is generally adopted on the grounds that the Q2 reading is erroneous (see Jenkins); Parrott-Craig defend Q2, pointing out that the F reading would be Shakespeare’s only use of ’salary’; Mack and Boynton retain..”

ard3q2: KL, R2 //; Edmund
2355 base and silly] Thompson & Taylor (ed. 2006): “unworthy and weakspirited. Base frequently means ’inferior’ or ’illegitimate’ in Shakespeare (see especially Edmund’s complaint, ’Why bastard? Wherefore base?’, at KL 1.2.6), while silly means ’feebleminded’ at R2 5.5.25..”
2007 ShSt
Stegner: 3116 xref
2355 Stegner (2007, p. 117): “Hence Hamlet spares Claudius’s life in the prayer scene not because of the tension between Christian and vengeful impulses, but rather because of the spiritual imperative governing his conception of revenge. Unlike Laertes, who declares his willingness ’[t]o cut his [Hamlet’s] throat i’th’ church’ (4.7.125) and thereby implies that satisfaction can be accomplished in natural actions, Hamlet considers damnation necessary for satisfying the Ghost’s dread command, for to slay his uncle in penitential prayer would be ’hire and salary, not revenge’ (3.3.79). Consequently, he aims to catch the conscience of the king in the sense not only of extracting his interior conscience, but also of trapping it in a state of sin.”