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Guil. My lord, I cannot.
Ham. I pray you.
Guil. Believe me, I cannot.
Ham. I do beseech you.
Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord.

Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying : govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent musick. Look you, these are the stops.

Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.

Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me. You would play upon me; you would seen to know my stops ; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is much musick, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. S'blood, do you think, I am easier to be played on than a pipe ? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me.

God bless you, sir !
Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you,

and presently.

Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel?

Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks, it is like a weasel.
Pol. It is backed like a weasel.
Ham. Or, like a whale?
Pol. Very like a whale.

Ham. Then will I come to my mother by and by.-
They fool me to the top of my bent.'- I will come by
and by.
Pol. I will say so.

[Exit POLONIUS. Ham. By and by is easily said.-Leave me, friends.

[Exeunt Ros. Guil. Hor. &c. ventages] The boles of a Aute,

They fool me to the top of my bent.] i. e. As far as the bow will admit of being bent without breaking. -Douce.

'Tis now the very witching time of night;
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world : Now could I drink hot blood,
And do such business as the bitter day
Would quake to look on. Soft; now to my mother.-
O, heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:
Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites :
How in my words soever she be shent,
To give them seals' never, my soul, consent! [Erit.


A Room in the same.

Enter King, RosENCRANTZ, and GuildENSTERN.

King. I like him not; nor stands it safe with us,
To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you;
I your commission will forthwith despatch,
And he to England shall along with you :
The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so near us, as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunes."

Guil. We will ourselves provide:
Most holy and religious fear it is,
To keep those many many bodies safe,
That live, and feed, upon your majesty.

Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from ’noyance; but much more
That spirit, upon whose weal depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it, with it: it is a massy wheel,

be shent,] i. e. Reproved harshly. " To give them seals-] i. e. Put them in execution.—WARBURTON. m Out of his lunes.] i.e. His madness, frency.

Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortis’d and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the bois'trous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

King. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
For we will fetters put upon this fear,
Which now goes too free-footed.
Ros. Guil.

We will haste us.


Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet : Behind the arras I'll convey myself," To hear the process; I'll warrant, she'll tax him home: And, as you said, and wisely was it said, "Tis meet, that some more audience, than a mother, Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege: I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, And tell you what I know. King.

Thanks, dear my lord.

[Exit POLONIUS. O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder!--Pray can I not, Though inclination be as sharp as will ;P My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent; And, like a man to double business bound, I stand in pause where I shall first begin, And both neglect. What if this cursed band Were thicker than itself with brother's blood ?

Behind the arras I'll convey myself,] The arras hangings in Shakspeare's time, were hung at such a distance from the walls, that a person might easily stand behind them unperceived.--Malone.

- of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation.- War. 9 Though inclination be as sharp as will ;] What the king means to say, is, “ That though he was not only willing to pray, but strongly inclined to it, yet his intention was defeated by his guilt.-M. Mason. VOL. VIII.



Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens,
To wash it white as snow? Whereto sérves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence ?
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,-
To be forestalled, ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd, being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past. But, 0, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder !--
That cannot be ; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon'd. and retain the offence ?!
In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice;
And oft ’tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law : But 'tis not so above:
There is no shuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature ; and we ourselves compellid,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what rests?
Try what repentance can: What can it not?
Yet what can it, when one can not repent ?'
O wretched state! O bosom, black as death!
O limed' soul; that struggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! Help, angels, make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees ! and, heart, with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe;
All may be well!

[Retires, and kneels.
Ham. Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying ;
And now I'll do't ;-and so he goes to heaven:
And so am I reveng'd? That would be scann'd:

9 May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?) He that does not amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The king kept the crown froin the right heir.-Johnson.

r Yet what can it, when one can not repent?] What can repentance do for a man thut cunnot be penitent, for a man who has only part of penitence, distress of conscience, without the other part, resolution of amendment ?-Johnson.

limed,] i. e. Entangled. The allusion is to bird-lime.--STEEPINS.

That would be scann'd!] i. e. That should be considered, estimated. STEEVENS.

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A villain kills my father; and, for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven?
But, in our circumstance and course of thought,
'Tis heavy with him: And am I then reveng'd,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season'd for his passage?
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:"
When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;
Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed ;
At gaming, swearing; or about some act
That has no relish for salvation in't:
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven:
And that his soul may be as damn'd, and black,
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays;
This physick but prolongs thy sickly days. [Erit.

The King rises, and advances.
King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go. [Exit.


Another Room in the same.

Enter Queen and POLONIUS. Pol. He will come straight. Look, you lay home to him: Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear with; And that your grace hath screen’d and stood between

hent,) i. e. Hold, opportunity.-Nares. * As hell, whereto it goes.] This speech, in which Hamlet, represented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man he would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered.—Johnson.

This speech of Hamlet's, as Johnson observes, is horrible indeed; yet some moral may be extracted from it, as all his subsequent calamities were owing to this savage refinement of revenge.-M. Mason.

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