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A king

Ham. Of shreds and patches: Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings, You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious

figure? Queen. Alas, he's mad.

Ham. Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, laps'd in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

Ghost. Do not forget: This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But, look! amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul;
Conceit in weakest bodies: strongest works;
Speak to her, Hamlet.
Ham.

How is it with you, lady?
Queen. Alas, how is't with you?
That
you

do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,

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Of shreds and patches:) This is said, pursuing the idea of the vice of kings. The vice was dressed as a fool, in a coat of partycoloured patches.

- lapsd in time and passion,] That, having suffered time to slip, and passion to cool, lets go, &c.

s Conceit in weakest bodies-] Conceit for imagination.

6 — like life in excrements,] Not only the hair of animals having neither life nor sensation was called an excrement, but the feathers of birds had the same appellation.

Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look ?
Ham. On him! on him!-Look you, how pale he

glares !
His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.'--Do not look upon me;
Lest, with this piteous action, you convert
My stern effects:8 then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears, perchance, for blood.

Queen. To whom do you speak this?
Ham.

Do you see nothing there?
Queen. Nothing at all; yet all, that is, I see.
Ham. Nor did you nothing hear?
Queen.

No, nothing, but ourselves. Ham. Why, look you there! look, how it steals My father, in his habit as he liv'd! Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

[Exit Ghost. Queen. This is the very coinage of your brain: This bodiless creation ecstasy Is very cunning in.

Ham. Ecstasy! My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time, And makes as healthful musick: It is not madness, That I have utter'd: bring me to the test, And I the matter will re-word; which madness Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, Lay not that flattering unction to your soul, That not your trespass, but my madness speaks: It will but skin and film the ulcerous place; Whiles rank corruption, mining all within, Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;

away!

? Would make them capable.) Capable here signifies intelligent ; endued with understanding.

. My stern effects :) Eifects for actions; deeds effected.

Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost' on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue:

:
For in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg;
Yea, curbị and woo, for leave to do him good.
Queen. O Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in

twain. Ham. O, throw away the worser part of it, And live the purer with the other half. . Good night: but go not to my uncle's bed; Assume a virtue, if you have it not. . That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat Of habit's devil, is angel yet in this; That to the use of actions fair and good He likewise gives a frock, or livery, That aptly is put on: Refrain to-night; And that shall lend a kind of easiness To the next abstinence: the next more easy: For use almost can change the stamp of nature, And either curb the devil, or throw him out With wondrous potency. Once more, good night; And when you are desirous to be bless’d, I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,

[Pointing to POLONIUS. I do repent: But heaven hath pleas'd it so, To punish me with this, and this with me, That I must be their scourge and minister. I will bestow him, and will answer well The death I gave him. So, again, good night!

1

do not spread the compost, &c.] Do not, by any new indulgence, heighten your former offences.

curb-] That is, bend and truckle, Fr. courber. ? To punish me with this, and this with me,) To punish me by making me the instrument of this man's death, and to punish this man by my band.

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I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
But one word more, good lady.
Queen.

What shall I do?
Ham. Not this, by no means, that I bid you

do:
Let the bloat kings tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you, his mouse;"
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or padling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out,
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. 'Twere good, you let him know:
For who, that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?
No, in despite of sense, and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house's top,
Let the birds fly; and, like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket

creep,
And break your own neck down.
Queen. Be thou assurd, if words be made of

breath, And breath of life, I have no life to breathe What thou hast said to me.

Ham. I must to England;' you know that?

5

6

s Let the bloat king-] This again hints at his intemperance. He had already drank himself into a dropsy. BLACKSTONE.

his mouse;] Mouse was once a term of endearment.

reechy kisses,] Recchy is smoky. The author meant to convey a coarse idea, and was not very scrupulous in his choice of an epithet,

a gib,] Gib was a common name for a cat. ? To try conclusions,] i. e. experiments. 8 I must to England;] Shakspeare does not inform us how Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were made acquainted with the King's intentions for the first time in the very last scene; and they do not appear to have had any communication with the Prince since that time.

Queen.

Alack, I had forgot; 'tis so concluded on. Ham. There's letters seal’d: and my two school

fellows, Whom I will trust, as I will adders fang’d, '-— They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way, And marshal me to knavery: Let it work; For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer Hoist' with his own petar: and it shall go hard, But I will delve one yard below their mines, And blow them at the moon: 0, 'tis most sweet, When in one line two crafts directly meet.— This man shall set me packing, l'll lug the guts into the neighbour room:Mother, good night.-Indeed, this counsellor Is now most still, most secret, and most grave, Who was in life a foolish prating knave. Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you:' Good night, mother.

[Exeunt severally; Hamlet dragging in Po

LONIUS.

9

adders fang'd,] That is, adders with their fangs or poisonous teeth, undrawn.

· Hoist, &c.] Hoist, for hoised; as past, for passed.

? When in one line two crafts directly meet.] Still alluding to a countermine.

3 Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you:] Shakspeare has been unfortunate in his management of the story of this play, the most striking circumstances of which arise so early in its formation, as not to leave him room for a conclusion suitable to the importance of its beginning. After this last interview with the Ghost, the character of Hamlet has lost all its consequence.

STEEVEYS.

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