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Ham. Now might I do it pat, now he is praying,
My Crown, my own Ambition, and my Queen,
befides, the poet could never have made his fpeaker fay, Be could at repent, when this whole fpeech is one thorough act of the dif cipline of contrition. And what was wanting was the matter of reftitution: This, the fpeaker could not refolve upon; which makes him break out,
Ob limed foul, that, fruggling to get free,
Art more engaged!
For it is natural, while the reftitution of what one highly values is projected, that the fondness for it should ftrike the imagination with double force. Because the man, in that fituation, figures to himself his condition when deprived of thofe advantages, which. having an unpleafing view, he holds what he is poffeffed of more clofely than ever. Hence, the last quoted exclamation receives all its force and beauty, which on any other interpretation is mean and fenfelefs. But the Oxford Editor, without troubling himself with any thing of this, reads,
Try what repentance can. What can it not ?
Yet what can aught, when one cannot repent ?
Which comes to the fame nonfenfe of the common reading, only a little more round about. For when I am bid to try one thing, and I am told that nothing will do; is not that one thing included in. the negative? But, if fo, it comes at laft to this, that even repentance will not do when one cannot repent.
The fenfe of the received reading is, I think, fo plain, that I am afraid left it fhould be obfcured by any attempt at illustration.. What can repentance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who had only part of penitence, diftrefs of confcience,, without the other part, refolution of amendment.
(5) I, is fole fon, do this fame villain fend-] The folio reads foule ion. This will lead us to the true reading, which is, fal'n fon, i. e. difinherited. This was an aggravation of the injury that he had not only murder'd the father, but ruin'd the fon.
The folio gives a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto. The meaning is plain. I, bis only fun, who am bound to punish his murder,
To heav'n. O, this is hire and falary, not revenge.
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
The King rifes, and comes forward.
King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go. [Exit.
(6) In the common editions, Up, fword, and know thou a more borrid time.] This is a fophifticated reading, warranted by none of the copies of any authority. Mr. Pape fays, I read conjecturally;
-A more borrid Bent.
I do fo; and why? the two oldeft quarto's, as well as the two elder folio's, read } a more horrid Hent. But as there is no fuch Engliß fubftantive, it feems very natural to conclude, that with the change of a fingle letter, our author's genuine word was Bent; i. e. drift, fcope, inclination, purpofe, &c. THEOBALD.. This reading is followed by Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. Warburton; but Hent is probably the right word. To bent is ufed by ShakeSpeare for, to frize, to catch, to lay hold on. Hent is therefore, bold, or feizure. Lay bold on him, fword, at a more horrid time.
(7) As bell, whereto it goes. -] This fpeech, in which Hamlet, reprefented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man that he would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered.
Changes to the Queen's Apartment.
Pol. He will come ftraight; look, you lay home to
Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear with;
Ham. [within.] Mother, Mother, Mother. Queen. I'll warrant you, fear me not. Withdraw, I hear him coming.
[Polonius bides himself bebind the Arras.
Ham. Now, mother, what's the matter?
You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,
Queen. Nay, then I'll fet thofe to you that can speak. Ham. Come, come, and fit you down; you shall not budge.
You go.not, 'till I fet you up a glass
[Behind the Arras.
Pol. What ho, help.
-I'll filence me e'en bere;
Pray you be round with him.] Sir T. Hanmer, who is followed by Dr. Warburton, reads,
-I'll fconce me here.
Retire to a place of fecurity. They forget that the contrivance of Polonius to overhear the conference, was no more told to the Queen than to Hamlet.-I'll filence me ev'n bere, is, I'll ufe no more words.
Ham. How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead. [Hamlet kills Polonius.
Pol. Oh, I am flain.
Ham. Ay, lady, 'twas my word.
I took thee for thy Betters; take thy fortune;
If damned cuftom have not braz'd it so,
Queen. What have I done, that thou dar'ft wag thy
In noife fo rude against me ?
Ham. Such an act,
That blurs the grace and blush of modefty;
A rhapfody of words. (2) Heav'n's face doth glow; Yea
(9)-takes off the rofe-] Alluding to the custom of wearing rofes on the fide of the face. See a note on a paffage in King John. WARBURTON. -] Contraction, for marriWARBURTON.
(1) from the body of Contractionage-contract.
(2) Heaven's face doth glow;
Is thought-fick at the act.] If any fenfe can be found here, it is this. The Sun glows [and does it not always] and the very folid mafs of earth has a triftful visage, and is thought-fick. All this is fad ftuff. The old quarto reads much nearer to the Poet's fenfe. Heav'n's face does glow ;—— O'zR this folidity and compound mass,
Yea this folidity and compound mafs,
Queen. (3) Ah me! what act,
That roars fo loud, and thunders in the index? :
With beated vifage, as against the doom
From whence it appears that Shakespeare wrote,
O'ER this folidity and compound mass
With trifful vifage; AND, as 'gainst the doom,
This makes a fine fenfe, and to this effect, The fun looks upon our globe, the fcene of this murder, with an angry and mournful countenance, half hid in eclipse, as at the day of doom.
The word beated, though it agrees well enough with glow, is, I think, not fo ftriking as trifful, which was, I fuppofe, chofen at the revifal. I believe the whole paffage now stands as the authour gave it. Dr. Warburton's reading reftores two improprieties, which Shakespeare, by his alteration, had removed. In the firft, and in the new reading: Heav'n's face glows with triftful vifage, and, Heav'n's face is thought-fick. To the common reading there is no juft objection.
(3) Queen. Ay me! what a&t,
That roars fo loud, and thunders in the index?] This is a ftrange anfwer. But the old quarto brings us nearer to the Poet's fenfe, by dividing the lines thus;
Queen. Ab me, what act ?
Ham. That roars fo loud, and thunders in the index.
Here we find the Queen's anfwer very natural. He had faid the Sun was thought-fick at the act, She fays,
Ab me? what a&t?
He replies, (as we should read it)
That roars fo loud, IT thunders To the INDIES.
He had before faid Heav'n was fhocked at it; he now tells her, it refounded all the world over. This gives us a very good fense where all fepfe was wanting. WARBURTON.
The meaning is, What is this act, of which the difcovery, or mention, cannot be made, but with this violence of clamour ?