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put him to his purgation, would, perhaps, plunge him into more choler.

Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my

affair. Ham. I am tame, sir :-pronounce.

Guil. The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

Ham. You are welcome.

Guil. Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment: if not, your pardon, and my return, shall be the end of my business.

Ham. Sir, I cannot.
Guil. What, my lord?

Ham. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command; or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: My mother, you say,

Ros. Then thus she says; Your behaviour hath struck her into amazement and adıniration.

Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!-But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? impart.

Ros. She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.

Ham. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trades with us?

Ros. My lord, you once did love me.
Ham. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely, but bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your


further trade -] Further business; further dealing. by these pickers, &c.] By these hands.

Ham. Sir, I lack advancement. Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

Ham. Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows,—the proverb is something musty.

Enter the Players, with Recorders.8 O, the recorders:let me see one.—To withdraw with you:9–Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?

Guil. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

Ham. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe? 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.



the proverb is something musty.) The remainder of this old proverb is

While grass doth growe, the silly horse he starves." Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the suce cession to the throne of Denmark, he may himself be taken off by death.

Recorders.] i. e. a kind of large flute. 9 To withdraw with you:) Here Mr. Malone adds the following stage direction :-[Taking Guildenstern aside.) But these obscure words may refer to some gesture which Guildenstern had used, and which, at first, was interpreted by Hamlet into a signal for him to attend the speaker into another room.

" To withdraw with you?" (says he) Is that your meaning? But finding his friends continue to move mysteriously about him, he adds, with some resentment, a question more easily intelligible. STEEVENS.

ventages -] The holes of a flute.


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 seem 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. 'Sblood, 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.

Enter POLONIUS. 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.2-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. '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


? They fool me to the top of my bent.] They compel me to play the fool, till I can endure it no longer. VOL. IX.


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!



A Room in the same.


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."

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

3 — be shent,] To shend, is to reprove harshly, to treat with rough language.

4 To give them seals-) i. e. put them in execution. s Out of his lunes.] i. e. his madness, frenzy.

What's near it, with it: it is a massy wheel,
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 boist'rous tuin. 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. [Exeunt RoSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN.

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

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


what I know. King.

Thanks, dear my lord.

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 ;8

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6 Behind the arras Ill 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.

of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation. * 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.

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