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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: 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 away!

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;

7 Would make them capable.] Capable here signifies intelligent; endued with understanding.

8

My stern effects:] Ejects for actions; deeds effected.

my virtue:

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
For in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg;
Yea, curb' 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,2
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!

9

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

curb-] That is, bend and truckle, Fr. courber.

2 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 hand.

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 king3 tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you, his mouse;
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,5

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 assur'd, if words be made of
breath,

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

8

Ham. I must to England; you know that?

4

4

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

5

6

a gib,] Gib was a common name for a cat. 7 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.

Alack,

Queen.

I had forgot; 'tis so concluded on.

Ham. There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,

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
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet.2-
This man shall set me packing.

hard,

I'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:3
Good night, mother.

[Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in Po

LONIUS.

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

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

2 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.

STEEVENS.

ACT IV.1

SCENE I. The same.

Enter King, Queen, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUIL

DENSTERN.

King. There's matter in these sighs; these pro-
found heaves;

You must translate: 'tis fit we understand them:
Where is your son?

Queen. Bestow this place on us a little while.-
[TO ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN, who
go out.

Ah, my good lord, what have I seen to-night!
King. What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
Queen. Mad as the sea, and wind, when both
contend

Which is the mightier: In his lawless fit,
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
Whips out his rapier, cries, Arat! a rat!
And, in this brainish apprehension, kills
The unseen good old man.

King.

O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there:
His liberty is full of threats to all;
To you yourself, to us, to every one.
Alas! how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?
It will be laid to us, whose providence

-

↑ Act IV.] This play is printed in the old editions without any separation of the Acts. The division is modern and arbitrary; and is here not very happy, for the pause is made at a time when there is more continuity of action than in almost any other of the JOHNSON.

scenes.

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