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A cutpurse of the empire and the rule;
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,
Ghost. Do not forget. This visitation
How is it with you, lady?
That you do bend your eyes on vacancy,
1 The first quarto adds, "in his night-gown."
2 "Lapsed in time and passion." Johnson explains this-"That having suffered time to slip, and passion to cool, lets go by," &c. This explana tion is confirmed by the quarto of 1603:
"Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That I thus long have let revenge slip by?
3 Conceit, for conception, imagination.
4 The hair is excrementitious; that is, without life or sensation.
Ham. On him! on him!-Look you, how pale he
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Will want true color; tears, perchance, for blood.
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 lived!
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.
My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
1 Capable for susceptible, intelligent.
2 "My stern affects." All former editions read-"My stern effects." We should certainly read affects, i. e. dispositions, affections of the mind as in that disputed passage of Othello:- "the young affects in me defunct." 3 This speech of the queen has the following remarkable variation in the quarto of 1603:
"Alas, it is the weakness of thy brain
Which makes thy tongue to blazon thy heart's grief;
I never knew of this most horrid murder:
But, Hamlet, this is only fantasy,
And for my love forget these idle fits."
Confess yourself to Heaven;
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,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg;
Yea, curb1 and woo, for leave to do him good.
Queen. O Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
And live the purer with the other half.
[That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat
To the next abstinence; [the next more easy;
[Pointing to POLonius.
1 i. e. bow. "Courber (Fr.), to bow."
2 Dr. Thirlby proposed to read, " Of habits evil." Steevens would read, " Or habits' devil.” It is evident that there is an intended opposition between angel and devil; but the passage will, perhaps, bear explaining as it stands: That monster custom, who devours all sense (feeling, or perception) of devilish habits, is angel yet in this," &c. This passage might, perhaps, have been as well omitted, after the example of the editors of the folio.
3 Here the quarto of 1603 has two remarkable lines:—
"And, mother, but assist me in revenge,
And in his death your infamy shall die."
4 "The next more easy," &c. This passage, as far as potency, is also omitted in the folio. In the line
"And either quell the devil, or throw him out,"
the word quell is wanting in the old copy.
5" To punish me by making me the instrument of this man's death, and
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!-
I must be cruel, only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.-
What shall I do?
Ham. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do.
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;"
Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers,
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. 'Twere good, you let him know;
Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?
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 assured, if words be made of
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.5
Ham. I must to England; you know that?
1 Mouse, a term of endearment formerly.
2 i. e. reeky or fumant. Reeky and reechy are the same word, and always applied to any vaporous exhalation.
3 For paddock, a toad, see Macbeth, Act i. Sc. 1; and for gib, a cat, see
King Henry IV. Part I. Act. i. Sc. 2.
4 To try conclusions is to put to proof, or try experiments.
5 The quarto of 1603 has here another remarkable variation:
"Hamlet, I vow by that Majesty
That knows our thoughts and looks into our hearts,
I will conceal, consent, and do my best,
6 The manner in which Hamlet came to know that he was to be sent to England is not developed. He expresses surprise when the king mentions it in a future scene; but his design of passing for a madman may account for this.
I had forgot; 'tis so concluded on.
Ham. [There's letters sealed; and my two school-
Whom I will trust, as I will adders fanged,-
For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
I'll lug the guts into the neighbor-room.
[Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in
1 This and the eight following verses are omitted in the folio. 2 Hoist with his own petar. Hoist for hoised. To hoyse was the old verb. A petar was a kind of mortar used to blow up gates.
3 Hamlet has purposely chosen gross expressions and coarse metaphors, throughout the interview with his mother, perhaps to make his appeal to her feelings the more forcible. The word guts was not anciently so offensive to delicacy as it is at present; the courtly Lyly has used it; Stanyhurst often in his translation of Virgil, and Chapman in his version of the sixth Iliad.