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A cutpurse of the empire and the rule;
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket!


No more.

Enter Ghost."

A king


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, lapsed 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.



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

That you do bend your eyes 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,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

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.

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Ham. On him! on him!-Look you, how pale he


His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable.'-Do not look upon me;
Lest, with this piteous action, you convert
My stern affects: 2 then what I have to do

Will want true color; tears, perchance, for blood.
Queen. To whom do you speak this?


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,
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness,
That I have uttered; bring me to the test,
And I the matter will reword; 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,

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;
But as I have a soul, I swear to heaven,

I never knew of this most horrid murder:

But, Hamlet, this is only fantasy,

And for my love forget these idle fits."

Infects unseen.

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,
For in the fatness of these pursy times,

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.
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; 3
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 quell the devil or throw him out
With wondrous potency.] Once more, good night!
And when you are desirous to be blessed,
I'll blessing beg of you.--For this same lord,

[Pointing to POLonius.
I do repent. But Heaven hath pleased it so,--
To punish me with this, and this with me;

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
o punish this man by my hand.”

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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.-
But one word more, good lady.


What shall I do?

Ham. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do.
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;

Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;"
And let him for a pair of reechy kisses,


Or paddling in your neck with his damned 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,3

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 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,
What stratagem soe'er thou shalt devise."

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.

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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,-
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. O, 'tis most sweet,

When in one line two crafts directly meet.
This man shall set me packing.


I'll lug the guts into the neighbor-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


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.

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