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Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ha!-Come, some musick; come, the recorders 43.

For if the king like not the comedy,

Why then, belike,—he likes it not, perdy 4. Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Come, some musick.

Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

Ham. Sir, a whole history.

Guil. The king, sir,

Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?

Guil. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.

Ham. With drink, sir?

Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer, to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to 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.

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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 com

43 [The recorders.] See note on a Midsummer Night's Dream, Act i. Sc. 1. It is difficult to settle exactly the form of this instrument: old writers in general make no distinction between a flute, a pipe, and a recorder; but Hawkins has shown clearly, from a passage in Lord Bacon's Natural History, that the flute and the recorder were distinct instruments.

44 Perdy is a corruption of the French par Dieu.

mandment: 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 admiration.

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 trade 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 friend.

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.

O, the recorders :-let me see one.—' -To withdraw with you 45.-Why do you go about to recover the

45 To withdraw with you.' rection [Taking Guild. aside.]

Malone added here a stage diSteevens thinks it an answer to

wind of me 46, as if you would drive me into a toil? Guil. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly 47.

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 48 with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent musick. Look you, these are the stops.

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;

a motion Guildenstern had used, for Hamlet to withdraw with him. I think that it means no more than to draw back with you,' to leave that scent or trail. It is a hunting term, like that which follows.

46 To recover the wind of me.' This is a term which has been left unexplained. It is borrowed from hunting, as the context shows; and means, to take advantage of the animal pursued, by getting to the windward of it, that it may not scent its pursuers. 'Observe how the wind is, that you may set the net so as the hare and wind may come together; if the wind be sideways it may do well enough, but never if it blow over the net into the hare's face, for he will scent both it and you at a distance.'-Gentleman's Recreation.

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47 Hamlet may say with propriety, 'I do not well understand that.' Perhaps Guildenstern means, If my duty to the king makes me too bold, my love to you makes me importunate even to rudeness.'

48 The ventages are the holes of the pipe. The stops means the mode of stopping those ventages to produce notes. Malone has made it the sounds produced.' Thus in King Henry V. Prologue :

'Rumour is a pipe

And of so easy and so plain a stop.'.

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.


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 49.-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 blood,

And do such bitter business as the day 50

Would quake to look on. Soft; now to my mother,

49 See note on Act ii. Sc. 2.

50 The quarto reads:

And do such business as the bitter day,' &c.

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 51, but use none;
My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites:
How in my words soever she be shent 52,
To give them seals never, my soul, consent! [Exit.

SCENE III. 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 lunacies.


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 weal1 depend and rest

51 They are pestilent fellows, they speak nothing but bodkins.' -Return from Parnassus. In the Aulularia of Plautus a phrase not less singular occurs :

'Me. Quia mitri miseri cerebrum excutiunt,
Tua dicta soror: lapides loqueris.' Act ii. Sc. 1.

52 To shend is to injure, whether by reproof, blows, or otherwise. Shakspeare generally uses shent for reproved, threatened with angry words. To give his words seals' is therefore to carry his punishment beyond reproof. The allusion is the sealing a deed to render it effective. The quarto of 1603 :

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I will speak daggers; those sharp words being spent,

To do her wrong my soul shall ne'er consent.'

1 Folio reads 'spirits.'

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