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The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
Which now goes too free-footed.
We will haste us. [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUIL.
Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet. Behind the arras 3 I'll convey myself,
To hear the process; I'll warrant, she'll tax him home;
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 5. Fare you well, my liege; I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
And tell you what I know.
Thanks, dear my
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
2 Quarto-' about.'
3 See King Henry IV. Part I. Act ii. Sc. 4.
Matres omnes filiis
In peccato adjutrices, auxilii in paterna injuria
Ter. Heaut. Act v. Sc. 2.
5 Warburton explains of vantage, by some opportunity of secret observation.' I incline to think that of vantage,' in Shakspeare's language, is for advantage, commodi causa.
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,-
Or pardon'd, being down? Then I'll look up;
6 i. e. though I was not only willing, but strongly inclined to pray, my guilt prevented me.'
7 i. e. caught as with birdlime.
Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart, with strings of
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe;
All may be well!
[Retires and kneels.
Ham. Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying;
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
Why, this is hire and salary 9, not revenge.
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent 10:
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven:
8 That would be scann'd'-that requires consideration, or ought to be estimated.
9 The quarto reads, base and silly.
10 Shakspeare has used the verb to hent, to take, to lay hold on, elsewhere; but the word is here used as a substantive, for hold or opportunity.
11 Johnson has justly exclaimed against the horrible nature
The King rises and advances.
King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go 12.
SCENE IV. Another Room in the same.
Enter Queen and POLONIUS.
Pol. He will come straight. Look, you lay home to him:
Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear with; And that your grace hath screen'd and stood be
Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here. 'Pray you, be round with him1.
Queen. I'll warrant you; Fear me not: withdraw, I hear him coming. [POLONIUS hides himself.
of this desperate revenge; but the quotations of the commentators from other plays cotemporary with and succeeding this, show that it could not have been so horrifying to the ears of our ancestors. In times of less civilisation, revenge was held almost a sacred duty; and the purpose of the appearance of the ghost in this play is chiefly to excite Hamlet to it. The more fell and terrible the retributive act, the more meritorious it seems to have been held. The King himself in a future scene, when stimulating Laertes to kill Hamlet, says, 'Revenge should have no bounds.' Mason has observed that, horrid as this resolution of Hamlet's is, ' yet some moral may be extracted from it, as all his subsequent misfortunes were owing to this savage refinement of revenge.'
12 First quarto.:
'No king on earth is safe, if God's his foe.'
1 The folio here interposes the following speech:
'Ham. [Within.] Mother, mother, mother.' The circumstance of Polonius hiding himself behind the arras and the manner of his death are found in the old black letter prose Hystory of Hamblett.
Ham. Now, mother; what's the matter? Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Ham. Mother, you have my father much offended. Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue. Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet?
What's the matter now?
No, by the rood, not so:
Queen. Have you forgot me? Ham. You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife; And,-'would it were not so!-you are my mother. Queen. Nay, then I'll set those to you that can
Ham. Come, come, and sit you
down; you shall
You go not, till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.
Queen. What wilt thou do? thou wilt not mur
[Falls, and dies.
Nay, I know not:
Queen. O me, what hast thou done?
Is it the king?
[Lifts up the Arras, and draws forth POLO