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Queen. O, what a rash and bloody deed is this! Ham. A bloody deed; almost as bad, good mother, As kill a king, and marry with his brother2.

Queen. As kill a king!

Ham. Ay, lady, 'twas my word.Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!


I took thee for thy better; take thy fortune:
Thou find'st to be too busy, is some danger.-
Leave wringing of your hands; Peace; sit you down,
And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,
If it be made of penetrable stuff:

If damned custom have not braz'd it so,
That it be proof and bulwark against sense.
Queen. What have I done, that thou dar'st wag
thy tongue

In noise so rude against me?

Ham. Such an act, That blurs the grace and blush of modesty; Calls virtue, hypocrite; takes off the rose From the fair forehead of an innocent love, And sets a blister there3; makes marriage vows

2 There is an idle and verbose controversy between Steevens and Malone, whether the poet meant to represent the Queen as guilty or innocent of being accessory to the murder of her husband. Surely there can be no doubt upon the matter. The Queen shows no emotion at the mock play when it is said— In second husband let me be accurst,

None wed the second but who kill'd the first'and now manifests the surprise of conscious innocence upon the subject. It should also be observed that Hamlet never directly accuses her of any guilty participation in that crime. I am happy to find my opinion, so expressed in December, 1823, confirmed by the newly discovered quarto copy of 1603; in which the Queen in a future speech is made to say

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But, as I have a soul, I swear by heaven,

I never knew of this most horrid murder.'

takes off the rose

From the fair forehead of an innocent love,' &c.

One would think by the ludicrous gravity with which Steevens

As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul; and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words: Heaven's face doth glow ;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,

With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act1.


Ah me, what act,

That roars so loud, and thunders in the index5?
Ham. Look here upon this picture, and on this;
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow:
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;
like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury,
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination, and a form, indeed,

An eye

and Malone take this figurative expression in a literal sense, that they were unused to the language of poetry, especially to the adventurous metaphors of Shakspeare. Mr. Boswell's note is short and to the purpose. Rose is put generally for the ornament, the grace of an innocent love.' Ophelia describes Hamlet as

'The expectancy and rose of the fair state.'

4 The quarto of 1604 gives this passage thus :— Heaven's face does glow

O'er this solidity and compound mass

With heated visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.'

The index, or table of contents, was formerly placed at the beginning of books. In Othello, Act ii. Sc. 7, we have-' an index and obscure prologue to the history of foul and lustful thoughts.'

6 It is evident from this passage that whole length pictures of the two kings were formerly introduced. Station does not mean the spot where any one placed, but the act of standing, the attitude. So in Antony and Cleopatra, Act iii. Sc. 3:— . Her motion and her station are as one.'

Without this explanation it might be conceived that the compliment designed for the attitude of the King was bestowed on the place where Mercury is represented as standing.

Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man:

This was your husband.-Look you now, what follows:

Here is

your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother 7. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?
You cannot call it, love: for, at your age,
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment; And what judgment
Would step from this to this? [Sense9, sure you have,
Else could you not have motion: But, sure, that sense
Is apoplex'd: for madness would not err;

Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall❜d,
But it reserv'd some quantity of choice,
To serve in such a difference.] What devil was't
That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind 1o?
[Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope 11.]

O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,

7 Here the allusion is to Pharaoh's dream. Genesis, xli. 8 i. e. to feed rankly or grossly: it is usually applied to the fattening of animals. Marlowe has it for to grow fat.' Bat is the old word for increase; whence we have battle, batten, batful. 9 Sense here is not used for reason; but for sensation, feeling, or perception: as before in this scene:

'That it be proof and bulwark against sense.' Warburton, misunderstanding the passage, proposed to read notion instead of motion. The whole passage in brackets is omitted in the folio.

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10 The hoodwinke play, or hoodman blind, in some place, called blindmanbuf.-Baret. It appears also to have been called blind hob. It is hob-man blind in the quarto of 1603.

11 i. e. could not be so dull and stupid.

If thou canst mutine 12 in a matron's bones,

To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,

And melt in her own fire 13; proclaim no shame,
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge;
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,

And reason panders will.


O Hamlet, speak no more:

Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;
And there I see such black and grained 14
As will not leave their tinct.



Nay, but to live In the rank sweat of an enseamed 15 bed;

Stew'd in corruption; honeying, and making love

Over the nasty sty;


O, speak to me no more;

These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet.


A murderer, and a villain;

A slave, that is not twentieth part the tithe

12 Mutine for mutiny. This is the old form of the verb. Shakspeare calls mutineers mutines in a subsequent scene; but this is, I believe, peculiar to him: they were called mutiners anciently. 13 Thus in the quarto of 1603:—

'Why appetite with you is in the wane,

Your blood runs backward now from whence it came:
Who'll chide hot blood within a virgin's heart

When lust shall dwell within a matron's breast.'

14 Grained spots; that is, dyed in grain, deeply imbued. 15 i. e. greasy, rank, gross. It is a term borrowed from falconry. It is well known that the seam of any animal was the fat or tallow; and a hawk was said to be enseamed when she was too fat or gross for flight. By some confusion of terms, howto enseam a hawk' was used for to purge her of glut and grease;' by analogy it should have been unseam. Beaumont and Fletcher, in The False One, use inseamed in the same man



'His lechery inseamed upon him.'

It should be remarked, that the quarto of 1603 reads incestuous; as does that of 1611.

Of your precedent lord:-a vice 16 of kings:
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 17.

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, laps'd in time and passion 18, 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 19 in weakest bodies strongest works;
Speak to her, Hamlet.


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

16 i. e. the low mimic, the counterfeit, a dizard, or common vice and jester, counterfeiting the gestures of any man.'—Fleming. Shakspeare afterwards calls him a king of shreds and patches, alluding to the party-coloured habit of the vice or fool in a play. 17 The first quarto adds, ' in his night-gown.'

184 Laps'd in time and passion.' Johnson explains thisThat having suffered time to slip and passion to cool, let's go by,' &c. This explanation 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.'

19 Conceit for conception, imagination. This was the force of the word among our ancestors. Thus in The Rape of Lucrece: And the conceited painter was so nice.'

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