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That you do bend your eye on vacany,
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 20
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
Ham. On him! on him!-Look you, how pale

he glares!

His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable11.-Do not look upon me;
Lest, with this piteous action, you convert

My stern affects 22: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears, perchance, for blood.
Queen. To whom do you speak this?

20 The hair is excrementitious; that is, without life or sensation; yet those very hairs, as if they had life, start up,' &c. So Macbeth:

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my fell of hair

Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir

As life were in't.'

21 Capable for susceptible, intelligent, i. e. would excite in them capacity to understand. Thus in King Richard III.:—

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O'tis a parlous boy,

Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable.'

22 My stern affects.' All former editions read—' My stern effects.' Effects, for actions, deeds, effected,' says Malone! 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.'

It is remarkable that we have the same error in Measure for Measure, Act iii. Sc. 1, 49: p. :

Thou art not certain,

For thy complexion shifts to strange effects

After the moon.'

Dr. Johnson saw the error in that play, and proposed to read affects. But the present passage has escaped observation. The piteous action' of the ghost could not alter things already effected, but might move Hamlet to a less stern mood of mind.


Do you see nothing there?

Queen. Nothing at all; yet all, that is, I see.
Ham. Nor did you nothing hear?


No, nothing, but ourselves. Ham. Why, look you there! look, how it steals


My father, in his habit as he liv'd!

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 23

Is very cunning in.

Ham. Ectasy!

My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful musick: It is not madness,
That I have utter'd: 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,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost24 on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue :
For in the fatness of these pursy times,

23 See p. 175, note 6, and The Tempest, vol. i. p. 67. 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.'

24 Do not by any new indulgence heighten your former offences.'

Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg:
Yea, curb 25 and woo, for leave to do him good.
Queen. O, Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in

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 26;
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock, or livery,
That aptly is put on :] Refrain to-night 27;
And that shall lend a kind of easiness

To the next abstinence: [28 the next more easy:

25 i. e. bow. 'Courber, Fr. to bow, crook, or curb.' Thus in Pierce Plowman:


• Then I courbid on my knees.'

'That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat

Of habit's devil, is angel yet in this,' &c.

This passage, which is not in the folio, has been thought corrupt. 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; but, I presume, it has been retained upon the principle which every where guide the editors, To lose no drop of that immortal man.' 27 Here the quarto of 1603 has two remarkable lines:'And, mother, but assist me in revenge,

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And in his death your infamy shall die.'

28 [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. Malone inserted the word curb, because he found, in The Merchant of Venice, And curb this cruel devil of his will.' But the occurrence of curb in so opposite a sense just before is against his emendation.

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 bless'd,

I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,

[Pointing to POLONIUS.
I do repent: But heaven hath pleas'd it so,—
To punish me with this, and this with me 29,
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 30; And let him, for a pair of reechy 31 kisses,

Or padling in your neck with his damn'd fingers, Make you to ravel all this matter out,

That I essentially am not in madness,

But mad in craft32. "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 33,

29 To punish me by making me the instrument of this man's death, and to punish this man by my hand.'

30 Mouse, a term of endearment formerly. Thus Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy:- Pleasant names may be invented, bird, mouse, lamb, puss, pigeon,' &c.

31 i. e. reeky or fumant; reekant, as Florio calls it. The king has been already called the bloat king, which hints at his intemperance. In Coriolanus we have the reechy neck of a kitchen wench. Reeky and reechy are the same word, and always applied to any vaporous exhalation, even to the fumes of a dunghill.

32 The hint for Hamlet's feigned madness is taken from the old Historie of Hamblett already mentioned.

33 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.

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 34, in the basket creep,
And break your own neck down.

Queen. Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,

And breath of life, I have no life to breathe

What thou hast said to me 35

Ham. I must to England 36; you know that?

I had forgot; 'tis so concluded on.


Ham. [There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows 37

Whom I will trust, as I will adders fang'd,-
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 38: and it shall go hard,

34 To try conclusions is to put to proof, or try experiments. See Merchant of Venice, Act ii. Sc. 2. Sir John Suckling possibly alludes to the same story in one of his letters: It is the story after all of the jackanapes and the partridges; thou starest after a beauty till it be lost to thee, and then let'st out another, and starest after that till it is gone too.'

35 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.'

36 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.

37 This and the eight following verses are omitted in the folio.

38 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.

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