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Hor. Half a share.33
Ham. A whole one, I.

For thou dost know, O Damon dear!
This realm dismantled was

Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
A very, very peacock.34

Hor. You might have rhym'd.

Ham. O, good Horatio! I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

Hor. Very well, my lord.

Ham. Upon the talk of the poisoning,

Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ha! - Come; some music! come; the recorders! 35

For if the king like not the comedy,
Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.36.


of hounds a cry; from the French meute de chiens it is here humourously applied to a troop or company of players. It is used again in Coriolanus: Menenius says to the citizens, "You have made good work, you and your cry."

33 The players were paid not by salaries, but by shares or portions of the profit, according to merit.

34 The old copies have paiock and paiocke. There being no such word known, Pope changed it to peacock; which is probably right, the allusion being, perhaps, to the fable of the crow that decked itself with peacock's feathers. Or the meaning may be the same as explained by Florio, thus: "Pavoneggiare, to court it, to brave it, to peacockise it, to wantonise it, to get up and down fondly, gazing upon himself as a peacock does." Mr. Blakeway, however, suggests puttock, a base degenerate hawk, which is contrasted with the eagle in Cymbeline, Act i. sc. 2: "I chose an eagle, and did avoid a puttock."


35 See A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act v. sc. 1, note 11. 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.

36 Perdy is a corruption of the French par Dieu.



Come; some music!

Guil. Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with

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Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?

Guil. -is in his retirement marvellous distemper'd.

Ham. With drink, sir?

Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer, to signify this to his 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.

Ham. You are welcome.

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 commandment; 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 diseas'd: 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,

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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. So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.3 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.


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Enter the Players, with Recorders.

O, the recorders! - let me see one. - To withdraw with you: 38-why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?


37 This is explained by a clause in the Church Catechism: "To keep my hands from picking and stealing."-The quartos have, "And do still," instead of " So I do still." The latter reading gives a very different sense, and one of our reasons for preferring it is thus stated by Coleridge: "I never heard an actor give this word so' its proper emphasis. Shakespeare's meaning is, 'Lov'd you? Hum! so I do still.' There has been no change in my opinion: I think as ill of you as I did.”


38 To withdraw, it is said, is sometimes used as a hunting term, meaning to draw back, to leave the scent or trail.


39 "To recover the wind of me" is a term borrowed from hunt

Guil. O, my lord! if my duty be too bold, my


love is too unmannerly."

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 with your finger and thumb,11 give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. 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; 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 music, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood! do you think I am easier to be play'd on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you

ing, 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.

40 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."

41 The ventages are the holes of the pipe. The stops means the mode of stopping those ventages to produce notes.


will, though you can fret me, upon me.—


God bless you, sir!

Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

you cannot play

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 back'd 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.-I will come by and by.

Pol. I will say so.

Ham. By and by is easily said. friends. [Exeunt all but HAMLET. "Tis now the very witching time of night, When church-yards yawn, and hell itself breathes

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Leave me,


Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,


And do such bitter business as the day"
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my


O, heart! lose not thy nature; let not ever

42 Hamlet keeps up the allusion to a musical instrument. The frets of a lute or guitar are the ridges crossing the finger-board, upon which the strings are pressed or stopped. Of course a quibble is intended on fret.


43 Thus the folio; the quartos read, "such business as the bitter day." In the second line before, the quartos have breaks instead of breathes.


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