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Ham. Now, mother! what's the matter?

Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much of


Ham. Mother, you have my

father much offended.

Queen. Come, come; you answer with an idle


a wicked

Ham. Go, go; you question with a


Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet!


What's the matter now?

No, by the rood, not so:

Queen. Have you forgot me?

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 not budge:

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 murder me?

Help, help, ho! .

Pol. [Behind.] What, ho! help! help! help! Ham. [Drawing.] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead.

[HAMLET makes a pass through the Arras. Pol. [Behind.] O! I am slain. [Falls, and dies. O me! what hast thou done?


Ham. Nay, I know not: Is it the king?

[He lifts up the Arras, and draws forth POLONIUS.

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 brother.

Queen. As kill a king?


Ay, lady, 'twas my word.

[To POLON.] Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool,


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


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 is proof and bulwark against sense.

Queen. What have I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tongue

In noise so rude against me?

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 there; makes marriage vows
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 act.3

2 Contraction here means the marriage contract. So the folio: the quartos read thus:


Ah me! what act,

Queen. That roars so loud, and thunders in the index ?4 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; An eye like Mars, to threaten and command; A station like the herald Mercury,5 New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill; A combination and a form, indeed, 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 fol


Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting his wholesome brother." 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? Sense, sure, you have,
Else could you not have motion; but, sure, that sense
Is apoplex'd; for madness would not err,

"Heaven's face does glow

O'er this solidity and compound mass,

With heated visage," &c.


4 The index, or table of contents, was formerly placed at the beginning of books. In Othello, Act ii. sc. 2, we have, "an index and obscure prologue to the history of lust and foul thoughts."

5 Station does not mean the spot where any one is 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."

6 Here the allusion is to Pharaoh's dream; Genesis xli. 7 That is, 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.

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What devil was't,

Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall'd,
But it reserv'd some quantity of choice,
To serve in such a difference.8
That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?9
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."


O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,"
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,

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

And reason panders will.12

Queen. O, Hamlet! speak no more: Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul; And there I see such black and grained spots As will not leave their tinct.


Nay, but to live

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed;



Stew'd in corruption; honeying, and making love Over the nasty sty;·

8 This passage, beginning at "Sense, sure, you have," is wanting in the folio. Likewise, that just after, beginning, "Eyes without feeling," and ending, "Could not so mope."


9 "The hoodwinke play, or hoodman blind, in some place called blindmanbuf." -BARET.

10 That is, could not be so dull and stupid.

11 Mutine for mutiny. This is the old form of the verb. Shakespeare calls mutineers mutines in a subsequent scene.

12 The quartos have pardons instead of panders.



Grained spots" are spots ingrained, or dyed in the grain.


14 Enseamed 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. The undated quarto and that of 1611 read incestuous.


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
Of your precedent lord: -a vice of kings!15
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 the Ghost."


Ham. A king of shreds and patches.

Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,

You heavenly guards!


What would your gracious

Queen. Alas! he's mad.

Ham. Do you not come your tardy son to chide, That, laps'd in time and passion,17 lets go by Th' important acting of your dread command? O, say!

This visitation

Ghost. Do not forget.
Is but to whet thy almost-blunted purpose.
But, look! amazement on thy mother sits:
O! step between her and her fighting soul;

15 That is, "the low mimic, the counterfeit, a dizard, or common vice and jester, counterfeiting the gestures of any man.” — FLEMING. Shakespeare afterwards calls him a king of shreds and patches, alluding to the party-coloured habit of the vice or fool in a play.

16 When the Ghost goes out, Hamlet says, " "Look, how it steals away! my father, in his habit as he liv'd." It has been much argued what is meant by this; that is, whether the Ghost should wear armour here, as in former scenes, or appear in a different dress. The question is set at rest by the stage-direction in the first quarto: "Enter the Ghost, in his night-gown." II.

17 Johnson explains this "That having suffered time to slip and passion to cool," &c.

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