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S CE N E III.

A room in the palace.
Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.
King. I like him not; nor stands it safe with us
To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you ;
I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
And he to England Mall along with you.
The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so near us, as doth hourly grow
4 Out of his lunes.

Guil. We will ourselves provide :
Most holy and religious fear it is
To keep those many, many bodies, safe,
That live and feed upon your majesty.

Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from ’noyance; but much more,
s That spirit, on whose weal depend and rest

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+ Out of his lunacies.] The old quartos read,

Out of his brows. This was from the ignorance of the first editors ; as is this unnecessary Alexandrine, which we owe to the players. The poet, I am persuaded, wrote,

-as doth hourly grow

Out of his lunes. i.e. his madness, frenzy. THEOBALD.

Lunacies is the reading of the folio.

I take brows to be, properly read, frows, which, I think, is a provincial word for perverse humours ; which reing, I suppose, not understood, was changed to lunacies. But of this I am not conírient. JOHNSON.

I would receive THEOBALD's emendation, because Shakespeare uses the word lunes in the same sense in The Nierry Wives of Windsor. From the redundancy of the measure nothing can be inferred. STEEVENS.

s That spirit, on whose weal-) So the quarto. The folio gives, On whose spirit.

The

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The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone ; but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it, with it. It is a mafiy wheel
Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortis’d and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. ' Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

King. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
For we will fetters put upon this fear,
Which now grows too free-footed.

Both. We will haste us. [Exeunt Gentlemen.

Enter Polonius.

Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet; Behind the arras I'll convey myself To hear the process. I'll warrant she'll tax him

home : And, as you faid, and wisely was it said, 'Tis meet, that some more audience than a mother, 6 Since nature makes them partial, should o'er-hear The speech, 7 of vantage.

Fare you well, my liege; I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, And tell you what I know.

[Exit. King. Thanks, dear my lord. Oh! my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal, eldeít, curse upon't ; A brother's murder !-- Pray I cannot,

Since nature makes them partial, &c.]

-Matres omnes filias
" In peccato adjutrices, auxilii in paterna injuria
“ Solent effe.”

Ter. Heaut. Ad. 5. Sc. 2.

STEEVENS. of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret obfervation. JOHNSON.

Though

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* Though inclination be as sharp as 'twill;
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent:
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this curled hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood;
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto ferves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence ?
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,
To be fore-stalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past. But oh, what form of

prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!
That cannot be, since I am still possess’d
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
9 May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice ;
And oft ’tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law: but ’tis not fo above :
There, is no shuffing; there, the action lies
In his true nature ; and we ourselves compelld,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? whit refts?
Try, what repentance can : what can it not ?
" Yet what can it, when one cannot repent ?

9

8 Dr. WARBURTON would read,

Though inclination be as Tharp as th' ill.
The old reading is as sharp as will

. Steevens.
I have followed the easier emendation of THEOBALD received
by HANMER. JOHNSON.

May one be pardon’d, and retain the offence?] He that does not amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The king kept the crown from the right heir. JOHNSON.

Yet what can it, when one CANNOT repent?] What can repentance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who has only part of penitence, distress of conscience, without the other part, resolution of amendment. JOHNSON.

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Oh wretched state ! oh bosom, black as death!
9 Oh limed soul; that, struggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! Help, angels ! make assay !
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of

steel,
Be soft as finews of the new-born babe!
All may be well.

[The King kneels.

Enter Hamlet. Ham. Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying ; And now I'll do't. — And so he goes to heaven. And so am I reveng’d ? that would be scann'd. A villain kills my father; and for that 'I, his sole fon, do this fame villain send To heaven. Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge. He took my father grofly, full of bread; With all his crimes broad blown, as Alush as May; And, how his audit stands, who knows, fave heaven? But in our circumstance and course of thought, 'Tis heavy with him. Am I then reveng'd, To take him in the purging of his soul, When he is fit and season'd for his passage ? No.no

Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent ; When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;

Or

2

9 Oh, limed soul;] This alludes to bird-lime. Shakespeare uses the same again, Henry VI. P. ii, “ Madam, myielf have lim'd a bush for her.”

STEEVENS. " I, bis sole fon, do this fame villain send] The folio reads foule fon, a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto. The meaning is plain. 1, bis only fon, who am bound to punish his murderer. JOHNSON. 2 In the common editions,

Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid time.) This is a fophisticated reading, warranted by none of the copies of any authority. Mr. Pope says, I read conjecturally; a more horrid bent.

Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed,
At gaming, swearing; or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in't :
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven;
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black
3 As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays;
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. [Exit.

The King rises.
King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain

below; Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go. (Exit.

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Changes to the Queen's closet.

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 between

I do so; and why? the two oldest quartos, as well as the two elder folios, read,

-a more horrid hent. But as there is no such English substantive, it seems very natuyal to conclude, that with the change of a single letter, our author's genuine word was, bent; i.e. drift, fcope, inclination, purpose, &c. THEOBALD.

This reading is followed by Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. WARBURTON; but bent is probably the right word. To hent is used by Shakespeare for, to seize, to catch, to lay hold on. Hint is, therefore, hold, or seizure. Lay' bold on him, sword, at a more horrid time. JOHNSON.

3 As hell, whereto it goes.-] This speech, in which Hamlet, represented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man that he would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered.

JOHNSON.

Much

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