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The lives of many. The cease of majesty
King. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
We will haste us, [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUIL.
Enter POLONIUS. Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet. Behind the arras 3 I'll convey myself, To hear the process; I'll warrant, she'll tax him
home; And, as you said, and wisely was it said, 'Tis meet, that some more audience, than a mother, Since nature makes them partial 4, should o'erhear The speech, of vantage 5. Fare you well, my liege; I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, And tell you what I know. King.
Thanks, dear my lord.
[Exit PoLONIUS. 0, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; 2 Quarto — about.' 3 See King Henry IV. Part 1. Act ii. Sc. 4.
Matres omnes filiis
Ter. Heaut. Act v. Sc. 2. 5 Warburton explains of vantage, by some opportunity of secret observation. I incline to think that of vantage,' in Shakspeare's language, is for advantage, commodi causa.
ece where I shallsiness boumat:
It bath the primal eldest curse upon't,
6 i. e. though I was not only willing, but strongly inclined to pray, my guilt prevented me.
7 i, e. caught as with birdlime.
Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart, with strings of
steel, Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe; All may be well!
[Retires and 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 8: A villain kills my father; and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. Why, this is hire and salary', not revenge. He took my father grossly full of bread; With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May; And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven? But, in our circumstance and course of thought, "Tis heavy with him: And 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. Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent 10 : When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage; 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, As hell, whereto it goes 11. My mother stays: This physick but prolongs thy sickly days. [Exit.
8. That would be scann’d'—that requires consideration, or ought to be estimated. ğ The quarto reads, base and silly.
10 Shakspeare has used the verb to hent, to take, to lay hold - on, elsewhere; but the word is here used as a substantive, for · hold or opportunity.
11 Johnson has justly exclaimed against the horrible nature
The King rises and advances.
SCENE IV. Another Room in the same.
Enter Queen and POLONIUS.
to him: Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear with; And that your grace hath screen’d and stood be
tween Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here. 'Pray you, be round with him. . Queen.
I'll warrant you; Fear me not:-withdraw, I hear him coming.
[Polonius hides himself. of this desperate revenge; but the quotations of the commentators from other plays cotemporary with and succeeding this, show that it could not have been so horrifying to the ears of our ancestors. In times of less civilisation, revenge was held almost a sacred duty; and the purpose of the appearance of the ghost in this play is chiefly to excite Hamlet to it. The more fell and terrible the retributive act, the more meritorious it seems to have been held. The King himself in a future scene, when stimulating Laertes to kill Hamlet, says, ' Revenge should have no bounds. Mason has observed that, horrid as this resolation of Hamlet's is, ‘ yet some moral may be extracted from it, as all his subsequent misfortunes were owing to this savage refinement of revenge. 12 First quarto.:-.
No king on earth is safe, if God's his foe.' 1 The folio here interposes the following speech :
'Ham. [Within.] Mother, mother, mother.' The circumstance of Polonius hiding himself behind the arras and the manner of his death are found in the old black letter prose Hystory of Hamblett. VOL. X.
Enter HAMLET. Ham. Now, mother; what's the matter? Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much of
fended. Ham. Mother, you have my father much offended. Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle
tongue. Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue. Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet? Ham.
What's the matter now? Queen. Have you forgot me? Ham.
No, by the rood, not so: 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
speak. 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 mur
der me? Help, help, ho !
Pol. [Behind.] What, ho! help!
How now! a rat?
[Draws. Dead, for a ducat, dead.
(HAMLET makes a pass through the Afras. Pol. [Behind.] O, I am slain.
[Falls, and dies. Qucen. O me, what hast thou done? Ham.
Nay, I know not: Is it the king? (Lifts up the Arras, and draws forth Polo