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That, lap'sd in"time' and passion, lets go by fume
The important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

Ghost. Do not forget: This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But, look! amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul;
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works;6
Speak to her, Hamlet.

How is it with you, lady?
Queen. Alas, how is 't with you?

you do bend your eye on vacancy,
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,
Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?



laps'd in time and passion,] That, having suffered time to slip, and passion to cool, lets go &c. Johnson.

6 Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works;] Conceit for imagi. nation. So, in The Rape of Lucrece :

“ And the conceited painter was so nice. Malone. See Romeo and Juliet, Act II, sc. vi. Steevens.

like life in excrements,] The hairs are excrementitious, that is, without life or sensation ; yet those very hairs, as if they had life, start up, &c. Pope. So, in Macbeth: “ The time has been

my fell of hair,
" Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir,

As life were in t." Malone. Not only the hair of animals having neither life nor sensation was called an excrement, but the feathers of birds had the same appellation. Thus, in Izaac Walton's Complete Angler, P. I, c. i, p. 9, edit. 1766 : “ I will not undertake to mention the several kinds of fowl by which this is done, and his curious palate pleased by day; and which, with their very excrements, afford him a soft lodging at night.” Whalley.

Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper

Sprinkle cool patience.] This metaphor seems to have been suggested by an old black letter novel, (already quoted in a note on The Merchant of Venice, Act III, sc. ii,) Green's History of the fair Bellora: "Therefore slake the burning heate of thy flaming affections, with some drops of cooling moderation.” Steevens.


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Ham. On him! on him!-Look you, how pale he

glares !
His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest, with this piteous action, you convert
My stern effects:2 then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears, perchance, for blood.

Queen. To whom do you speak this?

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 away! My father, in his habit as he liv'd !3 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 Is very cunning in.4



preaching to stones –] Thus, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. V: “ Their passions then so swelling in them, they would have made auditors of stones, rather than” &c. Steevens. 1 His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,

Would make them capable.) Capable here signifies intelligent; endued with understanding. So, in King Richard III:

0, 'tis a parlous boy, “ Bold, quick, ingenious, forward, capable." We yet use capacity in this sense. See also Vol. XI, p. 334, n. 9.

Malone. 2 Mystern effects :] Effects for actions ; deeds effected. Malone.

3 My father, in his habit as he liv’d!] If the poet means by this expression, that his father appeared in his own familiar habit, he has either forgot that he had originally introduced him in armour, or must have meant to vary his dress at this his last appearance. Shakspeare's difficulty might perhaps be a little obviated by pointing the line thus :

My father-in his habitmas he lio'd! Steevens. A man's armour, who is used to wear it, may be called his habit, as well as any other kind of clothing. As he lived, probably means as if he were alive as if he lived." M. Mason.

As if is frequently so used in these plays; but this interpretation does not entirely remove the difficulty which has been stated.

Malone. 4 This is the very coinage of your brain :

This bodiless creation ecstacy
I's very cunning in.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece:

“ Such shadows are the weak brain's forgeries." Malone,

Ham. Ecstasy!
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 re-word; whiclı 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 ;5
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 compost on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my

For, in the fatness of these pursy times,
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg;
Yea, curb; and woo, for leave to do him good.

Queen. O) Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

Ham. (, 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 ;8

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Ecstasy in this place, and many others, means a temporary alienation of mind, a fit. So, in Eliosto Libidinoso, a novel, by John Hinde, 1606: “

that bursting out of an ecstasy wherein she had long stood, like one beholding Medusa's head, lamenting" &c. Steevens. See Vol. VII, p. 135, n. 6. Malone.

skin and film the ulcerous place ;] The same indelicate allusion occurs in Measure for Measure:

“ That skins the vice o' the top.” Steevens.

do not spread the compost &c.] Do not, by any new indulgence, lieighten your former offences. Fohnson.

curb - ] That is, bend and truckle, Fr. courber. So, in Pierce Plowman:

“ Then I courbid on my knces,” &c. Steevens. 8 That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat

Of habit's devil, is angel yet in this. ] This passage is left out in the two elder folios: it is certainly corrupt, and the players did the discreet part to stifle what they did not understand. Habits devil certainly arose from some conceited tamperer with the text, who thought it was necessary, in contrast to angel. The emendation in my text I owe to the sagacity of Dr. Thirlby:

That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock, or livery,
That aptly is put on: Refrain to-night;
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence: the next more easy:9
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either curb 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 Por. I do repent; But heaven hath pleas'd it so, To punish me with this, and this with me,2


That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat

Of habits evil, is angel &c. Theobald. I think Thirlby's conjecture wrong, though the succeeding editors have followed it; angel and devil are evidently opposed.

Fohnson. I incline to think with Dr. Thirlby; though I have left the text undisturbed. From That monster to put on, is not in the folio.

Malone. I would readOr habit's devil. The poet first styles custom a monster, and may aggravate and amplify his description by adding, that it is the “ dæmon who presides over habit.”--that monster custom, or habit's devil, is yet an angel in this particular.

Steevens. the next more easy:] This passage, as far as potency, is omitted in the folio. Steevens.

1 And either curb the devil, &c.] In the quarto, where alone this passage is found, some word was accidentally omitted at the press in the line before us. The quarto, 1604, reads :

And either the devil, or throw him out &c. For the insertion of the word curb I am answerable. The printer or corrector of a later quarto, finding the line nonsense, omitted the word either, and substituted master in its place. The modern editors have accepted the substituted word, and yet retain either ; by which the metre is destroyed. The word omitted in the first copy was undoubtedly a monosyllable. Malone.

This very rational conjecture may be countenanced by the same expression in The Merchant of Venice :

“And curb this cruel devil of his will.” Steevens. ? To punish me with this, and this with me,] To punish me by making me the instrument of this man’s death, and to punish this man by my hand. For this, the reading of both the quarto and folio, Sir T. Hanmer and the subsequent editors have substituted

To punish him with me, and me with him. Malone.

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 :3
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind..
But one word more, good lady.4

What shall I do?
Ham. Not this, by no means, that I bid you

Let the bloat kings tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you, his mouse ;*
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,

I take leave to vindicate the last editor of the octavo Shak. speare from any just share in the foregoing accusation. Whoever looks into the edition 1785, will see the line before us printed exactly as in this and Mr. Malone's text. In several preceding instances a similar censure on the same gentleman has been as undeservedly implied. Steevens.

3 I must be cruel, only to be kind :) This sentiment resembles the-facto pius, et sceleratus eodem, of Ovid's Metamorphoses, B. 111. It is thus translated by Golding: For which he might both justly kinde, and cruel called

bee." Steevens. * But one word more, &c.] This passage I have restored from the quartos. For the of sake metre, however, I have supplied the conjunction—But Steevens.

5 Let the bloat king -] i. e. the swollen king. Bloat is the reading of the quarto, 1604. Malone.

This again hints at his intemperance. He had already drank himself into a dropsy. Blackstone. The folio reads-blunt king. Henderson.

his mouse ;] Mouse was once a term of endearment. So, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. II, ch. xvi:

“ God bless thee mouse, the bridegroom said,” &c. Again, in the Menechmi, 1595: “Shall I tell thee, sweet mouse? I never look upon thee, but I am quite out of love with my wife.” Steevens.

This term of endearment is very ancient, being found in A new and merry interlude, called the Trial of Treasure, 1567 :

My mouse, my nobs, my cony sweete;
My hope and joye, my whole delight.” Malone.

· reechy kisses,] Reechy is smoky. The author meant to convey a coarse idea, and was not very scrupulous in his choice of an epithet. The same, however, is applied with greater propriety to the neck of a cook-maid in Coriolanus. Again, in Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Curned;:, 1618: VOL. XV. '



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