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The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so near us, as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.


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 armor of the mind,
To keep itself from 'noyance; but much more
That spirit, upon whose weal1 depend and rest
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 massy wheel,
Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortised and adjoined; 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 2 this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.

Ros. Guil. We will haste us.

[Exeunt Ros. and GUIL.


Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet.
Behind the arras3 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, should o'erhear
The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege;

1 Folio reads "spirits."

2 Quarto "about."

3 See King Henry IV. Part I. Act ii. Sc. 4.

4 Warburton explains of vantage, "by some opportunity of secret observation." Perhaps "of vantage," in Shakspeare's language, is for advantage, commodi causa.

I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
And tell you what I know.


Thanks, dear my lord.

O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal, eldest curse upon't,
A brother's murder!-Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will;1
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 cursed 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 serves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence?

And what's in prayer, but this twofold force,-
To be forestalled, ere we come to fall,

Or pardoned, being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!—
That cannot be; since I am still possessed
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardoned, 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 so above;
There is no shuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature; and we ourselves compelled,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what rests?
Try what repentance can. What can it not?
Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
O wretched state! O bosom, black as death!
O limed soul; that, struggling to be free,

1 i. e. "though I am not only willing, but strongly inclined to pray, my guilt prevents me."

i. e. caught as with birdlime.

Art more engaged! Help, angels, make assay!
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.

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 revenged? That would be scanned.1 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 revenged,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?

Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent.3
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 damned, and black,
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays;
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

The King rises and advances.


King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain below; Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go.1 [Exit.

1 "That would be scanned"-that requires consideration.

2 The quarto reads, base and silly.

3 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. 4 First quarto:

"No king on earth is safe, if God's his foe."

SCENE IV. Another Room in the same.

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 screened and stood between
Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here.
'Pray you, be round with him.1


I'll warrant you;

Fear me not;-withdraw, I hear him coming.

[POLONIUS hides himself.

Enter HAMLet.

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

Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
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?

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 murder me?

Help, help, ho!

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.

Pol. [Behind.] What, ho! help!


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.

Queen. O me, what hast thou done?


Is it the king?

Nay, I know not.

[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!

Ham. Ay, lady, 'twas my word.Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!


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 brazed it so,

That it be proof and bulwark against sense.

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


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,

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