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Gives him three thoufand crowns in annual fee; And his commiffion, to employ those soldiers, So levied as before, against the Polack: With an entreaty, herein further fhewn, That it might pleafe you to give quiet pafs Through you dominions for this enterprize; On fuch regard of fafety, and allowance, As therein are fet down.

King. It likes us well;

And, at our more confider'd time, we'll read,
Anfwer, and think upon this bufinefs.

Mean time, we thank you for your well-took labour:
Go to your reft; at night we'll feaft together:
Moft welcome home!

[Exeunt Volt. and Cor. Pol. This bufinefs is well ended.


My liege, and madam to expoftulate

Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee ;]_This reading first obtained in the edition put out by the players. But all the old quartos (from 1605, downwards) read threefcore as I have reformed the text. THEOBALD.

2-annual fee.] Fee in this place fignifies reward, recompence. So, in All's well that ends well:

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-Not helping, death's my fee;

"But if I help, what do you promife me?"

The word is commonly used in Scotland, for wages, as we fay lawyer's fee, phyfician's fee. STEEVENS.

I have restored the reading of the folio. The author of THE REMARKS explains it, I think, rightly thus," the king gave his nephew a feud or fee (in land) of that yearly value. EDITOR. 3at night we'll feaft-] The king's intemperance is never fuffered to be forgotten. JOHNSON.

4 My liege, and madam, to expofulate] The ftrokes of humour in this fpeech are admirable. Polonius's character is that of a weak, pedant, minister of ftate. His declamation is a fine fatire on the impertinent oratory then in vogue, which placed reafon in the formality of method, and wit in the gingle and play of words. With what art is he made to pride himself in his wit:

That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true, 'tis pity:
And pity 'tis, 'tis true: A foolish figure,
But farewel it-


3 to expoftulate] To expoftulate, for to enquire or difcufs.


What majefty fhould be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night, night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to wafte night, day, and time.
Therefore,-fince brevity is the foul of wit,


And how exquifitely does the poet ridicule the reafoning in fashion, where he makes Polonius remark on Hamlet's madneis:

Though this be madnefs, yet there's method in't :

As if method, which the wits of that age thought the most effential quality of a good difcourfe, would make amends for the madness. It was madness indeed, yet Polonius could comfort himfelt with this reflection, that at least it was method. It is certain Shakspeare excels in nothing more than in the preservation of his characters; To this life and variety of character (fays our great poet in his admirable preface to Shakspeare) we must and the wonderful preferation. We have faid what is the character of Polonius; and it is allowed on all hands to be drawn with wonderful life and fpirit, yet the unity of it has been thought by fome to be grofsly vio lated in the excellent precepts and inftructions which Shakspeare makes his statefman give to his fon and fervant in the middle of the first, and beginning of the fecond act. But I will venture to fay, these critics have not entered into the poet's art and address in this particular. He had a mind to ornament his fcenes with those fine leffons of focial life; but his Polonius was too weak to be author of them, though he was pedant enough to have met with them in his reading, and fop enough to get them by heart, and retail them for his own. And this the poet has finely fhewn us was the cafe, where, in the middle of Polonius's inftructions to his fervant, he makes him, though without having received any interruption, forget his leffon, and fay,

And then, fir, does he this;

He does What was I about to say?

I was about to fay fomething

The fervant replies,

where did I leave?

At, clofes in the confequence. This fets Polonius right, and he goes on,

At, clofes in the confequence.

Ay marry,

He clofes thus: -I know the gentleman, &c.

which fhews the very words got by heart which he was repeating. Otherwife clofes in the confequence, which conveys no particular idea of the fubject he was upon, could never have made him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary inftance of the poet's art, and attention to the prefervation of character. WARBURTON.

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And tedioufnefs the limbs and outward flourishes,-
I will be brief: Your noble fon is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't, but to be nothing else but mad :
But let that go..

Queen. More matter, with lefs art.

Pel. Madam, I fwear, I ufe no art at all.-
That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true, 'tis pity;,
And pity 'tis, 'tis true: a foolish figure;
But farewel it, for I will ufe no art.

Mad let us grant him then and now remains,
That we find out the caufe of this effect;
Or, rather fay, the caufe of this deffect;
For this effect, defective, comes by caufe:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus perpend.
I have a daughter; have, whilft fhe is mine;
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,

Hath given me this: Now gather, and furmise.

This account of the character of Polonius, though it fufficiently reconciles the feeming inconfiftency of fo much wifdom with fo much folly, does not perhaps correfpond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, difcriminated by properties fuperficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercifed in bufinefs, ftored with obfervation, confident of his knowledge, proud of his cloquence, and declining into do age. His mode of oratory is truly reprefented as defigned to ridicule the practice of thofe times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarraffed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the reft is na tural. Such a man is pofitive and confident, becaufe he knows that his mind was once ftrong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrofpect, and ignorant in forefight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repofitories of knowledge, he utters weighty fentences, and gives ufeful counfel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long bufy and intent, the old man is fubject to fudden dereliction of his faculties, he lofes the order of his ideas and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wiidom, will folve all the phænomena of the character of Polonius. JOHNSON.

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4 To the celeftial, and my foul's idol, the most beautified OpheliaThat's an ill phrafe, a vile phrafe; beautify'd

Is a vile phrafe; but you shall hear :—

Thefe in her excellent white bofom, thefe, &c.
Queen. Came this from Hamlet to her?

Pol. Good madam, ftay a while; I will be faithful.

Doubt thou, the fars are fire';

Doubt, that the fun doth move;

Doubt truth to be a liar;

But never doubt, I love.


O dear Ophelia, 1 am ill at these numbers; I have not art to reckon my groans: but that I love thee beft, O most beft, believe it. Adieu.

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Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilft this machine is to him, Hamlet.

To the celeftial, and my foul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia-] Heywood, in his Hiftory of Edward VI, fays " Katherine Parre queen dowager to king Henry VIII, was a woman beautified with many excellent virtues." FARMER.

So, in The Hog bath loft his Pearl, 16:4:

"A maid of rich endowments, beautified

"With all the virtues nature could beflow."

Again, Nath dedicates his Chri's Tears over Jerufalem, 15"to the most beautified lady the lady Elizabeth Carey."

Again, in Greene's Mamillia, 1593: "-although thy perfon is fo bravely beautified with the dowies of nature."


Ill and vile as the phrafe may be, our author has used it again in the Two Gentlemen of Verona :

-fecing you are beautified

With good fhape, &c. STEEVENS.

5 Thefe in her excellent white bofom,] So, in the Two Gentlemen

of Verona:

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Thy letters

Which, being writ to me, fhall be deliver'd

Even in the milk-white boom of thy love.

See a note on this paffage. vol. i. p. 193. STEEVENS.


O most best—] So, in Acolatus, a comedy, 1540: -that fame moft best redreffer or reformer, is God.”



This, in obedience, hath my daughter fhewn me: And, more above, hath his folicitings,


As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.

King. But how hath she

Receiv'd his love?

Pol. What do you think of me?

King. As of a man faithful and honourable. Pol. I would fain prove fo. But what might you think,

When I had feen this hot love on the wing, (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me) what might you, Or my dear majefty your queen here, think, 8 If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; 9 Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb; Or look'd upon this love with idle fight? What might you think? no, I went round to work, And my young mistress thus I did befpeak;

Lord Hamlet is a prince:-out of thy sphere;


more above,-].is, moreover, befides. JOHNSON.

8 If I had play'd the desk or table-book;

Or giv'n my heart a working, mute and dumb ;

Or look'd upon this love with idle fight;

What might you think? — ] i. e. If either I had conveyed intelligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the defk or table-book,] or had connived at it, only obferved them in fecret, without accquainting my daughter with my difcovery [given my heart a mute and dumb working ;] or laftly, had been negligent in obferving the intrigue, and overlooked it [looked upon this love with idle fight;] what would you have thought of me? WARBURTON.

9 Or given my heart a working,-] The folio reads a winking. STEEVENS.

Or given my heart a working mute and dumb;- The fame pleonafm is found in our author's Rape of Lucrece :

"And in my hearing be you mute and dumb.”


Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy fphere,] All princes were alike out of her fphere. I give it thus:

Lord Hamlet is a prince:-out of thy sphere.

Two of the quartos, and the first folio, read far. STEEVENS.

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