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But to confront the vifage of offence?

And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,-
To be fore-ftalled, ere we come to fall,

Or pardon'd, being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is paft. But O, what form of prayer
Can ferve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!-
That cannot be: fince I am ftill poffefs'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may fhove by justice;
And oft 'tis feen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law: But 'tis not fo above:
There is no fhuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what refts?
Try what repentance can: What can it not?
? Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
O wretched state ! O bofom, black as death!
O limed foul; that, ftruggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! Help, angels, make affay!
Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart, with ftrings of


Be foft as finews of the new-born babe;
All may be well!

[The King kneels.

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.

7 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, diftrefs of confcience, without the other part, refolution of amendment? JOHNSON.

8 O, limed foul-] This alludes to bird-lime. Shakspeare uses the fame word again, Henry VI. P. II.

"Madam, myself have lim'd a bush for her." STEEVENS.


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Enter Hamlet.

Ham. Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying"; And now I'll do't-And fo he goes to heaven: And fo am I reveng'd? That would be fcann'd': A villain kills my father; and, for that,

* I, his fole fon, do this fame villain fend
To heaven.

Why, this is hire and falary', not revenge.
He took my father grofsly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And, how his audit ftands, who knows, fave heaven?
But, in our circumftance and courfe of thought,
'Tis heavy with him: And am I then reveng'd
To take him in the purging of his foul,
When he is fit and feafon'd for his paífage?

4 Up, fword; and know thou a more horrid hent :

9pat, now he is praying;] Thus the folio. read-but now &c. STEEVENS.


The quartos

-That would be [cann'd :] i. e. that should be confidered, es‐ timated. STEEVENS.

I, his fole fon, do this fame villain fend] The folio reads foule fon, a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto, The meaning is plain. I, his only fon, who am bound to punish his murderer. JoHNSON.

3-hire and falary,] Thus the folio. The quartos read— bafe and filly. STEEVENS.

4 Up, fword, and know thou a more horrid hent;] In the com mon editions,

Up, fword, and know thou a more horrid time.] This is a fophifticated reading, warranted by none of the copies of any authority. Mr. Pope fays, I read conjecturally :

a more horrid bent.

I do fo; and why? the two oldeft quartos, as well as the two elder folios, read:

- a more horrid hent.

But as there is no fuch English fubftantive, it feems very natural to conclude, that with the change of a fingle letter, our author's



When he is drunk, afleep, or in his rage';
Or in the incestuous pleafures of his bed;
At gaming, fwearing; or about fome act
That has no relifh of falvation in't:

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven";
And that his foul may be as damn'd, and black,
7 As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This phyfic but prolongs thy fickly days.
The King rifes.


King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain be


Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go.


genuine word was, bent; i. e. drift, scope, inclination, purposes


This reading is followed by fir T. Haniner and Dr. Warburton; but bent is probably the right word.. To bent is ufed by Shakspeare for, to feize, to catch, to lay hold on. Hent is, therefore, hold, or feizure. Lay hold on him, fword, at a more horrid rime. JouNSON.

5 When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;

Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed ;] So, in Marston's Infatiate Countefs, 1603:

"Didst thou not kill hiin drunk?

"Thou shouldst, or in th' embraces of his luft". STEEVENS. -that his heels may kick at heaven;] So, in Heywood's Silver Age, 1613:

Whofe heels tript up, kick'd gainst the firmament."


7 As hell, whereto it goes.-] This fpeech, in which Hamlet, reprefented 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 The fame fiend-like difpofition is fhewn by Lodowick, in Webiter's Vittoria Cerombona, 1612:


to have poifon'd

"The handle of his racket. O, that, that!-
"That while he had been bandying at tennis,
"He might have fworn himself to hell, and ftruck


E e


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Enter Queen, and Polonius

Pol. He will come ftraight. Look, you lay

home to him:


"His foul into the hazard!"

Again, in The Honch Lavyer, 1616:

"I then fhould frike his body with his foul,
"And fink them both together."

Again, in the third of Beaumont and Fletcher's Four Plays in one. "No, take him dead drunk now without repentance."


The fame horrid thought has been adopted by Lewis Machin, in the Dumb Knight, 1633:

"Nay, but be patient, fmooth your brow a little,
"And you fhall take them as they clip each other,
"Even in the height of fin; then damn them both,
"And let them flink before they afk God pardon,

"That your revenge may firetch unto their fouls." MALONE. I think it not improbable that when Shakspeare put this horrid fentiment into the mouth of Hamlet, he might have recollected the following story: "One of thefe monsters meeting his "enemie unarmed, threatned to kill him if he denied not God,

his power, and effential properties, viz. his mercy, fuffrance, "&c. the which, when the other defiring life pronounced with "great horror, kneeling upon his knees: The bravo cried out, "norve will I kill thy body and foule, and at that inftant thrust

him through with his rapier." Brief Difcourfe of the Spanish "State, with a Dialogue annexed intitled Philobafilis. 4to, 1590. FDITOR.

P. 24.

Pol. He will come fraight, &c.] The concealment of Polonius in the queen's chamber, during the conversation between Hamlet and his mother, and the manner of his death, were fuggested by the following paffage in The Hiftory of Hamblet, bl. let. fig. D: The counsellor entered fecretly into the queene's chamber, and there hid himfelfe behind the arras, and long "before the queene and Hamlet came thither; who being craf tie and pollitique, as foone as hee was within the chamber, doubting fome treafon, and fearing if he fhould fpeake feverely and wifely to his mother, touching his fecret practifes, hee



Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to bear


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And that your grace hath fcreen'd and stood between
Much heat and him. I'll filence me e'en here.
Pray you, be round with him.

Ham. [within.] Mother, mother, mother !—
Queen. 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 haft thy father much of-

Ham. Mother, you have my father much of-

Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle

Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet?

Ham. What's the matter now?

fhould be understood, and by that meanes intercepted, used his ordinary manner of diffimulation, and began to come [r. "crow] like a cocke, beating with his arms (in fuch manner as "cockes ufe to ftrike with their wings) upon the hangings of "the chamber; whereby feeling fomething stirring under them, "he cried a rat, a rat, and prefently drawing his fworde, thrust it into the hangings; which done, pulled the counsellour (half-deade) out by the heeles, made an end of killing him, and being flaine, cut his body in pieces, which he caused to be "boyled, and then caft it into an open vault or privic."

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Pray you, be round with him.] Sir T. Hanmer, who is followed by Dr. Warburton, reads,

- I'll fconce me here.

Retire to a place of fecurity. They forget that the contrivance of Polonius to overhear the conference, was no more told to the queen than to Hamlet.-I'll filence me even here, is, I'll use no more words. JOHNSON.

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