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We will ourselves provide: Most holy and religious fear it is,

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cessary Alexandrine, which we owe to the players. The poet, i am persuaded wrote:

as doth hourly grow

Dut of his lunes. i. e. his madness, frenzy. Theobald.

I take brows to be, properly read, frows, which, I think, is a provincial word for perverse humours; which being, I suppose,

I not understool, was changed to lunacies. But of this I am not confident. Fohnson.

I would receive Theobald's emendation, because Shakspeare uses the word lunes in the same sense in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and The Winter's Tale.

I have met, however, with an instance in support of Dr. Johnson's conjecture: were you but as favourable as you are frowish ,29

Tully's Love, by Greene, 1616. Froes is also used by Chapman, in his version of the Sixth Iliad, for furious women:

ungodly fears “ He put the froes in, seiz'd their god -." Perhaps, however, Shakspeare designed a metaphor from horned cattle, whose powers of being dangerous increase with the growth of their brows. Steevens.

The two readings of brows and lunes—when taken in connection with the passages referred to by Mr. Steevens, in The Winter's Tale, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, plainly figure forth the image under which the King apprehended danger from Hamlet:--viz. that of a bull, which, in his frenzy, might not only gore, but push him from his throne." The hazard that hourly grows out of his brows" (according to the quartos) corresponds to the shoots from the ROUGH PASH," (that is the TUFTED PROTUBERANCE on the head of a bull, from whence his horns spring, ] alluded to in The Winter's Tale; whilst the imputation of impending danger to his LUNES" (according to the other reading) answers as obviously to the jealous fury of the husband that thinks he has detected the infidelity of his wife. Thus, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “ Why, woman, your husband is in his old lunes-he so takes on yonder with my husband; so rails against all married mankind; so curses all Eve's daughters, and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying peer out! peer out! that any madness, I ever yet beheld, seem'd but tameness, civility, and patience, to this distemper he is now in."

Henley. Shakspeare probably had here the following passage in The Hystory of Hamblett, bl. 1. in his thoughts: Fengon could not content himselfe, but still his minde gave him that the foole [Hamlet] would play him some trick of legerdemaine. And in that conceit seeking to be rid of him, determined to find the meanes

To keep those many many bodies safe,
That live, and feed, upon your majesty.

Ro8. The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from 'noyance; but much more
That spirit, upon whose wealo depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but, like a gulph, doth draw
What's near it, with it: it is a massy wheel,
Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortis’d and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boist'rous 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 this fear,
Which now goes too free-footed.
Ros. Guil.

We will haste us.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.

Enter POLONIUS. Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet: Behind the arras 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


to do it, by the aid of a stranger; making the king of England minister of his massacrous resolution, to whom he purposed to send him." Malone.

9 That spirit, upon whose weal-) So the quarto. The folio gives

That spirit, upon whose spirit - Steevens.

it is a massy wheel,] Thus the folio. The quarto reads -Or it is &c. Malone. 2 Behind the arras I'll convey myself, ] See Vol. VIII, p. 250,

Steevens. The arras-hangings in Shakspeare's time, were hung at such a distance from the walls, that a person might easily stand behind them unperceived. Malone. :3 Since nature makes them partial, &c.]

Matres omnes filiis
“ In peccato adjutrices, auxilii in paterna injuria
65 Solent esse

Ter. Heaut. Act V, sc. ii. Steevefis.

n. 9.

The speech, of vantage.4 Fare you well, my liege:
I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
And tell you what I know.

Thanks, dear my lord. [Exit Pol.
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon it,
A brother's murder-Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will;5
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 two-fold force,-
To be forestalled, ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd, 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 possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.


of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation.

Warburton. 5 Though inclination be as sharp as will;] Dr. Warburton would read:

Though inclination be as sharp as th’ ill. The old reading is-as sharp as will. Steevens.

I have followed the easier emendation of Mr. Theobald, received by Sir T. Hanmer: i. e. as 'twill. Johnson.

Willis command, direction. Thus, Ecclesiasticus, xliii, 16: “ – and at his will the south wind bloweth.” The King says, his mind is in too great confusion to pray, even though his inclination were as strong as the command which requires that duty.

Steevens. What the King means to say, is, “ That though he was not only willing to pray, but strongly inclined to it, yet his intention was defeated by his guilt.

The distinction I have stated between inclination and will, is supported by the following passage in the Laws of Candy, where Philander says to Erato :

I have a will, I 'm sure, howe'er my heart
May play the coward.M. Mason.

May one be pardon'd, 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 compellid,
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 can not repent ??
O wretched state! O bosom, black as death!
O limed soul;' that struggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! 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 reveng'd? That would be scann’d:2
A villain kills my father; and, for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send?


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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.

A similar passage occurs in Philaster, where the King, who had usurped the crown of Sicily, and is praying to heaven for forgiveness, says:

But how can I
“ Look to be heard of gods, that must be just,

Praying upon the ground I hold by wrong?” M. Mason. ? Yet what can it, when one can not repent?] What can repen. tance do for a man that cannot be penitent, for a man who has only part of penitence, distress of conscience, without the other part, resolution of amendment? Johnson.

8 O limed soul;] This alludes to bird-lime. Shakspeare uses the same word again, in King Henry VI, P. II:

“ Madam, myself have lim'd a bush for her.” Steevens.

pat, now he is praying ;] Thus the folio. The quartos read-but now, &c. Steevens.

That would be scann'd:] i. e. that should be considered, estimated. Steevens.

2 I, his sole son, do this same villain send -] The folio reads


To heaven.
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his erimes broad blown,4 as flush as May;
And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven ?5
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?
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:6
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:


--foule son, a reading apparently corrupted from the quarto. The meaning is plain. i, his only son, who am bound to punish his murderer. Johnson.

hire and salary,] Thus the folio. The quartos read base and silly. Steevens. 4 He took my father grossly, full of bread;

With all his crimes broad blown,] The uncommon expres. sion, full of bread, our poet borrowed from the sacred writings: “ Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel, xvi, 49. Malone.

5 And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven?] As it appears from the Ghost's own relation that he was in purgatory, Hamlet's doubt could only be how long he had to continue there.

Ritson. Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:] To hent is used by Shakspeare for to seize, to catch, to lay hold on. Hent is, therefore, hold, or seizure. Lay hold on him, sword, at a more horrid time. Johnson. 7 When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;

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

“ Didst thou not kill him drunk?

“ Thou shouldst, or in th'embraces of his lust.” Steevens. 8 At gaming, swearing ;] Thus the folio. The quarto, 1604, reads-At game, a swearing ; &c. Malone.

that his heels may kick et heaven;] So, in Heywood's Silver Age, 1613:




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