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This must be known; which, being kept close, might

move More grief to hide, than hate to utter love. Come.

[Exèunt. SCENE II.

A Room in the Castle. Enter King, Queen, RosenCRANTZ, Guildenstern,

and Attendants. King. Welome, dear Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern! Moreover that we much did long to see you, The need, we have to use you, did provoke Our hasty sending. Something have you heard Of Hamlet's transformation; so I call it, Since nor the exterior nor the inward man Resembles that it was: What it should be, More than his father's death, that thus hath put him So much from the understanding of himself, I cannot dream of: I entreat you both, That,--being of so young days brought up with him : And, since, so neighbour'd to his youth and humour, s-That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court Some little time: 'so by, your companies To draw him on to pleasures; and to gather, So much as from occasion you may glean, Whether aught,* to us unknown, afflicts him thus,

In Decker's Wonderful Yeare, 4to. 1603, we find an expression similar to that in the text: “ Now the thirstie citizen casts beyond the moone. Malone.

The same phrase occurs also in Titus Andronicus. Reed. 2 This must be known; which, being kept close, might move

More grief to hide, than hate to utter love.] i. e. this must be made known to the King, for (being kept secret) the hiding Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us from him and the Queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate and resentment from Hamlet. The poet's ill and obscure expres. sion seems to have been caused by his affectation of concluding the scene with a couplet. Sir T. Hanmer reads:

More grief to hide hate, than to utter lode. Johnson.

and humour,] Thus the folio. The quartos read-haviour. Steevens.

4 Whether aught, &c.] This line is omitted in the folio. Steedens.


That, open'd, lies within our remedy.

Queen. Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you; And, sure I am, two men there are not living, To whom he more adheres. If it will please you To show us so much gentry,' and good will, As to expend your time with us a while, For the supply and profit of our hope, Your visitation shall receive such thanks As fits a king's remembrance. Ros.

Both your majesties Might, by the sovereign power you have of us," Put

your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.

But we both obey;
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,
To lay our service freely at your feet,
To be commanded.

King. Thanks, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guildenstern.
Queen. Thanks, Guildenstern, and gentle Rosen-

And I beseech you instantly to visit
My too much changed son.-Go, some of you,
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

Guil. Heavens make our presence, and our practices,
Pleasant and helpful to him!

Ay, amen! [Exeunt Ros. Guil. and some Attendants.

Enter POLONIUS. Pol. The embassadors from Norway, my good lord, Are joyfully return'd.

King. Thou still hast been the father of good news.


* To show us so much gentry,] Gentry, for complaisance.

Warburton. o For the supply &c.] That the hope which your arrival has raised may be completed by the desired effect. Fohnson.

- You have of us,] I believe we should read-o'er us, instead of- of us. M. Mason. in the full bent,] Bent, for endeavour, application.

Warburton. The full bent, is the utmost extremity of exertion. The allusion is to a bow bent as far as it will go. So afterwards, in this play:

They fool me to top of my bent.Malone.


Pol. Have I, my lord ? Assure you, my good liege,
I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,
Both to my God, and to my gracious king:
And I do think, (or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policyo so sure
As it hath us”d to do,) that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.

King. O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.

Pol. Give first admittance to the embassadors; My news shall be the fruit) to that great feast. King. Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

[Exit Pol. He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found The head and source of all your son's distemper.

Queen. I doubt, it is no other but the main; His father's death, and our o’erhasty marriage. Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS. King. Well, we shall sift him.-Welcome, my good

Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?

Volt. Most fair return of greetings, and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;
But, better look'd into, he truly found
It was against your highness: Whereat griev'd,-
Thát so his sickness, age, and impotence,
Was falsely borne in hand, -sends out arrests
On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;
Receives rebuke from Norway; and, in fine,
Makes vow before his uncle, never more
To give the assay3 of arms against your majesty.

the trail of policy-] The trail is the course of an animal pursued by the scent. Johnson.

the fruit -] The desert after the meat. Johnson.

borne in hand,] i. e. deceived, imposed on. So, in Macbeth, Act III:

“ How you were borne in hand, how cross’d, &c." See note on this passage, Vol. VII, p. 127, n. 5. Steevens.

3 To give the assay -] To take the assay was a technical expression, originally applied to those who tasted wine for princes and great men. See King Lear, Act 1, sc. ii, Vol. XIV.





Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee;"
And his commission, to employ those soldiers,
So levied as before, against the Polack:
With an entreaty, herein further shown,

[Gives a Paper. That it might please you to give quiet pass - Through your dominions for this enterprize; On such regards of safety, and allowance, As therein are set down. King.

It likes us well;
And, at our more consider'd time, we 'll read,
Answer, and think upon this business.
Mean time, we thank you for your well-took labour:
Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together:
Most welcome home!

[Exeunt Vol. and Cor, Pol.

This business is well ended. My liege, and madam, to expostulates


4 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 threescore. Theobald.

The metre is destroyed by the alteration; and threescore thousand crowns, in the days of Hamlet, was an enormous sum of money. M. Mason.

annual fee;] Fee in this place signifies reward, recompence. So, in All's Well that Ends Well :

Not helping, death's my fee; • But if I help, what do you promise me?" The word is commonly used in Scotland, for wages, as we say, lawyer's fee, physician's

fee. Steevens. Fee is defined by Minsheu, in his Dict. 1617, a reward.

Malone. I have restored the reading of the folio. Mr. Ritson explains it, I think, rightly, thus : the King gave his a nephew a feud or fee (in land) of that yearly value. Reed.

At night we'll feast – ] The King's intemperance is never suffered to be forgotten. Fohnson.

o My liege, and madam, to expostulate -] To expostulate, for to enquire or discuss.

The strokes of humour in this speech are admirable. Poloni. us's character is that of a weak, pedant, minister of state. His declamation is a fine satire on the impertinent oratory then in vogue, which placed reason 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:


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And pity 'tis, 'tis true: A foolish figure ;

“ But farewel it,". And how exquisitely does the poet ridicule the reasoning in fa shion, where he makes Polonius remark on Hamlet's madness :

Though this be madness, yet there's method in 't:"
As if method, which the wits of that age thought the most es-
sential quality of a good discourse, would make amends for the
madness. It was madness indeed, yet Polonius could comfort
himself with this reflection, that at least it was method. It is cer-
tain Shakspeare excels in nothing more than in the preservation
of his characters; To this life and variety of character (says our
great poet [Pope) in his admirable preface to Shakspeare) we
must add the wonderful preservation. We have said what is the cha-
racter of Polonius; and it is allowed on all hands to be drawn with
wonderful life and spirit, yet the unity of it has been thought by
some to be grossly violated in the excellent precepts and instruc.
tions which Shakspeare makes his statesman give his son and
servant in the middle of the first, and beginning of the second act.
But I will venture to say, these criticks have not entered into
the poet's art and address in this particular. He had a mind to
ornament his scenes with those fine lessons of social 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 shewn us was the case, where, in the
middle of Polonius's instructions to his servant, he makes him,
though without having received any interruption, forget his
lesson, and say-

" And then, sir, does he this ;
“ He does-What was I about to say?

I was about to say something where did I leave ?" The Servant replies :

At, closes in the consequence. This sets Polonius right, and he goes on" At closes in the consequence.

Ay marry, He closes thus :- I know the gentleman," &c. which shews the very words got by heart which he was repeating. Otherwise closes in the consequence, which conveys no particular idea of the subject he was upon, could never have made him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary instance of the poet's art, and attention to the preservation of character. Warburton.

This account of the character of Polonius, though it sufficiently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler

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