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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.
May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?o
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 compell'd,
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?1
O wretched state! O bosom, black as death!
O limed soul; that struggling to be free,
Art more engag'd! Help, angels, make assay!

9 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.

1 Yet what can it, when one can not repent?] What can repentance 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.

* Q limed soul;] This alludes to bird-lime,

Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart, with strings of


Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe;

All may be well!

[Retires, and kneels.

Enter HAMLet.

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:3
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 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:1
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 damn'd, and black,
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physick but prolongs thy sickly days.




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

4 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.

5 As hell, whereto it goes.] This speech, in which Hamlet, re

The King rises, and advances.

King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain be


Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go.



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


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.

presented 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.

This speech of Hamlet's, as Johnson observes, is horrrible indeed; yet some moral may be extracted from it, as all his subsequent calamities were owing to this savage refinement of revenge. M. MASON.

6- I'll silence me e'en here.] i. e. I'll use no more words.

Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle


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


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!

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


Dead, for a ducat, dead.

How now! a rat?


[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!"

7 Queen. As kill a king!] This exclamation may be considered as some hint that the Queen had no hand in the murder of Hamlet's father.

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 down,
And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,

If it be made of penetrable stuff;

If damned custom have not braz'd it so,
That it be proof and bulwark against sense.

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

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,

With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.


Ah me, what act, That roars so loud, and thunders in the index ? Ham. Look here, upon this picture, and on this;1

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from the body of contraction-] Contraction for marriage

9 and thunders in the index?] Bullokar in his Expositor, 8vo. 1616, defines an Index by "A table in a booke." The table was almost always prefixed to the books of our poet's age. Indexes, in the sense in which we now understand the word, were very


Look here, upon this picture, and on this:] It is evident from the following words,


A station, like the herald Mercury," &c.

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