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Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.
Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?
Ham. Ay, sir, but, While the grass grows,-the proverb is something musty.
Enter the Players, with Recorders.8 O, the recorders :- let me see onc.-To withdraw with you :'—Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
Guil. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.
Ham. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
Guil. My lord, I cannot.
Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying : govern these ventages' with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent musick. Look you, these are the stops.
7--the proverb is something musty.] The remainder of this old proverb is
“While grass doth growe, the silly horse he starves." Hamlet means to intimate, that whilst he is waiting for the succession to the throne of Denmark, he may himself be taken off,
8 — Recorders.] i. e. a kind of large flute.
9 To withdraw with you:] Here Mr. Malone adds the following stage direction: [Taking Guildenstern aside.) But these obscure words may refer to some gesture which Guildenstern had used, and which, at first, was interpreted by Hamlet into a signal for him to attend the speaker into another room.
« To withdraw with you?” says he) Is that your meaning? But finding his friends continue to move mysteriously about him, he adds, with some resentment, a question more easily intelligible. STEEVENS. ventages -] The holes of a flute.
Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me? You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass : and there is much musick, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. S'blood, do you think, I am easier to be played on than a pipe ? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me.
Enter POLONIUS. God bless you, sir !
Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently
Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel ?
Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed. Ham. Methinks, it is like a weasel. Pol. It is backed like a weasel. Ham. Or, like a whale? Pol. Very like a whale. Ham. Then will I come to my mother by and by. - They fool me to the top of my bent.'-I will come by and by Pol. I will say so.
Exit POLONIUS. Ham. By and by is easily said.-Leave me, friends.
[Ereunt Ros. GUIL. HOR. &c. 'Tis now the very witching time of night; When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world : Now could I drink hot
They fool me to the top of my bent.] They compel me to play the fool, till I can endure it no longer. VOL. IX.
And do such business as the bitter day
A Room in the same.
Enter King, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN.
King. I like him not; nor stands it safe with us,
commission will forthwith despatch,
We will ourselves provide :
Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound,
3 be shent,] To shend, is to reprove harshly, lo treat with rough language,
4 To give them seals -- ] i. e. put them in execution. 5 Out of his lunes.] i. e. his madness, frenzy.
What's near it, with it: it is a massy wheel,
King. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
We will haste us. [Exeunt Rosencrantz and GUILDENSTERN.
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 The speech, of vantage.? Fare you well, my liege: I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, And tell you what I know. King.
Thanks, dear my lord.
Erit POLONIUS. O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon't, A brother's murder-Pray can I not, Though inclination be as sharp as will ;8
6 Behind the arras I'll convey myself,] 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.
of vantage.] By some opportunity of secret observation. 8 Though inclination be as sharp as will;] 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.
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent ;
9 May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?] He that does pot amend what can be amended, retains his offence. The King kept the crown from the right heir. Johnson.
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.
* O limed soul ;] This alludes to bird-lime.