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Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home:
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
And set a double varnish on the fame

The Frenchman gave you; bring you in fine to-
gether

And wager on your heads: he, being remiss,
Most generous and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
Requite him for your father.

Laer.

140

I will do 't;
And for that purpose I'll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal that but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
Collected from all simples that have virtue
Under the moon, can save the thing from death
That is but scratch'd withal: I'li touch my
point

With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.

141. "anoint my sword": Warburton having pronounced Laertes “a good character," Coleridge thereupon makes the following note: "Mercy on Warburton's notion of goodness! Please to refer to the seventh scene of this Act;-'I will do't; and, for this purpose, I'll anoint my sword,'-uttered by Laertes after the King's description of Hamlet: 'He, being remiss, most generous, and free from all contriving, will not peruse the foils.' Yet I acknowledge that Shakespeare evidently wishes, as much as possible, to spare the character of Laertes, to break the extreme turpitude of his consent to become an agent and accomplice of the King's treachery;—and to this end he re-introduces Ophelia at the close of this scene, to afford a probable stimulus of passion in her brother."-H. N. H.

149. "it may be death"; Ritson has exclaimed against the villainous treachery of Laertes in this horrid plot: he observes "there is more

King.

Let's further think of this;

Weigh what convenience both of time and

means

150

May fit us to our shape: if this should fail, And that our drift look through our bad performance,

"Twere better not assay'd: therefore this pro-
ject

Should have a back or second, that might hold
If this did blast in proof. Soft! let me see:
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings:
I ha 't:

When in your motion you are hot and dry-
As make your bouts more violent to that end—
And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared
him

160

A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
Our purpose may hold there. But stay, what
noise?

Enter Queen.

How now, sweet queen!

occasion that he should be pointed out for an object of abhorrence, as he is a character we are led to respect and admire in some preceding scenes." In the quarto of 1603 this contrivance originates with the king.-H. N. H.

163. "But stay, what noise?"; the reading of Qq.; omitted in Ff. -I. G.

164. "How now, sweet queen"; "That Laertes," says Coleridge, "might be excused in some degree for not cooling, the Act concludes with the affecting death of Ophelia; who in the beginning lay like a little projection of land into a lake or stream, covered with spray-flowers, quietly reflected in the quiet waters; but at length is undermined or loosened, and becomes a faery isle, and after a brief vagrancy sinks almost without an eddy."-H. N. H.

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Queen. One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
So fast they follow: your sister's drown'd,
Laertes.

Laer. Drown'd! O, where?

Queen. There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long pur-
ples,

170

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call
them:

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread
wide,

And mermaid-like a while they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued

180

Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

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Laer.

nd

Alas, then she is drown'd!
Queen. Drown'd, drown'd.

Laer. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,

167. “There is a willow"; this exquisite passage is deservedly celebrated. Nothing could better illustrate the Poet's power to make the description of a thing better than the thing itself, by giving us his eyes to see it with.-H. N. H.

178. “tunes"; so F. and Q. 1; Q. 2, “lauds” (i. e, chants).—I. G.

And therefore I forbid my tears: but yet

190

It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will: when these are gone,
The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord:
I have a speech of fire that fain would blaze,
But that this folly douts it.

King.

[Exit.

Let's follow, Gertrude:
How much I had to do to calm his rage!
Now fear I this will give it start again;
Therefore let's follow.

[Exeunt.

192. "douts"; Knight's emendation; F. 1, “doubts”; Qq., “drownes.” -I. G.

ACT FIFTH

SCENE I

A churchyard.

Enter two Clowns, with spades, &c.

First Clo. Is she to be buried in Christian burial that willfully seeks her own salvation? Sec. Clo. I tell thee she is; and therefore make her grave straight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.

First Clo. How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?

Sec. Clo. Why, 'tis found so.

First Clo. It must be 'se offendendo;' it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown 10 myself wittingly, it argues an act: and an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, to perform: argal, she drowned herself wittingly.

13. "wittingly"; Shakespeare's frequent and correct use of legal terms and phrases has led to the belief that he must have served something of an apprenticeship in the law. Among the legal authorities studied in his time, were Plowden's Commentaries, a blackletter book, written in the old law French. One of the cases reported by Plowden, is that of Dame Hales, regarding the forfeiture of a lease, in consequence of the suicide of Sir James Hales; and Sir John Hawkins has pointed out, that this rich burlesque of "crowner's-quest law" was probably intended as a ridicule on certain passages in that case. He produces the following speech of

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