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And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,

No fairy takes nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time. Hor. So have I heard and do in part believe it.

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill: Break we our watch up; and by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, 170 This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him: Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty? Mar. Let's do 't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most conveniently.


167. "eastward," so Qq.; Ff., "easterne"; the latter reading was perhaps in Milton's mind, when he wrote:

"Now morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clime
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearls.”
Par. Lost, v. 1.—I. G.

170. "young Hamlet”; “note the inobtrusive and yet fully adequate mode of introducing the main character, "young Hamlet," upon whom is transferred all the interest excited for the acts and concerns of the king his father" (Coleridge).-H. N. H.


A room of state in the castle.

Flourish. Enter the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltimand, Cornelius, Lords, and Attendants.

King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death

The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief and our whole king-

To be contracted in one brow of woe,

Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
The imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,—
With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in mar-


In equal scale weighing delight and dole,—
Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd ·
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,

9. "to"; the reading of Qq.; Ff., "of.”—I. G.

11. "dropping eye"; the same thought occurs in The Winter's Tale: "She had one eye declin'd for the loss of her husband, another elevated that the oracle was fulfill'd." There is an old proverbial phrase, "To laugh with one eye, and cry with the other."-H. N. H.


Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting:
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,-
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose,-to suppress
His further gait herein; in that the levies,
The lists and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject: and we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king more than the scope
Of these delated articles allow.


Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.

Cor. In that and all things will we show our Vol.



King. We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.
[Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius.

And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit; what is 't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
And lose your voice: what wouldst thou beg,

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That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?


My dread lord, 50
Your leave and favor to return to France,

From whence though willingly I came to Den-

To show my duty in your coronation,

Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,

My thoughts and wishes bend again toward

And bow them to your gracious leave and

King. Have you your father's leave? What says

Pol. He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow

By laborsome petition, and at last

Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent: 60
I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will!

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,-
Ham. [Aside] A little more than kin, and less
than kind.

58-60. Omitted in Ff.-I. G.

62. "Take thy fair hour"; the king's speech may be thus explained: “Take an auspicious hour, Laertes; be your time your own, and thy best virtues guide thee in spending of it at thy will.” Johnson thought that we should read, “And my best graces." The editors had rendered this passage obscure by placing a colon at graces.-H. N. H.

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Act I. Sc. ii.


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King. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Ham. Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.
Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Den-

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:


Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.

Ham. Aye, madam, it is common.


If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?


Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

74. “Aye, madam, it is common"; "Here observe Hamlet's delicacy at to his mother, and how the suppression prepares him for the overflow in the next speech, in which his character is more developed by bringing forward his aversion to externals, and which betrays his habit of brooding over the world within him, coupled with a prodigality of beautiful words, which are the half-embodyings of thought, and are more than thought, and have an outness, a reality sui generis, and yet retain their correspondence and shadowy affinity to the images and movements within. Note, also, Hamlet's silence to the long speech of the King, which follows, and his respectful, but genera, answer to his mother" (Coleridge).-H. N. H.

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