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Grop'd I to find out them; had my desire;
Finger'd their packet; and, in fine, withdrew
To mine own room again : making so bold,
My fears forgetting manners, to unfold 8
Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio,
O royal knavery'! an exact command,
Larded with many several sorts of reasons,
Importing Denmark's health, and England's too,
With, ho! such bugs and goblins in my life,
That on the supervise, no leisure bated,
No, not to stay the grinding of the axe,
My head should be struck off.

Is't possible ?
Ham. Here's the commission: read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou hear me'' how I did proceed ?

Hor. I beseech you.

Ham. Being thus benetted round with villains,—
Ere I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play,—I sat me down,
Devis'd a new commission; wrote it fair.
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labour'd muoh
How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service. Wilt thou know
The effect of what I wrote ?

Ay, good my lord.
Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,
And stand a comma 'tween their amities",


8 — to unfold-] The folio “to unseal,but the commission was supposed to be folded up, and perhaps it is here unnecessary to represent Hamlet breaking the seal of the commission. The quartos, 1604, &c. all have “ unfold.”

9 0 royal knavery !] The quartos, 1604, &c. poorly read “a royal knavery." 10 But wilt thou hear me-] The quartos have now for “me.”

1 And stand a comma 'tween their amities ;] “ The comma (says Johnson) is the note of connection and continuity of sentences; the period is the note of abruption and disjunction. Shakespeare had it perhaps in his mind to write, That unless England complied with the mandate, war should put a period to their amity; he altered his mode of diction, and thought that, in an opposite sense, he might put, that “peace should stand a comma between their amities.”

And many such like as's of great charge",-
That on the view and know of these contents,
Without debatement farther, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving-time allow’d.

How was this seald ?
Ham. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant”.
I had my father's signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal;
Folded the writ up in form of the other;
Subscrib'd it; gave't th' impression; plac'd it safely,
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight, and what to this was sequent
Thou know'st already.

Hor. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't.
Ham. Why, man, they did make love to this employ-

They are not near my conscience; their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow.
'Tis dangerous, when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensed points
Of mighty opposites.

Why, what a king is this ! Ham. Does it not, think thee, stand me now uponHe that hath kill'd my king, and whor'd my mother; Popp'd in between th' election and my hopes; Thrown out his angle for my proper life, And with such cozenage-is't not perfect conscience,

3 And many such like as's of great charge,–] The quartos unintelligibly read, “as, sir, of great charge,” which the folio altered to assis : Hamlet refers to the word as, which begins three previous lines. In the next line, the folio uses “know” for knowledge, which in the quartos is knoring.

3 – was heaven ordinant.) Ordinate is the word in the folio.

4 Why, man, they did make love to this employment ;] This is a line not in any of the quartos. In the next line the folio reads debate for “defeat,” which last seems the right word. Above it has sement for “ gequent.”

To quit him with this arm"? and is't not to be damn'd,
To let this canker of our nature come
In farther evil ?

Hor. It must be shortly known to him from England, What is the issue of the business there.

Ham. It will be short: the interim is mine;
And a man's life no more than to say, one.
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot myself,
For by the image of my cause I see
The portraiture of his : I'll count his favours 6:
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion.

Peace! who comes here?

Enter OSRICK?.

Osr. Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.

Ham. I humbly thank you, sir.-Dost know this water-fly?

Hor. No, my good lord.

Ham. Thy state is the more gracious, for 'tis a vice to know him. He hath much land, and fertile: let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's mess : 'tis a chough; but, as I says, spacious in the possession of dirt.

Osr. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.

Ham. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit. Your bonnet to his right use; 'tis for the head. Osr. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot.

s To quit him with this arm ?] i. e. to quite or requite him. From this line until the entrance of Osrick is only in the folio impressions.

6 - I'll count his favours.] Rowe reads court for “count,” with considerable plausibility : however, “count” may be the word in the sense of count upon.

7 Enter Osrick.] “Enter a courtier," in the quartos, 1604, &c. “Enter a braggart gentleman," in the quarto, 1603.

8 - as I say,] The folio only reads “ as I saw.” In the next speech it has friendship for “ lordship.”

Ham. No, believe me, 'tis very cold: the wind is northerly.

Osr. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

Ham. But yet, methinks, it is very sultry, and hot for my complexion'.

Osr. Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry,—as 'twere,–I cannot tell how.—But my lord, his majesty bade me signify to you, that he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter,— Ham. I beseech you, remember

[HAMLET moves him to put on his Hat. Osr. Nay, in good faith; for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is newly come to court', Laertes; believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society, and great showing: indeed, to speak feelingly of him’, he is the card or calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see.

Ham. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I know, to divide him inventorially, would dizzy: the arithmetic of memory; and yet but raw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article; and his infusion of such dearth and rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is bis mirror; and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more.

9 – for my complexion.] So the folio, completing the sentence ; but the quartos have “or my complexion," leaving it unfinished. In the next speech, « But, my lord,” of the folio, is only My lord in the quartos.

Sir, here is newly come to court,] From these words, inclusive, down to Hamlet's question, “ What's his weapon ?" is only in the quartos, 1604, &c., with the exception of the words "you are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is,”—to which the folio adds “at his weapon.” There is no trace of this part of the play in the quarto, 1603.

i — to speak FEELINGLY of him,] So all the quartos but that of 1604, which has sellingly, which may be right.

3 – would DIZZY-) So all the quartos but that of 1604, which has dozie : it has also yaw for “raw,” which itself may be a misprint: Warburton would read slow for “raw.”


Osr. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.

Ham. The concernancy, sir? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath?

Osr. Sir ?

Hor. Is't not possible to understand in another tongue? You will do't, sir, really.

Ham. What imports the nomination of this gentleman?

Osr. Of Laertes ?

Hor. His purse is empty already; all his golden words are spent.

Ham. Of him, sir.
Osr. I know, you are not ignorant-

Ham. I would, you did, sir; yet, in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me.- Well, sir.

Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is

Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence; but to know a man well were to know himself.

Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon ; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed he's unfellowed".

Ham. What's his weapon?
Osr. Rapier and dagger.
Ham. That's two of his weapons : but, well.

Osr. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses : against the which he has imponedo, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their

#4 – to understand in another tongue ?] Malone suspected that we ought to read “ in a mother tongue,” but no change seems necessary : Horatio is adverting to the sort of affected language used by Osrick and retorted by Hamlet, and asks if it be not possible that they should understand each other in another tongue. For “ You will do't really,” the quarto, 1604, has, “You will to't really.” Perhaps we ought to read rarely for “really.”

5 -- in bis MEED he's unfellowed.] i.e. in his merit or excellence. See “meed” used in a similar sense in Vol. v. pp. 251 and 317, and Vol. vi. p. 515.

6 -- against the which he has IMPONED,) The folio has “imponed" for impauned of the quartos : but by what follows, “ imponed" seems right, in order to imitate Osrick’s affected pronunciation.

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