Page images

Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together :
Most welcome home!


This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night, night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore,-since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: Your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it: for, to define true madness,
What is't, but to be nothing else but mad:
But let that go.

Queen. More matter, with less art.
Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all.

3 My liege, and madam, to expostulate-] To expostulate, for to enquire or discuss.

WARBURTON makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler delineation of a mixed character of manners and of nature. Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. His mode of oratory is truly represented as designed to ridicule the practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his character is accidental, the rest is natural. Such a man is positive and confident, because he knows that his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excels in general principles, but fails in the particular application. He is knowing in retrospect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his repositories of knowledge, he utters weighty sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to sudden dereliction of his faculties, he loses the order of his ideas, and entangles himself in his own thoughts, till he recovers the leading principle, and falls again into his former train. This idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phænomena of the character of Polonius. JOHNSON.

That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true, 'tis pity ;
And pity 'tis, 'tis true; a foolish figure;
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him then: and now remains,
That we find out the cause of this effect;
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect;
For this effect, defective, comes by cause :
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
I have a daughter ; have, while she is mine;
Who, in her duty and cbedience, mark,
Hath given me this: Now gather, and surmise.
-To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most
beautified Ophelia,
That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase ; beautified is a
vile phrase; but you shall hear. Thus :-

In her excellent rehite vosom, these, &c.
Queen. Came this from Hamlet to her?
Pol. Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faith-


Doubt ihou, the stars are fire ; [Reads,

Doubt, that che sun doth move :
Doubí truth to be a liar ;

But never doubt, I love.
O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have
notart toreckon mny groans: but that I love thee best,
O most best, believe it. Adieu.

Thire everzore, cost dear lady, whilst

this machine is to him, Hamlet.

This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me:
And more above, 4 hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
more above,] is, moreover, besides.


But how hath she
Receiv'd his love ?

What do you think of me?
King. As of a man faithful and honourable.
Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you

think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing, (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me,) what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ; Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb; Or look'd upon this love with idle sight; What might you think?s no, I went round to work, And my young mistress thus did I bespeak; Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy sphere ; This must not be : and then I precepts gave her, That she should lock herself from his resort, Admit no messengers, receive no tokens. Which done, she took the fruits of


And he, repulsed, (a short tale to make,)
Fell into a sadness; then into a fast;
Thence to a watch; thence into a weakness;
Thence to a lightness ; and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves,

s If I had play'd the desk, or table-book ;
Or given my heart a working, mute and dumb;
Or look'd


this lave with idle sight ; What might you think?] i. e. If either I had conveyed intelligence between them, and been the confident of their amours [play'd the desk or table-book,] or had connived at it, only observed them in secret, without acquainting my daughter with my discovery [giving my heart a mute and dumb working ;] or lastly, been negligent in observing the intrigue, and overlooked it [looked upon this love with idle sight;] or concealed it, what would you have thought of me?

6 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice ; ] She took the fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruilful.


And all we mourn for.

Do you think, 'tis this?
Queen. It may be, very likely.
Pol. Hath there been such a time, (I'd fain know

That I have positively said, 'Tis so,
When it prov'd otherwise?

Not that I know.
Pol. Take this from this, if this be otherwise :

[Pointing to his Head and Shoulder, If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed Within the centre. King:

How may we try it further? Pol. You know, sometimes he walks four hours

together, Here in the lobby. Qucen.

So he does, indeed.
Pol. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:

and I behind an arras then;
Mark the encounter: if he love her not,
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm, and carters.

We will try it.

Enter Hamlet, reading.
Queen. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch

comes reading Pol. Away, I do beseech


away ;
I'll board him? presently :-0, give me leave.-

[E.reunt King, Queen, and Attendants. How does my good lord Hamlet?

Ham. Well, god-'a-mercy.
Pol. Do you know me, my lord ?

7 I'll board him--] i. e. accost, address him,

Have you a

Ham. Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.
Pol. Not I, my lord ?
Ham. Then I would you were so honest a man.
Pol. Honest, my

lord? Ham. Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

Pol. That's very true, my lord.

Ham. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, kissing carrion,daughter Pol. I have, my

lord. Ham. Let her not walk i'the sun: conception is a blessing ; but as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to't.

Pol. How say you by that? [Aside.] Still harping on my daughter :-yet he knew me not at first; he said, I was a fishmonger: He is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love ; very near this. I'll speak to him again.-What do you read, my lord ? Ham. Words, words, words ! Pol. What is the matter, my lord ? Ham. Between who? Pol. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Ham. Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here, that old men have grey beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick amber, and plum-tree gum; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: All of which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down ; for yourself, sir, shall be as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.

Pol. Though this be madness, yet there's method in it. [Aside.] Will you walk out of the air,

my lord

Ham. Into my grave?

« PreviousContinue »