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This must be known; which, being kept close, might
move More grief to hide, than hate to utter love. Come.
[Exèunt. SCENE II.
A Room in the Castle. Enter King, Queen, RosenCRANTZ, Guildenstern,
and Attendants. King. Welome, dear Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern! Moreover that we much did long to see you, The need, we have to use you, did provoke Our hasty sending. Something have you heard Of Hamlet's transformation; so I call it, Since nor the exterior nor the inward man Resembles that it was: What it should be, More than his father's death, that thus hath put him So much from the understanding of himself, I cannot dream of: I entreat you both, That,--being of so young days brought up with him : And, since, so neighbour'd to his youth and humour, s-That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court Some little time: 'so by, your companies To draw him on to pleasures; and to gather, So much as from occasion you may glean, Whether aught,* to us unknown, afflicts him thus,
In Decker's Wonderful Yeare, 4to. 1603, we find an expression similar to that in the text: “ Now the thirstie citizen casts beyond the moone. Malone.
The same phrase occurs also in Titus Andronicus. Reed. 2 This must be known; which, being kept close, might move
More grief to hide, than hate to utter love.] i. e. this must be made known to the King, for (being kept secret) the hiding Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us from him and the Queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate and resentment from Hamlet. The poet's ill and obscure expres. sion seems to have been caused by his affectation of concluding the scene with a couplet. Sir T. Hanmer reads:
More grief to hide hate, than to utter lode. Johnson.
and humour,] Thus the folio. The quartos read-haviour. Steevens.
4 Whether aught, &c.] This line is omitted in the folio. Steedens.
That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
Queen. Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you; And, sure I am, two men there are not living, To whom he more adheres. If it will please you To show us so much gentry,' and good will, As to expend your time with us a while, For the supply and profit of our hope, Your visitation shall receive such thanks As fits a king's remembrance. Ros.
Both your majesties Might, by the sovereign power you have of us," Put
your dread pleasures more into command
But we both obey;
King. Thanks, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guildenstern.
Guil. Heavens make our presence, and our practices,
Ay, amen! [Exeunt Ros. Guil. and some Attendants.
Enter POLONIUS. Pol. The embassadors from Norway, my good lord, Are joyfully return'd.
King. Thou still hast been the father of good news.
* To show us so much gentry,] Gentry, for complaisance.
Warburton. o For the supply &c.] That the hope which your arrival has raised may be completed by the desired effect. Fohnson.
- You have of us,] I believe we should read-o'er us, instead of- of us. M. Mason. in the full bent,] Bent, for endeavour, application.
Warburton. The full bent, is the utmost extremity of exertion. The allusion is to a bow bent as far as it will go. So afterwards, in this play:
They fool me to top of my bent.” Malone.
Pol. Have I, my lord ? Assure you, my good liege,
King. O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.
Pol. Give first admittance to the embassadors; My news shall be the fruit) to that great feast. King. Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
[Exit Pol. He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found The head and source of all your son's distemper.
Queen. I doubt, it is no other but the main; His father's death, and our o’erhasty marriage. Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS. King. Well, we shall sift him.-Welcome, my good
Volt. Most fair return of greetings, and desires.
the trail of policy-] The trail is the course of an animal pursued by the scent. Johnson.
the fruit -] The desert after the meat. Johnson.
borne in hand,] i. e. deceived, imposed on. So, in Macbeth, Act III:
“ How you were borne in hand, how cross’d, &c." See note on this passage, Vol. VII, p. 127, n. 5. Steevens.
3 To give the assay -] To take the assay was a technical expression, originally applied to those who tasted wine for princes and great men. See King Lear, Act 1, sc. ii, Vol. XIV.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
[Gives a Paper. That it might please you to give quiet pass - Through your dominions for this enterprize; On such regards of safety, and allowance, As therein are set down. King.
It likes us well;
[Exeunt Vol. and Cor, Pol.
This business is well ended. My liege, and madam, to expostulates
4 Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee;] This reading first obtained in the edition put out by the players. But all the old quartos (from 1605, downwards,) read threescore. Theobald.
The metre is destroyed by the alteration; and threescore thousand crowns, in the days of Hamlet, was an enormous sum of money. M. Mason.
annual fee;] Fee in this place signifies reward, recompence. So, in All's Well that Ends Well :
Not helping, death's my fee; • But if I help, what do you promise me?" The word is commonly used in Scotland, for wages, as we say, lawyer's fee, physician's
fee. Steevens. Fee is defined by Minsheu, in his Dict. 1617, a reward.
Malone. I have restored the reading of the folio. Mr. Ritson explains it, I think, rightly, thus : the King gave his a nephew a feud or fee (in land) of that yearly value. Reed.
At night we'll feast – ] The King's intemperance is never suffered to be forgotten. Fohnson.
o My liege, and madam, to expostulate -] To expostulate, for to enquire or discuss.
The strokes of humour in this speech are admirable. Poloni. us's character is that of a weak, pedant, minister of state. His declamation is a fine satire on the impertinent oratory then in vogue, which placed reason in the formality of method, and wit in the gingle and play of words. With what art is he made to pride himself in his wit :
“ That he is mad, 'tis true : 'tis true : 'tis pity:
“ And pity 'tis, 'tis true: A foolish figure ;
“ But farewel it,". And how exquisitely does the poet ridicule the reasoning in fa shion, where he makes Polonius remark on Hamlet's madness :
“ Though this be madness, yet there's method in 't:"
" And then, sir, does he this ;
“ I was about to say something where did I leave ?" The Servant replies :
At, closes in the consequence. This sets Polonius right, and he goes on" At closes in the consequence.
Ay marry, “ He closes thus :- I know the gentleman," &c. which shews the very words got by heart which he was repeating. Otherwise closes in the consequence, which conveys no particular idea of the subject he was upon, could never have made him recollect where he broke off. This is an extraordinary instance of the poet's art, and attention to the preservation of character. Warburton.
This account of the character of Polonius, though it sufficiently reconciles the seeming inconsistency of so much wisdom with so much folly, does not perhaps correspond exactly to the ideas of our author. The commentator makes the character of Polonius, a character only of manners, discriminated by properties superficial, accidental, and acquired. The poet intended a nobler