by William Shakespeare



Scene I. A room in Polonius's house.

[Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.]

Pol.Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.

Rey.I will, my lord.

Pol.You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,Before You visit him, to make inquiryOf his behaviour.

Rey.My lord, I did intend it.

Pol.Marry, well said; very well said. Look you, sir,Enquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,What company, at what expense; and finding,By this encompassment and drift of question,That they do know my son, come you more nearerThan your particular demands will touch it:Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him;As thus, 'I know his father and his friends,And in part hi;m;--do you mark this, Reynaldo?

Rey.Ay, very well, my lord.

Pol.'And in part him;--but,' you may say, 'not well:But if't be he I mean, he's very wild;Addicted so and so;' and there put on himWhat forgeries you please; marry, none so rankAs may dishonour him; take heed of that;But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slipsAs are companions noted and most knownTo youth and liberty.

Rey.As gaming, my lord.

Pol.Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,Drabbing:--you may go so far.

Rey.My lord, that would dishonour him.

Pol.Faith, no; as you may season it in the charge.You must not put another scandal on him,That he is open to incontinency;That's not my meaning: but breathe his faults so quaintlyThat they may seem the taints of liberty;The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind;A savageness in unreclaimed blood,Of general assault.

Rey.But, my good lord,--

Pol.Wherefore should you do this?

Rey.Ay, my lord,I would know that.

Pol.Marry, sir, here's my drift;And I believe it is a fetch of warrant:You laying these slight sullies on my sonAs 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' the working,Mark you,Your party in converse, him you would sound,Having ever seen in the prenominate crimesThe youth you breathe of guilty, be assur'dHe closes with you in this consequence;'Good sir,' or so; or 'friend,' or 'gentleman'--According to the phrase or the additionOf man and country.

Rey.Very good, my lord.

Pol.And then, sir, does he this,--he does--What was I about to say?--By the mass, I was about to say something:--Where did I leave?

Rey.At 'closes in the consequence,' at 'friend or so,' andgentleman.'

Pol.At--closes in the consequence'--ay, marry!He closes with you thus:--'I know the gentleman;I saw him yesterday, or t'other day,Or then, or then; with such, or such; and, as you say,There was he gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse;There falling out at tennis': or perchance,'I saw him enter such a house of sale,'--Videlicet, a brothel,--or so forth.--See you now;Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,With windlaces, and with assays of bias,By indirections find directions out:So, by my former lecture and advice,Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?

Rey.My lord, I have.

Pol.God b' wi' you, fare you well.

Rey.Good my lord!

Pol.Observe his inclination in yourself.

Rey.I shall, my lord.

Pol.And let him ply his music.

Rey.Well, my lord.


[Exit Reynaldo.]

[Enter Ophelia.]

How now, Ophelia! what's the matter?

Oph.Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted!

Pol.With what, i' the name of God?

Oph.My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,Lord Hamlet,--with his doublet all unbrac'd;No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd,Ungart'red, and down-gyved to his ankle;Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;And with a look so piteous in purportAs if he had been loosed out of hellTo speak of horrors,--he comes before me.

Pol.Mad for thy love?

Oph.My lord, I do not know;But truly I do fear it.

Pol.What said he?

Oph.He took me by the wrist, and held me hard;Then goes he to the length of all his arm;And with his other hand thus o'er his brow,He falls to such perusal of my faceAs he would draw it. Long stay'd he so;At last,--a little shaking of mine arm,And thrice his head thus waving up and down,--He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profoundAs it did seem to shatter all his bulkAnd end his being: that done, he lets me go:And, with his head over his shoulder turn'dHe seem'd to find his way without his eyes;For out o' doors he went without their help,And to the last bended their light on me.

Pol.Come, go with me: I will go seek the king.This is the very ecstasy of love;Whose violent property fordoes itself,And leads the will to desperate undertakings,As oft as any passion under heavenThat does afflict our natures. I am sorry,--What, have you given him any hard words of late?

Oph.No, my good lord; but, as you did command,I did repel his letters and deniedHis access to me.

Pol.That hath made him mad.I am sorry that with better heed and judgmentI had not quoted him: I fear'd he did but trifle,And meant to wreck thee; but beshrew my jealousy!It seems it as proper to our ageTo cast beyond ourselves in our opinionsAs it is common for the younger sortTo lack discretion. Come, go we to the king:This must be known; which, being kept close, might moveMore grief to hide than hate to utter love.


Scene II. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Attendants.]

King.Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!Moreover that we much did long to see you,The need we have to use you did provokeOur hasty sending. Something have you heardOf Hamlet's transformation; so I call it,Since nor the exterior nor the inward manResembles that it was. What it should be,More than his father's death, that thus hath put himSo much from the understanding of himself,I cannot dream of: I entreat you bothThat, being of so young days brought up with him,And since so neighbour'd to his youth and humour,That you vouchsafe your rest here in our courtSome little time: so by your companiesTo draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,So much as from occasion you may glean,Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,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 livingTo whom he more adheres. If it will please youTo show us so much gentry and good-willAs to expend your time with us awhile,For the supply and profit of our hope,Your visitation shall receive such thanksAs fits a king's remembrance.

Ros.Both your majestiesMight, by the sovereign power you have of us,Put your dread pleasures more into commandThan to entreaty.

Guil.We both obey,And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,To lay our service freely at your feet,To be commanded.

King.Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.

Queen.Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz:And I beseech you instantly to visitMy too-much-changed son.--Go, some of you,And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

Guil.Heavens make our presence and our practicesPleasant and helpful to him!

Queen.Ay, amen!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and some Attendants].

[Enter Polonius.]

Pol.Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,Are joyfully return'd.

King.Thou still hast been the father of good news.

Pol.Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,Both to my God and to my gracious king:And I do think,--or else this brain of mineHunts not the trail of policy so sureAs it hath us'd to do,--that I have foundThe very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.

King.O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.

Pol.Give first admittance to the ambassadors;My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.

King.Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

[Exit Polonius.]

He tells me, my sweet queen, he hath foundThe 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.

King.Well, we shall sift him.

[Enter Polonius, with Voltimand and Cornelius.]

Welcome, my good friends!Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?

Volt.Most fair return of greetings and desires.Upon our first, he sent out to suppressHis nephew's levies; which to him appear'dTo be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;But, better look'd into, he truly foundIt was against your highness; whereat griev'd,--That so his sickness, age, and impotenceWas falsely borne in hand,--sends out arrestsOn Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;Receives rebuke from Norway; and, in fine,Makes vow before his uncle never moreTo give th' assay of arms against your majesty.Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee;And his commission to employ those soldiers,So levied as before, against the Polack:With an entreaty, herein further shown,[Gives a paper.]That it might please you to give quiet passThrough your dominions for this enterprise,On such regards of safety and allowanceAs therein are set down.

King.It likes us well;And at our more consider'd time we'll read,Answer, and think upon this business.Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour:Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together:Most welcome home!

[Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius.]

Pol.This business is well ended.--My liege, and madam,--to expostulateWhat majesty should be, what duty is,Why day is day, night is 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.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 remainsThat 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.Perpend.I have a daughter,--have whilst she is mine,--Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,Hath given me this: now gather, and surmise.[Reads.]'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautifiedOphelia,'--That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is a vilephrase: but you shall hear. Thus:[Reads.]'In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.'

Queen.Came this from Hamlet to her?

Pol.Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.[Reads.] 'Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love.'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art toreckon my groans: but that I love thee best, O most best, believeit. Adieu. 'Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him, HAMLET.'This, in obedience, hath my daughter show'd me;And more above, hath his solicitings,As they fell out by time, by means, and place,All given to mine ear.

King.But how hath sheReceiv'd his love?

Pol.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 winking, mute and dumb;Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;--What might you think? No, I went round to work,And my young mistress thus I did 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 my advice;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,And all we wail for.

King.Do you think 'tis this?

Queen.It may be, very likely.

Pol.Hath there been such a time,--I'd fain know that--That I have positively said ''Tis so,'When it prov'd otherwise?

King.Not that I know.

Pol.Take this from this, if this be otherwise:[Points to his head and shoulder.]If circumstances lead me, I will findWhere truth is hid, though it were hid indeedWithin the centre.

King.How may we try it further?

Pol.You know sometimes he walks for hours togetherHere in the lobby.

Queen.So he does indeed.

Pol.At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:Be you and I behind an arras then;Mark the encounter: if he love her not,And he not from his reason fall'n thereonLet me be no assistant for a state,But keep a farm and carters.

King.We will try it.

Queen.But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

Pol.Away, I do beseech you, both awayI'll board him presently:--O, give me leave.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.]

[Enter Hamlet, reading.]

How does my good Lord Hamlet?

Ham.Well, God-a-mercy.

Pol.Do you know me, my lord?

Ham.Excellent well; you're 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 manpicked 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-kissingcarrion,--Have you a daughter?

Pol.I have, my lord.

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

Pol.How say you by that?--[Aside.] Still harping on my daughter:--yethe knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger: he is fargone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremityfor love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.--What do youread, 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 slave says here that old menhave grey beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyespurging thick amber and plum-tree gum; and that they have aplentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: all which,sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold itnot honesty to have it thus set down; for you yourself, sir,should be old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.

Pol.[Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.--Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

Ham.Into my grave?

Pol.Indeed, that is out o' the air. [Aside.] How pregnant sometimeshis replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, whichreason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. Iwill leave him and suddenly contrive the means of meeting betweenhim and my daughter.--My honourable lord, I will most humbly takemy leave of you.

Ham.You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will morewillingly part withal,--except my life, except my life, except mylife.

Pol.Fare you well, my lord.

Ham.These tedious old fools!

[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

Pol.You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.

Ros.[To Polonius.] God save you, sir!

[Exit Polonius.]

Guil.My honoured lord!

Ros.My most dear lord!

Ham.My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?

Ros.As the indifferent children of the earth.

Guil.Happy in that we are not over-happy;On fortune's cap we are not the very button.

Ham.Nor the soles of her shoe?

Ros.Neither, my lord.

Ham.Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of herfavours?

Guil.Faith, her privates we.

Ham.In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she is astrumpet. What's the news?

Ros.None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.

Ham.Then is doomsday near; but your news is not true. Let mequestion more in particular: what have you, my good friends,deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prisonhither?

Guil.Prison, my lord!

Ham.Denmark's a prison.

Ros.Then is the world one.

Ham.A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, anddungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.

Ros.We think not so, my lord.

Ham.Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either goodor bad but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.

Ros.Why, then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for yourmind.

Ham.O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself aking of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Guil.Which dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance ofthe ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Ham.A dream itself is but a shadow.

Ros.Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality thatit is but a shadow's shadow.

Ham.Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'dheroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by myfay, I cannot reason.

Ros. and Guild.We'll wait upon you.

Ham.No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of myservants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am mostdreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, whatmake you at Elsinore?

Ros.To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.

Ham.Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you:and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Wereyou not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a freevisitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.

Guil.What should we say, my lord?

Ham.Why, anything--but to the purpose. You were sent for; andthere is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modestieshave not craft enough to colour: I know the good king and queenhave sent for you.

Ros.To what end, my lord?

Ham.That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rightsof our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by theobligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear abetter proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct withme, whether you were sent for or no.

Ros.[To Guildenstern.] What say you?

Ham.[Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you love me, holdnot off.

Guil.My lord, we were sent for.

Ham.I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent yourdiscovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult nofeather. I have of late,--but wherefore I know not,--lost all mymirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes soheavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth,seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, theair, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majesticalroof fretted with golden fire,--why, it appears no other thingto me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What apiece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite infaculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! inaction how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! thebeauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, whatis this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor womanneither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Ros.My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Ham.Why did you laugh then, when I said 'Man delights not me'?

Ros.To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lentenentertainment the players shall receive from you: we coted themon the way; and hither are they coming to offer you service.

Ham.He that plays the king shall be welcome,--his majesty shallhave tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil andtarget; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man shallend his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whoselungs are tickle o' the sere; and the lady shall say her mindfreely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players arethey?

Ros.Even those you were wont to take such delight in,--thetragedians of the city.

Ham.How chances it they travel? their residence, both inreputation and profit, was better both ways.

Ros.I think their inhibition comes by the means of the lateinnovation.

Ham.Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in thecity? Are they so followed?

Ros.No, indeed, are they not.

Ham.How comes it? do they grow rusty?

Ros.Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but there is,sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the topof question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these arenow the fashion; and so berattle the common stages,--so they callthem,--that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills anddare scarce come thither.

Ham.What, are they children? who maintains 'em? How are theyescoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they cansing? will they not say afterwards, if they should growthemselves to common players,--as it is most like, if their meansare no better,--their writers do them wrong to make them exclaimagainst their own succession?

Ros.Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nationholds it no sin to tarre them to controversy: there was, forawhile, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the playerwent to cuffs in the question.

Ham.Is't possible?

Guil.O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Ham.Do the boys carry it away?

Ros.Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.

Ham.It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, andthose that would make mouths at him while my father lived, givetwenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture inlittle. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, ifphilosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets within.]

Guil.There are the players.

Ham.Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come: theappurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me complywith you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which Itell you must show fairly outward, should more appear likeentertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-fatherand aunt-mother are deceived.

Guil.In what, my dear lord?

Ham.I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly Iknow a hawk from a handsaw.

[Enter Polonius.]

Pol.Well be with you, gentlemen!

Ham.Hark you, Guildenstern;--and you too;--at each ear a hearer: thatgreat baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.

Ros.Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an oldman is twice a child.

Ham.I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.--Yousay right, sir: o' Monday morning; 'twas so indeed.

Pol.My lord, I have news to tell you.

Ham.My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor inRome,--

Pol.The actors are come hither, my lord.

Ham.Buzz, buzz!

Pol.Upon my honour,--

Ham.Then came each actor on his ass,--

Pol.The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, sceneindividable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy norPlautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these arethe only men.

Ham.O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!

Pol.What treasure had he, my lord?

Ham.Why-- 'One fair daughter, and no more, The which he loved passing well.'

Pol.[Aside.] Still on my daughter.

Ham.Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?

Pol.If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that Ilove passing well.

Ham.Nay, that follows not.

Pol.What follows, then, my lord?

Ham.Why-- 'As by lot, God wot,'and then, you know, 'It came to pass, as most like it was--'The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for lookwhere my abridgment comes.

[Enter four or five Players.]

You are welcome, masters; welcome, all:--I am glad to see theewell.--welcome, good friends.--O, my old friend! Thy face isvalanc'd since I saw thee last; comest thou to beard me inDenmark?--What, my young lady and mistress! By'r lady, yourladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by thealtitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece ofuncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.--Masters, you areall welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly atanything we see: we'll have a speech straight: come, give us ataste of your quality: come, a passionate speech.

I Play.What speech, my lord?

Ham.I heard thee speak me a speech once,--but it was never acted;or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleasednot the million, 'twas caviare to the general; but it was,--as Ireceived it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried inthe top of mine,--an excellent play, well digested in the scenes,set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one saidthere were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury,nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author ofaffectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome assweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in itI chiefly loved: 'twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of itespecially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live inyour memory, begin at this line;--let me see, let me see:-- The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast,--

it is not so:-- it begins with Pyrrhus:--

'The rugged Pyrrhus,--he whose sable arms, Black as his purpose,did the night resemble When he lay couched in the ominous horse,-- Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd With heraldry more dismal; head to foot Now is be total gules; horridly trick'd With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets, That lend a tyrannous and a damned light To their vile murders: roasted in wrath and fire, And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore, With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus Old grandsire Priam seeks.'

So, proceed you.

Pol.'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and gooddiscretion.

I Play. Anon he finds him, Striking too short at Greeks: his antique sword, Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls, Repugnant to command: unequal match'd, Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage strikes wide; But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium, Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top Stoops to his base; and with a hideous crash Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear: for lo! his sword, Which was declining on the milky head Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick: So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood; And, like a neutral to his will and matter, Did nothing. But as we often see, against some storm, A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still, The bold winds speechless, and the orb below As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus' pause, A roused vengeance sets him new a-work; And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall On Mars's armour, forg'd for proof eterne, With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword Now falls on Priam.-- Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods, In general synod, take away her power; Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, As low as to the fiends!

Pol.This is too long.

Ham.It shall to the barber's, with your beard.--Pr'ythee say on.--He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps:--say on; cometo Hecuba.

I Play. But who, O who, had seen the mobled queen,--

Ham.'The mobled queen'?

Pol.That's good! 'Mobled queen' is good.

I Play. Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe, About her lank and all o'erteemed loins, A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;-- Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd, 'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounc'd: But if the gods themselves did see her then, When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs, The instant burst of clamour that she made,-- Unless things mortal move them not at all,-- Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven, And passion in the gods.

Pol.Look, whether he has not turn'd his colour, and has tears in'seyes.--Pray you, no more!

Ham.'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.--Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do youhear? Let them be well used; for they are the abstracts and briefchronicles of the time; after your death you were better have abad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

Pol.My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

Ham.Odd's bodikin, man, better: use every man after hisdesert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your ownhonour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is inyour bounty. Take them in.

Pol.Come, sirs.

Ham.Follow him, friends. we'll hear a play to-morrow.

[Exeunt Polonius with all the Players but the First.]

Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play 'The Murder ofGonzago'?

I Play.Ay, my lord.

Ham.We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study aspeech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down andinsert in't? could you not?

I Play.Ay, my lord.

Ham.Very well.--Follow that lord; and look you mock him not.

[Exit First Player.]

--My good friends [to Ros. and Guild.], I'll leave you tillnight: you are welcome to Elsinore.

Ros.Good my lord!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

Ham.Ay, so, God b' wi' ye!Now I am alone.O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!Is it not monstrous that this player here,But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,Could force his soul so to his own conceitThat from her working all his visage wan'd;Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,A broken voice, and his whole function suitingWith forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!For Hecuba?What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,That he should weep for her? What would he do,Had he the motive and the cue for passionThat I have? He would drown the stage with tearsAnd cleave the general ear with horrid speech;Make mad the guilty, and appal the free;Confound the ignorant, and amaze, indeed,The very faculties of eyes and ears.Yet I,A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,And can say nothing; no, not for a kingUpon whose property and most dear lifeA damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throatAs deep as to the lungs? who does me this, ha?'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot beBut I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gallTo make oppression bitter; or ere thisI should have fatted all the region kitesWith this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!O, vengeance!Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with wordsAnd fall a-cursing like a very drab,A scullion!Fie upon't! foh!--About, my brain! I have heardThat guilty creatures, sitting at a play,Have by the very cunning of the sceneBeen struck so to the soul that presentlyThey have proclaim'd their malefactions;For murder, though it have no tongue, will speakWith most miraculous organ, I'll have these playersPlay something like the murder of my fatherBefore mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;I'll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,I know my course. The spirit that I have seenMay be the devil: and the devil hath powerTo assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhapsOut of my weakness and my melancholy,--As he is very potent with such spirits,--Abuses me to damn me: I'll have groundsMore relative than this.--the play's the thingWherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.




Search for specific text passages