by William Shakespeare



Scene I. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, andGuildenstern.]

King.And can you, by no drift of circumstance,Get from him why he puts on this confusion,Grating so harshly all his days of quietWith turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

Ros.He does confess he feels himself distracted,But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guil.Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloofWhen we would bring him on to some confessionOf his true state.

Queen.Did he receive you well?

Ros.Most like a gentleman.

Guil.But with much forcing of his disposition.

Ros.Niggard of question; but, of our demands,Most free in his reply.

Queen.Did you assay himTo any pastime?

Ros.Madam, it so fell out that certain playersWe o'er-raught on the way: of these we told him,And there did seem in him a kind of joyTo hear of it: they are about the court,And, as I think, they have already orderThis night to play before him.

Pol.'Tis most true;And he beseech'd me to entreat your majestiesTo hear and see the matter.

King.With all my heart; and it doth much content meTo hear him so inclin'd.--Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Ros.We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

King.Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,That he, as 'twere by accident, may hereAffront Ophelia:Her father and myself,--lawful espials,--Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,We may of their encounter frankly judge;And gather by him, as he is behav'd,If't be the affliction of his love or noThat thus he suffers for.

Queen.I shall obey you:--And for your part, Ophelia, I do wishThat your good beauties be the happy causeOf Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtuesWill bring him to his wonted way again,To both your honours.

Oph.Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.]

Pol.Ophelia, walk you here.--Gracious, so please you,We will bestow ourselves.--[To Ophelia.] Read on this book;That show of such an exercise may colourYour loneliness.--We are oft to blame in this,--'Tis too much prov'd,--that with devotion's visageAnd pious action we do sugar o'erThe Devil himself.

King.[Aside.] O, 'tis too true!How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,Is not more ugly to the thing that helps itThan is my deed to my most painted word:O heavy burden!

Pol.I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt King and Polonius.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Ham.To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous fortuneOr to take arms against a sea of troubles,And by opposing end them?--To die,--to sleep,--No more; and by a sleep to say we endThe heartache, and the thousand natural shocksThat flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummationDevoutly to be wish'd. To die,--to sleep;--To sleep! perchance to dream:--ay, there's the rub;For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,Must give us pause: there's the respectThat makes calamity of so long life;For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,The insolence of office, and the spurnsThat patient merit of the unworthy takes,When he himself might his quietus makeWith a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,To grunt and sweat under a weary life,But that the dread of something after death,--The undiscover'd country, from whose bournNo traveller returns,--puzzles the will,And makes us rather bear those ills we haveThan fly to others that we know not of?Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;And thus the native hue of resolutionIs sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;And enterprises of great pith and moment,With this regard, their currents turn awry,And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!The fair Ophelia!--Nymph, in thy orisonsBe all my sins remember'd.

Oph.Good my lord,How does your honour for this many a day?

Ham.I humbly thank you; well, well, well.

Oph.My lord, I have remembrances of yoursThat I have longed long to re-deliver.I pray you, now receive them.

Ham.No, not I;I never gave you aught.

Oph.My honour'd lord, you know right well you did;And with them words of so sweet breath compos'dAs made the things more rich; their perfume lost,Take these again; for to the noble mindRich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.There, my lord.

Ham.Ha, ha! are you honest?

Oph.My lord?

Ham.Are you fair?

Oph.What means your lordship?

Ham.That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit nodiscourse to your beauty.

Oph.Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

Ham.Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transformhonesty from what it is to a bawd than the force of honesty cantranslate beauty into his likeness: this was sometime a paradox,but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Oph.Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Ham.You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot soinoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved younot.

Oph.I was the more deceived.

Ham.Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder ofsinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuseme of such things that it were better my mother had not borne me:I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at mybeck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to givethem shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as Ido crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all;believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's yourfather?

Oph.At home, my lord.

Ham.Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the foolnowhere but in's own house. Farewell.

Oph.O, help him, you sweet heavens!

Ham.If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry,--be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escapecalumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wiltneeds marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough whatmonsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.Farewell.

Oph.O heavenly powers, restore him!

Ham.I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hathgiven you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, youamble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make yourwantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath mademe mad. I say, we will have no moe marriages: those that aremarried already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep asthey are. To a nunnery, go.


Oph.O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, sword,The expectancy and rose of the fair state,The glass of fashion and the mould of form,The observ'd of all observers,--quite, quite down!And I, of ladies most deject and wretchedThat suck'd the honey of his music vows,Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youthBlasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Re-enter King and Polonius.]

King.Love! his affections do not that way tend;Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little,Was not like madness. There's something in his soulO'er which his melancholy sits on brood;And I do doubt the hatch and the discloseWill be some danger: which for to prevent,I have in quick determinationThus set it down:--he shall with speed to EnglandFor the demand of our neglected tribute:Haply the seas, and countries different,With variable objects, shall expelThis something-settled matter in his heart;Whereon his brains still beating puts him thusFrom fashion of himself. What think you on't?

Pol.It shall do well: but yet do I believeThe origin and commencement of his griefSprung from neglected love.--How now, Ophelia!You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;We heard it all.--My lord, do as you please;But if you hold it fit, after the play,Let his queen mother all alone entreat himTo show his grief: let her be round with him;And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the earOf all their conference. If she find him not,To England send him; or confine him whereYour wisdom best shall think.

King.It shall be so:Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.


Scene II. A hall in the Castle.

[Enter Hamlet and cartain Players.]

Ham.Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of yourplayers do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor donot saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use allgently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget atemperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to thesoul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion totatters, to very rags, to split the cars of the groundlings, who,for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoingTermagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you avoid it.

I Player.I warrant your honour.

Ham.Be not too tame neither; but let your own discretion be yourtutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; withthis special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty ofnature: for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing,whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own image,scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time hisform and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, thoughit make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judiciousgrieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance,o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that Ihave seen play,--and heard others praise, and that highly,--notto speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent ofChristians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have sostrutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature'sjourneymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitatedhumanity so abominably.

I Player.I hope we have reform'd that indifferently with us, sir.

Ham.O, reform it altogether. And let those that play your clownsspeak no more than is set down for them: for there be of themthat will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barrenspectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessaryquestion of the play be then to be considered: that's villanousand shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Gomake you ready.

[Exeunt Players.]

[Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

How now, my lord! will the king hear this piece of work?

Pol.And the queen too, and that presently.

Ham.Bid the players make haste.

[Exit Polonius.]

Will you two help to hasten them?

Ros. and Guil.We will, my lord.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]

Ham.What, ho, Horatio!

[Enter Horatio.]

Hor.Here, sweet lord, at your service.

Ham.Horatio, thou art e'en as just a manAs e'er my conversation cop'd withal.

Hor.O, my dear lord,--

Ham.Nay, do not think I flatter;For what advancement may I hope from thee,That no revenue hast, but thy good spirits,To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp;And crook the pregnant hinges of the kneeWhere thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,And could of men distinguish, her electionHath seal'd thee for herself: for thou hast beenAs one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;A man that Fortune's buffets and rewardsHast ta'en with equal thanks: and bles'd are thoseWhose blood and judgment are so well commingledThat they are not a pipe for Fortune's fingerTo sound what stop she please. Give me that manThat is not passion's slave, and I will wear himIn my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--There is a play to-night before the king;One scene of it comes near the circumstance,Which I have told thee, of my father's death:I pr'ythee, when thou see'st that act a-foot,Even with the very comment of thy soulObserve mine uncle: if his occulted guiltDo not itself unkennel in one speech,It is a damned ghost that we have seen;And my imaginations are as foulAs Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;For I mine eyes will rivet to his face;And, after, we will both our judgments joinIn censure of his seeming.

Hor.Well, my lord:If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,And scape detecting, I will pay the theft.

Ham.They are coming to the play. I must be idle:Get you a place.

[Danish march. A flourish. Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia,Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.]

King.How fares our cousin Hamlet?

Ham.Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat the air,promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.

King.I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are notmine.

Ham.No, nor mine now. My lord, you play'd once i' the university, yousay? [To Polonius.]

Pol.That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.

Ham.What did you enact?

Pol.I did enact Julius Caesar; I was kill'd i' the Capitol; Brutuskilled me.

Ham.It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.--Bethe players ready?

Ros.Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.

Queen.Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

Ham.No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.

Pol.O, ho! do you mark that? [To the King.]

Ham.Lady, shall I lie in your lap?[Lying down at Ophelia's feet.]

Oph.No, my lord.

Ham.I mean, my head upon your lap?

Oph.Ay, my lord.

Ham.Do you think I meant country matters?

Oph.I think nothing, my lord.

Ham.That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

Oph.What is, my lord?


Oph.You are merry, my lord.

Ham.Who, I?

Oph.Ay, my lord.

Ham.O, your only jig-maker! What should a man do but be merry?for look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father diedwithin 's two hours.

Oph.Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

Ham.So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have asuit of sables. O heavens! die two months ago, and not forgottenyet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his lifehalf a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches then; or elseshall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whoseepitaph is 'For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot!'

[Trumpets sound. The dumb show enters.]

[Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracinghim and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestationunto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon herneck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers: she, seeinghim asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off hiscrown, kisses it, pours poison in the king's ears, and exit. TheQueen returns, finds the King dead, and makes passionate action.The Poisoner with some three or four Mutes, comes in again,seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. ThePoisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loth and unwillingawhile, but in the end accepts his love.]


Oph.What means this, my lord?

Ham.Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.

Oph.Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

[Enter Prologue.]

Ham.We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot keep counsel;they'll tell all.

Oph.Will he tell us what this show meant?

Ham.Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you ashamed toshow, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.

Oph.You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.

Pro. For us, and for our tragedy, Here stooping to your clemency, We beg your hearing patiently.

Ham.Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?

Oph.'Tis brief, my lord.

Ham.As woman's love.

[Enter a King and a Queen.]

P. King.Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone roundNeptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheenAbout the world have times twelve thirties been,Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands,Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

P. Queen.So many journeys may the sun and moonMake us again count o'er ere love be done!But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,So far from cheer and from your former state.That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:For women's fear and love holds quantity;In neither aught, or in extremity.Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so:Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

P. King.Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;My operant powers their functions leave to do:And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,Honour'd, belov'd, and haply one as kindFor husband shalt thou,--

P. Queen.O, confound the rest!Such love must needs be treason in my breast:In second husband let me be accurst!None wed the second but who kill'd the first.

Ham.[Aside.] Wormwood, wormwood!

P. Queen.The instances that second marriage moveAre base respects of thrift, but none of love.A second time I kill my husband deadWhen second husband kisses me in bed.

P. King.I do believe you think what now you speak;But what we do determine oft we break.Purpose is but the slave to memory;Of violent birth, but poor validity:Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;But fall unshaken when they mellow be.Most necessary 'tis that we forgetTo pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:What to ourselves in passion we propose,The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.The violence of either grief or joyTheir own enactures with themselves destroy:Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.This world is not for aye; nor 'tis not strangeThat even our loves should with our fortunes change;For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.The great man down, you mark his favourite flies,The poor advanc'd makes friends of enemies;And hitherto doth love on fortune tend:For who not needs shall never lack a friend;And who in want a hollow friend doth try,Directly seasons him his enemy.But, orderly to end where I begun,--Our wills and fates do so contrary runThat our devices still are overthrown;Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:So think thou wilt no second husband wed;But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

P. Queen.Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!Sport and repose lock from me day and night!To desperation turn my trust and hope!An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!Each opposite that blanks the face of joyMeet what I would have well, and it destroy!Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

Ham.If she should break it now! [To Ophelia.]

P. King.'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguileThe tedious day with sleep.[Sleeps.]

P. Queen.Sleep rock thy brain,And never come mischance between us twain!


Ham.Madam, how like you this play?

Queen.The lady protests too much, methinks.

Ham.O, but she'll keep her word.

King.Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in't?

Ham.No, no! They do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' theworld.

King.What do you call the play?

Ham.The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is theimage of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is the duke's name;his wife, Baptista: you shall see anon; 'tis a knavish piece ofwork: but what o' that? your majesty, and we that have freesouls, it touches us not: let the gall'd jade wince; our withersare unwrung.

[Enter Lucianus.]

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.

Oph.You are a good chorus, my lord.

Ham.I could interpret between you and your love, if I could seethe puppets dallying.

Oph.You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

Ham.It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.

Oph.Still better, and worse.

Ham.So you must take your husbands.--Begin, murderer; pox, leavethy damnable faces, and begin. Come:--'The croaking raven dothbellow for revenge.'

Luc.Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;Confederate season, else no creature seeing;Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,Thy natural magic and dire propertyOn wholesome life usurp immediately.

[Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears.]

Ham.He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His name's Gonzago:The story is extant, and written in very choice Italian; youshall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

Oph.The King rises.

Ham.What, frighted with false fire!

Queen.How fares my lord?

Pol.Give o'er the play.

King.Give me some light:--away!

All.Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.]

Ham. Why, let the strucken deer go weep, The hart ungalled play; For some must watch, while some must sleep: So runs the world away.--Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers--if the rest of myfortunes turn Turk with me,--with two Provincial roses on myrazed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?

Hor.Half a share.

Ham. A whole one, I. For thou dost know, O Damon dear, This realm dismantled was Of Jove himself; and now reigns here A very, very--pajock.

Hor.You might have rhymed.

Ham.O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousandpound! Didst perceive?

Hor.Very well, my lord.

Ham.Upon the talk of the poisoning?--

Hor.I did very well note him.

Ham.Ah, ha!--Come, some music! Come, the recorders!-- For if the king like not the comedy, Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy.Come, some music!

[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

Guil.Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

Ham.Sir, a whole history.

Guil.The king, sir--

Ham.Ay, sir, what of him?

Guil.Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.

Ham.With drink, sir?

Guil.No, my lord; rather with choler.

Ham.Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this tothe doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhapsplunge him into far more choler.

Guil.Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and startnot so wildly from my affair.

Ham.I am tame, sir:--pronounce.

Guil.The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit,hath sent me to you.

Ham.You are welcome.

Guil.Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed.If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will doyour mother's commandment: if not, your pardon and my returnshall be the end of my business.

Ham.Sir, I cannot.

Guil.What, my lord?

Ham.Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but, sir, suchanswer as I can make, you shall command; or rather, as you say,my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: my mother, yousay,--

Ros.Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her intoamazement and admiration.

Ham.O wonderful son, that can so stonish a mother!--But is there nosequel at the heels of this mother's admiration?

Ros.She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.

Ham.We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you anyfurther trade with us?

Ros.My lord, you once did love me.

Ham.And so I do still, by these pickers and stealers.

Ros.Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely,bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs toyour friend.

Ham.Sir, I lack advancement.

Ros.How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himselffor your succession in Denmark?

Ham.Ay, sir, but 'While the grass grows'--the proverb is somethingmusty.

[Re-enter the Players, with recorders.]

O, the recorders:--let me see one.--To withdraw with you:--why doyou go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive meinto a toil?

Guil.O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

Ham.I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?

Guil.My lord, I cannot.

Ham.I pray you.

Guil.Believe me, I cannot.

Ham.I do beseech you.

Guil.I know, no touch of it, my lord.

Ham.'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with yourfinger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it willdiscourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

Guil.But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; Ihave not the skill.

Ham.Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! Youwould play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you wouldpluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from mylowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music,excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make itspeak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than apipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me,you cannot play upon me.

[Enter Polonius.]

God bless you, sir!

Pol.My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

Ham.Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

Pol.By the mass, and 'tis like a camel indeed.

Ham.Methinks it is like a weasel.

Pol.It is backed like a weasel.

Ham.Or like a whale.

Pol.Very like a whale.

Ham.Then will I come to my mother by and by.--They fool me to thetop of my bent.--I will come by and by.

Pol.I will say so.


Ham.By-and-by is easily said.

[Exit Polonius.]

--Leave me, friends.

[Exeunt Ros, Guil., Hor., and Players.]

'Tis now the very witching time of night,When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes outContagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,And do such bitter business as the dayWould quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.--O heart, lose not thy nature; let not everThe soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:Let me be cruel, not unnatural;I will speak daggers to her, but use none;My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites,--How in my words somever she be shent,To give them seals never, my soul, consent!


Scene III. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

King.I like him not; nor stands it safe with usTo let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;I your commission will forthwith dispatch,And he to England shall along with you:The terms of our estate may not endureHazard so near us as doth hourly growOut of his lunacies.

Guil.We will ourselves provide:Most holy and religious fear it isTo keep those many many bodies safeThat live and feed upon your majesty.

Ros.The single and peculiar life is bound,With all the strength and armour of the mind,To keep itself from 'noyance; but much moreThat spirit upon whose weal depend and restThe lives of many. The cease of majestyDies not alone; but like a gulf doth drawWhat's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser thingsAre mortis'd and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,Each small annexment, petty consequence,Attends the boisterous ruin. Never aloneDid the king sigh, but with a general groan.

King.Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;For we will fetters put upon this fear,Which now goes too free-footed.

Ros and Guil.We will haste us.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]

[Enter Polonius.]

Pol.My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:Behind the arras I'll convey myselfTo hear the process; I'll warrant she'll tax him home:And, as you said, and wisely was it said,'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhearThe speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,And tell you what I know.

King.Thanks, dear my lord.

[Exit Polonius.]

O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,--A brother's murder!--Pray can I not,Though inclination be as sharp as will:My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;And, like a man to double business bound,I stand in pause where I shall first begin,And both neglect. What if this cursed handWere thicker than itself with brother's blood,--Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavensTo wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercyBut to confront the visage of offence?And what's in prayer but this twofold force,--To be forestalled ere we come to fall,Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayerCan serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!--That cannot be; since I am still possess'dOf those effects for which I did the murder,--My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.May one be pardon'd and retain the offence?In the corrupted currents of this worldOffence's gilded hand may shove by justice;And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itselfBuys out the law; but 'tis not so above;There is no shuffling;--there the action liesIn his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,To give in evidence. What then? what rests?Try what repentance can: what can it not?Yet what can it when one cannot repent?O wretched state! O bosom black as death!O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,Art more engag'd! Help, angels! Make assay:Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of steel,Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!All may be well.

[Retires and kneels.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Ham.Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;And now I'll do't;--and so he goes to heaven;And so am I reveng'd.--that would be scann'd:A villain kills my father; and for that,I, his sole son, do this same villain sendTo heaven.O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.He took my father grossly, full of bread;With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?But in our circumstance and course of thought,'Tis heavy with him: and am I, then, reveng'd,To take him in the purging of his soul,When he is fit and season'd for his passage?No.Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;At gaming, swearing; or about some actThat has no relish of salvation in't;--Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven;And that his soul may be as damn'd and blackAs hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.


[The King rises and advances.]

King.My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:Words without thoughts never to heaven go.


Scene IV. Another room in the castle.

[Enter Queen and Polonius.]

Pol.He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,And that your grace hath screen'd and stood betweenMuch heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here.Pray you, be round with him.

Ham.[Within.] Mother, mother, mother!

Queen.I'll warrant you:Fear me not:--withdraw; I hear him coming.

[Polonius goes behind the arras.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Ham.Now, mother, what's the matter?

Queen.Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

Ham.Mother, you have my father much offended.

Queen.Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

Ham.Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

Queen.Why, how now, Hamlet!

Ham.What's the matter now?

Queen.Have you forgot me?

Ham.No, by the rood, not so:You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,And,--would it were not so!--you are my mother.

Queen.Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.

Ham.Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;You go not till I set you up a glassWhere you may see the inmost part of you.

Queen.What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?--Help, help, ho!

Pol.[Behind.] What, ho! help, help, help!

Ham.How now? a rat? [Draws.]Dead for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras.]

Pol.[Behind.] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies.]

Queen.O me, what hast thou done?

Ham.Nay, I know not: is it the king?

[Draws forth Polonius.]

Queen.O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

Ham.A bloody deed!--almost as bad, good mother,As kill a king and marry with his brother.

Queen.As kill a king!

Ham.Ay, lady, 'twas my word.--Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell![To Polonius.]I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.--Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,If it be made of penetrable stuff;If damned custom have not braz'd it soThat it is proof and bulwark against sense.

Queen.What have I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tongueIn noise so rude against me?

Ham.Such an actThat blurs the grace and blush of modesty;Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the roseFrom the fair forehead of an innocent love,And sets a blister there; makes marriage-vowsAs false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deedAs from the body of contraction plucksThe very soul, and sweet religion makesA rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow;Yea, this solidity and compound mass,With tristful visage, as against the doom,Is thought-sick at the act.

Queen.Ah me, what act,That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?

Ham.Look here upon this picture, and on this,--The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.See what a grace was seated on this brow;Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;A station like the herald MercuryNew lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:A combination and a form, indeed,Where every god did seem to set his seal,To give the world assurance of a man;This was your husband.--Look you now what follows:Here is your husband, like a milldew'd earBlasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?You cannot call it love; for at your ageThe hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,And waits upon the judgment: and what judgmentWould step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,Else could you not have motion: but sure that senseIs apoplex'd; for madness would not err;Nor sense to ecstacy was ne'er so thrall'dBut it reserv'd some quantity of choiceTo serve in such a difference. What devil was'tThat thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,Or but a sickly part of one true senseCould not so mope.O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shameWhen the compulsive ardour gives the charge,Since frost itself as actively doth burn,And reason panders will.

Queen.O Hamlet, speak no more:Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;And there I see such black and grained spotsAs will not leave their tinct.

Ham.Nay, but to liveIn the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making loveOver the nasty sty,--

Queen.O, speak to me no more;These words like daggers enter in mine ears;No more, sweet Hamlet.

Ham.A murderer and a villain;A slave that is not twentieth part the titheOf your precedent lord; a vice of kings;A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,That from a shelf the precious diadem stoleAnd put it in his pocket!

Queen.No more.

Ham.A king of shreds and patches!--

[Enter Ghost.]

Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,You heavenly guards!--What would your gracious figure?

Queen.Alas, he's mad!

Ham.Do you not come your tardy son to chide,That, laps'd in time and passion, lets go byThe important acting of your dread command?O, say!

Ghost.Do not forget. This visitationIs but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:O, step between her and her fighting soul,--Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works,--Speak to her, Hamlet.

Ham.How is it with you, lady?

Queen.Alas, how is't with you,That you do bend your eye on vacancy,And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements,Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,Upon the heat and flame of thy distemperSprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?

Ham.On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,Would make them capable.--Do not look upon me;Lest with this piteous action you convertMy stern effects: then what I have to doWill want true colour; tears perchance for blood.

Queen.To whom do you speak this?

Ham.Do you see nothing there?

Queen.Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

Ham.Nor did you nothing hear?

Queen.No, nothing but ourselves.

Ham.Why, look you there! look how it steals away!My father, in his habit as he liv'd!Look, where he goes, even now out at the portal!

[Exit Ghost.]

Queen.This is the very coinage of your brain:This bodiless creation ecstasyIs very cunning in.

Ham.Ecstasy!My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,And makes as healthful music: it is not madnessThat I have utter'd: bring me to the test,And I the matter will re-word; which madnessWould gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,Lay not that flattering unction to your soulThat not your trespass, but my madness speaks:It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;And do not spread the compost on the weeds,To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;For in the fatness of these pursy timesVirtue itself of vice must pardon beg,Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

Queen.O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

Ham.O, throw away the worser part of it,And live the purer with the other half.Good night: but go not to mine uncle's bed;Assume a virtue, if you have it not.That monster custom, who all sense doth eat,Of habits evil, is angel yet in this,--That to the use of actions fair and goodHe likewise gives a frock or liveryThat aptly is put on. Refrain to-night;And that shall lend a kind of easinessTo the next abstinence: the next more easy;For use almost can change the stamp of nature,And either curb the devil, or throw him outWith wondrous potency. Once more, good-night:And when you are desirous to be bles'd,I'll blessing beg of you.--For this same lord[Pointing to Polonius.]I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so,To punish me with this, and this with me,That I must be their scourge and minister.I will bestow him, and will answer wellThe death I gave him. So again, good-night.--I must be cruel, only to be kind:Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.--One word more, good lady.

Queen.What shall I do?

Ham.Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,Or paddling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,Make you to ravel all this matter out,That I essentially am not in madness,But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know;For who that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?No, in despite of sense and secrecy,Unpeg the basket on the house's top,Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,To try conclusions, in the basket creepAnd break your own neck down.

Queen.Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,And breath of life, I have no life to breatheWhat thou hast said to me.

Ham.I must to England; you know that?

Queen.Alack,I had forgot: 'tis so concluded on.

Ham.There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,--Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,--They bear the mandate; they must sweep my wayAnd marshal me to knavery. Let it work;For 'tis the sport to have the enginerHoist with his own petard: and 't shall go hardBut I will delve one yard below their minesAnd blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,When in one line two crafts directly meet.--This man shall set me packing:I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.--Mother, good-night.--Indeed, this counsellorIs now most still, most secret, and most grave,Who was in life a foolish peating knave.Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you:--Good night, mother.

[Exeunt severally; Hamlet, dragging out Polonius.]



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