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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]

Part 2 out of 4

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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.

Do you think 'tis this?

It may be, very likely.

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

Not that I know.

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

How may we try it further?

You know sometimes he walks for hours together
Here in the lobby.

So he does indeed.

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 thereon
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.

We will try it.

But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

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

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.]

[Enter Hamlet, reading.]

How does my good Lord Hamlet?

Well, God-a-mercy.

Do you know me, my lord?

Excellent well; you're a fishmonger.

Not I, my lord.

Then I would you were so honest a man.

Honest, my lord!

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

That's very true, my lord.

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god-kissing
carrion,--Have you a daughter?

I have, my lord.

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

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?

Words, words, words.

What is the matter, my lord?

Between who?

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Slanders, sir: for the satirical slave 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 which,
sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it
not 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.

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

Into my grave?

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

You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more
willingly part withal,--except my life, except my life, except my

Fare you well, my lord.

These tedious old fools!

[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

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

[To Polonius.] God save you, sir!

[Exit Polonius.]

My honoured lord!

My most dear lord!

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

As the indifferent children of the earth.

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

Nor the soles of her shoe?

Neither, my lord.

Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her

Faith, her privates we.

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

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

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

Prison, my lord!

Denmark's a prison.

Then is the world one.

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

We think not so, my lord.

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

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

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

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

A dream itself is but a shadow.

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

Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd
heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my
fay, I cannot reason.

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

No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my
servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most
dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what
make you at Elsinore?

To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.

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. Were
you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free
visitation? Come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.

What should we say, my lord?

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

To what end, my lord?

That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights
of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the
obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a
better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with
me, whether you were sent for or no.

[To Guildenstern.] What say you?

[Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you love me, hold
not off.

My lord, we were sent for.

I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your
discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no
feather. I have of late,--but wherefore I know not,--lost all my
mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so
heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth,
seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the
air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical
roof fretted with golden fire,--why, it appears no other thing
to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a
piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in
faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in
action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the
beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what
is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman
neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

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

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

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

He that plays the king shall be welcome,--his majesty shall
have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and
target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man shall
end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose
lungs are tickle o' the sere; and the lady shall say her mind
freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are

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

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

I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late

Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the
city? Are they so followed?

No, indeed, are they not.

How comes it? do they grow rusty?

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

What, are they children? who maintains 'em? How are they
escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can
sing? will they not say afterwards, if they should grow
themselves to common players,--as it is most like, if their means
are no better,--their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim
against their own succession?

Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation
holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy: there was, for
awhile, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player
went to cuffs in the question.

Is't possible?

O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Do the boys carry it away?

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

It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, and
those that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give
twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in
little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if
philosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets within.]

There are the players.

Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come: the
appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply
with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which I
tell you must show fairly outward, should more appear like
entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-father
and aunt-mother are deceived.

In what, my dear lord?

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

[Enter Polonius.]

Well be with you, gentlemen!

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

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

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

My lord, I have news to tell you.

My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in

The actors are come hither, my lord.

Buzz, buzz!

Upon my honour,--

Then came each actor on his ass,--

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,
tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene
individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are
the only men.

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

What treasure had he, my lord?

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

[Aside.] Still on my daughter.

Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?

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

Nay, that follows not.

What follows, then, my lord?

'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 look
where my abridgment comes.

[Enter four or five Players.]

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

I Play.
What speech, my lord?

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, pleased
not the million, 'twas caviare to the general; but it was,--as I
received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in
the top of mine,--an excellent play, well digested in the scenes,
set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said
there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury,
nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author of
affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as
sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it
I chiefly loved: 'twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it
especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in
your 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.

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

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!

This is too long.

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; come
to Hecuba.

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

'The mobled queen'?

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.

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

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

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

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

Come, sirs.

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 of

I Play.
Ay, my lord.

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

I Play.
Ay, my lord.

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 till
night: you are welcome to Elsinore.

Good my lord!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

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 conceit
That from her working all his visage wan'd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With 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 passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
And 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 king
Upon whose property and most dear life
A 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 throat
As deep as to the lungs? who does me this, ha?
'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter; or ere this
I should have fatted all the region kites
With 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 words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A scullion!
Fie upon't! foh!--About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ, I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before 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 seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,--
As he is very potent with such spirits,--
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this.--the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.



Scene I. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and

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

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

Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.

Did he receive you well?

Most like a gentleman.

But with much forcing of his disposition.

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

Did you assay him
To any pastime?

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

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

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

We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront 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 no
That thus he suffers for.

I shall obey you:--
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.

Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.]

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 colour
Your loneliness.--We are oft to blame in this,--
'Tis too much prov'd,--that with devotion's visage
And pious action we do sugar o'er
The Devil himself.

[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 it
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!

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

[Exeunt King and Polonius.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or 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 end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation
Devoutly 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 respect
That 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 spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With 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 bourn
No traveller returns,--puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is 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 orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

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

I humbly thank you; well, well, well.

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

No, not I;
I never gave you aught.

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

Ha, ha! are you honest?

My lord?

Are you fair?

What means your lordship?

That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no
discourse to your beauty.

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

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

Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot so
inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you

I was the more deceived.

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

At home, my lord.

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

O, help him, you sweet heavens!

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 escape
calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt
needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what
monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.

O heavenly powers, restore him!

I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath
given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you
amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your
wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made
me mad. I say, we will have no moe marriages: those that are
married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as
they are. To a nunnery, go.


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 wretched
That 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 youth
Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Re-enter King and Polonius.]

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 soul
O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
I have in quick determination
Thus set it down:--he shall with speed to England
For the demand of our neglected tribute:
Haply the seas, and countries different,
With variable objects, shall expel
This something-settled matter in his heart;
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on't?

It shall do well: but yet do I believe
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung 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 him
To show his grief: let her be round with him;
And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him; or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.

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.]

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you,
trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your
players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do
not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all
gently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a
temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the
soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to
tatters, to very rags, to split the cars of the groundlings, who,
for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb
shows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing
Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you avoid it.

I Player.
I warrant your honour.

Be not too tame neither; but let your own discretion be your
tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with
this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of
nature: 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 his
form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though
it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious
grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance,
o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that I
have seen play,--and heard others praise, and that highly,--not
to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of
Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's
journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
humanity so abominably.

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

O, reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns
speak no more than is set down for them: for there be of them
that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren
spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary
question of the play be then to be considered: that's villanous
and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go
make you ready.

[Exeunt Players.]

[Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

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

And the queen too, and that presently.

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.]

What, ho, Horatio!

[Enter Horatio.]

Here, sweet lord, at your service.

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

O, my dear lord,--

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 knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself: for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and bles'd are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In 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 soul
Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen;
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
For I mine eyes will rivet to his face;
And, after, we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.

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

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.]

How fares our cousin Hamlet?

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

I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not

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

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

What did you enact?

I did enact Julius Caesar; I was kill'd i' the Capitol; Brutus
killed me.

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

Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.

Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

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

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

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

No, my lord.

I mean, my head upon your lap?

Ay, my lord.

Do you think I meant country matters?

I think nothing, my lord.

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

What is, my lord?


You are merry, my lord.

Who, I?

Ay, my lord.

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

Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a
suit of sables. O heavens! die two months ago, and not forgotten
yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life
half a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches then; or else
shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose
epitaph 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 embracing
him and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation
unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her
neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing
him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his
crown, kisses it, pours poison in the king's ears, and exit. The
Queen 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. The
Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loth and unwilling
awhile, but in the end accepts his love.]


What means this, my lord?

Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.

Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

[Enter Prologue.]

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

Will he tell us what this show meant?

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

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

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

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

'Tis brief, my lord.

As woman's love.

[Enter a King and a Queen.]

P. King.
Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen
About 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 moon
Make 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 kind
For 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.

[Aside.] Wormwood, wormwood!

P. Queen.
The instances that second marriage move
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
A second time I kill my husband dead
When 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 forget
To 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 joy
Their 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 strange
That 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 run
That 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 joy
Meet what I would have well, and it destroy!
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

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 beguile
The tedious day with sleep.

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


Madam, how like you this play?

The lady protests too much, methinks.

O, but she'll keep her word.

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

No, no! They do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' the

What do you call the play?

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

[Enter Lucianus.]

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.

You are a good chorus, my lord.

I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see
the puppets dallying.

You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

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

Still better, and worse.

So you must take your husbands.--Begin, murderer; pox, leave
thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:--'The croaking raven doth
bellow for revenge.'

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 property
On wholesome life usurp immediately.

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

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

The King rises.

What, frighted with false fire!

How fares my lord?

Give o'er the play.

Give me some light:--away!

Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.]

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 my
fortunes turn Turk with me,--with two Provincial roses on my
razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?

Half a share.

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.

You might have rhymed.

O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand
pound! Didst perceive?

Very well, my lord.

Upon the talk of the poisoning?--

I did very well note him.

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.]

Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

Sir, a whole history.

The king, sir--

Ay, sir, what of him?

Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.

With drink, sir?

No, my lord; rather with choler.

Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to
the doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps
plunge him into far more choler.

Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start
not so wildly from my affair.

I am tame, sir:--pronounce.

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

You are welcome.

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 do
your mother's commandment: if not, your pardon and my return
shall be the end of my business.

Sir, I cannot.

What, my lord?

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

Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her into
amazement and admiration.

O wonderful son, that can so stonish a mother!--But is there no
sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration?

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

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

My lord, you once did love me.

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

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

Sir, I lack advancement.

How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself
for your succession in Denmark?

Ay, sir, but 'While the grass grows'--the proverb is something

[Re-enter the Players, with recorders.]

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

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

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

My lord, I cannot.

I pray you.

Believe me, I cannot.

I do beseech you.

I know, no touch of it, my lord.

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

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

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

[Enter Polonius.]

God bless you, sir!

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

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

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

Methinks it is like a weasel.

It is backed like a weasel.

Or like a whale.

Very like a whale.

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

I will say so.


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 out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.--
O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
The 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.]

I like him not; nor stands it safe with us
To 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 endure
Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.

We will ourselves provide:
Most holy and religious fear it is
To keep those many many bodies safe
That live and feed upon your majesty.

The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from 'noyance; but much more
That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but like a gulf doth draw
What'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 things
Are mortis'd and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

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.]

My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:
Behind the arras I'll convey myself
To 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'erhear
The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:
I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
And tell you what I know.

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 hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,--
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But 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 prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!--
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of 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 world
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice;
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law; but 'tis not so above;
There is no shuffling;--there the action lies
In 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.]

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 send
To 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?
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 act
That 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 black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.


[The King rises and advances.]

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.]

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 between
Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here.
Pray you, be round with him.

[Within.] Mother, mother, mother!

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

[Polonius goes behind the arras.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Now, mother, what's the matter?

Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

Mother, you have my father much offended.

Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

Why, how now, Hamlet!

What's the matter now?

Have you forgot me?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

[Makes a pass through the arras.]

[Behind.] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies.]

O me, what hast thou done?

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