Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 2.2

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ACT II
SCENE II. A room in the castle.
[Enter KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and Attendants]
KING CLAUDIUS.
Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!
Moreover that we much did long to see you,
1380 The need we have to use you did provoke
Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
Of Hamlet's transformation; so call it,
Sith nor the exterior nor the inward man
Resembles that it was. What it should be,
1385 More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
So much from the understanding of himself,
I cannot dream of: I entreat you both,
That, being of so young days brought up with him,
And sith so neighbour'd to his youth and havior,
1390 That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
Some little time: so by your companies
To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,
So much as from occasion you may glean,
Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,
1395 That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you;
And sure I am two men there are not living
To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
1400 To show us so much gentry and good will
As to expend your time with us awhile,
For the supply and profit of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks
As fits a king's remembrance.
1405 ROSENCRANTZ.
Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.
1410 GUILDENSTERN.
But we both obey,
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent
To lay our service freely at your feet,
To be commanded.
1415 KING CLAUDIUS.
Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz:
And I beseech you instantly to visit
1420 My too much changed son. Go, some of you,
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
GUILDENSTERN.
Heavens make our presence and our practises
Pleasant and helpful to him!
1425 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Ay, amen!
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and some Attendants]
[Enter POLONIUS]
LORD POLONIUS.
1430 The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
Are joyfully return'd.
KING CLAUDIUS.
Thou still hast been the father of good news.
LORD POLONIUS.
1435 Have I, my lord? I assure 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 mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
1440 As it hath used to do, that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
KING CLAUDIUS.
O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.
LORD POLONIUS.
1445 Give first admittance to the ambassadors;
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
KING CLAUDIUS.
Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
[Exit POLONIUS]
1450 He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
The head and source of all your son's distemper.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
I doubt it is no other but the main;
His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage.
1455 KING CLAUDIUS.
Well, we shall sift him.
[Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]
Welcome, my good friends!
Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?
1460 VOLTIMAND.
Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;
1465 But, better look'd into, he truly found
It was against your highness: whereat grieved,
That so his sickness, age and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;
1470 Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine
Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give the assay of arms against your majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee,
1475 And his commission to employ those soldiers,
So levied as before, against the Polack:
With an entreaty, herein further shown,
[Giving a paper]
That it might please you to give quiet pass
1480 Through your dominions for this enterprise,
On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down.
KING CLAUDIUS.
It likes us well;
1485 And at our more consider'd time well 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!
1490 [Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]
LORD POLONIUS.
This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
1495 Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
1500 Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
More matter, with less art.
1505 LORD POLONIUS.
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.
1510 Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend.
1515 I have a daughter--have while 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
1520 beautified Ophelia,'--
That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is
a vile phrase: but you shall hear. Thus:
[Reads]
'In her excellent white bosom, these, & c.'
1525 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Came this from Hamlet to her?
LORD POLONIUS.
Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.
[Reads]
1530 '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;
1535 I have not art to reckon my groans: but that
I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.
'Thine evermore most dear lady, whilst
this machine is to him, HAMLET.'
This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me,
1540 And more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means and place,
All given to mine ear.
KING CLAUDIUS.
But how hath she
1545 Received his love?
LORD POLONIUS.
What do you think of me?
KING CLAUDIUS.
As of a man faithful and honourable.
1550 LORD POLONIUS.
I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing--
As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me--what might you,
1555 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,
1560 And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star;
This must not be:' and then I precepts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
1565 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,
1570 Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And all we mourn for.
KING CLAUDIUS.
Do you think 'tis this?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
1575 It may be, very likely.
LORD POLONIUS.
Hath there been such a time--I'd fain know that--
That I have positively said 'Tis so,'
When it proved otherwise?
1580 KING CLAUDIUS.
Not that I know.
LORD POLONIUS.
[Pointing to his head and shoulder]
Take this from this, if this be otherwise:
1585 If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.
KING CLAUDIUS.
How may we try it further?
1590 LORD POLONIUS.
You know, sometimes he walks four hours together
Here in the lobby.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
So he does indeed.
1595 LORD POLONIUS.
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 be not from his reason fall'n thereon,
1600 Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.
KING CLAUDIUS.
We will try it.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
1605 But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
LORD POLONIUS.
Away, I do beseech you, both away:
I'll board him presently.
[Exeunt KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, and Attendants]
1610 [Enter HAMLET, reading]
O, give me leave:
How does my good Lord Hamlet?
HAMLET.
Well, God-a-mercy.
1615 LORD POLONIUS.
Do you know me, my lord?
HAMLET.
Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.
LORD POLONIUS.
1620 Not I, my lord.
HAMLET.
Then I would you were so honest a man.
LORD POLONIUS.
Honest, my lord!
1625 HAMLET.
Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be
one man picked out of ten thousand.
LORD POLONIUS.
That's very true, my lord.
1630 HAMLET.
For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a
god kissing carrion,--Have you a daughter?
LORD POLONIUS.
I have, my lord.
1635 HAMLET.
Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a
blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive.
Friend, look to 't.
LORD POLONIUS.
1640 [Aside] How say you by that? 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.
1645 What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET.
Words, words, words.
LORD POLONIUS.
What is the matter, my lord?
1650 HAMLET.
Between who?
LORD POLONIUS.
I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
HAMLET.
1655 Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here
that old men have grey beards, that their faces are
wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of
wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir,
1660 though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet
I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for
yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab
you could go backward.
LORD POLONIUS.
1665 [Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method
in 't. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
HAMLET.
Into my grave.
LORD POLONIUS.
1670 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
1675 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.
HAMLET.
You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will
1680 more willingly part withal: except my life, except
my life, except my life.
LORD POLONIUS.
Fare you well, my lord.
HAMLET.
1685 These tedious old fools!
[Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]
LORD POLONIUS.
You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.
ROSENCRANTZ.
1690 [To POLONIUS] God save you, sir!
[Exit POLONIUS]
GUILDENSTERN.
My honoured lord!
ROSENCRANTZ.
1695 My most dear lord!
HAMLET.
My excellent good friends! How dost thou,
Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
ROSENCRANTZ.
1700 As the indifferent children of the earth.
GUILDENSTERN.
Happy, in that we are not over-happy;
On fortune's cap we are not the very button.
HAMLET.
1705 Nor the soles of her shoe?
ROSENCRANTZ.
Neither, my lord.
HAMLET.
Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of
1710 her favours?
GUILDENSTERN.
'Faith, her privates we.
HAMLET.
In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she
1715 is a strumpet. What's the news?
ROSENCRANTZ.
None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
HAMLET.
Then is doomsday near: but your news is not true.
1720 Let me question more in particular: what have you,
my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune,
that she sends you to prison hither?
GUILDENSTERN.
Prison, my lord!
1725 HAMLET.
Denmark's a prison.
ROSENCRANTZ.
Then is the world one.
HAMLET.
1730 A goodly one; in which there are many confines,
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.
ROSENCRANTZ.
We think not so, my lord.
HAMLET.
1735 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.
ROSENCRANTZ.
Why then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too
1740 narrow for your mind.
HAMLET.
O God, I could be bounded in a nut shell and count
myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I
have bad dreams.
1745 GUILDENSTERN.
Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very
substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
HAMLET.
A dream itself is but a shadow.
1750 ROSENCRANTZ.
Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a
quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.
HAMLET.
Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and
1755 outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we
to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
ROSENCRANTZ.
GUILDENSTERN.
We'll wait upon you.
1760 HAMLET.
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?
1765 ROSENCRANTZ.
To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
HAMLET.
Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I
thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are
1770 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.
GUILDENSTERN.
What should we say, my lord?
1775 HAMLET.
Why, any thing, 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.
1780 ROSENCRANTZ.
To what end, my lord?
HAMLET.
That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by
the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of
1785 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?
ROSENCRANTZ.
1790 [Aside to GUILDENSTERN] What say you?
HAMLET.
[Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you
love me, hold not off.
GUILDENSTERN.
1795 My lord, we were sent for.
HAMLET.
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
1800 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
1805 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 a man! how noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how
1810 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
1815 you seem to say so.
ROSENCRANTZ.
My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
HAMLET.
Why did you laugh then, when I said 'man delights not me'?
1820 ROSENCRANTZ.
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.
1825 HAMLET.
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 humourous man shall end his part
1830 in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose
lungs are tickled o' the sere; and the lady shall
say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt
for't. What players are they?
ROSENCRANTZ.
1835 Even those you were wont to take delight in, the
tragedians of the city.
HAMLET.
How chances it they travel? their residence, both
in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
1840 ROSENCRANTZ.
I think their inhibition comes by the means of the
late innovation.
HAMLET.
Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was
1845 in the city? are they so followed?
ROSENCRANTZ.
No, indeed, are they not.
HAMLET.
How comes it? do they grow rusty?
1850 ROSENCRANTZ.
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
1855 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.
HAMLET.
What, are they children? who maintains 'em? how are
1860 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
1865 exclaim against their own succession?
ROSENCRANTZ.
'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 a while, no money bid
1870 for argument, unless the poet and the player went to
cuffs in the question.
HAMLET.
Is't possible?
GUILDENSTERN.
1875 O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
HAMLET.
Do the boys carry it away?
ROSENCRANTZ.
Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.
1880 HAMLET.
It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of
Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while
my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an
hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little.
1885 'Sblood, there is something in this more than
natural, if philosophy could find it out.
[Flourish of trumpets within]
GUILDENSTERN.
There are the players.
1890 HAMLET.
Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands,
come then: 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,
1895 must show fairly outward, should more appear like
entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my
uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
GUILDENSTERN.
In what, my dear lord?
1900 HAMLET.
I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is
southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
[Enter POLONIUS]
LORD POLONIUS.
1905 Well be with you, gentlemen!
HAMLET.
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.
1910 ROSENCRANTZ.
Happily he's the second time come to them; for they
say an old man is twice a child.
HAMLET.
I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players;
1915 mark it. You say right, sir: o' Monday morning;
'twas so indeed.
LORD POLONIUS.
My lord, I have news to tell you.
HAMLET.
1920 My lord, I have news to tell you.
When Roscius was an actor in Rome,--
LORD POLONIUS.
The actors are come hither, my lord.
HAMLET.
1925 Buz, buz!
LORD POLONIUS.
Upon mine honour,--
HAMLET.
Then came each actor on his ass,--
1930 LORD POLONIUS.
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
1935 poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the
liberty, these are the only men.
HAMLET.
O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!
1940 LORD POLONIUS.
What a treasure had he, my lord?
HAMLET.
Why,
'One fair daughter and no more,
1945 The which he loved passing well.'
LORD POLONIUS.
[Aside] Still on my daughter.
HAMLET.
Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?
1950 LORD POLONIUS.
If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter
that I love passing well.
HAMLET.
Nay, that follows not.
1955 LORD POLONIUS.
What follows, then, my lord?
HAMLET.
Why,
'As by lot, God wot,'
1960 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 abridgement comes.
[Enter four or five Players]
1965 You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. I am glad
to see thee well. Welcome, good friends. O, my old
friend! thy face is valenced since I saw thee last:
comest thou to beard me in Denmark? What, my young
lady and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is
1970 nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the
altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like
apiece 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 any thing we see:
1975 we'll have a speech straight: come, give us a taste
of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
FIRST PLAYER.
What speech, my lord?
HAMLET.
1980 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
1985 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
1990 indict 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
1995 Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin
at this line: let me see, let me see--
'The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,'--
it is not so:--it begins with Pyrrhus:--
'The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
2000 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 he total gules; horridly trick'd
2005 With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and damned light
To their lord's murder: roasted in wrath and fire,
And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,
2010 With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.'
So, proceed you.
LORD POLONIUS.
'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and
2015 good discretion.
FIRST PLAYER.
'Anon he finds him
Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
2020 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
2025 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,
2030 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
2035 As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region, so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;
And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
On Mars's armour forged for proof eterne
2040 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,
2045 And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven,
As low as to the fiends!'
LORD POLONIUS.
This is too long.
HAMLET.
2050 It shall to the barber's, with your beard. Prithee,
say on: he's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he
sleeps: say on: come to Hecuba.
FIRST PLAYER.
'But who, O, who had seen the mobled queen--'
2055 HAMLET.
'The mobled queen?'
LORD POLONIUS.
That's good; 'mobled queen' is good.
FIRST PLAYER.
2060 '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'er-teemed loins,
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;
2065 Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd,
'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have
pronounced:
But if the gods themselves did see her then
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
2070 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.'
2075 LORD POLONIUS.
Look, whether he has not turned his colour and has
tears in's eyes. Pray you, no more.
HAMLET.
'Tis well: I'll have thee speak out the rest soon.
2080 Good my lord, will you see the players well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time: after your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.
2085 LORD POLONIUS.
My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
HAMLET.
God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man
after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?
2090 Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less
they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
Take them in.
LORD POLONIUS.
Come, sirs.
2095 HAMLET.
Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play to-morrow.
[Exit POLONIUS with all the Players but the First]
Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the
Murder of Gonzago?
2100 FIRST PLAYER.
Ay, my lord.
HAMLET.
We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could, for a need,
study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which
2105 I would set down and insert in't, could you not?
FIRST PLAYER.
Ay, my lord.
HAMLET.
Very well. Follow that lord; and look you mock him
2110 not.
[Exit First Player]
My good friends, I'll leave you till night: you are
welcome to Elsinore.
ROSENCRANTZ.
2115 Good my lord!
HAMLET.
Ay, so, God be wi' ye;
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]
Now I am alone.
2120 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 wann'd,
2125 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,
2130 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,
2135 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,
2140 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,
2145 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
2150 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,
2155 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!
2160 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;
2165 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,
2170 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,
2175 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.
[Exit]

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