Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 3.2

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ACT III
SCENE II. A hall in the castle.
2435 [Enter HAMLET and Players]
HAMLET.
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
2440 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,
the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
2445 offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
2450 a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it
out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.
FIRST PLAYER.
I warrant your honour.
HAMLET.
2455 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 o'erstep not
the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
2460 first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
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
2465 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,
2470 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.
2475 FIRST PLAYER.
I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,
sir.
HAMLET.
O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
2480 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 mean time, some necessary
question of the play be then to be considered:
2485 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! I will the king hear this piece of work?
2490 LORD POLONIUS.
And the queen too, and that presently.
HAMLET.
Bid the players make haste.
[Exit POLONIUS]
2495 Will you two help to hasten them?
ROSENCRANTZ.
GUILDENSTERN.
We will, my lord.
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]
2500 HAMLET.
What ho! Horatio!
[Enter HORATIO]
HORATIO.
Here, sweet lord, at your service.
2505 HAMLET.
Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal.
HORATIO.
O, my dear lord,--
2510 HAMLET.
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?
2515 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
2520 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 blest are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
2525 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.--
2530 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 prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul
2535 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;
2540 For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
And after we will both our judgments join
In censure of his seeming.
HORATIO.
Well, my lord:
2545 If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
HAMLET.
They are coming to the play; I must be idle:
Get you a place.
2550 [Danish march. A flourish. Enter KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others]
KING CLAUDIUS.
How fares our cousin Hamlet?
HAMLET.
Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat
2555 the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.
KING CLAUDIUS.
I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words
are not mine.
HAMLET.
2560 No, nor mine now.
[To POLONIUS]
My lord, you played once i' the university, you say?
LORD POLONIUS.
That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.
2565 HAMLET.
What did you enact?
LORD POLONIUS.
I did enact Julius Caesar: I was killed i' the
Capitol; Brutus killed me.
2570 HAMLET.
It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf
there. Be the players ready?
ROSENCRANTZ.
Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.
2575 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
HAMLET.
No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.
LORD POLONIUS.
2580 [To KING CLAUDIUS] O, ho! do you mark that?
HAMLET.
Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
[Lying down at OPHELIA's feet]
OPHELIA.
2585 No, my lord.
HAMLET.
I mean, my head upon your lap?
OPHELIA.
Ay, my lord.
2590 HAMLET.
Do you think I meant country matters?
OPHELIA.
I think nothing, my lord.
HAMLET.
2595 That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
OPHELIA.
What is, my lord?
HAMLET.
Nothing.
2600 OPHELIA.
You are merry, my lord.
HAMLET.
Who, I?
OPHELIA.
2605 Ay, my lord.
HAMLET.
O God, 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 these two hours.
2610 OPHELIA.
Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
HAMLET.
So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for
I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! die two
2615 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,
2620 the hobby-horse is forgot.'
[Hautboys play. 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, and pours poison in the King's ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts: she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love]
[Exeunt]
OPHELIA.
2625 What means this, my lord?
HAMLET.
Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.
OPHELIA.
Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
2630 [Enter Prologue]
HAMLET.
We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot
keep counsel; they'll tell all.
OPHELIA.
2635 Will he tell us what this show meant?
HAMLET.
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.
OPHELIA.
2640 You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.

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