Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 3.5

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ACT III
SCENE IV. The Queen's closet.
3110 [Enter QUEEN GERTRUDE and POLONIUS]
LORD 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
3115 Much heat and him. I'll sconce me even here.
Pray you, be round with him.
HAMLET.
[Within] Mother, mother, mother!
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
3120 I'll warrant you,
Fear me not: withdraw, I hear him coming.
[POLONIUS hides behind the arras]
[Enter HAMLET]
HAMLET.
3125 Now, mother, what's the matter?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
HAMLET.
Mother, you have my father much offended.
3130 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
HAMLET.
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
3135 Why, how now, Hamlet!
HAMLET.
What's the matter now?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Have you forgot me?
3140 HAMLET.
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 GERTRUDE.
3145 Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.
HAMLET.
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.
3150 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?
Help, help, ho!
LORD POLONIUS.
[Behind] What, ho! help, help, help!
3155 HAMLET.
[Drawing] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!
[Makes a pass through the arras]
LORD POLONIUS.
[Behind] O, I am slain!
3160 [Falls and dies]
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
O me, what hast thou done?
HAMLET.
Nay, I know not:
3165 Is it the king?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
HAMLET.
A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,
3170 As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
As kill a king!
HAMLET.
Ay, lady, 'twas my word.
3175 [Lifts up the array and discovers POLONIUS]
Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
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,
3180 And let me wring your heart; for so I shall,
If it be made of penetrable stuff,
If damned custom have not brass'd it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
3185 What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?
HAMLET.
Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,
3190 Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love
And sets a blister there, makes marriage-vows
As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
3195 The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A 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.
3200 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Ay me, what act,
That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?
HAMLET.
Look here, upon this picture, and on this,
3205 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 Mercury
3210 New-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:
3215 Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,
Blasting 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 age
3220 The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,
And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,
Else could you not have motion; but sure, that sense
Is apoplex'd; for madness would not err,
3225 Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall'd
But it reserved some quantity of choice,
To serve in such a difference. What devil was't
That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
3230 Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope.
O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,
3235 To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,
And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn
And reason panders will.
3240 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
O Hamlet, speak no more:
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
3245 HAMLET.
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty,--
3250 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
O, speak to me no more;
These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet!
HAMLET.
3255 A murderer and a villain;
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
3260 And put it in his pocket!
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
No more!
HAMLET.
A king of shreds and patches,--
3265 [Enter Ghost]
Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Alas, he's mad!
3270 HAMLET.
Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command? O, say!
GHOST.
3275 Do not forget: this visitation
Is 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:
3280 Speak to her, Hamlet.
HAMLET.
How is it with you, lady?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Alas, how is't with you,
3285 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 hair, like life in excrements,
3290 Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
HAMLET.
On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
3295 His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.
3300 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
To whom do you speak this?
HAMLET.
Do you see nothing there?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
3305 Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
HAMLET.
Nor did you nothing hear?
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
No, nothing but ourselves.
3310 HAMLET.
Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he lived!
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!
[Exit Ghost]
3315 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
This the very coinage of your brain:
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.
HAMLET.
3320 Ecstasy!
My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word; which madness
3325 Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that mattering unction to your soul,
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
3330 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 times
3335 Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
HAMLET.
3340 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,
3345 Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery,
That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
3350 To the next abstinence: the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either [ ] the devil, or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night:
And when you are desirous to be bless'd,
3355 I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,
[Pointing to POLONIUS]
I do repent: but heaven hath pleased it so,
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
3360 I will bestow him, and will answer well
The 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.
3365 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
What shall I do?
HAMLET.
Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;
3370 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,
3375 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,
3380 Unpeg the basket on the house's top.
Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep,
And break your own neck down.
QUEEN GERTRUDE.
3385 Be thou assured, if words be made of breath,
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.
HAMLET.
I must to England; you know that?
3390 QUEEN GERTRUDE.
Alack,
I had forgot: 'tis so concluded on.
HAMLET.
There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
3395 Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard: and 't shall go hard
3400 But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And 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.
3405 Mother, good night. Indeed this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.
3410 [Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in POLONIUS]

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