tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene
individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor 1480 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!
Polonius . What treasure had he, my lord?
Hamlet . Why, 1485 ‘One fair daughter, and no more,
The which he loved passing well.’
Polonius . [aside] Still on my daughter.
Hamlet . Am I not i’ th’ right, old Jephthah?
Polonius . If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I 1490 love passing well.
Hamlet . Nay, that follows not.
Polonius . What follows then, my lord?
Hamlet . Why,
‘As by lot, God wot,’ 1495 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.] 1500 You are welcome, masters; welcome, all.- I am glad to see thee
well.- Welcome, good friends.- O, my old friend? Why, thy face is
valanc’d since I saw thee last. Com’st’ 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 1505 altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a piece of
uncurrent gold, be not crack’d 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. 1510
First Player . What speech, my good lord?
Hamlet . 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, pleas’d
not the million, ’twas caviary to the general; but it was (as I
receiv’d it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in 1515 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 indict the author of
affectation; but call’d it an honest method, as wholesome as 1520 sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in’t
I chiefly lov’d. ‘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-‘ 1525 ‘Tis 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 1530 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 1535 To their lord’s murther. 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. 1540
Polonius . Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.
First Player . ‘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, 1545 Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
Th’ unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash 1550 Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’ ear. For lo! his sword,
Which was declining on the milky head
Of reverend Priam, seem’d i’ th’ air to stick.
So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
And, like a neutral to his will and matter, 1555 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 1560 Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus’ pause,
Aroused vengeance sets him new awork;
And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
On Mars’s armour, forg’d for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword 1565 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, 1570 As low as to the fiends!
Polonius . This is too long.
Hamlet . 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
First Player . ‘But who, O who, had seen the mobled queen-‘
Hamlet . ‘The mobled queen’?
Polonius . That’s good! ‘Mobled queen’ is good.
First Player . ‘Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning the flames
With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head 1580 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. 1585 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) 1590 Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
And passion in the gods.’
Polonius . Look, whe’r he has not turn’d his colour, and has tears in’s
eyes. Prithee no more!
Hamlet . ‘Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.- 1595 Good my lord, will you see the players well bestow’d? Do you
hear? Let them be well us’d; 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.
Polonius . My lord, I will use them according to their desert. 1600
Hamlet . God’s bodykins, man, much 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.
Polonius . Come, sirs. 1605
Hamlet . Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play to-morrow.
[Exeunt Polonius and Players [except the First].]
Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play ‘The Murther of
First Player . Ay, my lord. 1610
Hamlet . 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?
First Player . Ay, my lord.
Hamlet . Very well. Follow that lord- and look you mock him not. 1615 [Exit First Player.]
My good friends, I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to
Rosencrantz . Good my lord!
Hamlet . Ay, so, God b’ wi’ ye! 1620 [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
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, 1625 Could force his soul so to his own conceit
That, from her working, all his visage wann’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! 1630 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 1635 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, 1640 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? 1645 Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by th’ nose? gives me the lie i’ th’ throat
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this, ha?
‘Swounds, I should take it! for it cannot be 1650 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! 1655 O, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murther’d,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words 1660 And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
Fie upon’t! foh! About, my brain! Hum, I have heard
That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
Have by the very cunning of the scene 1665 Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim’d their malefactions;
For murther, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ, I’ll have these Players
Play something like the murther of my father 1670 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 a devil; and the devil hath power
T’ assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps 1675 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. Exit. 1680
Act III, Scene 1
Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,
Claudius . 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 1685 With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
Rosencrantz . He does confess he feels himself distracted,
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
Guildenstern . Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But with a crafty madness keeps aloof 1690 When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
Gertrude . Did he receive you well?
Rosencrantz . Most like a gentleman.
Guildenstern . But with much forcing of his disposition. 1695
Rosencrantz . Niggard of question, but of our demands
Most free in his reply.
Gertrude . Did you assay him
To any pastime?
Rosencrantz . Madam, it so fell out that certain players 1700 We o’erraught on the way. Of these we told him,
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it. They are here about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him. 1705
Polonius . ‘Tis most true;
And he beseech’d me to entreat your Majesties
To hear and see the matter.
Claudius . With all my heart, and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclin’d. 1710 Good gentlemen, give him a further edge
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
Rosencrantz . We shall, my lord.
Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Claudius . Sweet Gertrude, leave us too; 1715 For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
Her father and myself (lawful espials)
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen, 1720 We may of their encounter frankly judge
And gather by him, as he is behav’d,
If’t be th’ affliction of his love, or no,
That thus he suffers for.
Gertrude . I shall obey you; 1725 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. 1730
Ophelia . Madam, I wish it may.
Polonius . 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 1735 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.
Claudius . [aside] O, ’tis too true! 1740 How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot’s cheek, beautied with plast’ring art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word.
O heavy burthen! 1745
Polonius . I hear him coming. Let’s withdraw, my lord.
Exeunt King and Polonius].
Hamlet . To be, or not to be- that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer 1750 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 1755 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, 1760 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,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despis’d love, the law’s delay, 1765 The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ 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, 1770 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? 1775 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 1780 And lose the name of action.- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!- Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins rememb’red.
Ophelia . Good my lord,
How does your honour for this many a day? 1785
Hamlet . I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
Ophelia . My lord, I have remembrances of yours
That I have longed long to re-deliver.
I pray you, now receive them.
Hamlet . No, not I! 1790 I never gave you aught.
Ophelia . 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 1795 Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.
Hamlet . Ha, ha! Are you honest?
Ophelia . My lord?
Hamlet . Are you fair? 1800
Ophelia . What means your lordship?
Hamlet . That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no
discourse to your beauty.
Ophelia . Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
Hamlet . Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform 1805 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.
Ophelia . Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.
Hamlet . You should not have believ’d me; for virtue cannot so 1810 inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it. I loved you
Ophelia . I was the more deceived.
Hamlet . Get thee to a nunnery! Why wouldst thou be a breeder of
sinners? I am myself indifferent honest, but yet I could accuse 1815 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; 1820 believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your
Ophelia . At home, my lord.
Hamlet . Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool
nowhere but in’s own house. Farewell. 1825
Ophelia . O, help him, you sweet heavens!
Hamlet . 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 1830 monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.
Ophelia . O heavenly powers, restore him!
Hamlet . I have heard of your paintings too, well enough. God hath
given you one face, and you make yourselves another. You jig, you 1835 amble, and you lisp; you 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. Exit. 1840
Ophelia . O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown!
The courtier’s, scholar’s, soldier’s, eye, tongue, sword,
Th’ expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th’ observ’d of all observers- quite, quite down! 1845 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 1850 Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me
T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
Enter King and Polonius.
Claudius . Love? his affections do not that way tend;
Nor what he spake, though it lack’d form a little, 1855 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 1860 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, 1865 Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on’t?
Polonius . It shall do well. But yet do I believe
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love.- How now, Ophelia? 1870 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; 1875 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.
Claudius . It shall be so. 1880 Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go. Exeunt.
Act III, Scene 2
Elsinore. hall in the Castle.
Enter Hamlet and three of the Players.
Hamlet . Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc’d it to you,
trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our
players do, I had as live the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do 1885 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 your 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 1890 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 whipp’d for o’erdoing
Termagant. It out-herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.
First Player . I warrant your honour. 1895
Hamlet . 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 1900 ’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 laugh, cannot but make the judicious
grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance 1905 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 1910 journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
humanity so abominably.
First Player . I hope we have reform’d that indifferently with us, sir.
Hamlet . 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 1915 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. That’s villanous
and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go
make you ready. 1920 [Exeunt Players.]
[Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]
How now, my lord? Will the King hear this piece of work?
Polonius . And the Queen too, and that presently.
Hamlet . Bid the players make haste, [Exit Polonius.] Will you two 1925 help to hasten them?
Rosencrantz . [with Guildenstern] We will, my lord.
Exeunt they two.
Hamlet . What, ho, Horatio!
Horatio . Here, sweet lord, at your service.
Hamlet . Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
As e’er my conversation cop’d withal.
Horatio . O, my dear lord!
Hamlet . Nay, do not think I flatter; 1935 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 1940 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 suff’ring all, that suffers nothing; 1945 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
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man 1950 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 I
There is a play to-night before the King.
One scene of it comes near the circumstance, 1955 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
Observe my uncle. If his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech, 1960 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 1965 In censure of his seeming.
Horatio . Well, my lord.
If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
And scape detecting, I will pay the theft.
Sound a flourish. [Enter Trumpets and Kettledrums. Danish 1970 march. [Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,
and other Lords attendant, with the Guard carrying torches.]
Hamlet . They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
Get you a place.
Claudius . How fares our cousin Hamlet? 1975
Hamlet . Excellent, i’ faith; of the chameleon’s dish. I eat the air,
promise-cramm’d. You cannot feed capons so.
Claudius . I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not
Hamlet . No, nor mine now. [To Polonius] My lord, you play’d once 1980 i’ th’ university, you say?
Polonius . That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.
Hamlet . What did you enact?
Polonius . I did enact Julius Caesar; I was kill’d i’ th’ Capitol; Brutus
kill’d me. 1985
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.
Gertrude . Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.
Hamlet . No, good mother. Here’s metal more attractive. 1990
Polonius . [to the King] O, ho! do you mark that?
Hamlet . Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
[Sits down at Ophelia’s feet.]
Ophelia . No, my lord.
Hamlet . I mean, my head upon your lap? 1995
Ophelia . Ay, my lord.
Hamlet . Do you think I meant country matters?
Ophelia . I think nothing, my lord.
Hamlet . That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.
Ophelia . What is, my lord? 2000
Hamlet . Nothing.
Ophelia . You are merry, my lord.
Hamlet . Who, I?
Ophelia . Ay, my lord.
Hamlet . O God, your only jig-maker! What should a man do but be merry? 2005 For look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died
within ‘s two hours.
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 months ago, and not forgotten 2010 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!’
[Hautboys play. The dumb show enters.] 2015 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. He lays him down upon a bank of flowers. She, seeing
him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his 2020 crown, kisses it, pours poison in the sleeper’s ears, and
leaves him. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and makes
passionate action. The Poisoner with some three or four Mutes,
comes in again, seem to condole with her. The dead body is
carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she 2025 seems harsh and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts
Ophelia . What means this, my lord?
Hamlet . Marry, this is miching malhecho; it means mischief. 2030
Ophelia . Belike this show imports the argument of the play.
Hamlet . We shall know by this fellow. The players cannot keep counsel;
they’ll tell all.
Ophelia . Will he tell us what this show meant? 2035
Hamlet . Ay, or any show that you’ll show him. Be not you asham’d to
show, he’ll not shame to tell you what it means.
Ophelia . You are naught, you are naught! I’ll mark the play.
Pro. For us, and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency, 2040 We beg your hearing patiently. [Exit.]
Hamlet . Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
Ophelia . ‘Tis brief, my lord.
Hamlet . As woman’s love.
Enter [two Players as] King and Queen.
Player King . Full thirty times hath Phoebus’ cart gone round
Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbed ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
About the world have times twelve thirties been,
Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, 2050 Unite comutual in most sacred bands.
Player 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. 2055 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; 2060 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.
Player King . Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
My operant powers their functions leave to do. 2065 And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
Honour’d, belov’d, and haply one as kind
For husband shalt thou-
Player Queen . O, confound the rest!
Such love must needs be treason in my breast. 2070 When second husband let me be accurst!
None wed the second but who killed the first.
Hamlet . [aside] Wormwood, wormwood!
Queen. The instances that second marriage move
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love. 2075 A second time I kill my husband dead
When second husband kisses me in bed.
Player 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, 2080 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. 2085 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; 2090 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. 2095 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, 2100 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. 2105 So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
Player 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, 2110 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! 2115
Hamlet . If she should break it now!
Player King . ‘Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.
Player Queen . Sleep rock thy brain, 2120
Player Queen . And never come mischance between us twain!
Hamlet . Madam, how like you this play?
Gertrude . The lady doth protest too much, methinks. 2125
Hamlet . O, but she’ll keep her word.
Claudius . Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in’t?
Hamlet . No, no! They do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i’ th’
Claudius . What do you call the play? 2130
Hamlet . ‘The Mousetrap.’ Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the
image of a murther 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 winch; our withers 2135 are unwrung.
Enter Lucianus.This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.
Ophelia . You are as good as a chorus, my lord.
Hamlet . I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see
the puppets dallying. 2140
Ophelia . You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
Hamlet . It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.
Ophelia . Still better, and worse.
Hamlet . So you must take your husbands.- Begin, murtherer. Pox, leave
thy damnable faces, and begin! Come, the croaking raven doth 2145 bellow for revenge.
Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing; Confederate season, else no creature seeing; Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected, With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected, Thy natural magic and dire property On wholesome life usurp immediately.
Pours the poison in his ears.
Hamlet . He poisons him i’ th’ garden for’s estate. His name’s Gonzago.
The story is extant, and written in very choice Italian. You 2150 shall see anon how the murtherer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.
Ophelia . The King rises.
Hamlet . What, frighted with false fire?
Gertrude . How fares my lord?
Polonius . Give o’er the play. 2155
Claudius . Give me some light! Away!
All . Lights, lights, lights!
Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.
Hamlet . Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play; 2160 For some must watch, while some must sleep:
Thus 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 raz’d
shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir? 2165
Horatio . Half a share.
Hamlet . A whole one I!
For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here 2170 A very, very- pajock.
Horatio . You might have rhym’d.
Hamlet . O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand
pound! Didst perceive?
Horatio . Very well, my lord. 2175
Hamlet . Upon the talk of the poisoning?
Horatio . I did very well note him.
Hamlet . Aha! Come, some music! Come, the recorders!
For if the King like not the comedy,
Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy. 2180 Come, some music!
Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Guildenstern . Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
Hamlet . Sir, a whole history.
Guildenstern . The King, sir- 2185
Hamlet . Ay, sir, what of him?
Guildenstern . Is in his retirement, marvellous distemper’d.
Hamlet . With drink, sir?
Guildenstern . No, my lord; rather with choler.
Hamlet . Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to 2190 the doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps
plunge him into far more choler.
Guildenstern . Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start
not so wildly from my affair.
Hamlet . I am tame, sir; pronounce. 2195
Guildenstern . The Queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit
hath sent me to you.
Hamlet . You are welcome.
Guildenstern . 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 2200 your mother’s commandment; if not, your pardon and my return
shall be the end of my business.
Hamlet . Sir, I cannot.
Guildenstern . What, my lord?
Hamlet . Make you a wholesome answer; my wit’s diseas’d. But, sir, such 2205 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
Rosencrantz . Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her into
amazement and admiration. 2210
Hamlet . O wonderful son, that can so stonish a mother! But is there no
sequel at the heels of this mother’s admiration? Impart.
Rosencrantz . She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.
Hamlet . We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any
further trade with us? 2215
Rosencrantz . My lord, you once did love me.
Hamlet . And do still, by these pickers and stealers!
Rosencrantz . 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. 2220
Hamlet . Sir, I lack advancement.
Rosencrantz . How can that be, when you have the voice of the King himself
for your succession in Denmark?
Hamlet . Ay, sir, but ‘while the grass grows’- the proverb is something
musty. 2225 [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?
Guildenstern . O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly. 2230
Hamlet . I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
Guildenstern . My lord, I cannot.
Hamlet . I pray you.
Guildenstern . Believe me, I cannot.
Hamlet . I do beseech you. 2235
Guildenstern . I know, no touch of it, my lord.
Hamlet . It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your
fingers and thumbs, give it breath with your mouth, and it will
discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
Guildenstern . But these cannot I command to any utt’rance of harmony. I 2240 have not the skill.
Hamlet . 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, 2245 excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it
speak. ‘Sblood, do you think I am easier to be play’d on than a
pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me,
you cannot play upon me.
[Enter Polonius.] 2250 God bless you, sir!
Polonius . My lord, the Queen would speak with you, and presently.
Hamlet . Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius . By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.
Hamlet . Methinks it is like a weasel. 2255
Polonius . It is back’d like a weasel.
Hamlet . Or like a whale.
Polonius . Very like a whale.
Hamlet . 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. 2260
Polonius . I will say so. Exit.
Hamlet . ‘By-and-by’ is easily said.- Leave me, friends.
[Exeunt all but Hamlet.]
‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out 2265 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. 2270 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! Exit. 2275
Act III, Scene 3
A room in the Castle.
Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.
Claudius . 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. 2280 The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.
Guildenstern . We will ourselves provide.
Most holy and religious fear it is 2285 To keep those many many bodies safe
That live and feed upon your Majesty.
Rosencrantz . The single and peculiar life is bound
With all the strength and armour of the mind
To keep itself from noyance; but much more 2290 That spirit upon whose weal depends and rests
The lives of many. The cesse 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, 2295 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 boist’rous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan. 2300
Claudius . Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
For we will fetters put upon this fear,
Which now goes too free-footed.
Rosencrantz . [with Guildenstern] We will haste us.
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, 2310 ‘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. 2315
Claudius . Thanks, dear my lord.
O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
A brother’s murther! Pray can I not, 2320 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 2325 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, 2330 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 murther’?
That cannot be; since I am still possess’d 2335 Of those effects for which I did the murther-
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon’d and retain th’ offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice, 2340 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, 2345 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, 2350 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. He kneels.
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 2360 To heaven.
Why, 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? 2365 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 seasoned for his passage?
No. 2370 Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
Or in th’ incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in’t- 2375 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. Exit.
Claudius . [rises] My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. 2380 Words without thoughts never to heaven go. Exit.
Act III, Scene 4
The Queen’s closet.
Enter Queen and Polonius.
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 2385 Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here.
Pray you be round with him.
Hamlet . [within] Mother, mother, mother!
Gertrude . I’ll warrant you; fear me not. Withdraw; I hear him coming.
[Polonius hides behind the arras.]
Hamlet . Now, mother, what’s the matter?
Gertrude . Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.
Hamlet . Mother, you have my father much offended.
Gertrude . Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue. 2395
Hamlet . Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.
Gertrude . Why, how now, Hamlet?
Hamlet . What’s the matter now?
Gertrude . Have you forgot me?
Hamlet . No, by the rood, not so! 2400 You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
And (would it were not so!) you are my mother.
Gertrude . 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 2405 Where you may see the inmost part of you.
Gertrude . What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murther me?
Help, help, ho!
Polonius . [behind] What, ho! help, help, help!
Hamlet . [draws] How now? a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead! 2410
[Makes a pass through the arras and] kills Polonius.
Polonius . [behind] O, I am slain!
Gertrude . O me, what hast thou done?
Hamlet . Nay, I know not. Is it the King?
Gertrude . O, what a rash and bloody deed is this! 2415
Hamlet . A bloody deed- almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
Gertrude . As kill a king?
Hamlet . Ay, lady, it was my word.
[Lifts up the arras and sees Polonius.] 2420 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
And let me wring your heart; for so I shall 2425 If it be made of penetrable stuff;
If damned custom have not braz’d it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.
Gertrude . What have I done that thou dar’st wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me? 2430
Hamlet . Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;
Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
And sets a blister there; makes marriage vows 2435 As false as dicers’ oaths. O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words! Heaven’s face doth glow;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass, 2440 With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.
Gertrude . Ah me, what act,
That roars so loud and thunders in the index?
Hamlet . Look here upon th’s picture, and on this, 2445 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 2450 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. 2455 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 2460 The heyday 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, 2465 Nor sense to ecstacy was ne’er so thrall’d
But it reserv’d 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, 2470 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, 2475 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. 2480
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.
Hamlet . Nay, but to live 2485 In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty!
Gertrude . O, speak to me no more!
These words like daggers enter in mine ears. 2490 No more, sweet Hamlet!
Hamlet . A murtherer 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, 2495 That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket!
Gertrude . No more!
Enter the Ghost in his nightgown.
Hamlet . A king of shreds and patches!- 2500 Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?
Gertrude . Alas, he’s mad!
Hamlet . Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, laps’d in time and passion, lets go by 2505 Th’ important acting of your dread command?
Father’s Ghost . Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But look, amazement on thy mother sits. 2510 O, step between her and her fighting soul
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.
Hamlet . How is it with you, lady?
Gertrude . Alas, how is’t with you, 2515 That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with th’ encorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm,
Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements, 2520 Start up and stand an 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!
His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones, 2525 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.
Gertrude . To whom do you speak this? 2530
Hamlet . Do you see nothing there?
Gertrude . Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
Hamlet . Nor did you nothing hear?
Gertrude . No, nothing but ourselves.
Hamlet . Why, look you there! Look how it steals away! 2535 My father, in his habit as he liv’d!
Look where he goes even now out at the portal!
Gertrude . This is the very coinage of your brain.
This bodiless creation ecstasy 2540 Is very cunning in.
Hamlet . Ecstasy?
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have utt’red. Bring me to the test, 2545 And I the matter will reword; which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place, 2550 Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue; 2555 For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg-
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
Gertrude . O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
Hamlet . O, throw away the worser part of it, 2560 And live the purer with the other half,
Good night- but go not to my uncle’s bed.
Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat
Of habits evil, is angel yet in this, 2565 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
To the next abstinence; the next more easy; 2570 For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either [master] the devil, or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night;
And when you are desirous to be blest,
I’ll blessing beg of you.- For this same lord, 2575 I do repent; but heaven hath pleas’d it so,
To punish me with this, and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So again, good night. 2580 I must be cruel, only to be kind;
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
One word more, good lady.
Gertrude . What shall I do?
Hamlet . Not this, by no means, that I bid you do: 2585 Let the bloat King tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out, 2590 That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. ‘Twere good you let him know;
For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib
Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so? 2595 No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep
And break your own neck down. 2600
Gertrude . Be thou assur’d, 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?
Gertrude . Alack, 2605 I had forgot! ‘Tis so concluded on.
Hamlet . There’s letters seal’d; and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work; 2610 For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and ‘t shall go hard
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. 2615 This man shall set me packing.
I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room.-
Mother, good night.- Indeed, this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish peating knave. 2620 Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.
[Exit the Queen. Then] Exit Hamlet, tugging in
Act IV, Scene 1
Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Claudius . There’s matter in these sighs. These profound heaves
You must translate; ’tis fit we understand them.
Where is your son?
Gertrude . Bestow this place on us a little while.
[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] 2630 Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen to-night!
Claudius . What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
Gertrude . Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit
Behind the arras hearing something stir, 2635 Whips out his rapier, cries ‘A rat, a rat!’
And in this brainish apprehension kills
The unseen good old man.
Claudius . O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there. 2640 His liberty is full of threats to all-
To you yourself, to us, to every one.
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer’d?
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrain’d, and out of haunt 2645 This mad young man. But so much was our love
We would not understand what was most fit,
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone? 2650
Gertrude . To draw apart the body he hath kill’d;
O’er whom his very madness, like some ore
Among a mineral of metals base,
Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.
Claudius . O Gertrude, come away! 2655 The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch
But we will ship him hence; and this vile deed
We must with all our majesty and skill
Both countenance and excuse. Ho, Guildenstern!
[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] 2660 Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
And from his mother’s closet hath he dragg’d him.
Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body
Into the chapel. I pray you haste in this. 2665 [Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].]
Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends
And let them know both what we mean to do
And what’s untimely done. [So haply slander-]
Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter, 2670 As level as the cannon to his blank,
Transports his poisoned shot- may miss our name
And hit the woundless air.- O, come away!
My soul is full of discord and dismay.
Act IV, Scene 2
Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.
Hamlet . Safely stow’d.
Gentlemen . [within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
Hamlet . But soft! What noise? Who calls on Hamlet? O, here they
Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Rosencrantz . What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
Hamlet . Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.
Rosencrantz . Tell us where ’tis, that we may take it thence
And bear it to the chapel. 2685
Hamlet . Do not believe it.
Rosencrantz . Believe what?
Hamlet . That I can keep your counsel, and not mine own. Besides, to be
demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son
of a king? 2690
Rosencrantz . Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
Hamlet . Ay, sir; that soaks up the King’s countenance, his rewards,
his authorities. But such officers do the King best service in
the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw;
first mouth’d, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have 2695 glean’d, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry
Rosencrantz . I understand you not, my lord.
Hamlet . I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
Rosencrantz . My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to 2700 the King.
Hamlet . The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.
The King is a thing-
Guildenstern . A thing, my lord?
Hamlet . Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after. 2705
Act IV, Scene 3
Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
Claudius . I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him. 2710 He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
And where ’tis so, th’ offender’s scourge is weigh’d,
But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem 2715 Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are reliev’d,
Or not at all.
How now O What hath befall’n? 2720
Rosencrantz . Where the dead body is bestow’d, my lord,
We cannot get from him.
Claudius . But where is he?
Rosencrantz . Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
Claudius . Bring him before us. 2725
Rosencrantz . Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.
Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern [with Attendants].
Claudius . Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
Hamlet . At supper.
Claudius . At supper? Where? 2730
Hamlet . Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain
convocation of politic worms are e’en at him. Your worm is your
only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and
we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar
is but variable service- two dishes, but to one table. That’s the 2735 end.
Claudius . Alas, alas!
Hamlet . A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat
of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
Claudius . What dost thou mean by this? 2740
Hamlet . Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through
the guts of a beggar.
Claudius . Where is Polonius?
Hamlet . In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger find him not
there, seek him i’ th’ other place yourself. But indeed, if you 2745 find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
the stair, into the lobby.
Claudius . Go seek him there. [To Attendants.]
Hamlet . He will stay till you come.
Claudius . Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,-
Which we do tender as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done,- must send thee hence
With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready and the wind at help, 2755 Th’ associates tend, and everything is bent
Hamlet . For England?
Claudius . Ay, Hamlet.
Hamlet . Good. 2760
Claudius . So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.
Hamlet . I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England!
Farewell, dear mother.
Claudius . Thy loving father, Hamlet.
Hamlet . My mother! Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is 2765 one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!
Claudius . Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
Delay it not; I’ll have him hence to-night.
Away! for everything is seal’d and done 2770 That else leans on th’ affair. Pray you make haste.
[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
And, England, if my love thou hold’st at aught,-
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red 2775 After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
Pays homage to us,- thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
By letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England; 2780 For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,
Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun. Exit.
Act IV, Scene 4
Enter Fortinbras with his Army over the stage.
Fortinbras . Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king. 2785 Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promis’d march
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
If that his Majesty would aught with us,
We shall express our duty in his eye; 2790 And let him know so.
Norwegian Captain . I will do’t, my lord.
Fortinbras . Go softly on.
Exeunt [all but the Captain].
Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, [Guildenstern,] and others.
Hamlet . Good sir, whose powers are these?
Norwegian Captain . They are of Norway, sir.
Hamlet . How purpos’d, sir, I pray you?
Norwegian Captain . Against some part of Poland.
Hamlet . Who commands them, sir? 2800
Norwegian Captain . The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
Hamlet . Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?
Norwegian Captain . Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground 2805 That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
Hamlet . Why, then the Polack never will defend it. 2810
Norwegian Captain . Yes, it is already garrison’d.
Hamlet . Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw.
This is th’ imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 2815 Why the man dies.- I humbly thank you, sir.
Norwegian Captain . God b’ wi’ you, sir. [Exit.]
Rosencrantz . Will’t please you go, my lord?
Hamlet . I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.
[Exeunt all but Hamlet.] 2820 How all occasions do inform against me
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Sure he that made us with such large discourse, 2825 Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unus’d. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on th’ event,- 2830 A thought which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward,- I do not know
Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do,’
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
To do’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me. 2835 Witness this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff’d,
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure 2840 To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then, 2845 That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men
That for a fantasy and trick of fame 2850 Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! Exit. 2855
Act IV, Scene 5
Elsinore. A room in the Castle.
Enter Horatio, Queen, and a Gentleman.
Gertrude . I will not speak with her.
Gentleman . She is importunate, indeed distract.
Her mood will needs be pitied.
Gertrude . What would she have? 2860
Gentleman . She speaks much of her father; says she hears
There’s tricks i’ th’ world, and hems, and beats her heart;
Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,
That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move 2865 The hearers to collection; they aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily. 2870
Horatio . ‘Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
Gertrude . Let her come in.
[Aside] To my sick soul (as sin’s true nature is) 2875 Each toy seems Prologue to some great amiss.
So full of artless jealousy is guilt
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
Enter Ophelia distracted.
Ophelia . Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark? 2880
Gertrude . How now, Ophelia?
Ophelia . [sings]
How should I your true-love know
From another one?
By his cockle bat and’ staff 2885 And his sandal shoon.
Gertrude . Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
Ophelia . Say you? Nay, pray You mark.
(Sings) He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone; 2890 At his head a grass-green turf,
At his heels a stone.
Gertrude . Nay, but Ophelia-
Ophelia . Pray you mark. 2895 (Sings) White his shroud as the mountain snow-
Gertrude . Alas, look here, my lord!
Ophelia . [Sings]
Larded all with sweet flowers; 2900 Which bewept to the grave did not go
With true-love showers.
Claudius . How do you, pretty lady?
Ophelia . Well, God dild you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter.
Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at 2905 your table!
Claudius . Conceit upon her father.
Ophelia . Pray let’s have no words of this; but when they ask, you what
it means, say you this:
(Sings) To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, 2910 All in the morning bedtime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose and donn’d his clo’es
And dupp’d the chamber door, 2915 Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
Claudius . Pretty Ophelia!
Ophelia . Indeed, la, without an oath, I’ll make an end on’t!
[Sings] By Gis and by Saint Charity, 2920 Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do’t if they come to’t
By Cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
You promis’d me to wed.’ 2925 He answers:
‘So would I ‘a’ done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.’
Claudius . How long hath she been thus?
Ophelia . I hope all will be well. We must be patient; but I cannot 2930 choose but weep to think they would lay him i’ th’ cold ground.
My brother shall know of it; and so I thank you for your good
counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet
ladies. Good night, good night. Exit
Claudius . Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you. 2935 [Exit Horatio.]
O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
All from her father’s death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies.
But in battalions! First, her father slain; 2940 Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
Of his own just remove; the people muddied,
Thick and and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger to inter him; poor Ophelia 2945 Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without the which we are pictures or mere beasts;
Last, and as much containing as all these,
Her brother is in secret come from France;
Feeds on his wonder, keeps, himself in clouds, 2950 And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar’d,
Will nothing stick our person to arraign
In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this, 2955 Like to a murd’ring piece, in many places
Give me superfluous death. A noise within.
Gertrude . Alack, what noise is this?
Claudius . Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.
[Enter a Messenger.] 2960 What is the matter?
Messenger . Save Yourself, my lord:
The ocean, overpeering of his list,
Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
Than Young Laertes, in a riotous head, 2965 O’erbears Your offices. The rabble call him lord;
And, as the world were now but to begin,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
The ratifiers and props of every word,
They cry ‘Choose we! Laertes shall be king!’ 2970 Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
‘Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!’
A noise within.
Gertrude . How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs! 2975
Claudius . The doors are broke.
Enter Laertes with others.
Laertes . Where is this king?- Sirs, staid you all without.
All . No, let’s come in!
Laertes . I pray you give me leave. 2980
All . We will, we will!
Laertes . I thank you. Keep the door. [Exeunt his Followers.]
O thou vile king,
Give me my father!
Gertrude . Calmly, good Laertes. 2985
Laertes . That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard;
Cries cuckold to my father; brands the harlot
Even here between the chaste unsmirched brows
Of my true mother.
Claudius . What is the cause, Laertes, 2990 That thy rebellion looks so giantlike?
Let him go, Gertrude. Do not fear our person.
There’s such divinity doth hedge a king
That treason can but peep to what it would,
Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes, 2995 Why thou art thus incens’d. Let him go, Gertrude.
Laertes . Where is my father?
Claudius . Dead.
Gertrude . But not by him! 3000
Claudius . Let him demand his fill.
Laertes . How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with:
To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil
Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation. To this point I stand, 3005 That both the world, I give to negligence,
Let come what comes; only I’ll be reveng’d
Most throughly for my father.
Claudius . Who shall stay you?
Laertes . My will, not all the world! 3010 And for my means, I’ll husband them so well
They shall go far with little.
Claudius . Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father’s death, is’t writ in your revenge 3015 That sweepstake you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?
Laertes . None but his enemies.
Claudius . Will you know them then?
Laertes . To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my arms 3020 And, like the kind life-rend’ring pelican,
Repast them with my blood.
Claudius . Why, now You speak
Like a good child and a true gentleman.
That I am guiltless of your father’s death, 3025 And am most sensibly in grief for it,
It shall as level to your judgment pierce
As day does to your eye.
A noise within: ‘Let her come in.’
Laertes . How now? What noise is that? 3030 [Enter Ophelia. ]
O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight
Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May! 3035 Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens! is’t possible a young maid’s wits
Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?
Nature is fine in love, and where ’tis fine,
It sends some precious instance of itself 3040 After the thing it loves.
Ophelia . [sings]
They bore him barefac’d on the bier
(Hey non nony, nony, hey nony)
And in his grave rain’d many a tear. 3045 Fare you well, my dove!
Laertes . Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
Ophelia . You must sing ‘A-down a-down, and you call him a-down-a.’ O,
how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his 3050 master’s daughter.
Laertes . This nothing’s more than matter.
Ophelia . There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love,
remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
Laertes . A document in madness! Thoughts and remembrance fitted. 3055
Ophelia . There’s fennel for you, and columbines. There’s rue for you,
and here’s some for me. We may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays.
O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There’s a daisy. I
would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father
died. They say he made a good end. 3060 [Sings] For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
Laertes . Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
She turns to favour and to prettiness.
Ophelia . [sings]
And will he not come again? 3065 And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead;
Go to thy deathbed;
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow, 3070 All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan.
God ‘a’mercy on his soul!
And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God b’ wi’ you. 3075
Laertes . Do you see this, O God?
Claudius . Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, 3080 And they shall hear and judge ‘twixt you and me.
If by direct or by collateral hand
They find us touch’d, we will our kingdom give,
Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
To you in satisfaction; but if not, 3085 Be you content to lend your patience to us,
And we shall jointly labour with your soul
To give it due content.
Laertes . Let this be so.
His means of death, his obscure funeral- 3090 No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,
No noble rite nor formal ostentation,-
Cry to be heard, as ’twere from heaven to earth,
That I must call’t in question.
Claudius . So you shall; 3095 And where th’ offence is let the great axe fall.
I pray you go with me.
Act IV, Scene 6
Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.
Enter Horatio with an Attendant.
Horatio . What are they that would speak with me? 3100
Servant . Seafaring men, sir. They say they have letters for you.
Horatio . Let them come in.
I do not know from what part of the world
I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet. 3105
Sailor . God bless you, sir.
Horatio . Let him bless thee too.
Sailor . ‘A shall, sir, an’t please him. There’s a letter for you,
sir,- it comes from th’ ambassador that was bound for England- if 3110 your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.
Horatio . [reads the letter] ‘Horatio, when thou shalt have overlook’d
this, give these fellows some means to the King. They have
letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of
very warlike appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves too 3115 slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour, and in the grapple I
boarded them. On the instant they got clear of our ship; so I
alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves
of mercy; but they knew what they did: I am to do a good turn for
them. Let the King have the letters I have sent, and repair thou 3120 to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words
to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too
light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring
thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course
for England. Of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell. 3125 ‘He that thou knowest thine, HAMLET.’
Come, I will give you way for these your letters,
And do’t the speedier that you may direct me
To him from whom you brought them. Exeunt.
Act IV, Scene 7
Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.
Enter King and Laertes.
Claudius . Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
And You must put me in your heart for friend,
Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
That he which hath your noble father slain
Pursued my life. 3135
Laertes . It well appears. But tell me
Why you proceeded not against these feats
So crimeful and so capital in nature,
As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,
You mainly were stirr’d up. 3140
Claudius . O, for two special reasons,
Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew’d,
But yet to me they are strong. The Queen his mother
Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,-
My virtue or my plague, be it either which,- 3145 She’s so conjunctive to my life and soul
That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
I could not but by her. The other motive
Why to a public count I might not go
Is the great love the general gender bear him, 3150 Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gives to graces; so that my arrows,
Too slightly timber’d for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again, 3155 And not where I had aim’d them.
Laertes . And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desp’rate terms,
Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age 3160 For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
Claudius . Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
That we can let our beard be shook with danger,
And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more. 3165 I lov’d your father, and we love ourself,
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine-
[Enter a Messenger with letters.]
How now? What news?
Messenger . Letters, my lord, from Hamlet: 3170 This to your Majesty; this to the Queen.
Claudius . From Hamlet? Who brought them?
Messenger . Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not.
They were given me by Claudio; he receiv’d them
Of him that brought them. 3175
Claudius . Laertes, you shall hear them.
[Reads]‘High and Mighty,-You shall know I am set naked on your
kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes; 3180 when I shall (first asking your pardon thereunto) recount the
occasion of my sudden and more strange return. ‘HAMLET.’
What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
Laertes . Know you the hand? 3185
Claudius . ‘Tis Hamlet’s character. ‘Naked!’
And in a postscript here, he says ‘alone.’
Can you advise me?
Laertes . I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come!
It warms the very sickness in my heart 3190 That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
‘Thus didest thou.’
Claudius . If it be so, Laertes
(As how should it be so? how otherwise?),
Will you be rul’d by me? 3195
Laertes . Ay my lord,
So you will not o’errule me to a peace.
Claudius . To thine own peace. If he be now return’d
As checking at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it, I will work him 3200 To exploit now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
And for his death no wind shall breathe
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
And call it accident. 3205
Laertes . My lord, I will be rul’d;
The rather, if you could devise it so
That I might be the organ.
Claudius . It falls right.
You have been talk’d of since your travel much, 3210 And that in Hamlet’s hearing, for a quality
Wherein they say you shine, Your sum of parts
Did not together pluck such envy from him
As did that one; and that, in my regard,
Of the unworthiest siege. 3215
Laertes . What part is that, my lord?
Claudius . A very riband in the cap of youth-
Yet needfull too; for youth no less becomes
The light and careless livery that it wears
Than settled age his sables and his weeds, 3220 Importing health and graveness. Two months since
Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
I have seen myself, and serv’d against, the French,
And they can well on horseback; but this gallant
Had witchcraft in’t. He grew unto his seat, 3225 And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
As had he been incorps’d and demi-natur’d
With the brave beast. So far he topp’d my thought
That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
Come short of what he did. 3230
Laertes . A Norman was’t?
Claudius . A Norman.
Laertes . Upon my life, Lamound.
Claudius . The very same.
Laertes . I know him well. He is the broach indeed 3235 And gem of all the nation.
Claudius . He made confession of you;
And gave you such a masterly report
For art and exercise in your defence,
And for your rapier most especially, 3240 That he cried out ‘twould be a sight indeed
If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation
He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
If you oppos’d them. Sir, this report of his
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy 3245 That he could nothing do but wish and beg
Your sudden coming o’er to play with you.
Now, out of this-
Laertes . What out of this, my lord?
Claudius . Laertes, was your father dear to you? 3250 Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart,’
Laertes . Why ask you this?
Claudius . Not that I think you did not love your father;
But that I know love is begun by time, 3255 And that I see, in passages of proof,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
And nothing is at a like goodness still; 3260 For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,
We should do when we would; for this ‘would’ changes,
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents; 3265 And then this ‘should’ is like a spendthrift sigh,
That hurts by easing. But to the quick o’ th’ ulcer!
Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
To show yourself your father’s son in deed
More than in words? 3270
Laertes . To cut his throat i’ th’ church!
Claudius . No place indeed should murther sanctuarize;
Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
Will you do this? Keep close within your chamber.
Hamlet return’d shall know you are come home. 3275 We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you in fine together
And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving, 3280 Will not peruse the foils; so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
Requite him for your father.
Laertes . I will do’t! 3285 And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
Collected from all simples that have virtue 3290 Under the moon, can save the thing from death
This is but scratch’d withal. I’ll touch my point
With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.
Claudius . Let’s further think of this, 3295 Weigh what convenience both of time and means
May fit us to our shape. If this should fall,
And that our drift look through our bad performance.
‘Twere better not assay’d. Therefore this project
Should have a back or second, that might hold 3300 If this did blast in proof. Soft! let me see.
We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings-
When in your motion you are hot and dry-
As make your bouts more violent to that end- 3305 And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepar’d him
A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom’d stuck,
Our purpose may hold there.- But stay, what noise,
[Enter Queen.] 3310 How now, sweet queen?
Gertrude . One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
So fast they follow. Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.
Laertes . Drown’d! O, where?
Gertrude . There is a willow grows aslant a brook, 3315 That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
There with fantastic garlands did she come
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them. 3320 There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up; 3325 Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 3330 Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Laertes . Alas, then she is drown’d?
Gertrude . Drown’d, drown’d.
Laertes . Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, 3335 And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet
It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,
The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord.
I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze 3340 But that this folly douts it. Exit.
Claudius . Let’s follow, Gertrude.
How much I had to do to calm his rage I
Now fear I this will give it start again;
Therefore let’s follow. 3345
Act V, Scene 1
Elsinore. A churchyard.
Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].
First Clown . Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully seeks her own salvation?
Second Clown . I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial. 3350
First Clown . How can that be, unless she drown’d herself in her own
Second Clown . Why, ’tis found so.
First Clown . It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies
the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an 3355 act hath three branches-it is to act, to do, and to perform;
argal, she drown’d herself wittingly.
Second Clown . Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!
First Clown . Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the
man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, 3360 will he nill he, he goes- mark you that. But if the water come to
him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not
guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
Second Clown . But is this law?
First Clown . Ay, marry, is’t- crowner’s quest law. 3365
Second Clown . Will you ha’ the truth an’t? If this had not been a
gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.
First Clown . Why, there thou say’st! And the more pity that great folk
should have count’nance in this world to drown or hang themselves
more than their even-Christian. Come, my spade! There is no 3370 ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They
hold up Adam’s profession.
Second Clown . Was he a gentleman?
First Clown . ‘A was the first that ever bore arms.
Second Clown . Why, he had none. 3375
First Clown . What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture?
The Scripture says Adam digg’d. Could he dig without arms? I’ll
put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
purpose, confess thyself-
Second Clown . Go to! 3380
First Clown . What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
shipwright, or the carpenter?
Second Clown . The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand
First Clown . I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well. 3385 But how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now,
thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the
church. Argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To’t again, come!
Second Clown . Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
First Clown . Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
Second Clown . Marry, now I can tell!
First Clown . To’t.
Second Clown . Mass, I cannot tell.
Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.
First Clown . Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
not mend his pace with beating; and when you are ask’d this
question next, say ‘a grave-maker.’ The houses he makes lasts
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
[Exit Second Clown.]
[Clown digs and] sings.
First Clown . In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet;
To contract- O- the time for- a- my behove, 3405 O, methought there- a- was nothing- a- meet.
Hamlet . Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
Horatio . Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
Hamlet . ‘Tis e’en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier 3410 sense.
First Clown . [sings]
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land, 3415 As if I had never been such.
[Throws up a skull.]
Hamlet . That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once. How the
knave jowls it to the ground,as if ’twere Cain’s jawbone, that
did the first murther! This might be the pate of a Politician, 3420 which this ass now o’erreaches; one that would circumvent God,
might it not?
Horatio . It might, my lord.
Hamlet . Or of a courtier, which could say ‘Good morrow, sweet lord!
How dost thou, good lord?’ This might be my Lord Such-a-one, that 3425 prais’d my Lord Such-a-one’s horse when he meant to beg it- might
Horatio . Ay, my lord.
Hamlet . Why, e’en so! and now my Lady Worm’s, chapless, and knock’d
about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, 3430 and we had the trick to see’t. Did these bones cost no more the
breeding but to play at loggets with ’em? Mine ache to think
First Clown . [Sings]
A pickaxe and a spade, a spade, 3435 For and a shrouding sheet;
O, a Pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
Throws up [another skull].
Hamlet . There’s another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? 3440 Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures,
and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock
him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him
of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in’s time a
great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his 3445 fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries. Is this the fine of
his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine
pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him no more of
his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth
of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will 3450 scarcely lie in this box; and must th’ inheritor himself have no
Horatio . Not a jot more, my lord.
Hamlet . Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
Horatio . Ay, my lord, And of calveskins too. 3455
Hamlet . They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I
will speak to this fellow. Whose grave’s this, sirrah?
First Clown . Mine, sir.
[Sings] O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet. 3460
Hamlet . I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in’t.
First Clown . You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore ’tis not yours.
For my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.
Hamlet . Thou dost lie in’t, to be in’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for
the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest. 3465
First Clown . ‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again from me to you.
Hamlet . What man dost thou dig it for?
First Clown . For no man, sir.
Hamlet . What woman then?
First Clown . For none neither. 3470
Hamlet . Who is to be buried in’t?
First Clown . One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead.
Hamlet . How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or
equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, this three years
I have taken note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe 3475 of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls
his kibe.- How long hast thou been a grave-maker?
First Clown . Of all the days i’ th’ year, I came to’t that day that our
last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
Hamlet . How long is that since? 3480
First Clown . Cannot you tell that? Every fool can tell that. It was the
very day that young Hamlet was born- he that is mad, and sent
Hamlet . Ay, marry, why was be sent into England?
First Clown . Why, because ‘a was mad. ‘A shall recover his wits there; 3485 or, if ‘a do not, ’tis no great matter there.
Hamlet . Why?
First Clown . ‘Twill not he seen in him there. There the men are as mad as
Hamlet . How came he mad? 3490
First Clown . Very strangely, they say.
Hamlet . How strangely?
First Clown . Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
Hamlet . Upon what ground?
First Clown . Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy 3495 thirty years.
Hamlet . How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
First Clown . Faith, if ‘a be not rotten before ‘a die (as we have many
pocky corses now-a-days that will scarce hold the laying in, I
will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last 3500 you nine year.
Hamlet . Why he more than another?
First Clown . Why, sir, his hide is so tann’d with his trade that ‘a will
keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of
your whoreson dead body. Here’s a skull now. This skull hath lien 3505 you i’ th’ earth three-and-twenty years.
Hamlet . Whose was it?
First Clown . A whoreson, mad fellow’s it was. Whose do you think it was?
Hamlet . Nay, I know not.
First Clown . A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! ‘A pour’d a flagon of 3510 Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s
skull, the King’s jester.
Hamlet . This?
First Clown . E’en that.
Hamlet . Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, 3515 Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He
hath borne me on his back a thousand times. And now how abhorred
in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those
lips that I have kiss’d I know not how oft. Where be your gibes
now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment that 3520 were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your
own grinning? Quite chap- fall’n? Now get you to my lady’s
chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this
favour she must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio,
tell me one thing. 3525
Horatio . What’s that, my lord?
Hamlet . Dost thou think Alexander look’d o’ this fashion i’ th’ earth?
Horatio . E’en so.
Hamlet . And smelt so? Pah!
[Puts down the skull.]
Horatio . E’en so, my lord.
Hamlet . To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not
imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander till he find it
stopping a bunghole?
Horatio . ‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so. 3535
Hamlet . No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty
enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died,
Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is
earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam (whereto he
was converted) might they not stop a beer barrel? 3540 Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth which kept the world in awe
Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside! Here comes the King- 3545 Enter [priests with] a coffin [in funeral procession], King,
[Queen, Laertes, with Lords attendant.]
The Queen, the courtiers. Who is this they follow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desp’rate hand 3550 Fordo it own life. ‘Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile, and mark.
[Retires with Horatio.]
Laertes . What ceremony else?
Hamlet . That is Laertes, 3555 A very noble youth. Mark.
Laertes . What ceremony else?
Priest . Her obsequies have been as far enlarg’d
As we have warranty. Her death was doubtful;
And, but that great command o’ersways the order, 3560 She should in ground unsanctified have lodg’d
Till the last trumpet. For charitable prayers,
Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her.
Yet here she is allow’d her virgin rites,
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home 3565 Of bell and burial.
Laertes . Must there no more be done?
Priest . No more be done.
We should profane the service of the dead
To sing a requiem and such rest to her 3570 As to peace-parted souls.
Laertes . Lay her i’ th’ earth;
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,
A minist’ring angel shall my sister be 3575 When thou liest howling.
Hamlet . What, the fair Ophelia?
Gertrude . Sweets to the sweet! Farewell.
I hop’d thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife; 3580 I thought thy bride-bed to have deck’d, sweet maid,
And not have strew’d thy grave.
Laertes . O, treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head
Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense 3585 Depriv’d thee of! Hold off the earth awhile,
Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.
[Leaps in the grave.]
Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead
Till of this flat a mountain you have made 3590 T’ o’ertop old Pelion or the skyish head
Of blue Olympus.
Hamlet . [comes forward] What is he whose grief
Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow
Conjures the wand’ring stars, and makes them stand 3595 Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane. [Leaps in after Laertes.]
Laertes . The devil take thy soul!
[Grapples with him.]
Hamlet . Thou pray’st not well. 3600 I prithee take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand!
Claudius . Pluck them asunder. 3605
Gertrude . Hamlet, Hamlet!
All . Gentlemen!
Horatio . Good my lord, be quiet.
[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.]
Hamlet . Why, I will fight with him upon this theme 3610 Until my eyelids will no longer wag.