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[Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, with others.]
Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Moreover that we much did long to see you,
The need we have to use you did provoke
Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
Of Hamlet's transformation — so call it,
Since not th' exterior nor the inward man
Resembles that it was. What it should be,
More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
So much from th' understanding of himself,
I cannot dream of. I entreat you both,
That, being of so young days brought up with him,
And since so neighbored to his youth and humor,
That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
Some little time, so by your companies
To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
So much as from occasion you may glean,
Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus,
That opened, lies within our remedy.
Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you.
And sure I am, two men there are not living
To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
To show us so much gentry and good will
As to expend your time with us awhile
For the supply and profit of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks
As fits a king's remembrance.
Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.
We both obey,
And here give up ourselves in the full bent,
To lay our services freely at your feet
To be commanded.
Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
And I beseech you instantly to visit
My too much changèd son. Go, some of you,
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
Heavens make our presence and our practices
Pleasant and helpful to him!
[Exit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and other Courtiers.]
Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
Are joyfully returned.
Thou still hast been the father of good news.
Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,
I hold my duty as I hold my soul —
Both to my God and to my gracious king.
And I do think — or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it have used to do — that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
Oh, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
Thyself do grace to them and bring them in.
He tells me, my sweet queen, that he hath found
The head and source of all your son's distemper.
I doubt it is no other but the main:
His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage.
[Enter Polonius, Voltemand, and Cornelius.]
Well, we shall sift him.
[To Voltemand and Cornelius]
Welcome, good friends.
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew's levies, which to him appeared
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack.
But, better looked into, he truly found
It was against your highness. Whereat, grieved
That so his sickness, age, and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
On Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys,
Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,
Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give th' assay of arms against your majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him threescore thousand crowns in annual fee
And his commission to employ those soldiers
So levied as before, against the Polack.
With an entreaty, herein further shown,
That it might please you to give quiet pass
Through your dominions for this enterprise,
On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down.
It likes us well,
And at our more considered time we'll read,
Answer, and think upon this business.
Meantime, we thank you for your well-took labor;
Go to your rest. At night we'll feast together.
Most welcome home!
This business is well ended.
My liege and madam. To expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night, night, and time is time —
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it, for to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
More matter, with less art.
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he's mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity,
And pity 'tis 'tis true — a foolish figure,
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him, then. And now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather, say the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
I have a daughter — have whilst she is mine —
Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise.
[He reads from a letter.]
"To the celestial and my soul's idol, the most
beautified Ophelia" — That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase;
beautified is a vile phrase. But you shall hear —
"thus in her excellent white bosom, these ..."
Came this from Hamlet to her?
Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.
"Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
Oh, dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers.
I have not art to reckon my groans. But that I
love thee best, oh, most best, believe it. Adieu.
Thine evermore, most dear lady,
Whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet."
In obedience hath my daughter showed me,
And more above hath his solicitings,
As they fell out, by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
But how hath she
Received his love?
What do you think of me?
As of a man faithful and honorable.
I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing —
As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me — what might you,
Or my dear majesty your queen here, think
If I had played the desk or table-book,
Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
Or looked upon this love with idle sight,
What might you think? No, I went round to work,
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
"Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
This must not be." And then I precepts gave her:
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
And he, repulsèd, a short tale to make,
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and by this declension
Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And all we mourn for.
[To Queen] Do you think 'tis this?
It may be, very likely.
Hath there been such a time — I would fain know that —
That I have positively said "'tis so",
When it proved otherwise?
Not that I know.
[Indicating his head and shoulder]
Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the center.
How may we try it further?
You know sometimes he walks four hours together
Here in the lobby.
So he has indeed.
At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him.
Be you and I behind an arras then,
Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state
But keep a farm and carters.
We will try it.
[Enter Hamlet reading a book].
But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
Away, I do beseech you, both away.
I'll board him presently. Oh, give me leave.
[Exit Claudius and Gertrude.]
How does my good Lord Hamlet?
Do you know me, my lord?
Excellent well. Y'are a fishmonger.
Not I, my lord.
Then I would you were so honest a man.
Honest, my lord?
Ay, sir, to be honest as this world goes is to be
one man picked out of ten thousand.
That's very true, my lord.
For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a
good kissing carrion — Have you a daughter?
I have, my lord.
Let her not walk i'th' sun. Conception is a blessing.
But not as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to't.
[Aside] How say you by that — still harping on my
daughter, yet he knew me not at first. He said I was a
fishmonger. He is far gone, far gone. And truly, in my
youth I suffered much extremity for love, very near this.
I'll speak to him again.
[To Hamlet] What do you read, my lord?
Words, words, words.
What is the matter, my lord?
I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here that
old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled,
their eyes purging thick amber or plumtree gum, and
that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with
weak hams — all which, sir, though I most powerfully
and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it
thus set down. For you yourself, sir, should be old as I am
if, like a crab, you could go backward.
[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
[To Hamlet] Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
Into my grave?
Indeed, that is out of the air. [Aside] How pregnant
sometimes his replies are! A happiness that often madness
hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously
be delivered of. I will leave him, and suddenly contrive
the means of meeting between him and my daughter.
[To Hamlet] My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my
leave of you.
You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more
willingly part withal — except my life, except my life,
Fare you well, my lord.
These tedious old fools!
[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
You go to seek the Lord Hamlet? There he is.
God save you, sir.
My honored lord!
My most dear lord!
My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern?
Oh, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
As the indifferent children of the earth.
Happy in that we are not over-happy.
On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
Nor the soles of her shoe?
Neither, my lord.
Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of
Faith, her privates we.
In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true, she is
a strumpet. What's the news?
None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
Then is doomsday near. But your news is not
true. Let me question more in particular.
What have you, my good friends, deserved at
the hands of Fortune that she sends you to prison
Prison, my lord?
Denmark's a prison.
Then is the world one.
A goodly one, in which there are many large confines,
wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o'th' worst.
We think not so, my lord.
Why, then 'tis none to you, for there is nothing
either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
To me it is a prison.
Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow
for your mind.
Oh, God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count
myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have
Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very
substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow
of a dream.
A dream itself is but a shadow.
Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality
that it is but a shadow's shadow.
Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and
outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to
th' court? For, by my fay, I cannot reason.
We'll wait upon you.
No such matter. I will not sort you with the rest of my
servants — for, to speak to you like an honest man — I am
most dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of
friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
To visit you my lord, no other occasion.
Beggar that I am, I am ever poor in thanks, but I
thank you. And sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear
a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining?
Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me.
Come, come, nay, speak.
What should we say, my lord?
Why, anything. But to the purpose. You were sent
for and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which
your modesties have not craft enough to color. I know
the good king and queen have sent for you.
To what end, my lord?
That you must teach me. But let me conjure you,
by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our
youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and
by what more dear a better proposer can charge you
withal. Be even and direct with me, whether you were sent
for or no.
[Aside to Guildenstern] What say you?
[Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.
[To Rosencrantz. and Guildenstern.]
If you love me, hold not off.
My lord, we were sent for.
I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent
your discovery, and your secrecy to the King and
Queen molt no feather. I have of late, but wherefore
I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of
exercise, and indeed it goes so heavily with my
disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems
to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent
canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging,
this majestical roof fretted with golden fire —
why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and
pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work
is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite
in faculty, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action, how like an angel, in
apprehension how like a god, the beauty of the
world, the paragon of animals. And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights
not me — no, nor woman neither — though by your
smiling you seem to say so.
My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
Why did you laugh, then, when I said man delights
To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what
lenten entertainment the players shall receive from
you. We coted them on the way, and hither are they
coming to offer you service.
He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty
shall have tribute of me. The Adventurous Knight shall
use his foil and target; the Lover shall not sigh gratis;
the Humorous Man shall end his part in peace; the Clown
shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickled o'th' sear;
and the Lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse
shall halt for't. What players are they?
Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the
tragedians of the city.
How chances it they travel? Their residence both in
reputation and profit was better both ways.
I think their inhibition comes by the means of
the late innovation.
Do they hold the same estimation they did when I
was in the city? Are they so followed?
No, indeed, are they not.
How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted
pace. But there is, sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases,
that cry out on the top of question, and are most
tyrannically clapped for't. These are now the fashion, and so
berattle the common stages — so they call them — that
many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare
scarce come thither.
What, are they children? Who maintains 'em?
How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no
longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards,
if they should grow themselves to common players — as
it is most like if their means are not better — their writers
do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own
Faith, there has been much to-do on both
sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tar them to
controversy. There was, for a while, no money bid
for argument unless the poet and the player went to
cuffs on the question.
Oh, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Do the boys carry it away?
Ay, that they do, my lord, Hercules and his load
It is not strange, for mine uncle is King of Denmark,
and those that would make mows at him while my
father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred
ducats apiece for his picture in little. There is
something in this more than natural, if philosophy
could find it out.
[Music announcing the arrival of the Players.]
There are the players.
[To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands,
come. Th' appurtenance of welcome is fashion and
ceremony. Let me comply with you in the garb, lest
my extent to the players — which, I tell you, must show
fairly outward — should more appear like entertainment
than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and
aunt-mother are deceived.
In what, my dear lord?
I am but mad north-northwest. When the wind is
southerly, I know a hawk from a hand saw.
Well be with you, gentlemen.
[To Guildenstern and Rosencrantz]
Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too,
at each ear a hearer. That great baby you see there is
not yet out of his swathing clouts.
Happily he's the second time come to them,
for they say an old man is twice a child.
I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players;
mark it. You say right, sir, a Monday morning, 'twas
My lord, I have news to tell you.
My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was
an actor in Rome ...
The actors are come hither, my lord.
Upon my honor.
Then came each actor on his ass.
The best actors in the world, either for tragedy,
comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical-historical-
pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-
pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca
cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the
law of writ and the liberty these are the only men.
Oh Jephthah, Judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou?
What a treasure had he, my lord?
"One fair daughter and no more,
The which he lovèd passing well."
[Aside] Still on my daughter.
Am I not i'th' right, old Jephthah?
If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a
daughter that I love passing well.
Nay, that follows not.
What follows then, my lord?
"As by lot, God wot,"
and then you know,
“It came to pass, as most like it was."
The first row of the pious chanson will show you more;
for look where my abridgments come.
[Enter four or five Players.]
You are welcome, masters, welcome all. I am glad to see thee well.
Welcome, good friends. [To a young actor]Oh, my old friend!
Thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Com'st
thou to beard me in Denmark? [To a boy actor] What
my young lady and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is nearer
heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine.
Pray God your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not
cracked within the ring. [To all] 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.
What speech, my good lord?
I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was
never acted, or if it was, not above once. For the
play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas
caviar to the general. But it was, as I received it —
and others whose judgment in such matters cried
in the top of mine — an excellent play, well digested
in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as
cunning. I remember one said there was no sallets
in the lines, to make the matter savory, nor no matter
in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation,
but called it an honest method. One speech in it I
chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido,
and thereabout of it especially where he
speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in your memory,
begin at this line — let me see, let me see.
The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast —
It is not so; it begins with Pyrrhus —
The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
When he lay couchèd in the ominous horse,
Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot,
Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Baked and empasted with the parching streets
That lend a tyrannous and damnèd light
To their vile murders. Roasted in wrath and fire,
And thus o'ersizèd with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Phyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.
So, proceed you.
'Fore God, my Lord, well spoken, with good accent
and good discretion.
Anon he finds him,
Striking too short at Greeks. His antic sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
Repugnant to command. Unequal match,
Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide.
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
Th' unnervèd father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
Seeming to feel his blow, with flaming top
Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear. For lo, his sword,
Which was declining on the milky head
Of reverend Priam, seemed i'th' air to stick.
So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood,
And, like a neutral to his will and matter,
But as we often see, against some storm,
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
As hush as death. Anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region. So, after Pyrrhus' pause,
A rousèd vengeance sets him new a-work;
And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
On Mars his armor, forged for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam.
Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods
In general synod take away her power,
Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
As low as to the fiends!
This is too long.
It shall to th' barber's with your beard. Prithee, say on.
He's for a jig, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on.
Come to Hecuba.
But who, oh, who, had seen the mobled queen —
The mobled queen!
That's good. Mobled queen is good.
Run barefoot up and down, threat'ning the flame
With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head
Where late the diadem stood, and, for a robe,
About her lank and all o'er-teemèd loins
A blanket in th' alarum of fear caught up.
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,
'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounced!
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 clamor that she made —
Unless things mortal move them not at all —
Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
And passion in the gods.
Look where he has not turned his color, and has
tears in's eyes. Pray you, no more.
'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest soon.
[To Polonius] Good my lord, will you see the players
well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.
After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than
their ill report while you live.
My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
God's bodykins, man, better. Use every man after
his desert and who should escape whipping? Use them
after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve,
the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
Follow him, friends. We'll hear a play tomorrow.
[Aside to the First Player]
Dost thou hear me, old friend?
Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?
Ay, my lord.
We'll ha't tomorrow 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?
Ay, my lord.
Very well. Follow that lord and, look you, mock him not.
[To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
My good friends, I'll leave you till night.
You are welcome to Elsinore.
Good my lord.
Ay, so, God buy you.
[Exit all but Hamlet.]
Now I am alone.
Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his whole conceit
That, from her working, all the visage warmed,
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,
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do
Had he the motive and the cue for passion
That I have? He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
Make mad the guilty, and appall the free,
Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculty of eyes and ears. Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing — no, not for a king
Upon whose property and most dear life
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain, breaks my pate across,
Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face,
Tweaks me by th' nose, gives me the lie i'th' throat
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?
Ha, why, I should take it. For it cannot be
But I am pigeon-livered, 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!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dead father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
a scullion? Fie upon't, foh!
About, my brain! I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions.
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick. If he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil, and the devil hath power
T'assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy —
As he is very potent with such spirits —
Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
More relative than this. The play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.