[Official room of the castle. 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 I 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 has put him
So much from th' understanding of himself,
I cannot dream of. I entreat you both,
That being ofof 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 has 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.
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
And here give up ourselves in the full bent,
To lay our services freely at your feet
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,
Thou still have 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 has 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 has 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.]
[To Voltemand and Cornelius]
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, hefirst, 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
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.
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?
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,
Has 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 does move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
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."
This in obedience has my daughter showed me –
And, more above, has his solicitings
(As they fell out, by time, by means, and place)
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, repulsed – a short tale to make –
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and by this declension
Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And all weall we mourn for.
[To Queen] Do you think 'tis this?
Has there been such a time — I would fain know that —
That I have positively said "'tis so",
When it proved otherwise?
[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
How may we try it further?
You know sometimes he walks four hours together
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 stat
But keep a farm and carters.
[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.]