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[Enter Hamlet, and two or three of the Players.]
Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as
many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier had
spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with
your hand, thus, but use all gently. For in the very torrent,
tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion,
you acquire and beget a temperance that may give
it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul to hear a
robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to
tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings,
who for the most part are capable of nothing but
inexplicable dumb shows and noise. I could have such a
fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods
Herod. Pray you avoid it.
I warrant your honor.
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 '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 makes the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the
judicious grieve, the censure of the which, one must in
your allowance o'erweigh a whole theater of others. Oh,
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 no man, have so strutted and
bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen
had made men — and not made them well — they
imitated humanity so abominably.
I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.
Oh, reform it altogether. And let those that play your
clowns speak no more than is set down for them. For there
be of them will themselves laugh, to set on some
quantity of barren spectators to laugh too. Though in the
meantime, some necessary question of the play be then
to be considered. That's villainous, and shows a most pitiful
ambition in the fool that uses it. Go make you ready.
[Exit Players. Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]
How now, my lord, will the king hear this piece of work?
And the queen too, and that presently.
Bid the players make haste.
Will you two help to hasten them?
We will, my lord.
[Exit Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Enter Horatio.]
What ho, Horatio!
Here, sweet lord, at your service.
Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal.
Oh, my dear lord ...
Nay, do not think I flatter,
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow feigning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of my choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself. For thou hast been
As one, in suff'ring all, that suffers nothing —
A man that Fortune's buffets and rewards
Hath 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
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.
There is a play tonight before the king.
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death.
I prithee, when thou see'st that act afoot,
Even, with the very comment of thy soul,
Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damnèd 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
In censure of his seeming.
Well, my lord.
If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing
And scape detected, I will pay the theft.
They are coming to the play. I must be idle.
Get you a place.
[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern,
and other Lords.]
and other Lords.]
How fares our cousin Hamlet?
Excellent, i'faith, of the chameleon's dish; I eat the
air, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.
I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These
words are not mine.
No, nor mine. [To Polonius] Now, my lord,
you played once i'th' university, you say?
That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.
And what did you enact?
I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i'th' Capitol.
Brutus killed me.
It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.
Be the players ready?
Ay, my lord, they stay upon your patience.
Come hither, my good Hamlet, sit by me.
[Indicating Ophelia] No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.
[To the King] Oh, ho, do you mark that?
[To Ophelia] Lady, shall I lie in your lap?
No, my lord.
I mean, my head upon your lap.
Ay, my lord.
Do you think I meant country matters?
I think nothing, my lord.
That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.
What is, my lord?
You are merry, my lord.
Ay, my lord.
Oh, God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do
but be merry? For look you how cheerfully my mother
looks, and my father died within's two hours.
Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.
So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a
suit of sables. Oh, heavens! Die two months ago, and not
forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory
may outlive his life half a year. But, by'r Lady, he must
build churches then, or else shall he suffer not thinking on,
with the hobby-horse whose epitaph is:
"For oh, for oh, the hobby-horse is forgot."
[Musicians play. The dumb-show begins. A King and
Queen enter, acting very affectionate. She embraces
him and kneels down, as if protesting something. He lifts
her up and hugs her. She lays him down on a bed of flowers.
Once he falls asleep, she leaves. Lucianus arrives, removes
the King’s crown, kisses it, pours poison in the King’s ear,
and then exits. The Queen returns to find the King dead,
and she becomes distraught. Lucianus returns and pretends
to console the Queen. The dead body is carried away. Then
Lucianus woos the Queen with presents. She rebuffs him initially,
but after a while, she gives in and accepts his love. They exit.]
What means this, my lord?
Marry, this is “miching mallico” — that means mischief.
Belike this show imports the argument of the play?
[Enter a Player as Prologue.]
We shall know by this fellow. The players cannot
keep counsel; they'll tell all.
Will they tell us what this show meant?
Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you
ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.
You are naught, you are naught. I'll mark the play.
For us and for our tragedy,
Here stooping to your clemency,
We beg your hearing patiently.
Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?
'Tis brief, my lord.
As woman's love.
[Enter two Players as King and Queen.]
Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbèd 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,
Unite commutual in most sacred bands.
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,
That I distrust you. Yet though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
For women's fear and love hold quantity
In neither aught or in extremity.
Now what my love is, proof hath made you know.
And as my love is sized, my fear is so.
Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too.
My operant powers, their functions leave to do.
And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
Honored, beloved. And haply one as kind,
For husband shalt thou ...
Oh, confound the rest!
Such love must needs be treason in my breast.
In second husband let me be accurst;
None wed the second but who killed the first.
The instances that second marriage move
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
A second time I kill my husband dead,
When second husband kisses me in bed.
I do believe you think what now you speak,
But what we do determine, oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
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.
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactors with themselves destroy.
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
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.
The great man down, you mark — his favorite flies.
The poor, advanced, 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,
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.
So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.
Nor earth to me give food nor heaven light.
Sport and repose lock from me day and night.
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!
If she should break it now!
'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.
Sleep rock thy brain,
[The Player King sleeps.]
And never come mischance between us twain!
[Exit Player Queen.]
[To Gertrude] Madam, how like you this play?
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Oh, but she'll keep her word.
Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in't?
No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest, no offense i'th' world.
What do you call the play?
"The Mousetrap." Marry, how? Tropically. This play
is the image of a murder 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
galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.
This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.
You are a good chorus, my lord.
I could interpret between you and your love, if I
could see the puppets dallying.
You are keen, my lord, you are keen.
It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.
Still better, and worse.
[To Ophelia] So you mistake your husbands.
[To the Players] Begin, murderer, leave thy damnable faces and
begin. Come, the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.
Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing —
Considerate season else no creature seeing.
Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice invected.
Thy natural magic and dire property,
On wholesome life, usurp immediately.
[Pours the poison in his ears.]
He poisons him i'th' garden for his estate. His name's
Gonzago. The story is extant, and written in very
choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer
gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
The king rises.
What, frighted with false fire?
How fares my lord?
Give o'er the play.
Give me some light. Away!
Lights, lights, lights!
[Exit all except Hamlet and Horatio]
"Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungallèd play.
For some must watch, while some must sleep,
So 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 razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of
Half a share.
A whole one, I.
[Making up a ballad]
"For thou dost know, Oh, Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was,
of Jove himself, and now reigns here
A very, very — pajock."
You might have rhymed.
Oh good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for
a thousand pound. Didst perceive?
Very well, my lord.
Upon the talk of the poisoning?
I did very well note him.
[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
Oh, ha! Come, some music! Come, the recorders.
For if the king like not the comedy,
Why, then belike, he likes it not perdy.
Come, some music.
Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
Sir, a whole history.
The king, sir ...
Ay, sir, what of him?
Is in his retirement, marvelous distempered.
With drink, sir?
No, my lord, rather with choler.
Your wisdom should show itself more richer to
signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him to his
purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.
Good my lord, put your discourse into some
frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.
I am tame, sir. Pronounce.
The queen, your mother, in most great
affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
You are welcome.
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 your mother's commandment. If not, your
pardon and my return shall be the end of my business.
Sir, I cannot.
What, my lord?
Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased.
But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command —
or rather, you say, my mother. Therefore no more, but
to the matter. My mother, you say.
Then thus she says: your behavior hath struck her
into amazement and admiration.
Oh, wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!
But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's
She desires to speak with you in her closet
ere you go to bed.
We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.
Have you any further trade with us?
My lord, you once did love me.
So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.
Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper?
You do surely bar the door of your own liberty
if you deny your griefs to your friend.
Sir, I lack advancement.
How can that be, when you have the voice of the king
himself for your succession in Denmark?
Ay, sir, but "while the grass grows" — the proverb
is something musty.
[An actor enters with a recorder.]
Oh, the recorder; let me see. To withdraw with you,
why do you go about to recover the wind of me,
as if you would drive me into a toil?
Oh, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too
I do not well understand that — will you play upon
My lord, I cannot.
I pray you.
Believe me, I cannot.
I do beseech you.
I know no touch of it, my lord.
'Tis as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with
your finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth,
and it will discourse most excellent music. Look you, these
are the stops.
But these cannot I command to any utterance of
harmony. I have not the skill.
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, excellent
voice, in this little compass, yet cannot you make it.
Why, do you think that I am easier to be played on than
a pipe? Call me what instrument you will; though you
fret me, you cannot play upon me.
[To Polonius, as he enters]
God bless you, sir.
My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.
Do you see yonder cloud? That's almost in shape like a camel.
By th' mass, and it's like a camel indeed.
Methinks it is like a weasel.
It is backed like a weasel.
Or like a whale?
Very like a whale.
Then I will come to my mother by and by.
[Aside] They fool me to the top of my bent.
[Aloud] I will come by and by.
I will say so.
"By and by" is easily said. Leave me, friends.
[Exit all but Hamlet.]
'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breaks out
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.
Oh heart, loose not thy nature! Let not ever
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom.
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!