Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)


[2.2]
Flourish. Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and 1020Guildenstern [and other Courtiers].
King 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
1025Of Hamlet's transformation--so call it,
Sith nor 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,
1030I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
That, being of so young days brought up with him,
And sith so neighbored to his youth and havior,
That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
Some little time, so by your companies
1035To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
So much as from occasion you may glean,
1036.1Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus
That, opened, lies within our remedy.
Queen Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you,
And sure I am two men there is not living
1040To 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
1045As fits a king's remembrance.
Rosencrantz
Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.
1050Guildenstern
But we both obey,
And here give up ourselves in the full bent
To lay our service freely at your feet
To be commanded.
King Thanks, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guildenstern.
1055Queen 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.
1060Guildenstern Heavens make our presence and our practices
Pleasant and helpful to him!
Queen
Ay, amen.
Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [and other Courtiers].
Enter Polonius.
Polonius Th'ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
1065Are joyfully returned.
King Thou still hast been the father of good news.
Polonius 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;
1070And I do think--or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it hath used to do--that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
King Oh, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
1075Polonius Give first admittance to th'ambassadors.
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
King Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
[Polonius goes to bring in the ambassadors.]
He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
The head and source of all your son's distemper.
1080Queen I doubt it is no other but the main:
His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage.
Enter Ambassadors [Voltemand and Cornelius, ushered in by Polonius].
King Well, we shall sift him.--Welcome, my good friends.
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
1085Voltemand 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
1090It 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,
1095Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give th'assay of arms against your majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee
And his commission to employ those soldiers
1100So levied (as before) against the Polack,
With an entreaty herein further shown
[Giving a letter to the King]
That it might please you to give quiet pass
Through your dominions for this enterprise
On such regards of safety and allowance
1105As therein are set down.
King
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.
1110Go to your rest. At night we'll feast together.
Most welcome home!
Exeunt Ambassadors.
My liege and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
1115Why 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.
1120Mad call I it, for to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
Queen
More matter with less art.
Polonius Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
1125That he is 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,
1130Or rather say the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
Perpend.
I have a daughter--have while she is mine--
Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
1135Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise.
[He reads from] the 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 1140her excellent white bosom, these," etc.
Queen Came this from Hamlet to her?
Polonius Good madam, stay awhile, I will be faithful.
[He reads the] letter.
"Doubt thou the stars are fire,
1145Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love."
"O 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 hath my daughter shown me,
And, more above, hath his solicitings,
1155As they fell out, by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.
King But how hath she received his love?
Polonius What do you think of me?
King As of a man faithful and honorable.
1160Polonius 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
1165If 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:
1170"Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star.
This must not be." And then I prescripts 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,
1175And he, repuls{e`d}, 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,
1180And all we mourn for.
King [To Queen] Do you think 'tis this?
Queen It may be, very like.
Polonius Hath there been such a time--I would fain know that--
That I have positively said "'Tis so"
1185When it proved otherwise?
King
Not that I know.
Polonius Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
1190 Within the center.
King
How may we try it further?
Polonius You know sometimes he walks four hours together
Here in the lobby.
1195Queen
So he does indeed.
Polonius 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 fall'n thereon,
1200Let me be no assistant for a state
But keep a farm and carters.
King
We will try it.
Enter Hamlet reading on a book.
Queen But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
Polonius Away, I do beseech you both, away.
I'll board him presently. Oh, give me leave.--
Exit King and Queen.
How does my good Lord Hamlet?
Hamlet Well, God-a-mercy.
1210Polonius Do you know me, my lord?
Hamlet Excellent, excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
Polonius Not I, my lord.
Hamlet Then I would you were so honest a man.
Polonius Honest, my lord?
1215Hamlet Ay, sir, to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
Polonius That's very true, my lord.
Hamlet For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion--Have you a daughter?
Polonius I have, my lord.
Hamlet Let her not walk i'th'sun. Conception is a blessing, but as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to't.
1225Polonius [Aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first. 'A said I was a fishmonger. 'A 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.--What do you read, my lord?
1230Hamlet Words, words, words.
Polonius What is the matter, my lord?
Hamlet Between who?
Polonius I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
Hamlet Slanders sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old 1235men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plumtree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams--all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not 1240honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
Polonius [Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.--Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
Hamlet Into my grave.
Polonius [Aside] Indeed, that's out of the air. 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.--My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Hamlet You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal--except my life, except my life, except my 1260life.
Enter Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.
Polonius Fare you well, my lord.
Hamlet These tedious old fools!
Polonius [To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern] You go to seek the Lord Hamlet? There he is.
Rosencrantz [To Polonius] God save you, sir.
[Exit Polonius.]
Guildenstern My honored lord!
Rosencrantz My most dear lord!
Hamlet My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? 1270Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
Rosencrantz As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guildenstern Happy in that we are not over-happy. On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
1275Hamlet Nor the soles of her shoe?
Rosencrantz Neither, my lord.
Hamlet Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors.
Guildenstern Faith, her privates we.
1280Hamlet In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true, she is a strumpet. What news?
Rosencrantz None, my lord, but the world's grown honest.
Hamlet Then is doomsday near. But your news is 1285 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 hither?
Guildenstern Prison, my lord?
Hamlet Denmark's a prison.
1290Rosencrantz Then is the world one.
Hamlet A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o'th' worst.
Rosencrantz We think not so, my lord.
1295Hamlet 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.
Rosencrantz Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your mind.
1300Hamlet Oh, God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
Guildenstern Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow 1305of a dream.
Hamlet A dream itself is but a shadow.
Rosencrantz Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.
Hamlet Then are our beggars bodies, and our 1310monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th'court? For, by my fay, I cannot reason.
Both We'll wait upon you.
Hamlet No such matter. I will not sort you with the 1315rest 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?
Rosencrantz To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.
Hamlet Beggar that I am, I am ever poor in thanks, but I thank1320you; 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, come, deal justly with me. Come, come, nay, speak.
Guildenstern What should we say, my lord?
1325Hamlet Why, anything--but to th'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.
Rosencrantz To what end, my lord?
1330Hamlet 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 could charge you withal, be even and direct with me whether you were sent for or no.
Rosencrantz [Aside to Guildenstern] What say you?
Hamlet [Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you love me, hold not off.
Guildenstern My lord, we were sent for.
1340Hamlet 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 exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a 1345sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a 1350man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, 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 1355dust? Man delights not me, no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
Rosencrantz My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
1360Hamlet Why did ye laugh, then, when I said man delights not me?
Rosencrantz 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.
Hamlet 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 1370are tickled o'th'sear, and the Lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are they?
Rosencrantz Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the 1375tragedians of the city.
Hamlet How chances it they travel? Their residence both in reputation and profit was better both ways.
Rosencrantz I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late 1380innovation.
Hamlet Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
Rosencrantz No, indeed, are they not.
Hamlet How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
1385Rosencrantz Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted pace. But there is, sir, an aerie 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 1390call them--that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.
Hamlet 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, 1395if 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 succession?
Rosencrantz Faith, there has been much to-do on both sides, 1400and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy. There was for a while no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
Hamlet Is't possible?
1405Guildenstern Oh, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Hamlet Do the boys carry it away?
Rosencrantz Ay, that they do, my lord, Hercules and his load too.
Hamlet It is not very strange, for my uncle is King of Denmark, and 1410those that would make mows at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. S'blood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
[A] flourish for the players.
Guildenstern There are the players.
Hamlet Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come,then. Th'appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players, 1420which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
Guildenstern In what, my dear lord?
1425Hamlet I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a hand saw.
Enter Polonius.
Polonius Well be with you, gentlemen.
Hamlet Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too, at each ear a hearer: 1430that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.
Rosencrantz Haply he is the second time come to them, for they say an old man is twice a child.
Hamlet I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players. Mark it.-- 1435You say right, sir, o'Monday morning, 'twas then indeed.
Polonius My lord, I have news to tell you.
Hamlet My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome--
1440Polonius The actors are come hither, my lord.
Hamlet Buzz, buzz.
Polonius Upon my honor--
Hamlet Then came each actor on his ass.
Polonius The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, 1445history, 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 1450only men.
Hamlet O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou?
Polonius What a treasure had he, my lord?
Hamlet Why,
One fair daughter and no more,
The which he lovèd 1455passing 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 love passing well.
1460Hamlet Nay, that follows not.
Polonius What follows then, my lord?
Hamlet Why,
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 abridgment comes.
Enter four or five Players.
Hamlet You are welcome, masters, welcome all.--I am glad to see thee well. Welcome, good friends.--Oh, my old friend, why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark?-- 1470What, my young lady and mistress! By'r Lady, your ladyship is nearer to 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.--Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't, like French falconers: fly at anything we see. 1475 We'll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality. Come, a passionate speech.
First Player What speech, my good lord?
Hamlet I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted, 1480or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million, 'twas caviary to the general. But it was, as I received it, and others whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine, an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down 1485with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said there were 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, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it especially when he 1490speaks 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--
'Tis not so, it begins with Pyrrhus.
The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
1495Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
When he lay couchèd in th'ominous horse,
Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
1500With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Baked and empasted with the parching streets
That lend a tyrannous and a damnèd light
To their lord's murder. Roasted in wrath and fire,
And thus o'ersizèd with coagulate gore,
1505With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Phyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.
So proceed you.
Polonius 'Fore God, my Lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.
First Player Anon he finds him,
1510Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,
Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide,
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
1515Th'unnervèd father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
Seeming to feel this 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
1520Of reverend Priam, seemed i'th'air to stick.
So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood,
And, like a neutral to his will and matter,
Did nothing.
But as we often see against some storm
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
1525The 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
1530On Mars's 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,
1535Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
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 1540for a jig, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on. Come to Hecuba..
First Player But who, ah, woe, had seen the moblèd queen--.
Hamlet The moblèd queen!
Polonius That's good. "Mobleèd queen" is good.
1545First Player Run barefoot up and down, threat'ning the flames
With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head
Where late the diadem stood, and, for a robe,
About her lank and all-o'erteemèd loins
1550A blanket in the alarm 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
1555In 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.
1560Polonius Look whe'er he has not turned his color, and has tears in's eyes.--Prithee, no more.
Hamlet 'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest of this 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 1565chronicles 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.
1570Hamlet God's bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert and who shall scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity; the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
1575Polonius Come, sirs.
Exit Polonius.
Hamlet 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"?
[First] Player Ay, my lord.
1580Hamlet 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?
[First] Player Ay, my lord.
Hamlet Very well. Follow that lord, and look you mock him not. 1585 --My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
Exeunt Polonius and Players.
Rosencrantz Good my lord.
Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].
Hamlet Ay, so, God b'wi' you.--Now I am alone.
1590Oh, 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 own conceit
That from her working all his visage wanned,
1595Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit, and all for nothing,
For Hecuba.
What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
1600That 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 appal the free,
1605Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
The very faculties 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
1610Upon 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 the nose. Gives me the lie i'th'throat
1615As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this,
Ha? 'Swounds, 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 ha' fatted all the region kites
1620With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
Oh, vengeance!
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
1625Prompted 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 brains!
Hum, I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
1630Have 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
1635Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick. If 'a but blench
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
1640T'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
1645Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
Exit.