Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Hamlet (Modern, Folio)


[4.7]
Enter King and Laertes.
King 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,
3010That he which hath your noble father slain
Pursued my life.
Laertes It well appears. But tell me
Why you proceed not against these feats
So criminal and so capital in nature,
3015As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else,
You mainly were stirred up.
King Oh for two special reasons,
Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinewed,
But yet to me they are strong. The Queen his mother
3020Lives almost by his looks, and for myself--
My virtue or my plague, be it either which--
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
3025Why to a public count I might not go
Is the great love the general gender bear him,
Who. dipping all his faults in their affection,
Work like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces, so that my arrows.
3030Too slightly timbered for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
But not where I had armed them.
Laertes And so have I a noble father lost,
A sister driven into desperate terms,
3035Who has, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
King Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
3040That 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.
I loved your father, and we love ourself,
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine--
3045
Enter a Messenger [with letters].
King How now? What news?
Messenger Letters, my lord, from Hamlet. This to your majesty, this to the Queen.
[He gives letters.]
King From Hamlet? Who brought them?
3050Messenger Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.
They were given me by Claudio. He received them.
King Laertes, you shall hear them. [To the Messenger]Leave us.
Exit Messenger.
[He reads.]
High and mighty, you shall know I am set naked on your 3055kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall (first asking your pardon thereunto) recount th'occasions of my sudden and more strange return.
Hamlet.
[King] What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
3060Or is it some abuse? Or no such thing?
Laertes Know you the hand?
King 'Tis Hamlet's character. "Naked!"
And in a postscript here he says "alone."
Can you advise me?
Laertes I'm lost in it, my lord. But let him come.
3065It warms the very sickness in my heart
That I shall live and tell him to his teeth
"Thus didest thou."
King If it be so, Laertes--
As how should it be so, how otherwise?--
Will you be ruled by me?
3070Laertes If so you'll not o'errule me to a peace.
King To thine own peace. If he be now returned
As checking at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it, I will work him
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
3075Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
And call it accident. Some two months hence
Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
3080I've seen myself, and served against, the French,
And they ran well on horseback, but this gallant
Had witchcraft in't; he grew into his seat,
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
As had he been incorpsed and demi-natured
3085With the brave beast. So far he topped my thought
That I in forgery of shapes and tricks
Come short of what he did.
Laertes A Norman was't?
King A Norman.
3090Laertes Upon my life, Lamound.
King The very same.
Laertes I know him well. He is the brooch indeed
And gem of all our nation.
King He made confession of you,
3095And gave you such a masterly report
For art and exercise in your defense,
And for your rapier most especially,
That he cried out 'twould be a sight indeed
If one could match you, sir. This report of his
3100Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
That he could nothing do but wish and beg
Your sudden coming o'er to play with him.
Now, out of this--
Laertes What out of this, my lord?
3105King Laertes, was your father dear to you?
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart?
Laertes Why ask you this?
King Not that I think you did not love your father,
3110But that I know love is begun by time,
And that I see, in passages of proof,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
To show yourself your father's son indeed,
3115More than in words?
Laertes To cut his throat i'th' church.
King No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize.
Revenge should have no bounds. But good Laertes,
Will you do this: keep close within your chamber.
3120Hamlet returned shall know you are come home.
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 o'er your heads. He being remiss,
3125Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and in a pace of practice
Requite him for your father.
3130Laertes I will do't,
And for purpose I'll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank
So mortal I but dipped a knife in it,
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
3135Collected from all simples that have virtue
Under the moon, can save the thing from death
That is but scratched withal. I'll touch my point
With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.
3140King Lets further think of this.
Weigh what convenience both of time and means
May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,
And that our drift look through our bad performance,
'Twere better not assayed. Therefore this project
3145Should have a back or second, that might hold
If this should blast in proof. Soft, let me see.
We'll make a solemn wager on your comings--
I ha't! When in your motion you are hot and dry--
As make your bouts more violent to that end--
3150And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,
Our purpose may hold there.--How, sweet Queen?
Enter Queen.
3155Queen One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
So fast they'll follow. Your sister's drowned, Laertes.
Laertes Drowned! Oh, where?
Queen There is a willow grows aslant a brook
That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream.
3160There 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.
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
3165Clamb'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,
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
3170As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and endued
Unto that element. But long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay
3175To muddy death.
Laertes Alas, then, she is drowned?
Queen Drowned, drowned.
Laertes Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
And therefore I forbid my tears. But yet
3180It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will. [He weeps].When these are gone,
The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord.
I have a speech of fire that fain would blaze,
But that this folly douts it.
Exit.
3185King Let's follow, Gertrude.
How much I had to do to calm his rage!
Now fear I this will give it start again; Therefore let's follow.
Exeunt.