Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Hamlet (Modern, Quarto 2)


[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're strong. The Queen his mother
3020Lives almost by his looks, and for myself--
My virtue or my plague, be it either which--
She is so conjunct 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 lovèd armed,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
But not where I have aimed them.
Laertes And so have I a noble father lost,
A sister driven into desp'rate terms,
3035Whose worth, 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--
Enter a Messenger with letters.
Messenger These 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
3051.1Of him that brought 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 kingdom. 3055Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking you pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden return.
King What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
3060Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
Laertes
Know you the hand?
King
'Tis Hamlet's character. "Naked!"
And in a postscript here he says "alone."
Can you devise me?
Laertes I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come.
3065It warms the very sickness in my heart
That I live and tell him to his teeth
"Thus didst thou."
King
If it be so, Laertes--
As how should it be so, how otherwise?--
Will you be ruled by me?
3070Laertes
Ay, my lord,
So you will 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.
3078.1Laertes
My lord, I will be ruled,
The rather if you could devise it so
That I might be the organ.
King
It falls right.
.5You have been talked of since your travel much,
And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
Wherein they say you shine. Your sum of parts
Did not together pluck such envy from him
As did that one, and that, in my regard,
.10Of the unworthiest siege.
Laertes What part is that, my lord?
King A very riband in the cap of youth,
Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes
The light and careless livery that it wears
.15Than settled age his sables and his weeds
Importing health and graveness. Two months since
Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
3080I have seen myself, and served against, the French,
And they can well on horseback, but this gallant
Had witchcraft in't; he grew unto 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, Lamord.
King
The very same.
Laertes I know him well. He is the brooch indeed
And gem of all the 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 especial,
That he cried out 'twould be a sight indeed
If one could match you. Th'escrimers of their nation,
3099.1He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye
If you opposed them. 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 you.
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.
3112.1There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it,
And nothing is at a like goodness still,
For goodness, growing to a pleurisy,
.5Dies in his own too much. That we would do
We should do when we would, for this "would" changes
And hath abatements and delays as many
As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents,
And then this "should" is like a spendthrift's sigh,
.10That hurts by easing. But to the quick of th'ulcer:
Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
To show yourself indeed your father's son
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 that, but dip 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 essayed. Therefore this project
3145Should have a back or second, that might hold
If this did blast in proof. Soft, let me see.
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings--
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 preferred him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venomed stuck,
Our purpose may hold there. [A cry within.] But stay, what noise?
Enter Queen.
3155Queen One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
So fast they follow. Your sister's drowned, Laertes.
Laertes Drowned! Oh, where?
Queen There is a willow grows askant the brook
That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream.
3160Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cull-cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her crownet 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 lauds,
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 o'fire that fain would blaze,
But that this folly drowns it.
Exit.
3185King
Let's follow, Gertrard.
How much I had to do to calm his rage!
Now fear I this will give it start again;
Therefore let's follow.
Exeunt.