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  • Title: Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)

    [2.2]
    Flourish. Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, and 1020 Guildenstern [with others].
    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
    1025 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 hath put him
    So much from th'understanding of himself,
    1030 I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
    That, being of 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
    1035 To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
    So much as from occasions you may glean,
    1036.1 Whether 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
    1040 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
    1045 As 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.
    1050 Guildenstern
    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.
    1055 Queen
    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.
    1060 Guildenstern
    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,
    1065 Are 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;
    1070 And 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.
    1075 Polonius
    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 sweet Queen, that he hath found
    The head and source of all your son's distemper.
    1080 Queen
    I doubt it is no other but the main:
    His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage.
    Enter Polonius, Voltemand, and Cornelius.
    King
    Well, we shall sift him.--Welcome, my good friends.
    Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
    1085 Voltemand
    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
    1090 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,
    1095 Makes 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
    1100 So 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 his enterprise
    On such regards of safety and allowance
    1105 As 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.
    1110 Go to your rest. At night we'll feast together.
    Most welcome home!
    Exeunt Ambassadors.
    Polonius
    This business is well ended.
    My liege and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    1115 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.
    1120 Mad 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.
    1125 That 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,
    1130 Or 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 whilst she is mine--
    Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
    1135 Hath 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. "These in 1140 her 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,
    1145 Doubt 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,
    1155 As 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.
    1160 Polonius
    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
    1137-
    1165 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:
    1170 "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,
    1175 And he, repulsèd, 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,
    1180 And 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'd fain know that--
    That I have positively said "'Tis so"
    1185 When 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.
    1195 Queen
    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,
    1200 Let 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.
    1210 Polonius
    Do you know me, my lord?
    Hamlet
    Excellent, excellent well. You're a fishmonger.
    Polonius
    Not I, my lord.
    Hamlet
    Then I would you were so honest a man.
    Polonius
    Honest, my lord?
    1215 Hamlet
    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.
    1225 Polonius
    [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?
    1230 Hamlet
    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 1235 men 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 1240 honesty to have it thus set down; for you 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 1255between 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 1260 life.
    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? 1270 Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye 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.
    1275 Hamlet
    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.
    1280 Hamlet
    In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true, she is a strumpet. What's the news?
    Rosencrantz
    None, my lord, but that 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.
    1290 Rosencrantz
    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.
    1295 Hamlet
    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.
    1300 Hamlet
    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 even poor in thanks, but I 1320thank you; 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?
    1325 Hamlet
    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?
    1330 Hamlet
    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 1335were 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.
    1340 Hamlet
    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 exercise; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a 1345 sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a 1350 man! 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 1355 dust? 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.
    1360 Hamlet
    Why did you 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 1375 tragedians 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 1380 innovation.
    Hamlet
    Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
    Rosencrantz
    No, indeed, they are not.
    Hamlet
    How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
    1385 Rosencrantz
    Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted pace. But there is, sir, an eyrie 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?
    1405 Guildenstern
    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 1410King of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
    1415 Flourish for the players.
    Guildenstern
    There are the players.
    Hamlet
    Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come. Th'appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players, 1420 which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, 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?
    1425 Hamlet
    I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
    Enter Polonius.
    Polonius
    Well be with you, gentlemen.
    Hamlet
    Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too, at each ear a hearer: 1430 that 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 1435players. Mark it.-- You 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--
    1440 Polonius
    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 1445tragedy, comedy, history, 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 1450 only 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 1455 passing 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.
    1460 Hamlet
    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 1465abridgment 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! Thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark?-- 1470 What, my young lady and mistress! By'r Lady, your ladyship is nearer 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 1475to't, like French falconers: fly at anything we see. 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, 1480 or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million, 'twas caviare 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 1485 with 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, 1488.1as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale 1490to Dido, and thereabout of it especially where he speaks 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,
    1495 Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
    When he lay couchèd in the ominous horse,
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
    With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
    Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
    1500 With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Baked and empasted with the parching streets
    That lend a tyrannous and damnèd light
    To their vile murders. Roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'ersizèd with coagulate gore,
    1505 With 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,
    1510 Striking 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
    1515 Th'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
    1520 Of 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,
    1525 The 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
    1530 On Mars his 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,
    1535 Break 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.--1540Prithee, say on. He's for a jig, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on. Come to Hecuba..
    First Player
    But who, oh, who, had seen the moblèd queen--.
    Hamlet
    The moblèd queen!
    Polonius
    That's good. "Mobleèd queen" is good.
    1545 First 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
    1550 A blanket in th'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
    1555 In 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.
    1560 Polonius
    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 ye hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstracts and brief 1565 chronicles 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.
    1570 Hamlet
    God's bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity; the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
    1575 Polonius
    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.
    1580 Hamlet
    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.
    Exeunt Players.
    1585 My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
    Rosencrantz
    Good my lord.
    Hamlet
    Ay, so, God b'wi' you.
    Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].
    Now I am alone.
    1590 Oh, 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 whole conceit
    That from her working all his visage wanned,
    1595 Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
    A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
    With forms to his conceit? And all or nothing?
    For Hecuba?
    What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    1600 That 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,
    1605 Confound 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
    1610 Upon 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 th' nose? Gives me the lie i'th' throat
    1615 As 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
    1620 With 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,
    1625 Prompted 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 brain!
    Hum, I have heard
    That guilty creatures sitting at a play
    1630 Have 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
    1635 Play 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
    1640 T'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
    1645 Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
    Exit.