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  • Title: Hamlet (Quarto 2, 1604)
  • Textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

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    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Quarto 2, 1604)

    Enter King, Rosencraus, and Guyldensterne.
    King. I like him not, nor stands it safe with vs
    To let his madnes range, therefore prepare you,
    I your commission will forth-with dispatch,
    2275And he to England shall along with you,
    The termes of our estate may not endure
    Hazerd so neer's as doth hourely grow
    Out of his browes.
    Guyl. We will our selues prouide,
    2280Most holy and religious feare it is
    To keepe those many many bodies safe
    That liue and feede vpon your Maiestie.
    Ros. The single and peculier life is bound
    2285With all the strength and armour of the mind
    To keepe it selfe from noyance, but much more
    That spirit, vpon whose weale depends and rests
    The liues of many, the cesse of Maiestie
    Dies not alone; but like a gulfe doth draw
    2290What's neere it, with it, or it is a massie wheele
    Fixt on the somnet of the highest mount,
    To whose hough spokes, tenne thousand lesser things
    Are morteist and adioynd, which when it falls,
    Each small annexment petty consequence
    2295Attends the boystrous raine, neuer alone
    Did the King sigh, but a generall grone.
    King. Arme you I pray you to this speedy viage,
    For we will fetters put about this feare
    Which now goes too free-footed.
    2300Ros. We will hast vs. Exeunt Gent.
    Enter Polonius.
    Pol. My Lord, hee's going to his mothers closet,
    Behind the Arras I'le conuay my selfe
    To heare the processe, I'le warrant shee'letax him home,
    2305And as you sayd, and wisely was it sayd,
    Tis meete that some more audience then a mother,
    Since nature makes them parciall, should ore-heare
    The speech of vantage; farre you well my Leige,
    I'le call vpon you ere you goe to bed.
    2310And tell you what I knowe. Exit.
    King. Thankes deere my Lord.
    O my offence is ranck, it smels to heauen,
    It hath the primall eldest curse vppont,
    A brothers murther, pray can I not,
    2315Though inclination be as sharp as will,
    My stronger guilt defeats my strong entent,
    And like a man to double bussines bound,
    I stand in pause where I shall first beginne,
    And both neglect, what if this cursed hand
    2320Were thicker then it selfe with brothers blood,
    Is there not raine enough in the sweete Heauens
    To wash it white as snowe, whereto serues mercy
    But to confront the visage of offence?
    And what's in prayer but this two fold force,
    2325To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
    Or pardon being downe, then I'le looke vp.
    My fault is past, but oh what forme of prayer
    Can serue my turne, forgiue me my foule murther,
    That cannot be since I am still possest
    2330Of those effects for which I did the murther;
    My Crowne, mine owne ambition, and my Queene;
    May one be pardond and retaine th'offence?
    In the corrupted currents of this world,
    Offences guilded hand may showe by iustice,
    2335And oft tis seene the wicked prize it selfe
    Buyes out the lawe, but tis not so aboue,
    There is no shufling, there the action lies
    In his true nature, and we our selues compeld
    Euen to the teeth and forhead of our faults
    2340To giue in euidence, what then, what rests,
    Try what repentance can, what can it not,
    Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
    O wretched state, ô bosome blacke as death,
    O limed soule, that struggling to be free,
    2345Art more ingaged; helpe Angels make assay,
    Bowe stubborne knees, and hart with strings of steale,
    Be soft as sinnewes of the new borne babe,
    All may be well.
    Enter Hamlet.
    2350Ham. Now might I doe it, but now a is a praying,
    And now Ile doo't, and so a goes to heauen,
    And so am I reuendge, that would be scand
    A villaine kills my father, and for that,
    I his sole sonne, doe this same villaine send
    2355To heauen.
    Why, this is base and silly, not reuendge,
    A tooke my father grosly full of bread,
    Withall his crimes braod blowne, as flush as May,
    And how his audit stands who knowes saue heauen,
    But in our circumstance and course of thought,
    2360Tis heauy with him: and am I then reuendged
    To take him in the purging of his soule,
    When he is fit and seasond for his passage?
    Vp sword, and knowe thou a more horrid hent,
    When he is drunke, a sleepe, or in his rage,
    2365Or in th'incestious pleasure of his bed,
    At game a swearing, or about some act
    That has no relish of saluation in't,
    Then trip him that his heels may kick at heauen,
    And that his soule may be as damnd and black
    2370As hell whereto it goes; my mother staies,
    This phisick but prolongs thy sickly daies. Exit.
    King. My words fly vp, my thoughts remaine belowe
    Words without thoughts neuer to heauen goe. Exit.