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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Enter King and Laertes.
    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.
    It well appears. But tell me
    Why you proceeded not against these feats
    So crimeful and so capital in nature,
    3015As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else,
    You mainly were stirred up.
    Oh for two special reasons,
    Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinewed,
    And 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'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,
    Would, 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,
    And not where I had aimed them.
    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.
    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--
    3045Enter a Messenger with letters.
    How now? What news?
    Letters, my lord, from Hamlet.
    This to your majesty, this to the Queen.
    [He gives letters.]
    From Hamlet! Who brought them?
    Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.
    They were given me by Claudio. He received them.
    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 your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.
    What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
    3060Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
    Know you the hand?
    'Tis Hamlet's character. "Naked!"
    And in a postscript here he says "alone."
    Can you advise me?
    I am 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 diddest thou."
    If it be so, Laertes--
    As how should it be so, how otherwise?--
    Will you be ruled by me?
    3070Laertes Ay, my lord,
    If so you'll not o'errule me to a peace.
    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.
    My lord, I will be ruled,
    The rather if you could devise it so
    That I might be the organ.
    It falls right.
    3078.5You 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,
    3078.10Of the unworthiest siege.
    What part is that, my lord?
    A very ribbon in the cap of youth,
    Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes
    The light and careless livery that it wears
    3078.15Than 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 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 passed my thought
    That I in forgery of shapes and tricks
    Come short of what he did.
    A Norman was't?
    A Norman.
    Upon my life, Lamord.
    The very same.
    I know him well. He is the brooch indeed
    And gem of all the nation.
    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. 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 him.
    Now, out of this--
    What out of this, my lord?
    Laertes, was your father dear to you?
    Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
    A face without a heart?
    Why ask you this?
    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,
    3112.5Dies 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,
    3112.10That hurts by easing. But to the quick of th'ulcer:
    Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
    To show yourself your father's son in deed
    3115More than in words?
    To cut his throat i'th' church.
    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 on 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 pass of practice
    Requite him for your father.
    I will do't,
    And for that 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.
    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 should blast in proof. Soft, let me see.
    We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings--
    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.
    Enter Queen.
    How [now], sweet queen?
    One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
    So fast they follow. Your sister's drowned, Laertes.
    Drowned! Oh, where?
    There is a willow grows aslant a brook
    That shows his hoar 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 cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
    There on the pendent 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.
    Alas, then she is drowned.
    Drowned, drowned.
    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.
    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.