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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Flourish. Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and 1020Guildenstern [and other Courtiers].
    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
    1025Of Hamlet's transformation--so call it,
    Sith nor 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,
    1030I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
    That, being of so young days brought up with him,
    And sith so neighbored to his youth and havior,
    That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
    Some little time, so by your companies
    1035To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
    So much as from occasion you may glean,
    1036.1Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus
    That, opened, lies within our remedy.
    Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you,
    And sure I am two men there is not living
    1040To 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
    1045As fits a king's remembrance.
    Both your majesties
    Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
    Put your dread pleasures more into command
    Than to entreaty.
    But we both obey,
    And here give up ourselves in the full bent
    To lay our service freely at your feet
    To be commanded.
    Thanks, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guildenstern.
    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.
    Heavens make our presence and our practices
    Pleasant and helpful to him!
    Ay, amen.
    Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern [and other Courtiers].
    Enter Polonius.
    Th'ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
    1065Are joyfully returned.
    Thou still hast been the father of good news.
    Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege,
    I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
    Both to my God and to my gracious king;
    1070And 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.
    Oh, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
    Give first admittance to th'ambassadors.
    My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
    Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
    [Polonius goes to bring in the ambassadors.]
    He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
    The head and source of all your son's distemper.
    I doubt it is no other but the main:
    His father's death, and our hasty marriage.
    Enter Ambassadors [Voltemand and Cornelius, ushered in by Polonius].
    Well, we shall sift him.--Welcome, my good friends.
    Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?
    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
    1090It 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,
    1095Makes vow before his uncle never more
    To give th'assay of arms against your majesty.
    Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
    Gives him threescore thousand crowns in annual fee
    And his commission to employ those soldiers
    1100So 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 this enterprise
    On such regards of safety and allowance
    1105As therein are set down.
    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.
    1110Go to your rest. At night we'll feast together.
    Most welcome home!
    Exeunt Ambassadors.
    This business is well ended.
    My liege and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    1115Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
    Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
    Therefore, brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
    1120Mad call I it, for to define true madness,
    What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
    But let that go.
    More matter with less art.
    Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
    1125That he's 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,
    1130Or rather say the cause of this defect,
    For this effect defective comes by cause.
    Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
    I have a daughter--have while she is mine--
    Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
    1135Hath 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. Thus: "In 1140her excellent white bosom, these," etc.
    Came this from Hamlet to her?
    Good madam, stay awhile, I will be faithful.
    [He reads the] letter.
    "Doubt thou the stars are fire,
    1145Doubt 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 about hath his solicitings,
    1155As they fell out, by time, by means, and place,
    All given to mine ear.
    But how hath she received his love?
    What do you think of me?
    As of a man faithful and honorable.
    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
    1165If I had played the desk or table-book,
    Or given my heart a working, 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 prescripts gave her
    That she should lock herself from her resort,
    Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
    Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
    1175And he, repellèd, a short tale to make,
    Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
    Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
    Thence to lightness, and by this declension
    Into the madness wherein now he raves,
    1180And all we mourn for.
    King"/[To Queen]Do you think this?
    It may be, very like.
    Hath there been such a time--I would fain know that--
    That I have positively said 'Tis so"
    1185When it proved otherwise?
    Not that I know.
    Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
    If circumstances lead me, I will find
    Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
    1190Within the center.
    How may we try it further?
    You know sometimes he walks four hours together
    Here in the lobby.
    So he does indeed.
    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,
    1200Let me be no assistant for a state
    But keep a farm and carters.
    We will try it.
    Enter Hamlet.
    But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
    Away, I do beseech you both away.
    Exit King and Queen.
    I'll board him presently. Oh, give me leave.--
    How does my good Lord Hamlet?
    Well, God-a-mercy.
    Do you know me, my lord?
    Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
    Not I, my lord.
    Then I would you were so honest a man.
    Honest, my lord?
    Ay, sir, to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
    That's very true, my lord.
    For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion--Have you a daughter?
    I have, my lord.
    Let her not walk i'th'sun. Conception is a blessing, but as your daughter may conceive, friend, look to't.
    [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, 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?
    Words, words, words.
    What is the matter, my lord?
    Between who?
    I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
    Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old 1235men 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 1240honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
    [Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.--Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
    Into my grave.
    [Aside] Indeed, that's out of the air. How pregnant sometimes his replies are! A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanctity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him and my daughter.--My lord, I will take my leave of you.
    You cannot take from me anything that I will not more willingly part withal--except my life, except my life, except my 1260life.
    1265Enter Guildenstern and Rosencrantz.
    Fare you well, my lord.
    These tedious old fools!
    Polonius[To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern] You go to seek the Lord Hamlet? There he is.
    [To Polonius] God save you, sir.
    [Exit Polonius.]
    My honored lord!
    My most dear lord!
    My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? 1270Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
    As the indifferent children of the earth.
    Happy in that we are not ever happy. On Fortune's lap we are not the very button.
    Nor the soles of her shoe?
    Neither, my lord.
    Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors.
    Faith, her privates we.
    In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true, she is a strumpet. What news?
    None, my lord, but the world's grown honest.
    Then is doomsday near. But your news is not true. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
    To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.
    Beggar that I am, I am ever poor in thanks, but I thank1320you; 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.
    What should we say, my lord?
    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.
    To what end, my lord?
    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 can charge you withal, be even and direct with me whether you were sent for or no.
    [Aside to Guildenstern] What say you?
    [Aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you love me, hold not off.
    My lord, we were sent for.
    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 exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a 1345sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What piece of work is a 1350man! 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 1355dust? Man delights not me, nor women neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.
    My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
    Why did ye laugh, then, when I said man delights not me?
    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.
    He that plays the King shall be welcome; his majesty shall have tribute on 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, and the Lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are they?
    Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the 1375tragedians of the city.
    How chances it they travel? Their residence both in reputation and profit was better both ways.
    I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late 1380innovation.
    Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
    No, indeed, are they not.
    It is not very strange, for my uncle is King of Denmark, and 1410those that would make mouths 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.
    A flourish.
    There are the players.
    Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come, then. Th'appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players, 1420which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
    In what, my dear lord?
    I am but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a hand saw.
    Enter Polonius.
    Well be with you, gentlemen.
    Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too, at each ear a hearer: 1430that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.
    Happily he is the second time come to them, for they say an old man is twice a child.
    I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players. Mark it.-- 1435You say right, sir, o'Monday morning, 'twas then indeed.
    My lord, I have news to tell you.
    My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome--
    The actors are come hither, my lord.
    Buzz, buzz.
    Upon my honor.
    Then came each actor on his ass.
    The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, 1445history, pastoral, pastoral-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 1450only men.
    O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou?
    What a treasure had he, my lord?
    One fair daughter and no more,
    1455The which he lovèd passing well.
    [Aside] Still on my daughter.
    Am I not i'th' right, old Jephthah?
    If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.
    Nay, that follows not.
    What follows then, my lord?
    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 the Players.
    You are welcome, masters, welcome all.--I am glad to see thee well. Welcome, good friends.--Oh, old friend, why, thy face is valanced since I saw thee last. Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark?-- 1470What, my young lady and mistress! By Lady, your ladyship is nearer to 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 to't, like French falconers: fly at anything we see. 1475 We'll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality. Come, a passionate speech.
    What speech, my good lord?
    I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted, 1480or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million, 'twas caviary 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 1485with 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 affection, but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' talk to Dido, and thereabout of it especially when he 1490speaks 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,
    1495Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
    When he lay couchèd in th'ominous horse,
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared
    With heraldry more dismal head to foot;
    Now is he total gules, horridly tricked
    1500With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Baked and empasted with the parching streets
    That lend a tyrannous and a damnèd light
    To their lord's murder. Roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'ersizèd with coagulate gore,
    1505With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.
    So proceed you.
    'Fore God, my Lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.
    Anon he finds him,
    1510Striking too short at Greeks. His anticke 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
    1515Th'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
    1520Of reverent Priam, seemed i'th' air to stick.
    So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood,
    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,
    1525The 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
    1530On Mars's 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,
    1535Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
    And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
    As low as to the fiends!
    This is too long.
    It shall to the barber's with your beard.--Prithee, say on. He's
    1540for a jig, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on. Come to Hecuba..
    But who, ah, woe, had seen the moblèd queen--.
    The moblèd queen!
    That's good.
    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
    1550A blanket in the 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
    1555In mincing with his sword her husband 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.
    Look where he has not turned his color, and has tears in's eyes. Prithee, no more.
    '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 you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief 1565chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
    My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
    God's bodkin, man, much better. Use every man after his desert and who shall scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity; the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
    Come, sirs.
    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.
    We'll ha't tomorrow night. You could for need study a speech of some dozen lines or sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert in't, could you not?
    [First] Player
    Ay, my lord.
    Very well. Follow that lord, and look you mock him not. 1585 --My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.
    Exeunt Polonius and Players.
    Good my lord.
    Exeunt [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].
    Ay, so, God buy to you.--Now I am alone.
    1590Oh, 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 own conceit
    That from her working all the visage wanned,
    1595Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
    A broken voice, an[d] his whole function suiting
    With forms to his conceit, and all for nothing,
    For Hecuba.
    What's Hecuba to him, or he to her,
    1600That he should weep for her? What would he do
    Had he the motive and that 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,
    1605Confound 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
    1610Upon 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 the nose? Gives me the lie i'th' throat
    1615As 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
    1620With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
    Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
    Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
    That I, the son of a dear murderèd,
    1625Prompted 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 stallion. Fie upon't, foh!
    About, my brains! Hum, I have heard
    That guilty creatures sitting at a play
    1630Have 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
    1635Play something like the murder of my father
    Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
    I'll tent him to the quick. If 'a do blench
    I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
    May be a de'il, and the de'il hath power
    1640T'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
    1645Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.