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    Act 3. Scene II

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    Chapter 9
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    SCENE II. A hall in the castle.

    Enter HAMLET and Players
    HAMLET
    Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
    you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,
    as many of your players do, I had as lief the
    town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
    too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
    for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
    the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
    a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
    offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
    periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
    very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
    for the most part are capable of nothing but
    inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
    a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it
    out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.

    First Player
    I warrant your honour.

    HAMLET
    Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
    be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
    word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
    the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
    from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
    first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
    mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
    scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
    the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
    or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
    laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
    censure of the which one must in your allowance
    o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
    players that I have seen play, and heard others
    praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
    that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
    the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
    strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
    nature's journeymen had made men and not made them
    well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

    First Player
    I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,
    sir.

    HAMLET
    O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
    your clowns speak no more than is set down for them;
    for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to
    set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh
    too; though, in the mean time, some necessary
    question of the play be then to be considered:
    that's villanous, and shows a most pitiful ambition
    in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.

    Exeunt Players

    Enter POLONIUS, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN

    How now, my lord! I will the king hear this piece of work?

    LORD POLONIUS
    And the queen too, and that presently.

    HAMLET
    Bid the players make haste.

    Exit POLONIUS

    Will you two help to hasten them?

    ROSENCRANTZ GUILDENSTERN
    We will, my lord.

    Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

    HAMLET
    What ho! Horatio!

    Enter HORATIO

    HORATIO
    Here, sweet lord, at your service.

    HAMLET
    Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
    As e'er my conversation coped withal.

    HORATIO
    O, my dear lord,--

    HAMLET
    Nay, do not think I flatter;
    For what advancement may I hope from thee
    That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
    To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?
    No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
    And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
    Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
    Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
    And could of men distinguish, her election
    Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
    As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
    A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
    Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
    Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
    That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
    To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
    That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
    In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
    As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
    There is a play to-night before the king;
    One scene of it comes near the circumstance
    Which I have told thee of my father's death:
    I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
    Even with the very comment of thy soul
    Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
    Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
    It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
    And my imaginations are as foul
    As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
    For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
    And after we will both our judgments join
    In censure of his seeming.

    HORATIO
    Well, my lord:
    If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
    And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.

    HAMLET
    They are coming to the play; I must be idle:
    Get you a place.

    Danish march. A flourish. Enter KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others

    KING CLAUDIUS
    How fares our cousin Hamlet?

    HAMLET
    Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat
    the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words
    are not mine.

    HAMLET
    No, nor mine now.

    To POLONIUS

    My lord, you played once i' the university, you say?

    LORD POLONIUS
    That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.

    HAMLET
    What did you enact?

    LORD POLONIUS
    I did enact Julius Caesar: I was killed i' the
    Capitol; Brutus killed me.

    HAMLET
    It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf
    there. Be the players ready?

    ROSENCRANTZ
    Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

    HAMLET
    No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.

    LORD POLONIUS
    [To KING CLAUDIUS] O, ho! do you mark that?

    HAMLET
    Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

    Lying down at OPHELIA's feet

    OPHELIA
    No, my lord.

    HAMLET
    I mean, my head upon your lap?

    OPHELIA
    Ay, my lord.

    HAMLET
    Do you think I meant country matters?

    OPHELIA
    I think nothing, my lord.

    HAMLET
    That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

    OPHELIA
    What is, my lord?

    HAMLET
    Nothing.

    OPHELIA
    You are merry, my lord.

    HAMLET
    Who, I?

    OPHELIA
    Ay, my lord.

    HAMLET
    O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do
    but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my
    mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.

    OPHELIA
    Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

    HAMLET
    So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for
    I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! die two
    months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's
    hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half
    a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches,
    then; or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with
    the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is 'For, O, for, O,
    the hobby-horse is forgot.'

    Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters

    Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him, and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the King's ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts: she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love

    Exeunt

    OPHELIA
    What means this, my lord?

    HAMLET
    Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.

    OPHELIA
    Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

    Enter Prologue

    HAMLET
    We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot
    keep counsel; they'll tell all.

    OPHELIA
    Will he tell us what this show meant?

    HAMLET
    Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you
    ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.

    OPHELIA
    You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.

    Prologue
    For us, and for our tragedy,
    Here stooping to your clemency,
    We beg your hearing patiently.

    Exit

    HAMLET
    Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?

    OPHELIA
    'Tis brief, my lord.

    HAMLET
    As woman's love.

    Enter two Players, King and Queen

    Player King
    Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
    Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
    And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen
    About the world have times twelve thirties been,
    Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
    Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

    Player Queen
    So many journeys may the sun and moon
    Make us again count o'er ere love be done!
    But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,
    So far from cheer and from your former state,
    That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
    Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:
    For women's fear and love holds quantity;
    In neither aught, or in extremity.
    Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;
    And as my love is sized, my fear is so:
    Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
    Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

    Player King
    'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
    My operant powers their functions leave to do:
    And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
    Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind
    For husband shalt thou--

    Player Queen
    O, confound the rest!
    Such love must needs be treason in my breast:
    In second husband let me be accurst!
    None wed the second but who kill'd the first.

    HAMLET
    [Aside] Wormwood, wormwood.

    Player Queen
    The instances that second marriage move
    Are base respects of thrift, but none of love:
    A second time I kill my husband dead,
    When second husband kisses me in bed.

    Player King
    I do believe you think what now you speak;
    But what we do determine oft we break.
    Purpose is but the slave to memory,
    Of violent birth, but poor validity;
    Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;
    But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.
    Most necessary 'tis that we forget
    To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:
    What to ourselves in passion we propose,
    The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
    The violence of either grief or joy
    Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
    Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
    Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
    This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
    That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
    For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
    Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
    The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
    The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
    And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;
    For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
    And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
    Directly seasons him his enemy.
    But, orderly to end where I begun,
    Our wills and fates do so contrary run
    That our devices still are overthrown;
    Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:
    So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
    But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

    Player Queen
    Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!
    Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
    To desperation turn my trust and hope!
    An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!
    Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
    Meet what I would have well and it destroy!
    Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
    If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

    HAMLET
    If she should break it now!

    Player King
    'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;
    My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
    The tedious day with sleep.

    Sleeps

    Player Queen
    Sleep rock thy brain,
    And never come mischance between us twain!

    Exit

    HAMLET
    Madam, how like you this play?

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    The lady protests too much, methinks.

    HAMLET
    O, but she'll keep her word.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?

    HAMLET
    No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence
    i' the world.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    What do you call the play?

    HAMLET
    The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play
    is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is
    the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see
    anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o'
    that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it
    touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our
    withers are unwrung.

    Enter LUCIANUS

    This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.

    OPHELIA
    You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

    HAMLET
    I could interpret between you and your love, if I
    could see the puppets dallying.

    OPHELIA
    You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

    HAMLET
    It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.

    OPHELIA
    Still better, and worse.

    HAMLET
    So you must take your husbands. Begin, murderer;
    pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:
    'the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.'

    LUCIANUS
    Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;
    Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
    Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
    With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
    Thy natural magic and dire property,
    On wholesome life usurp immediately.

    Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears

    HAMLET
    He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
    name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
    choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
    gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

    OPHELIA
    The king rises.

    HAMLET
    What, frighted with false fire!

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    How fares my lord?

    LORD POLONIUS
    Give o'er the play.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    Give me some light: away!

    All
    Lights, lights, lights!

    Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO

    HAMLET
    Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
    The hart ungalled play;
    For some must watch, while some must sleep:
    So runs the world away.
    Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers-- if
    the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me--with two
    Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
    fellowship in a cry of players, sir?

    HORATIO
    Half a share.

    HAMLET
    A whole one, I.
    For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
    This realm dismantled was
    Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
    A very, very--pajock.

    HORATIO
    You might have rhymed.

    HAMLET
    O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a
    thousand pound. Didst perceive?

    HORATIO
    Very well, my lord.

    HAMLET
    Upon the talk of the poisoning?

    HORATIO
    I did very well note him.

    HAMLET
    Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!
    For if the king like not the comedy,
    Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.
    Come, some music!

    Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

    GUILDENSTERN
    Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

    HAMLET
    Sir, a whole history.

    GUILDENSTERN
    The king, sir,--

    HAMLET
    Ay, sir, what of him?

    GUILDENSTERN
    Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.

    HAMLET
    With drink, sir?

    GUILDENSTERN
    No, my lord, rather with choler.

    HAMLET
    Your wisdom should show itself more richer to
    signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him
    to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far
    more choler.

    GUILDENSTERN
    Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and
    start not so wildly from my affair.

    HAMLET
    I am tame, sir: pronounce.

    GUILDENSTERN
    The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of
    spirit, hath sent me to you.

    HAMLET
    You are welcome.

    GUILDENSTERN
    Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right
    breed. If it shall please you to make me a
    wholesome answer, I will do your mother's
    commandment: if not, your pardon and my return
    shall be the end of my business.

    HAMLET
    Sir, I cannot.

    GUILDENSTERN
    What, my lord?

    HAMLET
    Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but,
    sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command;
    or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no
    more, but to the matter: my mother, you say,--

    ROSENCRANTZ
    Then thus she says; your behavior hath struck her
    into amazement and admiration.

    HAMLET
    O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But
    is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's
    admiration? Impart.

    ROSENCRANTZ
    She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you
    go to bed.

    HAMLET
    We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have
    you any further trade with us?

    ROSENCRANTZ
    My lord, you once did love me.

    HAMLET
    So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.

    ROSENCRANTZ
    Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you
    do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if
    you deny your griefs to your friend.

    HAMLET
    Sir, I lack advancement.

    ROSENCRANTZ
    How can that be, when you have the voice of the king
    himself for your succession in Denmark?

    HAMLET
    Ay, but sir, 'While the grass grows,'--the proverb
    is something musty.

    Re-enter Players with recorders

    O, the recorders! let me see one. To withdraw with
    you:--why do you go about to recover the wind of me,
    as if you would drive me into a toil?

    GUILDENSTERN
    O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too
    unmannerly.

    HAMLET
    I do not well understand that. Will you play upon
    this pipe?

    GUILDENSTERN
    My lord, I cannot.

    HAMLET
    I pray you.

    GUILDENSTERN
    Believe me, I cannot.

    HAMLET
    I do beseech you.

    GUILDENSTERN
    I know no touch of it, my lord.

    HAMLET
    'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with
    your lingers and thumb, give it breath with your
    mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.
    Look you, these are the stops.

    GUILDENSTERN
    But these cannot I command to any utterance of
    harmony; I have not the skill.

    HAMLET
    Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
    me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
    my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
    mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
    the top of my compass: and there is much music,
    excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
    you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am
    easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
    instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
    cannot play upon me.

    Enter POLONIUS

    God bless you, sir!

    LORD POLONIUS
    My lord, the queen would speak with you, and
    presently.

    HAMLET
    Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

    LORD POLONIUS
    By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.

    HAMLET
    Methinks it is like a weasel.

    LORD POLONIUS
    It is backed like a weasel.

    HAMLET
    Or like a whale?

    LORD POLONIUS
    Very like a whale.

    HAMLET
    Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool
    me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.

    LORD POLONIUS
    I will say so.

    HAMLET
    By and by is easily said.

    Exit POLONIUS

    Leave me, friends.

    Exeunt all but HAMLET

    Tis now the very witching time of night,
    When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
    Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
    And do such bitter business as the day
    Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.
    O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
    The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:
    Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
    I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
    My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;
    How in my words soever she be shent,
    To give them seals never, my soul, consent!

    Exit
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