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nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so to me it is a prison.

Ros. Why, then your ambition makes it one: 'tis too narrow for your mind.

Ham. O God! I could be bounded in a nut-shell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Guil. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Ham. A dream itself is but a shadow.

Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow.

Ham. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs, and outstretch'd heroes, the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' Court? for, by my fay, I cannot

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Ham. No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest 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 ?

Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other оссаsion.

Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank 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.

Guil. What should we say, my lord?

Ham. Why any thing, but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in

your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour: I know, the good King and Queen have sent for you.

Ros. To what end, my lord?

Ham. 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 everpreserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge youth withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no?

Ros. [To GUILDENSTERN.] What say you? Ham. [Aside.] Nay, then I have an eye of you. -If you love me, hold not off.

Guil. My lord, we were sent for.

Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no feather. I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, foregone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a 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 vapours. What a piece of work is a 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 dust? man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Ham. Why did you laugh, then, when I said, man delights not me?

Ros. 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.

Ham. 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 are tickled o' th' sere; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are they?

Ros. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.

Ham. How chances it, they travel? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both


Ros. I think, their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.

Ham. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so follow'd?

Ros. No, indeed, they are not.

Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace but there is, sir, an eyry of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapp'd for't: these are now the fashion; and so berattle the common stages, (so they call them,) that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thither.

Ham. 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, if 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?

Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and 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.

Ham. Is't possible?

Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Ham. Do the boys carry it away?

Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules, and his load too.

Ham. It is not strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, and those, that would make mowes at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets within.

Guil. There are the players.

Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come. The appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players, (which, I tell you, must shew fairly outward,) should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome; but my uncle-father, and aunt-mother, are deceiv'd.

Guil. In what, my dear lord?

Ham. I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.


Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen!
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern ;

and you too;

at each ear a hearer: that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swathing-clouts.

Ros. Haply, he's the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.

Ham. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it. You say right, sir: for o' Monday morning; 'twas so, indeed.

Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.

Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,

Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.

Ham. Buz, buz!

Pol. Upon my honour,

Ham. Then came each actor on his ass,

Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comicalhistorical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem

limited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men.

Ham. O Jephthah, Judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!

Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord?

Ham. Why

"One fair daughter, and no more,
The which he loved passing well."


Aside.] Still on my daughter.

Ham. Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?

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