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'tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus.

The rugged Pyrrhus,-he, whose sable arms,
Blach as his purpose, did the night resemble
When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd
With heraldry more dismal; head to foot


Now is he total gules; horridly trick'd


With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons;
Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and a damned light
To their lord's murder: Roasted in wrath, and fire,
And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,

With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks;-So proceed you.
Pol. 'Fore God, my lord, well spoken; with good
accent, and good discretion.

1 Play. Anon he finds him

Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,
Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
Repugnant to command: Unequal match'd,

: Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage, strikes wide;
But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
The unnerved 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
Of reverend Priam, seem'd i'the air to stick :
So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood;
And, 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,
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below

Now is he total gules;] Gules is a term in the barbarous jargon peculiar to heraldry, and signifies red.


trick'd-] i. e. smeared, painted. An heraldick term.

As hush as death: anon the dreadful thunder
Doth rend the region: So, after Pyrrhus' pause,
A roused vengeance sets him new a work;
And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
On Mars's armour, forg'd 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;

Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, As low as to the fiends!

Pol. This is too long.

Ham. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.Pr'ythee, say on:-He's for a jig, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps:-say on: come to Hecuba.


1 Play. But who, ah woe! had seen the mobled queen"

Ham. The mobled queen?

Pol. That's good; mobled queen is good.

1 Play. 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'er-teemed loins,

A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd,
'Gainst fortune's state would treason have pro

But if the gods themselves did see her then,
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs ;
The instant burst of clamour that she made,

the mobled queen-] Mobled or mabled signifies, veiled; or according to Johnson, huddled, grossly covered.

7 With bisson rheum;] Bisson or beesen, i. e. blind. A word still in use in some parts of the North of England.

(Unless things mortal move them not at all,) Would have made milch the burning eye of heaven, And passion in the gods.

Pol. Look, whether he has not turn'd his colour, and has tears in's eyes.-Pr'ythee, no more.

Ham. 'Tis well; I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.-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 chronicles, of the time: After your death you were better have a bad epitaph, than their ill report while you live.

Pol. My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

Ham. Odd's bodikin, man, much better: Use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping! Use them after your own honour and dignity: The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

Pol. Come, sirs.

Exit POLONIUS, with some of the Players. Ham. Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play tomorrow. Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the murder of Gonzago?

1 Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. We'll have it to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down, and insert in't? could you not?

1 Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. Very well.-Follow that lord; and look you mock him not. [Exit Player.] My good friends, To Ros. and GUIL.] I'll leave you till night: you are welcome to Elsinore.

Ros. Good my lord!

[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDenstern. Ham. Ay, so, God be wi' you :-Now I am alone.

O, 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 to his own conceit,
That from her working, all his visage wann'd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspéct,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
For Hecuba!

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,


That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue 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,
Confound 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,1
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,
A damn'd defeat was made.2 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 i̇'the throat,
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?

Why, I should take it for it cannot be,
But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall



the cue for passion,] The hint, the direction. phrase is theatrical, and occurs at least a dozen times in our author's plays.

9 Like John a-dreams,] John a-dreams, i. e. of dreams, means only John the dreamer; a nick-name for any ignorant silly fellow. unpregnant of my cause,] not quickened with a new desire of vengeance; not teeming with revenge.


2 A dumn'd defeat was made.] Defeat, for destruction.

To make oppression bitter; or, ere this,
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal: Bloody, bawdy villain'
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless3 villain!
Why, what an ass am I? This is most brave;
That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
Prompted 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 scullion!

Fye upon't! foh! About my brains! Humph! I have heard,

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions;

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father,
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
I'll tent him to the quick; if he do blench,
I know my course. The spirit, that I have seen,
May be a devil and the devil hath power
To 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,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.



kindless-] Unnatural.

About my brains!] Wits, to your work. Brain, go about the present business.



tent him-] Search his wounds.

if he do blench,] If he shrink, or start.

7 More relative than this:] More nearly related, closely connected.

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