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SCENE I. A Room in the Castle.


King. And can you, by no drift of conference
Get from him, why he puts on this confusion;
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

Ros. He does confess, he feels himself distracted; But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guil. Nor do we find him forward to be sounded; But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,

When we would bring him on to some confession Of his true state.


Did he receive you well? Ros. Most like a gentleman.

Guil. But with much forcing of his disposition. Ros. Niggard of question; but, of our demands, Most free in his reply.


To any pastime?

Did you assay him

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players We o'er-raught on the way: of these we told him; And there did seem in him a kind of joy

To hear of it: They are about the court;

And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.

'Tis most true:

And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties,
To hear and see the matter.


- o'er-raught on the way:] O'er-raught is over-reached, that is, over-took.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much

content me

To hear him so inclin'd.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
Ros. We shall, my lord.


Sweet Gertrude, leave us too:

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither;
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia:9

Her father, and myself (lawful espials,)1

Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge;
And gather by him, as he is behav'd,

If't be the affliction of his love, or no,
That thus he suffers for.


I shall obey you;

And, for your part, Ophelia, I do wish,

That your good beauties be the happy cause

Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope, your virtues Will bring him to his wonted way again,

To both your honours.


Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.

Pol. Ophelia, walk you here:-Gracious, so

please you,

We will bestow ourselves:-Read on this book;


That show of such an exercise may colour

Your loneliness.-We are oft to blame in this,'Tis too much prov'd," that, with devotion's visage, And pious action, we do sugar o'er

The devil himself.

9 Affront Ophelia:] To affront, is only to meet directly. espials,] i. e. spies.

'Tis too much prov'd,] It is found by too frequent experience.

A lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it,
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!

O, 'tis too true! how smart


[Aside. Pol. I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my lord. [Exeunt King and POLONIUS.

Enter HAMLet.

Ham. To be, or not to be, that is the question:Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?-To die,—to sleep,No more ;—and, by a sleep, to say we end The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to,-'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die ;-to sleep ;To sleep! perchance to dream;-ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,* Must give us pause: There's the respect, That makes calamity of so long life:


For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

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more ugly to the thing that helps it,] That is, compared with the thing that helps it.




shuffled off this mortal coil,] i. turmoil, bustle.

There's the respect,] i. e. the consideration.

the whips and scorns of time,] It may be remarked, that Hamlet, in his enumeration of miseries, forgets, whether properly or not, that he is a prince, and mentions many evils to which inferior stations only are exposed. JoHNSON.

When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin ?7 who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,—
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns,-puzzles the will;
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprizes of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.-Soft you, now!
The fair Ophelia:-Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.



Good my lord, How does your honour for this many a day? Ham. I humbly thank you; well.

Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours, That I have longed long to re-deliver;


pray you, now receive them.


I never gave you aught.

No, not I;

Oph. My honour'd lord, you know right well, you did;

7 might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin?] The first expression probably alluded to the writ of discharge, which was formerly granted to those barons and knights who personally attended the king on any foreign expedition; and were therefore exempted from the claims of scutage, or a tax on every knight's fee. This discharge was called a quietus. A bodkin was the ancient term for a small dagger.


Nymph, in thy orisons, &c.] This is a touch of nature. Hamlet, at the sight of Ophelia, does not immediately recollect, that he is to personate madness, but makes her an address grave and solemn, such as the foregoing meditation excited in his thoughts. JOHNSON.

And, with them, words of so sweet breath compos'd
As made the things more ich: their perfume lost,
Take these again; for to the noble mind,

Rich gifts wax poor, when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.

Ham. Ha, ha! are you honest?
Oph. My lord?

Ham. Are you fair?

Oph. What means your lordship?

Ham. That if you be honest, and fair, you should admit no discourse to your beauty.

Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness; this was some time a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so. Ham. You should not have believed me: for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.

Oph. I was the more deceived.

Ham. Get thee to a nunnery; Why would'st thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things, that it were better, my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck, than I have thoughts to put them in,1 imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in: What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven! We are arrant

9 into his likeness:] The modern editors read-its likeness; but the text is right. Shakspeare and his contemporaries frequently use the personal for the neutral pronoun.

with more offences at my beck, than I have thoughts to put them in,] To put a thing into thought, is to think on it.

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