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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; 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 ways. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?

Ros. No, indeed, they are not.

Ham. It is not very strange: for my uncle is King of Denmark: and those, that would make mouths at him while my father liv'd, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a piece for his picture in little. There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. [A Trumpet sounds.

Guil. There are the players. Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore : your hands: 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 hand-saw. Pol. [Within.] Well be with you, gentlemen! Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern, and Rosencrantz,

that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.

Ros. Happily, 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: o' Monday morning: 'twas then, indeed.


Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you. Ham. My lord, I have knews to tell 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-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 only


Ham. O, Jephtha, 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.

Pol. Still on my daughter.

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

Pol. If you call me Jephtha, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.

Ham. Nay, that follows not.

Pol. What follows then, my


Ham. Why, 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 abridgment comes.


You are welcome, masters; welcome, all:-0, old friend! Why, thy face is valanc'd since I saw thee last Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark?What! my young lady and mistress! By-'r-lady, your ladyship is nearer Heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine.-You are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at any thing we see: We'll have a speech straight:— Come, give us a taste of your quality: come, a passionate speech.

1 Act. What speech, my lord?

Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted: or, if it was, not above once: for the play, I remember, pleas'd not the million; 'twas caviare to the general: but it was an excellent play; well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. One speech in it I chiefly lov'd: 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: If it live in your memory, begin at this line;

The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,"Tis not so it begins with Pyrrhus.

The rugged Pyrrhus,—he whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble,
Old grandsire Priam seeks.

Pol. 'Fore Heaven, my lord, well spoken; with good accent, and good discretion.

Ham. So;-proceed you.

1 Act. 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.

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
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 !

Pol. This is too long.

Ham. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.Say on: Come to Hecuba.

1 Act. But who, ah woe! had seen the mobled


Ham. The mobled queen!

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

1 Act. Run barefoot up and down, threat'ning the Aames;

A clout upon that head,

Where late the diadem stood; and, for a robe,
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 pronounc'd?
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 bestow'd? do you hear, let them be well us'd; for they are the abstracts 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. Much better. Use every m. 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, sir.

Ham. Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play tonight. Old friend,-.

[Exeunt POLONIUS, SECOND ACTOR, and ACTRESS. My good friends, I'll leave you till night: you are welcome to Elsinore.


Can you play the murder of Gonzago?

1 Act. Ay, my lord.

Ham. We'll have it to-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 Act. Ay, my lord.

Ham. Very well.-Follow that lord; and look mock him not.

-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.



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