Imatges de pÓgina

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',
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,
A damn'd defeat was made. 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 i'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
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, kindless' 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!


the cue for passion,] The hint, the direction. This 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 nickname for any ignorant silly fellow. 1 unpregnant of my cause,] Not quickened with a new desire

of vengeance; not teeming with revenge.

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

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


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.



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;

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

the present business.

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tent him-] Search his wounds.

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

7 More relative than this:] More nearly related, closely con


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.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much con

tent 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.


[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Sweet Gertrude, leave us too:

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


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

that is, over-took.

Affront Ophelia'?

Her father, and myself, (lawful espials ',)
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


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.

O, 'tis too true! how smart
A lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautified with plast'ring art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it3,
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!



Pol. I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt King and POLONIUS.

9 Affront Ophelia :] To affront, is only to meet directly.

espials,] i. e. spies.

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


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


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-ache, 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 3,
That makes calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of timeo,
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,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin'? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,-



6 11

shuffled off this mortal coil,] i. c. 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.

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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.



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