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William Shakespeare




               DRAMATIS PERSONAE


CLAUDIUS          king of Denmark. (KING CLAUDIUS:)

HAMLET              son to the late, and nephew to the present king.

POLONIUS          lord chamberlain. (LORD POLONIUS:)

HORATIO            friend to Hamlet.

LAERTES             son to Polonius.

LUCIANUS          nephew to the king.




ROSENCRANTZ                |  courtiers.

GUILDENSTERN                |




               A Gentleman, (Gentlemen:)


               A Priest. (First Priest:)



               |  officers.

BERNARDO        |


FRANCISCO       a soldier.


REYNALDO         servant to Polonius.


               (First Player:)

               (Player King:)

               (Player Queen:)


               Two Clowns, grave-diggers.

               (First Clown:)

               (Second Clown:)




               A Captain.


               English Ambassadors. (First Ambassador:)


GERTRUDE         queen of Denmark, and mother to Hamlet.

               (QUEEN GERTRUDE:)


OPHELIA             daughter to Polonius.


               Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers,

               and other Attendants. (Lord:)

               (First Sailor:)



               Ghost of Hamlet's Father. (Ghost:)



SCENE Denmark.



Традиционное деление текста

 по изданию 1676 г.


I акт


Сцена 1 – эспланада перед замком

Сцена 2 – зал в замке

Сцена 3 – комната

Сцена 4 – эспланада

Сцена 5 – двор замка


II акт


Сцена 1 – комната

Сцена 2 – зал в замке


III акт


Сцена 1 – зал в замке

Сцена 2 – зал в замке

Сцена 3 – комната          

Сцена 4 – комната


IV акт


Сцена 1 – комната

Сцена 2 – комната

Сцена 3 – комната

Сцена 4 – равнина

Сцена 5 – комната

Сцена 6 – комната

Сцена 7 – комната


V акт


Сцена 1 – кладбище

Сцена 2 – зал в замке


Новое деление текста



I акт



Сцена 1 – эспланада перед замком

Сцена 2 – зал в замке

Сцена 3 – комната Полония

Сцена 4 – эспланада

Сцена 5 – двор замка


II акт



Сцена 1 – комната Полония

Сцена 2 – зал в замке

Сцена 3 – зал в замке

Сцена 4 – зал в замке

Сцена 5 – комната короля

Сцена 6 – комната королевы

Сцена 7 – комната короля

Сцена 8 – комната Гамлета

Сцена 9 – комната короля

Сцена 10 – равнина


III акт



Сцена 1 – комната короля

Сцена 2 – комната Горацио

Сцена 3 – комната короля

Сцена 4 – кладбище

Сцена 5 – зал в замке






               Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

               [FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO]


BERNARDO        Who's there?


FRANCISCO       Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.


BERNARDO        Long live the king!


FRANCISCO       Bernardo?


BERNARDO        He.


FRANCISCO       You come most carefully upon your hour.


BERNARDO        'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.


FRANCISCO       For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,

               And I am sick at heart.


BERNARDO        Have you had quiet guard?


FRANCISCO       Not a mouse stirring.


BERNARDO        Well, good night.

               If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

               The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.


FRANCISCO       I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who's there?


               [Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS]


HORATIO            Friends to this ground.


MARCELLUS      And liegemen to the Dane.


FRANCISCO       Give you good night.


MARCELLUS      O, farewell, honest soldier:

               Who hath relieved you?


FRANCISCO       Bernardo has my place.

               Give you good night.




MARCELLUS      Holla! Bernardo!


BERNARDO        Say,

               What, is Horatio there?


HORATIO            A piece of him.


BERNARDO        Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus.


MARCELLUS      What, has this thing appear'd again to-night?


BERNARDO        I have seen nothing.


MARCELLUS      Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,

               And will not let belief take hold of him

               Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:

               Therefore I have entreated him along

               With us to watch the minutes of this night;

               That if again this apparition come,

               He may approve our eyes and speak to it.


HORATIO            Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.


BERNARDO        Sit down awhile;

               And let us once again assail your ears,

               That are so fortified against our story

               What we have two nights seen.


HORATIO            Well, sit we down,

               And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.


BERNARDO        Last night of all,

               When yond same star that's westward from the pole

               Had made his course to illume that part of heaven

               Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,

               The bell then beating one,--


               [Enter Ghost]


MARCELLUS      Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!


BERNARDO        In the same figure, like the king that's dead.


MARCELLUS      Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.


BERNARDO        Looks it not like the king?  mark it, Horatio.


HORATIO            Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder.


BERNARDO        It would be spoke to.


MARCELLUS      Question it, Horatio.


HORATIO            What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,

               Together with that fair and warlike form

               In which the majesty of buried Denmark

               Did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee, speak!


MARCELLUS      It is offended.


BERNARDO                          See, it stalks away!


HORATIO            Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!


               [Exit Ghost]


MARCELLUS      'Tis gone, and will not answer.


BERNARDO        How now, Horatio! you tremble and look pale:

               Is not this something more than fantasy?

               What think you on't?


HORATIO            Before my God, I might not this believe

               Without the sensible and true avouch

               Of mine own eyes.


MARCELLUS                        Is it not like the king?


HORATIO            As thou art to thyself:

               Such was the very armour he had on

               When he the ambitious Norway combated;

               So frown'd he once, when, in an angry parle,

               He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

               'Tis strange.


MARCELLUS      Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,

               With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.


HORATIO            In what particular thought to work I know not;

               But in the gross and scope of my opinion,

               This bodes some strange eruption to our state.


MARCELLUS      Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,

               Why this same strict and most observant watch

               So nightly toils the subject of the land,

               And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,

               And foreign mart for implements of war;

               Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task

               Does not divide the Sunday from the week;

               What might be toward, that this sweaty haste

               Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:

               Who is't that can inform me?


HORATIO            That can I;

               At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,

               Whose image even but now appear'd to us,

               Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

               Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,

               Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--

               For so this side of our known world esteem'd him--

               Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,

               Well ratified by law and heraldry,

               Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands

               Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:

               Against the which, a moiety competent

               Was gaged by our king; which had return'd

               To the inheritance of Fortinbras,

               Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,

               And carriage of the article design'd,

               His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

               Of unimproved mettle hot and full,

               Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there

               Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,

               For food and diet, to some enterprise

               That hath a stomach in't; which is no other--

               As it doth well appear unto our state--

               But to recover of us, by strong hand

               And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

               So by his father lost: and this, I take it,

               Is the main motive of our preparations,

               The source of this our watch and the chief head

               Of this post-haste and romage in the land.


BERNARDO        I think it be no other but e'en so:

               Well may it sort that this portentous figure

               Comes armed through our watch; so like the king

               That was and is the question of these wars.


HORATIO            A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.

               In the most high and palmy state of Rome,

               A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,

               The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead

               Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets:

               As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,

               Disasters in the sun; and the moist star

               Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands

               Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse:

               And even the like precurse of fierce events,

               As harbingers preceding still the fates

               And prologue to the omen coming on,

               Have heaven and earth together demonstrated

               Unto our climatures and countrymen.--

               But soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!


               [Re-enter Ghost]


               I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!

               If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,

               Speak to me:

               If there be any good thing to be done,

               That may to thee do ease and grace to me,

               Speak to me:


               [Cock crows]


               If thou art privy to thy country's fate,

               Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, O, speak!

               Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

               Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

               For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

               Speak of it: stay, and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.


MARCELLUS      Shall I strike at it with my partisan?


HORATIO            Do, if it will not stand.


BERNARDO        'Tis here!


HORATIO            'Tis here!


MARCELLUS      'Tis gone!


               [Exit Ghost]


               We do it wrong, being so majestical,

               To offer it the show of violence;

               For it is, as the air, invulnerable,

               And our vain blows malicious mockery.


BERNARDO        It was about to speak, when the cock crew.


HORATIO            And then it started like a guilty thing

               Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,

               The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,

               Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat

               Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,

               Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,

               The extravagant and erring spirit hies

               To his confine: and of the truth herein

               This present object made probation.


MARCELLUS      It faded on the crowing of the cock.

               Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes

               Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

               The bird of dawning singeth all night long:

               And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;

               The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,

               No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

               So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.


HORATIO            So have I heard and do in part believe it.

               But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,

               Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill:

               Break we our watch up; and by my advice,

               Let us impart what we have seen to-night

               Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,

               This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.

               Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

               As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?


MARCELLUS      Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know

               Where we shall find him most conveniently.








               A room of state in the castle.



               and Attendants]


KING CLAUDIUS               Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death

               The memory be green, and that it us befitted

               To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom

               To be contracted in one brow of woe,

               Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature

               That we with wisest sorrow think on him,

               Together with remembrance of ourselves.

               Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,

               The imperial jointress to this warlike state,

               Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,--

               With an auspicious and a dropping eye,

               With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,

               In equal scale weighing delight and dole,--

               Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd

               Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone

               With this affair along. For all, our thanks.

               Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,

               Holding a weak supposal of our worth,

               Or thinking by our late dear brother's death

               Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,

               Colleagued with the dream of his advantage,

               He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,

               Importing the surrender of those lands

               Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,

               To our most valiant brother. So much for him.

               Now for ourself and for this time of meeting:

               Thus much the business is: we have here writ

               To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,--

               Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears

               Of this his nephew's purpose,--to suppress

               His further gait herein; in that the levies,

               The lists and full proportions, are all made

               Out of his subject: and we here dispatch

               You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,

               For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;

               Giving to you no further personal power

               To business with the king, more than the scope

               Of these delated articles allow.

               Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.



CORNELIUS        |

               |  In that and all things will we show our duty.




KING CLAUDIUS               We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.


               [Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]


               And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?

               You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?

               You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,

               And loose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes,

               That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?

               The head is not more native to the heart,

               The hand more instrumental to the mouth,

               Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.

               What wouldst thou have, Laertes?


LAERTES             My dread lord,

               Your leave and favour to return to France;

               From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,

               To show my duty in your coronation,

               Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,

               My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France

               And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.


KING CLAUDIUS               Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?


LORD POLONIUS              He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave

               By laboursome petition, and at last

               Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:

               I do beseech you, give him leave to go.


KING CLAUDIUS               Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,

               And thy best graces spend it at thy will!

               But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,--


HAMLET             [Aside]  A little more than kin, and less than kind.


KING CLAUDIUS               How is it that the clouds still hang on you?


HAMLET             Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

               And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

               Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

               Seek for thy noble father in the dust:

               Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,

               Passing through nature to eternity.


HAMLET             Ay, madam, it is common.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           If it be,

               Why seems it so particular with thee?


HAMLET             Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'

               'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

               Nor customary suits of solemn black,

               Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,

               No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

               Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,

               Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,

               That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,

               For they are actions that a man might play:

               But I have that within which passeth show;

               These but the trappings and the suits of woe.


KING CLAUDIUS               'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,

               To give these mourning duties to your father:

               But, you must know, your father lost a father;

               That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound

               In filial obligation for some term

               To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever

               In obstinate condolement is a course

               Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;

               It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,

               A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,

               An understanding simple and unschool'd:

               For what we know must be and is as common

               As any the most vulgar thing to sense,

               Why should we in our peevish opposition

               Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,

               A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,

               To reason most absurd: whose common theme

               Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,

               From the first corse till he that died to-day,

               'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth

               This unprevailing woe, and think of us

               As of a father: for let the world take note,

               You are the most immediate to our throne;

               And with no less nobility of love

               Than that which dearest father bears his son,

               Do I impart toward you. For your intent

               In going back to school in Wittenberg,

               It is most retrograde to our desire:

               And we beseech you, bend you to remain

               Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,

               Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:

               I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.


HAMLET             I shall in all my best obey you, madam.


KING CLAUDIUS               Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply:

               Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;

               This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet

               Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,

               No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,

               But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,

               And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again,

               Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.


               [Exeunt all but HAMLET]


HAMLET             O, that this too too solid flesh would melt

               Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

               Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

               His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!

               How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,

               Seem to me all the uses of this world!

               Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

               That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

               Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

               But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:

               So excellent a king; that was, to this,

               Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother

               That he might not beteem the winds of heaven

               Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!

               Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,

               As if increase of appetite had grown

               By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--

               Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--

               A little month, or ere those shoes were old

               With which she follow'd my poor father's body,

               Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--

               O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,

               Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,

               My father's brother, but no more like my father

               Than I to Hercules: within a month:

               Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

               Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,

               She married. O, most wicked speed, to post

               With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

               It is not nor it cannot come to good:

               But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.


               [Enter HORATIO, MARCELLUS, and BERNARDO]


HORATIO            Hail to your lordship!


HAMLET             I am glad to see you well:

               Horatio,--or I do forget myself.


HORATIO            The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.


HAMLET             Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:

               And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? Marcellus?


MARCELLUS      My good lord--


HAMLET             I am very glad to see you. Good even, sir.

               But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?


HORATIO            A truant disposition, good my lord.


HAMLET             I would not hear your enemy say so,

               Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,

               To make it truster of your own report

               Against yourself: I know you are no truant.

               But what is your affair in Elsinore?

               We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.


HORATIO            My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.


HAMLET             I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;

               I think it was to see my mother's wedding.


HORATIO            Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.


HAMLET             Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats

               Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

               Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven

               Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!

               My father!--methinks I see my father.


HORATIO            Where, my lord?


HAMLET                               In my mind's eye, Horatio.


HORATIO            I saw him once; he was a goodly king.


HAMLET             He was a man, take him for all in all,

               I shall not look upon his like again.


HORATIO            My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.


HAMLET             Saw? who?


HORATIO            My lord, the king your father.


HAMLET             The king my father!


HORATIO            Season your admiration for awhile

               With an attent ear, till I may deliver,

               Upon the witness of these gentlemen,

               This marvel to you.


HAMLET             For God's love, let me hear.


HORATIO            Two nights together had these gentlemen,

               Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch,

               In the dead vast and middle of the night,

               Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father,

               Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,

               Appears before them, and with solemn march

               Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk'd

               By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,

               Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distilled

               Almost to jelly with the act of fear,

               Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me

               In dreadful secrecy impart they did;

               And I with them the third night kept the watch;

               Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,

               Form of the thing, each word made true and good,

               The apparition comes: I knew your father;

               These hands are not more like.


HAMLET             But where was this?


MARCELLUS      My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.


HAMLET             Did you not speak to it?


HORATIO            My lord, I did;

               But answer made it none: yet once methought

               It lifted up its head and did address

               Itself to motion, like as it would speak;

               But even then the morning cock crew loud,

               And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,

               And vanish'd from our sight.


HAMLET             'Tis very strange.


HORATIO            As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;

               And we did think it writ down in our duty

               To let you know of it.


HAMLET             Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.

               Hold you the watch to-night?




               |               We do, my lord.

BERNARDO        |



HAMLET             Arm'd, say you?




               |  Arm'd, my lord.

BERNARDO        |



HAMLET             From top to toe?




               |             My lord, from head to foot.

BERNARDO        |



HAMLET             Then saw you not his face?


HORATIO            O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.


HAMLET             What, look'd he frowningly?


HORATIO            A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.


HAMLET             Pale or red?


HORATIO            Nay, very pale.


HAMLET                               And fix'd his eyes upon you?


HORATIO            Most constantly.


HAMLET                               I would I had been there.


HORATIO            It would have much amazed you.


HAMLET             Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?


HORATIO            While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.




               | Longer, longer.

BERNARDO        |



HORATIO            Not when I saw't.


HAMLET                               His beard was grizzled--no?


HORATIO            It was, as I have seen it in his life,

               A sable silver'd.


HAMLET                               I will watch to-night;

               Perchance 'twill walk again.


HORATIO            I warrant it will.


HAMLET             If it assume my noble father's person,

               I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape

               And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,

               If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,

               Let it be tenable in your silence still;

               And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,

               Give it an understanding, but no tongue:

               I will requite your loves. So, fare you well:

               Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,

               I'll visit you.


All                           Our duty to your honour.


HAMLET             Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.


               [Exeunt all but HAMLET]


               My father's spirit in arms! all is not well;

               I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!

               Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise,

               Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.








               A room in Polonius' house.

               [Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA]


LAERTES             My necessaries are embark'd: farewell:

               And, sister, as the winds give benefit

               And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,

               But let me hear from you.


OPHELIA             Do you doubt that?


LAERTES             For Hamlet and the trifling of his favour,

               Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,

               A violet in the youth of primy nature,

               Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,

               The perfume and suppliance of a minute; No more.


OPHELIA                    No more but so?


LAERTES             Think it no more;

               For nature, crescent, does not grow alone

               In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,

               The inward service of the mind and soul

               Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,

               And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch

               The virtue of his will: but you must fear,

               His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;

               For he himself is subject to his birth:

               He may not, as unvalued persons do,

               Carve for himself; for on his choice depends

               The safety and health of this whole state;

               And therefore must his choice be circumscribed

               Unto the voice and yielding of that body

               Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,

               It fits your wisdom so far to believe it

               As he in his particular act and place

               May give his saying deed; which is no further

               Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.

               Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain,

               If with too credent ear you list his songs,

               Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open

               To his unmaster'd importunity.

               Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,

               And keep you in the rear of your affection,

               Out of the shot and danger of desire.

               The chariest maid is prodigal enough,

               If she unmask her beauty to the moon:

               Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes:

               The canker galls the infants of the spring,

               Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,

               And in the morn and liquid dew of youth

               Contagious blastments are most imminent.

               Be wary then; best safety lies in fear:

               Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.


OPHELIA             I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,

               As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,

               Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,

               Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;

               Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,

               Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,

               And recks not his own rede.


LAERTES             O, fear me not.

               I stay too long: but here my father comes.


               [Enter POLONIUS]


               A double blessing is a double grace,

               Occasion smiles upon a second leave.


LORD POLONIUS              Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!

               The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,

               And you are stay'd for. There; my blessing with thee!

               And these few precepts in thy memory

               See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

               Nor any unproportioned thought his act.

               Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

               Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

               Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

               But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

               Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged comrade. Beware

               Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,

               Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.

               Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;

               Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.

               Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

               But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;

               For the apparel oft proclaims the man,

               And they in France of the best rank and station

               Are of a most select and generous chief in that.

               Neither a borrower nor a lender be;

               For loan oft loses both itself and friend,

               And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

               This above all: to thine ownself be true,

               And it must follow, as the night the day,

               Thou canst not then be false to any man.

               Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!


LAERTES             Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              The time invites you; go; your servants tend.


LAERTES             Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well

               What I have said to you.


OPHELIA             'Tis in my memory lock'd,

               And you yourself shall keep the key of it.


LAERTES             Farewell.




LORD POLONIUS              What is't, Ophelia, be hath said to you?


OPHELIA             So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.


LORD POLONIUS              Marry, well bethought:

               'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late

               Given private time to you; and you yourself

               Have of your audience been most free and bounteous:

               If it be so, as so 'tis put on me,

               And that in way of caution, I must tell you,

               You do not understand yourself so clearly

               As it behoves my daughter and your honour.

               What is between you? give me up the truth.


OPHELIA             He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders

               Of his affection to me.


LORD POLONIUS              Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,

               Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

               Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?


OPHELIA             I do not know, my lord, what I should think.


LORD POLONIUS              Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby;

               That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,

               Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;

               Or--not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,

               Running it thus--you'll tender me a fool.


OPHELIA             My lord, he hath importuned me with love

               In honourable fashion.


LORD POLONIUS              Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.


OPHELIA             And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,

               With almost all the holy vows of heaven.


LORD POLONIUS              Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,

               When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul

               Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,

Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,

               Even in their promise, as it is a-making,

               You must not take for fire. From this time

               Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;

               Set your entreatments at a higher rate

               Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,

               Believe so much in him, that he is young

               And with a larger tether may he walk

               Than may be given you: in few, Ophelia,

               Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,

               Not of that dye which their investments show,

               But mere implorators of unholy suits,

               Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,

               The better to beguile. This is for all:

               I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,

               Have you so slander any moment leisure,

               As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.

               Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.


OPHELIA             I shall obey, my lord.








               The platform.

               [Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS]


HAMLET             The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.


HORATIO            It is a nipping and an eager air.


HAMLET             What hour now?


HORATIO                              I think it lacks of twelve.


HAMLET             No, it is struck.


HORATIO            Indeed? I heard it not: then it draws near the season

               Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.


               [A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off, within]


               What does this mean, my lord?


HAMLET             The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,

               Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;

               And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,

               The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out

               The triumph of his pledge.


HORATIO            Is it a custom?


HAMLET             Ay, marry, is't:

               But to my mind, though I am native here

               And to the manner born, it is a custom

               More honour'd in the breach than the observance.

               This heavy-headed revel east and west

               Makes us traduced and tax'd of other nations:

               They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase

               Soil our addition; and indeed it takes

               From our achievements, though perform'd at height,

               The pith and marrow of our attribute.

               So, oft it chances in particular men,

               That for some vicious mole of nature in them,

               As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,

               Since nature cannot choose his origin--

               By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,

               Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,

               Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens

               The form of plausive manners, that these men,

               Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

               Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,--

               Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace,

               As infinite as man may undergo--

               Shall in the general censure take corruption

               From that particular fault: the dram of eale

               Doth all the noble substance of a doubt

               To his own scandal.


HORATIO            Look, my lord, it comes!


               [Enter Ghost]


HAMLET             Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

               Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,

               Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,

               Be thy intents wicked or charitable,

               Thou comest in such a questionable shape

               That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet,

               King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me!

               Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell

               Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,

               Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,

               Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,

               Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws,

               To cast thee up again. What may this mean,

               That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel

               Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,

               Making night hideous; and we fools of nature

               So horridly to shake our disposition

               With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?

               Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?


               [Ghost beckons HAMLET]


HORATIO            It beckons you to go away with it,

               As if it some impartment did desire

               To you alone.


MARCELLUS                        Look, with what courteous action

               It waves you to a more removed ground:

               But do not go with it.


HORATIO            No, by no means.


HAMLET             It will not speak; then I will follow it.


HORATIO            Do not, my lord.


HAMLET                               Why, what should be the fear?

               I do not set my life in a pin's fee;

               And for my soul, what can it do to that,

               Being a thing immortal as itself?

               It waves me forth again: I'll follow it.


HORATIO            What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

               Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff

               That beetles o'er his base into the sea,

               And there assume some other horrible form,

               Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason

               And draw you into madness? think of it:

               The very place puts toys of desperation,

               Without more motive, into every brain

               That looks so many fathoms to the sea

               And hears it roar beneath.


HAMLET             It waves me still.

               Go on; I'll follow thee.


MARCELLUS      You shall not go, my lord.


HAMLET             Hold off your hands.


HORATIO            Be ruled; you shall not go.


HAMLET             My fate cries out,

               And makes each petty artery in this body

               As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.

               Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.

               By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!

               I say, away! Go on; I'll follow thee.


               [Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET]


HORATIO            He waxes desperate with imagination.


MARCELLUS      Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him.


HORATIO            Have after. To what issue will this come?


MARCELLUS      Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


HORATIO            Heaven will direct it.


MARCELLUS      Nay, let's follow him.








               Another part of the platform.

               [Enter GHOST and HAMLET]


HAMLET             Where wilt thou lead me? speak; I'll go no further.


Ghost    Mark me.


HAMLET                    I will.


Ghost                      My hour is almost come,

               When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames

               Must render up myself.


HAMLET             Alas, poor ghost!


Ghost    Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing

               To what I shall unfold.


HAMLET             Speak; I am bound to hear.


Ghost    So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.


HAMLET             What?


Ghost    I am thy father's spirit,

               Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,

               And for the day confined to fast in fires,

               Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature

               Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid

               To tell the secrets of my prison-house,

               I could a tale unfold whose lightest word

               Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

               Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,

               Thy knotted and combined locks to part

               And each particular hair to stand on end,

               Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:

               But this eternal blazon must not be

               To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!

               If thou didst ever thy dear father love--


HAMLET             O God!


Ghost    Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.


HAMLET             Murder!


Ghost    Murder most foul, as in the best it is;

               But this most foul, strange and unnatural.


HAMLET             Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift

               As meditation or the thoughts of love,

               May sweep to my revenge.


Ghost    I find thee apt;

               And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed

               That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,

               Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:

               'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,

               A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark

               Is by a forged process of my death

               Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth,

               The serpent that did sting thy father's life

               Now wears his crown.


HAMLET             O my prophetic soul! My uncle!


Ghost    Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

               With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--

               O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power

               So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust

               The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:

               O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!

               From me, whose love was of that dignity

               That it went hand in hand even with the vow

               I made to her in marriage, and to decline

               Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor

               To those of mine!

               But virtue, as it never will be moved,

               Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,

               So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,

               Will sate itself in a celestial bed,

               And prey on garbage.

               But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;

               Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,

               My custom always of the afternoon,

               Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,

               With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,

               And in the porches of my ears did pour

               The leperous distilment; whose effect

               Holds such an enmity with blood of man

               That swift as quicksilver it courses through

               The natural gates and alleys of the body,

               And with a sudden vigour doth posset

               And curd, like eager droppings into milk,

               The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;

               And a most instant tetter bark'd about,

               Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,

               All my smooth body.

               Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand

               Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:

               Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,

               Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd,

               No reckoning made, but sent to my account

               With all my imperfections on my head:

               O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

               If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;

               Let not the royal bed of Denmark be

               A couch for luxury and damned incest.

               But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,

               Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive

               Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven

               And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,

               To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!

               The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,

               And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire:

               Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.




HAMLET             O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?

               And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;

               And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,

               But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!

               Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat

               In this distracted globe. Remember thee!

               Yea, from the table of my memory

               I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,

               All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,

               That youth and observation copied there;

               And thy commandment all alone shall live

               Within the book and volume of my brain,

               Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven!

               O most pernicious woman!

               O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

               My tables,--meet it is I set it down,

               That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;

               At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark:




               So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;

               It is 'Adieu, adieu! remember me.'

               I have sworn 't.




               | [Within]  My lord, my lord,--

HORATIO            |



MARCELLUS      [Within] Lord Hamlet,--


HORATIO            [Within] Heaven secure him!


HAMLET             So be it!


HORATIO            [Within]  Hillo, ho, ho, my lord!


HAMLET             Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come.


               [Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS]


MARCELLUS      How is't, my noble lord?


HORATIO            What news, my lord?


HAMLET             O, wonderful!


HORATIO                              Good my lord, tell it.


HAMLET             No; you'll reveal it.


HORATIO            Not I, my lord, by heaven.


MARCELLUS      Nor I, my lord.


HAMLET             How say you, then; would heart of man once think it?

               But you'll be secret?



HORATIO            |

               |                   Ay, by heaven, my lord.




HAMLET             There's ne'er a villain dwelling in all Denmark

               But he's an arrant knave.


HORATIO            There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave

               To tell us this.


HAMLET                               Why, right; you are i' the right;

               And so, without more circumstance at all,

               I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:

               You, as your business and desire shall point you;

               For every man has business and desire,

               Such as it is; and for mine own poor part,

               Look you, I'll go pray.


HORATIO            These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.


HAMLET             I'm sorry they offend you, heartily;

               Yes, 'faith heartily.


HORATIO            There's no offence, my lord.


HAMLET             Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,

               And much offence too. Touching this vision here,

               It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you:

               For your desire to know what is between us,

               O'ermaster 't as you may. And now, good friends,

               As you are friends, scholars and soldiers,

               Give me one poor request.


HORATIO            What is't, my lord? we will.


HAMLET             Never make known what you have seen to-night.



HORATIO            |

               | My lord, we will not.




HAMLET             Nay, but swear't.


HORATIO            In faith,

               My lord, not I.


MARCELLUS                        Nor I, my lord, in faith.


HAMLET             Upon my sword.


MARCELLUS                        We have sworn, my lord, already.


HAMLET             Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.


Ghost    [Beneath]  Swear.


HAMLET             Ah, ha, boy! say'st thou so? art thou there,


               Come on--you hear this fellow in the cellarage--

               Consent to swear.


HORATIO                              Propose the oath, my lord.


HAMLET             Never to speak of this that you have seen,

               Swear by my sword.


Ghost    [Beneath]  Swear.


HAMLET             Hic et ubique? then we'll shift our ground.

               Come hither, gentlemen,

               And lay your hands again upon my sword:

               Never to speak of this that you have heard,

               Swear by my sword.


Ghost    [Beneath]  Swear.


HAMLET             Well said, old mole! canst work i' the earth so fast?

               A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.


HORATIO            O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!


HAMLET             And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

               There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

               Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come;

               Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,

               How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,

               As I perchance hereafter shall think meet

               To put an antic disposition on,

               That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,

               With arms encumber'd thus, or this headshake,

               Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

               As 'Well, well, we know,' or 'We could, an if we would,'

               Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be, an if they might,'

               Or such ambiguous giving out, to note

               That you know aught of me: this not to do,

               So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.


Ghost    [Beneath]  Swear.


HAMLET             Rest, rest, perturbed spirit!


               [They swear]


                                       So, gentlemen,

               With all my love I do commend me to you:

               And what so poor a man as Hamlet is

               May do, to express his love and friending to you,

               God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;

               And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.

               The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,

               That ever I was born to set it right!

               Nay, come, let's go together.









               A room in POLONIUS' house.

               [Enter POLONIUS and REYNALDO]


LORD POLONIUS              Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.


REYNALDO        I will, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,

               Before you visit him, to make inquire

               Of his behavior.


REYNALDO                          My lord, I did intend it.


LORD POLONIUS              Marry, well said; very well said. Look you, sir,

               Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;

               And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,

               What company, at what expense; and finding

               By this encompassment and drift of question

               That they do know my son, come you more nearer

               Than your particular demands will touch it:

               Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him;

               As thus, 'I know his father and his friends,

               And in part him: ' do you mark this, Reynaldo?


REYNALDO        Ay, very well, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              'And in part him; but' you may say 'not well:

               But, if't be he I mean, he's very wild;

               Addicted so and so:' and there put on him

               What forgeries you please; marry, none so rank

               As may dishonour him; take heed of that;

               But, sir, such wanton, wild and usual slips

               As are companions noted and most known

               To youth and liberty.


REYNALDO        As gaming, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,

               Drabbing: you may go so far.


REYNALDO        My lord, that would dishonour him.


LORD POLONIUS              'Faith, no; as you may season it in the charge

               You must not put another scandal on him,

               That he is open to incontinency;

               That's not my meaning: but breathe his faults so quaintly

               That they may seem the taints of liberty,

               The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,

               A savageness in unreclaimed blood,

               Of general assault.


REYNALDO        But, my good lord,--


LORD POLONIUS              Wherefore should you do this?


REYNALDO        Ay, my lord,

               I would know that.


LORD POLONIUS                                Marry, sir, here's my drift;

               And I believe, it is a fetch of wit:

               You laying these slight sullies on my son,

               As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' the working, Mark you,

               Your party in converse, him you would sound,

               Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes

               The youth you breathe of guilty, be assured

               He closes with you in this consequence;

               'Good sir,' or so, or 'friend,' or 'gentleman,'

               According to the phrase or the addition

               Of man and country.


REYNALDO        Very good, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              And then, sir, does he this--he does--what was I

               about to say? By the mass, I was about to say

               something: where did I leave?


REYNALDO        At 'closes in the consequence,' at 'friend or so,'

               and 'gentleman.'


LORD POLONIUS              At 'closes in the consequence,' ay, marry;

               He closes thus: 'I know the gentleman;

               I saw him yesterday, or t' other day,

               Or then, or then; with such, or such; and, as you say,

               There was a' gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse;

               There falling out at tennis:' or perchance,

               'I saw him enter such a house of sale,'

               Videlicet, a brothel, or so forth.

               See you now;

               Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:

               And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,

               With windlasses and with assays of bias,

               By indirections find directions out:

               So by my former lecture and advice,

               Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?


REYNALDO        My lord, I have.


LORD POLONIUS                                God be wi' you; fare you well.


REYNALDO        Good my lord!


LORD POLONIUS              Observe his inclination in yourself.


REYNALDO        I shall, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              And let him ply his music.


REYNALDO        Well, my lord.


LORD POLONIUS              Farewell!


               [Exit REYNALDO]


               [Enter OPHELIA]


               How now, Ophelia! what's the matter?


OPHELIA             O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!


LORD POLONIUS              With what, i' the name of God?


OPHELIA             My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,

               Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbraced;

               No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd,

               Ungarter'd, and down-gyved to his ancle;

               Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;

               And with a look so piteous in purport

               As if he had been loosed out of hell

               To speak of horrors,--he comes before me.


LORD POLONIUS              Mad for thy love?


OPHELIA                               My lord, I do not know;

               But truly, I do fear it.


LORD POLONIUS              What said he?


OPHELIA             He took me by the wrist and held me hard;

               Then goes he to the length of all his arm;

               And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,

               He falls to such perusal of my face

               As he would draw it. Long stay'd he so;

               At last, a little shaking of mine arm

               And thrice his head thus waving up and down,

               He raised a sigh so piteous and profound

               As it did seem to shatter all his bulk

               And end his being: that done, he lets me go:

               And, with his head over his shoulder turn'd,

               He seem'd to find his way without his eyes;

               For out o' doors he went without their helps,

               And, to the last, bended their light on me.


LORD POLONIUS              Come, go with me: I will go seek the king.

               This is the very ecstasy of love,

               Whose violent property fordoes itself

               And leads the will to desperate undertakings

               As oft as any passion under heaven

               That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.

               What, have you given him any hard words of late?


OPHELIA             No, my good lord, but, as you did command,

               I did repel his fetters and denied

               His access to me.


LORD POLONIUS                                That hath made him mad.

               I am sorry that with better heed and judgment

               I had not quoted him: I fear'd he did but trifle,

               And meant to wreck thee; but, beshrew my jealousy!

               By heaven, it is as proper to our age

               To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions

               As it is common for the younger sort

               To lack discretion. Come, go we to the king:

               This must be known; which, being kept close, might


               More grief to hide than hate to utter love.









               A room in the castle.


               GUILDENSTERN, and Attendants]


KING CLAUDIUS               Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!

               Moreover that we much did long to see you,

               The need we have to use you did provoke

               Our hasty sending. Something have you heard

               Of Hamlet's transformation; so call it,

               Sith nor the exterior nor the inward man

               Resembles that it was. What it should be,

               More than his father's death, that thus hath put him

               So much from the understanding of himself,

               I cannot dream of: I entreat you both,

               That, being of so young days brought up with him,

               And sith so neighbour'd to his youth and havior,

               That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court

               Some little time: so by your companies

               To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,

               So much as from occasion you may glean,

               Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,

               That, open'd, lies within our remedy.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you;

               And sure I am two men there are not living

               To whom he more adheres. If it will please you

               To show us so much gentry and good will

               As to expend your time with us awhile,

               For the supply and profit of our hope,

               Your visitation shall receive such thanks

               As fits a king's remembrance.


ROSENCRANTZ                Both your majesties

               Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,

               Put your dread pleasures more into command

               Than to entreaty.


GUILDENSTERN                                  But we both obey,

               And here give up ourselves, in the full bent

               To lay our service freely at your feet,

               To be commanded.


KING CLAUDIUS               Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz:

               And I beseech you instantly to visit

               My too much changed son. Go, some of you,

               And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.


GUILDENSTERN                Heavens make our presence and our practises

               Pleasant and helpful to him!


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Ay, amen!


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and some



               [Enter POLONIUS]


LORD POLONIUS              The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,

               Are joyfully return'd.


KING CLAUDIUS               Thou still hast been the father of good news.


LORD POLONIUS              Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege,

               I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,

               Both to my God and to my gracious king:

               And I do think, or else this brain of mine

               Hunts not the trail of policy so sure

               As it hath used to do, that I have found

               The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.


KING CLAUDIUS               O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.


LORD POLONIUS              Give first admittance to the ambassadors;

               My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.


KING CLAUDIUS               Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.


               [Exit POLONIUS]


               He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found

               The head and source of all your son's distemper.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           I doubt it is no other but the main;

               His father's death, and our o'erhasty marriage.


KING CLAUDIUS               Well, we shall sift him.


               [Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]


                                  Welcome, my good friends!

               Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?


VOLTIMAND     Most fair return of greetings and desires.

               Upon our first, he sent out to suppress

               His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd

               To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;

               But, better look'd into, he truly found

               It was against your highness: whereat grieved,

               That so his sickness, age and impotence

               Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests

               On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;

               Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine

               Makes vow before his uncle never more

               To give the assay of arms against your majesty.

               Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,

               Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee,

               And his commission to employ those soldiers,

               So levied as before, against the Polack:

               With an entreaty, herein further shown,


               [Giving a paper]


               That it might please you to give quiet pass

               Through your dominions for this enterprise,

               On such regards of safety and allowance

               As therein are set down.


KING CLAUDIUS               It likes us well;

               And at our more consider'd time well read,

               Answer, and think upon this business.

               Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour:

               Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together:

               Most welcome home!


               [Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]


LORD POLONIUS                                This business is well ended.

               My liege, and madam, to expostulate

               What majesty should be, what duty is,

               Why day is day, night night, and time is time,

               Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.

               Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

               And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

               I will be brief: your noble son is mad:

               Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,

               What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

               But let that go.


QUEEN GERTRUDE                             More matter, with less art.


LORD POLONIUS              Madam, I swear I use no art at all.

               That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;

               And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;

               But farewell it, for I will use no art.

               Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains

               That we find out the cause of this effect,

               Or rather say, the cause of this defect,

               For this effect defective comes by cause:

               Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend.

               I have a daughter--have while she is mine--

               Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,

               Hath given me this: now gather, and surmise.




               'To the celestial and my soul's idol, the most

               beautified Ophelia,'--

               That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is

               a vile phrase: but you shall hear. Thus:




               'In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.'


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Came this from Hamlet to her?


LORD POLONIUS              Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.




               'Doubt thou the stars are fire;

               Doubt that the sun doth move;

               Doubt truth to be a liar;

               But never doubt I love.

               'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;

               I have not art to reckon my groans: but that

               I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.

               'Thine evermore most dear lady, whilst

               this machine is to him, HAMLET.'

               This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me,

               And more above, hath his solicitings,

               As they fell out by time, by means and place,

               All given to mine ear.


KING CLAUDIUS               But how hath she

               Received his love?


LORD POLONIUS                                What do you think of me?


KING CLAUDIUS               As of a man faithful and honourable.


LORD POLONIUS              I would fain prove so. But what might you think,

               When I had seen this hot love on the wing--

               As I perceived it, I must tell you that,

               Before my daughter told me--what might you,

               Or my dear majesty your queen here, think,

               If I had play'd the desk or table-book,

               Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,

               Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;

               What might you think? No, I went round to work,

               And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:

               'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star;

               This must not be:' and then I precepts gave her,

               That she should lock herself from his resort,

               Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.

               Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;

               And he, repulsed--a short tale to make--

               Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,

               Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,

               Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,

               Into the madness wherein now he raves,

               And all we mourn for.


KING CLAUDIUS               Do you think 'tis this?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           It may be, very likely.


LORD POLONIUS              Hath there been such a time--I'd fain know that--

               That I have positively said 'Tis so,'

               When it proved otherwise?


KING CLAUDIUS               Not that I know.


LORD POLONIUS              [Pointing to his head and shoulder]


               Take this from this, if this be otherwise:

               If circumstances lead me, I will find

               Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed

               Within the centre.


KING CLAUDIUS                                 How may we try it further?


LORD POLONIUS              You know, sometimes he walks four hours together

               Here in the lobby.


QUEEN GERTRUDE                             So he does indeed.


LORD POLONIUS              At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:

               Be you and I behind an arras then;

               Mark the encounter: if he love her not

               And be not from his reason fall'n thereon,

               Let me be no assistant for a state,

               But keep a farm and carters.


KING CLAUDIUS               We will try it.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.


LORD POLONIUS              Away, I do beseech you, both away:

               I'll board him presently.


               [Exeunt KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, and



               [Enter HAMLET, reading]


                                   O, give me leave:

               How does my good Lord Hamlet?


HAMLET             Well, God-a-mercy.


LORD POLONIUS              Do you know me, my lord?


HAMLET             Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.


LORD POLONIUS              Not I, my lord.


HAMLET             Then I would you were so honest a man.


LORD POLONIUS              Honest, my lord!


HAMLET             Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be

               one man picked out of ten thousand.


LORD POLONIUS              That's very true, my lord.


HAMLET             For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a

               god kissing carrion,--Have you a daughter?


LORD POLONIUS              I have, my lord.


HAMLET             Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a

               blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive.

               Friend, look to 't.


LORD POLONIUS              [Aside]  How say you by that? Still harping on my

               daughter: yet he knew me not at first; he said I

               was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and

               truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for

               love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.

               What do you read, my lord?


HAMLET             Words, words, words.


LORD POLONIUS              What is the matter, my lord?


HAMLET             Between who?


LORD POLONIUS              I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.


HAMLET             Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here

               that old men have grey beards, that their faces are

               wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and

               plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of

               wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir,

               though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet

               I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for

               yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab

               you could go backward.


LORD POLONIUS              [Aside]  Though this be madness, yet there is method

               in 't. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?


HAMLET             Into my grave.


LORD POLONIUS              Indeed, that is out o' the air.




               How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness

               that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity

               could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will

               leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of

               meeting between him and my daughter.--My honourable

               lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.


HAMLET             You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will

               more willingly part withal: except my life, except

               my life, except my life.


LORD POLONIUS              Fare you well, my lord.


HAMLET             These tedious old fools!


               [Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


LORD POLONIUS              You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.


ROSENCRANTZ                [To POLONIUS]  God save you, sir!


               [Exit POLONIUS]


GUILDENSTERN                My honoured lord!


ROSENCRANTZ                My most dear lord!


HAMLET             My excellent good friends! How dost thou,

               Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?


ROSENCRANTZ                As the indifferent children of the earth.


GUILDENSTERN                Happy, in that we are not over-happy;

               On fortune's cap we are not the very button.


HAMLET             Nor the soles of her shoe?


ROSENCRANTZ                Neither, my lord.


HAMLET             Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of

               her favours?


GUILDENSTERN                'Faith, her privates we.


HAMLET             In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she

               is a strumpet. What's the news?


ROSENCRANTZ                None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.


HAMLET             Then is doomsday near: but your news is not true.

               Let me question more in particular: what have you,

               my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune,

               that she sends you to prison hither?


GUILDENSTERN                Prison, my lord!


HAMLET             Denmark's a prison.


ROSENCRANTZ                Then is the world one.


HAMLET             A goodly one; in which there are many confines,

               wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.


ROSENCRANTZ                We think not so, my lord.


HAMLET             Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing

               either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me

               it is a prison.


ROSENCRANTZ                Why then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too

               narrow for your mind.


HAMLET             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.


GUILDENSTERN                Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very

               substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.


HAMLET             A dream itself is but a shadow.


ROSENCRANTZ                Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a

               quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.


HAMLET             Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and

               outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we

               to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.



ROSENCRANTZ                |

               | We'll wait upon you.

GUILDENSTERN                |



HAMLET             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?


ROSENCRANTZ                To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.


HAMLET             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,

               deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.


GUILDENSTERN                What should we say, my lord?


HAMLET             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.


ROSENCRANTZ                To what end, my lord?


HAMLET             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 ever-preserved

               love, and by what more dear a better proposer could

               charge you withal, be even and direct with me,

               whether you were sent for, or no?


ROSENCRANTZ                [Aside to GUILDENSTERN]  What say you?


HAMLET             [Aside]  Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you

               love me, hold not off.


GUILDENSTERN                My lord, we were sent for.


HAMLET             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, forgone 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 faculty! 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.


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


HAMLET             Why did you laugh then, when I said 'man delights not me'?


ROSENCRANTZ                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.


HAMLET             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 humourous man shall end his part

               in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose

               lungs are tickled o' the sere; and the lady shall

               say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt

               for't. What players are they?


ROSENCRANTZ                Even those you were wont to take delight in, the

               tragedians of the city.


HAMLET             How chances it they travel? their residence, both

               in reputation and profit, was better both ways.


ROSENCRANTZ                I think their inhibition comes by the means of the

               late innovation.


HAMLET             Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was

               in the city? are they so followed?


ROSENCRANTZ                No, indeed, are they not.


HAMLET             How comes it? do they grow rusty?


ROSENCRANTZ                Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but

               there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases,

               that cry out on the top of question, and are most

               tyrannically clapped 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.


HAMLET             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 no

               better--their writers do them wrong, to make them

               exclaim against their own succession?


ROSENCRANTZ                '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.


HAMLET             Is't possible?


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


HAMLET             Do the boys carry it away?


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


HAMLET             It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of

               Denmark, and those that would make mows 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]


GUILDENSTERN                There are the players.


HAMLET             Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands,

               come then: 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 show fairly outward, should more appear like

               entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my

               uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.


GUILDENSTERN                In what, my dear lord?


HAMLET             I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is

               southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.


               [Enter POLONIUS]


LORD POLONIUS              Well be with you, gentlemen!


HAMLET             Hark you, Guildenstern; and you too: at each ear a

               hearer: that great baby you see there is not yet

               out of his swaddling-clouts.


ROSENCRANTZ                Happily he's the second time come to them; for they

               say an old man is twice a child.


HAMLET             I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players;

               mark it. You say right, sir: o' Monday morning;

               'twas so indeed.


LORD POLONIUS              My lord, I have news to tell you.


HAMLET             My lord, I have news to tell you.

               When Roscius was an actor in Rome,--


LORD POLONIUS              The actors are come hither, my lord.


HAMLET             Buz, buz!


LORD POLONIUS              Upon mine honour,--


HAMLET             Then came each actor on his ass,--


LORD POLONIUS              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 men.


HAMLET             O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!


LORD POLONIUS              What a treasure had he, my lord?


HAMLET             Why,

               'One fair daughter and no more,

               The which he loved passing well.'


LORD POLONIUS              [Aside]  Still on my daughter.


HAMLET             Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?


LORD POLONIUS              If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter

               that I love passing well.


HAMLET             Nay, that follows not.


LORD POLONIUS              What follows, then, my lord?


HAMLET             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 abridgement comes.


               [Enter four or five Players]


               You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. I am glad

               to see thee well. Welcome, good friends. O, my old

               friend! thy face is valenced since I saw thee last:

               comest thou to beard me in Denmark? What, my young

               lady and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is

               nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the

               altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like

               apiece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the

               ring. Masters, 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.


First Player           What speech, my lord?


HAMLET             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, pleased not the million; 'twas

               caviare to the general: but it was--as I received

               it, and others, whose judgments in such matters

               cried in the top of mine--an excellent play, well

               digested in the scenes, set down with as much

               modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there

               were no sallets in the lines to make the matter

               savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might

               indict the author of affectation; but called it an

               honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very

               much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I

               chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' 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: let me see, let me see--

               'The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,'--

               it is not so:--it begins with Pyrrhus:--

               'The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,

               Black 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,

               Baked and impasted with the parching streets,

               That lend a tyrannous and 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.


LORD POLONIUS              'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and

               good discretion.


First Player           '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

               As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder

               Doth rend the region, so, after Pyrrhus' pause,

               Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;

               And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall

               On Mars's armour forged 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!'


LORD POLONIUS              This is too long.


HAMLET             It shall to the barber's, with your beard. Prithee,

               say on: he's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he

               sleeps: say on: come to Hecuba.


First Player           'But who, O, who had seen the mobled queen--'


HAMLET             'The mobled queen?'


LORD POLONIUS              That's good; 'mobled queen' is good.


First Player           'Run barefoot up and down, threatening 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


               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,

               Unless things mortal move them not at all,

               Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,

               And passion in the gods.'


LORD POLONIUS              Look, whether he has not turned his colour and has

               tears in's eyes. Pray you, no more.


HAMLET             'Tis well: I'll have thee speak out the rest 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.


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


HAMLET             God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man

               after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

               Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less

               they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

               Take them in.


LORD POLONIUS              Come, sirs.


HAMLET             Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play to-morrow.


               [Exit POLONIUS with all the Players but the First]


               Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the

               Murder of Gonzago?


First Player           Ay, my lord.


HAMLET             We'll ha't 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?


First Player           Ay, my lord.


HAMLET             Very well. Follow that lord; and look you mock him



               [Exit First Player]


               My good friends, I'll leave you till night: you are

               welcome to Elsinore.


ROSENCRANTZ                Good my lord!


HAMLET             Ay, so, God be wi' ye;


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


                                 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 so to his own conceit

               That from her working all his visage wann'd,

               Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,

               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,

               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?


               'Swounds, 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!

               O, vengeance!

               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!

               Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! 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 but blench,

               I know my course. The spirit that I have seen

               May be the 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.











               A room in the castle.




KING CLAUDIUS               And can you, by no drift of circumstance,

               Get from him why he puts on this confusion,

               Grating so harshly all his days of quiet

               With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?


ROSENCRANTZ                He does confess he feels himself distracted;

               But from what cause he will by no means speak.


GUILDENSTERN                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.


QUEEN GERTRUDE                             Did he receive you well?


ROSENCRANTZ                Most like a gentleman.


GUILDENSTERN                But with much forcing of his disposition.


ROSENCRANTZ                Niggard of question; but, of our demands,

               Most free in his reply.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Did you assay him?

               To any pastime?


ROSENCRANTZ                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.


LORD POLONIUS              'Tis most true:

               And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties

               To hear and see the matter.


KING CLAUDIUS               With all my heart; and it doth much content me

               To hear him so inclined.

               Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,

               And drive his purpose on to these delights.


ROSENCRANTZ                We shall, my lord.


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


KING CLAUDIUS                                 Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;

               For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,

               That he, as 'twere by accident, may here

               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 behaved,

               If 't be the affliction of his love or no

               That thus he suffers for.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           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.


OPHELIA             Madam, I wish it may.


               [Exit QUEEN GERTRUDE]


LORD POLONIUS              Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you,

               We will bestow ourselves.


               [To OPHELIA]


                                   Read on this book;

               That show of such an exercise may colour

               Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,--

               'Tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage

               And pious action we do sugar o'er

               The devil himself.


KING CLAUDIUS               [Aside]          O, 'tis too true!

               How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!

               The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,

               Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it

               Than is my deed to my most painted word:

               O heavy burthen!


LORD POLONIUS              I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.


               [Exeunt KING CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS]


               [Enter HAMLET]


HAMLET             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

               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 despised 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,

               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 enterprises 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.


OPHELIA             Good my lord,

               How does your honour for this many a day?


HAMLET             I humbly thank you; well, well, well.


OPHELIA             My lord, I have remembrances of yours,

               That I have longed long to re-deliver;

               I pray you, now receive them.


HAMLET             No, not I;

               I never gave you aught.


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

               And, with them, words of so sweet breath composed

               As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,

               Take these again; for to the noble mind

               Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

               There, my lord.


HAMLET             Ha, ha! are you honest?


OPHELIA             My lord?


HAMLET             Are you fair?


OPHELIA             What means your lordship?


HAMLET             That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should

               admit no discourse to your beauty.


OPHELIA             Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than

               with honesty?


HAMLET             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 sometime a paradox, but now the

               time gives it proof. I did love you once.


OPHELIA             Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.


HAMLET             You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot

               so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of

               it: I loved you not.


OPHELIA             I was the more deceived.


HAMLET             Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst 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,

               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 knaves,

               all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery.

               Where's your father?


OPHELIA             At home, my lord.


HAMLET             Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the

               fool no where but in's own house. Farewell.


OPHELIA             O, help him, you sweet heavens!


HAMLET             If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for

               thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as

               snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a

               nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs

               marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough

               what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go,

               and quickly too. Farewell.


OPHELIA             O heavenly powers, restore him!


HAMLET             I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God

               has given you one face, and you make yourselves

               another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and

               nick-name God's creatures, and make your wantonness

               your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath

               made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages:

               those that are married already, all but one, shall

               live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a

               nunnery, go.




OPHELIA             O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!

               The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword;

               The expectancy and rose of the fair state,

               The glass of fashion and the mould of form,

               The observed of all observers, quite, quite down!

               And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,

               That suck'd the honey of his music vows,

               Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,

               Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;

               That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth

               Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,

               To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!


               [Re-enter KING CLAUDIUS and POLONIUS]


KING CLAUDIUS               Love! his affections do not that way tend;

               Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little,

               Was not like madness. There's something in his soul,

               O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;

               And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose

               Will be some danger: which for to prevent,

               I have in quick determination

               Thus set it down: he shall with speed to England,

               For the demand of our neglected tribute

               Haply the seas and countries different

               With variable objects shall expel

               This something-settled matter in his heart,

               Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus

               From fashion of himself. What think you on't?


LORD POLONIUS              It shall do well: but yet do I believe

               The origin and commencement of his grief

               Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia!

               You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;

               We heard it all. My lord, do as you please;

               But, if you hold it fit, after the play

               Let his queen mother all alone entreat him

               To show his grief: let her be round with him;

               And I'll be placed, so please you, in the ear

               Of all their conference. If she find him not,

               To England send him, or confine him where

               Your wisdom best shall think.


KING CLAUDIUS               It shall be so:

               Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.










               A hall in the castle.

               [Enter HAMLET and Players]


HAMLET             Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to

               you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,

               as many of your players do, I had as lief the

               town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air

               too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;

               for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,

               the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget

               a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it

               offends me to the soul to hear a robustious

               periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to

               very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who

               for the most part are capable of nothing but

               inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such

               a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it

               out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.


First Player           I warrant your honour.


HAMLET             Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion

               be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the

               word to the action; with this special observance,

               that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature: for any

               thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose

               end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as

               'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own

               feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body

               of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,

               or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful

               laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the

               censure of the which one must in your allowance

               o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be

               players that I have seen play, and heard others

               praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,

               that, neither having the accent of Christians nor

               the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so

               strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of

               nature's journeymen had made men and not made them

               well, they imitated humanity so abominably.


First Player           I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,



HAMLET             O, reform it altogether. And let those that play

               your clowns speak no more than is set down for them;

               for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to

               set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh

               too; though, in the mean time, some necessary

               question of the play be then to be considered:

               that's villanous, and shows a most pitiful ambition

               in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.


               [Exeunt Players]




               How now, my lord! I will the king hear this piece of work?


LORD POLONIUS              And the queen too, and that presently.


HAMLET             Bid the players make haste.


               [Exit POLONIUS]


               Will you two help to hasten them?



ROSENCRANTZ                |

               |  We will, my lord.

GUILDENSTERN                |



               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


HAMLET             What ho! Horatio!


               [Enter HORATIO]


HORATIO            Here, sweet lord, at your service.


HAMLET             Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man

               As e'er my conversation coped withal.


HORATIO            O, my dear lord,--


HAMLET                               Nay, do not think I flatter;

               For what advancement may I hope from thee

               That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,

               To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?

               No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,

               And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee

               Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?

               Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice

               And could of men distinguish, her election

               Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been

               As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,

               A man that fortune's buffets and rewards

               Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those

               Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,

               That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger

               To sound what stop she please. Give me that man

               That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him

               In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,

               As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--

               There is a play to-night before the king;

               One scene of it comes near the circumstance

               Which I have told thee of my father's death:

               I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,

               Even with the very comment of thy soul

               Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt

               Do not itself unkennel in one speech,

               It is a damned ghost that we have seen,

               And my imaginations are as foul

               As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;

               For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,

               And after we will both our judgments join

               In censure of his seeming.


HORATIO            Well, my lord:

               If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,

               And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.


HAMLET             They are coming to the play; I must be idle:

               Get you a place.


               [Danish march. A flourish. Enter KING CLAUDIUS,


               GUILDENSTERN, and others]


KING CLAUDIUS               How fares our cousin Hamlet?


HAMLET             Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat

               the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.


KING CLAUDIUS               I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words

               are not mine.


HAMLET             No, nor mine now.


               [To POLONIUS]


               My lord, you played once i' the university, you say?


LORD POLONIUS              That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.


HAMLET             What did you enact?


LORD POLONIUS              I did enact Julius Caesar: I was killed i' the

               Capitol; Brutus killed me.


HAMLET             It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf

               there. Be the players ready?


ROSENCRANTZ                Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.


HAMLET             No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.


LORD POLONIUS              [To KING CLAUDIUS]  O, ho! do you mark that?


HAMLET             Lady, shall I lie in your lap?


               [Lying down at OPHELIA's feet]


OPHELIA             No, my lord.


HAMLET             I mean, my head upon your lap?


OPHELIA             Ay, my lord.


HAMLET             Do you think I meant country matters?


OPHELIA             I think nothing, my lord.


HAMLET             That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.


OPHELIA             What is, my lord?


HAMLET             Nothing.


OPHELIA             You are merry, my lord.


HAMLET             Who, I?


OPHELIA             Ay, my lord.


HAMLET             O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do

               but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my

               mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.


OPHELIA             Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.


HAMLET             So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for

               I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! die two

               months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's

               hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half

               a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches,

               then; or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with

               the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is 'For, O, for, O,

               the hobby-horse is forgot.'


               [Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters]


               [Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen

               embracing him, and he her. She kneels, and makes

               show of protestation unto him. He takes her up,

               and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down

               upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing him asleep,

               leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his

               crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the King's

               ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King

               dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner,

               with some two or three Mutes, comes in again,

               seeming to lament with her. The dead body is

               carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with

               gifts: she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but

               in the end accepts his love]




OPHELIA             What means this, my lord?


HAMLET             Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.


OPHELIA             Belike this show imports the argument of the play.


               [Enter Prologue]


HAMLET             We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot

               keep counsel; they'll tell all.


OPHELIA             Will he tell us what this show meant?


HAMLET             Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you

               ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.


OPHELIA             You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.


Prologue                    For us, and for our tragedy,

               Here stooping to your clemency,

               We beg your hearing patiently.




HAMLET             Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?


OPHELIA             'Tis brief, my lord.


HAMLET             As woman's love.


               [Enter two Players, King and Queen]


Player King             Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round

               Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,

               And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen

               About the world have times twelve thirties been,

               Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands

               Unite commutual in most sacred bands.


Player Queen          So many journeys may the sun and moon

               Make us again count o'er ere love be done!

               But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,

               So far from cheer and from your former state,

               That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,

               Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:

               For women's fear and love holds quantity;

               In neither aught, or in extremity.

               Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;

               And as my love is sized, my fear is so:

               Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;

               Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.


Player King          'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;

               My operant powers their functions leave to do:

               And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,

               Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind

               For husband shalt thou--


Player Queen       O, confound the rest!

               Such love must needs be treason in my breast:

               In second husband let me be accurst!

               None wed the second but who kill'd the first.


HAMLET             [Aside]  Wormwood, wormwood.


Player Queen          The instances that second marriage move

               Are base respects of thrift, but none of love:

               A second time I kill my husband dead,

               When second husband kisses me in bed.


Player King             I do believe you think what now you speak;

               But what we do determine oft we break.

               Purpose is but the slave to memory,

               Of violent birth, but poor validity;

               Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;

               But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.

               Most necessary 'tis that we forget

               To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:

               What to ourselves in passion we propose,

               The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.

               The violence of either grief or joy

               Their own enactures with themselves destroy:

               Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;

               Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.

               This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange

               That even our loves should with our fortunes change;

               For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,

               Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.

               The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;

               The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.

               And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;

               For who not needs shall never lack a friend,

               And who in want a hollow friend doth try,

               Directly seasons him his enemy.

               But, orderly to end where I begun,

               Our wills and fates do so contrary run

               That our devices still are overthrown;

               Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:

               So think thou wilt no second husband wed;

               But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.


Player Queen          Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!

               Sport and repose lock from me day and night!

               To desperation turn my trust and hope!

               An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!

               Each opposite that blanks the face of joy

               Meet what I would have well and it destroy!

               Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,

               If, once a widow, ever I be wife!


HAMLET             If she should break it now!


Player King          'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;

               My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile

               The tedious day with sleep.




Player Queen       Sleep rock thy brain,

               And never come mischance between us twain!




HAMLET             Madam, how like you this play?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           The lady protests too much, methinks.


HAMLET             O, but she'll keep her word.


KING CLAUDIUS               Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?


HAMLET             No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence

               i' the world.


KING CLAUDIUS               What do you call the play?


HAMLET             The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play

               is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is

               the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see

               anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o'

               that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it

               touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our

               withers are unwrung.


               [Enter LUCIANUS]


               This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.


OPHELIA             You are as good as a chorus, my lord.


HAMLET             I could interpret between you and your love, if I

               could see the puppets dallying.


OPHELIA             You are keen, my lord, you are keen.


HAMLET             It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.


OPHELIA             Still better, and worse.


HAMLET             So you must take your husbands. Begin, murderer;

               pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:

               'the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.'


LUCIANUS             Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;

               Confederate season, else no creature seeing;

               Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,

               With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,

               Thy natural magic and dire property,

               On wholesome life usurp immediately.


               [Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears]


HAMLET             He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His

               name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in

               choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer

               gets the love of Gonzago's wife.


OPHELIA             The king rises.


HAMLET             What, frighted with false fire!


QUEEN GERTRUDE           How fares my lord?


LORD POLONIUS              Give o'er the play.


KING CLAUDIUS               Give me some light: away!


All         Lights, lights, lights!


               [Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO]


HAMLET                  Why, let the stricken deer go weep,

               The hart ungalled play;

               For some must watch, while some must sleep:

               So runs the world away.

               Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers-- if

               the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me--with two

               Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a

               fellowship in a cry of players, sir?


HORATIO            Half a share.


HAMLET             A whole one, I.

               For thou dost know, O Damon dear,

               This realm dismantled was

               Of Jove himself; and now reigns here

               A very, very--pajock.


HORATIO            You might have rhymed.


HAMLET             O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a

               thousand pound. Didst perceive?


HORATIO            Very well, my lord.


HAMLET             Upon the talk of the poisoning?


HORATIO            I did very well note him.


HAMLET             Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!

               For if the king like not the comedy,

               Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.

               Come, some music!


               [Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


GUILDENSTERN                Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.


HAMLET             Sir, a whole history.


GUILDENSTERN                The king, sir,--


HAMLET             Ay, sir, what of him?


GUILDENSTERN                Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.


HAMLET             With drink, sir?


GUILDENSTERN                No, my lord, rather with choler.


HAMLET             Your wisdom should show itself more richer to

               signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him

               to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far

               more choler.


GUILDENSTERN                Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and

               start not so wildly from my affair.


HAMLET             I am tame, sir: pronounce.


GUILDENSTERN                The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of

               spirit, hath sent me to you.


HAMLET             You are welcome.


GUILDENSTERN                Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right

               breed. If it shall please you to make me a

               wholesome answer, I will do your mother's

               commandment: if not, your pardon and my return

               shall be the end of my business.


HAMLET             Sir, I cannot.


GUILDENSTERN                What, my lord?


HAMLET             Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but,

               sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command;

               or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no

               more, but to the matter: my mother, you say,--


ROSENCRANTZ                Then thus she says; your behavior hath struck her

               into amazement and admiration.


HAMLET             O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But

               is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's

               admiration? Impart.


ROSENCRANTZ                She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you

               go to bed.


HAMLET             We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have

               you any further trade with us?


ROSENCRANTZ                My lord, you once did love me.


HAMLET             So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.


ROSENCRANTZ                Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you

               do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if

               you deny your griefs to your friend.


HAMLET             Sir, I lack advancement.


ROSENCRANTZ                How can that be, when you have the voice of the king

               himself for your succession in Denmark?


HAMLET             Ay, but sir, 'While the grass grows,'--the proverb

               is something musty.


               [Re-enter Players with recorders]


               O, the recorders! let me see one. To withdraw with

               you:--why do you go about to recover the wind of me,

               as if you would drive me into a toil?


GUILDENSTERN                O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too



HAMLET             I do not well understand that. Will you play upon

               this pipe?


GUILDENSTERN                My lord, I cannot.


HAMLET             I pray you.


GUILDENSTERN                Believe me, I cannot.


HAMLET             I do beseech you.


GUILDENSTERN                I know no touch of it, my lord.


HAMLET             'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with

               your lingers and thumb, give it breath with your

               mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.

               Look you, these are the stops.


GUILDENSTERN                But these cannot I command to any utterance of

               harmony; I have not the skill.


HAMLET             Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of

               me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know

               my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my

               mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to

               the top of my compass: and there is much music,

               excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot

               you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am

               easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what

               instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you

               cannot play upon me.


               [Enter POLONIUS]


               God bless you, sir!


LORD POLONIUS              My lord, the queen would speak with you, and



HAMLET             Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?


LORD POLONIUS              By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.


HAMLET             Methinks it is like a weasel.


LORD POLONIUS              It is backed like a weasel.


HAMLET             Or like a whale?


LORD POLONIUS              Very like a whale.


HAMLET             Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool

               me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.


LORD POLONIUS              I will say so.


HAMLET             By and by is easily said.


               [Exit POLONIUS]


               Leave me, friends.


               [Exeunt all but HAMLET]


               Tis now the very witching time of night,

               When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out

               Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,

               And do such bitter business as the day

               Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.

               O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever

               The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:

               Let me be cruel, not unnatural:

               I will speak daggers to her, but use none;

               My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;

               How in my words soever she be shent,

               To give them seals never, my soul, consent!









               A room in the castle.



KING CLAUDIUS               I like him not, nor stands it safe with us

               To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;

               I your commission will forthwith dispatch,

               And he to England shall along with you:

               The terms of our estate may not endure

               Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow

               Out of his lunacies.


GUILDENSTERN                We will ourselves provide:

               Most holy and religious fear it is

               To keep those many many bodies safe

               That live and feed upon your majesty.


ROSENCRANTZ                The single and peculiar life is bound,

               With all the strength and armour of the mind,

               To keep itself from noyance; but much more

               That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest

               The lives of many. The cease of majesty

               Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw

               What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,

               Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,

               To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things

               Are mortised and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,

               Each small annexment, petty consequence,

               Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone

               Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.


KING CLAUDIUS               Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;

               For we will fetters put upon this fear,

               Which now goes too free-footed.



ROSENCRANTZ                |

               |               We will haste us.

GUILDENSTERN                |



               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


               [Enter POLONIUS]


LORD POLONIUS              My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:

               Behind the arras I'll convey myself,

               To hear the process; and warrant she'll tax him home:

               And, as you said, and wisely was it said,

               'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,

               Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear

               The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:

               I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,

               And tell you what I know.


KING CLAUDIUS               Thanks, dear my lord.


               [Exit POLONIUS]


               O, my offence is rank it smells to heaven;

               It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,

               A brother's murder. Pray can I not,

               Though inclination be as sharp as will:

               My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;

               And, like a man to double business bound,

               I stand in pause where I shall first begin,

               And both neglect. What if this cursed hand

               Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,

               Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

               To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy

               But to confront the visage of offence?

               And what's in prayer but this two-fold force,

               To be forestalled ere we come to fall,

               Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;

               My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer

               Can serve my turn? 'Forgive me my foul murder'?

               That cannot be; since I am still possess'd

               Of those effects for which I did the murder,

               My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.

               May one be pardon'd and retain the offence?

               In the corrupted currents of this world

               Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,

               And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself

               Buys out the law: but 'tis not so above;

               There is no shuffling, there the action lies

               In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,

               Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

               To give in evidence. What then? what rests?

               Try what repentance can: what can it not?

               Yet what can it when one can not repent?

               O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

               O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,

               Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay!

               Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,

               Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!

               All may be well.


               [Retires and kneels]


               [Enter HAMLET]


HAMLET             Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;

               And now I'll do't. And so he goes to heaven;

               And so am I revenged. That would be scann'd:

               A villain kills my father; and for that,

               I, his sole son, do this same villain send

               To heaven.

               O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

               He took my father grossly, full of bread;

               With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;

               And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?

               But in our circumstance and course of thought,

               'Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,

               To take him in the purging of his soul,

               When he is fit and season'd for his passage?


               Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:

               When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,

               Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;

               At gaming, swearing, or about some act

               That has no relish of salvation in't;

               Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,

               And that his soul may be as damn'd and black

               As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:

               This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.




KING CLAUDIUS               [Rising]  My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:

               Words without thoughts never to heaven go.









               The Queen's closet.

               [Enter QUEEN GERTRUDE and POLONIUS]


LORD POLONIUS              He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:

               Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,

               And that your grace hath screen'd and stood between

               Much heat and him. I'll sconce me even here.

               Pray you, be round with him.


HAMLET             [Within]  Mother, mother, mother!


QUEEN GERTRUDE           I'll warrant you,

               Fear me not: withdraw, I hear him coming.


               [POLONIUS hides behind the arras]


               [Enter HAMLET]


HAMLET             Now, mother, what's the matter?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.


HAMLET             Mother, you have my father much offended.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.


HAMLET             Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Why, how now, Hamlet!


HAMLET             What's the matter now?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Have you forgot me?


HAMLET             No, by the rood, not so:

               You are the queen, your husband's brother's wife;

               And--would it were not so!--you are my mother.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.


HAMLET             Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;

               You go not till I set you up a glass

               Where you may see the inmost part of you.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?

               Help, help, ho!


LORD POLONIUS              [Behind]  What, ho! help, help, help!


HAMLET             [Drawing]  How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!


               [Makes a pass through the arras]


LORD POLONIUS              [Behind]  O, I am slain!


               [Falls and dies]


QUEEN GERTRUDE           O me, what hast thou done?


HAMLET             Nay, I know not:

               Is it the king?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!


HAMLET             A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,

               As kill a king, and marry with his brother.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           As kill a king!


HAMLET                               Ay, lady, 'twas my word.


               [Lifts up the array and discovers POLONIUS]


               Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

               I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;

               Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.

               Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,

               And let me wring your heart; for so I shall,

               If it be made of penetrable stuff,

               If damned custom have not brass'd it so

               That it is proof and bulwark against sense.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongue

               In noise so rude against me?


HAMLET             Such an act

               That blurs the grace and blush of modesty,

               Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose

               From the fair forehead of an innocent love

               And sets a blister there, makes marriage-vows

               As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed

               As from the body of contraction plucks

               The very soul, and sweet religion makes

               A rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow:

               Yea, this solidity and compound mass,

               With tristful visage, as against the doom,

               Is thought-sick at the act.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Ay me, what act,

               That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?


HAMLET             Look here, upon this picture, and on this,

               The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

               See, what a grace was seated on this brow;

               Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;

               An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;

               A station like the herald Mercury

               New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;

               A combination and a form indeed,

               Where every god did seem to set his seal,

               To give the world assurance of a man:

               This was your husband. Look you now, what follows:

               Here is your husband; like a mildew'd ear,

               Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?

               Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,

               And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?

               You cannot call it love; for at your age

               The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,

               And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment

               Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,

               Else could you not have motion; but sure, that sense

               Is apoplex'd; for madness would not err,

               Nor sense to ecstasy was ne'er so thrall'd

               But it reserved some quantity of choice,

               To serve in such a difference. What devil was't

               That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?

               Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,

               Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,

               Or but a sickly part of one true sense

               Could not so mope.

               O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,

               If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,

               To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,

               And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame

               When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,

               Since frost itself as actively doth burn

               And reason panders will.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           O Hamlet, speak no more:

               Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;

               And there I see such black and grained spots

               As will not leave their tinct.


HAMLET             Nay, but to live

               In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,

               Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love

               Over the nasty sty,--


QUEEN GERTRUDE           O, speak to me no more;

               These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears;

               No more, sweet Hamlet!


HAMLET             A murderer and a villain;

               A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe

               Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;

               A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,

               That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,

               And put it in his pocket!


QUEEN GERTRUDE           No more!


HAMLET             A king of shreds and patches,--


               [Enter Ghost]


               Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,

               You heavenly guards! What would your gracious figure?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Alas, he's mad!


HAMLET             Do you not come your tardy son to chide,

               That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by

               The important acting of your dread command? O, say!


Ghost    Do not forget: this visitation

               Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

               But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:

               O, step between her and her fighting soul:

               Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works:

               Speak to her, Hamlet.


HAMLET             How is it with you, lady?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Alas, how is't with you,

               That you do bend your eye on vacancy

               And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?

               Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;

               And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,

               Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,

               Starts up, and stands on end. O gentle son,

               Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper

               Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?


HAMLET             On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!

               His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,

               Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;

               Lest with this piteous action you convert

               My stern effects: then what I have to do

               Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           To whom do you speak this?


HAMLET             Do you see nothing there?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.


HAMLET             Nor did you nothing hear?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           No, nothing but ourselves.


HAMLET             Why, look you there! look, how it steals away!

               My father, in his habit as he lived!

               Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!


               [Exit Ghost]


QUEEN GERTRUDE           This the very coinage of your brain:

               This bodiless creation ecstasy

               Is very cunning in.


HAMLET             Ecstasy!

               My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,

               And makes as healthful music: it is not madness

               That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,

               And I the matter will re-word; which madness

               Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,

               Lay not that mattering unction to your soul,

               That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:

               It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,

               Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,

               Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;

               Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;

               And do not spread the compost on the weeds,

               To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;

               For in the fatness of these pursy times

               Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,

               Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.


HAMLET             O, throw away the worser part of it,

               And live the purer with the other half.

               Good night: but go not to mine uncle's bed;

               Assume a virtue, if you have it not.

               That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,

               Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,

               That to the use of actions fair and good

               He likewise gives a frock or livery,

               That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,

               And that shall lend a kind of easiness

               To the next abstinence: the next more easy;

               For use almost can change the stamp of nature,

               And either curb the devil, or throw him out

               With wondrous potency. Once more, good night:

               And when you are desirous to be bless'd,

               I'll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,


               [Pointing to POLONIUS]


               I do repent: but heaven hath pleased it so,

               To punish me with this and this with me,

               That I must be their scourge and minister.

               I will bestow him, and will answer well

               The death I gave him. So, again, good night.

               I must be cruel, only to be kind:

               Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

               One word more, good lady.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           What shall I do?


HAMLET             Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:

               Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;

               Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;

               And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,

               Or paddling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,

               Make you to ravel all this matter out,

               That I essentially am not in madness,

               But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know;

               For who, that's but a queen, fair, sober, wise,

               Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,

               Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?

               No, in despite of sense and secrecy,

               Unpeg the basket on the house's top.

               Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,

               To try conclusions, in the basket creep,

               And break your own neck down.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Be thou assured, if words be made of breath,

               And breath of life, I have no life to breathe

               What thou hast said to me.


HAMLET             I must to England; you know that?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Alack,

               I had forgot: 'tis so concluded on.


HAMLET             There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,

               Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,

               They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,

               And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;

               For 'tis the sport to have the engineer

               Hoist with his own petard: and 't shall go hard

               But I will delve one yard below their mines,

               And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,

               When in one line two crafts directly meet.

               This man shall set me packing:

               I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.

               Mother, good night. Indeed this counsellor

               Is now most still, most secret and most grave,

               Who was in life a foolish prating knave.

               Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.

               Good night, mother.


               [Exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in POLONIUS]







               A room in the castle.


               and GUILDENSTERN]


KING CLAUDIUS               There's matter in these sighs, these profound heaves:

               You must translate: 'tis fit we understand them.

               Where is your son?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Bestow this place on us a little while.


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


               Ah, my good lord, what have I seen to-night!


KING CLAUDIUS               What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend

               Which is the mightier: in his lawless fit,

               Behind the arras hearing something stir,

               Whips out his rapier, cries, 'A rat, a rat!'

               And, in this brainish apprehension, kills

               The unseen good old man.


KING CLAUDIUS               O heavy deed!

               It had been so with us, had we been there:

               His liberty is full of threats to all;

               To you yourself, to us, to every one.

               Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?

               It will be laid to us, whose providence

               Should have kept short, restrain'd and out of haunt,

               This mad young man: but so much was our love,

               We would not understand what was most fit;

               But, like the owner of a foul disease,

               To keep it from divulging, let it feed

               Even on the pith of Life. Where is he gone?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           To draw apart the body he hath kill'd:

               O'er whom his very madness, like some ore

               Among a mineral of metals base,

               Shows itself pure; he weeps for what is done.


KING CLAUDIUS               O Gertrude, come away!

               The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch,

               But we will ship him hence: and this vile deed

               We must, with all our majesty and skill,

               Both countenance and excuse. Ho, Guildenstern!


               [Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


               Friends both, go join you with some further aid:

               Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,

               And from his mother's closet hath he dragg'd him:

               Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body

               Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


               Come, Gertrude, we'll call up our wisest friends;

               And let them know, both what we mean to do,

               And what's untimely done; so haply slander,

               Whose whisper o'er the world's diameter,

               As level as the cannon to his blank,

               Transports his poison'd shot, may miss our name,

               And hit the woundless air. O, come away!

               My soul is full of discord and dismay.









               Another room in the castle.

               [Enter HAMLET]


HAMLET             Safely stowed.



ROSENCRANTZ:               |

               |   [Within]  Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!

GUILDENSTERN:               |



HAMLET             What noise? who calls on Hamlet?

               O, here they come.


               [Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


ROSENCRANTZ                What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?


HAMLET             Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin.


ROSENCRANTZ                Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence

               And bear it to the chapel.


HAMLET             Do not believe it.


ROSENCRANTZ                Believe what?


HAMLET             That I can keep your counsel and not mine own.

               Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! what

               replication should be made by the son of a king?


ROSENCRANTZ                Take you me for a sponge, my lord?


HAMLET             Ay, sir, that soaks up the king's countenance, his

               rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the

               king best service in the end: he keeps them, like

               an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to

               be last swallowed: when he needs what you have

               gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you

               shall be dry again.


ROSENCRANTZ                I understand you not, my lord.


HAMLET             I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a

               foolish ear.


ROSENCRANTZ                My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go

               with us to the king.


HAMLET             The body is with the king, but the king is not with

               the body. The king is a thing--


GUILDENSTERN                A thing, my lord!


HAMLET             Of nothing: bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after.










               Another room in the castle.

               [Enter KING CLAUDIUS, attended]


KING CLAUDIUS               I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.

               How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!

               Yet must not we put the strong law on him:

               He's loved of the distracted multitude,

               Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;

               And where tis so, the offender's scourge is weigh'd,

               But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,

               This sudden sending him away must seem

               Deliberate pause: diseases desperate grown

               By desperate appliance are relieved,

               Or not at all.


               [Enter ROSENCRANTZ]


               How now! what hath befall'n?


ROSENCRANTZ                Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,

               We cannot get from him.


KING CLAUDIUS               But where is he?


ROSENCRANTZ                Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.


KING CLAUDIUS               Bring him before us.


ROSENCRANTZ                Ho, Guildenstern! bring in my lord.


               [Enter HAMLET and GUILDENSTERN]


KING CLAUDIUS               Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?


HAMLET             At supper.


KING CLAUDIUS               At supper! where?


HAMLET             Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain

               convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your

               worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all

               creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for

               maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but

               variable service, two dishes, but to one table:

               that's the end.


KING CLAUDIUS               Alas, alas!


HAMLET             A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a

               king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.


KING CLAUDIUS               What dost you mean by this?


HAMLET             Nothing but to show you how a king may go a

               progress through the guts of a beggar.


KING CLAUDIUS               Where is Polonius?


HAMLET             In heaven; send hither to see: if your messenger

               find him not there, seek him i' the other place

               yourself. But indeed, if you find him not within

               this month, you shall nose him as you go up the

               stairs into the lobby.


KING CLAUDIUS               Go seek him there.


               [To some Attendants]


HAMLET             He will stay till ye come.


               [Exeunt Attendants]


KING CLAUDIUS               Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,--

               Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve

               For that which thou hast done,--must send thee hence

               With fiery quickness: therefore prepare thyself;

               The bark is ready, and the wind at help,

               The associates tend, and every thing is bent

               For England.


HAMLET                               For England!


KING CLAUDIUS               Ay, Hamlet.


HAMLET             Good.


KING CLAUDIUS               So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.


HAMLET             I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for

               England! Farewell, dear mother.


KING CLAUDIUS               Thy loving father, Hamlet.


HAMLET             My mother: father and mother is man and wife; man

               and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!




KING CLAUDIUS               Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard;

               Delay it not; I'll have him hence to-night:

               Away! for every thing is seal'd and done

               That else leans on the affair: pray you, make haste.


               [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN]


               And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught--

               As my great power thereof may give thee sense,

               Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red

               After the Danish sword, and thy free awe

               Pays homage to us--thou mayst not coldly set

               Our sovereign process; which imports at full,

               By letters congruing to that effect,

               The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;

               For like the hectic in my blood he rages,

               And thou must cure me: till I know 'tis done,

               Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.









               A plain in Denmark.

               [Enter FORTINBRAS, a Captain, and Soldiers, marching]


PRINCE FORTINBRAS     Go, captain, from me greet the Danish king;

               Tell him that, by his licence, Fortinbras

               Craves the conveyance of a promised march

               Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.

               If that his majesty would aught with us,

               We shall express our duty in his eye;

               And let him know so.


Captain I will do't, my lord.


PRINCE FORTINBRAS     Go softly on.


               [Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Soldiers]


               [Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others]


HAMLET             Good sir, whose powers are these?


Captain They are of Norway, sir.


HAMLET             How purposed, sir, I pray you?


Captain Against some part of Poland.


HAMLET             Who commands them, sir?


Captain The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.


HAMLET             Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,

               Or for some frontier?


Captain Truly to speak, and with no addition,

               We go to gain a little patch of ground

               That hath in it no profit but the name.

               To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;

               Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

               A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.


HAMLET             Why, then the Polack never will defend it.


Captain Yes, it is already garrison'd.


HAMLET             Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats

               Will not debate the question of this straw:

               This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,

               That inward breaks, and shows no cause without

               Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.


Captain God be wi' you, sir.




ROSENCRANTZ                Wilt please you go, my lord?


HAMLET             I'll be with you straight go a little before.


               [Exeunt all except HAMLET]


               How all occasions do inform against me,

               And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,

               If his chief good and market of his time

               Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.

               Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,

               Looking before and after, gave us not

               That capability and god-like reason

               To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be

               Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple

               Of thinking too precisely on the event,

               A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom

               And ever three parts coward, I do not know

               Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'

               Sith I have cause and will and strength and means

               To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me:

               Witness this army of such mass and charge

               Led by a delicate and tender prince,

               Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd

               Makes mouths at the invisible event,

               Exposing what is mortal and unsure

               To all that fortune, death and danger dare,

               Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great

               Is not to stir without great argument,

               But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

               When honour's at the stake. How stand I then,

               That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,

               Excitements of my reason and my blood,

               And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see

               The imminent death of twenty thousand men,

               That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,

               Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

               Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

               Which is not tomb enough and continent

               To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,

               My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!











               Elsinore. A room in the castle.

               [Enter QUEEN GERTRUDE, HORATIO, and a Gentleman]


QUEEN GERTRUDE           I will not speak with her.


Gentleman            She is importunate, indeed distract:

               Her mood will needs be pitied.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           What would she have?


Gentleman            She speaks much of her father; says she hears

               There's tricks i' the world; and hems, and beats her heart;

               Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,

               That carry but half sense: her speech is nothing,

               Yet the unshaped use of it doth move

               The hearers to collection; they aim at it,

               And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;

               Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures

               yield them,

               Indeed would make one think there might be thought,

               Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.


HORATIO            'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew

               Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Let her come in.


               [Exit HORATIO]


               To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is,

               Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss:

               So full of artless jealousy is guilt,

               It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.


               [Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHELIA]


OPHELIA             Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?


QUEEN GERTRUDE           How now, Ophelia!


OPHELIA             [Sings]


               How should I your true love know

               From another one?

               By his cockle hat and staff,

               And his sandal shoon.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?


OPHELIA             Say you? nay, pray you, mark.




               He is dead and gone, lady,

               He is dead and gone;

               At his head a grass-green turf,

               At his heels a stone.


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Nay, but, Ophelia,--


OPHELIA             Pray you, mark.




               White his shroud as the mountain snow,--


               [Enter KING CLAUDIUS]


QUEEN GERTRUDE           Alas, look here, my lord.


OPHELIA             [Sings]


               Larded with sweet flowers

               Which bewept to the grave did go

               With true-love showers.


KING CLAUDIUS               How do you, pretty lady?


OPHELIA             Well, God 'ild you! They say the owl was a baker's

               daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not

               what we may be. God be at your table!


KING CLAUDIUS               Conceit upon her father.


OPHELIA             Pray you, let's have no words of this; but when they

               ask you what it means, say you this:




               To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,

               All in the morning betime,

               And I a maid at your window,

               To be your Valentine.

               Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,

               And dupp'd the chamber-door;