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Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecat'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. Ham. He poisons him i' the garden for his estate. His name's Gonzago; the story is extant, and written in very choice Italian: you shall see, anon, how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

Oph. The king rises.

Ham. What! frighted with false fire!
Queen. How fares my lord?

Pol. Give o'er the play.

King. Give me some light; away!

Pol. Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO.

Ham. Why, let the strucken deer go weep,

The hart ungalled play;

For some must watch, while some must sleep;
Thus runs the world away.-

Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers, (if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk1 with me,) with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?

Hor. Half a share.1

Ham. 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-peacock."

1 To turn Turk was a familiar phrase for any violent change in condition or character.

2 "Provincial roses on my razed shoes." Provincial roses took their name from Provins, in Lower Brie, and not from Provence. Razed shoes are most probably embroidered shoes. The quarto reads raced. To race, or rase, was to stripe.

3 It was usual to call a pack of hounds a cry; it is here humorously applied to a troop or company of players.

4 The players were paid not by salaries, but by shares or portions of the profit, according to merit.

5" A very, very-peacock." The old copies read paiock, and paiocke. The peacock was as proverbially used for a proud fool as the lapwing for a silly one.

Hor. You might have rhymed.

Ham. O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

Hor. Very well, my lord.

Ham. Upon the talk of the poisoning,

Hor. I did very well note him.

Ham. Ah, ha!-come, some music; come, the recorders.'

For if the king like not the comedy,

Why, then, belike,―he likes it not, perdy.2


Come, some music.

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

Ham. Sir, a whole history.

Guil. The king, sir,

Ham. Ay, sir, what of him?

Guil. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered. Ham. With drink, sir?

Guil. No, my lord, with choler.

Ham. Your wisdom should show itself more richer, to signify this to the doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation, would, perhaps, plunge him into more choler.

Guil. Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.

Ham. I am tame, sir;-pronounce.

Guil. The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

Ham. You are welcome.

Guil. 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 command

1 "The recorders." It is difficult to settle exactly the form of this instrument; old writers, in general, make no distinction between a flute, a pipe, and a recorder; but Hawkins has shown clearly, that the flute and the recorder were distinct instruments.

2 Perdy is a corruption of the French

par Dieu.

ment; if not, your pardon, and my return shall be the end of my business.

Ham. Sir, I cannot.

Guil. What, my lord?

Ham. 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,

Ros. Then thus she says: Your behavior hath struck her into amazement and admiration.

Ham. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!—But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? Impart.

Ros. She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you go to bed.

Ham. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?

Ros. My lord, you once did love me.

Ham. And do still, by these pickers and stealers.1 Ros. Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? You do, surely, but bar the door upon your own liberty, if you deny your griefs to your friend.

Ham. Sir, I lack advancement.

Ros. How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark ? Ham. Ay, sir, but While the grass grows,-the proverb is something musty.

Enter the 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?


1 By these hands.

2 "To withdraw with you." Malone added here a stage direction. [Taking Guild. aside.] Steevens thinks it an answer to a motion Guildenstern had used, for Hamlet to withdraw with him. Perhaps it means no more than "to draw back with you," to leave that scent or trail. It is a hunting term, like that which follows.

3 This term is borrowed from hunting, and means, to take advantage of the animal pursued, by getting to the windward of it, that it may not scent its pursuers.

Guil. O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love

is too unmannerly.1

Ham. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?

Guil. My lord, I cannot.

Ham. I pray you.

Guil. Believe me, I cannot.

Ham. I do beseech you.

Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord.

Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.

Ham. 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, you cannot play upon me.

God bless you, sir!


Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel?

Pol. By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Ham. Methinks it is like a weasel.

1 Hamlet may say, with propriety, "I do not well understand that." Perhaps Guildenstern means, "If my duty to the king makes me too bold, my love to you makes me importunate even to rudeness."

2 The ventages are the holes of the pipe. The stops means the mode of stopping those ventages to produce notes.

Pol. It is backed like a weasel.

Ham. Or, like a whale?

Pol. Very like a whale.

Ham. Then will I come to my mother by and by. -They fool me to the top of my bent.'-I will come by and by.

Pol. I will say so.

[Exit POLONIUS. Ham. By and by is easily said.-Leave me, friends. [Exeunt Ros., GUIL., HOR., &c. 'Tis now the very witching time of night;

When church-yards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood,
And do such bitter business as the day 2

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,3
To give them seals, never, my soul, consent!

SCENE III. A Room in the same.


Enter King, ROSENCRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN. King. I like him not; nor stands it safe with us, To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you; I your commission will forthwith despatch, And he to England shall along with you.

1 As far as the bow will admit of being bent without breaking. 2 The quarto reads:

"And do such business as the bitter day," &c.

3 To shend is to injure, whether by reproof, blows, or otherwise. Shakspeare generally uses shent for reproved, threatened with angry words. "To give his words seals" is therefore to carry his punishment beyond reproof. The allusion is to the sealing a deed to render it effective. The quarto of 1603 :

"I will speak daggers; those sharp words being spent,
To do her wrong my soul shall ne'er consent."

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