Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
 
Act II. Scene I.
 
A Room in POLONIUS’ House.
 
Enter POLONIUS and REYNALDO.
  Pol.  Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
  Rey.  I will, my lord.
  Pol.  You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,        5
Before you visit him, to make inquiry
Of his behaviour.
  Rey.        My lord, I did intend it.
  Pol.  Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;        10
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 you particular demands will touch it:        15
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?
  Rey.  Ay, very well, my lord.
  Pol.  ‘And, in part, him; but,’ you may say, ‘not well:        20
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        25
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.
  Rey.        As gaming, my lord?
  Pol.  Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,
Drabbing; you may go so far.        30
  Rey.  My lord, that would dishonour him.
  Pol.  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        35
That they may seem the taints of liberty,
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimed blood,
Of general assault.
  Rey.        But, my good lord,—        40
  Pol.  Wherefore should you do this?
  Rey.        Ay, my lord,
I would know that.
  Pol.        Marry, sir, here’s my drift;
And, I believe, it is a fetch of warrant:        45
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        50
The youth you breathe of guilty, be assur’d,
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.        55
  Rey.        Very good, my lord.
  Pol.  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?
  Rey.  At ‘closes in the consequence.’
At ‘friend or so,’ and ‘gentleman.’
  Pol.  At ‘closes in the consequence,’ ay, marry;        60
He closes with you 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,        65
‘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,        70
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?
  Rey.  My lord, I have.        75
  Pol.        God be wi’ you; fare you well.
  Rey.  Good my lord!
  Pol.  Observe his inclination in yourself.
  Rey.  I shall, my lord.
  Pol.  And let him ply his music.        80
  Rey.        Well, my lord.
  Pol.  Farewell!  [Exit REYNALDO.
 
Enter OPHELIA.
        How now, Ophelia! what’s the matter?
  Oph.  Alas! my lord, I have been so affrighted.        85
  Pol.  With what, in the name of God?
  Oph.  My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac’d;
No hat upon his head; his stockings foul’d,
Ungarter’d, and down-gyved to his ancle;        90
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.
  Pol.  Mad for thy love?        95
  Oph.        My lord, I do not know;
But truly I do fear it.
  Pol.        What said he?
  Oph.  He took me by the wrist and held me hard,
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,        100
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,        105
He rais’d a sigh so piteous and profound
That 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;        110
For out o’ doors he went without their help,
And to the last bended their light on me.
  Pol.  Come, go with me; I will go seek the king.
This is the very ecstasy of love,
Whose violent property fordoes itself        115
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?
  Oph.  No, my good lord; but, as you did command,        120
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me.
  Pol.        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,        125
And meant to wrack 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:        130
This must be known; which, being kept close, might move
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
Come.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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