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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
 
Act II. Scene II.
 
A Room in the Castle.
 
Enter KING, QUEEN, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and Attendants.
  King.  Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!
Moreover that we much did long to see you,
The need we have to use you did provoke        5
Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
Of Hamlet’s transformation; so I call it,
Since 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        10
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 since so neighbour’d to his youth and humour,
That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court        15
Some little time; so by your companies
To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,
So much as from occasion you may glean,
Whe’r aught to us unknown afflicts him thus,
That, open’d, lies within our remedy.        20
  Queen.  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,        25
For the supply and profit of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks
As fits a king’s remembrance.
  Ros.        Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,        30
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.
  Guil.        But we both obey,
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,
To lay our service freely at your feet,        35
To be commanded.
  King.  Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
  Queen.  Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz;
And I beseech you instantly to visit
My too much changed son. Go, some of you,        40
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
  Guil.  Heavens make our presence, and our practices
Pleasant and helpful to him!
  Queen.        Ay, amen!  [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and some Attendants.
 
Enter POLONIUS.
        45
  Pol.  The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
Are joyfully return’d.
  King.  Thou still hast been the father of good news.
  Pol.  Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,
I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,        50
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 us’d to do—that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.        55
  King.  O! speak of that; that do I long to hear.
  Pol.  Give first admittance to the ambassadors;
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.
  King.  Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.  [Exit POLONIUS.
He tells me, my sweet queen, that he hath found        60
The head and source of all your son’s distemper.
  Queen.  I doubt it is no other but the main;
His father’s death, and our o’erhasty marriage.
  King.  Well, we shall sift him.
 
Re-enter POLONIUS, with VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS.
        65
        Welcome, my good friends!
Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?
  Volt.  Most fair return of greetings, and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew’s levies, which to him appear’d        70
To be a preparation ’gainst the Polack;
But, better look’d into, he truly found
It was against your highness: whereat griev’d,
That so his sickness, age, and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests        75
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,        80
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        85
Through your dominions for this enterprise,
On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down.
  King.        It likes us well;
And at our more consider’d time we’ll read,        90
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.
  Pol.        This business is well ended.        95
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,        100
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.        105
  Queen.        More matter, with less art.
  Pol  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.        110
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.        115
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.        120
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.  Came this from Hamlet to her?
  Pol.  Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.
        Doubt thou the stars are fire;        125
          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.        130
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.        135
  King.        But how hath she
Receiv’d his love?
  Pol.        What do you think of me?
  King.  As of a man faithful and honourable.
  Pol.  I would fain prove so. But what might you think,        140
When I had seen this hot love on the wing,—
As I perceiv’d 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,        145
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;        150
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,—        155
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 wail for.        160
  King.        Do you think ’tis this?
  Queen.  It may be, very likely.
  Pol.  Hath there been such a time,—I’d fain know that,—
That I have positively said, ‘’Tis so,’
When it prov’d otherwise?        165
  King.        Not that I know.
  Pol.  Take this from this, if this be otherwise:  [Pointing to his head and shoulder.
If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.        170
  King.        How may we try it further?
  Pol.  You know sometimes he walks four hours together
Here in the lobby.
  Queen.        So he does indeed.
  Pol.  At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him;        175
Be you and I behind an arras then;
Mark the encounter; if he love her not,
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm, and carters.        180
  King.        We will try it.
  Queen.  But look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
  Pol.  Away! I do beseech you, both away.
I’ll board him presently.  [Exeunt KING, QUEEN, and Attendants.
 
Enter HAMLET, reading.
        185
        O! give me leave.
How does my good Lord Hamlet?
  Ham.  Well, God a-mercy.
  Pol.  Do you know me, my lord?
  Ham.  Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.        190
  Pol.  Not I, my lord.
  Ham.  Then I would you were so honest a man.
  Pol.  Honest, my lord!
  Ham.  Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.
  Pol.  That’s very true, my lord.        195
  Ham.  For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion,—Have you a daughter?
  Pol.  I have, my lord.
  Ham.  Let her not walk i’ the sun: conception is a blessing; but not as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to ’t.
  Pol.  [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?
  Ham.  Words, words, words.        200
  Pol.  What is the matter, my lord?
  Ham.  Between who?
  Pol.  I mean the matter that you read, my lord.
  Ham.  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 you yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
  Pol.  [Aside.]  Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?        205
  Ham.  Into my grave?
  Pol.  Indeed, that is out o’ the air.  [Aside.]  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.
  Ham.  You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal; except my life, except my life, except my life.
  Pol.  Fare you well, my lord.  [Going.
  Ham.  These tedious old fools!        210
 
Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
  Pol.  You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.
  Ros.  [To POLONIUS.]  God save you, sir!  [Exit POLONIUS.
  Guil.  Mine honoured lord!
  Ros.  My most dear lord!        215
  Ham.  My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
  Ros.  As the indifferent children of the earth.
  Guil.  Happy in that we are not over happy;
On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.
  Ham.  Nor the soles of her shoe?        220
  Ros.  Neither, my lord.
  Ham.  Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?
  Guil.  Faith, her privates we.
  Ham.  In the secret parts of Fortune? O! most true; she is a strumpet. What news?
  Ros.  None, my lord, but that the world’s grown honest.        225
  Ham.  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?
  Guil.  Prison, my lord!
  Ham.  Denmark’s a prison.
  Ros.  Then is the world one.
  Ham.  A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ the worst.        230
  Ros  We think not so, my lord.
  Ham.  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.
  Ros.  Why, then your ambition makes it one; ’tis too narrow for your mind.
  Ham.  O God! I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.
  Guil.  Which dreams, indeed, are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.        235
  Ham.  A dream itself is but a shadow.
  Ros.  Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.
  Ham.  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.
  Ros. & Guil.  We’ll wait upon you.
  Ham.  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?        240
  Ros.  To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
  Ham.  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, come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
  Guil.  What should we say, my lord?
  Ham.  Why anything, 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.
  Ros.  To what end, my lord?        245
  Ham.  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!
  Ros.  [Aside to GUILDENSTERN.]  What say you?
  Ham.  [Aside.]  Nay, then, I have an eye of you. If you love me, hold not off.
  Guil.  My lord, we were sent for.
  Ham.  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 but 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, in 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.        250
  Ros.  My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
  Ham.  Why did you laugh then, when I said, ‘man delights not me?’
  Ros.  To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you: we coted them on the way; and hither are they coming, to offer you service.
  Ham.  He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man shall end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickle o’ the sere; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for ’t. What players are they?
  Ros.  Even those you were wont to take delight in, tragedians of the city.        255
  Ham.  How chances it they travel? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
  Ros.  I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.
  Ham.  Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?
  Ros.  No, indeed they are not.
  Ham.  How comes it? Do they grow rusty?        260
  Ros.  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.
  Ham.  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?
  Ros.  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.
  Ham.  Is it possible?
  Guil.  O! there has been much throwing about of brains.        265
  Ham.  Do the boys carry it away?
  Ros.  Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.
  Ham.  It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a 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.
  Guil.  There are the players.
  Ham.  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.        270
  Guil.  In what, my dear lord?
  Ham.  I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
 
Enter POLONIUS.
  Pol.  Well be with you, gentlemen!
  Ham.  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.        275
  Ros.  Happily he’s the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.
  Ham.  I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it. You say right, sir; o’ Monday morning; ’twas so indeed.
  Pol.  My lord, I have news to tell you.
  Ham.  My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,—
  Pol.  The actors are come hither, my lord.        280
  Ham.  Buzz, buzz!
  Pol.  Upon my honour,—
  Ham.  Then came each actor on his ass,—
  Pol.  The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.
  Ham.  O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!        285
  Pol.  What a treasure had he, my lord?
  Ham.  Why
        One fair daughter and no more,
        The which he loved passing well.
  Pol.  [Aside.]  Still on my daughter.        290
  Ham.  Am I not i’ the right, old Jephthah?
  Pol.  If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.
  Ham.  Nay, that follows not.
  Pol.  What follows, then, my lord?
  Ham.  Why,        295
                As by lot, God wot.
And then, you know,
        It came to pass, as most like it was.
The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look where my abridgment comes.
 
Enter four or five Players.
        300
You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. I am glad to see thee well: welcome, good friends. O, my old friend! Thy face is valanced 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 heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece 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 anything we see: we’ll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
  First Play.  What speech, my good lord?
  Ham.  I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, 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 Æneas’ tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line: let me see, let me see:—
The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,
’tis not so, it begins with Pyrrhus:—        305
The rugged Pyrrhus, he, whose sable arm,
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        310
Now is he total gules; horridly trick’d
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Bak’d and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and damned light
To their vile murders: roasted in wrath and fire,        315
And thus o’er-sized with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.
So proceed you.
  Pol.  ’Fore God, my lord, well spoken; with good accent and good discretion.        320
  First Play.        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;        325
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,        330
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.        335
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,        340
Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;
And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall
On Mars’s armour, forg’d for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam.        345
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!        350
  Pol.  This is too long.
  Ham.  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 Play.  But who, O! who had seen the mobled queen
  Ham.  ‘The mobled queen?’—
  Pol.  That’s good; ‘mobled queen’ is good.        355
  First Play.  Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning 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;        360
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep’d,
’Gainst Fortune’s state would treason have pronounc’d:
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,        365
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.
  Pol.  Look! wh’er he has not turned his colour and has tears in ’s eyes. Prithee, no more.        370
  Ham.  ’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 abstracts and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
  Pol.  My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
  Ham.  God’s bodikins, 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.
  Pol.  Come, sirs.
  Ham.  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?        375
  First Play.  Ay, my lord.
  Ham.  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 Play.  Ay, my lord.
  Ham.  Very well. Follow that lord; and look you mock him not.  [Exit First Player.]  [To ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.]  My good friends, I’ll leave you till night; you are welcome to Elsinore.
  Ros.  Good my lord!  [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.        380
  Ham.  Ay, so, God be wi’ ye! 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        385
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!        390
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,        395
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,        400
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?        405
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?
Ha!
Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be        410
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!        415
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,        420
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        425
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        430
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        435
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.  [Exit.        440
 
 
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