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And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
King. We will try it.
comes reading. Pol. Away, I do beseech you both away; I'll board him presently. [Exeunt QUEEN and King.
Enter Hamlet, reading.
Ham. Excellent well.
Ham. Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goés, is to be one man pick'd out of ten thousand.
Pol. That's very true, my lord.
Ham. For, if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, kissing carrion,-Have you a daughter?
Pol. I have, my lord.
Ham. Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a blessing; but, as your daughter may conceive,-friend, look toʻt.
Pol. Still harping on my daughter :-yet he knew me not at first; he said, I was a fishmonger. I'll speak to him again.- What do you read, my lord ?
Ham. Words, words, words.
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 yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am, if, like a crah, you could
backward. Pol. Though this be madness, yet there's method
in't. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
Ham. Into my grave.
Pol. Indeed, that's 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 deliver'd 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. Ham. These tedious old fools !
Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Pol. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet: there he is. Ros. Heaven save you, sir! [Exit POLONIUS. Guil. My honour'd lord ! Ros. My most dear lord !
Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye
both? What news? Ros. None, my lord; but that the world's grown
honest. Ham. Then is dooms-day near: But your news is not true.—In the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore? Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you.-Were you not sent for?
Is it your
own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come; deal justly with me: come; nay, speak.
Guil. What should we say, my lord?
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
Ros. To what end, my lord ?
But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth,, by the obligation of our everpreserved 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. What say you? [To GUILDENSTERN.
Ham. 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, foregone all custom of exercise ; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a steril 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 man ! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties ! 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 mè,-nor woman neither; though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
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; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. -What players are they?
Řos. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.
Ham. How chances it, they travel? Their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways. 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. It is not very strange: for my uncle is King of Denmark : and those, that would make mouths at him while my father liv’d, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a piece for his picture in little. There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. . (A Trumpet sounds.
Guil. There are the players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore: your hands : you are welcome :-but my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceiv'd.
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 hand-saw.
Pol.* [Within.j'Well be with you, gentlemen!
--that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.
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 then, indeed.
Ham. My lord, I have knews to tell you.
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
Ham. 0, Jephtha, Judge of Israel,—what a treasure hadst thou !
Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
-One fair daughter and no more,
Pol. If you call me Jephtha, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.
Ham. Nay, that follows not.
Ham. 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 abridgment comes.