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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 cue1 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 1,

2

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,

3

A damned 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?
Ha!

Why, I should take it; for it cannot be,
But I am pigeon-livered, 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!4
Why, what an ass am 1! This is most brave;

1 i. e. the hint or prompt word; the word or sign given by the prompter for a player to enter on his part.

2 John-a-dreams, or John-a-droynes, was a common term for any dreaming or droning simpleton. Unpregnant is not quickened or properly impressed with.

3 Defeat here signifies destruction. It was frequently used in the sense of undo or take away by our old writers.

4 Kindless is unnatural.

That I, the son of a dear father murdered,1

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 brains! 2 Humph! I have

heard,

3

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,3
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaimed 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;

4

I'll tent him to the quick; if he do blench,5
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen,
May be a 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

6

More relative than this. The play's the thing, Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. [Exit.

1 The first folio reads thus :

"Oh vengeance!

Who? What an ass am I! I sure this is most brave,

That I the sonne of the Deere murthered.”

The quarto of 1604 omits "Oh vengeance," and reads, "a deere mur thered;" the quarto of 1603, "that I the son of my dear father."

2 “About my brains" is nothing more than "to work, my brains.” Steevens quotes the following from Heywood's Iron Age:

"My brain about again! for thou hast found

New projects now to work on."

3 A number of instances of the kind are collected by Thomas Heywood in his Apology for Actors.

4 To tent was to probe, to search a wound.

5 To blench is to shrink or start. Vide Winter's Tale, Act i. Sc. 2. 6 i. e. more near, more immediately connected. The first quarto reads “I will have sounder proofs."

ACT III.

SCENE I. A Room in the Castle.

Enter King, Queen, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSEN-
CRANTZ, and GUILDENSTERN.

King. And can you, by no drift of conference,'
Get from him why he puts on this confusion;
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

Ros. He does confess, he feels himself distracted
But from what cause he will by no means speak.

1;

Guil. 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.

Did he receive you

Ros. Most like a gentleman.

well?

Guil. But with much forcing of his disposition. Ros. Niggard of question; but, of our demands, Most free in his reply.2

Queen.

To any pastime?

Did you assay him

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players We o'er-raught3 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.

Pol.

"Tis most true;

And he beseeched me to entreat your majesties,

To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content

me

1 Folio-circumstance.

2 "Slow to begin conversation, but free enough in answering our demands."

3 i. e. reached, overtook.

To hear him so inclined.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
Ros. We shall, my lord.

King

[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and Guildenstern.
Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither;
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront1 Ophelia.

Her father and myself (lawful espials 2)

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.

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 honors.

Oph.

Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.

Pol. Ophelia, walk you here.-Gracious, so please

you,

We will bestow 3 ourselves.-Read on this book;

That show of such an exercise may color

[To OPHELIA.

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.

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,

1 i. e. meet, encounter her.

2 "Lawful espials;" that is, lawful spies.

3"Bestow ourselves" is here used for hide or place ourselves. 4 Quarto-lowiiness.

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Than is my deed to my most painted word.

O heavy burden!

[Aside.

Pol. I hear him coming; let's withdraw, my lord. [Exeunt King and POLONIUS.

Enter HAMLET.

Ham. 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 wished. 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,1

Must give us pause. There's the respect,2
That makes calamity of so long life;

3

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,3
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

6

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That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus 5 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 undiscovered country, from whose bourn

1

8

This mortal coil;" that is, "The tumult and bustle of this life."

4

2 i. e. the consideration. This is Shakspeare's most usual sense of the word.

3 Time, for the time, is a very usual expression with our old writers. 4 Folio-" the poor man's contumely."

5 The allusion is to the term quietus est, used in settling accounts at exchequer audits.

6 "Bodkin was the ancient term for a small dagger."

7 Packs, burdens.

8 To grunt appears to have conveyed no vulgar or low image to the ear of our ancestors, as many quotations from the old translations of the classics would show.

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