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we put on a compelled valour; and in the grapple I boarded them on the instant, they got clear of our ship; so I alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy; but they knew what they did; I am to do a good turn for them. Let the king have the letters I have sent; and repair thou to me with as much haste as thou would'st fly death. I have words to speak in thine3 ear, will. make thee dumb; yet are they much too light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England: of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell.

He that thou knowest thine, Hamlet. Come, I will give you way for these your letters; And do't the speedier, that you may direct me To him from whom you brought them.


SCENE VII. Another Room in the same.

Enter King and LAERTES.

King. Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,


you must put me in your heart for friend; Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear, That he, which hath your noble father slain, Pursu'd my life.


It well appears:

-But tell me,

Why you proceeded not against these feats,
So crimeful1 and so capital in nature,

As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else,
You mainly were stirr❜d up.

3 Folio-your.

4 The bore is the caliber of a gun. The matter (says Hamlet) would carry heavier words.

1 Quarto-Criminal. Greatness is omitted in the folio.


O, for two special reasons;

Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd, But yet to me they are strong. The queen, his mother,

Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,
(My virtue, or my plague, be it either which),
She is so conjunctive to my life and soul,
That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
I could not but by her. The other motive,
Why to a publick count I might not go,
Is, the great love the general gender2 bear him :
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces 3; so that my arrows,
Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind *,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
And not where I had aim'd them.


Laer. And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desperate terms;
Whose worth, if praises may go back again 5,
Stood challenger on mount of all the


For her perfections:-But my revenge

will come. King. Break not your sleeps for that: you must not think,

That we are made of stuff so flat and dull,
That we can let our beard be shook with danger 6,

2 i. e. the common race of the people.' We have the general and the million in other places in the same sense.

3. Would, like the spring which turneth wood to stone, convert his fetters into graces:' punishment would only give him more grace in their opinion. The quarto reads work for would. my arrows


Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind.'

'Lighte shaftes cannot stand in a rough wind.'-Ascham's Toxophilus, 1589, p.


5 If praises may go back again.' If I may praise what has been, but is now to be found no more.'


'Idcirco stolidam præbet tibi vellere barbam

Persius, Sat. ii.

And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more:
I loved your father, and we love ourself;
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine,-
7? what news?

How now


Enter a Messenger.

Letters, my lord, from Hamlet :

This to your majesty; this to the queen.

King. From Hamlet! who brought them?

Mess. Sailors, my lord, they say: I saw them not; They were given me by Claudio, he received them Of him that brought them3.

King. Leave us.

Laertes, you shall hear them :[Exit Messenger. [Reads.] High and mighty, you shall know, I am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes: when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return. Hamlet.

What should this mean! Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?

Laer. Know you the hand?


"Tis Hamlet's character. Naked,

And, in a postscript here, he says, alone:

Can you advise me ?

Laer. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come; It warms the very sickness in my heart,

That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,

Thus diddest thou.


If it be so, Laertes,

As how should it be so? how otherwise?—

Will you be rul'd by me?

7 How now is omitted in the quarto: as is letters in the next speech.

8 This hemistich is not in the folio.

Ay, my lord;


So will not o'errule me to a peace9. you

King. To thine own peace. If he be now re-

As checking 10 at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it,—I will work him
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,

Under the which he shall not choose but fall:
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe;
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice,
And call it, accident.


My lord, I will be rul❜d;

The rather, if could devise it so,


That I might be the organ.


It falls right.

You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
Wherein, they say, you shine: your sum of parts
Did not together pluck such envy from him,
As did that one; and that, in my regard,
Of the unworthiest siege 11.


Laer. What part is that, my lord? King. A very riband in the cap of youth, Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes The light and careless livery that it wears, Than settled age his sables and his weeds,

9 First folio omitting Ay, my lord, reads If so you'll not o'errule me to a peace.

10 To check, to hold off, or fly from, as in fear. It is a phrase taken from falconry ::-'For who knows not, quoth she, that this hawk, which comes now so fair to the fist, may to-morrow check at the lure.'-Hinde's Eliosto Libidinoso, 1606.

11 of the unworthiest siege, of the lowest rank: siege for seat

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Importing health and graveness 12.-Two months


Here was a gentleman of Normandy,

I have seen myself, and serv'd against the French,
And they can well on horseback: but this gallant
Had witchcraft in't; he grew unto his seat;
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
As he had been incorps'd and demi-natur'd
With the brave beast: so far he topp'd my thought,
That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks 13,
Come short of what he did.


King. A Norman.


A Norman was't?

Laer. Upon my life, Lamord.


The very same.

Laer. I know him well: he is the brooch, indeed,

And gem of all the nation.

King. He made confession of you;

And gave you such a masterly report,
For art and exercise in your defence 14,
And for your rapier most especial,

That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed,

If one could match you: the scrimers 15 of their

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He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
If you oppos'd them: Sir, this report of his
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy,
That he could nothing do, but wish and beg
Your sudden coming o'er, to play with you.
Now, out of this,-

12 i. e. implying or denoting gravity and attention to health. If

we should not rather read wealth for health.

13 That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks.' That I, in imagining and describing his feats,' &c. 14 Science of defence, i. e. fencing.

15 Scrimers, fencers, from escrimeur, Fr. This unfavourable description of French swordsmen is not in the folio.

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