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HAM. Madam, how like you this play?
QUEEN. The lady protests too much, methinks.
HAM. O, but she 'll keep her word.
KING. Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?
HAM. No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' the world.
KING. What do you call the play?
HAM. The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is the Duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o' that? your Majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not let the gall'd jade wince, our withers are unwrung.
This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.
OPHE. You are keen, my Lord, you are keen.
HAM. It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.
a hermit's diet.
Luc. Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time ACT III
Confederate season, else no creature seeing:
Thou Mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
[pours the poison into the sleeper's ears. HAM. He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer
gets the love of Gonzago's wife.
OPHE. The King rises!
HAM. What, frighted with false fire!
POLO. Give o'er the play.
[Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO.
HAM. Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
For some must watch while some must sleep:
Would not this, Sir, and a forest of feathers (if the rest
HORA. Half a share.
HAM. A whole one, I.
HORA. You might have rhym'd.
HAM. O good Horatio, I'll take the Ghost's word for a
thousand pound. Didst perceive?
HORA. Very well, my Lord.
HAM. Upon the talk of the poisoning-
ACT HII HAM. Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders! Sc. II
For if the King like not the comedy,
Why, then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.
Come, some music!
Re-enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
GUILD. Good my Lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.
GUILD. The King, Sir
HAM. Ay, Sir, what of him?
GUILD. Is, in his retirement, marvellous distemper'd.
GUILD. No, my Lord, rather with choler.
HAM. Your wisdom should shew itself more richer to signify this to his doctor: for, for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.
GUILD. Good my Lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.
HAM. I am tame, Sir: pronounce.
GUILD. The Queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.
HAM. You are welcome.
GUILD. Nay; good my Lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment; if not, your pardon and my return shall be the end of my business.
HAM. Sir, I cannot.
GUILD. What, my Lord?
HAM. Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseas'd: but, Sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command; or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: My mother, you sayROSEN. Then thus she says: Your behaviour hath struck her into amazement and admiration.
HAM. O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother!1 But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration? Impart.
1 as who should say-a villain.
ROSEN. She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere ACT III you go to bed.
HAM. We shall obey, were she ten times our mother.
Have you any further trade with us?
ROSEN. My Lord, you once did love me.
HAM. So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.1
you do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if
HAM. Sir, I lack advancement.
ROSEN. How can that be, when you have the voice of
Re-enter Players with recorders.
O, the recorders! let me see one. To withdraw with you :-Why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?
GUILD. O, my Lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is
HAM. I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
GUILD. My Lord, I cannot.
HAM. I pray you.
GUILD. Believe me, I cannot.
HAM. I do beseech you.
GUILD. I know no touch of it, my Lord.
HAM. 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
GUILD. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
HAM. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is
1 An allusion to the Catechism-'to keep my hands from picking and stealing, and my tongue from evil-speaking, lying and slandering.' The tongue that lies swears by the hand that steals. 2 viz. 'While the grass groweth, the horse starveth.'
much music, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be play'd on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret1 me, you cannot play upon me.
God bless you, Sir!
POLO. My Lord, the Queen would speak with you, and presently.
HAM. Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
POLO. By the Mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
HAM. Methinks it is like a weasel.
POLO. It is back'd like a weasel.
HAM. Or like a whale?
POLO. Very like a whale.
HAM. Then will I come to my mother by-and-by. They
fool me to the top of my bent. I will come by-and-by. POLO. I will say so. [Exit POLONIUS. HAM. By-and-by is easily said. Leave me, Friends. [Exeunt all but HAMLET. 'Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn, and Hell itself breathes out Contagion to this World: now could I drink hot blood, And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.
The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom :
Let me be cruel, not unnatural.
I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
SCENE III. The Same. A Room in the Castle.
1 a punning allusion to the frets, or stops, of a guitar.