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To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,
And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason panders will.
O Hamlet, speak no more!
Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.
Nay; but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty-
O, speak to me no more!
These words, like daggers, enter in mine ears:
No more, sweet Hamlet!
A murderer and a villain;
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent Lord; a Vice of Kings;
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,
And put it in his pocket!
HAM. A King of shreds and patches-
1 i.e. be so dull.
Enter the Ghost.
Save me, and hover o'er me with your wings,
You heavenly Guards! What would your gracious
QUEEN. Alas, he's mad!
HAM. Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, laps'd in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command?
GHOST. Do not forget: this visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul!
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works.
Speak to her, Hamlet.
How is it with you, Lady?
QUEEN. Alas, how is 't with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
Start up, and stand on end. O gentle Son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?
HAM. On him, on him! Look you, how pale he
His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears, perchance, for blood.
QUEEN. To whom do you speak this?
Do you see nothing there?
QUEEN. Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.
HAM. Nor did you nothing hear?
HAM. Why, look you there!
No; nothing but ourselves.
look, how it steals
My father, in his habit as he liv'd!
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!
QUEEN. This is the very coinage of your brain:
This bodiless creation ecstasy
My pulse, as your's, doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
That I have utter'd: bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word; which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to Heaven;
Repent what's past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of Vice must pardon beg,
Yea, courb1 and woo for leave to do him good.
QUEEN. O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
HAM. O, throw away the worser part of it,
And live the purer with the other half.
Good night: but go not to mine uncle's bed;
Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
That monster, Custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits Devil, is Angel yet in this,
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery,
That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence; the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either shame the Devil or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good night; 170
And when you are desirous to be blest,
1 bow, flatter.
I'll blessing beg of you. For this same Lord,
[pointing to POLONIUS.
I do repent: but Heaven hath pleas'd it so,
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind.
One word more, good Lady.
What shall I do?
HAM. Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
Let the bloat King tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or paddling in your neck with his damn'd fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out,
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. 'Twere good you let him know;
For who, that's but a Queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,1
Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?
No; in despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house's top,
Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep,
And break your own neck down.
QUEEN. Be thou assur'd, if words be made of breath,
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.
And blow them at the Moon. O, 'tis most sweet
When in one line two crafts directly meet!
This man shall set me packing:
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.
Mother, good night. Indeed, this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, Sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, Mother.
[exeunt severally; HAMLET dragging in POLONIUS.
SCENE I. Elsinore. A Room in the Castle.
Enter the KING, the QUEEN, ROSENCRANTZ, and
KING. There's matter in these sighs: these profound
You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.
Where is your son?
QUEEN. Bestow this place on us a little while.
[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
Ah, my good Lord, what have I seen to-night!
KING. What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
QUEEN. Mad as the Sea and Wind, when both contend
Which is the mightier: in his lawless fit,
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
He whips his rapier out, and cries A rat!
And in this brainish apprehension kills
The unseen good old man.
O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there:
His liberty is full of threats to all;
To you yourself, to us, to every one.
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answer'd?
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrain'd, and out of haunt,'