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thou be a breeder of sinners ? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things, that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck, than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us: Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?

Oph. At home, my lord.

Ham. Let the doors be shut upon him; that he may play the fool no where but in's own house. Farewell.

Oph. O, help him, you sweet heavens !

Ham. If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery; farewell: Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too. Farewell.

Oph. Heavenly powers, restore him!

Ham. I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath given you one face,1 and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.' Go to; I'll no more on't it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married


18 The folio, for paintings, has pratlings; and for face has pace. Too is from the folio.

19 You mistake by wanton affectation, and pretend to mistake by ignorance."

already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go." [Exit.


Oph. O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye, tongue, sword: Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state, The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,21 Th' observ'd of all observers, quite, quite down! And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, That suck'd the honey of his music vows, Now see that noble and most sovereign reason, Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh; That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth, Blasted with ecstacy. 22 O, woe is me! To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

Re-enter the King and POLONIUS.

King. Love! his affections do not that way tend; Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form a little, Was not like madness. There's something in his


O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
And, I do doubt, the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
I have, in quick determination,

Thus set it down: He shall with speed to England,
For the demand of our neglected tribute:

20 Observe this dallying with the inward purpose, characteristic of one who had not brought his mind to the steady acting-point. He would fain sting the uncle's mind ;- but to stab his body! The soliloquy of Ophelia, which follows, is the perfection of love, - so exquisitely unselfish! - COLERIDGE.

21 The model by whom all endeavoured to form themselves. The quartos have expectation instead of expectancy.

22 Ecstacy was often used for insanity or any alienation of mind. See The Tempest, Act iii. sc. 3, note 12.The quartos have stature instead of feature, and "what noble."

oble" for "that


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Haply, the seas, and countries different,
With variable objects, shall expel

This something-settled matter in his heart;
Whereon his brains still beating, puts him thus
From fashion of himself. What think you on't?
Pol. It shall do well but yet do I believe,
The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love. How now, Ophelia !
You need not tell us what lord Hamlet said;
We heard it all. My lord, do as you please;
But, if you hold it fit, after the play
Let his queen mother all alone intreat him



To show his griefs; let her be round with him ;
And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear
Of all their conference. If she find him not,
To England send him; or confine him where
Your wisdom best shall think.


It shall be so: Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.


SCENE II. A Hall in the Same.

Enter HAMLET, and certain Players.

Ham. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do,' I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not

23 To be round with any one, is to be plain-spoken, downright; often so used.


1 Thus the folio and first quarto; the other quartos have our instead of your. — For, “I had as lief the town crier spoke," the first quarto reads, "I had rather hear a town bull bellow.". "This dialogue of Hamlet with the players," says Coleridge, "is one of the happiest instances of Shakespeare's power of diversifying the scene while he is carrying on the plot."


saw the air too much with your hand, thus; but use all gently for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance, that may give it smoothness. O! it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings; who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows, and noise: I would have such a fellow whipp'd for o'er-doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod :3 pray you, avoid




1 Play. I warrant your honour.

Ham. Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature for any thing so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirrour up

2 Our ancient theatres were far from the commodious, elegant structures which later times have seen. The pit was, truly, what its name denotes, an unfloored space in the area of the house, sunk considerably beneath the level of the stage. Hence this part of the audience were called groundlings. Jonson, in the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, calls them "the understanding gentlemen of the ground;" and Shirley, "grave understanders."

3 Termagaunt is the name given in old romances to the tempestuous god of the Saracens. He is usually joined with Mahound or Mahomet. Davenant derives the name from ter magnus. And resolute John Florio calls him "Termigisto, a great boaster, quarreller, killer, tamer or ruler of the universe; the child of the earthquake and of the thunder, the brother of death." Hence this personage was introduced into the old mysteries and moralities as a demon of outrageous and violent demeanour; or, as Bale says, Termagauntes altogether, and very devils incarnate." The murder of the innocents was a favourite subject for a mystery; and wherever Herod is introduced, he plays the part of a vaunting braggart, a tyrant of tyrants, and does indeed outdo Termagant.


to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one must, in your allowance,5 o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O! there be players, that I have seen play,—and heard others praise, and that highly,—not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed, that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.


1 Play. I hope we have reform'd that indifferently with us.

Ham. O! reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them: for there be of them, that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too; though in the mean time some necessary question of the play be then to be considered: that's villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready. [Exeunt Players.

4 Pressure is impression, resemblance.

5 That is, approval, estimation.

6 A friend suggests whether men should not have the before it, or else be them. This would give a very different sense, limiting it from men in general to the particular players in question. Perhaps it may be doubted whether Hamlet means that he had thought the players themselves to be the second-hand workmanship of nature, from their imitating humanity so falsely, or whether he had taken their imitation as true, and so extended his thought of secondhand workmanship over all mankind. However, our best road to what he means, is by what he says, probably. Malone would read them


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