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Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Work like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces; 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,'
Stood challenger on mount of all the
For her perfections.-But my revenge will come.


King. Break not your sleeps for that: you must
That we are made of stuff so flat and dull, [not think,
That we can let our beard be shook with danger,
And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more:
I lov'd your father, and we love ourself;

And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine,—
How now? what news?

Enter a Messenger.

Mess. 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 receiv'd them Of him that brought them.


Laertes, you

Leave us.

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?

'If I may praise what has been, but is now found to be no


• Idcirco stolidam præbet tibi vellere barbam Jupiter. Persius, 2. 28.-STeevens.

Laer. Know you the hand?


"Tis Hamlet's character.

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,

Ay, my lord;

As how should it be so? how otherwise?-
Will you be rul'd by me?


So you will not o'er-rule me to a peace.

King. To thine own peace. If he be now return'd,—

As checking 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;


It falls right.

The rather, if you could devise it so,
That I might be the organ.

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.'

What part is that, my lord?
King. A very ribband 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,
Importing health and graveness.-Two months since,

of the lowest rank; siege, for seat, place.

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,
Come short of what he did.

A Norman, was't?

King. A Norman.
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,"
And for your rapier most especial,
That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed,

If one could match you; the scrimers3 of their nation,
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,


What out of this, my lord? King. Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, A face without a heart?


Why ask you this?

King. Not that I think you did not love your father; But what would you undertake,

'I could not contrive so many proofs of dexterity as he could perform.

a in the science of defence.

3 the fencers.

To show yourself in deed your father's son
More than in words?


To cut his throat i' th' church.
King. No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;
Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
Will you do this, keep close within your chamber:
Hamlet return'd, shall know you are come home:
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence,
And set a double varnish on the fame

The Frenchman gave you; bring you, in fine, together,
And wager o'er your heads: he, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated.' and, in a pass of practice,2
Requite him for your father.

I will do't:
And, for the purpose, I'll anoint my sword.
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal, that but dip a knife in it,

Where it draws blood no cataplasm3 so rare,
Collected from all simples that have virtue

Under the moon, can save the thing from death,
That is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my point
With this contagion; that, if I gall him slightly,
may be death.



Let's further think of this; Weigh, what convenience, both of time and means, May fit us to our shape: if this should fail,


And that our drift look through our bad performance,
'Twere better not assay'd; therefore this project
Should have a back, or second, that might hold,
If this should blasts in proof. Soft;-Ïet me see :—

' not blunted, as foils are by a button fixed to the end.

2 a thrust for exercise.


3 Poultice.

may enable us to assume proper characters, and to act our part.

5 A metaphor taken from the proving of fire-arms, which often blast, or burst, in the proof.

We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings,—

I ha't:

When in your motion you are hot and dry,
(As make
your bouts more violent to that end,)
And that he calls for drink, I'll have preferr'd him
A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,'
Our purpose may hold there.


But stay, what noise?

Enter Queen.

How now, sweet queen ?

Queen. One woe doth tread upon another's heel, So fast they follow:- Your sister's drown'd, Laertes. Laer. Drown'd! O, where?

Queen. There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make

Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies, and herself,
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, a while they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of3 her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indu'd

Unto that element: but long it could not be,
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

Laer. Alas, then, she is drown'd?

Queen. Drown'd, drown'd.

Laer. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears: But yet


the express purpose.

⚫ thrust.

3 insensible to.

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