by William Shakespeare
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Transcriber's Note: This is a heavily edited version of _Hamlet_. It was used for Charles Kean's 1859 stage production. Phrases printed in italics in the book are indicated in this electronic version by _ (underscore). Footnotes originally appeared at the bottom of each page. For this electronic version the footnotes are collected at the end of each act. In Act I, Scene 5, the word Uumix'd has been changed to Unmix'd. A closing bracket ] was added to Act IV footnote 37 after _Naked on your kingdom_,. A closing bracket ] was added to Act IV footnote 50 after _Venom'd stuck_,. The word o'er-crows appears in Act V, Scene 3; in footnote V.81, o'ercrows appears without a hyphen. Both are as they appear in the book.











Dramatis Personae

CLAUDIUS (King of Denmark) Mr. RYDER.

HAMLET (son to the former and nephew to the present King). Mr. CHARLES KEAN.

POLONIUS (Lord Chamberlain) Mr. MEADOWS.

HORATIO (friend To Hamlet) Mr. GRAHAM.

LAERTES (son To Polonius) Mr. J. F. CATHCART.











GERTRUDE (Queen of Denmark, and mother of Hamlet) Mrs. CHARLES KEAN.

OPHELIA (daughter of Polonius) Miss HEATH.



R. H. means Right Hand; L. H. Left Hand; U. E. Upper Entrance; R. H. C. Enters through the Centre from the Right Hand; L. H. C. Enters through the Centre from the Left Hand.


R. means on the Right side of the Stage; L. on the Left side of the Stage; C. Centre of the Stage; R. C. Right Centre of the Stage; L. C. Left Centre of the Stage.

The reader is supposed to be on the Stage, facing the audience.


The play of Hamlet is above all others the most stupendous monument of Shakespeare's genius, standing as a beacon to command the wonder and admiration of the world, and as a memorial to future generations, that the mind of its author was moved by little less than inspiration. Lear, with its sublime picture of human misery;—Othello, with its harrowing overthrow of a nature great and amiable;—Macbeth, with its fearful murder of a monarch, whose "virtues plead like angels trumpet-tongued against the deep damnation of his taking off,"—severally exhibit, in the most pre-eminent degree, all those mighty elements which constitute the perfection of tragic art—the grand, the pitiful, and the terrible. Hamlet is a history of mind—a tragedy of thought. It contains the deepest philosophy, and most profound wisdom; yet speaks the language of the heart, touching the secret spring of every sense and feeling. Here we have no ideal exaltation of character, but life with its blended faults and virtues,—a gentle nature unstrung by passing events, and thus rendered "out of tune and harsh."

The original story of Hamlet is to be found in the Latin pages of the Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, who died in the year 1208. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the French author, Francis de Belleforest, introduced the fable into a collection of novels, which were translated into English, and printed in a small quarto black letter volume, under the title of the "Historie of Hamblett," from which source Shakespeare constructed the present tragedy.

Saxo has placed his history about 200 years before Christianity, when barbarians, clothed in skins, peopled the shores of the Baltic. The poet, however, has so far modernised the subject as to make Hamlet a Christian, and England tributary to the "sovereign majesty of Denmark." A date can therefore be easily fixed, and the costume of the tenth and eleventh centuries may be selected for the purpose. There are but few authentic records in existence, but these few afford reason to believe that very slight difference existed between the dress of the Dane and that of the Anglo-Saxon of the same period.

Since its first representation, upwards of two centuries and a half ago, no play has been acted so frequently, or commanded such universal admiration. It draws within the sphere of its attraction both the scholastic and the unlearned. It finds a response in every breast, however high or however humble. By its colossal aid it exalts the drama of England above that of every nation, past or present. It is, indeed, the most marvellous creation of human intellect.






FRANCISCO on his post. Enter to him BERNARDO (L.H.)

Ber. Who's there?

Fran. (R.) Nay, answer me:[1] stand, and unfold[2] yourself.

Ber. Long live the king![3]

Fran. Bernardo?

Ber. He.

Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour.

Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.

Fran. For this relief much thanks:

[Crosses to L.]

'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.

Ber. Have you had quiet guard?

Fran. Not a mouse stirring.

Ber. Well, good night. If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch,[4] bid them make haste.

Fran. I think I hear them.—Stand, ho! Who's there?

Hor. Friends to this ground.

Mar. And liegemen to the Dane.[5]


Fran. Give you good night.

Mar. O, farewell, honest soldier: Who hath reliev'd you?

Fran. Bernardo hath my place. Give you good night.


Mar. Holloa! Bernardo!

Ber. Say, What, is Horatio there?

Hor. (Crosses to C.) A piece of him.[6]

Ber. (R.) Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus.

Hor. What, has this thing appear'd again to-night?

Ber. I have seen nothing.

Mar. (L.) Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy, And will not let belief take hold of him, Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us: Therefore I have entreated him, along With us, to watch the minutes of this night;[7] That, if again this apparition come, He may approve our eyes,[8] and speak to it.

Hor. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.

Ber. Come, let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story, What we two nights have seen.[9]

Hor. Well, let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

Ber. Last night of all, When yon same star that's westward from the pole Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself, The bell then beating one—

Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

Enter Ghost (L.H.)

Ber. In the same figure, like the king that's dead.

Hor. Most like:—it harrows me with fear and wonder.[10]

Ber. It would be spoke to.

Mar. Speak to it, Horatio.

Hor. What art thou, that usurp'st this time of night,[11] Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee, speak!

Mar. It is offended.

[Ghost crosses to R.]

Ber. See! it stalks away!

Hor. Stay!—speak!—speak, I charge thee, speak!

[Exit Ghost, R.H.]

Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.

Ber. How now, Horatio! You tremble, and look pale: Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you of it?

Hor. Before heaven, I might not this believe, Without the sensible and true avouch[12] Of mine own eyes.

Mar. Is it not like the king?

Hor. As thou art to thyself: Such was the very armour he had on, When he the ambitious Norway combated.

Mar. Thus, twice before, and jump at this dead hour,[13] With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

Hor. In what particular thought to work,[14] I know not; But in the gross and scope[15] of mine opinion, This bodes some strange eruption to our state.[16] In the most high and palmy[17] state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

Re-enter Ghost (R.H.)

But, (L.C.) soft, behold! lo, where it comes again! I'll cross it, though it blast me.

[HORATIO crosses in front of the Ghost to R. Ghost crosses to L.]

Stay, illusion! If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,[18] Speak to me: If there be any good thing to be done, That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, Speak to me: If thou art privy to thy country's fate, Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, O, speak! O, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,[19] For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death, Speak of it:—stay, and speak!

[Exit Ghost, L.H.]

Mar. 'Tis gone! We do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence.

Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing Upon a fearful summons.[20] I have heard, The cock, that is the trumpet of the morn, Doth with his lofty[21] and shrill-sounding throat Awake the god of day; and, at his warning, Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, The extravagant and erring spirit[22] hies To his confine. But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill: Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.

[Exeunt, L.H.]


Trumpet March.

Enter the KING and QUEEN, preceded by POLONIUS, HAMLET, LAERTES,[23] Lords, Ladies, and Attendants.

King. (R.C.) Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green;[24] and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe; Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature, That we with wisest sorrow[25] think on him, Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, The imperial jointress of this warlike state, Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,[26] Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd[27] Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone With this affair along:—For all, our thanks. And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? You told us of some suit; What is't, Laertes?

Laer. (R.) My dread lord, Your leave and favour[28] to return to France; From whence though willingly I came to Denmark, To show my duty in your coronation, Yet now, I must confess, that duty done, My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France, And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.

King. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonious?

Pol. (R.) He hath, my lord, (wrung from me my slow leave By laboursome petition; and, at last, Upon his will I sealed my hard consent):[29] I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine, And thy best graces spend it at thy will![30] But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,——

Ham. (L.) A little more than kin, and less than kind.[31]


King. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

Ham. Not so, my lord; I am too much i'the sun.[32]

Queen.(L.C.) Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour[33] off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not for ever with thy vailed lids[34] Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know'st 'tis common, all that live must die, Passing through nature to eternity.

Ham. Ay, madam, it is common.

Queen. If it be, Why seems it so particular with thee?

Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems. 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor the dejected haviour of the visage, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief, That can denote me truly: These, indeed, seem, For they are actions that a man might play. But I have that within which passeth show;[35] These but the trappings[36] and the suits of woe.

King. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father: But, you must know, your father lost a father; That father lost, lost his;[37] and the survivor bound, In filial obligation, for some term To do obsequious sorrow:[38] But to persever[39] In obstinate condolement,[40] is a course Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief: It shows a will most incorrect to Heaven.[41] We pray you, throw to earth This unprevailing[42] woe; and think of us As of a father: for let the world take note, You are the most immediate to our throne; Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

Queen. Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet: I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.

Ham. I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

King. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply; Be as ourself in Denmark.—Madam, come; This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet Sits smiling to my heart:[43] in grace whereof,[44] No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,[45] But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell; Re-speaking earthly thunder.

[Trumpet March repeated. Exeunt KING and QUEEN, preceded by POLONIUS, Lords, Ladies, LAERTES, and Attendants, R.H.]

Ham. O, that this too, too solid flesh would melt, Thaw, and resolve itself[46] into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon[47] 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world![48] Fye on't! O fye! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely.[49] That it should come to this! But two months dead!—nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr:[50] so loving to my mother, That he might not beteem[51] the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: And yet, within a month,— Let me not think on't,—Frailty, thy name is Woman!— A little month; or ere those shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears;—she married with my uncle, My father's brother; but no more like my father Than I to Hercules. It is not, nor it cannot come to, good: But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue!


Hor. Hail to your lordship!

Ham. I am glad to see you well: Horatio,—or I do forget myself.

Hor. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

Ham. Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:[52] And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?— Marcellus?

[Crosses to C.]

Mar. (R.) My good lord,

Ham. (C.) I am very glad to see you; good even, sir.


But what, in faith,[53] make you[54] from Wittenberg?[55]

Hor. (L.) A truant disposition, good my lord.

Ham. I would not hear your enemy say so; Nor shall you do mine ear that violence, To make it truster of your own report Against yourself: I know you are no truant. But what is your affair in Elsinore? We'll teach you to drink deep, ere you depart.

Hor. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

Ham. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student; I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

Hor. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

Ham. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral bak'd meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. Would I had met my dearest foe[56] in Heaven Ere ever I had seen that day, Horatio! My father,—Methinks, I see my father.

Hor. Where, My lord?

Ham. In my mind's eye, Horatio.

Hor. I saw him once; he was a goodly king.[57]

Ham. He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.

[Crosses to L.]

Hor. (C.) My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.

Ham. Saw who?

Hor. My lord, the king your father.

Ham. The king my father!

Hor. Season your admiration for a while[58] With an attent ear; till I may deliver, Upon the witness of these gentlemen, This marvel to you.

Ham. For Heaven's love, let me hear.

Hor. Two nights together had these gentlemen, Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch, In the dead waste and middle of the night,[59] Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father, Arm'd at all points exactly, cap-a-pe, Appears before them, and, with solemn march Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk'd By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes, Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distill'd Almost to jelly with the act of fear,[60] Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me In dreadful secrecy impart they did; And I with them the third night kept the watch: Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time, Form of the thing, each word made true and good, The apparition comes.

Ham. But where was this?

[Crosses to MARCELLUS.]

Mar. (R.) My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.

Ham. (C.) Did you not speak to it?

Hor. (L.) My lord, I did; But answer made it none: yet once methought It lifted up its head, and did address[61] Itself to motion, like as it would speak: But, even then, the morning cock crew loud, And at the sound it shrunk in haste away; And vanish'd from our sight.

Ham. 'Tis very strange.

Hor. As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true; And we did think it writ down[62] in our duty To let you know of it.

Ham. Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me. Hold you the watch to-night?

Mar. We do, my lord.

Ham. Arm'd, say you?

Mar. Arm'd, my lord.

Ham. From top to toe?

Mar. My lord, from head to foot.

Ham. Then saw you not His face?

Hor. O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.[63]

Ham. What, looked he frowningly?

Hor. A countenance more In sorrow than in anger.

Ham. Pale or red?

Hor. Nay, very pale.

Ham. And fix'd his eyes upon you?

Hor. Most constantly.

Ham. I would I had been there.

Hor. It would have much amaz'd you.

Ham. Very like, Very like. Stay'd it long?

Hor. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

Mar.} } Longer, Longer. Ber.}

Hor. Not when I saw it.

Ham. His beard was grizzl'd, No?

Hor. It was, as I have seen it in his life, A sable silver'd.

Ham. I will watch to-night; Perchance, 'twill walk again.

Hor. (C.) I warrant it will.

Ham. If it assume my noble father's person, I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape, And bid me hold my peace.

[Crosses to L.] I pray you all, If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight, Let it be tenable[64] in your silence still; And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, Give it an understanding, but no tongue; I will requite your loves. So, fare you well: Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve, I'll visit you.

Hor. (R.) Our duty to your honour.

Ham. Your loves, as mine to you: Farewell.


My father's spirit in arms! all is not well; I doubt some foul play: 'would the night were come; Till then sit still, my soul: Foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes. [Exit, L.H.]



Laer. (L.C.) My necessaries are embarked: farewell: And, sister, as the winds give benefit,[65] Let me hear from you.

Oph. (R.C.) Do you doubt that?

Laer. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,[66] Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood; A violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, The perfume and suppliance of a minute.[67]

Oph. No more but so?

Laer. He may not, as unvalued persons do, Carve for himself; for on his choice depends The safety and the health of the whole state. Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain, If with too credent ear you list his songs. Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister; And keep within the rear of your affection,[68] Out of the shot and danger of desire. The chariest maid[69] is prodigal enough, If she unmask her beauty to the moon: Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes: Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear: Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

Oph. I shall the effect of this good lesson keep, As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven Whilst, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,[70] Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, And recks not his own read.[71]

Laer. O, fear me not. I stay too long;—but here my father comes.


Pol. Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,[72] And you are staid for. There,—my blessing with you!

[Laying his hand on LAERTES' head.]

And these few precepts in thy memory— Look thou character.[73] Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought[74] his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar. The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in, Bear it, that the opposer may beware of thee. Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice: Take each man's censure,[75] but reserve thy judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy: For the apparel oft proclaims the man; And they in France of the best rank and station Are most select and generous, chief in that.[76] Neither a borrower nor a lender be: For loan oft loses both itself and friend; And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.[77] This above all,—To thine ownself be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell; my blessing season this in thee![78]

Laer. Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

[Crosses to L.]

Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well What I have said to you.

Oph. (Crosses to LAERTES.) 'Tis in my memory lock'd, And you yourself shall keep the key of it.[79]

Laer. Farewell.

[Exit LAERTES, L.H.]

Pol. What is it, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

Oph. So please you, something touching the lord Hamlet.

Pol. Marry, well bethought: 'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late Given private time to you;[80] and you yourself Have of your audience been most free and bounteous: If it be so (as so 'tis put on me,[81] And that in way of caution), I must tell you, You do not understand yourself so clearly As it behoves my daughter, and your honour. What is between[82] you? give me up the truth.

Oph. He hath, my lord, of late, made many tenders Of his affection to me.

Pol. Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl, Unsifted[83] in such perilous circumstance. Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Oph. I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Pol. Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby; That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay, Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly; Or, you'll tender me a fool.

Oph. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love In honourable fashion.

Pol. Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.

Oph. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

Pol. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks.[84] I do know, When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul Lends the tongue vows: This is for all,— I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, Have you so slander any leisure moment,[85] As to give words or talk with the lord Hamlet. Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.

Oph. I shall obey, my lord.

[Exeunt, R.H.]



Ham. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

Hor. It is a nipping and an eager air.[86]

Ham. What hour now?

Hor. I think it lacks of twelve.

Mar. No, it is struck.

Hor. (R.C.) Indeed? I heard it not: then it draws near the season, Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

[A Flourish of Trumpets, and Ordnance shot off without.]

What does this mean, my lord?

Ham. (L.C.) The king doth wake to-night,[87] and takes his rouse,[88] And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down, The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out The triumph of his pledge.

Hor. Is it a custom?

Ham. Ay, marry, is't:

[Crosses to HORATIO.]

But to my mind,—though I am native here, And to the manner born,—it is a custom More honour'd in the breach than the observance.

Enter Ghost (L.H.)

Hor. (R.H.) Look, my lord, it comes!

Ham. (C.) Angels and ministers of grace defend us!— Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, Be thy intents wicked or charitable, Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,[89] That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee—Hamlet, King, father: Royal Dane: O, answer me! Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell Why thy canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,[90] Have burst their cerements;[91] why the sepulchre, Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd, Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws, To cast thee up again! What may this mean, That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel, Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon, Making night hideous; and we fools of nature[92] So horridly to shake our disposition[93] With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls? Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?

[Ghost beckons.]

Hor. It beckons you to go away with it, As if it some impartment did desire To you alone.

[Ghost beckons again.]

Mar. Look, with what courteous action It waves you to a more removed ground:[94] But do not go with it.

Hor. No, by no means.

Ham. It will not speak; then I will follow it.

Hor. Do not, my lord.

Ham. Why, what should be the fear? I do not set my life at a pin's fee;[95] And for my soul, what can it do to that, Being a thing immortal as itself?

[Ghost beckons.]

It waves me forth again;—I'll follow it.

Hor. What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,[96] Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff That beetles o'er his base into the sea,[97] And there assume some other horrible form, And draw you into madness?

[Ghost beckons.]

Ham. It waves me still.— Go on; I'll follow thee.

Mar. You shall not go, my lord.

Ham. Hold off your hands.

Hor. Be rul'd; you shall not go.

Ham. My fate cries out, And makes each petty artery in this body As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.[98]

[Ghost beckons]

Still am I call'd:—unhand me, gentlemen;

[Breaking from them.]

By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me:—[99] I say, away!—Go on; I'll follow thee.

[Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET, L.H., followed at a distance by HORATIO and MARCELLUS.]


Re-enter Ghost and HAMLET (L.H.U.E.)

Ham. (R.) Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak; I'll go no further.

Ghost. (L.) Mark me.

Ham. I will.

Ghost. My hour is almost come, When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames Must render up myself.

Ham. Alas, poor ghost!

Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold.

Ham. Speak; I am bound to hear.

Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

Ham. What?

Ghost. I am thy father's spirit; Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night, And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,[100] Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison-house, I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul;[101] freeze thy young blood; Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres; Thy knotted and combined locks to part, And each particular hair to stand on end,[102] Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:[103] But this eternal blazon[104] must not be To ears of flesh and blood.—List, list, O, list!— If thou didst ever thy dear father love,——

Ham. O Heaven!

Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

Ham. Murder!

Ghost. Murder most foul, as in the best it is; But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.

Ham. Haste me to know it, that I, with wings as swift As meditation or the thoughts of love, May sweep to my revenge.

Ghost. I find thee apt; And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,[105] Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear: 'Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,[106] A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forged process[107] of my death Rankly abus'd: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father's life Now wears his crown.

Ham. O, my prophetic soul! my uncle!

Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, Won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming virtuous queen: O, Hamlet, what a falling-off was there! From me, whose love was of that dignity, That it went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage; and to decline Upon a wretch,[108] whose natural gifts were poor To those of mine! But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air; Brief let me be.—Sleeping within mine orchard, My custom always in the afternoon, Upon my secure[109] hour thy uncle stole, With juice of cursed hebenon[110] in a vial, And in the porches of mine ears did pour The leperous distilment; whose effect Holds such an enmity with blood of man, That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through The natural gates and alleys of the body; So did it mine; Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand Of life, of crown, of queen, at once despatch'd:[111] Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd;[112] No reckoning made, but sent to my account With all my imperfections on my head.

Ham. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not; Let not the royal bed of Denmark be A couch for luxury[113] and damned incest. But, howsoever thou pursu'st this act, Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive Against thy mother aught: leave her to Heaven, And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once! The glow-worm shows the matin to be near, And 'gins to pale his ineffectual fire:[114] Adieu, adieu, adieu! remember me.

[Exit, L.H.]

Ham. Hold, hold, my heart; And you, my sinews, grow not instant old, But bear me stiffly up.—Remember thee! Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat In this distracted globe.[115] Remember thee! Yea, from the table of my memory I'll wipe away all forms, all pressures past,[116] And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven, I have sworn't.

Hor. (Without.) My lord, my lord,——

Mar. (Without.) Lord Hamlet,——

Hor. (Without.) Heaven secure him!

Ham. So be it!

Mar. (Without.) Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

Ham. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come.[117]


Mar. (R.) How is't, my noble lord?

Hor. (L.) What news, my lord?

Ham. (C.) O, wonderful!

Hor. Good my lord, tell it.

Ham. No; You will reveal it.

Hor. Not I, my lord, by heaven.

Mar. Nor I, my lord.

Ham. How say you, then; would heart of man once think it? But you'll be secret?—

Hor.} } Ay, by heaven, my lord. Mar.}

Ham. There's ne'er a villain, dwelling in all Denmark— But he's an arrant knave.[118]

Hor. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave To tell us this.

Ham. Why, right; you are in the right; And so, without more circumstance at all, I hold it fit that we shake hands, and part: You as your business and desire shall point you, For every man hath business and desire, Such as it is;—and, for my own poor part, Look you, I will go pray.

Hor. These are but wild and whirling words,[119] my lord.

Ham. I am sorry they offend you, heartily.

Hor. There's no offence, my lord.

Ham. Yes, by Saint Patrick,[120] but there is, Horatio, And much offence, too. Touching this vision here, It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you: For your desire to know what is between us, O'er-master it[121] as you may. And now, good friends, As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers, Give me one poor request.

Hor. What is't, my lord? We will.

Ham. Never make known what you have seen to-night.

Hor.} } My lord, we will not. Mar.}

Ham. Nay, but swear't.

Hor. Propose the oath, my lord.

Ham. Never to speak of this that you have seen. Swear by my sword.

[HORATIO and MARCELLUS place each their right hand on HAMLET'S sword.]

Ghost. (Beneath.) Swear.

Hor. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

Ham. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.[122] There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come;— Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself, As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet To put an antick disposition[123] on,— That you, at such times seeing me, never shall, With arms encumber'd thus,[124] or this head-shake, Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase, As, Well, we know; or, We could, an if we would; or, If we list to speak;—or, There be, an if they might;— Or such ambiguous giving out, to note That you know aught of me:—This do you swear, So grace and mercy at your most need help you!

[HORATIO and MARCELLUS again place their hands on HAMLET'S sword.]

Ghost. (Beneath.) Swear.

Ham. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So gentlemen, With all my love I do commend me to you: And what so poor a man as Hamlet is May do, to express his love and friending to you, Heaven willing, shall not lack.[125] Let us go in together;

[Crosses to L.]

And still your fingers on your lips, I pray. The time is out of joint;—O cursed spite, That ever I was born to set it right! Nay, come, let's go together.

[Exeunt L.H.]



Act I

[Footnote I.1: Me:] i.e., me who am already on the watch, and have a right to demand the watch-word.]

[Footnote I.2: Unfold] Announce, make known.]

[Footnote I.3: Long live the King.] The watch-word.]

[Footnote I.4: The rivals of my watch,] Rivals, for partners or associates.]

[Footnote I.5: And liegemen to the Dane.] i.e., owing allegiance to Denmark.]

[Footnote I.6: A piece of him.] Probably a cant expression.]

[Footnote I.7: To watch the minutes of this night; This seems to have been an expression common in Shakespeare's time.]

[Footnote I.8: Approve our eyes,] To approve, in Shakespeare's age, signified to make good or establish.]

[Footnote I.9: What we have seen.] We must here supply "with," or "by relating" before "what we have seen."]

[Footnote I.10: It harrows me with fear and wonder.] i.e., it confounds and overwhelms me.]

[Footnote I.11: Usurp'st this time of night,] i.e., abuses, uses against right, and the order of things.]

[Footnote I.12: I might not this believe, &c.] I could not: it had not been permitted me, &c., without the full and perfect evidence, &c.]

[Footnote I.13: Jump at this dead hour,] Jump and just were synonymous in Shakespeare's time.]

[Footnote I.14: In what particular thought to work,] In what particular course to set my thoughts at work: in what particular train to direct the mind and exercise it in conjecture.]

[Footnote I.15: Gross and scope] Upon the whole, and in a general view.]

[Footnote I.16: Bodes some strange eruption to our state,] i.e., some political distemper, which will break out in dangerous consequences.]

[Footnote I.17: Palmy state] Outspread, flourishing. Palm branches were the emblem of victory.]

[Footnote I.18: Sound, or use of voice,] Articulation.]

[Footnote I.19:

Uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,]

So in Decker's Knight's Conjuring, &c. "If any of them had bound the spirit of gold by any charmes in cares, or in iron fetters, under the ground, they should, for their own soule's quiet (which, questionless, else would whine up and down,) not for the good of their children, release it."]

[Footnote I.20:

And then it started like a guilty thing Upon a fearful summons.]

Apparitions were supposed to fly from the crowing of the cock, because it indicated the approach of day.]

[Footnote I.21: Lofty] High and loud.]

[Footnote I.22: The extravagant and erring spirit] Extravagant is, got out of his bounds. Erring is here used in the sense of wandering.]

[Footnote I.23: Laertes is unknown in the original story, being an introduction of Shakespeare's.]

[Footnote I.24: Green;] Fresh.]

[Footnote I.25: Wisest sorrow] Sober grief, passion discreetly reined.]

[Footnote I.26: With a defeated joy,] i.e., with joy baffled; with joy interrupted by grief.]

[Footnote I.27: Barr'd] Excluded—acted without the concurrence of.]

[Footnote I.28: Your leave and favour] The favour of your leave granted, the kind permission. Two substantives with a copulative being here, as is the frequent practice of our author, used for an adjective and substantive: an adjective sense is given to a substantive.]

[Footnote I.29: Upon his will I sealed my hard consent:] At or upon his earnest and importunate suit, I gave my full and final, though hardly obtained and reluctant, consent.]

[Footnote I.30:

Take thy fair hour! time be thine; And thy best graces spend it at thy will!]

Catch the auspicious moment! be time thine own! and may the exercise of thy fairest virtue fill up those hours, that are wholly at your command!]

[Footnote I.31: A little more than kin, and less than kind.] Dr. Johnson says that kind is the Teutonic word for child. Hamlet, therefore, answers to the titles of cousin and son, which the king had given him, that he was somewhat more than cousin, and less than son. Steevens remarks, that it seems to have been another proverbial phrase: "The nearer we are in blood, the further we must be from love; the greater the kindred is, the less the kindness must be." Kin is still used in the Midland Counties for cousin, and kind signifies nature. Hamlet may, therefore, mean that the relationship between them had become unnatural.]

[Footnote I.32: I am too much i'the sun.] Meaning, probably, his being sent for from his studies to be exposed at his uncle's marriage as his chiefest courtier, and being thereby placed too much in the radiance of the king's presence; or, perhaps, an allusion to the proverb, "Out of Heaven's blessing, into the warm sun:" but it is not unlikely that a quibble is meant between son and sun.]

[Footnote I.33: Nighted colour] Black—night-like.]

[Footnote I.34: Vailed lids] Cast down.]

[Footnote I.35: Which passeth show;] i.e., "external manners of lament."]

[Footnote I.36: Trappings] Trappings are "furnishings."]

[Footnote I.37: That father lost, lost his;] "That lost father (of your father, i.e., your grandfather), or father so lost, lost his.]"

[Footnote I.38: Do obsequious sorrow:] Follow with becoming and ceremonious observance the memory of the deceased.]

[Footnote I.39: But to persever] This word was anciently accented on the second syllable.]

[Footnote I.40: Obstinate condolement,] Ceaseless and unremitted expression of grief.]

[Footnote I.41: Incorrect to Heaven.] Contumacious towards Heaven.]

[Footnote I.42: Unprevailing] Fruitless, unprofitable.]

[Footnote I.43: Sits smiling to my heart:] To is at: gladdens my heart.]

[Footnote I.44: In grace whereof,] i.e., respectful regard or honour of which.]

[Footnote I.45: No jocund health, that Denmark drinks to-day,] Dr. Johnson remarks, that the king's intemperance is very strongly impressed; everything that happens to him gives him occasion to drink. The Danes were supposed to be hard drinkers.]

[Footnote I.46: Resolve itself] To resolve is an old word signifying to dissolve.]

[Footnote I.47: His canon] i.e., his rule or law].

[Footnote I.48: The uses of this world!] i.e., the habitudes and usages of life.]

[Footnote I.49: Merely.] Wholly—entirely.]

[Footnote I.50: Hyperion to a satyr:] An allusion to the exquisite beauty of Apollo, compared with the deformity of a satyr; that satyr, perhaps, being Pan, the brother of Apollo. Our great poet is here guilty of a false quantity, by calling Hyperi'on, Hype'rion, a mistake not unusual among our English poets.]

[Footnote I.51: Might not beteem] i.e., might not allow, permit.]

[Footnote I.52: I'll change that name with you.] i.e., do not call yourself my servant, you are my friend; so I shall call you, and so I would have you call me.]

[Footnote I.53: In faith.] Faithfully, in pure and simple verity.]

[Footnote I.54: But what make you] What is your object? What are you doing?]

[Footnote I.55: What, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?] In Shakespeare's time there was a university at Wittenberg; but as it was not founded till 1502, it consequently did not exist in the time to which this play refers.]

[Footnote I.56: My dearest foe] i.e., my direst or most important foe. This epithet was commonly used to denote the strongest and liveliest interest in any thing or person, for or against.]

[Footnote I.57: Goodly king.] i.e., a good king.]

[Footnote I.58:

Season your admiration for a while with an attent ear;]

i.e., suppress your astonishment for a short time, that you may be the better able to give your attention to what we will relate.]

[Footnote I.59: In the dead waste and middle of the night,] i.e., in the dark and desolate vast, or vacant space and middle of the night. It was supposed that spirits had permission to range the earth by night alone.]

[Footnote I.60: With the act of fear,] i.e., by the influence or power of fear.]

[Footnote I.61: Address] i.e., make ready.]

[Footnote I.62: Writ down] Prescribed by our own duty.]

[Footnote I.63: He wore his beaver up.] That part of the helmet which may be lifted up, to take breath the more freely.]

[Footnote I.64: Tenable] i.e., strictly maintained.]

[Footnote I.65: Benefit,] Favourable means.]

[Footnote I.66: Trifling of his favour,] Gay and thoughtless intimation.]

[Footnote I.67: Perfume and suppliance of a minute.] i.e., an amusement to fill up a vacant moment, and render it agreeable.]

[Footnote I.68: Keep within the rear of your affection,] Front not the peril; withdraw or check every warm emotion: advance not so far as your affection would lead you.]

[Footnote I.69: The chariest maid] Chary is cautious.]

[Footnote I.70: Puff'd and reckless libertine.] Bloated and swollen, the effect of excess; and heedless and indifferent to consequences.]

[Footnote I.71: Recks not his own read.] i.e., heeds not his own lessons or counsel.]

[Footnote I.72: Shoulder of your sail,] A common sea phrase.]

[Footnote I.73: Look thou character.] i.e., a word often used by Shakespeare to signify to write, strongly infix; the accent is on the second syllable.]

[Footnote I.74: Unproportion'd thought] Irregular, disorderly thought.]

[Footnote I.75: Each man's censure,] Sentiment, opinion.]

[Footnote I.76: Chief in that.] i.e., chiefly in that.]

[Footnote I.77: Husbandry] i.e., thrift, economical prudence.]

[Footnote I.78: Season this in thee!] i.e., infix it in such a manner as that it may never wear out.]

[Footnote I.79: Yourself shall keep the key of it.] Thence it shall not be dismissed, till you think it needless to retain it.]

[Footnote I.80: Given private time to you;] Spent his time in private visits to you.]

[Footnote I.81: As so 'tis put on me,] Suggested to, impressed on me.]

[Footnote I.82: Is between] i.e., what has passed—what intercourse had.]

[Footnote I.83: Green girl, Unsifted] i.e., inexperienced girl. Unsifted means one who has not nicely canvassed and examined the peril of her situation.]

[Footnote I.84: Woodcocks.] Witless things.]

[Footnote I.85: Slander any leisure moment,] i.e., I would not have you so disgrace your most idle moments, as not to find better employment for them than lord Hamlet's conversation.]

[Footnote I.86: An eager air.] Eager here means sharp, from aigre, French.]

[Footnote I.87: Doth wake to-night,] i.e., holds a late revel.]

[Footnote I.88: Takes his rouse,] Rouse means drinking bout, carousal.]

[Footnote I.89: Questionable shape,] To question, in our author's time, signified to converse. Questionable, therefore, means capable of being conversed with.]

[Footnote I.90: Hearsed in death,] Deposited with the accustomed funeral rites.]

[Footnote I.91: Cerements;] Those precautions usually adopted in preparing dead bodies for sepulture.]

[Footnote I.92: Fools of nature] i.e., making sport for nature.]

[Footnote I.93: Disposition] Frame of mind and body.]

[Footnote I.94: Removed ground:] Removed for remote.]

[Footnote I.95: At a pin's fee;] i.e., the value of a pin.]

[Footnote I.96: What if it tempt you toward the flood, &c.] Malignant spirits were supposed to entice their victims into places of gloom and peril, and exciting in them the deepest terror.]

[Footnote I.97: Beetles o'er his base into the sea,] i.e., projects darkly over the sea.]

[Footnote I.98: Nemean lion's nerve.] Shakespeare, and nearly all the poets of his time, disregarded the quantity of Latin names. The poet has here placed the accent on the first syllable, instead of the second.]

[Footnote I.99: That lets me:] To let, in the sense in which it is here used, means to hinder—to obstruct—to oppose. The word is derived from the Saxon.]

[Footnote I.100: To fast in fires,] Chaucer has a similar passage with regard to eternal punishment—"And moreover the misery of Hell shall be in default of meat and drink."]

[Footnote I.101: Harrow up thy soul;] Agitate and convulse.]

[Footnote I.102: Hair to stand on end,] A common image of that day.

"Standing as frighted with erected haire."]

[Footnote I.103: The fretful porcupine:] This animal being considered irascible and timid.]

[Footnote I.104: Eternal blazon] i.e., publication or divulgation of things eternal.]

[Footnote I.105: Rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,] i.e., in indolence and sluggishness, by its torpid habits contributes to that morbid state of its juices which may figuratively be denominated rottenness.]

[Footnote I.106: Orchard,] Garden.]

[Footnote I.107: Forged process] i.e., false report of proceedings.]

[Footnote I.108: Decline upon a wretch.] Stoop with degradation to.]

[Footnote I.109: Secure] Unguarded.]

[Footnote I.110: Hebenon] Hebenon is described by Nares in his Glossary, as the juice of ebony, supposed to be a deadly poison.]

[Footnote I.111: Despatch'd:] Despoiled—bereft.]

[Footnote I.112: Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd;] To housel is to minister the sacrament to one lying on his death bed. Disappointed is the same as unappointed, which here means unprepared. Unanel'd is without extreme unction.]

[Footnote I.113: Luxury] Lasciviousness.]

[Footnote I.114: Pale his uneffectual fire:] i.e., not seen by the light of day; or it may mean, shining without heat.]

[Footnote I.115: In this distracted globe.] i.e., his head distracted with thought.]

[Footnote I.116: Pressures past,] Impressions heretofore made.]

[Footnote I.117: Come, bird, come.] This is the call which falconers used to their hawk in the air when they would have him come down to them.]

[Footnote I.118:

There's ne'er a villain dwelling in all Denmark— But he's an arrant knave.]

Hamlet probably begins these words in the ardour of confidence and sincerity; but suddenly alarmed at the magnitude of the disclosure he was going to make, and considering that, not his friend Horatio only, but another person was present, he breaks off suddenly:—"There's ne'er a villain in all Denmark that can match (perhaps he would have said) my uncle in villainy; but recollecting the danger of such a declaration, he pauses for a moment, and then abruptly concludes:—"but he's an arrant knave."]

[Footnote I.119: Whirling words,] Random words thrown out with no specific aim.]

[Footnote I.120: By Saint Patrick,] At this time all the whole northern world had their learning from Ireland; to which place it had retired, and there flourished under the auspices of this Saint.]

[Footnote I.121: O'er-master it] Get the better of it.]

[Footnote I.122: Give it welcome.] Receive it courteously, as you would a stranger when introduced.]

[Footnote I.123: Antick disposition] i.e., strange, foreign to my nature, a disposition which Hamlet assumes as a protection against the danger which he apprehends from his uncle, and as a cloak for the concealment of his own meditated designs.]

[Footnote I.124: Arms encumber'd thus,] i.e., folded.]

[Footnote I.125: Friending to you—shall not lack] Disposition to serve you shall not be wanting.]



Enter POLONIUS[1] (L.H.), meeting Ophelia. (R.H.)

Pol. How now, Ophelia! What's the matter?

Oph. O, my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!

Pol. With what, in the name of Heaven?

Oph. My lord, as I was sewing in my closet, Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac'd; Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other, And with a look so piteous in purport, He comes before me.

Pol. Mad for thy love?

Oph. My lord, I do not know; But, truly, I do fear it.

Pol. What said he?

Oph. He took me by the wrist, and held me hard; Then goes he to the length of all his arm; And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow, He falls to such perusal of my face As he would draw it. Long staid he so; At last,—a little shaking of mine arm, And thrice his head thus waving up and down, He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound, As it did seem to shatter all his bulk,[2] And end his being: That done, he lets me go: And, with his head over his shoulder turn'd, He seem'd to find his way without his eyes; For out o'doors he went without their helps, And, to the last, bended their light on me.

Pol. Come, go with me; I will go seek the king. This is the very ecstacy of love;[3] What, have you given him any hard words of late?

Oph. No, my good lord; but, as you did command, I did repel his letters, and denied His access to me.

Pol. That hath made him mad. Come, go we to the king: This must be known; which, being kept close, might move More grief to hide than hate to utter love.[4] Come. [Exeunt L.H.]



King. (C.) Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern! Moreover that we much did long to see you, The need we have to use you did provoke Our hasty sending. Something have you heard Of Hamlet's transformation. What it should be, More than his father's death, that thus hath put him So much from the understanding of himself,[5] I cannot dream of: I entreat you both, That you vouchsafe your rest[6] here in our court Some little time: so by your companies To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather, Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus, That, open'd, lies within our remedy.

Queen. (R.C.) Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you; And sure I am two men there are not living To whom he more adheres. If it will please you So to expend your time with us a while, Your visitation shall receive such thanks As fits a king's remembrance.

Ros. (R.) Both your majesties Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,[7] Put your dread pleasures more into command Than to entreaty.

Guil. (R.) But we both obey, And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,[8] To lay our service freely at your feet.

King. Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.

Queen. I do beseech you instantly to visit My too much changed son. Go, some of you, And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is. [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and Attendants, R.H.]


Pol. Now do I think (or else this brain of mine Hunts not the trail of policy[9] so sure As it hath us'd to do), that I have found The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.

King. (C.) O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.

Pol. (L.C.) My liege, and madam, to expostulate[10] What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time; Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit, And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,— I will be brief:—Your noble son is mad: Mad call I it; for, to define true madness, What is't, but to be nothing else but mad? But let that go.

Queen. (R.C.) More matter, with less art.

Pol. Madam, I swear I use no art at all. That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity; And pity 'tis, 'tis true: a foolish figure; But farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains That we find out the cause of this effect, Or, rather say, the cause of this defect, For this effect defective comes by cause: Thus it remains, and the remainder thus, Perpend.[11] I have a daughter, have, while she is mine, Who, in her duty and obedience, mark, Hath given me this: Now gather, and surmise.

[Reads] To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,—[12]

That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase, beautified is a vile phrase: but you shall hear. Thus:

In her excellent white bosom,[13] these, &c.[14]

Queen. Came this from Hamlet to her?

Pol. Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.— [Reads.]

Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt thou the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt, I love.

O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;[15] I have not art to reckon my groans: but that I love thee best, O most best,[16] believe it. Adieu.

Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him,[17] Hamlet.

This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me: And more above,[18] hath his solicitings,[19] As they fell out by time, by means, and place, All given to my ear.

King. But how hath she Receiv'd his love?

Pol. What do you think of me?

King. As of a man faithful and honourable.

Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing (As I perceived it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me), what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had play'd the desk or table book;[20] Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb;[21] Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;[22] What might you think? No, I went round to work,[23] And my young mistress thus did I bespeak: Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy sphere; This must not be: and then I precepts gave her, That she should lock herself from his resort, Admit no messengers, receive no tokens. Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;[24] And he, repuls'd (a short tale to make), Fell into sadness; thence into a weakness; Thence to a lightness; and, by this declension, Into the madness wherein now he raves, And all we mourn for.

King. Do you think 'tis this?

Queen. It may be, very likely.

Pol. Hath there been such a time (I'd fain know that,) That I have positively said, 'tis so, When it proved otherwise?

King. Not that I know.

Pol. Take this from this, if it be otherwise:

[Pointing to his head and shoulder.]

If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed Within the centre.

King. How may we try it further?

Pol. You know, sometimes he walks for hours together Here in the lobby.

Queen. So he does, indeed.

Pol. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him: Mark the encounter: if he love her not, And be not from his reason fallen thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state, But keep a farm, and carters.

King. We will try it.

Queen. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

Pol. Away, I do beseech you both, away: I'll board him presently.[25]

[Exeunt KING and QUEEN, R.H.]

Enter HAMLET, reading (L.C.)

Pol. How does my good lord Hamlet?

Ham. (C.) Excellent well.

Pol. (R.) Do you know me, my lord?

Ham. Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.[26]

Pol. Not I, my lord.

Ham. Then I would you were so honest a man.

Pol. Honest, my lord!

Ham. Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

Pol. That's very true, my lord.

Ham. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, kissing carrion,——Have you a daughter?[27]

Pol. I have, my lord.

Ham. Let her not walk i'the sun: conception is a blessing; but as your daughter may conceive,—friend, look to't, look to't, look to't.

[Goes up stage.]

Pol. (Aside.) Still harping on my daughter:—yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger.

[Crosses to L.]

I'll speak to him again.—What do you read, my lord?

Ham. (C.) Words, words, words.

Pol. (L.) What is the matter, my lord?

Ham. Between who?

Pol. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Ham. Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue[28] says here that old men have grey beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: All of which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, shall be as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.

[Crosses, L.]

Pol. (Aside.) Though this be madness, yet there's method in it. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

Ham. Into my grave?

[Crosses R.]

Pol. (L.) Indeed, that is out o' the air.—How pregnant sometimes his replies[29] are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.—My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.

Ham. (C.) You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withall, except my life, except my life, except my life.

Pol. Fare you well, my lord.


Ham. These tedious old fools!

Pol. (Without.) You go to seek the lord Hamlet; there he is.

Ros. Heaven save you, sir!


Guil. My honor'd lord!—

Ros. My most dear lord!—

Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern?

[Crosses to ROSENCRANTZ.]

Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both? What news?

Ros. (L.) None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.

Ham. (C.) Then is dooms-day near: but your news is not true. In the beaten way of friendship,[30] what make you at Elsinore?

Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.

Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.

Guil. (R.) What should we say, my lord?

Ham. Any thing—but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to colour: I know the good king and queen have sent for you.

Ros. To what end, my lord?

Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, [taking their hands,] by the consonancy of our youth,[31] by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer[32] could charge you withal, be even[33] and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no?

Ros. What say you?


Ham. Nay, then, I have an eye of you.[34]

[Crosses R.]


—if you love me, hold not off.

Guil. My lord, we were sent for.

Ham. (Returning C.) I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather.[35] I have of late (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a steril promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express[36] and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon[37] of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me,—nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Ham. Why did you laugh, then, when I said, Man delights not me?

Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment[38] the players shall receive from you: we coted them on the way;[39] and hither are they coming, to offer you service.

Ham. He that plays the king shall be welcome, his majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man shall end his part in peace;[40] and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't.[41]—What players are they?

Ros. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.

Ham. How chances it, they travel?[42] their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?

Ros. No, indeed, they are not.

Ham. It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark,[43] and those that would make mouths at him[44] while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in little.[45] There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets without.]

Guil. There are the players.

Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. You are welcome: but my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.

Guil. In what, my dear lord?

Ham. I am but mad north-north west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a hern-shaw.[46]

[Crosses R.]

Pol. (Without, L.H.) Well be with you, gentlemen!

Ham. (Crosses C.) Hark you, Guildenstern;—and Rosencrantz: that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.

Ros. (R.) Haply he's the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.

Ham. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.—You say right, sir: o'Monday morning; 'twas then, indeed.


Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.

Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,——

Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.

Ham. Buz, buz![47]

Pol. Upon my honour,——

Ham. Then came each actor on his ass.[48]

Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastorical-comical, historical-pastoral, scene indivisible, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.[49] For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.[50]

Ham. O, Jephthah, judge of Israel,—what a treasure hadst thou!

Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord?

Ham. Why,—One fair daughter, and no more, The which he loved passing well.

Pol. Still harping on my daughter.


Ham. Am I not i'the right, old Jephthah?

Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.

Ham. Nay, that follows not.

Pol. What follows, then, my lord?

Ham. Why, As by lot, God wot,[51] and then, you know, It came to pass, As most like it was,—The first row of the pious Chanson[52] will show you more; for look, my abridgment comes.[53]

Enter Four or Five Players (L.H.)—POLONIUS crosses behind HAMLET to R.H.

You are welcome, masters; welcome, all: O, old friend! Why, thy face is valanced[54] since I saw thee last; Com'st thou to beard me[55] in Denmark?—What, my young lady and mistress. By-'r-lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine.[56] You are welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers,[57] fly at anything we see: We'll have a speech straight: Come, give us a taste of your quality;[58] come, a passionate speech.

1st Play. (L.H.) What speech, my lord?

Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once,—but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general:[59] but it was an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning.[60] One speech in it I chiefly loved; 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: If it live in your memory, begin at this line; let me see, let me see;—

The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,—'tis not so: it begins with Pyrrhus:

The rugged Pyrrhus,—he, whose sable arms, Black as his purpose, did the night resemble, Old grandsire Priam seeks.

Pol. (R.) 'Fore Heaven, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.

Ham. (C.) So proceed you.

1st Play. (L.) Anon he finds him Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword, Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls, Repugnant to command: Unequal match'd, Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage strikes wide; But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword[61] The unnerved father falls. But, as we often see, against some storm, A silence in the heavens, the rack[62] stand still, The bold wind speechless, and the orb below As hush as death; anon the dreadful thunder Doth rend the region; So, after Pyrrhus' pause, A roused vengeance sets him new a work; And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall On Mars's armour, forg'd for proof eterne, With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword Now falls on Priam.— Out, out, thou fickle Fortune!

Pol. (R.) This is too long.

Ham. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.—Say on;—come to Hecuba.

1st Play. But who, ah woe, had seen the mobled queen

Ham. The mobled queen?[63]

Pol. That's good; mobled queen is good.

1st Play. Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames; A clout upon that head Where late the diadem stood; and, for a robe, A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up; Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd, 'Gainst fortune's state would treason have pronounced.

Pol. Look, whether he has not turned his colour, and has tears in's eyes.—Prithee, no more.

Ham. (C.) 'Tis well; I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.—Good, my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

Pol. (R.) My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

Ham. Much better: Use every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

[Crosses to R.H.]

Pol. Come, sirs.

Ham. Follow him, friends: we'll hear a play to-morrow.

[Exit POLONIUS with some of the Players, L.H.]

Old friend

[Crosses to C.]

—My good friends


I'll leave you till night: you are welcome to Elsinore—can you play the murder of Gonzago?


1st Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. We'll have it to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would insert in't—could you not?

1st Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. Very well.—Follow that lord; and look you mock him not.

[Exit Player, L.H.]

Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous, that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, Could force his soul so to his own conceit, That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;[64] Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, A broken voice, and his whole function suiting With forms to his conceit?[65] And all for nothing! For Hecuba? What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue[66] for passion That I have? He would drown the stage with tears, And cleave the general ear with horrid speech; Make mad the guilty, and appal the free; Confound the ignorant, and amaze, indeed, The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak, Like John a-dreams,[67] unpregnant of my cause,[68] And can say nothing; no, not for a king, Upon whose property and most dear life A damn'd defeat was made.[69] Am I a coward? Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face? Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i'the throat, As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this, Ha? Why, I should take it: for it cannot be But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall To make oppression bitter;[70] or, ere this, I should have fatted all the region kites With this slave's offal: Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless[71] villain! O, vengeance! Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murder'd, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a scold, unpack my heart with words, And fall a cursing, like a very drab, A scullion! Fye upon't! fye! About, my brains![72] I have heard That guilty creatures, sitting at a play, Have by the very cunning of the scene Been struck so to the soul, that presently They have proclaim'd their malefactions; For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players Play something like the murder of my father Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks; I'll tent him to the quick:[73] if he do blench,[74] I know my course. The spirit that I have seen May be the devil: and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and, perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy (As he is very potent with such spirits), Abuses me to damn me: I'll have good grounds More relative than this:[75] The play's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.

[Exit, R.H.]



Act II

[Footnote II.1: Polonius,] Doctor Johnson describes Polonius as "a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observation, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage. A man positive and confident, because he knows his mind was once strong, and knows not that it is become weak." The idea of dotage encroaching upon wisdom will solve all the phenomena of the character of Polonius.]

[Footnote II.2: His bulk,] Frame.]

[Footnote II.3: Ecstacy of love;] i.e., madness of love. In this sense the word is now obsolete.]

[Footnote II.4:

This must be known; which being kept close, might move More grief to hide than hate to utter love.]

i.e., this must be made known to the king, for (being kept secret) the hiding Hamlet's love might occasion more mischief to us from him and the queen, than the uttering or revealing of it will occasion hate and resentment from Hamlet.

It was the custom of Shakespeare's age, to conclude acts and scenes with a couplet, a custom which was continued for nearly a century afterwards.]

[Footnote II.5: The understanding of himself,] i.e., the just estimate of himself.]

[Footnote II.6: Vouchsafe your rest] Please to reside.]

[Footnote II.7: Of us,] i.e., over us.]

[Footnote II.8: In the full bent,] To the full stretch and range—a term derived from archery.]

[Footnote II.9: The trail of policy] The trail is the course of an animal pursued by the scent.]

[Footnote II.10: Expostulate] To expostulate is to discuss, to put the pros and cons, to answer demands upon the question. Expose is an old term of similar import.]

[Footnote II.11: Perpend.] i.e., reflect, consider attentively.]

[Footnote II.12: Most beautified Ophelia,] Heywood, in his History of Edward VI., says "Katharine Parre, Queen Dowager to King Henry VIII., was a woman beautified with many excellent virtues." The same expression is frequently used by other old authors.]

[Footnote II.13: In her excellent white bosom,] The ladies, in Shakespeare's time, wore pockets in the front of their stays.]

[Footnote II.14: These, &c.] In our poet's time, the word these was usually added at the end of the superscription of letters.]

[Footnote II.15: I am ill at these numbers;] No talent for these rhymes.]

[Footnote II.16: O most best,] An ancient mode of expression.]

[Footnote II.17: Whilst this machine is to him,] Belongs to, obey his impulse; so long as he is "a sensible warm motion," the similar expression to "While my wits are my own."]

[Footnote II.18: And more above,] i.e., moreover, besides.]

[Footnote II.19: His solicitings,] i.e., his love-making, his tender expressions.]

[Footnote II.20: If I had played the desk, or table book;] This line may either mean if I had conveyed intelligence between them, or, known of their love, if I had locked up his secret in my own breast, as closely as it were confined in a desk or table book.]

[Footnote II.21: Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb;] i.e., connived at it.]

[Footnote II.22: With idle sight;] i.e., with indifference.]

[Footnote II.23: Round to work,] i.e., roundly, without reserve.]

[Footnote II.24: Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;] She took the fruits of advice when she obeyed advice, the advice was then made fruitful.—JOHNSON.]

[Footnote II.25: I'll board him presently.] Accost, address him.]

[Footnote II.26: You are a fishmonger.] This was an expression better understood in Shakespeare's time than at present, and no doubt was relished by the audience of the Globe Theatre as applicable to the Papists, who in Queen Elizabeth's time were esteemed enemies to the Government. Hence the proverbial phrase of He's an honest man and eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the Government and a Protestant.]

[Footnote II.27: For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, kissing carrion,——Have you a daughter?] i.e., Hamlet having just remarked that honesty is very rare in the world, adds, that since there is so little virtue, since corruption abounds everywhere, and maggots are bred by the sun, which is a god, even in a dead dog, Polonius ought to take care to prevent his daughter from walking in the sun, lest she should prove "a breeder of sinners;" for though conception (understanding) in general be a blessing, yet as Ophelia might chance to conceive (to be pregnant), it might be a calamity. Hamlet's abrupt question, "Have you a daughter?" is evidently intended to impress Polonius with the belief of the Prince's madness.—MALONE.]

[Footnote II.28: The satirical rogue] Hamlet alludes to Juvenal, who in his 10th Satire, describes the evils of long life.]

[Footnote II.29: How pregnant his replies] Big with meaning.]

[Footnote II.30: Beaten way of friendship,] Plain track, open and unceremonious course.]

[Footnote II.31: Rights of our fellowship and constancy of our youth,] Habits of familiar intercourse and correspondent years.]

[Footnote II.32: A better proposer] An advocate of more address in shaping his aims, who could make a stronger appeal.]

[Footnote II.33: Even] Without inclination any way.]

[Footnote II.34: Nay, then, I have an eye of you.] i.e., I have a glimpse of your meaning. Hamlet's penetration having shown him that his two friends are set over him as spies.]

[Footnote II.35: So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather.] Be beforehand with your discovery, and the plume and gloss of your secret pledge be in no feather shed or tarnished.]

[Footnote II.36: Express] According to pattern, justly and perfectly modelled.]

[Footnote II.37: Paragon] Model of perfection.]

[Footnote II.38: Lenten entertainment] i.e., sparing, like the entertainments given in Lent.]

[Footnote II.39: We coted them on the way;] To cote, is to pass by, to pass the side of another. It appears to be a word of French origin, and was a common sporting term in Shakespeare's time.]

[Footnote II.40: The humorous man shall end his part in peace;] The fretful or capricious man shall vent the whole of his spleen undisturbed.]

[Footnote II.41: The lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't.] i.e., the lady shall mar the measure of the verse, rather than not express herself freely and fully.]

[Footnote II.42: Travel?] Become strollers.]

[Footnote II.43: It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark;] This is a reflection on the mutability of fortune, and the variableness of man's mind.]

[Footnote II.44: Make mouths at him] i.e., deride him by antic gestures and mockery.]

[Footnote II.45: In little.] In miniature.]

[Footnote II.46: I know a hawk from a hern-shaw.] A hernshaw is a heron or hern. To know a hawk from a hernshaw is an ancient proverb, sometimes corrupted into handsaw. Spencer quotes the proverb, as meaning, wise enough to know the hawk from its game.]

[Footnote II.47: Buz, buz!] Sir William Blackstone states that buz used to be an interjection at Oxford when any one began a story that was generally known before.]

[Footnote II.48: Then came each actor on his ass.] This seems to be a line of a ballad.]

[Footnote II.49: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.] An English translation of the tragedies of Seneca was published in 1581, and one comedy of Plautus, viz., the Menoechme, in 1595.]

[Footnote II.50: For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.] The probable meaning of this passage is,—For the observance of the rules of the Drama, while they take such liberties, as are allowable, they are the only menwrit is an old word for writing.]

[Footnote II.51: As by lot, God wot,] There was an old ballad entitled the song of Jephthah, from which these lines are probably quotations. The story of Jephthah was also one of the favourite subjects of ancient tapestry.]

[Footnote II.52: The first row of the pious Chanson] This expression does not appear to be very well understood. Steevens tells us that the pious chansons were a kind of Christmas carols, containing some scriptural history thrown into loose rhymes, and sung about the streets. The first row appears to mean the first division of one of these.]

[Footnote II.53: My abridgment comes.] Hamlet alludes to the players, whose approach will shorten his talk.]

[Footnote II.54: Thy face is valanced] i.e., fringed with a beard. The valance is the fringes or drapery hanging round the tester of a bed.]

[Footnote II.55: Com'st thou to beard me] To beard anciently meant to set at defiance. Hamlet having just told the player that his face is valanced, is playing upon the word beard.]

[Footnote II.56: By the altitude of a chopine.] A chioppine is a high shoe, or rather clog, worn by the Italians. Venice was more famous for them than any other place. They are described as having been made of wood covered with coloured leather, and sometimes even half a yard high, their altitude being proportioned to the rank of the lady, so that they could not walk without being supported.]

[Footnote II.57: Like French falconers,] The French seem to have been the first and noblest falconers in the western part of Europe. The French king sent over his falconers to show that sport to King James the First.—See Weldon's Court of King James.]

[Footnote II.58: Quality;] Qualifications, faculty.]

[Footnote II.59: Caviare to the general;] Caviare is the spawn of fish pickled, salted, and dried. It is imported from Russia, and was considered in the time of Shakespeare a new and fashionable luxury, not obtained or relished by the vulgar, and therefore used by him to signify anything above their comprehension—general is here used for the people.]

[Footnote II.60: As much modesty as cunning.] As much propriety and decorum as skill.]

[Footnote II.61: Falls with the whiff and wind of his fell sword] Our author employs the same image in almost the same phrase:

"The Grecians fall Even in the fan and wind of your fair sword."

Tr. & Cress. V. 3. Tr.]

[Footnote II.62: The rack] The clouds or congregated vapour.]

[Footnote II.63: The mobled queen?] Mobled is veiled, muffled, disguised.]

[Footnote II.64: All his visage wann'd;] i.e., turned pale or wan.]

[Footnote II.65: His whole functions suiting with forms to his conceit?] i.e., his powers and faculties—the whole energies of his soul and body giving material forms to his passion, such as tone of voice, expression of face, requisite action, in accordance with the ideas that floated in his conceit or imagination.]

[Footnote II.66: The cue] The point—the direction.]

[Footnote II.67: Like John a-dreams,] Or dreaming John, a name apparently coined to suit a dreaming, stupid person; he seems to have been a well-known character.]

[Footnote II.68: Unpregnant of my cause,] i.e., not quickened with a new desire of vengeance; not teeming with revenge.]

[Footnote II.69: Defeat was made.] Overthrow.]

[Footnote II.70: Lack gall to make oppression bitter;] i.e., lack gall to make me feel the bitterness of oppression.]

[Footnote II.71: Kindless] Unnatural.]

[Footnote II.72: About, my brains!] Wits to work.]

[Footnote II.73: I'll tent him to the quick:] i.e., probe him—search his wounds.]

[Footnote II.74: Blench,] Shrink, start aside.]

[Footnote II.75: More relative than this:] Directly applicable.]



Three chairs on L.H., one on R.

Enter KING and QUEEN, preceded by POLONIUS. OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, and GIULDENSTERN, following (R.H.)

King. (C.) And can you, by no drift of conference, Get from him why he puts on this confusion?

Ros. (R.) He does confess he feels himself distracted; But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guild. (R.) Nor do we find him forward[1] to be sounded But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof, When we would bring him on to some confession Of his true state.

Queen. (R.C.) Did you assay him[2] To any pastime?

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players We o'er-raught on the way:[3] of these we told him; And there did seem in him a kind of joy To hear of it: They are about the court; And, as I think, they have already order This night to play before him.

Pol. 'Tis most true: And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content me To hear him so inclin'd. Good gentlemen, give him a further edge, And drive his purpose on to these delights.

Ros. We shall, my lord.


King. Sweet Gertrude, leave us too; For we have closely sent[4] for Hamlet hither, That he, as 'twere by accident, may here Affront Ophelia:[5] Her father and myself (lawful espials[6]), Will so bestow ourselves, that, seeing, unseen, We may of their encounter frankly judge; And gather by him, as he is behaved, If't be the affliction of his love or no That thus he suffers for.

Queen. (R.) I shall obey you: And for your part, Ophelia,

[OPHELIA comes down L.H.]

I do wish That your good beauties be the happy cause Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues Will bring him to his wonted way again, To both your honours.

Oph. Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit QUEEN, R.H.]

Pol. Ophelia, walk you here. Gracious, so please you, We will bestow ourselves. Read on this book;


That show of such an exercise may colour Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,— 'Tis too much prov'd,[7] that, with devotion's visage And pious action, we do sugar o'er The devil himself.

King. O, 'tis too true! how smart A lash that speech doth give my conscience!


Pol. I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord.

[Exeunt KING and POLONIUS, R.H.2 E., and OPHELIA, R.H.U.E.]

Enter HAMLET (L.H.)

Ham. To be, or not to be, that is the question:[8] Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,[9] And, by opposing end them?—To die,—to sleep, No more;—and by a sleep, to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to: 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die,—to sleep,— To sleep! perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,[10] Must give us pause:[11] There's the respect[12] That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,[13] The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,[14] The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make[15] With a bare bodkin?[16] Who would fardels bear,[17] To groan and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country, from whose bourn[18] No traveller returns,[19] puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all;[20] And thus the native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought; And enterprises of great pith and moment,[21] With this regard, their currents turn away, And lose the name of action.[22]—

[OPHELIA returns.]

—Soft you now![23] The fair Ophelia:—Nymph, in thy orisons[24] Be all my sins remember'd.

Oph. (R.C.) Good my lord, How does your honour for this many a day?

Ham. (L.C.) I humbly thank you; well.

Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours, That I have longed long to re-deliver; I pray you, now receive them.

Ham. No, not I; I never gave you aught.

Oph. My honour'd lord, you know right well you did; And, with them, words of so sweet breath compos'd As made the things more rich: their perfume lost, Take these again; for to the noble mind Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind. There, my lord.

Ham. Ha, ha! are you honest?

Oph. My lord?

Ham. Are you fair?

Oph. What means your lordship?

Ham. That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.[25]

Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness:[26] this was some time a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Ham. You should not have believed me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it:[27] I loved you not.

Oph. I was the more deceived.

Ham. Get thee to a nunnery: Why wouldst 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[28] than I have thoughts to put them in,[29] imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do, crawling between earth and heaven? 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 nowhere 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; go; go.

Oph. Heavenly powers, restore him!

Ham. I have heard of your paintings[30] too, well enough; Heaven hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another:[31] you jig, you amble, and you lisp,[32] and nickname Heaven's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.[33] Go to, I'll no more of't; it hath made me mad.

[HAMLET crosses to R.H.]

I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one,[34] shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.

[Exit HAMLET, R.H.[35]]

Oph. (L.) O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! The expectancy and rose of the fair state,[36] The glass of fashion[37] and the mould of form,[38] The observ'd of all observers, quite, quite down! And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, That suck'd the honey of his musick vows,[39] Now see that noble and most sovereign reason, Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh: O, woe is me, To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Exit OPHELIA, L.H.]

Re-enter 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 soul, O'er which his melancholy sits on brood; He shall with speed to England, For the demand of our neglected tribute: 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 I do believe The origin and commencement of his grief Sprung from neglected love. My lord, do as you please; But, if you hold it fit, after the play, Let his queen mother all alone entreat him To show his grief: let her be round with him;[40] And I'll be placed, so please you, in the ear Of all their conference. If she find him not,[41] To England send him; or confine him where Your wisdom best shall think.

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

[Exeunt, L.H.]

Enter HAMLET and a Player (R.H.)

Ham. (C.) Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief[42] the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hands thus;[43] 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 perrywig-pated fellow[44] tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings,[45] who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant;[46] it out-herods Herod:[47] Pray you, avoid it.

1st Play. (R.) 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 mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time its form and pressure.[48] Now, this overdone, or come tardy off,[49] though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one[50] must, in your allowance,[51] 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,[52] 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.

[Crosses to R.]

1st Play. (L.) I hope we have reformed that indifferently[53] with us.

Ham. O, reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them:[54] for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators[55] to laugh too; though, in the mean time, some necessary question[56] 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.

[Exit Player, L.H.]

Ham. What, ho, Horatio!

Enter HORATIO (R.H.)

Hor. Here, sweet lord, at your service.

Ham. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man As e'er my conversation cop'd withal.[57]

Hor. O, my dear lord.

Ham. Nay, do not think I flatter; For what advancement may I hope from thee, That no revenue hast, but thy good spirits, To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd? No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp; And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,[58] Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear? Since my dear soul[59] was mistress of her choice, And could of men distinguish, her election Hath seal'd thee for herself: for thou hast been As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing; A man that fortune's buffets and rewards Has ta'en with equal thanks: and bless'd are those Whose blood and judgment[60] are so well co-mingled, That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger To sound what stop she please. Give me that man That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee.—Something too much of this.— There is a play to-night before the king; One scene of it comes near the circumstance Which I have told thee of my father's death: I pr'ythee when thou seest that act a-foot, Even with the very comment of thy soul[61] Observe my uncle: if his occulted guilt[62] Do not itself unkennel in one speech, It is a damned ghost that we have seen; And my imaginations are as foul As Vulcan's stithy.[63] Give him heedful note: For I mine eyes will rivet to his face; And, after, we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming.[64]

[HORATIO goes off, U.E.L.H.]

March. Enter KING and QUEEN, preceded by POLONIUS, OPHELIA, HORATIO, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, Lords, Ladies, and Attendants. KING and QUEEN sit (L.H.); OPHELIA (R.H.)

King. (L.) How fares our cousin Hamlet?

Ham. (C.) Excellent, i'faith; of the cameleon's dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.

King. I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not mine.[65]

Ham. No, nor mine, now.[66] My lord,—you played once in the university, you say?[67]


Pol. (L.C.) That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.

Ham. (C.) And what did you enact?

Pol. I did enact Julius Caesar:[68] I was killed i'the Capitol; Brutus killed me.

Ham. It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.—Be the players ready?

Ros. Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.[69]

Queen. Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

[Pointing to a chair by her side.]

Ham. No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.

Pol. O, ho! do you mark that?

[Aside to the KING.]

Ham. Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

[Lying down at OPHELIA'S feet.][70]

Oph. (R.) You are merry, my lord.

Ham. O, your only jig-maker.[71] What should a man do but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.

Oph. Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

Ham. So long? Nay, then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables.[72] O heavens! die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year: But, by'r-lady, he must build churches, then.[73]

Oph. What means the play, my lord?

Ham. Miching mallecho;[74] it means mischief.

Oph. But what is the argument of the play?

Enter a Player as Prologue (L.H.) on a raised stage.

Ham. We shall know by this fellow.

Pro. For us, and for our tragedy, Here stooping to your clemency, We beg your hearing patiently.

[Exit, L.H.]

Ham. Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?[75]

Oph. 'Tis brief, my lord.

Ham. As woman's love.

Enter a KING and a QUEEN (L.H.) on raised stage.

P. King. (R.) Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart[76] gone round Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,[77] Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands, Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

P. Queen. (L.) So many journeys may the sun and moon Make us again count o'er ere love be done! But, woe is me, you are so sick of late, So far from cheer and from your former state, That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust, Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.

P. King. 'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too; My operant powers their functions leave to do:[78] And thou shalt live in this fair world behind, Honour'd, belov'd; and, haply one as kind For husband shalt thou——

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