/ Language: English / Genre:dramaturgy

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (Collins edition)

W Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601. The play, set in Denmark, recounts how Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father, the King, and then taken the throne and married Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. The play vividly charts the course of real and feigned madness—from overwhelming grief to seething rage—and explores themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption.


by William Shakespeare


Claudius, King of Denmark.

Hamlet, Son to the former, and Nephew to the present King.

Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.

Horatio, Friend to Hamlet.

Laertes, Son to Polonius.

Voltimand, Courtier.

Cornelius, Courtier.

Rosencrantz, Courtier.

Guildenstern, Courtier.

Osric, Courtier.

A Gentleman, Courtier.

A Priest.

Marcellus, Officer.

Bernardo, Officer.

Francisco, a Soldier

Reynaldo, Servant to Polonius.


Two Clowns, Grave-diggers.

Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.

A Captain.

English Ambassadors.

Ghost of Hamlet's Father.

Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother of Hamlet.

Ophelia, Daughter to Polonius.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers, and other


SCENE. Elsinore.


Scene I. Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

[Francisco at his post. Enter to him Bernardo.]


Who's there?


Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.


Long live the king!






You come most carefully upon your hour.


'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.


For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,

And I am sick at heart.


Have you had quiet guard?


Not a mouse stirring.


Well, good night.

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.


I think I hear them.--Stand, ho! Who is there?

[Enter Horatio and Marcellus.]


Friends to this ground.


And liegemen to the Dane.


Give you good-night.


O, farewell, honest soldier;

Who hath reliev'd you?


Bernardo has my place.

Give you good-night.



Holla! Bernardo!



What, is Horatio there?


A piece of him.


Welcome, Horatio:--Welcome, good Marcellus.


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


I have seen nothing.


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;

That, if again this apparition come

He may approve our eyes and speak to it.


Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.


Sit down awhile,

And let us once again assail your ears,

That are so fortified against our story,

What we two nights have seen.


Well, sit we down,

And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.


Last night of all,

When yond 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,--


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

[Enter Ghost, armed.]


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


Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.


Looks it not like the King? mark it, Horatio.


Most like:--it harrows me with fear and wonder.


It would be spoke to.


Question it, Horatio.


What art thou, that usurp'st this time of night,

Together with that fair and warlike form

In which the majesty of buried Denmark

Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee, speak!


It is offended.


See, it stalks away!


Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee speak!

[Exit Ghost.]


'Tis gone, and will not answer.


How now, Horatio! You tremble and look pale:

Is not this something more than fantasy?

What think you on't?


Before my God, I might not this believe

Without the sensible and true avouch

Of mine own eyes.


Is it not like the King?


As thou art to thyself:

Such was the very armour he had on

When he the ambitious Norway combated;

So frown'd he once when, in an angry parle,

He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

'Tis strange.


Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,

With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.


In what particular thought to work I know not;

But, in the gross and scope of my opinion,

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.


Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,

Why this same strict and most observant watch

So nightly toils the subject of the land;

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,

And foreign mart for implements of war;

Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task

Does not divide the Sunday from the week;

What might be toward, that this sweaty haste

Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:

Who is't that can inform me?


That can I;

At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,

Whose image even but now appear'd to us,

Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,

Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet,--

For so this side of our known world esteem'd him,--

Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact,

Well ratified by law and heraldry,

Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands,

Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror:

Against the which, a moiety competent

Was gaged by our king; which had return'd

To the inheritance of Fortinbras,

Had he been vanquisher; as by the same cov'nant,

And carriage of the article design'd,

His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

Of unimproved mettle hot and full,

Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,

Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,

For food and diet, to some enterprise

That hath a stomach in't; which is no other,--

As it doth well appear unto our state,--

But to recover of us, by strong hand,

And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

So by his father lost: and this, I take it,

Is the main motive of our preparations,

The source of this our watch, and the chief head

Of this post-haste and romage in the land.


I think it be no other but e'en so:

Well may it sort, that this portentous figure

Comes armed through our watch; so like the king

That was and is the question of these wars.


A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.

In the most high and palmy 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;

As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,

Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,

Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,

Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse:

And even the like precurse of fierce events,--

As harbingers preceding still the fates,

And prologue to the omen coming on,--

Have heaven and earth together demonstrated

Unto our climature and countrymen.--

But, soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!

[Re-enter Ghost.]

I'll cross it, though it blast me.--Stay, illusion!

If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,

Speak to me:

If there be any good thing to be done,

That may to thee do ease, and, race to me,

Speak to me:

If thou art privy to thy country's fate,

Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,

O, speak!

Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

[The cock crows.]

Speak of it:--stay, and speak!--Stop it, Marcellus!


Shall I strike at it with my partisan?


Do, if it will not stand.


'Tis here!


'Tis here!


'Tis gone!

[Exit Ghost.]

We do it wrong, being so majestical,

To offer it the show of violence;

For it is, as the air, invulnerable,

And our vain blows malicious mockery.


It was about to speak, when the cock crew.


And then it started, like a guilty thing

Upon a fearful summons. I have heard

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,

Doth with his lofty 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 hies

To his confine: and of the truth herein

This present object made probation.


It faded on the crowing of the cock.

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long;

And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad;

The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm;

So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.


So have I heard, and do in part believe it.

But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,

Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward 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:

Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?


Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know

Where we shall find him most conveniently.


Scene II. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

[Enter the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltimand, Cornelius, Lords, and Attendant.]


Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death

The memory be green, 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 think on him,

Together with remembrance of ourselves.

Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,

Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,

Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,--

With an auspicious and one dropping eye,

With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,

In equal scale weighing delight and dole,--

Taken to wife; nor have we herein barr'd

Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone

With this affair along:--or all, our thanks.

Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,

Holding a weak supposal of our worth,

Or thinking by our late dear brother's death

Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,

Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,

He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,

Importing the surrender of those lands

Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,

To our most valiant brother. So much for him,--

Now for ourself and for this time of meeting:

Thus much the business is:--we have here writ

To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,--

Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears

Of this his nephew's purpose,--to suppress

His further gait herein; in that the levies,

The lists, and full proportions are all made

Out of his subject:--and we here dispatch

You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,

For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;

Giving to you no further personal power

To business with the king, more than the scope

Of these dilated articles allow.

Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty.

Cor. and Volt.

In that and all things will we show our duty.


We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.

[Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius.]

And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?

You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?

You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,

And lose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes,

That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?

The head is not more native to the heart,

The hand more instrumental to the mouth,

Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.

What wouldst thou have, Laertes?


Dread my lord,

Your leave and favour 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.


Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?


He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave

By laboursome petition; and at last

Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:

I do beseech you, give him leave to go.


Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,

And thy best graces spend it at thy will!--

But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son--


[Aside.] A little more than kin, and less than kind!


How is it that the clouds still hang on you?


Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.


Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,

And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy vailed lids

Seek for thy noble father in the dust:

Thou know'st 'tis common,--all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.


Ay, madam, it is common.


If it be,

Why seems it so particular with thee?


Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not seems.

'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,

Nor customary suits of solemn black,

Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,

No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,

Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,

Together with all forms, moods, 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;

These but the trappings and the suits of woe.


'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; and the survivor bound,

In filial obligation, for some term

To do obsequious sorrow: but to persevere

In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;

It shows a will most incorrect to heaven;

A heart unfortified, a mind impatient;

An understanding simple and unschool'd;

For what we know must be, and is as common

As any the most vulgar thing to sense,

Why should we, in our peevish opposition,

Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,

A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,

To reason most absurd; whose common theme

Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,

From the first corse till he that died to-day,

'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth

This unprevailing woe; and think of us

As of a father: for let the world take note

You are the most immediate to our throne;

And with no less nobility of love

Than that which dearest father bears his son

Do I impart toward you. For your intent

In going back to school in Wittenberg,

It is most retrograde to our desire:

And we beseech you bend you to remain

Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,

Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.


Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:

I pray thee stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.


I shall in all my best obey you, madam.


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: in grace whereof,

No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day

But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell;

And the king's rouse the heaven shall bruit again,

Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.

[Exeunt all but Hamlet.]


O that this too too solid flesh would melt,

Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! O God!

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable

Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Fie on't! O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,

That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature

Possess it merely. 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; so loving to my mother,

That he might not beteem 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 followed my poor father's body

Like Niobe, all tears;--why she, even she,--

O God! a beast that wants discourse of reason,

Would have mourn'd longer,--married with mine uncle,

My father's brother; but no more like my father

Than I to Hercules: within a month;

Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears

Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,

She married:-- O, most wicked speed, to post

With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!

It is not, nor it cannot come to good;

But break my heart,--for I must hold my tongue!

[Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.]


Hail to your lordship!


I am glad to see you well:

Horatio,--or I do forget myself.


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


Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:

And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?--



My good lord,--


I am very glad to see you.--Good even, sir.--

But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?


A truant disposition, good my lord.


I would not hear your enemy say so;

Nor shall you do my 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.


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


I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student.

I think it was to see my mother's wedding.


Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.


Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd meats

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven

Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!--

My father,--methinks I see my father.


Where, my lord?


In my mind's eye, Horatio.


I saw him once; he was a goodly king.


He was a man, take him for all in all,

I shall not look upon his like again.


My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.


Saw who?


My lord, the king your father.


The King my father!


Season your admiration for awhile

With an attent ear, till I may deliver,

Upon the witness of these gentlemen,

This marvel to you.


For God's love let me hear.


Two nights together had these gentlemen,

Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch

In the dead vast and middle of the night,

Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father,

Armed at point 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,

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: I knew your father;

These hands are not more like.


But where was this?


My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.


Did you not speak to it?


My lord, I did;

But answer made it none: yet once methought

It lifted up it head, and did address

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.


'Tis very strange.


As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;

And we did think it writ down in our duty

To let you know of it.


Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.

Hold you the watch to-night?

Mar. and Ber.

We do, my lord.


Arm'd, say you?


Arm'd, my lord.


From top to toe?


My lord, from head to foot.


Then saw you not his face?


O, yes, my lord: he wore his beaver up.


What, look'd he frowningly?


A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.


Pale or red?


Nay, very pale.


And fix'd his eyes upon you?


Most constantly.


I would I had been there.


It would have much amaz'd you.


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


While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

Mar. and Ber.

Longer, longer.


Not when I saw't.


His beard was grizzled,--no?


It was, as I have seen it in his life,

A sable silver'd.


I will watch to-night;

Perchance 'twill walk again.


I warr'nt it will.


If it assume my noble father's person,

I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape

And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,

If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,

Let it be tenable 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 ye well:

Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,

I'll visit you.


Our duty to your honour.


Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.

[Exeunt Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo.]

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.


Scene III. A room in Polonius's house.

[Enter Laertes and Ophelia.]


My necessaries are embark'd: farewell:

And, sister, as the winds give benefit

And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,

But let me hear from you.


Do you doubt that?


For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,

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;

No more.


No more but so?


Think it no more:

For nature, crescent, does not grow alone

In thews and bulk; but as this temple waxes,

The inward service of the mind and soul

Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now;

And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch

The virtue of his will: but you must fear,

His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;

For he himself is subject to his birth:

He may not, as unvalu'd persons do,

Carve for himself; for on his choice depends

The safety and health of this whole state;

And therefore must his choice be circumscrib'd

Unto the voice and yielding of that body

Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,

It fits your wisdom so far to believe it

As he in his particular act and place

May give his saying deed; which is no further

Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.

Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain

If with too credent ear you list his songs,

Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open

To his unmaster'd importunity.

Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister;

And keep you in the rear of your affection,

Out of the shot and danger of desire.

The chariest maid is prodigal enough

If she unmask her beauty to the moon:

Virtue itself scopes not calumnious strokes:

The canker galls the infants of the spring

Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd:

And in the morn and liquid dew of youth

Contagious blastments are most imminent.

Be wary then; best safety lies in fear:

Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.


I shall th' 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,

Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads

And recks not his own read.


O, fear me not.

I stay too long:--but here my father comes.

[Enter Polonius.]

A double blessing is a double grace;

Occasion smiles upon a second leave.


Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,

And you are stay'd for. There,--my blessing with thee!

[Laying his hand on Laertes's head.]

And these few precepts in thy memory

Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops 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't that the opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:

Take each man's censure, 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.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be:

For loan oft loses both itself and friend;

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all,--to thine own self 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!


Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.


The time invites you; go, your servants tend.


Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well

What I have said to you.


'Tis in my memory lock'd,

And you yourself shall keep the key of it.





What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you?


So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.


Marry, well bethought:

'Tis told me he hath very oft of late

Given private time to you; and you yourself

Have of your audience been most free and bounteous;

If it be so,--as so 'tis put on me,

And that in way of caution,--I must tell you

You do not understand yourself so clearly

As it behooves my daughter and your honour.

What is between you? give me up the truth.


He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders

Of his affection to me.


Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,

Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?


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


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,--not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,

Wronging it thus,--you'll tender me a fool.


My lord, he hath importun'd me with love

In honourable fashion.


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


And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,

With almost all the holy vows of heaven.


Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul

Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,

Giving more light than heat,--extinct in both,

Even in their promise, as it is a-making,--

You must not take for fire. From this time

Be something scanter of your maiden presence;

Set your entreatments at a higher rate

Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,

Believe so much in him, that he is young;

And with a larger tether may he walk

Than may be given you: in few, Ophelia,

Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,--

Not of that dye which their investments show,

But mere implorators of unholy suits,

Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,

The better to beguile. This is for all,--

I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth

Have you so slander any moment leisure

As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.

Look to't, I charge you; come your ways.


I shall obey, my lord.


Scene IV. The platform.

[Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.]


The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.


It is a nipping and an eager air.


What hour now?


I think it lacks of twelve.


No, it is struck.


Indeed? I heard it not: then draws near the season

Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

[A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off within.]

What does this mean, my lord?


The King doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,

Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;

And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,

The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out

The triumph of his pledge.


Is it a custom?


Ay, marry, is't;

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.

This heavy-headed revel east and west

Makes us traduc'd and tax'd of other nations:

They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase

Soil our addition; and, indeed, it takes

From our achievements, though perform'd at height,

The pith and marrow of our attribute.

So oft it chances in particular men

That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,

As in their birth,--wherein they are not guilty,

Since nature cannot choose his origin,--

By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,

Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;

Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens

The form of plausive manners;--that these men,--

Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,--

Their virtues else,--be they as pure as grace,

As infinite as man may undergo,--

Shall in the general censure take corruption

From that particular fault: the dram of eale

Doth all the noble substance often doubt

To his own scandal.


Look, my lord, it comes!

[Enter Ghost.]


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

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,

Have burst their cerements; 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,

Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,

Making night hideous, and we fools of nature

So horridly to shake our disposition

With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?

Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?

[Ghost beckons Hamlet.]


It beckons you to go away with it,

As if it some impartment did desire

To you alone.


Look with what courteous action

It waves you to a more removed ground:

But do not go with it!


No, by no means.


It will not speak; then will I follow it.


Do not, my lord.


Why, what should be the fear?

I do not set my life at a pin's fee;

And for my soul, what can it do to that,

Being a thing immortal as itself?

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


What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,

Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff

That beetles o'er his base into the sea,

And there assume some other horrible form

Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,

And draw you into madness? think of it:

The very place puts toys of desperation,

Without more motive, into every brain

That looks so many fadoms to the sea

And hears it roar beneath.


It waves me still.--

Go on; I'll follow thee.


You shall not go, my lord.


Hold off your hands.


Be rul'd; you shall not go.


My fate cries out,

And makes each petty artery in this body

As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.--

[Ghost beckons.]

Still am I call'd;--unhand me, gentlemen;--

[Breaking free from them.]

By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!--

I say, away!--Go on; I'll follow thee.

[Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.]


He waxes desperate with imagination.


Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him.


Have after.--To what issue will this come?


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


Heaven will direct it.


Nay, let's follow him.


Scene V. A more remote part of the Castle.

[Enter Ghost and Hamlet.]


Whither wilt thou lead me? speak! I'll go no further.


Mark me.


I will.


My hour is almost come,

When I to sulph'uous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.


Alas, poor ghost!


Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing

To what I shall unfold.


Speak; I am bound to hear.


So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.




I am thy father's spirit;

Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,

And for the day confin'd to wastein fires,

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; 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

Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:

But this eternal blazon must not be

To ears of flesh and blood.--List, list, O, list!--

If thou didst ever thy dear father love--


O God!


Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.




Murder most foul, as in the best it is;

But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.


Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift

As meditation or the thoughts of love,

May sweep to my revenge.


I find thee apt;

And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed

That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,

Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.

'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,

A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark

Is by a forged process of my death

Rankly abus'd; but know, thou noble youth,

The serpent that did sting thy father's life

Now wears his crown.


O my prophetic soul!

Mine uncle!


Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,--

O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power

So to seduce!--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 whose natural gifts were poor

To those of mine!

But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,

Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven;

So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,

Will sate itself in a celestial bed

And prey on garbage.

But soft! methinks I scent the morning air;

Brief let me be.--Sleeping within my orchard,

My custom always of the afternoon,

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,

With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,

And in the porches of my 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;

And with a sudden vigour it doth posset

And curd, like eager droppings into milk,

The thin and wholesome blood; so did it mine;

And a most instant tetter bark'd about,

Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust

All my smooth body.

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,

Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:

Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,

Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd;

No reckoning made, but sent to my account

With all my imperfections on my head:

O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be

A couch for luxury 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 glowworm shows the matin to be near,

And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire:

Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.



O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?

And shall I couple hell? O, fie!--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. Remember thee!

Yea, from the table of my memory

I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,

All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,

That youth and observation copied there;

And thy commandment all alone shall live

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven!--

O most pernicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!

My tables,--meet it is I set it down,

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;

At least, I am sure, it may be so in Denmark:


So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;

It is 'Adieu, adieu! remember me:'

I have sworn't.


[Within.] My lord, my lord,--


[Within.] Lord Hamlet,--


[Within.] Heaven secure him!


So be it!


[Within.] Illo, ho, ho, my lord!


Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.

[Enter Horatio and Marcellus.]


How is't, my noble lord?


What news, my lord?


O, wonderful!


Good my lord, tell it.


No; you'll reveal it.


Not I, my lord, by heaven.


Nor I, my lord.


How say you then; would heart of man once think it?--

But you'll be secret?

Hor. and Mar.

Ay, by heaven, my lord.


There's ne'er a villain dwelling in all Denmark

But he's an arrant knave.


There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave

To tell us this.


Why, right; you are i' the right;

And so, without more circumstance at all,

I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:

You, as your business and desires shall point you,--

For every man hath business and desire,

Such as it is;--and for my own poor part,

Look you, I'll go pray.


These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.


I'm sorry they offend you, heartily;

Yes, faith, heartily.


There's no offence, my lord.


Yes, by Saint Patrick, 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'ermaster't as you may. And now, good friends,

As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,

Give me one poor request.


What is't, my lord? we will.


Never make known what you have seen to-night.

Hor. and Mar.

My lord, we will not.


Nay, but swear't.


In faith,

My lord, not I.


Nor I, my lord, in faith.


Upon my sword.


We have sworn, my lord, already.


Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.


[Beneath.] Swear.


Ha, ha boy! say'st thou so? art thou there, truepenny?--

Come on!--you hear this fellow in the cellarage,--

Consent to swear.


Propose the oath, my lord.


Never to speak of this that you have seen,

Swear by my sword.


[Beneath.] Swear.


Hic et ubique? then we'll shift our ground.--

Come hither, gentlemen,

And lay your hands again upon my sword:

Never to speak of this that you have heard,

Swear by my sword.


[Beneath.] Swear.


Well said, old mole! canst work i' the earth so fast?

A worthy pioner!--Once more remove, good friends.


O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!


And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.

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 antic disposition on,--

That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,

With arms encumber'd thus, or this head-shake,

Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

As 'Well, 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 is not to do,

So grace and mercy at your most need help you,



[Beneath.] Swear.


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,

God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;

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.


Act II.

Scene I. A room in Polonius's house.

[Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.]


Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.


I will, my lord.


You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,

Before You visit him, to make inquiry

Of his behaviour.


My lord, I did intend it.


Marry, well said; very well said. Look you, sir,

Enquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;

And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,

What company, at what expense; and finding,

By this encompassment and drift of question,

That they do know my son, come you more nearer

Than your particular demands will touch it:

Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him;

As thus, 'I know his father and his friends,

And in part him;--do you mark this, Reynaldo?


Ay, very well, my lord.


'And in part him;--but,' you may say, 'not well:

But if't be he I mean, he's very wild;

Addicted so and so;' and there put on him

What forgeries you please; marry, none so rank

As may dishonour him; take heed of that;

But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips

As are companions noted and most known

To youth and liberty.


As gaming, my lord.


Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,

Drabbing:--you may go so far.


My lord, that would dishonour him.


Faith, no; as you may season it in the charge.

You must not put another scandal on him,

That he is open to incontinency;

That's not my meaning: but breathe his faults so quaintly

That they may seem the taints of liberty;

The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind;

A savageness in unreclaimed blood,

Of general assault.


But, my good lord,--


Wherefore should you do this?


Ay, my lord,

I would know that.


Marry, sir, here's my drift;

And I believe it is a fetch of warrant:

You laying these slight sullies on my son

As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' the working,

Mark you,

Your party in converse, him you would sound,

Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes

The youth you breathe of guilty, be assur'd

He closes with you in this consequence;

'Good sir,' or so; or 'friend,' or 'gentleman'--

According to the phrase or the addition

Of man and country.


Very good, my lord.


And then, sir, does he this,--he does--What was I about to say?--

By the mass, I was about to say something:--Where did I leave?


At 'closes in the consequence,' at 'friend or so,' and gentleman.'


At--closes in the consequence'--ay, marry!

He closes with you thus:--'I know the gentleman;

I saw him yesterday, or t'other day,

Or then, or then; with such, or such; and, as you say,

There was he gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse;

There falling out at tennis': or perchance,

'I saw him enter such a house of sale,'--

Videlicet, a brothel,--or so forth.--

See you now;

Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:

And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,

With windlaces, and with assays of bias,

By indirections find directions out:

So, by my former lecture and advice,

Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?


My lord, I have.


God b' wi' you, fare you well.


Good my lord!


Observe his inclination in yourself.


I shall, my lord.


And let him ply his music.


Well, my lord.



[Exit Reynaldo.]

[Enter Ophelia.]

How now, Ophelia! what's the matter?


Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted!


With what, i' the name of God?


My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,

Lord Hamlet,--with his doublet all unbrac'd;

No hat upon his head; his stockings foul'd,

Ungart'red, and down-gyved to his ankle;

Pale as his shirt; his knees knocking each other;

And with a look so piteous in purport

As if he had been loosed out of hell

To speak of horrors,--he comes before me.


Mad for thy love?


My lord, I do not know;

But truly I do fear it.


What said he?


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 stay'd 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

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 help,

And to the last bended their light on me.


Come, go with me: I will go seek the king.

This is the very ecstasy of love;

Whose violent property fordoes itself,

And leads the will to desperate undertakings,

As oft as any passion under heaven

That does afflict our natures. I am sorry,--

What, have you given him any hard words of late?


No, my good lord; but, as you did command,

I did repel his letters and denied

His access to me.


That hath made him mad.

I am sorry that with better heed and judgment

I had not quoted him: I fear'd he did but trifle,

And meant to wreck thee; but beshrew my jealousy!

It seems it as proper to our age

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions

As it is common for the younger sort

To lack discretion. 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.


Scene II. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Attendants.]


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; so I call it,

Since nor the exterior nor the inward man

Resembles that it was. What it should be,

More than his father's death, that thus hath put him

So much from the understanding of himself,

I cannot dream of: I entreat you both

That, being of so young days brought up with him,

And since so neighbour'd to his youth and humour,

That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court

Some little time: so by your companies

To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,

So much as from occasion you may glean,

Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,

That, open'd, lies within our remedy.


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

To show us so much gentry and good-will

As to expend your time with us awhile,

For the supply and profit of our hope,

Your visitation shall receive such thanks

As fits a king's remembrance.


Both your majesties

Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,

Put your dread pleasures more into command

Than to entreaty.


We both obey,

And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,

To lay our service freely at your feet,

To be commanded.


Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.


Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz:

And I beseech you instantly to visit

My too-much-changed son.--Go, some of you,

And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.


Heavens make our presence and our practices

Pleasant and helpful to him!


Ay, amen!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and some Attendants].

[Enter Polonius.]


Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,

Are joyfully return'd.


Thou still hast been the father of good news.


Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,

I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,

Both to my God and to my gracious king:

And I do think,--or else this brain of mine

Hunts not the trail of policy so sure

As it hath us'd to do,--that I have found

The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.


O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.


Give first admittance to the ambassadors;

My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.


Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

[Exit Polonius.]

He tells me, my sweet queen, he hath found

The head and source of all your son's distemper.


I doubt it is no other but the main,--

His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.


Well, we shall sift him.

[Enter Polonius, with Voltimand and Cornelius.]

Welcome, my good friends!

Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?


Most fair return of greetings and desires.

Upon our first, he sent out to suppress

His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd

To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;

But, better look'd into, he truly found

It was against your highness; whereat griev'd,--

That so his sickness, age, and impotence

Was falsely borne in hand,--sends out arrests

On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;

Receives rebuke from Norway; and, in fine,

Makes vow before his uncle never more

To give th' assay of arms against your majesty.

Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,

Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee;

And his commission to employ those soldiers,

So levied as before, against the Polack:

With an entreaty, herein further shown,

[Gives a paper.]

That it might please you to give quiet pass

Through your dominions for this enterprise,

On such regards of safety and allowance

As therein are set down.


It likes us well;

And at our more consider'd time we'll read,

Answer, and think upon this business.

Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour:

Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together:

Most welcome home!

[Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius.]


This business is well ended.--

My liege, and madam,--to expostulate

What majesty should be, what duty is,

Why day is day, night is 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.


More matter, with less art.


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.


I have a daughter,--have whilst she is mine,--

Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,

Hath given me this: now gather, and surmise.


'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified


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


'In her excellent white bosom, these, etc.'


Came this from Hamlet to her?


Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.


  'Doubt thou the stars are fire;

     Doubt that the sun doth move;

   Doubt truth to be a liar;

     But never doubt I love.

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

  'Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him,


This, in obedience, hath my daughter show'd me;

And more above, hath his solicitings,

As they fell out by time, by means, and place,

All given to mine ear.


But how hath she

Receiv'd his love?


What do you think of me?


As of a man faithful and honourable.


I would fain prove so. But what might you think,

When I had seen this hot love on the wing,--

As I perceiv'd 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,

Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb;

Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;--

What might you think? No, I went round to work,

And my young mistress thus I did 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;

And he, repulsed,--a short tale to make,--

Fell into a sadness; then into a fast;

Thence to a watch; thence into a weakness;

Thence to a lightness; and, by this declension,

Into the madness wherein now he raves,

And all we wail for.


Do you think 'tis this?


It may be, very likely.


Hath there been such a time,--I'd fain know that--

That I have positively said ''Tis so,'

When it prov'd otherwise?


Not that I know.


Take this from this, if this be otherwise:

[Points to his head and shoulder.]

If circumstances lead me, I will find

Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed

Within the centre.


How may we try it further?


You know sometimes he walks for hours together

Here in the lobby.


So he does indeed.


At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:

Be you and I behind an arras then;

Mark the encounter: if he love her not,

And he not from his reason fall'n thereon

Let me be no assistant for a state,

But keep a farm and carters.


We will try it.


But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.


Away, I do beseech you, both away

I'll board him presently:--O, give me leave.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.]

[Enter Hamlet, reading.]

How does my good Lord Hamlet?


Well, God-a-mercy.


Do you know me, my lord?


Excellent well; you're a fishmonger.


Not I, my lord.


Then I would you were so honest a man.


Honest, my lord!


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


That's very true, my lord.


For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god-kissing carrion,--Have you a daughter?


I have, my lord.


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


How say you by that?--[Aside.] Still harping on my daughter:--yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.--What do you read, my lord?


Words, words, words.


What is the matter, my lord?


Between who?


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


Slanders, sir: for the satirical slave 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 which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for you yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.


[Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.--

Will you walk out of the air, my lord?


Into my grave?


Indeed, that is out o' the air. [Aside.] How pregnant sometimes his replies 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.


You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal,--except my life, except my life, except my life.


Fare you well, my lord.


These tedious old fools!

[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]


You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.


[To Polonius.] God save you, sir!

[Exit Polonius.]


My honoured lord!


My most dear lord!


My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,

Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?


As the indifferent children of the earth.


Happy in that we are not over-happy;

On fortune's cap we are not the very button.


Nor the soles of her shoe?


Neither, my lord.


Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?


Faith, her privates we.


In the secret parts of fortune? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What's the news?


None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.


Then is doomsday near; but your news is not true. Let me question more in particular: what have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?


Prison, my lord!


Denmark's a prison.


Then is the world one.


A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.


We think not so, my lord.


Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.


Why, then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.


O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.


Which dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.


A dream itself is but a shadow.


Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow's shadow.


Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.

Ros. and Guild.

We'll wait upon you.


No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?


To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.


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


What should we say, my lord?


Why, anything--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.


To what end, my lord?


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


[To Guildenstern.] What say you?


[Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.--If you love me, hold not off.


My lord, we were sent for.


I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. 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 sterile 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 and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.


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


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


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


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; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickle o' the sere; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are they?


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


How chances it they travel? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.


I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.


Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so followed?


No, indeed, are they not.


How comes it? do they grow rusty?


Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion; and so berattle the common stages,--so they call them,--that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither.


What, are they children? who maintains 'em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players,--as it is most like, if their means are no better,--their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own succession?


Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy: there was, for awhile, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.


Is't possible?


O, there has been much throwing about of brains.


Do the boys carry it away?


Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.


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

[Flourish of trumpets within.]


There are the players.


Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which I tell you must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.


In what, my dear lord?


I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

[Enter Polonius.]


Well be with you, gentlemen!


Hark you, Guildenstern;--and you too;--at each ear a hearer: that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.


Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.


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


My lord, I have news to tell you.


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



The actors are come hither, my lord.


Buzz, buzz!


Upon my honour,--


Then came each actor on his ass,--


The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy nor

Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.


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


What treasure had he, my lord?



   'One fair daughter, and no more,

   The which he loved passing well.'


[Aside.] Still on my daughter.


Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?


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


Nay, that follows not.


What follows, then, my lord?



   'As by lot, God wot,' and then, you know,

   'It came to pass, as most like it was--'

The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look where my abridgment comes.

[Enter four or five Players.]

You are welcome, masters; welcome, all:--I am glad to see thee well.--welcome, good friends.--O, my old friend! Thy face is valanc'd since I saw thee last; comest thou to beard me 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. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.--Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at anything we see: we'll have a speech straight: come, give us a taste of your quality: come, a passionate speech.

I Play.

What speech, my lord?


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; but it was,--as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine,--an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. 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 th' Hyrcanian beast,--

   itis not so:-- it begins with Pyrrhus:--

  'The rugged Pyrrhus,--he whose sable arms,

   Black as his purpose, did the night resemble

   When he lay couched in the ominous horse,--

   Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd

   With heraldry more dismal; head to foot

   Now is he total gules; horridly trick'd

   With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,

   Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,

   That lend a tyrannous and a damned light

   To their vile murders: roasted in wrath and fire,

   And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,

   With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus

   Old grandsire Priam seeks.'

So, proceed you.


'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.

I Play.

   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

   The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,

   Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top

   Stoops to his base; and with a hideous crash

   Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear: for lo! his sword,

   Which was declining on the milky head

   Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick:

   So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood;

   And, like a neutral to his will and matter,

   Did nothing.

   But as we often see, against some storm,

   A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,

   The bold winds 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 strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,

   In general synod, take away her power;

   Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,

   And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven,

   As low as to the fiends!


This is too long.


It shall to the barber's, with your beard.--Pr'ythee say on.--

He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps:--say on; come to Hecuba.

I Play.

   But who, O who, had seen the mobled queen,--


'The mobled queen'?


That's good! 'Mobled queen' is good.

I Play.

   Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames

   With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head

   Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,

   About her lank and all o'erteemed loins,

   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 pronounc'd:

   But if the gods themselves did see her then,

   When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport

   In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,

   The instant burst of clamour that she made,--

   Unless things mortal move them not at all,--

   Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,

   And passion in the gods.


Look, whether he has not turn'd his colour, and has tears in's eyes.--Pray you, no more!


'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 abstracts and brief chronicles of the time; after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.


My lord, I will use them according to their desert.


Odd's bodikin, man, better: use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.


Come, sirs.


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

[Exeunt Polonius with all the Players but the First.]

Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play 'The Murder of


I Play.

Ay, my lord.


We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down and insert in't? could you not?

I Play.

Ay, my lord.


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

[Exit First Player.]

--My good friends [to Ros. and Guild.], I'll leave you till night: you are welcome to Elsinore.


Good my lord!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]


Ay, so, God b' wi' ye!

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 wan'd;

Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting

With forms to his conceit? 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 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, unpregnant of my cause,

And can say nothing; no, not for a king

Upon whose property and most dear life

A damn'd defeat was made. 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?

'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be

But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall

To make oppression bitter; or ere this

I should have fatted all the region kites

With this slave's offal: bloody, bawdy villain!

Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless 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 whore, unpack my heart with words

And fall a-cursing like a very drab,

A scullion!

Fie upon't! foh!--About, my brain! 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: if he but blench,

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 grounds

More relative than this.--the play's the thing

Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.



Scene I. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]


And can you, by no drift of circumstance,

Get from him why he puts on this confusion,

Grating so harshly all his days of quiet

With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?


He does confess he feels himself distracted,

But from what cause he will by no means speak.


Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,

But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof

When we would bring him on to some confession

Of his true state.


Did he receive you well?


Most like a gentleman.


But with much forcing of his disposition.


Niggard of question; but, of our demands,

Most free in his reply.


Did you assay him

To any pastime?


Madam, it so fell out that certain players

We o'er-raught on the way: 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.


'Tis most true;

And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties

To hear and see the matter.


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.


We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]


Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,

That he, as 'twere by accident, may here

Affront Ophelia:

Her father and myself,--lawful espials,--

Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,

We may of their encounter frankly judge;

And gather by him, as he is behav'd,

If't be the affliction of his love or no

That thus he suffers for.


I shall obey you:--

And for your part, Ophelia, 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.


Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.]


Ophelia, walk you here.--Gracious, so please you,

We will bestow ourselves.--[To Ophelia.] 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,--that with devotion's visage

And pious action we do sugar o'er

The Devil himself.


[Aside.] O, 'tis too true!

How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!

The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,

Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it

Than is my deed to my most painted word:

O heavy burden!


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

[Exeunt King and Polonius.]

[Enter Hamlet.]


To be, or not to be,--that is the question:--

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them?--To die,--to sleep,--

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to,--'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd. 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,

Must give us pause: there's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

The pangs of despis'd 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

With a bare bodkin? who would these fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,--

The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns,--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;

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;

And enterprises of great pith and moment,

With this regard, their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!

The fair Ophelia!--Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remember'd.


Good my lord,

How does your honour for this many a day?


I humbly thank you; well, well, well.


My lord, I have remembrances of yours

That I have longed long to re-deliver.

I pray you, now receive them.


No, not I;

I never gave you aught.


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.


Ha, ha! are you honest?


My lord?


Are you fair?


What means your lordship?


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


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


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: this was sometime a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.


Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.


You should not have believ'd me; for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock but we shall relish of it: I loved you not.


I was the more deceived.


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 than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in. What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where's your father?


At home, my lord.


Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in's own house. Farewell.


O, help him, you sweet heavens!


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, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go; and quickly too.



O heavenly powers, restore him!


I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another: you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance. Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages: those that are married already, all but one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they are. To a nunnery, go.



O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!

The courtier's, scholar's, soldier's, eye, tongue, sword,

The expectancy and rose of the fair state,

The glass of fashion and the mould of form,

The observ'd of all observers,--quite, quite down!

And I, of ladies most deject and wretched

That suck'd the honey of his music vows,

Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,

Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;

That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth

Blasted with ecstasy: O, woe is me,

To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

[Re-enter King and Polonius.]


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;

And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose

Will be some danger: which for to prevent,

I have in quick determination

Thus set it down:--he shall with speed to England

For the demand of our neglected tribute:

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?


It shall do well: but yet do I believe

The origin and commencement of his grief

Sprung from neglected love.--How now, Ophelia!

You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said;

We heard it all.--My lord, do as you please;

But if you hold it fit, after the play,

Let his queen mother all alone entreat him

To show his grief: let her be round with him;

And I'll be plac'd, so please you, in the ear

Of all their conference. If she find him not,

To England send him; or confine him where

Your wisdom best shall think.


It shall be so:

Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go.


Scene II. A hall in the Castle.

[Enter Hamlet and certain Players.]


Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently: for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing

Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you avoid it.

I Player.

I warrant your honour.


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 anything 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 image, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must in your allowance, o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that I have seen play,--and heard others praise, and that highly,--not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of

Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

I Player.

I hope we have reform'd that indifferently with us, sir.


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

[Exeunt Players.]

[Enter Polonius, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

How now, my lord! will the king hear this piece of work?


And the queen too, and that presently.


Bid the players make haste.

[Exit Polonius.]

Will you two help to hasten them?

Ros. and Guil.

We will, my lord.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]


What, ho, Horatio!

[Enter Horatio.]


Here, sweet lord, at your service.


Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man

As e'er my conversation cop'd withal.


O, my dear lord,--


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

Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?

Since my dear soul 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

Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and bles'd are those

Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled

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 see'st that act a-foot,

Even with the very comment of thy soul

Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt

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. 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.


Well, my lord:

If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,

And scape detecting, I will pay the theft.


They are coming to the play. I must be idle:

Get you a place.

[Danish march. A flourish. Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others.]


How fares our cousin Hamlet?


Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.


I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words are not mine.


No, nor mine now. My lord, you play'd once i' the university, you say? [To Polonius.]


That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.


What did you enact?


I did enact Julius Caesar; I was kill'd i' the Capitol; Brutus killed me.


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


Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.


Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.


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


O, ho! do you mark that? [To the King.]


Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

[Lying down at Ophelia's feet.]


No, my lord.


I mean, my head upon your lap?


Ay, my lord.


Do you think I meant country matters?


I think nothing, my lord.


That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.


What is, my lord?




You are merry, my lord.


Who, I?


Ay, my lord.


O, your only jig-maker! What should a man do but be merry? for look you how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within 's two hours.


Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.


So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables. 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; or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is 'For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot!'

[Trumpets sound. The dumb show enters.]

[Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen embracing him and he her. She kneels, and makes show of protestation unto him. He takes her up, and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing him asleep, leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his crown, kisses it, pours poison in the king's ears, and exit. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner with some three or four Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loth and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.]



What means this, my lord?


Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.


Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

[Enter Prologue.]


We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot keep counsel; they'll tell all.


Will he tell us what this show meant?


Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.


You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.


   For us, and for our tragedy,

   Here stooping to your clemency,

   We beg your hearing patiently.


Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?


'Tis brief, my lord.


As woman's love.

[Enter a King and a Queen.]

P. King.

Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round

Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,

And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen

About the world have times twelve thirties been,

Since love our hearts, and Hymen did our hands,

Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

P. Queen.

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:

For women's fear and love holds quantity;

In neither aught, or in extremity.

Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;

And as my love is siz'd, my fear is so:

Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;

Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

P. King.

Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;

My operant powers their functions leave to do:

And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,

Honour'd, belov'd, and haply one as kind

For husband shalt thou,--

P. Queen.

O, confound the rest!

Such love must needs be treason in my breast:

In second husband let me be accurst!

None wed the second but who kill'd the first.


[Aside.] Wormwood, wormwood!

P. Queen.

The instances that second marriage move

Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.

A second time I kill my husband dead

When second husband kisses me in bed.

P. King.

I do believe you think what now you speak;

But what we do determine oft we break.

Purpose is but the slave to memory;

Of violent birth, but poor validity:

Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;

But fall unshaken when they mellow be.

Most necessary 'tis that we forget

To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:

What to ourselves in passion we propose,

The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.

The violence of either grief or joy

Their own enactures with themselves destroy:

Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;

Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.

This world is not for aye; nor 'tis not strange

That even our loves should with our fortunes change;

For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,

Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.

The great man down, you mark his favourite flies,

The poor advanc'd makes friends of enemies;

And hitherto doth love on fortune tend:

For who not needs shall never lack a friend;

And who in want a hollow friend doth try,

Directly seasons him his enemy.

But, orderly to end where I begun,--

Our wills and fates do so contrary run

That our devices still are overthrown;

Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:

So think thou wilt no second husband wed;

But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

P. Queen.

Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!

Sport and repose lock from me day and night!

To desperation turn my trust and hope!

An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!

Each opposite that blanks the face of joy

Meet what I would have well, and it destroy!

Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,

If, once a widow, ever I be wife!


If she should break it now! [To Ophelia.]

P. King.

'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;

My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile

The tedious day with sleep.


P. Queen.

Sleep rock thy brain,

And never come mischance between us twain!



Madam, how like you this play?


The lady protests too much, methinks.


O, but she'll keep her word.


Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in't?


No, no! They do but jest, poison in jest; no offence i' the world.


What do you call the play?


The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o' that? your majesty, and we that have free souls, it touches us not: let the gall'd jade wince; our withers are unwrung.

[Enter Lucianus.]

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the King.


You are a good chorus, my lord.


I could interpret between you and your love, if I could see the puppets dallying.


You are keen, my lord, you are keen.


It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.


Still better, and worse.


So you must take your husbands.--Begin, murderer; pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:--'The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.'


Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;

Confederate season, else no creature seeing;

Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,

With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,

Thy natural magic and dire property

On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears.]


He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His name's Gonzago:

The story is extant, and written in very choice Italian; you shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago's wife.


The King rises.


What, frighted with false fire!


How fares my lord?


Give o'er the play.


Give me some light:--away!


Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all but Hamlet and Horatio.]


   Why, let the strucken deer go weep,

     The hart ungalled play;

   For some must watch, while some must sleep:

     So runs the world away.--

Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers--if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me,--with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir?


Half a share.


     A whole one, I.

   For thou dost know, O Damon dear,

     This realm dismantled was

   Of Jove himself; and now reigns here

     A very, very--pajock.


You might have rhymed.


O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound! Didst perceive?


Very well, my lord.


Upon the talk of the poisoning?--


I did very well note him.


Ah, ha!--Come, some music! Come, the recorders!--

   For if the king like not the comedy,

   Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy.

Come, some music!

[Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]


Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.


Sir, a whole history.


The king, sir--


Ay, sir, what of him?


Is, in his retirement, marvellous distempered.


With drink, sir?


No, my lord; rather with choler.


Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor; for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.


Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame, and start not so wildly from my affair.


I am tame, sir:--pronounce.


The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.


You are welcome.


Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed.

If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother's commandment: if not, your pardon and my return shall be the end of my business.


Sir, I cannot.


What, my lord?


Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command; or rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no more, but to the matter: my mother, you say,--


Then thus she says: your behaviour hath struck her into amazement and admiration.


O wonderful son, that can so stonish a mother!--But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admiration?


She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.


We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?


My lord, you once did love me.


And so I do still, by these pickers and stealers.


Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.


Sir, I lack advancement.


How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?


Ay, sir, but 'While the grass grows'--the proverb is something musty.

[Re-enter the Players, with recorders.]

O, the recorders:--let me see one.--To withdraw with you:--why do you go about to recover the wind of me, as if you would drive me into a toil?


O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.


I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?


My lord, I cannot.


I pray you.


Believe me, I cannot.


I do beseech you.


I know, no touch of it, my lord.


'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.


But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.


Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me.

[Enter Polonius.]

God bless you, sir!


My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.


Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?


By the mass, and 'tis like a camel indeed.


Methinks it is like a weasel.


It is backed like a weasel.


Or like a whale.


Very like a whale.


Then will I come to my mother by and by.--They fool me to the top of my bent.--I will come by and by.


I will say so.



By-and-by is easily said.

[Exit Polonius.]

--Leave me, friends.

[Exeunt Ros, Guil., Hor., and Players.]

'Tis now the very witching time of night,

When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out

Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,

And do such bitter business as the day

Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.--

O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever

The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:

Let me be cruel, not unnatural;

I will speak daggers to her, but use none;

My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites,--

How in my words somever she be shent,

To give them seals never, my soul, consent!


Scene III. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]


I like him not; nor stands it safe with us

To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;

I your commission will forthwith dispatch,

And he to England shall along with you:

The terms of our estate may not endure

Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow

Out of his lunacies.


We will ourselves provide:

Most holy and religious fear it is

To keep those many many bodies safe

That live and feed upon your majesty.


The single and peculiar life is bound,

With all the strength and armour of the mind,

To keep itself from 'noyance; but much more

That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest

The lives of many. The cease of majesty

Dies not alone; but like a gulf doth draw

What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,

Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,

To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things

Are mortis'd and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,

Each small annexment, petty consequence,

Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone

Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.


Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;

For we will fetters put upon this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.

Ros and Guil.

We will haste us.

[Exeunt Ros. and Guil.]

[Enter Polonius.]


My lord, he's going to his mother's closet:

Behind the arras I'll convey myself

To hear the process; I'll warrant she'll tax him home:

And, as you said, and wisely was it said,

'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,

Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear

The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:

I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,

And tell you what I know.


Thanks, dear my lord.

[Exit Polonius.]

O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;

It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,--

A brother's murder!--Pray can I not,

Though inclination be as sharp as will:

My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;

And, like a man to double business bound,

I stand in pause where I shall first begin,

And both neglect. What if this cursed hand

Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,--

Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens

To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy

But to confront the visage of offence?

And what's in prayer but this twofold force,--

To be forestalled ere we come to fall,

Or pardon'd being down? Then I'll look up;

My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer

Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder!--

That cannot be; since I am still possess'd

Of those effects for which I did the murder,--

My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.

May one be pardon'd and retain the offence?

In the corrupted currents of this world

Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice;

And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself

Buys out the law; but 'tis not so above;

There is no shuffling;--there the action lies

In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,

Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,

To give in evidence. What then? what rests?

Try what repentance can: what can it not?

Yet what can it when one cannot repent?

O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,

Art more engag'd! Help, angels! Make assay:

Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of steel,

Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!

All may be well.

[Retires and kneels.]

[Enter Hamlet.]


Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;

And now I'll do't;--and so he goes to heaven;

And so am I reveng'd.--that would be scann'd:

A villain kills my father; and for that,

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To heaven.

O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

He took my father grossly, full of bread;

With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;

And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?

But in our circumstance and course of thought,

'Tis heavy with him: and am I, then, reveng'd,

To take him in the purging of his soul,

When he is fit and season'd for his passage?


Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:

When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;

Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;

At gaming, swearing; or about some act

That has no relish of salvation in't;--

Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven;

And that his soul may be as damn'd and black

As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:

This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.


[The King rises and advances.]


My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.


Scene IV. Another room in the castle.

[Enter Queen and Polonius.]


He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:

Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,

And that your grace hath screen'd and stood between

Much heat and him. I'll silence me e'en here.

Pray you, be round with him.


[Within.] Mother, mother, mother!


I'll warrant you:

Fear me not:--withdraw; I hear him coming.

[Polonius goes behind the arras.]

[Enter Hamlet.]


Now, mother, what's the matter?


Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.


Mother, you have my father much offended.


Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.


Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.


Why, how now, Hamlet!


What's the matter now?


Have you forgot me?


No, by the rood, not so:

You are the Queen, your husband's brother's wife,

And,--would it were not so!--you are my mother.


Nay, then, I'll set those to you that can speak.


Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;

You go not till I set you up a glass

Where you may see the inmost part of you.


What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?--

Help, help, ho!


[Behind.] What, ho! help, help, help!


How now? a rat? [Draws.]

Dead for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras.]


[Behind.] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies.]


O me, what hast thou done?


Nay, I know not: is it the king?

[Draws forth Polonius.]


O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!


A bloody deed!--almost as bad, good mother,

As kill a king and marry with his brother.


As kill a king!


Ay, lady, 'twas my word.--

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

[To Polonius.]

I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;

Thou find'st to be too busy is some danger.--

Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,

And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,

If it be made of penetrable stuff;

If damned custom have not braz'd it so

That it is proof and bulwark against sense.


What have I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tongue

In noise so rude against me?


Such an act

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;

Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose

From the fair forehead of an innocent love,

And sets a blister there; makes marriage-vows

As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed

As from the body of contraction plucks

The very soul, and sweet religion makes

A rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow;

Yea, this solidity and compound mass,

With tristful visage, as against the doom,

Is thought-sick at the act.


Ah me, what act,

That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?


Look here upon this picture, and on this,--

The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

See what a grace was seated on this brow;

Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;

An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;

A station like the herald Mercury

New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:

A combination and a form, indeed,

Where every god did seem to set his seal,

To give the world assurance of a man;

This was your husband.--Look you now what follows:

Here is your husband, like a milldew'd ear

Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?

Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,

And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?

You cannot call it love; for at your age

The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,

And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment

Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,

Else could you not have motion: but sure that sense

Is apoplex'd; for madness would not err;

Nor sense to ecstacy was ne'er so thrall'd

But it reserv'd some quantity of choice

To serve in such a difference. What devil was't

That thus hath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind?

Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,

Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,

Or but a sickly part of one true sense

Could not so mope.

O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,

If thou canst mutine in a matron's bones,

To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,

And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame

When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,

Since frost itself as actively doth burn,

And reason panders will.


O Hamlet, speak no more:

Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;

And there I see such black and grained spots

As will not leave their tinct.


Nay, but to live

In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,

Stew'd in corruption, honeying and making love

Over the nasty sty,--


O, speak to me no more;

These words like daggers enter in mine ears;

No more, sweet Hamlet.


A murderer and a villain;

A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe

Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;

A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,

That from a shelf the precious diadem stole

And put it in his pocket!


No more.


A king of shreds and patches!--

[Enter Ghost.]

Save me and hover o'er me with your wings,

You heavenly guards!--What would your gracious figure?


Alas, he's mad!


Do you not come your tardy son to chide,

That, laps'd in time and passion, lets go by

The important acting of your dread command?

O, say!


Do not forget. This visitation

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:

O, step between her and her fighting soul,--

Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works,--

Speak to her, Hamlet.


How is it with you, lady?


Alas, how is't with you,

That you do bend your eye on vacancy,

And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?

Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;

And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,

Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements,

Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,

Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper

Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?


On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!

His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,

Would make them capable.--Do not look upon me;

Lest with this piteous action you convert

My stern effects: then what I have to do

Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.


To whom do you speak this?


Do you see nothing there?


Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.


Nor did you nothing hear?


No, nothing but ourselves.


Why, look you there! look how it steals away!

My father, in his habit as he liv'd!