William Shakespeare, Hamlet Prince of Denmark (1600-01)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)  


This is a part of a collection of works by William Shakespeare.


The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (London: Oxford University Press, 1916).

See the complete volume in HTML and facs. PDF.



Table of Contents







Claudius, King of Denmark.
Hamlet, Son to the late, and Nephew to the present King.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.
Horatio, Friend to Hamlet.
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
Laertes, his Son.
Voltimand, Courtiers.
A Gentleman,
A Priest.
Marcellus, Officers.
Francisco, a Soldier.
Reynaldo, Servant to Polonius.
A Captain.
English Ambassadors.
Players. Two Clowns, Grave-diggers.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark and Mother to Hamlet.
Ophelia, Daughter to Polonius.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers, and Attendants.

Ghost of Hamlet’s Father.





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!


Bernardo?  4




You come most carefully upon your hour.


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


For this relief much thanks; ’tis bitter cold,  8

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,  12

The rivals of my watch, bid them make hasie.


I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who’s there?

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.


Friends to this ground.


And liegemen to the Dane.


Give you good-night.


O! farewell, honest soldier:  16

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.  20


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  24

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,  28

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,  32

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  36

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!  40

Enter Ghost.


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.  44


It would be spoke to.


Question it, Horatio.


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

Together with that fair and war-like form

In which the majesty of buried Denmark  48

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.  52


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  56

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  60

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.  64


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,  68

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;  72

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;  76

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,  80

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—  84

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  88

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,  92

Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,

And carriage of the article design’d,

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

Of unimproved mettle hot and full,  96

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—  101

But to recover of us, by strong hand

And terms compulsative, those foresaid lands

So by his father lost. And this, I take it,  104

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;  108

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.  112

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;  116

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;  120

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 climatures and countrymen.  125

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,  128

Speak to me:

If there be any good thing to be done,

That may to thee do ease and grace to me,

Speak to me:  132

If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,

Which happily foreknowing may avoid,

O! speak;

Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life  136

Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

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

[Cock crows.

Speak of it: stay, and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.  139


Shall I strike at it with my partisan?


Do, if it will not stand.


’Tis here!


’Tis here!

[Exit Ghost.


’Tis gone!

We do it wrong, being so majestical,

To offer it the show of violence;  144

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,  149

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,  152

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.  156


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;  160

And then, they say, no spirit can walk 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.  164


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 eastern hill;

Break we our watch up; and by my advice  168

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?  173


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

Where we shall find him most conveniently.


Scene II.— A Room of State in the Castle.

Enter the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltimand, Cornelius, Lords, and Attendants.


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,  4

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,

The imperial jointress of this war-like state,  9

Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy,

With one auspicious and one dropping eye,

With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,  12

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: for all, our thanks.  16

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,  20

Colleagued with the 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 bands of law,  24

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,  28

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  32

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  36

To business with the king more than the scope

Of these delated articles allow.

Farewell and let your haste commend your duty.


In that and all things will we show our duty.  40


In that and all things will we show our duty.  40


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,  44

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,  48

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,  52

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.  56


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:  60

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,—  64


[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,  68

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 live must die,  72

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.’  76

’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,  80

Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,

Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief,

That can denote me truly; these indeed seem,

For they are actions that a man might play:  84

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:  88

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 persever  92

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,  96

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  100

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,  104

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,  108

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  112

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,  116

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,  124

No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,

But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,

And the king’s rouse the heavens shall bruit again,

Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.  128

[Exeunt all except 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!  132

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  136

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  140

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  144

By what it fed on; and yet, within a month,

Let me not think on’t: Frailty, thy name is woman!

A little month; or ere those shoes were old

With which she follow’d my poor father’s body,

Like Niobe, all tears; why she, even she,—  149

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,  153

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.  157

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:  160

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?

Marcellus?  165


My good lord,—


I am very glad to see you. [To Bernardo.] Good even, sir.

But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?


A truant disposition, good my lord.  169


I would not hear your enemy say so,

Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,

To make it truster of your own report  172

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.  176


I pray thee, 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  180

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.

Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven

Ere I had ever seen that day, Horatio!

My father, methinks I see my father.  184


O! 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.  188


My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.


Saw who?


My lord, the king your father.


The king, my father!


Season your admiration for a while  192

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,  196

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 points exactly, cap-a-pe,  200

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  204

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,  209

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.  213


Did you not speak to it?


My lord, I did;

But answer made it none; yet once methought

It lifted up its head and did address  216

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.  220


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.  224

Hold you the watch to-night?


We do, my lord.


We do, my lord.


Arm’d, say you?


Arm’d, my lord.


Arm’d, my lord.


From top to toe?


My lord, from head to foot.


My lord, from head to foot.


Then saw you not his face?  228


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?  232


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?  236


While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.


Longer, longer.


Longer, longer.


Not when I saw it.


His beard was grizzled, no?


It was, as I have seen it in his life,  240

A sable silver’d.


I will watch to-night;

Perchance ’twill walk again.


I warrant it will.


If it assume my noble father’s person,

I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape  244

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,  248

Give it an understanding, but no tongue:

I will requite your loves. So, fare you well.

Upon the platform, ’twixt eleven and twelve,

I’ll visit you.


Our duty to your honour.  252


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,  256

Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.


Scene III.— A Room in PoloniusHouse.

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?  4


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,  8

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,  12

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,  16

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  20

The safety and the health of the 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,  24

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.  28

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.  32

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  36

If she unmask her beauty to the moon;

Virtue herself ’scapes not calumnious strokes;

The canker galls the infants of the spring

Too oft before their buttons be disclos’d,  40

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.  44


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,

Whiles, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,  49

Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,

And recks not his own rede.


O! fear me not.

I stay too long; but here my father comes.  52

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,  56

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

And these few precepts in thy memory

Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.  60

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar;

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment  64

Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel, but, being in,

Bear ’t that th’ opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;  68

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,  72

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,  76

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.  80

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.  86





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  92

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  96

As it behoves 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.  100


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.  104


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,

Running it thus,—you’ll tender me a fool.  109


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,  113

With almost all the holy vows of heaven.


Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul  116

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  120

Be somewhat 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,  124

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,  129

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’s leisure,  133

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.  4


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

Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.

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

What does this mean, my lord?


The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,  8

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?  12


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.  16

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  20

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,  24

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  29

The form of plausive manners; that these men,

Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,

Being nature’s livery, or fortune’s star,  32

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  36

Doth all the noble substance of a doubt,

To his own scandal.

Enter Ghost.


Look, my lord, it comes.


Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,  40

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:  45

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 inurn’d,  49

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  52

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?  56

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

[The 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  60

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?  64

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.  68


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,  72

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  76

That looks so many fathoms 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!  80


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,  84

[Breaking 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 wares desperate with imagination.


Let’s follow; ’tis not fit thus to obey him.  88


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.— Another Part of the Platform.

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 sulphurous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.


Alas! poor ghost.  4


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.


What?  8


I am thy father’s spirit;

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

And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,

Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature

Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid  13

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,  16

Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,

Thy knotted and combined locks to part,

And each particular hair to stand an end,

Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:  20

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!  24


Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.




Murder most foul, as in the best it is;

But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.  28


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,  33

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

’Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,

A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark  36

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!  40

My uncle!


Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,

With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,—

O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power  44

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  48

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!  52

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,  56

And prey on garbage.

But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;

Brief let me be. Sleeping within mine orchard,

My custom always in the afternoon,  60

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,

With juice of cursed hebona in a vial,

And in the porches of mine ears did pour

The leperous distilment; whose effect  64

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  68

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.  73

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,  76

Unhousel’d, disappointed, unanel’d,

No reckoning made, but sent to my account

With all my imperfections on my head:

O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!  80

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,  84

Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive

Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven,

And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,

To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!

The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,  89

And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire;

Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.



O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?  92

And shall I couple hell? O fie! Hold, hold, my heart!

And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,

But bear me stiffly up! Remember thee!

Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat

In this distracted globe. Remember thee!  97

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;  101

And thy commandment all alone shall live

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmix’d with baser matter: yes, by heaven!  104

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’m sure it may be so in Denmark:  109


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

It is, ‘Adieu, adieu! remember me.

I have sworn ’t.  112


[Within.] My lord! my lord!


[Within.] Lord Hamlet!


[Within.] Heaven secure him!


[Within.] So be it!


[Within.] Hillo, 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?  117


O! wonderful.


Good my lord, tell it.


No; you will reveal it.


Not I, my lord, by heaven!


Nor I, my lord.  120


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

But you’ll be secret?


Ay, by heaven, my lord.


Ay, by heaven, my lord.


There’s ne’er a villain dwelling in all Denmark,

But he’s an arrant knave.  124


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;  128

You, as your business and desire shall point you,—

For every man hath business and desire,

Such as it is,—and, for mine own poor part,

Look you, I’ll go pray.  132


These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.


I am sorry they offend you, heartily;

Yes, faith, heartily.


There’s no offence, my lord.


Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,  136

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,  140

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.  144


My lord, we will not.


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.  148


[Beneath.] Swear.


Ah, ha, boy! sayst thou so? art thou there, true-penny?

Come on,—you hear this fellow in the cellar-age,—

Consent to swear.


Propose the oath, my lord.  152


Never to speak of this that you have seen,

Swear by my sword.


[Beneath.] Swear.


Hic et ubique? then we’ll shift our ground.  156

Come hither, gentlemen,

And lay your hands again upon my sword:

Never to speak of this that you have heard,

Swear by my sword.  160


[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!  164


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;  168

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,  172

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;’  176

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 not to do,

So grace and mercy at your most need help you,

Swear.  180


[Beneath.] Swear.

[They 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  184

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,  188

That ever I was born to set it right!

Nay, come, let’s go together.



Scene I.— A Room in Polonius’ 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  4

Of his behaviour.


My lord, I did intend it.


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

Inquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;

And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,  8

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:  12

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.  16


‘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;  21

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

As are companions noted and most known

To youth and liberty.


As gaming, my lord?  24


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.  28

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,  32

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,  36

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,  40

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,  44

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.  48


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.’  52

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,  56

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

There was a’ gaming; there o’ertook in ’s rouse;

There falling out at tennis;’ or perchance,

‘I saw him enter such a house of sale,’  60

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,  64

With windlasses, 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 be wi’ you; fare you well.  69


Good my lord!


Observe his inclination in yourself.


I shall, my lord.  72


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, in the name of God?  76


My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,

Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac’d;

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

Ungarter’d, and down-gyved to his ancle;  80

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.  84


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,  88

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,  92

And thrice his head thus waving up and down,

He rais’d a sigh so piteous and profound

That it did seem to shatter all his bulk

And end his being. That done, he lets me go,  96

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.  100


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  105

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,  108

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 wrack thee; but, beshrew my jealousy!  113

By heaven, it is as proper to our age

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions

As it is common for the younger sort  116

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, Queen, 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,  5

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  8

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,  12

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,  16

Whe’r 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  20

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,  24

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.


But we both obey,  29

And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,

To lay our service freely at your feet,

To be commanded.  32


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,  36

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.


The ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,  40

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,  44

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  48

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.  52


Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

[Exit Polonius.

He tells me, my sweet queen, that 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.

Re-enter Polonius, with Voltimand and Cornelius.

Welcome, my good friends!

Say, Voltimand, what from our brother Norway?


Most fair return of greetings, and desires.  60

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  64

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,  68

Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,

Makes vow before his uncle never more

To give the assay of arms against your majesty.

Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,  72

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,  76

[Giving 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;  80

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.  85

My liege, and madam, to expostulate

What majesty should be, what duty is,

Why day is day, night night, and time is time,

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,

And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,

I will be brief. Your noble son is mad:  92

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.  96

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,  101

Or rather say, the cause of this defect,

For this effect defective comes by cause;

Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.

Perpend.  105

I have a daughter, have while 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 Ophelia.—  109

That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase; ‘beautified’

is a vile phrase; but you shall hear. Thus:

In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.—  112


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;  116

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 shown 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  128

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,  131

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,  136

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:  140

‘Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star;

This must not be:’ and then I precepts gave her,

That she should lock herself from his resort,

Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.  144

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,  148

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.  152


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:

[Pointing to his head and shoulder.

If circumstances lead me, I will find

Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed

Within the centre.


How may we try it further?


You know sometimes he walks four hours together  160

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,  164

And be not from his reason fallen 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.  168


Away! I do beseech you, both away.

I’ll board him presently.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.

Enter Hamlet, reading.

O! give me leave.

How does my good Lord Hamlet?


Well, God a-mercy.  172


Do you know me, my lord?


Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.


Not I, my lord.


Then I would you were so honest a man.  177


Honest, my lord!


Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.  181


That’s very true, my lord.


For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion,—Have you a daughter?  185


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.  189


[Aside.] How say you by that? 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.  196


What is the matter, my lord?


Between who?


I mean the matter that you read, my lord.  200


Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue 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.  210


[Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?


Into my grave?  214


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.  222


You cannot, sir, take from me any thing 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.  228


[To Polonius.] God save you, sir!

[Exit Polonius.


Mine honoured lord!


My most dear lord!


My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?  234


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?  238


Neither, my lord.


Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?  241


Faith, her privates we.


In the secret parts of Fortune? O! most true; she is a strumpet. What news?  244


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!  252


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.  257


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.  261


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.  269


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.  273


Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.  277


We’ll wait upon you.


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.  285


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, come, deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.


What should we say, my lord?  292


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.  297


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!  305


[Aside to Guildenstern.] What say you?


[Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of you. If you love me, hold not off.  309


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 but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in 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.  331


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


Why did you laugh then, when I said, ‘man delights not me?’  335


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.  340


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?  349


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


How chances it they travel? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.  354


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 they are not.  359


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.  368


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?  376


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 a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.  381


Is it possible?


O! there has been much throwing about of brains.  384


Do the boys carry it away?


Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.  387


It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mows 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.  395


Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come then; 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?  404


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!  408


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.  411


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.  416


My lord, I have news to tell you.


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


The actors are come hither, my lord.


Buzz, buzz!  421


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!  432


What a treasure had he, my lord?



One fair daughter and no more,

The which he loved passing well.  436


[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.  440


Nay, that follows not.


What follows, then, my lord?



As by lot, God wot.  444

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 valanced 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 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.  461

First Play.

What speech, my good 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 indict 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 Æneas’ 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:—  480

Therugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,

’tis not so, it begins with Pyrrhus:—

The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arm,

Black as his purpose, did the night resemble

When he lay couched in the ominous horse,  485

Hath now this dread and black complexion smear’d

With heraldry more dismal; head to foot

Now is he total gules; horridly trick’d  488

With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,

Bak’d and impasted with the parching streets,

That lend a tyrannous and damned light

To their vile murders: rousted in wrath and fire,  492

And thus o’er-sized with coagulate gore,

With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus

Old grandsire Priam seeks.

So proceed you.  496


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

First Play.

Anon, he finds him

Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,

Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,  500

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,  504

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  508

Of rever end 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.  512

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  516

Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus’ pause,

Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;

And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall

On Mars’s armour, forg’d for proof eterne,  520

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;  524

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.  528


It shall to the barber’s, with your beard. Prithee, say on: he’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on; come to Hecuba.  532

First Play.

But who, O! who had seen the mobled queen


‘The mobled queen?’—


That’s good; ‘mobled queen’ is good.

First Play.

Run barefoot up and down, threat’ning the flames  536

With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head

Where late the diadem stood; and, for a robe,

About her lank and all o’er-teemed loins,

A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;  540

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,  545

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,  548

And passion in the gods.


Look! wh’er he has not turned his colour and has tears in’s eyes. Prithee, no more.  551


’Tis well; I’ll have thee speak out the rest 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.  560


God’s bodikins, man, much 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.  565


Come, sirs.


Follow him, friends: we’ll hear a play to-morrow. [Exit Polonius, with all the Players but the First.] Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the Murder of Gonzago?  570

First 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?

First Play.

Ay, my lord.  576


Very well. Follow that lord; and look you mock him not. [Exit First Player.] [To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] My good friends, I’ll leave you till night; you are welcome to Elsinore.  581


Good my lord!

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.


Ay, so, God be wi’ ye! Now I am alone.

O! what a rogue and peasant slave am I:  584

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  587

That from her working all his visage wann’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!  592

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,  596

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.  600

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,  604

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?  608

Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i’ the throat,

As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?


Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be  612

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!  617

O! vengeance!

Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave

That I, the son of a dear father murder’d,  620

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!  624

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  628

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  632

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  636

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  640

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?  4


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,  8

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.  12


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  16

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  20

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  24

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,  29

That he, as ’twere by accident, may here

Affront Ophelia.

Her father and myself, lawful espials,  32

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  36

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  40

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;  44

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  48

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  52

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:  56

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  61

The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;  64

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  68

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 dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,  72

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 fardels bear,  76

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,  80

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  84

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!  88

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.  96


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  100

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.

There, my lord.


Ha, ha! are you honest?


My lord!  104


Are you fair?


What means your lordship?


That if you be honest and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.  109


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 thee once.  117


Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.


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


I was the more deceived.  123


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 heaven and earth? We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us. Go thy ways to a nunnery. Where’s your father?  135


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!  140


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. Farewell.  148


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, soldier’s, scholar’s, eye, tongue, sword;  160

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,  164

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  168

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,  172

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,  176

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  180

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  185

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;  189

But, if you hold it fit, after the play,

Let his queen mother all alone entreat him

To show his griefs: let her be round with him;  192

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:  196

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 periwigpated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rage, 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’er-doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.  17

First Play.

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 feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of which one must in your allowance 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.  40

First Play

I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us.


O! reform it altogether. And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them; for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the mean time some necessary question of the play be then to be considered; that’s 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?  52


And the queen too, and that presently.


Bid the players make haste.

[Exit Polonius.

Will you two help to hasten them?


We will, my lord.  56


We will, my lord.  56

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.


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.  60


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?  64

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  69

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  72

Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and bless’d are those

Whose blood and judgment are so well comingled

That they are not a pipe for fortune’s finger

To sound what stop she please. Give me that man  76

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;  80

One scene of it comes near the circumstance

Which I have told thee of my father’s death:

I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,

Even with the very comment of thy soul  84

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  88

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:  92

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.  96

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.  100


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


No, nor mine now. [To Polonius.] My lord, you played once i’ the university, you say?  105


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


And what did you enact?  108


I did enact Julius Cæsar: I was killed i’ the Capitol; Brutus killed me.


It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there. Be the playcrs ready?  112


Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.


Come hither, my good Hamlet, sit by me.  116


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


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


Lady, shall I lie in your lap?  120

[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.  125


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


What is, my lord?  128




You are merry, my lord.


Who, I?


Ay, my lord.  132


O God, 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.  136


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.’  146

Hautboys play. 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, and pours poison in the King’s ears, and exit. The Queen returns, finds the King dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner, with some two or three Mutes, comes in again, seeming to lament with her. The dead body is carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with gifts; she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but in the end accepts his love.



What means this, my lord?


Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.  149


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.  153


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.  157


You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the play.


For us and for our tragedy,  160

Here stooping to your clemency,

We beg your hearing patiently.


Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?  164


’Tis brief, my lord.


As woman’s love.

Enter two Players, King and Queen.

P. King.

Full thirty times hath Phœbus’ cart gone round  167

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.  172

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,  175

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.  180

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.  184

P. King.

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

My operant powers their functions leave to do:

And thou shall live in this fair world behind,

Honour’d, belov’d; and haply one as kind  188

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.  192


[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,  196

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,  200

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  204

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  208

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 love should with our fortunes change;  213

For ’tis a question left us yet to prove

Whe’r love lead fortune or else fortune love.

The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;  216

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  220

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,  224

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!  228

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  232

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!  236

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?  241


The lady doth protest too much, methinks.


O! but she’ll keep her word.  244


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.  248


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 of that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.  257

Enter Player as 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.  261


You are keen, my lord, you are keen.


It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.  264


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.  269


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,  274

On wholesome life usurp immediately.

[Pours the poison into the Sleeper’s ears.


He poisons him i’ the garden for’s estate. Hisname’s Gonzago; the story is extant, and writ in very choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.  280


The king rises.


What! frighted with false fire?


How fares my lord?


Give o’er the play.  284


Give me some light: away!


Lights, lights, lights!

[Exeunt all except Hamlet and Horatio.


Why, let the stricken deer go weep,

The hart ungalled play;  288

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.  296

For thou dost know, O Damon dear,

This realm dismantled was

Of Jove himself; and now reigns here

A very, very—pajock.  300


You might have rimed.


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


Very well, my lord.  304


Upon the talk of the poisoning?


I did very well note him.


Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!  308

For if the king like not the comedy,

Why then, belike he likes it not, perdy.

Come, some music!

Re-enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.


Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.  313


Sir, a whole history.


The king, sir,—


Ay, sir, what of him?  316


Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.


With drink, sir?


No, my lord, rather with choler.  320


Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.  324


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


I am tame, sir; pronounce.  328


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


You are welcome.  331


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.  337


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,—  344


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


O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother’s admiration? Impart.  349


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.


So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.  356


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.  360


Sir, I lack advancement.


How can that be when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?  364


Ay, sir, but ‘While the grass grows,’—the proverb is something musty.

Enter 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?  373


My lord, I cannot.


I pray you.


Believe me, I cannot.  376


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.  385


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.  396

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?  401


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


Methinks it is like a weasel.


It is backed like a weasel.  404


Or like a whale?


Very like a whale.


Then I will come to my mother by and by [Aside.] They fool me to the top of my bent. [Aloud.] I will come by and by.  409


I will say so.



By and by is easily said. Leave me, friends.

[Exeunt all but Hamlet.

’Tis now the very witching time of night,  413

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  416

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;  420

I will speak daggers to her, but use none;

My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;

How in my words soever she be shent,

To give them seals never, my soul, consent!  424


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 forth with dispatch,

And he to England shall along with you.  4

The terms of our estate may not endure

Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow

Out of his lunacies.


We will ourselves provide.

Most holy and religious fear it is  8

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  13

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  16

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,  20

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;  24

For we will fetters put upon this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.


We will haste us.


We will haste us.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Enter Polonius.


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

Behind the arras I’ll convey myself  28

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  32

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;  36

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;  40

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,  44

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 two-fold force,  48

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?’  52

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?  56

In the corrupted currents of this world

Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,

And oft ’tis seen the wicked prise itself

Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above;  60

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?  65

Yet what can it, when one can not repent?

O wretched state! O bosom black as death!

O limed soul, that struggling to be free  68

Art more engaged! 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;  73

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,  76

I, his sole son, do this same villain send

To heaven.

Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.

He took my father grossly, full of bread,  80

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,  85

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


Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent;  88

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;  92

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:  97

Words without thoughts never to heaven go.


Scene IV.— The Queen’s Apartment.

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.  4

Pray you, be round with him.


[Within.] Mother, mother, mother!


I’ll warrant you;

Fear me not. Withdraw, I hear him coming.

Polonius hides behind the arras.

Enter Hamlet.


Now, mother, what’s the matter?  8


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.  12


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.  16


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.  20


What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me?

Help, help, ho!


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


[Draws.] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras.


[Behind.] O! I am slain.  24


O me! what hast thou done?


Nay, I know not: is it the king?


O! what a rash and bloody deed is this!


A bloody deed! almost as bad, good mother,  28

As kill a king, and marry with his brother.


As kill a king!


Ay, lady, ’twas my word.

[Lifts up the arras and discovers Polonius.

[To Polonius.] Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

I took thee for thy better; take thy fortune;  32

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,  36

If damned custom have not brass’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  40

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  45

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,  49

With tristful visage, as against the doom,

Is thought-sick at the act.


Ay me! what act,

That roars so loud and thunders in the index?


Look here, upon this picture, and on this;  53

The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

See, what a grace was seated on this brow;

Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself,  56

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,  60

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 mildew’d ear,  64

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  68

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  72

Is apoplex’d; for madness would not err,

Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thrall’d

But it reserv’d some quantity of choice,  75

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

That thus hath comen’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  80

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,  84

And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame

When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,

Since first itself as actively doth burn,

And reason panders will.


O Hamlet! speak no more;

Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul;  89

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,  92

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  97

Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;

A cut-purse of the empire and the rule,

That from a shelf the precious diadem stole,  100

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?  104


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  109

Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.

But, look! amazement on thy mother sits;

O! step between her and her fighting soul;  112

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  116

And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?

Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;

And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,

Your bedded hair, like life in excrements,  120

Starts up and stands 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!  124

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  128

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;  133

My father, in his habit as he liv’d;

Look! where he goes, even now, out at the portal.

[Exit Ghost.


This is the very coinage of your brain:  136

This bodiless creation ecstasy

Is very cunning in.



My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,

And makes as healthful music. It is not madness  141

That I have utter’d: bring me to the test,

And I the matter will re-word, which madness

Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,

Lay not that flattering unction to your soul,  145

That not your trespass but my madness speaks;

It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,

Whiles rank corruption, mining all within,  148

Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;

Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come;

And do not spread the compost on the weeds

To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;  152

For in the fatness of these pursy times

Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,

Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.


O Hamlet! thou hast cleft my heart in twain.  156


O! throw away the worser part of it,

And live the purer with the other half.

Good night; but go not to mine uncle’s bed;

Assume a virtue, if you have it not.  160

That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,

Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,

That to the use of actions fair and good

He likewise gives a frock or livery,  164

That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night;

And that shall lend a kind of easiness

To the next abstinence: the next more easy;

For use almost can change the stamp of nature,

And master ev’n the devil or throw him out  169

With wondrous potency. Once more, goodnight:

And when you are desirous to be bless’d,

I’ll blessing beg of you. For this same lord,  172

[Pointing to Polonius.

I do repent: but heaven hath pleas’d it so,

To punish me with this, and this with me,

That I must be their scourge and minister.

I will bestow him, and will answer well  176

The death I gave him. So, again, good-night.

I must be cruel only to be kind:

Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

One word more, good lady.


What shall I do?  180


Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:

Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;

Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;

And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,  184

Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d fingers,

Make you to ravel all this matter out,

That I essentially am not in madness,

But mad in craft. ’Twere good you let him know;  188

For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,

Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,

Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?

No, in despite of sense and secrecy,  192

Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,

Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,

To try conclusions, in the basket creep,

And break your own neck down.  196


Be thou assur’d, if words be made of breath,

And breath of life, I have no life to breathe

What thou hast said to me.


I must to England; you know that?



I had forgot: ’tis so concluded on.  201


There’s letters seal’d; and my two schoolfellows,

Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,

They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,

And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;  205

For ’tis the sport to have the enginer

Hoist with his own petar: and it shall go hard

But I will delve one yard below their mines,  208

And blow them at the moon. O! ’tis most sweet,

When in one line two crafts directly meet.

This man shall set me packing;

I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room.  212

Mother, good-night. Indeed this counsellor

Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,

Who was in life a foolish prating knave.

Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.  216

Good-night, mother.

[Exeunt severally; Hamlet dragging in the body of Polonius.


Scene I.— A Room in the Castle.

Enter King, Queen, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.


There’s matter in these sighs, these profound heaves:

You must translate; ’tis fit we understand them.

Where is your son?


[To Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] Bestow this place on us a little while.  4

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Ah! my good lord, what have I seen to-night.


What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?


Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend

Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,  8

Behind the arras hearing something stir,

Whips out his rapier, cries, ‘A rat! a rat!’

And, in his brainish apprehension, kills

The unseen good old man.


O heavy deed!  12

It had been so with us had we been there.

His liberty is full of threats to all;

To you yourself, to us, to every one.

Alas! how shall this bloody deed be answer’d?

It will be laid to us, whose providence  17

Should have kept short, restrain’d, and out of haunt,

This mad young man: but so much was our love,

We would not understand what was most fit,  20

But, like the owner of a foul disease,

To keep it from divulging, let it feed

Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?


To draw apart the body he hath kill’d;  24

O’er whom his very madness, like some ore

Among a mineral of metals base,

Shows itself pure: he weeps for what is done.


O Gertrude! come away.  28

The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch

But we will ship him hence; and this vile deed

We must, with all our majesty and skill,

Both countenance and excuse. Ho! Guildenstern!  32

Re-enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Friends both, go join you with some further aid:

Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,

And from his mother’s closet hath he dragg’d him:

Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body

Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.  37

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends;

And let them know both what we mean to do,

And what’s untimely done: so, haply, slander,

Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter,  41

As level as the cannon to his blank

Transports his poison’d shot, may miss our name,

And hit the woundless air. O! come away;  44

My soul is full of discord and dismay.


Scene II.— Another Room in the Same.

Enter Hamlet.


Safely stowed.


[Within.] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!


[Within.] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!


What noise? who calls on Hamlet?

O! here they come.  4

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.


What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?


Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.


Tell us where ’tis, that we may take it thence

And bear it to the chapel.  8


Do not believe it.


Believe what?


That I can keep your counsel and not mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! what replication should be made by the son of a king?  14


Take you me for a sponge, my lord?


Ay, sir, that soaks up the king’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end: he keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to be last swallowed: when he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you shall be dry again.  23


I understand you not, my lord.


I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.


My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go with us to the king.  28


The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body. The king is a thing—


A thing, my lord!


Of nothing: bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after.


Scene III.— Another Room in the Same.

Enter King, attended.


I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.

How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!

Yet must not we put the strong law on him:

He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude,  4

Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;

And where ’tis so, the offender’s scourge is weigh’d,

But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,

This sudden sending him away must seem  8

Deliberate pause: diseases desperate grown

By desperate appliance are reliev’d,

Or not at all.

Enter Rosencrantz.

How now! what hath befall’n?


Where the dead body is bestow’d, my lord,  12

We cannot get from him.


But where is he?


Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.


Bring him before us.


Ho, Guildenstern! bring in my lord.  16

Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern.


Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?


At supper.


At supper! Where?


Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service; two dishes, but to one table: that’s the end.


Alas, alas!  28


A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.


What dost thou mean by this?  32


Nothing, but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.


Where is Polonius?  35


In heaven; send thither to see: if your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ the other place yourself. But, indeed, if you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.  40


[To some Attendants.] Go seek him there.


He will stay till you come.

[Exeunt Attendants.


Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,

Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve  44

For that which thou hast done, must send thee hence

With fiery quickness: therefore prepare thyself;

The bark is ready, and the wind at help,

The associates tend, and every thing is bent  48

For England.


For England!


Ay, Hamlet.




So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.


I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for England! Farewell, dear mother.  52


Thy loving father, Hamlet.


My mother: father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother. Come, for England!



Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard:  57

Delay it not, I’ll have him hence to-night.

Away! for every thing is seal’d and done

That else leans on the affair: pray you, make haste.  60

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

And, England, if my love thou hold’st at aught,—

As my great power thereof may give thee sense,

Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red

After the Danish sword, and thy free awe  64

Pays homage to us,—thou mayst not coldly set

Our sovereign process, which imports at full,

By letters conjuring to that effect,

The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;

For like the hectic in my blood he rages,  69

And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,

Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun.


Scene IV.— A Plain in Denmark.

Enter Fortinbras, a Captain, and Soldiers, marching.


Go, captain, from me greet the Danish king;

Tell him that, by his licence, Fortinbras

Claims the conveyance of a promis’d march

Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.  4

If that his majesty would aught with us,

We shall express our duty in his eye,

And let him know so.


I will do ’t, my lord.


Go softly on.  8

[Exeunt Fortinbras and Soldiers.

Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, &c.


Good sir, whose powers are these?


They are of Norway, sir.


How purpos’d, sir, I pray you?


Against some part of Poland.  12


Who commands them, sir?


The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.


Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,

Or for some frontier?  16


Truly to speak, and with no addition,

We go to gain a little patch of ground

That hath in it no profit but the name.

To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;  20

Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.


Why, then the Polack never will defend it.


Yes, ’tis already garrison’d.  24


Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats

Will not debate the question of this straw:

This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,

That inward breaks, and shows no cause without  28

Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.


God be wi’ you, sir.



Will ’t please you go, my lord?


I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.

[Exeunt all except Hamlet.

How all occasions do inform against me,  32

And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.

Sure he that made us with such large discourse,  36

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and god-like reason

To fust in us unus’d. Now, whe’r it be

Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple  40

Of thinking too precisely on the event,

A thought, which, quarter’d, hath but one part wisdom,

And ever three parts coward, I do not know

Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do;’  44

Sith I have cause and will and strength and means

To do ’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me:

Witness this army of such mass and charge

Led by a delicate and tender prince,  48

Whose spirit with divine ambition puff’d

Makes mouths at the invisible event,

Exposing what is mortal and unsure

To all that fortune, death and danger dare,  52

Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honour’s at the stake. How stand I then,

That have a father kill’d, a mother stain’d,  57

Excitements of my reason and my blood,

And let all sleep, while, to my shame, I see

The imminent death of twenty thousand men,

That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,  61

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

Which is not tomb enough and continent  64

To hide the slaim? O! from this time forth,

My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!


Scene V.— Elsinore. A Room in the Castle.

Enter Queen, Horatio, and a Gentleman.


I will not speak with her.


She is importunate, indeed distract:

Her mood will needs be pitied.


What would she have?


She speaks much of her father; says she hears  4

There’s tricks i’ the world; and hems, and beats her heart;

Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,

That carry but half sense: her speech is nothing,

Yet the unshaped use of it doth move  8

The hearers to collection; they aim at it,

And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;

Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them,

Indeed would make one think there might be thought,  12

Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.


’Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew

Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.


Let her come in.

[Exit Gentleman.

To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is,  17

Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss:

So full of artless jealousy is guilt,

It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.  20

Re-enter Gentleman, with Ophelia.


Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?


How now, Ophelia!


How should I your true love know

From another one?  24

By his cockle hat and staff,

And his sandal shoon.


Alas! sweet lady, what imports this song?


Say you? nay, pray you, mark.  28

He is dead and gone, lady,

He is dead and gone;

At his head a grass-green turf;

At his heals a stone.  32

O, ho!


Nay, but Ophelia,—


Pray you, mark.

White his shroud as the mountain snow,—  36

Enter King.


Alas! look here, my lord.


Larded with sweet flowers;

Which bewept to the grave did go

With true-love showers.  40


How do you, pretty lady?


Well, God ’ild you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord! we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table!  45


Conceit upon her father.


Pray you, let’s have no words of this; but when they ask you what it means, say you this:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,  49

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine:  52

Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,

And dupp’d the chamber door;

Let in the maid, that out a maid

Never departed more.  56


Pretty Ophelia!


Indeed, la! without an oath, I’ll make an end on ’t:

By Gis and by Saint Charity,

Alack, and fie for shame!  60

Young men will do’t, if they come to’t;

By Cock they are to blame.

Quoth she, before you tumbled me,

You promis’d me to wed:  64

So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,

An thou hadst not come to my bed.


How long hath she been thus?  67


I hope all will be well. We must be patient: but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i’ the cold ground. My brother shall know of it: and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good-night, ladies; good-night, sweet ladies; good-night, good-night.



Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you.

[Exit Horatio.

O! this is the poison of deep grief; it springs  76

All from her father’s death. O Gertrude, Gertrude!

When sorrows come, they come not single spies,

But in battalions. First, her father slain;

Next, your son gone; but he most violent author  80

Of his own just remove: the people muddied,

Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers,

For good Polonius’ death; and we have done but greenly,

In hugger-mugger to inter him: poor Ophelia

Divided from herself and her fair judgment,  85

Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts:

Last, and as much containing as all these,

Her brother is in secret come from France,  88

Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,

And wants not buzzers to infect his ear

With pestilent speeches of his father’s death;

Wherein necessity, of matter beggar’d,  92

Will nothing stick our person to arraign

In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude! this,

Like to a murdering-piece, in many places

Gives me superfluous death.

[A noise within.


Alack! what noise is this?

Enter a Gentleman.


Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.  97

What is the matter?


Save yourself, my lord;

The ocean, overpeering of his list,

Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste

Than young Laertes, in a riotous head,  101

O’erbears your officers. The rabble call him lord;

And, as the world were now but to begin,

Antiquity forgot, custom not known,  104

The ratifiers and props of every word,

They cry, ‘Choose we; Laertes shall be king!’

Caps, hands, and tongues, applaud it to the clouds,

‘Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!’  108


How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!

O! this is counter, you false Danish dogs!


The doors are broke.

[Noise within.

Enter Laertes, armed; Danes following.


Where is the king? Sirs, stand you all without.  112


No, let’s come in.


I pray you, give me leave.


We will, we will.

[They retire without the door.


I thank you: keep the door. O thou vile king!

Give me my father.


Calmly, good Laertes.  116


That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,

Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot

Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brow

Of my true mother.


What is the cause, Laertes,

That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?  121

Let him go, Gertrude; do not fear our person:

There’s such divinity doth hedge a king,

That treason can but peep to what it would,

Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes,  125

Why thou art thus incens’d. Let him go, Gertrude.

Speak, man.


Where is my father?




But not by him.


Let him demand his fill.  128


How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with.

To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil!

Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!

I dare damnation. To this point I stand,  132

That both the worlds I give to negligence,

Let come what comes; only I’ll be reveng’d

Most throughly for my father.


Who shall stay you?


My will, not all the world:  136

And, for my means, I’ll husband them so well,

They shall go far with little.


Good Laertes,

If you desire to know the certainty

Of your dear father’s death, is’t writ in your revenge,  140

That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe,

Winner and loser?


None but his enemies.


Will you know them then?


To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my arms;  144

And like the kind life-rendering pelican,

Repast them with my blood.


Why, now you speak

Like a good child and a true gentleman.

That I am guiltless of your father’s death,  148

And am most sensibly in grief for it,

It shall as level to your judgment pierce

As day does to your eye.


[Within.] Let her come in.


How now! what noise is that?  152

Re-enter Ophelia.

O heat, dry up my brains! tears seven times salt,

Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye;

By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight,

Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May!

Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!  157

O heavens! is’t possible a young maid’s wits

Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?

Nature is fine in love, and where ’tis fine  160

It sends some precious instance of itself

After the thing it loves.


They bore him barefac’d on the bier;

Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny;  164

And in his grave rain’d many a tear;—

Fare you well, my dove!


Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,

It could not move thus.  168


You must sing, a-down a-down,

And you call him a-down-a.

O how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward that stole his master’s daughter.  172


This nothing’s more than matter.


There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; brance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.  176

Hamlet, by Henrietta Rae.


A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.


There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you; and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O! you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy; I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say he made a good end,—  185

For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.


Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,

She turns to favour and to prettiness.  188


And will he not come again?

And will he not come again?

No, no, he is dead;

Go to thy death-bed,  192

He never will come again.

His beard was as white as snow

All fiaxen was his poll,

He is gone, he is gone,  196

And we cast away moan:

God ha’ mercy on his soul!

And of all Christian souls! I pray God. God be wi’ ye!



Do you see this, O God?  201


Laertes, I must common with your grief,

Or you deny me right. Go but apart,

Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,  204

And they shall hear and judge ’twixt you and me.

If by direct or by collateral hand

They find us touch’d, we will our kingdom give,

Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,  208

To you in satisfaction; but if not,

Be you content to lend your patience to us,

And we shall jointly labour with your soul

To give it due content.


Let this be so:  212

His means of death, his obscure burial,

No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones,

No noble rite nor formal ostentation,

Cry to be heard, as ’twere from heaven to earth,

That I must call ’t in question.


So you shall;  217

And where the offence is let the great axe fall.

I pray you go with me.


Scene VI.— Another Room in the Same.

Enter Horatio and a Servant.


What are they that would speak with me?


Sailors, sir: they say, they have letters for you.


Let them come in.

[Exit Servant.

I do not know from what part of the world  4

I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.

Enter Sailors.

First Sail.

God bless you, sir.


Let him bless thee too.

Sec. Sail.

He shall, sir, an’t please him. There’s a letter for you, sir;—it comes from the ambassador that was bound for England;—if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.  12


Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the king: they have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very war-like appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour; in the grapple I boarded them: on the instant they got clear of our ship, so I alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy, but they knew what they did; I am to do a good turn for them. Let the king have the letters I have sent; and repair thou to me with as much haste as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England: of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell.

He that thou knowest thine,  32


Come, I will give you way for these your letters;

And do ’t the speedier, that you may direct me

To him from whom you brought them.


Scene VII.— Another Room in the Same.

Enter King and Laertes.


Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,

And you must put me in your heart for friend,

Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,

That he which hath your noble father slain  4

Pursu’d my life.


It well appears: but tell me

Why you proceeded not against these feats,

So crimeful and so capital in nature,

As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,  8

You mainly were stirr’d up.


O! for two special reasons;

Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew’d,

But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother

Lives almost by his looks, and for myself,—  12

My virtue or my plague, be it either which,—

She’s so conjunctive to my life and soul,

That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,

I could not but by her. The other motive,  16

Why to a public count I might not go,

Is the great love the general gender bear him;

Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,

Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,  20

Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows,

Too slightly timber’d for so loud a wind,

Would have reverted to my bow again,

And not where I had aim’d them.  24


And so have I a noble father lost;

A sister driven into desperate terms,

Whose worth, if praises may go back again,

Stood challenger on mount of all the age  28

For her perfections. But my revenge will come.


Break not your sleeps for that; you must not think

That we are made of stuff so flat and dull

That we can let our beard be shook with danger

And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more;  33

I lov’d your father, and we love ourself,

And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine,—

Enter a Messenger.

How now! what news?


Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:

This to your majesty; this to the queen.  37


From Hamlet! who brought them?


Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not:

They were given me by Claudio, he receiv’d them  40

Of him that brought them.


Laertes, you shall hear them.

Leave us.

[Exit Messenger.

High and mighty, you shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes; when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasions of my sudden and more strange return


What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?  49

Or is it some abuse and no such thing?


Know you the hand?


’Tis Hamlet’s character. ‘Naked,’

And in a postscript here, he says, ‘alone.’  52

Can you advise me?


I’m lost in it, my lord. But let him come:

It warms the very sickness in my heart,

That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,  56

‘Thus diddest thou.’


If it be so, Laertes,

As how should it be so? how otherwise?

Will you be rul’d by me?


Ay, my lord;

So you will not o’er-rule me to a peace.  60


To thine own peace. If he be now return’d,

As checking at his voyage, and that he means

No more to undertake it, I will work him

To an exploit, now ripe in my device,  64

Under the which he shall not choose but fall;

And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,

But even his mother shall uncharge the practice

And call it accident.


My lord, I will be rul’d;  68

The rather, if you could devise it so

That I might be the organ.


It falls right.

You have been talk’d of since your travel much,

And that in Hamlet’s hearing, for a quality  72

Wherein, they say, you shine; your sum of parts

Did not together pluck such envy from him

As did that one, and that, in my regard,

Of the unworthiest siege.


What part is that, my lord?  76


A very riband in the cap of youth,

Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes

The light and careless livery that it wears

Than settled age his sables and his weeds,  80

Importing health and graveness. Two months since

Here was a gentleman of Normandy:

I’ve seen myself, and serv’d against, the French,

And they can well on horseback; but this gallant  84

Had witchcraft in ’t, he grew unto his seat,

And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,

As he had been incorps’d and demi-natur’d

With the brave beast; so far he topp’d my thought,  88

That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,

Come short of what he did.


A Norman was ’t?


A Norman.


Upon my life, Lamord.


The very same.  92


I know him well; he is the brooch indeed

And gem of all the nation.


He made confession of you,

And gave you such a masterly report  96

For art and exercise in your defence,

And for your rapier most especially,

That he cried out, ’twould be a sight indeed

If one could match you; the scrimers of their nation,  100

He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye,

If you oppos’d them. Sir, this report of his

Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy

That he could nothing do but wish and beg  104

Your sudden coming o’er, to play with him.

Now, out of this,—


What out of this, my lord?


Laertes, was your father dear to you?

Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,  108

A face without a heart?


Why ask you this?


Not that I think you did not love your father,

But that I know love is begun by time,

And that I see, in passages of proof,  112

Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.

There lives within the very flame of love

A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it,

And nothing is at a like goodness still,  116

For goodness, growing to a plurisy,

Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,

We should do when we would, for this ‘would’ changes,

And hath abatements and delays as many  120

As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;

And then this ‘should’ is like a spendthrift sigh,

That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o’ the ulcer;

Hamlet comes back; what would you undertake

To show yourself your father’s son in deed  125

More than in words?


To cut his throat i’ the church.


No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;

Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,  128

Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.

Hamlet return’d shall know you are come home;

We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence,

And set a double varnish on the fame  132

The Frenchman gave you, bring you, in fine, together,

And wager on your heads: he, being remise,

Most generous and free from all contriving,

Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease  136

Or with a little shuffling, you may choose

A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice

Requite him for your father.


I will do ’t;

And, for that purpose, I’ll anoint my sword.  140

I bought an unction of a mountebank,

So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,

Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,

Collected from all simples that have virtue  144

Under the moon, can save the thing from death

That is but scratch’d withal; I’ll touch my point

With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,

It may be death.


Let’s further think of this;  148

Weigh what convenience both of time and means

May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,

And that our drift look through our bad performance  151

’Twere better not assay’d; therefore this project

Should have a back or second, that might hold,

If this should blast in proof. Soft! let me see;

We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings:

I ha’t:  156

When in your motion you are hot and dry,—

As make your bouts more violent to that end,—

And that he calls for drink, I’ll have prepar’d him

A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,

If he by chance escape your venom’d stuck,  161

Our purpose may hold there. But stay! what noise?

Enter Queen.

How now, sweet queen!


One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,  164

So fast they follow: your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.


Drown’d! O, where?


There is a willow grows aslant a brook,

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;

There with fantastic garlands did she come,  169

Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,

That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,

But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:  172

There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds

Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke,

When down her weedy trophies and herself

Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,  176

And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;

Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,

As one incapable of her own distress,

Or like a creature native and indu’d  180

Unto that element; but long it could not be

Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,

Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay

To muddy death.


Alas! then, she is drown’d?  184


Drown’d, drown’d.


Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelis,

And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet

It is our trick, nature her custom holds,  188

Let shame say what it will; when these are gone

The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord!

I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze,

But that this folly douts it.



Let’s follow, Gertrude.

How much I had to do to calm his rage!  193

Now fear I this will give it start again;

Therefore let’s follow.



Scene I.— A Churchyard.

Enter two Clowns, with spades and mattock.

First Clo.

Is she to be buried in Christian burial that wilfully seeks her own salvation?

Sec. Clo.

I tell thee she is; and therefore make her grave straight: the crowner hath sat on her, and finds it Christian burial.  5

First Clo.

How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defence?

Sec. Clo.

Why, ’tis found so.  8

First Clo.

It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly it argues an act; and an act hath three branches; it is, to act, to do, and to perform: argal, she drowned herself wittingly.

Sec. Clo.

Nay, but hear you, goodman delver,—

First Clo.

Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good: if the man go to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes; mark you that? but if the water come to him, and drown him, he drowns not himself: argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.  21

Sec. Clo.

But is this law?

First Clo.

Ay, marry, is ’t; crowner’s quest law.  24

Sec. Clo.

Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman she should have been buried out o’ Christian burial.  27

First Clo.

Why, there thou sayest; and the more pity that great folk should have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves more than their even Christian. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam’s profession.  34

Sec. Clo.

Was he a gentleman?

First Clo.

A’ was the first that ever bore arms.

Sec. Clo.

Why, he had none.  37

First Clo.

What! art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says, Adam digged; could be dig without arms?

I’ll put another question to thee; if thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself—

Sec. Clo.

Go to.  43

First Clo.

What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?

Sec. Clo.

The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.  48

First Clo.

I like thy wit well, in good faith; the gallows does well, but how does it well? it does well to those that do ill; now thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church: argal, the gallows may do well to thee.

To ’t again; come.

Sec. Clo.

Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?  56

First Clo.

Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

Sec. Clo.

Marry, now I can tell.

First Clo.

To ’t.

Sec. Clo.

Mass, I cannot tell.  60

Enter Hamlet and Horatio at a distance.

First Clo.

Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when you are asked this question next, say, ‘a grave-maker:’ the houses that he makes last till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of liquor.

[Exit Second Clown.

First Clown digs, and sings.

In youth, when I did love, did love,

Methought it was very sweet,  68

To contract, O! the time, for-a my behove,

O! methought there was nothing meet.


Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?  72


Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.


’Tis e’en so; the hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.  76

First Clo.

But age, with his stealing steps,

Hath claw’d me in his clutch,

And hath shipped me intil the land,

As if I had never been such.  80

[Throws up a skull.


That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once; how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jaw-bone, that did the first murder! This might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o’er-offices, one that would circumvent God, might it not?  86


It might, my lord.


Or of a courtier, which could say, ‘Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?’ This might be my Lord Such-a-one, that praised my Lord Such-a-one’s horse, when he meant to beg it, might it not?  92


Ay, my lord.


Why, e’en so, and now my Lady Worm’s; chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggats with ’em? mine ache to think on ’t.

First Clo.

A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade,  100

For and a shrouding sheet;

O! a pit of clay for to be made

For such a guest is meet.

[Throws up another skull.


There’s another; why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries; is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyance of his lands will hardly lie in this box, and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?  120


Not a jot more, my lord.


Is not parchment made of sheep-skins?


Ay, my lord, and of calf-skins too.  123


They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow. Whose grave’s this, sir?

First Clo.

Mine, sir,

O! a pit of clay for to be made  128

For such a guest is meet.


I think it be thine, indeed; for thou liest in ’t.

First Clo.

You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours; for my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine.  134


Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine: ’tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.

First Clo.

’Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again, from me to you.


What man dost thou dig it for?  140

First Clo.

For no man, sir.


What woman, then?

First Clo.

For none, neither.


Who is to be buried in ’t?  144

First Clo.

One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she’s dead.


How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it; the age is grown so picked that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe. How long hast thou been a grave-maker?  153

First Clo.

Of all the days i’ the year, I came to ’t that day that our last King Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.  156


How long is that since?

First Clo.

Cannot you tell that? every fool can tell that; it was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that is mad, and sent into England.  161


Ay, marry; why was he sent into England?

First Clo.

Why, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits there; or, if he do not, ’tis no great matter there  166



First Clo.

’Twill not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he.  169


How came he mad?

First Clo.

Very strangely, they say.


How strangely?  172

First Clo.

Faith, e’en with losing his wits.


Upon what ground?

First Clo.

Why, here in Denmark; I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.  176


How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?

First Clo.

Faith, if he be not rotten before he die,—as we have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce hold the laying in,—he will last you some eight year or nine year; a tanner will last you nine year.


Why he more than another?  184

First Clo.

Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that he will keep out water a great while, and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. Here’s a skull now; this skull hath lain you i’ the earth three-and-twenty years.  190


Whose was it?

First Clo.

A whoreson mad fellow’s it was: whose do you think it was?


Nay, I know not.  194

First Clo.

A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a’ poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.



First Clo.

E’en that.  200


Let me see.—[Takes the skull.]—Alas! poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.


What’s that, my lord?  216


Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ the earth?


E’en so.


And smelt so? pah!  220

[Puts down the skull.


E’en so, my lord.


To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole?  225


’Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.


No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam, and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?

Imperious Cæsar, dead and turn’d to clay,

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:  236

O! that that earth, which kept the world in awe,

Should patch a wall to expal the winter’s flaw.

But soft! but soft! aside: here comes the king.

Enter Priests, &c., in procession: the Corpse of Ophelia, Laertes and Mourners following; King, Queen, their Trains, &c.

The queen, the courtiers: who is that they follow?  240

And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken

The corse they follow did with desperate hand

Fordo its own life; ’twas of some estate.

Couch we awhile, and mark.  244

[Retiring with Horatio.


What ceremony else?


That is Laertes,

A very noble youth: mark.


What ceremony else?

First Priest.

Her obsequies have been as far enlarg’d  248

As we have warrantise: her death was doubtful,

And, but that great command o’ersways the order,

She should in ground unsanctified have lodg’d

Till the last trumpet; for charitable prayers,  252

Shards, flints, and pebbles should be thrown on her;

Yet here she is allow’d her virgin crants,

Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home

Of bell and burial.  256


Must there no more be done?

First Priest.

No more be done:

We should profane the service of the dead,

To sing a requiem, and such rest to her

As to peace-parted souls.


Lay her i’ the earth;  260

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh

May violets spring! I tell thee, churlish priest,

A ministering angel shall my sister be,

When thou liest howling.


What! the fair Ophelia?  264


Sweets to the sweet: farewell!

[Scattering flowers.

I hop’d thou shouldst have been my Hamlet’s wife;

I thought thy bride-bed to have deck’d, sweet maid,

And not have strew’d thy grave.


O! treble woe  268

Fall ten times treble on that cursed head

Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense

Depriv’d thee of. Hold off the earth awhile,

Till I have caught her once more in mine arms.

[Leaps into the grave.

Now pile your dust upon the quick and dead,

Till of this flat a mountain you have made,  274

To o’er-top old Pelion or the skyish head

Of blue Olympus.


[Advancing.] What is he whose grief

Bears such an emphasis? whose phrase of sorrow  277

Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand

Like wonder-wounded hearers? this is I,

Hamlet the Dane.

[Leaps into the grave.


The devil take thy soul!  280

[Grapples with him.


Thou pray’st not well.

I prithee, take thy fingers from my throat;

For though I am not splenetive and rash

Yet have I in me something dangerous,  284

Which let thy wisdom fear. Away thy hand!


Pluck them asunder.


Hamlet! Hamlet!




Good my lord, be quiet.

[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the grave.


Why, I will fight with him upon this theme  288

Until my eyelids will no longer wag.


O my son! what theme?


I lov’d Ophelia: forty thousand brothers

Could not, with all their quantity of love,  292

Make up my sum. What wilt thou do for her?


O! he is mad, Laertes.


For love of God, forbear him.


’Swounds, show me what thou’lt do:

Woo’t weep? woo’t fight? woo’t fast? woo’t tear thyself?  297

Woo’t drink up eisel? eat a crocodile?

I’ll do’t. Dost thou come here to whine?

To outface me with leaping in her grave?  300

Be buried quick with her, and so will I:

And, if thou prate of mountains, let them throw

Millions of acres on us, till our ground,

Singeing his pate against the burning zone,  304

Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou’lt mouth,

I’ll rant as well as thou.


This is mere madness:

And thus a while the fit will work on him;

Anon, as patient as the female dove,  308

When that her golden couplets are disclos’d,

His silence will sit drooping.


Hear you, sir;

What is the reason that you use me thus?

I lov’d you ever: but it is no matter;  312

Let Hercules himself do what he may,

The cat will mew and dog will have his day.



I pray you, good Horatio, wait upon him.

[Exit Horatio.

[To Laertes.] Strengthen your patience in our last night’s speech;  316

We’ll put the matter to the present push.

Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.

This grave shall have a living monument:

An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;  320

Till then, in patience our proceeding be.


Scene II.— A Hall in the Castle.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio.


So much for this, sir: now shall you see the other;

You do remember all the circumstance?


Remember it, my lord?


Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting  4

That would not let me sleep; methought I lay

Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly,—

And prais’d be rashness for it, let us know,

Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well  8

When our deep plots do pall; and that should teach us

There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,

Rough-hew them how we will.


That is most certain.


Up from my cabin,  12

My sea-gown scarf’d about me, in the dark

Grop’d I to find out them, had my desire,

Finger’d their packet, and in fine withdrew

To mine own room again; making so bold—  16

My fears forgetting manners—to unseal

Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio,

O royal knavery! an exact command,

Larded with many several sorts of reasons  20

Importing Denmark’s health, and England’s too,

With, ho! such bugs and goblins in my life,

That, on the supervise, no leisure bated,

No, not to stay the grinding of the axe,  24

My head should be struck off.


Is ’t possible?


Here’s the commission: read it at more leisure.

But wilt thou hear me how I did proceed?


I beseech you.  28


Being thus be-netted round with villanies,—

Ere I could make a prologue to my brains

They had begun the play,—I sat me down,

Devis’d a new commission, wrote it fair;  32

I once did hold it, as our statists do,

A baseness to write fair, and labour’d much

How to forget that learning; but, sir, now

It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know  36

The effect of what I wrote?


Ay, good my lord.


An earnest conjuration from the king,

As England was his faithful tributary,

As love between them like the palm should flourish,  40

As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,

And stand a comma ’tween their amities,

And many such-like ‘As’es of great charge,

That, on the view and knowing of these contents,  44

Without debatement further, more or less,

He should the bearers put to sudden death,

Not shriving-time allow’d.


How was this seal’d?


Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.  48

I had my father’s signet in my purse,

Which was the model of that Danish seal;

Folded the writ up in form of the other,

Subscrib’d it, gave’t th’ impression, plac’d it safely,  52

The changeling never known. Now, the next day

Was our sea-fight, and what to this was sequent

Thou know’st already.


So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to ’t.  56


Why, man, they did make love to this employment;

They are not near my conscience; their defeat

Does by their own insinuation grow.

’Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes  60

Between the pass and fell-incensed points

Of mighty opposites.


Why, what a king is this!


Does it not, thinks’t thee, stand me now upon—

He that hath kill’d my king and whor’d my mother,  64

Popp’d in between the election and my hopes,

Thrown out his angle for my proper life,

And with such cozenage—is ’t not perfect conscience

To quit him with this arm? and is ’t not to be damn’d  68

To let this canker of our nature come

In further evil?


It must be shortly known to him from England

What is the issue of the business there.  72


It will be short: the interim is mine;

And a man’s life’s no more than to say ‘One.’

But I am very sorry, good Horatio,

That to Laertes I forgot myself;  76

For, by the image of my cause, I see

The portraiture of his: I’ll count his favours:

But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me

Into a towering passion.


Peace! who comes here?  80

Enter Osric.


Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.


I humbly thank you, sir. [Aside to Horatio.] Dost know this water-fly?  84


[Aside to Hamlet.] No, my good lord.


[Aside to Horatio.] Thy state is the more gracious; for ’tis a vice to know him. He hath much land, and fertile: let a beast be lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king’s mess: ’tis a chough; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.  91


Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.


I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit. Your bonnet to his right use; ’tis for the head.  97


I thank your lordship, ’tis very hot.


No, believe me, ’tis very cold; the wind is northerly.  100


It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.


But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion.  103


Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as ’twere, I cannot tell how. But, my lord, his majesty bade me signify to you that he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter,—  108


I beseech you, remember—

[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat.


Nay, good my lord; for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes; believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society and great showing; indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see.  117


Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I know, to divide him inventorially would dizzy the arithmetic of memory, and yet but yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article; and his infusion of such dearth and rareness, as, to make true diction of him, his semblable is his mirror; and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more.


Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.  128


The concernancy, sir? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more rawer breath?




Is ’t not possible to understand in another tongue? You will do ’t, sir, really.  133


What imports the nomination of this gentleman?


Of Laertes?  136


His purse is empty already; all ’s golden words are spent.


Of him, sir.


I know you are not ignorant—  140


I would you did, sir; in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me. Well, sir.


You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is—  144


I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence; but, to know a man well, were to know himself.  147


I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed he’s unfellowed.


What’s his weapon?


Rapier and dagger.  152


That’s two of his weapons; but, well.


The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses; against the which he has imponed, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and so: three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy, very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of very liberal conceit.  160


What call you the carriages?


I knew you must be edified by the margent, ere you had done.


The carriages, sir, are the hangers.  164


The phrase would be more german to the matter, if we could carry cannon by our sides; I would it might be hangers till then. But, on; six Barbary horses against six French swords, their assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages; that’s the French bet against the Danish. Why is this ‘imponed,’ as you call it?


The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid on twelve for nine, and it would come to immediate trial, if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.  176


How if I answer no?


I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.


Sir, I will walk here in the hall; if it please his majesty, ’tis the breathing time of day with me; let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hold his purpose, I will win for him an I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd hits.  185


Shall I re-deliver you so?


To this effect, sir; after what flourish your nature will.  188


I commend my duty to your lordship.


Yours, yours. [Exit Osric.] He does well to commend it himself; there are no tongues else for ’s turn.  192


This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.


He did comply with his dug before he sucked it. Thus has he—and many more of the same bevy, that I know the drossy age dotes on—only got the tune of the time and outward habit of encounter, a kind of yesty collection which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.  202

Enter a Lord.


My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him, that you attend him in the hall; he sends to know if your pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will take longer time.  207


I am constant to my purposes; they follow the king’s pleasure: if his fitness speaks, mine is ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able as now.


The king, and queen, and all are coming down.  213


In happy time.


The queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes before you fall to play.  217


She well instructs me.

[Exit Lord.


You will lose this wager, my lord.


I do not think so; since he went into France, I have been in continual practice; I shall win at the odds. But thou wouldst not think how ill all ’s here about my heart; but it is no matter.  224


Nay, good my lord,—


It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gain-giving as would perhaps trouble a woman.  228


If your mind dislike any thing, obey it; I will forestal their repair hither, and say you are not fit.  231


Not a whit, we defy augury; there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is ’t to leave betimes? Let be.  238

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords, Osric, and Attendants with foils, &c.


Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.

[The King puts the hand of Laertes into that of Hamlet.


Give me your pardon, sir; I’ve done you wrong;

But pardon ’t, as you are a gentleman.

This presence knows,

And you must needs have heard, how I am punish’d

With sore distraction. What I have done,  244

That might your nature, honour and exception

Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.

Was’t Hamlet wrong’d Laertes? Never Hamlet:

If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,  248

And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,

Then Hamlet does it not; Hamlet denies it.

Who does it then? His madness. If ’t be so,

Hamlet is of the faction that is wrong’d;  252

His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.

Sir, in this audience,

Let my disclaiming from a purpos’d evil

Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,

That I have shot mine arrow o’er the house,  257

And hurt my brother.


I am satisfied in nature,

Whose motive, in this case, should stir me most

To my revenge; but in my terms of honour  260

I stand aloof, and will no reconcilement,

Till by some elder masters, of known honour,

I have a voice and precedent of peace,

To keep my name ungor’d. But till that time,

I do receive your offer’d love like love,  265

And will not wrong it.


I embrace it freely;

And will this brother’s wager frankly play.

Give us the foils. Come on.


Come, one for me.  268


I’ll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance

Your skill shall, like a star i’ the darkest night,

Stick fiery off indeed.


You mock me, sir.


No, by this hand.  272


Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,

You know the wager?


Very well, my lord;

Your Grace hath laid the odds o’ the weaker side.


I do not fear it; I have seen you both;

But since he is better’d, we have therefore odds.


This is too heavy; let me see another.


This likes me well. These foils have all a length?


Ay, my good lord.  280

[They prepare to play.


Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.

If Hamlet give the first or second hit,

Or quit in answer of the third exchange,

Let all the battlements their ordnance fire;  284

The king shall drink to Hamlet’s better breath;

And in the cup an union shall he throw,

Richer than that which four successive kings

In Denmark’s crown have worn. Give me the cups;  288

And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,

The trumpet to the cannoneer without,

The cannons to the heavens, the heavens to earth,

‘Now the king drinks to Hamlet!’ Come, begin;

And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.  293


Come on, sir.


Come, my lord.

[They play.








A hit, a very palpable hit.


Well; again.


Stay; give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine;  296

Here’s to thy health. Give him the cup.

[Trumpets sound; and cannon shot off within.


I’ll play this bout first; set it by awhile.

Come.—[They play.] Another hit; what say you?


A touch, a touch, I do confess.  300


Our son shall win.


He’s fat, and scant of breath.

Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows;

The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.


Good madam!


Gertrude, do not drink.  304


I will, my lord; I pray you, pardon me.


[Aside.] It is the poison’d cup! it is too late.


I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.


Come, let me wipe thy face.  308


My lord, I’ll hit him now.


I do not think ’t


[Aside.] And yet ’tis almost ’gainst my conscience.


Come, for the third, Laertes. You but dally;

I pray you, pass with your best violence.  312

I am afeard you make a wanton of me.


Say you so? come on.

[They play


Nothing, neither way.


Have at you now.

[Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes.


Part them! they are incens’d


Nay, come, again.

[The Queen falls.


Look to the queen there, ho!


They bleed on both sides. How is it, my lord?


How is it, Laertes?


Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric;  320

I am justly kill’d with mine own treachery.


How does the queen?


She swounds to see them bleed.


No, no, the drink, the drink,—O my dear Hamlet!  323

The drink, the drink; I am poison’d.



O villany! Ho! let the door be lock’d:

Treachery! seek it out.

[Laertes falls.


It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain;

No medicine in the world can do thee good;  328

In thee there is not half an hour of life;

The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,

Unbated and envenom’d. The foul practice

Hath turn’d itself on me; lo! here I lie,  332

Never to rise again. Thy mother’s poison’d.

I can no more. The king, the king’s to blame.


The point envenom’d tool—.

Then, venom, to thy work.

[Stabs the King.


Treason! treason!  337


O! yet defend me, friends; I am but hurt.


Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,

Drink off this potion;—is thy union here?  340

Follow my mother.

[King dies.


He is justly serv’d;

It is a poison temper’d by himself.

Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:

Mine and my father’s death come not upon thee,

Nor thine on me!



Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.  346

I am dead, Horatio. Wretched queen, adieu!

You that look pale and tremble at this chance,

That are but mutes or audience to this act,  349

Had I but time,—as this fell sergeant, death,

Is strict in his arrest,—O! I could tell you—

But let it be. Horatio, I am dead;  352

Thou liv’st; report me and my cause aright

To the unsatisfied.


Never believe it;

I am more an antique Roman than a Dane:

Here’s yet some liquor left.


As thou’rt a man,  356

Give me the cup: let go; by heaven, I’ll have ’t.

O God! Horatio, what a wounded name,

Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me.

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,  360

Absent thee from felicity awhile,

And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,

To tell my story.

[March afar off, and shot within.

What war-like noise is this?


Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,  364

To the ambassadors of England gives

This war-like volley.


O! I die, Horatio;

The potent poison quite o’er-crows my spirit:

I cannot live to hear the news from England,  368

But I do prophesy the election lights

On Fortinbras: he has my dying voice;

So tell him, with the occurrents, more and less,

Which have solicited—The rest is silence.



Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince,  373

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

Why does the drum come hither?

[March within.

Enter Fortinbras, the English Ambassadors, and Others.


Where is this sight?


What is it ye would see?  376

If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.


This quarry cries on havoc. O proud death!

What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,

That thou so many princes at a shot  380

So bloodily hast struck?

First Amb.

The sight is dismal;

And our affairs from England come too late:

The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,

To tell him his commandment is fulfill’d,  384

That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.

Where should we have our thanks?


Not from his mouth,

Had it the ability of life to thank you:  387

He never gave commandment for their death.

But since, so jump upon this bloody question,

You from the Polack wars, and you from England,

Are here arriv’d, give order that these bodies

High on a stage be placed to the view;  392

And let me speak to the yet unknowing world

How these things came about: so shall you hear

Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,

Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;  396

Of deaths put on by cunning and forc’d cause,

And, in this upshot, purposes mistook

Fall’n on the inventors’ heads; all this can I

Truly deliver.


Let us haste to hear it,  400

And call the noblest to the audience.

For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune;

I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,

Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.  404


Of that I shall have also cause to speak,

And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more:

But let this same be presently perform’d,

Even while men’s minds are wild, lest more mischance  408

On plots and errors happen.


Let four captains

Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;

For he was likely, had he been put on,

To have prov’d most royally: and, for his passage,  412

The soldiers’ music and the rites of war

Speak loudly for him.

Take up the bodies: such a sight as this

Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.

Go, bid the soldiers shoot.  417

[A dead march. Exeunt, bearing off the bodies; after which a peal of ordnance is shot off.