Open Source Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Act IV, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter King.

  • Claudius. 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. 2710
    He's lov'd of the distracted multitude,
    Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
    And where 'tis so, th' offender's scourge is weigh'd,
    But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
    This sudden sending him away must seem 2715
    Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
    By desperate appliance are reliev'd,
    Or not at all.
    [Enter Rosencrantz.]
    How now O What hath befall'n? 2720
  • Rosencrantz. Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,
    We cannot get from him.
  • Claudius. But where is he?
  • Rosencrantz. Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
  • Claudius. Bring him before us. 2725
  • Rosencrantz. Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.

Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern [with Attendants].

  • Claudius. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
  • Hamlet. At supper.
  • Claudius. At supper? Where? 2730
  • Hamlet. 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 2735
  • Claudius. Alas, alas!
  • Hamlet. A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat
    of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
  • Claudius. What dost thou mean by this? 2740
  • Hamlet. Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through
    the guts of a beggar.
  • Claudius. Where is Polonius?
  • Hamlet. In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger find him not
    there, seek him i' th' other place yourself. But indeed, if you 2745
    find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
    the stair, into the lobby.
  • Claudius. Go seek him there. [To Attendants.]
  • Hamlet. He will stay till you come.

[Exeunt Attendants.]

  • Claudius. Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,-
    Which we do tender as we dearly grieve
    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, 2755
    Th' associates tend, and everything is bent
    For England.
  • Hamlet. For England?
  • Claudius. Ay, Hamlet.
  • Hamlet. Good. 2760
  • Claudius. So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.
  • Hamlet. I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England!
    Farewell, dear mother.
  • Claudius. Thy loving father, Hamlet.
  • Hamlet. My mother! Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is 2765
    one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!


  • Claudius. Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
    Delay it not; I'll have him hence to-night.
    Away! for everything is seal'd and done 2770
    That else leans on th' affair. Pray you make haste.
    [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 2775
    After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
    Pays homage to us,- thou mayst not coldly set
    Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
    By letters congruing to that effect,
    The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England; 2780
    For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
    And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done,
    Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. Exit.