Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

print/save print/save view


Act I, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.


Enter Laertes and Ophelia.

  • Laertes. 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. 485
  • Laertes. 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; 490
    The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
    No more.
  • Laertes. Think it no more.
    For nature crescent does not grow alone 495
    In thews and bulk; but as this temple waxes,
    The inward service of the mind and soul
    Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
    And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
    The virtue of his will; but you must fear, 500
    His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
    For he himself is subject to his birth.
    He may not, as unvalued persons do,
    Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
    The safety and health of this whole state, 505
    And therefore must his choice be circumscrib'd
    Unto the voice and yielding of that body
    Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
    It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
    As he in his particular act and place 510
    May give his saying deed; which is no further
    Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
    Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain
    If with too credent ear you list his songs,
    Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open 515
    To his unmast'red importunity.
    Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,
    And keep you in the rear of your affection,
    Out of the shot and danger of desire.
    The chariest maid is prodigal enough 520
    If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
    Virtue itself scopes not calumnious strokes.
    The canker galls the infants of the spring
    Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd,
    And in the morn and liquid dew of youth 525
    Contagious blastments are most imminent.
    Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.
    Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
  • Ophelia. I shall th' effect of this good lesson keep
    As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, 530
    Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
    Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
    Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
    Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
    And recks not his own rede. 535
  • Laertes. O, fear me not!
    [Enter Polonius. ]
    I stay too long. But here my father comes.
    A double blessing is a double grace;
    Occasion smiles upon a second leave. 540
  • Polonius. Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
    The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
    And you are stay'd for. There- my blessing with thee!
    And these few precepts in thy memory
    Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, 545
    Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
    Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar:
    Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
    But do not dull thy palm with entertainment 550
    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;
    Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. 555
    Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
    But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
    For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
    And they in France of the best rank and station
    Are most select and generous, chief in that. 560
    Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
    For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
    And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
    This above all- to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day, 565
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
    Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!
  • Laertes. Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
  • Polonius. The time invites you. Go, your servants tend.
  • Laertes. Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well 570
    What I have said to you.
  • Ophelia. 'Tis in my memory lock'd,
    And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
  • Polonius. What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you? 575
  • Ophelia. So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
  • Polonius. Marry, well bethought!
    'Tis told me he hath very oft of late
    Given private time to you, and you yourself
    Have of your audience been most free and bounteous. 580
    If it be so- as so 'tis put on me,
    And that in way of caution- I must tell you
    You do not understand yourself so clearly
    As it behooves my daughter and your honour.
    What is between you? Give me up the truth. 585
  • Ophelia. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
    Of his affection to me.
  • Polonius. Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
    Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
    Do you believe his tenders, as you call them? 590
  • Ophelia. I do not know, my lord, what I should think,
  • Polonius. Marry, I will 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, 595
    Running it thus) you'll tender me a fool.
  • Ophelia. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love
    In honourable fashion.
  • Polonius. Ay, fashion you may call it. Go to, go to!
  • Ophelia. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord, 600
    With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
  • Polonius. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks! I do know,
    When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
    Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
    Giving more light than heat, extinct in both 605
    Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
    You must not take for fire. From this time
    Be something scanter of your maiden presence.
    Set your entreatments at a higher rate
    Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet, 610
    Believe so much in him, that he is young,
    And with a larger tether may he walk
    Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
    Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
    Not of that dye which their investments show, 615
    But mere implorators of unholy suits,
    Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
    The better to beguile. This is for all:
    I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth
    Have you so slander any moment leisure 620
    As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
    Look to't, I charge you. Come your ways.