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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Act II, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Flourish. [Enter King and Queen, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,

cum aliis.

  • Claudius. Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
    Moreover that we much did long to see you, 1085
    The need we have to use you did provoke
    Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
    Of Hamlet's transformation. So I call it,
    Sith nor th' exterior nor the inward man
    Resembles that it was. What it should be, 1090
    More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
    So much from th' 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 haviour, 1095
    That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
    Some little time; so by your companies
    To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
    So much as from occasion you may glean,
    Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus 1100
    That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
  • Gertrude. Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you,
    And sure I am two men there are not living
    To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
    To show us so much gentry and good will 1105
    As to expend your time with us awhile
    For the supply and profit of our hope,
    Your visitation shall receive such thanks
    As fits a king's remembrance.
  • Rosencrantz. Both your Majesties 1110
    Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
    Put your dread pleasures more into command
    Than to entreaty.
  • Guildenstern. But we both obey,
    And here give up ourselves, in the full bent, 1115
    To lay our service freely at your feet,
    To be commanded.
  • Claudius. Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
  • Gertrude. Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
    And I beseech you instantly to visit 1120
    My too much changed son.- Go, some of you,
    And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.
  • Guildenstern. Heavens make our presence and our practices
    Pleasant and helpful to him!

Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, [with some Attendants].

Enter Polonius.

  • Polonius. Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
    Are joyfully return'd.
  • Claudius. Thou still hast been the father of good news. 1130
  • Polonius. Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,
    I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
    Both to my God and to my gracious king;
    And I do think- or else this brain of mine
    Hunts not the trail of policy so sure 1135
    As it hath us'd to do- that I have found
    The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
  • Claudius. O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.
  • Polonius. Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.
    My news shall be the fruit to that great feast. 1140
  • Claudius. Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
    [Exit Polonius.]
    He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
    The head and source of all your son's distemper.
  • Gertrude. I doubt it is no other but the main, 1145
    His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.
  • Claudius. Well, we shall sift him.
    [Enter Polonius, Voltemand, and Cornelius.]
    Welcome, my good friends.
    Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway? 1150
  • Voltemand. Most fair return of greetings and desires.
    Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
    His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
    To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack,
    But better look'd into, he truly found 1155
    It was against your Highness; whereat griev'd,
    That so his sickness, age, and impotence
    Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
    On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys,
    Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine, 1160
    Makes vow before his uncle never more
    To give th' assay of arms against your Majesty.
    Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
    Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee
    And his commission to employ those soldiers, 1165
    So levied as before, against the Polack;
    With an entreaty, herein further shown,
    [Gives a paper.]
    That it might please you to give quiet pass
    Through your dominions for this enterprise, 1170
    On such regards of safety and allowance
    As therein are set down.
  • Claudius. It likes us well;
    And at our more consider'd time we'll read,
    Answer, and think upon this business. 1175
    Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour.
    Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together.
    Most welcome home! Exeunt Ambassadors.
  • Polonius. This business is well ended.
    My liege, and madam, to expostulate 1180
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    Why day is day, night is night, and time is time.
    Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, 1185
    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
    Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
    What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
    But let that go.
  • Gertrude. More matter, with less art. 1190
  • Polonius. Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
    That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
    And pity 'tis 'tis true. A foolish figure!
    But farewell it, for I will use no art.
    Mad let us grant him then. And now remains 1195
    That we find out the cause of this effect-
    Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
    For this effect defective comes by cause.
    Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
    Perpend. 1200
    I have a daughter (have while she is mine),
    Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
    Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
    [Reads] the letter.]
    'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,'- 1205
    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.'
  • Gertrude. Came this from Hamlet to her? 1210
  • Polonius. Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful. [Reads.]
    'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
    Doubt that the sun doth move;
    Doubt truth to be a liar;
    But never doubt I love. 1215
    '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, HAMLET.' 1220
    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.
  • Claudius. But how hath she 1225
    Receiv'd his love?
  • Claudius. As of a man faithful and honourable.
  • Polonius. I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
    When I had seen this hot love on the wing 1230
    (As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that,
    Before my daughter told me), what might you,
    Or my dear Majesty your queen here, think,
    If I had play'd the desk or table book,
    Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb, 1235
    Or look'd upon this love with idle sight?
    What might you think? No, I went round to work
    And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
    'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
    This must not be.' And then I prescripts gave her, 1240
    That she should lock herself from his resort,
    Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
    Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
    And he, repulsed, a short tale to make,
    Fell into a sadness, then into a fast, 1245
    Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
    Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
    Into the madness wherein now he raves,
    And all we mourn for.
  • Polonius. Hath there been such a time- I would fain know that-
    That I have Positively said 'Tis so,'
    When it prov'd otherwise.?
  • Polonius. [points to his head and shoulder] Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
    If circumstances lead me, I will find
    Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
    Within the centre.
  • Claudius. How may we try it further? 1260
  • Polonius. You know sometimes he walks for hours together
    Here in the lobby.
  • Polonius. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him.
    Be you and I behind an arras then. 1265
    Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
    And he not from his reason fall'n thereon
    Let me be no assistant for a state,
    But keep a farm and carters.

Enter Hamlet, reading on a book.

  • Gertrude. But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
  • Polonius. Away, I do beseech you, both away
    I'll board him presently. O, give me leave.
    [Exeunt King and Queen, [with Attendants].] 1275
    How does my good Lord Hamlet?
  • Hamlet. Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.
  • Hamlet. Then I would you were so honest a man.
  • Hamlet. Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man
    pick'd out of ten thousand.
  • Polonius. That's very true, my lord. 1285
  • Hamlet. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god
    kissing carrion- Have you a daughter?
  • Hamlet. Let her not walk i' th' sun. Conception is a blessing, but not
    as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to't. 1290
  • Polonius. [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 suff'red much extremity
    for love- very near this. I'll speak to him again.- What do you
    read, my lord? 1295
  • Polonius. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men 1300
    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, 1305
    should be old as I am if, like a crab, you could go backward.
  • Polonius. [aside] Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.-
    Will You walk out of the air, my lord?
  • Polonius. Indeed, that is out o' th' air. [Aside] How pregnant sometimes 1310
    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. 1315
  • Hamlet. You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more
    willingly part withal- except my life, except my life, except my

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Hamlet. These tedious old fools!
  • Polonius. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.

Exit [Polonius].

  • Hamlet. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,
    Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?
  • Rosencrantz. As the indifferent children of the earth.
  • Guildenstern. Happy in that we are not over-happy. 1330
    On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
  • Hamlet. Nor the soles of her shoe?
  • Hamlet. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her
    favours? 1335
  • Hamlet. In the secret parts of Fortune? O! most true! she is a
    strumpet. What news ?
  • Rosencrantz. None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
  • Hamlet. Then is doomsday near! But your news is not true. Let me 1340
    question more in particular. What have you, my good friends,
    deserved at the hands of Fortune that she sends you to prison
  • Hamlet. Denmark's a prison. 1345
  • Hamlet. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and
    dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.
  • Hamlet. Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good 1350
    or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.
  • Rosencrantz. Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your
  • Hamlet. 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. 1355
  • Guildenstern. Which dreams indeed are ambition; for the very substance of
    the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
  • Hamlet. A dream itself is but a shadow.
  • Rosencrantz. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that
    it is but a shadow's shadow. 1360
  • Hamlet. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd
    heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' court? for, by my
    fay, I cannot reason.
  • Hamlet. No such matter! I will not sort you with the rest of my 1365
    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?
  • Rosencrantz. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
  • Hamlet. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you; 1370
    and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were
    you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free
    visitation? Come, deal justly with me. Come, come! Nay, speak.
  • Hamlet. Why, anything- but to th' purpose. You were sent for; and 1375
    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.
  • Hamlet. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you by the rights 1380
    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.
  • Rosencrantz. [aside to Guildenstern] What say you? 1385
  • Hamlet. [aside] Nay then, I have an eye of you.- If you love me, hold
    not off.
  • Hamlet. I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation prevent your
    discovery, and your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no 1390
    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 1395
    roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing
    to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a
    piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in
    faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in
    action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the 1400
    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.
  • Rosencrantz. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
  • Hamlet. Why did you laugh then, when I said 'Man delights not me'? 1405
  • Rosencrantz. 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.
  • Hamlet. He that plays the king shall be welcome- his Majesty shall
    have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and 1410
    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' th' sere; and the lady shall say her mind
    freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are
    they? 1415
  • Rosencrantz. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the
    tragedians of the city.
  • Hamlet. How chances it they travel? Their residence, both in
    reputation and profit, was better both ways.
  • Rosencrantz. I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late 1420
  • Hamlet. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the
    city? Are they so follow'd?
  • Hamlet. How comes it? Do they grow rusty? 1425
  • Rosencrantz. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but there is,
    sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top
    of question and are most tyrannically clapp'd for't. These are now
    the fashion, and so berattle the common stages (so they call
    them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills and 1430
    dare scarce come thither.
  • Hamlet. 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 1435
    are no better), their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim
    against their own succession.
  • Rosencrantz. 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 1440
    went to cuffs in the question.
  • Guildenstern. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
  • Hamlet. Do the boys carry it away?
  • Rosencrantz. Ay, that they do, my lord- Hercules and his load too. 1445
  • Hamlet. 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 apiece for his picture in
    little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if
    philosophy could find it out. 1450

Flourish for the Players.

  • Hamlet. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come! Th'
    appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply
    with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players (which I 1455
    tell you must show fairly outwards) should more appear like
    entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father
    and aunt-mother are deceiv'd.
  • Hamlet. I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I 1460
    know a hawk from a handsaw.

Enter Polonius.

  • Hamlet. Hark you, Guildenstern- and you too- at each ear a hearer!
    That great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling 1465
  • Rosencrantz. Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old
    man is twice a child.
  • Hamlet. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players. Mark it.-
    You say right, sir; a Monday morning; twas so indeed. 1470
  • Polonius. My lord, I have news to tell you.
  • Hamlet. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome-
  • Polonius. The actors are come hither, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Then came each actor on his ass-
  • Polonius. 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 1480
    Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are
    the only men.
  • Hamlet. O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!
  • Polonius. What treasure had he, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Why, 1485
    'One fair daughter, and no more,
    The which he loved passing well.'
  • Polonius. [aside] Still on my daughter.
  • Hamlet. Am I not i' th' right, old Jephthah?
  • Polonius. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I 1490
    love passing well.
  • Hamlet. Nay, that follows not.
  • Hamlet. Why,
    'As by lot, God wot,' 1495
    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.] 1500
    You are welcome, masters; welcome, all.- I am glad to see thee
    well.- Welcome, good friends.- O, my old friend? Why, thy face is
    valanc'd since I saw thee last. Com'st' thou to' beard me in
    Denmark?- What, my young lady and mistress? By'r Lady, your
    ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last by the 1505
    altitude of a chopine. Pray God your voice, like a piece of
    uncurrent gold, be not crack'd 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. 1510
  • Hamlet. 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, pleas'd
    not the million, 'twas caviary to the general; but it was (as I
    receiv'd it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in 1515
    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 call'd it an honest method, as wholesome as 1520
    sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in't
    I chiefly lov'd. 'Twas AEneas' tale to Dido, and thereabout of it
    especially where he speaks of Priam's slaughter. If it live in
    your memory, begin at this line- let me see, let me see:
    'The rugged Pyrrhus, like th' Hyrcanian beast-' 1525
    'Tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus:
    'The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
    Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
    When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
    Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd 1530
    With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
    Now is be total gules, horridly trick'd
    With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
    Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
    That lend a tyrannous and a damned light 1535
    To their lord's murther. Roasted in wrath and fire,
    And thus o'ersized with coagulate gore,
    With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
    Old grandsire Priam seeks.'
    So, proceed you. 1540
  • Polonius. Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.
  • First Player. 'Anon he finds him,
    Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword,
    Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
    Repugnant to command. Unequal match'd, 1545
    Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide;
    But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
    Th' unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
    Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
    Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash 1550
    Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear. For lo! his sword,
    Which was declining on the milky head
    Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' th' air to stick.
    So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
    And, like a neutral to his will and matter, 1555
    Did nothing.
    But, as we often see, against some storm,
    A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
    The bold winds speechless, and the orb below
    As hush as death- anon the dreadful thunder 1560
    Doth rend the region; so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
    Aroused vengeance sets him new awork;
    And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
    On Mars's armour, forg'd for proof eterne,
    With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword 1565
    Now falls on Priam.
    Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods,
    In general synod take away her power;
    Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
    And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, 1570
    As low as to the fiends!
  • Hamlet. 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. 1575
  • Polonius. That's good! 'Mobled queen' is good.
  • First Player. 'Run barefoot up and down, threat'ning the flames
    With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head 1580
    Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
    About her lank and all o'erteemed loins,
    A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up-
    Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd
    'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounc'd. 1585
    But if the gods themselves did see her then,
    When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
    In Mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,
    The instant burst of clamour that she made
    (Unless things mortal move them not at all) 1590
    Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven
    And passion in the gods.'
  • Polonius. Look, whe'r he has not turn'd his colour, and has tears in's
    eyes. Prithee no more!
  • Hamlet. 'Tis well. I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.- 1595
    Good my lord, will you see the players well bestow'd? Do you
    hear? Let them be well us'd; for they are the abstract and brief
    chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a
    bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
  • Polonius. My lord, I will use them according to their desert. 1600
  • Hamlet. God's bodykins, 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.
  • Hamlet. Follow him, friends. We'll hear a play to-morrow.
    [Exeunt Polonius and Players [except the First].]
    Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play 'The Murther of
  • Hamlet. 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?
  • Hamlet. Very well. Follow that lord- and look you mock him not. 1615
    [Exit First Player.]
    My good friends, I'll leave you till night. You are welcome to
  • Hamlet. Ay, so, God b' wi' ye! 1620
    [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
    Now I am alone.
    O what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
    Is it not monstrous that this player here,
    But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 1625
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit
    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! 1630
    For Hecuba!
    What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her? What would he do,
    Had he the motive and the cue for passion
    That I have? He would drown the stage with tears 1635
    And cleave the general ear with horrid speech;
    Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
    Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
    The very faculties of eyes and ears.
    Yet I, 1640
    A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
    Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
    And can say nothing! No, not for a king,
    Upon whose property and most dear life
    A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward? 1645
    Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
    Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face?
    Tweaks me by th' nose? gives me the lie i' th' throat
    As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this, ha?
    'Swounds, I should take it! for it cannot be 1650
    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! 1655
    O, vengeance!
    Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
    That I, the son of a dear father murther'd,
    Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
    Must (like a whore) unpack my heart with words 1660
    And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
    A scullion!
    Fie upon't! foh! About, my brain! Hum, I have heard
    That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
    Have by the very cunning of the scene 1665
    Been struck so to the soul that presently
    They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
    For murther, though it have no tongue, will speak
    With most miraculous organ, I'll have these Players
    Play something like the murther of my father 1670
    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 a devil; and the devil hath power
    T' assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps 1675
    Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
    As he is very potent with such spirits,
    Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
    More relative than this. The play's the thing
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King. Exit. 1680