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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Act IV, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.


Enter King and Queen, with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Claudius. There's matter in these sighs. These profound heaves
    You must translate; 'tis fit we understand them.
    Where is your son?
  • Gertrude. Bestow this place on us a little while.
    [Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] 2630
    Ah, mine own lord, what have I seen to-night!
  • Claudius. What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
  • Gertrude. Mad as the sea and wind when both contend
    Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit
    Behind the arras hearing something stir, 2635
    Whips out his rapier, cries 'A rat, a rat!'
    And in this brainish apprehension kills
    The unseen good old man.
  • Claudius. O heavy deed!
    It had been so with us, had we been there. 2640
    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
    Should have kept short, restrain'd, and out of haunt 2645
    This mad young man. But so much was our love
    We would not understand what was most fit,
    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? 2650
  • Gertrude. To draw apart the body he hath kill'd;
    O'er whom his very madness, like some ore
    Among a mineral of metals base,
    Shows itself pure. He weeps for what is done.
  • Claudius. O Gertrude, come away! 2655
    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!
    [Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.] 2660
    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. 2665
    [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, 2670
    As level as the cannon to his blank,
    Transports his poisoned shot- may miss our name
    And hit the woundless air.- O, come away!
    My soul is full of discord and dismay.