Open Source Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

• To print this text, click here
• To save this text, go to your browser's File menu, then select Save As


Act IV, Scene 2

Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.


Enter Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Safely stow'd.
  • Gentlemen. [within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
  • Hamlet. But soft! What noise? Who calls on Hamlet? O, here they


Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  • Rosencrantz. What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
  • Hamlet. Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin.
  • Rosencrantz. Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence
    And bear it to the chapel. 2685
  • Hamlet. Do not believe it.
  • Rosencrantz. Believe what?
  • Hamlet. 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? 2690
  • Rosencrantz. Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
  • Hamlet. 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 mouth'd, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have 2695
    glean'd, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry
  • Rosencrantz. I understand you not, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.
  • Rosencrantz. My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to 2700
    the King.
  • Hamlet. The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.
    The King is a thing-
  • Guildenstern. A thing, my lord?
  • Hamlet. Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after. 2705