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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Act IV

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Scene 1. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Scene 2. Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.

Scene 3. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Scene 4. Near Elsinore.

Scene 5. Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Scene 6. Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.

Scene 7. Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.


Act IV, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

      next scene .

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.


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 2

Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.

      next scene .

Enter 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. 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
  • 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
  • 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-
  • Hamlet. Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after. 2705


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

      next scene .

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.
  • Rosencrantz. Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.

Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern [with Attendants].

  • Claudius. Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 4

Near Elsinore.

      next scene .

Enter Fortinbras with his Army over the stage.

  • Fortinbras. Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king. 2785
    Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
    Craves the conveyance of a promis'd march
    Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
    If that his Majesty would aught with us,
    We shall express our duty in his eye; 2790
    And let him know so.

Exeunt [all but the Captain].

Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, [Guildenstern,] and others.

  • Hamlet. Good sir, whose powers are these?
  • Hamlet. How purpos'd, sir, I pray you?
  • Hamlet. Who commands them, sir? 2800
  • Hamlet. Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
    Or for some frontier?
  • Norwegian Captain. Truly to speak, and with no addition,
    We go to gain a little patch of ground 2805
    That hath in it no profit but the name.
    To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
    Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
    A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
  • Hamlet. Why, then the Polack never will defend it. 2810
  • Hamlet. Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
    Will not debate the question of this straw.
    This is th' imposthume of much wealth and peace,
    That inward breaks, and shows no cause without 2815
    Why the man dies.- I humbly thank you, sir.
  • Hamlet. I'll be with you straight. Go a little before.
    [Exeunt all but Hamlet.] 2820
    How all occasions do inform against me
    And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
    If his chief good and market of his time
    Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
    Sure he that made us with such large discourse, 2825
    Looking before and after, gave us not
    That capability and godlike reason
    To fust in us unus'd. Now, whether it be
    Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
    Of thinking too precisely on th' event,- 2830
    A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
    And ever three parts coward,- I do not know
    Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do,'
    Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
    To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me. 2835
    Witness this army of such mass and charge,
    Led by a delicate and tender prince,
    Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff'd,
    Makes mouths at the invisible event,
    Exposing what is mortal and unsure 2840
    To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
    Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
    Is not to stir without great argument,
    But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
    When honour's at the stake. How stand I then, 2845
    That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
    Excitements of my reason and my blood,
    And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
    The imminent death of twenty thousand men
    That for a fantasy and trick of fame 2850
    Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
    Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
    Which is not tomb enough and continent
    To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! Exit. 2855
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 5

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Horatio, Queen, and a Gentleman.

  • Gentleman. She is importunate, indeed distract.
    Her mood will needs be pitied.
  • Gentleman. She speaks much of her father; says she hears
    There's tricks i' th' world, and hems, and beats her heart;
    Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt,
    That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
    Yet the unshaped use of it doth move 2865
    The hearers to collection; they aim at it,
    And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
    Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them,
    Indeed would make one think there might be thought,
    Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily. 2870
  • Horatio. 'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew
    Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
  • Gertrude. Let her come in.
    [Exit Gentleman.]
    [Aside] To my sick soul (as sin's true nature is) 2875
    Each toy seems Prologue to some great amiss.
    So full of artless jealousy is guilt
    It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

Enter Ophelia distracted.

  • Ophelia. Where is the beauteous Majesty of Denmark? 2880
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    How should I your true-love know
    From another one?
    By his cockle bat and' staff 2885
    And his sandal shoon.
  • Gertrude. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
  • Ophelia. Say you? Nay, pray You mark.
    (Sings) He is dead and gone, lady,
    He is dead and gone; 2890
    At his head a grass-green turf,
    At his heels a stone.
    O, ho!
  • Ophelia. Pray you mark. 2895
    (Sings) White his shroud as the mountain snow-

Enter King.

  • Ophelia. [Sings]
    Larded all with sweet flowers; 2900
    Which bewept to the grave did not go
    With true-love showers.
  • Ophelia. Well, God dild you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter.
    Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at 2905
    your table!
  • Ophelia. Pray let's have no words of this; but when they ask, you what
    it means, say you this:
    (Sings) To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, 2910
    All in the morning bedtime,
    And I a maid at your window,
    To be your Valentine.
    Then up he rose and donn'd his clo'es
    And dupp'd the chamber door, 2915
    Let in the maid, that out a maid
    Never departed more.
  • Ophelia. Indeed, la, without an oath, I'll make an end on't!
    [Sings] By Gis and by Saint Charity, 2920
    Alack, and fie for shame!
    Young men will do't if they come to't
    By Cock, they are to blame.
    Quoth she, 'Before you tumbled me,
    You promis'd me to wed.' 2925
    He answers:
    'So would I 'a' done, by yonder sun,
    An thou hadst not come to my bed.'
  • Ophelia. I hope all will be well. We must be patient; but I cannot 2930
    choose but weep to think they would lay him i' th' cold ground.
    My brother shall know of it; and so I thank you for your good
    counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet
    ladies. Good night, good night. Exit
  • Claudius. Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you. 2935
    [Exit Horatio.]
    O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
    All from her father's death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
    When sorrows come, they come not single spies.
    But in battalions! First, her father slain; 2940
    Next, your son gone, and he most violent author
    Of his own just remove; the people muddied,
    Thick and and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers
    For good Polonius' death, and we have done but greenly
    In hugger-mugger to inter him; poor Ophelia 2945
    Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
    Without the which we are pictures or mere beasts;
    Last, and as much containing as all these,
    Her brother is in secret come from France;
    Feeds on his wonder, keeps, himself in clouds, 2950
    And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
    With pestilent speeches of his father's death,
    Wherein necessity, of matter beggar'd,
    Will nothing stick our person to arraign
    In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this, 2955
    Like to a murd'ring piece, in many places
    Give me superfluous death. A noise within.
  • Claudius. Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.
    [Enter a Messenger.] 2960
    What is the matter?
  • Messenger. Save Yourself, my lord:
    The ocean, overpeering of his list,
    Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
    Than Young Laertes, in a riotous head, 2965
    O'erbears Your offices. The rabble call him lord;
    And, as the world were now but to begin,
    Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
    The ratifiers and props of every word,
    They cry 'Choose we! Laertes shall be king!' 2970
    Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
    'Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!'

A noise within.

  • Gertrude. How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
    O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs! 2975

Enter Laertes with others.

  • Laertes. Where is this king?- Sirs, staid you all without.
  • All. No, let's come in!
  • Laertes. I pray you give me leave. 2980
  • All. We will, we will!
  • Laertes. I thank you. Keep the door. [Exeunt his Followers.]
    O thou vile king,
    Give me my father!
  • Laertes. That drop of blood that's calm proclaims me bastard;
    Cries cuckold to my father; brands the harlot
    Even here between the chaste unsmirched brows
    Of my true mother.
  • Claudius. What is the cause, Laertes, 2990
    That thy rebellion looks so giantlike?
    Let him go, Gertrude. Do not fear our person.
    There's such divinity doth hedge a king
    That treason can but peep to what it would,
    Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes, 2995
    Why thou art thus incens'd. Let him go, Gertrude.
    Speak, man.
  • Laertes. How came he dead? I'll not be juggled with:
    To hell, allegiance! vows, to the blackest devil
    Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
    I dare damnation. To this point I stand, 3005
    That both the world, I give to negligence,
    Let come what comes; only I'll be reveng'd
    Most throughly for my father.
  • Laertes. My will, not all the world! 3010
    And for my means, I'll husband them so well
    They shall go far with little.
  • Claudius. Good Laertes,
    If you desire to know the certainty
    Of your dear father's death, is't writ in your revenge 3015
    That sweepstake you will draw both friend and foe,
    Winner and loser?
  • Laertes. To his good friends thus wide I'll ope my arms 3020
    And, like the kind life-rend'ring pelican,
    Repast them with my blood.
  • Claudius. Why, now You speak
    Like a good child and a true gentleman.
    That I am guiltless of your father's death, 3025
    And am most sensibly in grief for it,
    It shall as level to your judgment pierce
    As day does to your eye.

A noise within: 'Let her come in.'

  • Laertes. How now? What noise is that? 3030
    [Enter Ophelia. ]
    O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt
    Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
    By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight
    Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May! 3035
    Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
    O heavens! is't possible a young maid's wits
    Should be as mortal as an old man's life?
    Nature is fine in love, and where 'tis fine,
    It sends some precious instance of itself 3040
    After the thing it loves.
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    They bore him barefac'd on the bier
    (Hey non nony, nony, hey nony)
    And in his grave rain'd many a tear. 3045
    Fare you well, my dove!
  • Laertes. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
    It could not move thus.
  • Ophelia. You must sing 'A-down a-down, and you call him a-down-a.' O,
    how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his 3050
    master's daughter.
  • Laertes. This nothing's more than matter.
  • Ophelia. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love,
    remember. And there is pansies, that's for thoughts.
  • Laertes. A document in madness! Thoughts and remembrance fitted. 3055
  • Ophelia. There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you,
    and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays.
    O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I
    would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father
    died. They say he made a good end. 3060
    [Sings] For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.
  • Laertes. Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,
    She turns to favour and to prettiness.
  • Ophelia. [sings]
    And will he not come again? 3065
    And will he not come again?
    No, no, he is dead;
    Go to thy deathbed;
    He never will come again.
    His beard was as white as snow, 3070
    All flaxen was his poll.
    He is gone, he is gone,
    And we cast away moan.
    God 'a'mercy on his soul!
    And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God b' wi' you. 3075


  • Claudius. Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
    Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
    Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, 3080
    And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me.
    If by direct or by collateral hand
    They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give,
    Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
    To you in satisfaction; but if not, 3085
    Be you content to lend your patience to us,
    And we shall jointly labour with your soul
    To give it due content.
  • Laertes. Let this be so.
    His means of death, his obscure funeral- 3090
    No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o'er his bones,
    No noble rite nor formal ostentation,-
    Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,
    That I must call't in question.
  • Claudius. So you shall; 3095
    And where th' offence is let the great axe fall.
    I pray you go with me.


. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 6

Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.

      next scene .

Enter Horatio with an Attendant.

  • Horatio. What are they that would speak with me? 3100
  • Servant. Seafaring men, sir. They say they have letters for you.
  • Horatio. Let them come in.
    [Exit Attendant.]
    I do not know from what part of the world
    I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet. 3105

Enter Sailors.

  • Sailor. 'A shall, sir, an't please him. There's a letter for you,
    sir,- it comes from th' ambassador that was bound for England- if 3110
    your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.
  • Horatio. [reads the letter] 'Horatio, when thou shalt have overlook'd
    this, give these fellows some means to the King. They have
    letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of
    very warlike appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves too 3115
    slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour, and in the grapple I
    boarded them. On the instant they got clear of our ship; so I
    alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves
    of mercy; but they knew what they did: I am to do a good turn for
    them. Let the King have the letters I have sent, and repair thou 3120
    to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words
    to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too
    light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring
    thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course
    for England. Of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell. 3125
    'He that thou knowest thine, HAMLET.'
    Come, I will give you way for these your letters,
    And do't the speedier that you may direct me
    To him from whom you brought them. Exeunt.
. previous scene      

Act IV, Scene 7

Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.


Enter King and Laertes.

  • Claudius. Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
    And You must put me in your heart for friend,
    Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
    That he which hath your noble father slain
    Pursued my life. 3135
  • Laertes. It well appears. But tell me
    Why you proceeded not against these feats
    So crimeful and so capital in nature,
    As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,
    You mainly were stirr'd up. 3140
  • Claudius. O, for two special reasons,
    Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
    But yet to me they are strong. The Queen his mother
    Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,-
    My virtue or my plague, be it either which,- 3145
    She's so conjunctive to my life and soul
    That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
    I could not but by her. The other motive
    Why to a public count I might not go
    Is the great love the general gender bear him, 3150
    Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
    Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
    Convert his gives to graces; so that my arrows,
    Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
    Would have reverted to my bow again, 3155
    And not where I had aim'd them.
  • Laertes. And so have I a noble father lost;
    A sister driven into desp'rate terms,
    Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
    Stood challenger on mount of all the age 3160
    For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
  • Claudius. Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
    That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
    That we can let our beard be shook with danger,
    And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more. 3165
    I lov'd your father, and we love ourself,
    And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine-
    [Enter a Messenger with letters.]
    How now? What news?
  • Messenger. Letters, my lord, from Hamlet: 3170
    This to your Majesty; this to the Queen.
  • Claudius. From Hamlet? Who brought them?
  • Messenger. Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not.
    They were given me by Claudio; he receiv'd them
    Of him that brought them. 3175
  • Claudius. Laertes, you shall hear them.
    Leave us.
    [Exit Messenger.]
    [Reads]'High and Mighty,-You shall know I am set naked on your
    kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes; 3180
    when I shall (first asking your pardon thereunto) recount the
    occasion of my sudden and more strange return. 'HAMLET.'
    What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
    Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
  • Claudius. 'Tis Hamlet's character. 'Naked!'
    And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.'
    Can you advise me?
  • Laertes. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come!
    It warms the very sickness in my heart 3190
    That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
    'Thus didest thou.'
  • Claudius. If it be so, Laertes
    (As how should it be so? how otherwise?),
    Will you be rul'd by me? 3195
  • Laertes. Ay my lord,
    So you will not o'errule me to a peace.
  • Claudius. To thine own peace. If he be now return'd
    As checking at his voyage, and that he means
    No more to undertake it, I will work him 3200
    To exploit now ripe in my device,
    Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
    And for his death no wind shall breathe
    But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
    And call it accident. 3205
  • Laertes. My lord, I will be rul'd;
    The rather, if you could devise it so
    That I might be the organ.
  • Claudius. It falls right.
    You have been talk'd of since your travel much, 3210
    And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
    Wherein they say you shine, Your sum of parts
    Did not together pluck such envy from him
    As did that one; and that, in my regard,
    Of the unworthiest siege. 3215
  • Laertes. What part is that, my lord?
  • Claudius. A very riband in the cap of youth-
    Yet needfull too; for youth no less becomes
    The light and careless livery that it wears
    Than settled age his sables and his weeds, 3220
    Importing health and graveness. Two months since
    Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
    I have seen myself, and serv'd against, the French,
    And they can well on horseback; but this gallant
    Had witchcraft in't. He grew unto his seat, 3225
    And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
    As had he been incorps'd and demi-natur'd
    With the brave beast. So far he topp'd my thought
    That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
    Come short of what he did. 3230
  • Laertes. I know him well. He is the broach indeed 3235
    And gem of all the nation.
  • Claudius. He made confession of you;
    And gave you such a masterly report
    For art and exercise in your defence,
    And for your rapier most especially, 3240
    That he cried out 'twould be a sight indeed
    If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation
    He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
    If you oppos'd them. Sir, this report of his
    Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy 3245
    That he could nothing do but wish and beg
    Your sudden coming o'er to play with you.
    Now, out of this-
  • Laertes. What out of this, my lord?
  • Claudius. Laertes, was your father dear to you? 3250
    Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
    A face without a heart,'
  • Claudius. Not that I think you did not love your father;
    But that I know love is begun by time, 3255
    And that I see, in passages of proof,
    Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
    There lives within the very flame of love
    A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
    And nothing is at a like goodness still; 3260
    For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
    Dies in his own too-much. That we would do,
    We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes,
    And hath abatements and delays as many
    As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents; 3265
    And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
    That hurts by easing. But to the quick o' th' ulcer!
    Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
    To show yourself your father's son in deed
    More than in words? 3270
  • Laertes. To cut his throat i' th' church!
  • Claudius. No place indeed should murther sanctuarize;
    Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
    Will you do this? Keep close within your chamber.
    Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home. 3275
    We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
    And set a double varnish on the fame
    The Frenchman gave you; bring you in fine together
    And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
    Most generous, and free from all contriving, 3280
    Will not peruse the foils; so that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
    Requite him for your father.
  • Laertes. I will do't! 3285
    And for that purpose I'll anoint my sword.
    I bought an unction of a mountebank,
    So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
    Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
    Collected from all simples that have virtue 3290
    Under the moon, can save the thing from death
    This is but scratch'd withal. I'll touch my point
    With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
    It may be death.
  • Claudius. Let's further think of this, 3295
    Weigh what convenience both of time and means
    May fit us to our shape. If this should fall,
    And that our drift look through our bad performance.
    'Twere better not assay'd. Therefore this project
    Should have a back or second, that might hold 3300
    If this did blast in proof. Soft! let me see.
    We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings-
    I ha't!
    When in your motion you are hot and dry-
    As make your bouts more violent to that end- 3305
    And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepar'd him
    A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
    If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
    Our purpose may hold there.- But stay, what noise,
    [Enter Queen.] 3310
    How now, sweet queen?
  • Gertrude. One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
    So fast they follow. Your sister's drown'd, Laertes.
  • Gertrude. There is a willow grows aslant a brook, 3315
    That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.
    There with fantastic garlands did she come
    Of crowflowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
    That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
    But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them. 3320
    There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
    Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
    When down her weedy trophies and herself
    Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
    And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up; 3325
    Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
    As one incapable of her own distress,
    Or like a creature native and indued
    Unto that element; but long it could not be
    Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, 3330
    Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
    To muddy death.
  • Laertes. Alas, then she is drown'd?
  • Laertes. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, 3335
    And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet
    It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
    Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,
    The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord.
    I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze 3340
    But that this folly douts it. Exit.
  • Claudius. Let's follow, Gertrude.
    How much I had to do to calm his rage I
    Now fear I this will give it start again;
    Therefore let's follow. 3345