Page images

To keep those many many bodies safe,
That live and feed upon your majesty.

Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from ’noyance ; but much more
That spirit, upon whose weal depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone ; but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it with it: it is a massy wheel,
Fix'd on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortised and adjoin'd; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
King. Arm you,

pray you, to this speedy voyage; For we will fetters put upon this fear, Which now goes too free-footed. Ros., Guil.

We will haste us. [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

Enter POLONIUS. Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet : Behind the arras I'll convey myself, To hear the process; I'll warrant she'll tax him

home. And, as you said, and wisely was it said, 'Tis meet, that some inore audience than a

mother, Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear The speech of vantage. Fare you well, my liege: I'll call upon you ere you go to bed, And tell you what I know. King

Thanks, dear my lord,


O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
A brother's murder !--Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will ;
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent ;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood ?
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens,
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves

But to confront the visage of offence ?
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,-
To be forestalled, ere we come to fall,
Or pardon'd, being down? Then I'll look up ;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn ? Forgive, me my foul

murder ! That cannot be ; since I am still possess'd Of those effects for which I did the murder,My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen. May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence? In the corrupted currents of this world, Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice ; And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself Buys out the law : but 'tis not so above : There is no shuffling, there the action lies In his true nature; and we ourselves com

pellid, Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults, To give in evidence. What then? what rests ? Try what repentance can : what can it not? Yet what can it, when one can not repent ? () wretched state ! () bosom, black as death! O limèd soul, that, struggling to be free,

Art more engaged ! Help, angels ! make

assay !

Bow, stubborn knees ! and, heart with strings

of steel, Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe ! All may be well !

(Retires, and kneels. Enter HAMLET, Ham. Now might I do it pat, now he is

praying; And now I'll do't ;-and so he goes to heaven: And so am I revenged ? That would be scann'd: A villain kills my father; and, for that, I, his sole son, do this same villain send To heaven. O, this is hire and salary, not revenge. He took my father grossly, full of bread; With all his crimes broad blown, as fresh as

May; And, how his audit stands, who knows, save

heaven? But, in our circumstance and course of thought, 'Tis heavy with him : and am I then revenged, To take him in the purging of his soul, When he is fit and season'd for his passage ? No. Up, sword ; and know thou a more horrid hent: When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage ; Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed ; At gaming, swearing; or about some act That has no relish of salvation in't : Then trip him, that his heels may kick at

heaven; And that his soul may be as damn'd, and black, As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays : This physic but prolongs thy sickly days. [E.

The KING rises and advances. King. My words fly up, my thoughts remain

below; Words, without thoughts, never to heaven go.


SCENE IV.-Another Room in the same.

En QUEEN and POLONIUS. Pol. He will come straight. Look, you lay

home to him : Tell him, his pranks have been too broad to

bear with; And that your grace hath screen’d and stood

between Much heat and him. I'll 'sconce me even here. Pray you, be round with him.

Ham. [within.] Mother ! mother! mother! Queen.

I'll warrant you ; Fear me not:--withdraw, I hear him coming,

(Polonius hides behind the arras

Enter HAMLET. Ham. Now, mother ; what's the matter? Queen. Hamlet, thou hast thy father much

offended. Ham. Mother, you have my father much

offended. Queen. Come, come, you answer with an idle

tongue. Ham. Go, go, you question with a wicked

tongue. Queen. Why, how now, Hamlet ? Ham.

What's the matter now? Queen. Have you forgot me?

Ham. No, by the rood, not so: You are the queen, your husband's brother's

wife ; And,—would it were not so !--you are my

mother. Queen. Nay, then I'll set those to you that

can speak. Ham. Come, come, and sit you down ; you

shall not budge; You go not, till I set you up a glass Where you may see the inmost part of you. Queen. What wilt thou do? thou wilt not

murder me? Help, help, ho!

Pol. [behind.] What, ho ! help ! help! help! Ham.

How now; a rat ? (Draws. Dead, for a ducat, dead.

(HAMler makes a pass through the arras. Pol. [behind.] O, I am slain. [Falls, and dies. Queen. O me, what hast thou done? Ham.

Nay, I know not : Is it the king ?

[Lifts up the arras, and draws forth POLONIUS. Queen. O, what a rash and bloody deed is

this ! Ham. A bloody deed ;-almost as bad, good

As kill a king, and marry with his brother.

Queen. As kill a king!

Ay, lady, 'twas my word.— [To Pol.] Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool,

farewell ! I took thee for thy better ; take thy fortune : Thou find'st, to be too busy is some danger.Leave wringing of your hands : peace, sit you


« PreviousContinue »