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King.

We will try it. Queen. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes

reading. Pol. Away, I do beseech you, both away: I'll board him presently :-0, give me leave.

[Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.

Enter HAMLET, reading.
How does my good Lord Hamlet?

Ham. Well, God-a-mercy.
Pol. Do

you know me, my lord ?
Ham. Excellent, excellent well; you're a fishmonger.
Pol. Not I, my lord.
Ham. Then I would you were so honest a man.
Pol. Honest, my lord !

Ham. Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

Pol. That's very true, my lord.

Ham. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion,(35)—Have you a daughter ?

Pol. I have, my lord.

Ham. Let her not walk i' the sun : conception is a blessing; but not as your daughter may conceive :—friend, look to 't.

Pol. How say you by that ?-[Aside] 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 suffered much extremity for love; very near this. I'll speak to him again.—What do you read, my lord ?

Ham. Words, words, words.
Pol. What is the matter, my

lord ?
Ham. Between who?
Pol. I mean, the matter that

you
read,

my

lord. Ham. Slanders, sir : for the satirical slave says here, that old men 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, should be old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.

Pol. [aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.-Will you walk out of the air, my lord ?

Ham. Into my grave?

Pol. Indeed, that is out o’the air.—[ Aside] How pregnant sometimes 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.

Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal,-except my life, except my life, except my life.

Pol. Fare you well, my lord.
Ham. These tedious old fools !

Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
Pol. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.
Ros. [to Polonius] God save you, sir ! [Exit Polonius.
Guil. Mine honoured lord !
Ros. My most dear lord!

Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern ? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both ?

Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth.

Guil. Happy, in that we are not overhappy;
On fortune's cap we are not the very button.

Ham. Nor the soles of her shoe?
Ros. Neither, my lord.

Ham. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?

Guil. Faith, her privates we.

Ham. In the secret parts of fortune ? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What's the news?

Ros. None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.

Ham. Then is doomsday near: but your news is not true. Let me question more in particular: what have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?

Guil. Prison, my lord !
Ham. Denmark's a prison.
Ros. Then is the world one.

Ham. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' the worst.

Ros. We think not so, my lord.

Ham. Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is a prison.

Ros. Why, then, your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.

Ham. O God, I could be bounded in a nut-shell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Guil. Which dreams, indeed, are ambition ; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Ham. A dream itself is but a shadow.

Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow.

Ham. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.

Ros. Guil. We'll wait upon you.

Ham. No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my 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 ?

Ros. To visit you, my lord ; no other occasion.

Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you: 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.

Guil. What should we say, my lord ?

Ham. Why, any thing—but to the purpose. You were sent for; and 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.

Ros. To what end, my lord ?

Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights 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?

Ros. [to Guildenstern] What say you?

Ham. [aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.—If you love me,

hold not off.
Guil. My lord, we were sent for.

Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and (36) your secrecy to the king and queen moult no 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,(37) this majestical roof fretted with golden fire,why, it appears 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 faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the 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.

Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Ham. Why did you laugh, then, when I said, man delights not me?

Ros. 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.

Ham. He that plays the king shall be welcome,-his majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and 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 tickled o' the sere; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for 't.-What players are they?

Ros. Even those you were wont to take delight in, the tragedians of the city.

Ham. How chances it they travel ? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.

Ros. I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.

Ham. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city ? are they so followed ?

Ros. No, indeed, they are not.
Ham. How comes it ? do they grow rusty ?

Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace : but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped for't: these are now the fashion; and so berattle (38) the common stages (so they call them), that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills, and dare scarce come thither.

Ham. 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,(39) if their means are no better), their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?

Ros. 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 went to cuffs in the question.

Ham. Is't possible?
Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Ham. Do the boys carry it away?
Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.

Ham. It is not strange; for mine uncle is king of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets within. Guil. There are the players.

Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and

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