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ceremony: let me comply with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
Guil. In what, my dear lord ?
Ham. I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern ;-and you too;-at each ear a hearer: that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swathing-clouts.
Ros. Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old man is twice a child.
Ham. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.—You say right, sir : o'Monday morning; 'twas so,(0) indeed.
Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,
Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.
Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited : Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.
Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou !
Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
“One fair daughter, and no more,
The which he loved passing well.”
Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.
Ham. Nay, that follows not.
“As by lot, God wot,” and then, you know,
“ It came to pass, as most like it was,”the first row of the pious chanson (42) will show you more; for look, where my abridgment comes.
Enter four or five Players. You are welcome, masters; welcome, all I am glad to see thee well :-welcome, good friends.—O, my old friend! Thy face is valanced (43) since I saw thee last; comest thou to beard me in Denmark ?—What, my young lady and mistress! By’r lady, your ladyship is nearer heaven, than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.–Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to 't like French falconers, fly at any thing we see: we'll have a speech straight: come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
First Play. What speech, my lord ?
Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once,—but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general: but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine) an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets (44) in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved : 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin at this line ;-let me see, let me see ;-
“The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,” -it is not so:-it begins with Pyrrhus :
“The rugged Pyrrhus,-he, whose sable arms,
Old grandsire Priam seeks."'-
Pol. 'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion. First Play.
“Anon he finds him
In general synod, take away her power;
As low as to the fiends !"
Ham. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.—Prithee, say on :-he's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps :say on ;-come to Hecuba.
First Play. "But who, 0, who had seen the mobled queen-"
With bisson rheum ; a clout upon that head
And passion in the gods." Pol. Look, whêr he has not turned his colour, and has tears in's eyes.—Pray you, no more.
Ham. 'Tis well ; I'll have thee speak out the rest soon.Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed ? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you
you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
Pol. My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
Ham. God's bodykins, man, better: use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping ? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
Pol. Come, sirs.
[Exit Polonius with all the Players except the First.
Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the Murder of Gonzago ?
First Play. Ay, my lord.
Ham. We'll ha't to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down and insert in't, could you not ?
First Play. Ay, my lord.
Ham. Very well.—Follow that lord; and look you mock him not. [Exit First Player.] My good friends (to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern], I'll leave you till night: you are welcome to Elsinore. Ros. Good my lord !
Exeunt Rosen, and Guild. Ham. Ay, so, God b'wi'ye!—Now I am alone. O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous, that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, Could force his soul so to his own conceit, That, from her working, all his visage wann'd; Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect, A broken voice, and his whole function suiting With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing ! For Hecuba? What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, That he should weep for her? What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have? He would drown the stage with tears, And cleave the general ear with horrid speech ; Make mad the guilty, and appal the free, Confound the ignorant; and amaze, indeed, The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak, Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, And can say nothing; no, not for a king, Upon whose property and most dear life A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward ? Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face ? Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,