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SCENE VII.—Another Room in the same.
Enter King and LAERTES.
KING. 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,
Pursu'd my life.
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.
O, for two special reasons ;
Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
And 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,)
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:
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces ; so that my arrows,
Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
And not where I had aim'd them.
LAER. And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desperate terms;
Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfections :—But my revenge will come.
King. 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 :
I loved your father, and we love ourself ;
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine, -
How now? what news?
Enter a Messenger.
Letters, my lord, from Hamlet: This to your majesty; this to the queen.
King. From Hamlet! Who brought them ?
Mess. Sailors, my lord, they say: I saw them not.
They were given to me by Claudio, he receiv'd them.
KING. 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 : when I shall
, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasions of my sudden and more strange return.
Hamlet. What should this mean? Are all the rest come back ?
Or is it some abuse, or no such thing ?
LAER. Know you the hand ?
KING. 'T is Hamlet's character. “Naked,"
And in a postscript here, he says, “alone :"
Can you advise me?
LAER. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come:
It warms the very sickness in my heart,
That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
Thus diddest thou.
If it be so, Laertes,
As how should it be so ? how otherwise ?
Will you be rul'd by me?
LAER. If so you 'll not o'er-rule me to a peace.
Kung. 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
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe ;
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice,
And call it, accident. [LAER.
My lord, I will be ruld : The rather, if you could devise it so,
That I might be the organ.
It falls right.
You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
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. LAER.
What part is that, my lord ?
King. A very riband in the cap of youth,
Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes
* Checking at, in the folio. The quarto of 1611, liking not.
The light and careless livery that it wears,
Than settled age his sables, and his weeds,
Importing health and graveness.- ) Some two months hence,
Here was a gentleman of Normandy,--
I have seen myself, and served against the French,
And they ran well on horseback : but this gallant
Had witchcraft in 't; he grew into his seat;
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
As he had been incorps'd and demi-natur'd
With the brave beast : so far he pass'do my thought,
That, I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
Come short of what he did.
A Norman, was 't ?
King. A Norman.
LAER. Upon my life, Lamound.
The very same.
LAER. I know him well : he is the brooch, indeed,
And gem of all the nation.
KING. 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,
That he cried out, 't would be a sight indeed,
If one could match you : [the scrimers d of their nation,
He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
If you oppos'd them :o) Sir, this report of his
Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy,
That he could nothing do, but wish and beg
Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.
Now, out of this,
Why out of this, my lord ? King. Laertes, was your father dear to you?
Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
A face without a heart?
Why ask you this ?
King. Not that I think you did not love your father ;
But that I know love is begun by time;
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;
a The passage in brackets is not found in the folio; but is printed from quarto (B).
Ran well, in folio; in quartos, can well.
• Pass'd, in folio; in quartos, topp'd.
& Scrimers-fencers; from escrimeurs.
• The passage in brackets is not in the folio.
And nothing is at a like goodness still;
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 ;
And then this should is like a spendthrift's sigh,
That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o'the ulcer:b]
Hamlet comes back : what would you undertake,
To show yourself your father's son in deed c
More than in words?
To cut his throat i' the church.
KING. No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarise ;
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 :
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 remissa,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not perusee 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.
I will do 't:
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
Under the moon, can save the thing from death,
That is but scratch'd withal : I 'll touch my point
With this contagion ; that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.
Let 's further think of this ;
Weigh, what convenience, both of time and means,
May fit us to our shape : if this should fail,
a Plurisy. Warburton would read plethory. But plurisy was constantly used in the sense of
fulness, abundance, by the poets. Thus, in Massinger, we have“ plurisy of goodness," and
“ plurisy of blood."
The lines in brackets are not in the folio.
• In deed. So the folio; in the quartos, “ indeed your father's son."
1 Unbated-not blunted.
And that our drift look through our bad performance,
'T were better not assay'd ; therefore this project
Should have a back, or second, that might hold,
If this should blast in proof. Soft;,let me see :-
We'll make a solemn wager on your commings", -
I ha' 't.
When in your motion you are hot and dry,
(As make your bouts more violent to that end)
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.
How now, sweet queen ?
QUEEN. One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
So fast they follow Your sister 's drown'd, Laertes.
LAER. Drown'd !-0, where?
QUEEN. There is a willow grows aslant a brook ",
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There, with fantastic garlands did she come",
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
There, on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down the weedy trophies, and herself,
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, a while they bore her up:
Which time, she chanted 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,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
Alas then, is she drown'd ? QUEEN. Drown'd, drown'd. LAER. Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, a Commings-meetings in assault. The comming is the venue. In the quartos we have cunnings.
Aslant a brook, in the folio; in the quartos, ascaunt the brook. • So the folio. In the quarto we have
“ There with fantastic garlands did she make;" which all the modern editors have corrupted into “ therewith;" as if Ophelia made her garlands of the willow. To "make" is used in the sense of to “come"-to make way-to proceed. But the reading of the folio, come, saves the obscurity.