Page images

Laer. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,
Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood ;
A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The [perfume and] suppliance of a minute;
No more.

Oph. No more but so?

Think it no more :
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
In thews and bulk ; but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now;
And now no soil, nor cautel, doth besmirch
The virtue of his will : but you must fear,
His greatness weigh’d, his will is not his own,
For he himself is subject to his birth :
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
The sanity and health of the whole State ;
And therefore must his choice be circumscrib'd
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then, if he says he loves

It fits your wisdom so far to believe it,
As he in his peculiar sect and place
May give his saying deed; which is no farther,
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then, weigh what loss your honour may sustain,
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmaster'd importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia; fear it, my dear sister;
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough,

If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes :
The canker galls the infants of the spring,
Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd ;
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear :
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

Oph. I shall th’ effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Shew me the steep and thorny way to Heaven,
Whilst, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own read.

O, fear me not. I stay too long ; but here my father comes.


A double blessing is a double grace ;
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

Pol. . Yet here, Laertes ? aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for. There,

my blessing with you; [Laying his hand on LAERTES' head. And these few precepts in thy memory See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought his act. Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar : The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel ; But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel ; but, being in, Bear 't, that th' opposed may beware of thee.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice ;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France, of the best rank and station,
Are most select and generous in that.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both it self and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all, — to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell : my blessing season this in thee!

Laer. Most humbly do I take my leave, my


Pol. The time invites you : go ; your servants

Laer. . Farewell, Ophelia ; and remember well
What I have said to you.

'Tis in my memory lock'd, And you yourself shall keep the key of it. Laer. Farewell.

[Exit LAERTES. Pol. What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you? Oph. So please you, something touching the Lord

Hamlet. Pol. Marry, well bethought: 'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late Given private time to you; and you yourself Have of your audience been most free and bounteous. If it be so, (and so 'tis put on me, And that in way of caution) I must tell you, You do not understand yourself so clearly, As it behoves my daughter, and your honour. What is between you ? give me up the truth.

Oph. He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders Of his affection to me. Pol. Affection ? pooh! you speak like a green

girl, Unsifted in such perilous circumstance. Do you believe his tenders, as you call them ? Oph. I do not know, my lord, what I should

think. Pol. Marry, I'll teach you : think yourself a baby, That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay, Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly ; Or, not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, Running it thus, you'll tender me a fool.

Oph. My lord, he hath importun'd me with love, In honourable fashion.

Pol. Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to. Oph. And hath given countenance to his speech,

my lord,

With almost all' the [holy] vows of Heaven.
Pol. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows : these blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
Even in their promise, as it is a making,
You must not take for fire. From this time, daughter,
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence :
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him, that he is young,
And with a larger tether may he walk,
Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
Not of that eye which their investments shew,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,

Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile. This is for all,
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
Have you so slander any moment's leisure,
As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
Look to't, I charge you ; come your ways.
Oph. I shall obey, my lord.



The Platform.

Ham. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
Hor. It is a nipping and an eager air.
Ham. What hour now?

I think it lacks of twelve.
Mar. No, it is struck. .
Hor. Indeed ? I heard it not: it then draws near

the season,

Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk. [A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off,

within. What does this mean, my lord ? Ham. The King doth wake to-night, and takes his

Keeps wassel, and the swaggering up-spring reels;
And as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.

Is it a custom ?
Ham. Ay, marry, is't:
But to my mind, though I am native here,
And to the manner born, - it is a custom

« PreviousContinue »