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So he does, indeed.
Pol. At such a time I'll loose my daughter to

him :
Be you and I behind an arras, then :
Mark the encounter ; if he love her not,
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.

We will try it.

Enter HAMLET, reading a book. Queen. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch

comes reading. Pol. Away! I do beseech you, both away. I'll board him presently : Exeunt King, Queen, and Attendants.

0, give me leave. How does my good Lord Hamlet ?

Ham. Well, God-'a-mercy.

Do you know me, my lord ?
Ham. Excellent, excellent well; y'arc 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 pick'd out of ten thousand.

Pol. That's very true, my lord.
Ham. [Reading]

- For if the sun breed. maggots in a dead dog, being & god kissing carrion," - Have you a daughter

Pol. I have, my lord.

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

Pol. [Aside.] How say you by that? 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 whom?
Pol. I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Ham. Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here, that old men have grey beards ; that their faces are wrinkled ; their eyes purging thick amber, or plum-tree gum; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: all of 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. [Aside.] Indeed, that is out o' the air. How pregnant sometimes his replies are ! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be deliver’d 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 ; [aside.] except my life, except my life, except my life.

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


Pol. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is. Ros. God save you, sir !


[Exit POLONIUS. Guil. Mine honour'd lord ! Ros. My most dear lord !

Ham. My excellent good friends! How do'st 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 favour ?

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 dooms-day 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'th' 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 ambitica ; 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 outstretch'd heroes, the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th’ Court ? for, by my fay, I cannot




We'll wait upon you. Guil.

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, 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 everpreserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge youth 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 your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no feather. I have of late, (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, foregone 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, 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 faculties! 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.

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