Hamlet: Act 2, Scene 2
Flourish. Enter KING and QUEEN,
ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
1 Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern!
2 Moreover that we much did long to see you,
3 The need we have to use you did provoke
4 Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
5 Of Hamlet's transformation; so call it,
6 Sith nor the exterior nor the inward man
7 Resembles that it was. What it should be,
8 More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
9 So much from th' understanding of himself,
10 I cannot dream of. I entreat you both,
11 That, being of so young days brought up with him,
12 And sith so neighbor'd to his youth and havior,
13 That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
14 Some little time, so by your companies
15 To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather,
16 So much as from occasion you may glean,
17 Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,
18 That, open'd, lies within our remedy.
19 Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you;
20 And sure I am two men there are not living
21 To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
22 To show us so much gentry and good will
23 As to expend your time with us awhile,
24 For the supply and profit of our hope,
25 Your visitation shall receive such thanks
26 As fits a king's remembrance.
33 Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.
39 Ay, amen!
42 Thou still hast been the father of good news.
43 Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege,
44 I hold my duty, as I hold my soul,
45 Both to my God and to my gracious king:
46 And I do think, or else this brain of mine
47 Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
48 As it hath used to do, that I have found
49 The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
50 O, speak of that; that do I long to hear.
53 Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
58 Well, we shall sift him.
60 Most fair return of greetings and desires.
61 Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
62 His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
63 To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack;
64 But, better look'd into, he truly found
65 It was against your highness: whereat grieved,
66 That so his sickness, age and impotence
67 Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
68 On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys;
69 Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine
70 Makes vow before his uncle never more
71 To give the assay of arms against your majesty.
72 Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
73 Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee,
74 And his commission to employ those soldiers,
75 So levied as before, against the Polack:
76 With an entreaty, herein further shown,
80 It likes us well;
81 And at our more consider'd time we'll read,
82 Answer, and think upon this business.
83 Meantime we thank you for your well-took labor.
84 Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together.
85 Most welcome home!
85 This business is well ended.
86 My liege, and madam, to expostulate
87 What majesty should be, what duty is,
88 Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
89 Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
90 Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
91 And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
92 I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
93 Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
94 What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
95 But let that go.
95 More matter, with less art.
96 Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
97 That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
98 And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;
99 But farewell it, for I will use no art.
100 Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains
101 That we find out the cause of this effect,
102 Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
103 For this effect defective comes by cause:
104 Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
106 I have a daughterhave while she is mine
107 Who, in her duty and obedience, mark,
108 Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
113 "In her excellent white bosom, these, etc."
114 Came this from Hamlet to her?
115 Good madam, stay awhile; I will be faithful.
120 O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers;
121 I have not art to reckon my groans: but that
122 I love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.
125 This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me,
126 And more above, hath his solicitings,
127 As they fell out by time, by means and place,
128 All given to mine ear.
129 What do you think of me?
130 As of a man faithful and honorable.
131 I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
132 When I had seen this hot love on the wing
133 As I perceived it, I must tell you that,
134 Before my daughter told mewhat might you,
135 Or my dear majesty your queen here, think,
136 If I had play'd the desk or table-book,
137 Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
138 Or look'd upon this love with idle sight;
139 What might you think? No, I went round to work,
140 And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
141 "Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star;
142 This must not be." And then I precepts gave her,
143 That she should lock herself from his resort,
144 Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
145 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;
146 And he, repelleda short tale to make
147 Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
148 Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
149 Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
150 Into the madness wherein now he raves,
151 And all we mourn for.
152 Do you think 'tis this?
152 It may be, very likely.
155 Not that I know.
156 Take this from this, if this be otherwise:
157 If circumstances lead me, I will find
158 Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
159 Within the center.
159 How may we try it further?
161 So he does indeed.
162 At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him:
163 Be you and I behind an arras then;
164 Mark the encounter. If he love her not
165 And be not from his reason fall'n thereon,
166 Let me be no assistant for a state,
167 But keep a farm and carters.
167 We will try it.
168 But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
172 Well, God-a-mercy.
173 Do you know me, my lord?
174 Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.
175 Not I, my lord.
176 Then I would you were so honest a man.
177 Honest, my lord!
180 That's very true, my lord.
183 I have, my lord.
187 How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter:
188 yet he knew me not at first; 'a said I was a fishmonger.
189 'A is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I
190 suffered much extremity for lovevery near this. I'll
191 speak to him
again.What do you read, my lord?
192 Words, words, words.
193 What is the matter, my lord?
194 Between who?
195 I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.
196 Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here
197 that old men have grey beards, that their faces are
198 wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and
199 plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of
200 wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir,
201 though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet
202 I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for
203 yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab
204 you could go backward.
207 Into my grave.
208 Indeed, that is out o' the air.
209 How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness
210 that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity
211 could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will
212 leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of
213 meeting between him and my daughter.My honorable
214 lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
218 Fare you well, my lord.
219 These tedious old fools!
220 You go to seek the Lord Hamlet; there he is.
221 God save you, sir!
222 My honored lord!
223 My most dear lord!
227 As the indifferent children of the earth.
230 Nor the soles of her shoe?
231 Neither, my lord.
234 'Faith, her privates we.
237 None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
238 Then is doomsday near. But your news is not true.
239 Let me question more in particular: what have you,
240 my good friends, deserved at the hands of Fortune,
241 that she sends you to prison hither?
242 Prison, my lord!
243 Denmark's a prison.
244 Then is the world one.
248 We think not so, my lord.
260 A dream itself is but a shadow.
266 We'll wait upon you.
267 No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest
268 of my servants, for, to speak to you like an honest
269 man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the
270 beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
271 To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
272 Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I
273 thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are
274 too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it
275 your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come,
276 deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak.
277 What should we say, my lord?
278 Why, anything, but to th' purpose. You were sent
279 for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks
280 which your modesties have not craft enough to color:
281 I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
282 To what end, my lord?
283 That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by
284 the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of
285 our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved
286 love, and by what more dear a better proposer could
287 charge you withal, be even and direct with me,
288 whether you were sent for, or no?
289 What say you?
292 My lord, we were sent for.
293 I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent
294 your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and
295 queen moult no feather. I have of latebut wherefore
296 I know notlost all my mirth, forgone all custom of
297 exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my
298 disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to
299 me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy,
300 the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament,
301 this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why,
302 it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent
303 congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man!
304 How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties,
305 in form and moving how express and admirable,
306 in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
307 a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!
308 And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man
309 delights not meno, nor woman neither, though by
310 your smiling you seem to say so.
315 To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what
316 lenten entertainment the players shall receive from
317 you. We coted them on the way; and hither are they
318 coming, to offer you service.
319 He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty
320 shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight
321 shall use his foil and target; the lover shall not
322 sigh gratis; the humorous man shall end his part
323 in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose
324 lungs are tickle o' th' sere; and the lady shall
325 say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt
326 for't. What players are they?
336 No, indeed, are they not.
337 How comes it? do they grow rusty?
338 Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: but
339 there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases,
340 that cry out on the top of question, and are most
341 tyrannically clapp'd for't: these are now the
342 fashion, and so berattle the common stagesso they
343 call themthat many wearing rapiers are afraid of
344 goose-quills and dare scarce come thither.
345 What, are they children? who maintains 'em? how are
346 they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no
347 longer than they can sing? will they not say
348 afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common
349 playersas it is most like, if their means are no
350 bettertheir writers do them wrong, to make them
351 exclaim against their own succession?
352 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and
353 the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to
354 controversy: there was, for a while, no money bid
355 for argument, unless the poet and the player went to
356 cuffs in the question.
357 Is't possible?
360 Do the boys carry it away?
363 It is not very strange; for mine uncle is king of
364 Denmark, and those that would make mouths at
365 him while my father lived, give twenty, forty,
366 fifty, an hundred ducats apiece for his picture
367 in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more
368 than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
369 There are the players.
370 Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands,
371 come then. Th' appurtenance of welcome is fashion
372 and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb,
373 lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you,
374 must show fairly outward, should more appear like
375 entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my
376 uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.
377 In what, my dear lord?
380 Well be with you, gentlemen!
389 My lord, I have news to tell you.
392 The actors are come hither, my lord.
393 Buzz, buzz!
394 Upon mine honor
395 Then came each actor on his ass
396 The best actors in the world, either for tragedy,
397 comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical,
398 historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-
399 comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or
400 poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
401 Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the
402 liberty, these are the only men.
405 What a treasure had he, my lord?
409 Still on my daughter.
410 Am I not i' the right, old Jephthah?
413 Nay, that follows not.
414 What follows, then, my lord?
417 and then, you know,
419 the first row of the pious chanson will show you
420 more; for look, where my abridgement comes.
421 You are welcome, masters; welcome, all. I am glad
422 to see thee well. Welcome, good friends. O, my old
423 friend! thy face is valenc'd since I saw thee last:
424 comest thou to beard me in Denmark? What, my young
425 lady and mistress! By'r lady, your ladyship is
426 nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the
427 altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like
428 a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the
429 ring. Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en
430 to't like French falconers, fly at any thing we see:
431 we'll have a speech straight: come, give us a taste
432 of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
433 What speech, my lord?
434 I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never
435 acted; or, if it was, not above once; for the play, I
436 remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviary to
437 the general: but it wasas I received it, and others,
438 whose judgments in such matters cried in the top
439 of minean excellent play, well digested in the scenes,
440 set down with as much modesty as cunning.
441 I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines
442 to make the matter savory, nor no matter in the phrase
443 that might indict the author of affectation; but called it an
444 honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by
445 very much more handsome than fine. One speech
446 in it I chiefly loved: 'twas Aeneas' tale to Dido;
447 and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of
448 Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin
449 at this linelet me see, let me see:
450 "The rugged
Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast"
451 'Tis not so: it begins with Pyrrhus:
452 "The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms,
453 Black as his purpose, did the night resemble
454 When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
455 Hath now this dread and black complexion smear'd
456 With heraldry more dismal; head to foot
457 Now is he total gules; horridly trick'd
458 With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
459 Bak'd and impasted with the parching streets,
460 That lend a tyrannous and damned light
461 To their lord's murder. Roasted in wrath and fire,
462 And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,
463 With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
464 Old grandsire Priam seeks."
465 So, proceed you.
468 "Anon he finds him
469 Striking too short at Greeks; his antique sword,
470 Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls,
471 Repugnant to command. Unequal match'd,
472 Pyrrhus at Priam drives; in rage strikes wide;
473 But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword
474 The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium,
475 Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top
476 Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash
477 Takes prisoner Pyrrhus' ear: for, lo! his sword,
478 Which was declining on the milky head
479 Of reverend Priam, seem'd i' the air to stick:
480 So, as a painted tyrant, Pyrrhus stood,
481 And like a neutral to his will and matter,
482 Did nothing.
483 But, as we often see, against some storm,
484 A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
485 The bold winds speechless and the orb below
486 As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder
487 Doth rend the region, so, after Pyrrhus' pause,
488 Aroused vengeance sets him new a-work;
489 And never did the Cyclops' hammers fall
490 On Mars's armor forged for proof eterne
491 With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
492 Now falls on Priam.
493 Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,
494 In general synod take away her power;
495 Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
496 And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven,
497 As low as to the fiends!"
498 This is too long.
502 "But who, O, who had seen the mobled queen"
503 "The mobled queen?"
504 That's good; "mobled queen" is good.
505 "Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames
506 With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head
507 Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe,
508 About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins,
509 A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up;
510 Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steep'd,
511 'Gainst Fortune's state would treason have pronounced.
512 But if the gods themselves did see her then
513 When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
514 In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs,
515 The instant burst of clamor that she made,
516 Unless things mortal move them not at all,
517 Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven,
518 And passion in the gods."
521 'Tis well: I'll have thee speak out the rest soon.
522 Good my lord, will you see the players well
523 bestow'd? Do you hear, let them be well us'd; for
524 they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
525 time: after your death you were better have a bad
526 epitaph than their ill report while you live.
529 God's bodykin, man, much better: use every
530 man after his desert, and who should 'scape
531 whipping? Use them after your own honor
532 and dignity: the less they deserve, the more
533 merit is in your bounty. Take them in.
534 Come, sirs.
539 Ay, my lord.
544 Ay, my lord.
545 Very well. Follow that lord; and look you mock him not.
548 Good my lord!
549 Ay, so, God buy to you.
549 Now I am alone.
550 O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
551 Is it not monstrous that this player here,
552 But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
553 Could force his soul so to his own conceit
554 That from her working all his visage wann'd,
555 Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,
556 A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
557 With forms to his conceit? and all for nothing!
558 For Hecuba!
559 What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
560 That he should weep for her? What would he do,
561 Had he the motive and the cue for passion
562 That I have? He would drown the stage with tears
563 And cleave the general ear with horrid speech,
564 Make mad the guilty and appall the free,
565 Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed
566 The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I,
567 A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
568 Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
569 And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
570 Upon whose property and most dear life
571 A damn'd defeat was made. Am I a coward?
572 Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
573 Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
574 Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat,
575 As deep as to the lungs? who does me this?
576 Ha! 'Swounds, I should take it: for it cannot be
577 But I am pigeon-liver'd and lack gall
578 To make oppression bitter, or ere this
579 I should have fatted all the region kites
580 With this slave's offal. Bloody, bawdy villain!
581 Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain!
582 O, vengeance!
583 Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
584 That I, the son of a dear father murder'd,
585 Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
586 Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
587 And fall a-cursing, like a very drab,
588 A stallion! Fie upon't! foh!
589 About, my brain! Hum I have heard
590 That guilty creatures sitting at a play
591 Have by the very cunning of the scene
592 Been struck so to the soul that presently
593 They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
594 For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
595 With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
596 Play something like the murder of my father
597 Before mine uncle. I'll observe his looks;
598 I'll tent him to the quick. If he but blench,
599 I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
600 May be the devil, and the devil hath power
601 To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
602 Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
603 As he is very potent with such spirits,
604 Abuses me to damn me. I'll have grounds
605 More relative than this: the play's the thing
606 Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.