Hamlet: Act 4, Scene 7
Enter KING and LAERTES. Full Summary
1 Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
2 And you must put me in your heart for friend,
3 Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
4 That he which hath your noble father slain
5 Pursued my life.
9 O, for two special reasons;
10 Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
11 But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother
12 Lives almost by his looks; and for myself
13 My virtue or my plague, be it either which
14 She's so conjunctive to my life and soul,
15 That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
16 I could not but by her. The other motive,
17 Why to a public count I might not go,
18 Is the great love the general gender bear him;
19 Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
20 Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
21 Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows,
22 Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
23 Would have reverted to my bow again,
24 And not where I had aim'd them.
25 And so have I a noble father lost;
26 A sister driven into desperate terms,
27 Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
28 Stood challenger on mount of all the age
29 For her perfections: but my revenge will come.
30 Break not your sleeps for that: you must not think
31 That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
32 That we can let our beard be shook with danger
33 And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more:
34 I loved your father, and we love ourself;
35 And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine
36 How now! what news?
38 From Hamlet! who brought them?
43 "High and mighty, You shall know I am
44 set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall
45 I beg leave to see your kingly eyes: when I shall, first
46 asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of
47 my sudden and more strange return.
49 What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
50 Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
51 Know you the hand?
61 To thine own peace. If he be now return'd,
62 As checking at his voyage, and that he means
63 No more to undertake it, I will work him
64 To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
65 Under the which he shall not choose but fall:
66 And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
67 But even his mother shall uncharge the practise
68 And call it accident.
70 It falls right.
71 You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
72 And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
73 Wherein, they say, you shine: your sum of parts
74 Did not together pluck such envy from him
75 As did that one, and that, in my regard,
76 Of the unworthiest siege.
76 What part is that, my lord?
77 A very riband in the cap of youth,
78 Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes
79 The light and careless livery that it wears
80 Than settled age his sables and his weeds,
81 Importing health and graveness. Two months since,
82 Here was a gentleman of Normandy:
83 I've seen myself, and served against, the French,
84 And they can well on horseback: but this gallant
85 Had witchcraft in't; he grew unto his seat;
86 And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
87 As he had been incorpsed and demi-natured
88 With the brave beast: so far he topp'd my thought,
89 That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
90 Come short of what he did.
90 A Norman was't?
91 A Norman.
92 Upon my life, Lamond.
92 The very same.
95 He made confession of you,
96 And gave you such a masterly report
97 For art and exercise in your defence
98 And for your rapier most especial,
99 That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed,
100 If one could match you: the scrimers of their nation,
101 He swore, had had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
102 If you opposed them. Sir, this report of his
103 Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
104 That he could nothing do but wish and beg
105 Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.
106 Now, out of this
106 What out of this, my lord?
109 Why ask you this?
110 Not that I think you did not love your father;
111 But that I know love is begun by time;
112 And that I see, in passages of proof,
113 Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
114 There lives within the very flame of love
115 A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
116 And nothing is at a like goodness still;
117 For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
118 Dies in his own too much. That we would do
119 We should do when we would; for this "would" changes
120 And hath abatements and delays as many
121 As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
122 And then this "should" is like a spendthrift sigh,
123 That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o' the ulcer:
124 Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake,
125 To show yourself your father's son in deed
126 More than in words?
126 To cut his throat i' the church.
127 No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;
128 Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
129 Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.
130 Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home:
131 We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
132 And set a double varnish on the fame
133 The Frenchman gave you, bring you in fine together
134 And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
135 Most generous and free from all contriving,
136 Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
137 Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
138 A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
139 Requite him for your father.
139 I will do't:
140 And, for that purpose, I'll anoint my sword.
141 I bought an unction of a mountebank,
142 So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
143 Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
144 Collected from all simples that have virtue
145 Under the moon, can save the thing from death
146 That is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my point
147 With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
148 It may be death.
148 Let's further think of this;
149 Weigh what convenience both of time and means
150 May fit us to our shape: if this should fail,
151 And that our drift look through our bad performance,
152 'Twere better not assay'd: therefore this project
153 Should have a back or second, that might hold,
154 If this should blast in proof. Soft! let me see:
155 We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings
156 I ha't.
157 When in your motion you are hot and dry
158 As make your bouts more violent to that end
159 And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepar'd him
160 A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
161 If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
162 Our purpose may hold there. But stay, what noise?
165 Drown'd! O, where?
166 There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
167 That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
168 Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
169 Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
170 That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
171 But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
172 There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
173 Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
174 When down her weedy trophies and herself
175 Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
176 And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
177 Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds;
178 As one incapable of her own distress,
179 Or like a creature native and indued
180 Unto that element: but long it could not be
181 Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
182 Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
183 To muddy death.
183 Alas, then, she is drown'd?
184 Drown'd, drown'd.
185 Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
186 And therefore I forbid my tears: but yet
187 It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
188 Let shame say what it will: when these are gone,
189 The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord:
190 I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze,
191 But that this folly drowns it.