scene 3

Scene III. A room in the Castle.

[Enter King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]

King
I like him not; nor stands it safe with us
To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you;
I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
And he to England shall along with you:
The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so near us as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.

Guildenstern.
We will ourselves provide:
Most holy and religious fear it is
To keep those many many bodies safe
That live and feed upon your majesty.

Rosencrantz
The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from ‘noyance; but much more
That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but like a gulf doth draw
What’s near it with it: it is a massy wheel,
Fix’d on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortis’d and adjoin’d; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.

King
Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage;
For we will fetters put upon this fear,
Which now goes too free-footed.

Ros and Guildenstern.
We will haste us.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]

[Enter Polonius.]

Polonius
My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet:
Behind the arras I’ll convey myself
To hear the process; I’ll warrant she’ll tax him home:
And, as you said, and wisely was it said,
‘Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
Since nature makes them partial, should o’erhear
The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege:
I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed,
And tell you what I know.

King
Thanks, dear my lord.

[Exit Polonius.]

O, my offence is rank, it smells to heaven;
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t, –
A brother’s murder! – Pray can I not,
Though inclination be as sharp as will:
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood, –
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what’s in prayer but this twofold force, –
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,
Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder! –
That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
Of those effects for which I did the murder, –
My crown, mine own ambition, and my Queen
May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice;
And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law; but ’tis not so above;
There is no shuffling; – there the action lies
In his true nature; and we ourselves compell’d,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what rests?
Try what repentance can: what can it not?
Yet what can it when one cannot repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engag’d! Help, angels! Make assay:
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!
All may be well.

[Retires and kneels.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Hamlet
Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I’ll do’t; – and so he goes to heaven;
And so am I reveng’d. – that would be scann’d:
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
‘Tis heavy with him: and am I, then, reveng’d,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
No.
Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk asleep; or in his rage;
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing; or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in’t; –
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven;
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

[Exit.]

[The King rises and advances.]

King
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

[Exit.]

Scene IV. Another room in the castle.

[Enter Queen and Polonius.]

Polonius
He will come straight. Look you lay home to him:
Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with,
And that your grace hath screen’d and stood between
Much heat and him. I’ll silence me e’en here.
Pray you, be round with him.

Hamlet [Within.]
Mother, mother, mother!

Queen
I’ll warrant you:
Fear me not: – withdraw; I hear him coming.

[Polonius goes behind the arras.]

[Enter Hamlet.]

Hamlet
Now, mother, what’s the matter?

Queen
Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

Hamlet
Mother, you have my father much offended.

Queen
Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

Hamlet
Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

Queen
Why, how now, Hamlet!

Hamlet
What’s the matter now?

Queen
Have you forgot me?

Hamlet
No, by the rood, not so:
You are the Queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,
And, – would it were not so! – you are my mother.

Queen
Nay, then, I’ll set those to you that can speak.

Hamlet
Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge;
You go not till I set you up a glass
Where you may see the inmost part of you.

Queen
What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murder me? –
Help, help, ho!

Polonius [Behind.]
What, ho! help, help, help!

Hamlet
How now? a rat? [Draws.]
Dead for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras.]

Polonius
[Behind.] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies.]

Queen
O me, what hast thou done?

Hamlet
Nay, I know not: is it the king?

[Draws forth Polonius.]

Queen
O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

Hamlet
A bloody deed! – almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king and marry with his brother.

Queen
As kill a king!

Hamlet
Ay, lady, ’twas my word. –
Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!

[To Polonius.]

I took thee for thy better: take thy fortune;
Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger. –
Leave wringing of your hands: peace! sit you down,
And let me wring your heart: for so I shall,
If it be made of penetrable stuff;
If damned custom have not braz’d it so
That it is proof and bulwark against sense.

Queen
What have I done, that thou dar’st wag thy tongue
In noise so rude against me?

Hamlet
Such an act
That blurs the grace and blush of modesty;
Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
And sets a blister there; makes marriage-vows
As false as dicers’ oaths: O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words: heaven’s face doth glow;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.

Queen
Ah me, what act,
That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?

Hamlet
Look here upon this picture, and on this, –
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See what a grace was seated on this brow;
Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself;
An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury
New lighted on a heaven-kissing hill:
A combination and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man;
This was your husband. – Look you now what follows:
Here is your husband, like a milldew’d ear
Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?
You cannot call it love; for at your age
The hey-day in the blood is tame, it’s humble,
And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense, sure, you have,
Else could you not have motion: but sure that sense
Is apoplex’d; for madness would not err;
Nor sense to ecstacy was ne’er so thrall’d
But it reserv’d some quantity of choice
To serve in such a difference. What devil was’t
That thus hath cozen’d you at hoodman-blind?
Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight,
Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all,
Or but a sickly part of one true sense
Could not so mope.
O shame! where is thy blush? Rebellious hell,
If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones,
To flaming youth let virtue be as wax,
And melt in her own fire: proclaim no shame
When the compulsive ardour gives the charge,
Since frost itself as actively doth burn,
And reason panders will.

Queen
O Hamlet, speak no more:
Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul;
And there I see such black and grained spots
As will not leave their tinct.

Hamlet
Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty, -

Queen
O, speak to me no more;
These words like daggers enter in mine ears;
No more, sweet Hamlet.

Hamlet
A murderer and a villain;
A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe
Of your precedent lord; a vice of kings;
A cutpurse of the empire and the rule,
That from a shelf the precious diadem stole
And put it in his pocket!

Queen
No more.

Hamlet
A king of shreds and patches! -

[Enter Ghost]

Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,
You heavenly guards! – What would your gracious figure?

Queen
Alas, he’s mad!

Hamlet
Do you not come your tardy son to chide,
That, laps’d in time and passion, lets go by
The important acting of your dread command?
O, say!

Ghost
Do not forget. This visitation
Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose.
But, look, amazement on thy mother sits:
O, step between her and her fighting soul, –
Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works, –
Speak to her, Hamlet.

Hamlet
How is it with you, lady?

Queen
Alas, how is’t with you,
That you do bend your eye on vacancy,
And with the incorporal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
And, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
Your bedded hairs, like life in excrements,
Start up and stand an end. O gentle son,
Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
Sprinkle cool patience! Whereon do you look?

Hamlet
On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoin’d, preaching to stones,
Would make them capable. – Do not look upon me;
Lest with this piteous action you convert
My stern effects: then what I have to do
Will want true colour; tears perchance for blood.

Queen
To whom do you speak this?

Hamlet
Do you see nothing there?

Queen
Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.

Hamlet
Nor did you nothing hear?

Queen
No, nothing but ourselves.

Hamlet
Why, look you there! look how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he liv’d!
Look, where he goes, even now out at the portal!

[Exit Ghost]

Queen
This is the very coinage of your brain:
This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.

Hamlet
Ecstasy!
My pulse, as yours, doth temperately keep time,
And makes as healthful music: it is not madness
That I have utter’d: bring me to the test,
And I the matter will re-word; which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
Repent what’s past; avoid what is to come;
And do not spread the compost on the weeds,
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue;
For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

Queen
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

Hamlet
O, throw away the worser part of it,
And live the purer with the other half.
Good night: but go not to mine uncle’s bed;
Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
That monster custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits evil, is angel yet in this, –
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night;
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence: the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
And either curb the devil, or throw him out
With wondrous potency. Once more, good-night:
And when you are desirous to be bles’d,
I’ll blessing beg of you. – For this same lord

[Pointing to Polonius.]

I do repent; but heaven hath pleas’d it so,
To punish me with this, and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
The death I gave him. So again, good-night. –
I must be cruel, only to be kind:
Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind. –
One word more, good lady.

Queen
What shall I do?

Hamlet
Not this, by no means, that I bid you do:
Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed;
Pinch wanton on your cheek; call you his mouse;
And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses,
Or paddling in your neck with his damn’d fingers,
Make you to ravel all this matter out,
That I essentially am not in madness,
But mad in craft. ‘Twere good you let him know;
For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise,
Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib,
Such dear concernings hide? who would do so?
No, in despite of sense and secrecy,
Unpeg the basket on the house’s top,
Let the birds fly, and, like the famous ape,
To try conclusions, in the basket creep
And break your own neck down.

Queen
Be thou assur’d, if words be made of breath,
And breath of life, I have no life to breathe
What thou hast said to me.

Hamlet
I must to England; you know that?

Queen
Alack,
I had forgot: ’tis so concluded on.

Hamlet
There’s letters seal’d: and my two schoolfellows, –
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d, –
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard: and ‘t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet. –
This man shall set me packing:
I’ll lug the guts into the neighbour room. –
Mother, good-night. – Indeed, this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret, and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish peating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you: –
Good night, mother.

[Exeunt severally; Hamlet, dragging out Polonius.]