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hension, 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,--nor woman neither; though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
Ham. Why did you laugh then, when I said, Man delights not me?
Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, 40 what lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you: we coted them on the way; and hither they are coming, to offer you service.
Ham. He that plays the king, shall be welcome; his majesty shall have tribute of me: the adventurous knight shall use his foil, and target: the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humourous man shall end his part in
peace: the clown shall make those laugh, whose langs e are tickled o'the sere; and the lady shall say her mind
freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't.-What players are they?
Ros. Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the tragedians of the city.
Ham. How chances it, they travel? their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
Ros. I think, their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.
Hum. Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the city? Are they so follow'd ?
Ros. No, indeed, they are not.
[Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty?
Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: But there is, sir, 41 an aiery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapp'd fort: these are now the fashion; and so berattle the common stages, (so they call them) that many, wearing rapiers, are afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thither.
Ham. What, are they children? Who maintains them? how are they escoted 42 ? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players, (as it is most like, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?
Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them on to controversy 43: there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
Ham. Is it possible?
Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Ham. Do the boys carry it away?
Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; 44 Hercules and his load too.]
Ham. It is not very strange: for my uncle is king of Denmark; and those, that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little.
'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
[Flourish of trumpets within. Guil. There are the players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in this carb; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-father, and aunt-mother, are deceived.
Guil. In what, my dear lord ?
Ham. I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a hand-saw 45.
Enter POLONIUS. Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen!
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern ;--and you too;at each ear a hearer: that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swadling-clouts.
Ros. Haply, he's the second time come to them; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.
Ham. I will prophecy, he comes to tell me of the players ; mark it.—You say right, 'sir : o'monday morning; 'twas then, indeed.
Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,
Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.
Ham. Buz, buz!
Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, (tragical-historical, tragical-comical, historical-pastoral,] scene individable, or poem unlimited : Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men.
Ham. O Jeptha, judge of Israel,-what a treasure hadst thou !
Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
The which he loo'd passing well.
[Aside. Ham. Am I not i'the right, old Jeptha ?
Pol. If you call me Jeptha, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.
Ham. Nay, that follows not.
Ham. Why, As by lot, God wot, and then, you know, 46 It came to pass, As most like it was,-The first row of the pious chanson will show you more; for look, my abridgment comes 47.
Enter four or five Players. You are welcome, masters; welcome, all :-I am glad to see thee well :-welcome, good friends.-0, old friend! Why, thy face is yalanced since I saw thee
last; Com'st thou to beard me in Denmark?-What! my young lady and mistress! By-'r-lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven, than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine *. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not crack'd within the ring.-Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, Ay at any thing we see: We'll have a speech straight; Come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate speech.
1 Play. What speech, my lord ?
Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once,-but it was never acted; or, if it was, not above once : for the play, I remember, pleased not the million ; 'twas caviare to the general 49 : but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgements, in such matters, cried in the top of mine,) an excellent play; well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said, there were no sallets 50 in the lines, to make the matter savoury; nor no matter in the phrase, that might indite the author of affection 51: but call'd it, an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly lov'd: 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: If it live in your memory, begin at this line ; let me see, let me see ;
The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast,—'tis not so; it begins with Pyrrhus.
The rugged Pyrrhus,-he, whose sable arms,
Black as his purpose, did the night resemble VOL. XIV.