Page images

A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much
How to forget that learning ; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service. Wilt thou know
The effects of what I wrote ?

Ay, good my lord.
Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king, --
As England was his faithful tributary ;
As love between them as the palm should flourish;
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,
And stand a comma 'tween their amities :
And many such like as's of great charge, -
That on the view and know of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving-time allow'd.

How was this sealed ?
Ham. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant;
I had my father's signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal :
Folded the writ up in form of the other ;
Subscrib'd it; gave 't the impression ; placed it safely,
The changeling never known-Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
Thou know'st already.

Hor. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to 't.
Ham. Why, man, they did make love to this employment;
They are not near my conscience ; their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow :
'Tis dangerous, when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensed points
Of mighty opposites.

Why, what a king is this !
Ham. Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon ?
He that hath kill'd my king, and wed my mother ;
Popp'd in between the election and my hopes ;
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such cozenage ; is't not perfect conscience
To quit him with this arm ? and is't not to be damn’d
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil ?


[ocr errors]

Hor. It must be shortly known to him from England,
What is the issue of the business there.

Ham. It will be short: the interim is mine;
And a man's life's no more than to say, 'one.'
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot myself ;
For by the image of my cause, I see
The portraiture of his : I'll count his favours ;
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion.

Peace! who comes here?

Enter Osric. Osr. Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark. Ham. I humbly thank you, sir.—Dost know this water-fly? Hor. No, my good lord.

Ham. Thy state is the more gracious; for 'tis a vice to know him.

Osr. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his majesty.

Ham. I will receive it with all diligence of spirit. Put your bonnet to his right use ; 'tis for the head. Osr. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot. .

. Ham. No, believe me, 'tis very cold ; the wind is northerly. Osr. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

Ham. But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot, for my complexion.

Osr. Exceedingly, my lord ; it is very sultry, -as 'tu I cannot tell how. But, my lord, his majesty bade me signify to you, that he has laid a great wager on your head : Sir, this is the matter. Ham. I beseech

you, remember

[HAMLET moves him put on his hat. Osr. Nay, in good faith ; for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is newly come to court, Laertes : believe me, an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differences, of very soft society, and great showing : Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card or calendar of gentry, for you shall find in him the continent of what part a gentleman would see.

Ham. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you ; thougli, I know, to divide him inventorially, would dizzy the arithmetic of memory; and yet but yaw neither, in respect of his quick sail. But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great article.

Osr. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.

llam. The concernancy, sir ? why do we wrap the gentleman in our more i'awer breath ?

Osr. Sir ?

Hor. Is't not possible to understand in another tongue ? You will do't, sir, really.

Ham. What imports the nomination of this gentleman ?
Osr. Of Laertes ?

Hor. His purse is empty already; all his golden words are spent.

Ham. Of him, sir.
Osr. I know you are not ignorant-

Ham. I would you did, sir; yet, in faith, if you did, it would not much approve me.---Well, sir.

Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is

Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence; but, to know a man well, were to know himself.

Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed he's unfellowed.

Ham. What's his weapon ?
Osr. Rapier and dagger,
Ham. That's two of his weapons : but, well.

Osr. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six Barbary horses : against the which he has imponed, as I take it, six French rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, or so : Three of the carriages, in faith, are very

dear to fancy, very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of very liberal conceit.

Ham. What call you the carriages ? ?

Hor. I knew you must be edified by the margent, ere you had done.

Osr. The carriages, sir, are the hangers.

Ham. The phrase would be more german to the matter, if we could carry cannon by our sides : I would it might be hangers till then.

But, on: Six Barbary horses against


six French swords, their assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages; that's the French bet, against the Danish. Why is this imponed,' as you call it ?

Osr. The king, sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid on twelve for nine; and that would come to immediate trial, if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.

llam. How, if I answer 'no'? Osr. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.

llam. Sir, I will walk here in the hall. If it please his majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me : let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hold his purpose, I will win for him, if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame, and the odd hits.

Osr. Shall I re-deliver you e'en so ?

Ham. To this effect, sir ; after what flourish your nature will. Osr. I commend my duty to your lordship.

Exit. Ham. Yours, yours. He does well to commend it himself ; there are no tongues else for's turn.

Flor. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

II am. Thus has he (and many more of the same bevy, that, I know, the drossy age dotes on) only got the tune of the tinie, and outward habit of encounter ; a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions; and do but blow them to their trials, the bubbles are out.

Enter a LORD. Lord. My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him, that you attend him in the hall : he sends to know, if your pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will take longer time.

llam. I am constant to my purposes, they follow the king's pleasure; if his fitness speaks, mine is ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able as now.

Lord. The king, and queen, and all are coming down.
llam. In happy time.
Lord. The
queen desires

you to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes, before you go to play.

Ham. She well instructs me.

[Exit Lord. Hor. You will lose this wager, my

lord. Ham. I do not think so; since he went into France, I have been in continual practice: I shall win at the odds.

But thou wouldst not think how ill all's here about my heart : but it is no matter.

Hor. Nay, good my lord,

Ham. It is but foolery ; but it is such a kind of gaingiving as would, perhaps, trouble a woman.

Hor. If your mind dislike anything, obey : I will forestall their repair hither, and say, you are not fit.

Ham. Not a whit, we defy augury; there's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come : the readiness is all : since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is 't to leave betimes ?


Queen Mab.
O, then, I see, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife; and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep :
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinner's legs;
The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers ;
The traces, of the smallest spider's web;
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams;
Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash of film :
Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid :
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut,
Made by the joiner Squirrel, or old Grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coach-makers,
And in this state she gallops night by night

« PreviousContinue »