not as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to t.
Pol. [Aside.] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger. He is far gone, far gone. And truly in my youth I suffred much extremity for love; very near this. Ill speak to him againWhat do you read, my lord?
Ham. Slanders, sir; for the satirical slave says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber or plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with weak hams; all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for you yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.
Pol. [Aside.] Though this be madness, yet there is method in t
Pol. Indeed, that is out o the air. [Aside.] How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sainty could not so properously be deliverd of. I will leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal,[Aside] except my life, my life.
Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadows shadow.
Ham. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretchd heroes the beggars shadows. Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
Ros. & Guil. Well wait upon you.
Ham. No such matter. I will not sort you with the rest of my servants, for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks, but I thank you; and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny.Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal justly with me. Come, come. Nay, speak.
Guil. What should we say, my lord?
Ham. Why, anything, but to the purpose. You were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to colour. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.
Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no!
Ros. [Aside to GUIL] What say you?
Ham. [Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of you.If you love me, hold not off.
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent9 your discovery,10 and your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no feather. I have of latebut wherefore I know notlost all my mirth, foregone all custom of exercise; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave oerhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted11 with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinte in faculty! In form and moving how express12 and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension 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,no, 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, what lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you. We coted13 them on the way, and hither are they coming to offer you service.
Ham. He that plays the king shall be welcome; his majesty14 shall have tribute of me; the adventurous knight15 shall use his foil and target; the lover16 shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man17 shall end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickle othe sere18, 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 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. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but there is, sir, an aery of children, little eyases,21 that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically clappd for t. These are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages22so they call themthat many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills23 and dare scarce come thither.
Ham. What, are they children? Who maintains em? How are they escoted?24 Will they pursue the quality25 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 bettertheir writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession?26
Ros. Faith, there has been much to do on both sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tarre27 them to controversy. There was for a while no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.29
Ham. It is not strange; for mine uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, [fifty,] an hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. [Sblood,] there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out. Flourish for the Players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come. The appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in the garb,30 lest my extent31 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 deceivd.
Guil. In what, my dear lord?
Ham. I am but mad north-north-west.32 When the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.33
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,34 these are the only men.
Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!
The first row of the pious chanson35 will show you more, for look where my abridgements36 come.
Enter four or five Players
Youre welcome, masters, welcome all. I am glad to see thee well. Welcome, good friends. O, my old friend! Thy face is valancd37 since I saw thee last; comst thou to beard me in Denmark? What, my young lady and mistress! By r lady, your ladyship is nearer heaven than when I saw-you last, by the altitude of a chopine.38 Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not crackd within the ring.39 Masters, you are all welcome. Well een to t like French falconersfly at any thing we see; well 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, pleasd not the million; twas caviare to the general;40 but it wasas I receivd it, and others, whose judgement in such matters cried in the top of mine41an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets42 in the lines to make the matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation; but calld it an honest method, [as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine.] One speech in it I chiefly lovd; twas Æneas tale to Dido, and thereabout of it especially where he speaks of Priams slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line: let me see, let me see
Pol. Look, wheer he has not turnd his colour and has tears ins eyes. Pray you, no more.
Ham. Tis well; Ill have thee speak out the rest soon. Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowd?52 Do ye hear? Let them be well usd, for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time; after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
Pol. My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
Ham. Gods bodykins, man, better. Use every man after his desert, and who should scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.