Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Hamlet
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act II
Scene I
[A room in Polonius’s house]

  Pol.  Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.
  Rey.  I will, my lord.
  Pol.  You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo,
Before you visit him, to make inquiry        4
Of his behaviour.
  Rey.        My lord, I did intend it.
  Pol.  Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
Inquire me first what Danskers 1 are in Paris,        8
And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,
What company, at what expense; and finding
By this encompassment and drift 2 of question
That they do know my son, come you more nearer        12
Than your particular demands will touch it.
Take you, as ’twere, some distant knowledge of him,
As thus, “I know his father and his friends,
And in part him.” Do you mark this, Reynaldo?        16
  Rey.  Ay, very well, my lord.
  Pol.  “And in part him; but,” you may say, “not well.
But, if ’t be he I mean, he’s very wild,
Addicted so and so;” and there put on him        20
What forgeries 3 you please; marry, none so rank
As may dishonour him,—take heed of that;
But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known        24
To youth and liberty.
  Rey.        As gaming, my lord?
  Pol.  Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,
Drabbing; you may go so far.        28
  Rey.  My lord, that would dishonour him.
  Pol.  Faith, no, as you may season 4 it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him,
That he is open to incontinency.        32
That’s not my meaning. But breathe his faults so quaintly 5
That they may seem the taints of liberty,
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimed blood,        36
Of general assault. 6
  Rey.        But, my good lord,—
  Pol.  Wherefore should you do this?
  Rey.        Ay, my lord,        40
I would know that.
  Pol.        Marry, sir, here’s my drift,
And, I believe, it is a fetch of warrant: 7
You laying these slight sullies on my son,        44
As ’twere a thing a little soil’d i’ the working,
Mark you,
Your party in converse, him you would sound,
Having ever seen in the prenominate 8 crimes        48
The youth you breathe of guilty, be assur’d
He closes with you in this consequence; 9
“Good sir,” or so, or “friend,” or “gentleman,”
According to the phrase and the addition 10        52
Of man and country.
  Rey.        Very good, my lord.
  Pol.  And then, sir, does he this—he does—
What was I about to say? [By the mass,] I was about to say something. Where did I leave?        56
  Rey.  At “closes in the consequence,” at “friend or so,” and “gentleman.”
  Pol.  At “closes in the consequence,” ay, marry.
He closes with you thus: “I know the gentleman.
I saw him yesterday, or t’ other day,        60
Or then, or then, with such and such; and, as you say,
There was he gaming; there o’ertook in ’s rouse; 11
There falling out at tennis;” or, perchance,
“I saw him enter such a house of sale,”        64
  Videlicet, a brothel, or so forth.
See you now;
Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,        68
With windlasses and with assays of bias, 12
By indirections find directions out.
So by my former lecture and advice,
Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?        72
  Rey.  My lord, I have.
  Pol.        God buy you; fare you well.
  Rey.  Good my lord.
  Pol.  Observe his inclination in yourself.        76
  Rey.  I shall, my lord.
  Pol.  And let him ply his music.
  Rey.        Well, my lord.
  Pol.  Farewell!  Exit REYNALDO.        80

        How now, Ophelia! what’s the matter?
  Oph.  Alas, my lord, I have been so affrighted!
  Pol.  With what, in the name of God?
  Oph.  My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,        84
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac’d, 13
No hat upon his head, his stockings foul’d,
Ungart’red, and down-gyved 14 to his ankle,
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,        88
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors,—he comes before me.
  Pol.  Mad for thy love?        92
  Oph.        My lord, I do not know,
But truly, I do fear it.
  Pol.        What said he?
  Oph.  He took me by the wrist and held me hard;        96
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o’er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stay’d he so.        100
At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
And thrice his head thus waving up and down
He rais’d a sigh so piteous and profound
That it did seem to shatter all his bulk        104
And end his being. That done, he lets me go;
And, with his head over his shoulder turn’d,
He seem’d to find his way without his eyes,
For out o’ doors he went without their help,        108
And, to the last, bended their light on me.
  Pol.  [Come,] go with me, I will go seek the King.
This is the very ecstasy of love,
Whose violent property fordoes itself        112
And leads the will to desperate undertakings
As oft as any passion under heaven
That does afflict our natures. I am sorry,—
What, have you given him any hard words of late?        116
  Oph.  No, my good lord, but, as you did command,
I did repel his letters and deni’d
His access to me.
  Pol.        That hath made him mad.        120
I am sorry that with better heed and judgement
I had not quoted 15 him. I fear’d he did but trifle
And meant to wreck thee; but beshrew my jealousy!
By heaven, it is as proper to our age        124
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
This must be known, which, being kept close, might move        128
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
[Come.]  Exeunt.
Note 1. Danes. [back]
Note 2. Roundabout method. [back]
Note 3. False accusations. [back]
Note 4. Modify. [back]
Note 5. Carefully, delicately. [back]
Note 6. To which any man is subject. [back]
Note 7. Warranted device. [back]
Note 8. Before-mentioned. [back]
Note 9. Conclusion. [back]
Note 10. Title. [back]
Note 11. Overcome in drinking. [back]
Note 12. Circuitous methods. [back]
Note 13. Ungirt. [back]
Note 14. Hanging in rings like fetters. [back]
Note 15. Observed. [back]


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