Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Hamlet
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene III
[Another room in the castle]
Enter KING [and two or three]

  King.  I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
He’s lov’d of the distracted multitude,        4
Who like not in their judgement, but their eyes,
And where ’tis so, the offender’s scourge is weigh’d,
But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem        8
Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.

        How now! What hath befallen?
  Ros.  Where the dead body is bestow’d, 1 my lord,
We cannot get from him.
  King.        But where is he?
  Ros.  Without, my lord, guarded, to know your pleasure.        16
  King.  Bring him before us.
  Ros.  Ho, Guildenstern! bring in my lord.

  King.  Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?
  Ham.  At supper.        20
  King.  At supper! Where?
  Ham.  Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of [politic] worms 2 are e’en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table; that’s the end.
  [King.  Alas, alas!
  Ham.  A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.]        24
  King.  What dost thou mean by this?
  Ham.  Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.
  King.  Where is Polonius?
  Ham.  In heaven; send thither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i’ the other place yourself. But indeed, if you find him not [within] this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.        28
  King.  Go seek him there.  [To some Attendants.]
  Ham.  He will stay till ye come.  [Exeunt Attendants.]
  King.  Hamlet, this deed of thine, for thine especial safety,—
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve        32
For that which thou hast done,—must send thee hence
With fiery quickness; therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
The associates tend, and everything is bent        36
For England.
  Ham.        For England?
  King.        Ay, Hamlet.
  Ham.        Good.        40
  King.  So is it, if thou knew’st our purposes.
  Ham.  I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England! Farewell, dear mother.
  King.  Thy loving father, Hamlet.
  Ham.  My mother. Father and mother is man and wife, man and wife is one flesh, and so, my mother. Come, for England!  [Exit.        44
  King.  Follow him at foot, tempt him with speed aboard.
Delay it not; I’ll have him hence to-night.
Away! for everything is seal’d and done
That else leans on the affair. Pray you, make haste.  [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.]        48
And, England, if my love thou hold’st at aught,—
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice 3 looks raw and red
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe        52
Pays homage to us—thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, 4 which imports at full,
By letters conjuring to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;        56
For like the hectic 5 in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know ’tis done,
Howe’er my haps, my joys were ne’er begun.  Exit.
Note 1. Hidden. [back]
Note 2. Worms that eat the bodies of politicians. [back]
Note 3. Scar. [back]
Note 4. Procedure. [back]
Note 5. Fever. [back]


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