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The Legally Annotated HAMLET – Act Two Scenes 1 & 2

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by Mark Andre Alexander

Act One | Act Two | Act Three | Act Four | Act Five


Scenes 1 & 2

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Scene 1

Enter old Polonius, with his man or two.

Pol. Giue him this money, and these notes Reynaldo.

Rey. I will my Lord.

Pol. You shall doe meruiles wisely good Reynaldo,

Before you visite him, to make inquire

Of his behauiour.

Rey.                    My Lord, I did intend it.

Pol. Mary well said, very well said; looke you sir,

Enquire me first what Danskers are in Parris,

And how, and who, what meanes, and where they keepe,

What companie, at what expence, and finding

By this encompasment, and drift of question [10]

That they doe know my sonne, come you more neerer

Then your perticuler demaunds will tuch it,

Take you as t’were some distant knowledge of him,

As thus, I know his father, and his friends,

And in part him, doe you marke this Reynaldo?

Rey. I, very well my Lord.

Pol. And in part him, but you may say, not well,

But y’ft be he I meane, hee’s very wilde,

Adicted so and so, and there put on him

What forgeries you please, marry none so ranck [20]

As may dishonour him, take heede of that,

But sir, such wanton, wild, and vsuall slips,

As are companions noted and most knowne

To youth and libertie.

Rey. As gaming my Lord.

Pol.                                I, or drinking, fencing, swearing,

Quarrelling, drabbing, you may goe so far.

Rey. My Lord, that would dishonour him.

Pol. Fayth as you may season it in the charge.

You must not put another scandell on him,

That he is open to incontinencie, [30]

That’s not my meaning, but breath his faults so quently

That they may seeme the taints of libertie,

The flash and out-breake of a fierie mind,

A sauagenes in vnreclamed blood,

Of generall assault.

Rey. But my good Lord.

Pol.                              Wherefore should you doe this?

Rey. I my Lord, I would know that.

Pol. Marry sir, heer’s my drift,

And I belieue it is a fetch of wit,

You laying these slight sallies on my sonne [40]

As t’were a thing a little soyld with working,

Marke you,

Your partie in conuerse, him you would sound

Hauing euer seene in the prenominat crimes

The youth you breath of guiltie, be assur’d

He closes with you in this consequence,

Good sir, (or so,) or friend, or gentleman,

According to the phrase, or the addistion

Of man and country.

Rey.                         Very good my Lord.

Pol. And then sir doos a this, a doos, what was I about [50]

to say? By the masse I was about to say something,

Where did I leaue?

Rey. At closes in the consequence.

Pol. At closes in the consequence, I marry,

He closes thus, I know the gentleman,

I saw him yesterday, or th’other day,

Or then, or then, with such or such, and as you say,

There was a gaming there, or tooke in’s rowse,

There falling out at Tennis, or perchance

I saw him enter such a house of sale, [60]

Videlizet, a brothell, or so foorth, see you now,

Your bait of falshood take this carpe of truth,

And thus doe we of wisedome, and of reach,

With windlesses, and with assaies of bias,

By indirections find directions out,

So by my former lecture and aduise

Shall you my sonne; you haue me, haue you not?

Rey. My Lord, I haue.

Pol. God buy ye, far ye well.

Rey. Good my Lord. [70]

Pol. Obserue his inclination in your selfe.

Rey. I shall my Lord.

Pol. And let him ply his musique.

Rey. Well my Lord.               Exit Rey.

Enter Ophelia.

Pol. Farewell. How now Ophelia, whats the matter?

Oph. O my Lord, my Lord, I haue beene so affrighted,

Pol. With what i’th name of God ?

Ophe. My Lord, as I was sowing in my closset,

Lotd Hamlet with his doublet all vnbrac’d,

No hat vpon his head, his stockins fouled,

Vngartred, and downe gyued to his ancle, [80]

Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,

And with a looke so pittious in purport

As if he had been loosed out of hell

To speake of horrors, he comes before me.

Pol. Mad for thy loue?

Oph.                           My lord I doe not know,

But truly I doe feare it.

Pol.                           What said he?

Oph. He tooke me by the wrist, and held me hard,

Then goes he to the length of all his arme,

And with his other hand thus ore his brow,

He falls to such perusall of my face [90]

As a would draw it, long stayd he so,

At last, a little shaking of mine arme,

And thrice his head thus wauing vp and downe,

He raisd a sigh so pittious and profound

As it did seeme to shatter all his bulke,

And end his beeing; that done, he lets me goe,

And with his head ouer his shoulder turn’d

Hee seem’d to find his way without his eyes,

For out adoores he went without theyr helps,

And to the last bended their light on me. [100]

Pol. Come, goe with mee, I will goe seeke the King,

This is the very extacie of loue,

Whose violent propertie fordoos it selfe,

And leades the will to desperat vndertakings

As oft as any passions vnder heauen

That dooes afflict our natures: I am sorry,

What, haue you giuen him any hard words of late?

Oph. No my good Lord, but as you did commaund

I did repell his letters, and denied

His accesse to me.

Pol.                      That hath made him mad. [110]

I am sorry, that with better heede and iudgement

I had not coted him, I fear’d he did but trifle

And meant to wrack thee, but beshrow my Ielousie:

By heauen it is as proper to our age

To cast beyond our selues in our opinions,

As it is common for the younger sort

To lack discretion; come, goe we to the King,

This must be knowne, which beeing kept close, might moue

More griefe to hide, then hate to vtter loue,

Come.                             Exeunt. [120]

Scene 2

Florish. Enter King and Queene, Rosencraus and Guyldensterne.

King. Welcome deere Rosencraus, and Guyldensterne,

Moreouer, that we much did long to see you,

The need we haue to vse you did prouoke

Our hastie sending, something haue you heard

Of Hamlets transformation, so call it,

Sith nor th’exterior, nor the inward man

Resembles that it was, what it should be,

More then his fathers death, that thus hath put him

So much from th’vnderstanding of himselfe

I cannot dreame of: I entreate you both [10]

That beeing of so young dayes brought vp with him,

And sith so nabored to his youth and hauior,

That you voutsafe your rest heere in our Court

Some little time, so by your companies

To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather

So much as from occasion you may gleane,

Whether ought to vs vnknowne afflicts him thus,

That opend lyes within our remedie.

Quee. Good gentlemen, he hath much talkt of you,

And sure I am, two men there is not liuing [20]

To whom he more adheres, if it will please you

To shew vs so much gentry and good will,

As to expend your time with vs a while,

For the supply and profit of our hope,

Your visitation shall receiue such thanks

As fits a Kings remembrance.

Ros.                                     Both your Maiesties

Might by the soueraigne power you haue of vs,

Put your dread pleasures more into commaund

Then to entreatie.

Guyl.                  But we both obey.

And heere giue vp our selues in the full bent, [30]

To lay our seruice freely at your feete

To be commaunded.

King. Thanks Rosencraus, and gentle Guyldensterne.

Quee. Thanks Guyldensterne, and gentle Rosencraus.

And I beseech you instantly to visite

My too much changed sonne, goe some of you

And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

Guyl. Heauens make our presence and our practices

Pleasant and helpfull to him.

Quee.                                 I Amen.

Exeunt Ros. and Guyld. Enter Polonius.

Pol. Th’embassadors from Norway my good Lord, [40]

Are ioyfully returnd.

King. Thou still hast been the father of good newes.

Pol. Haue I my Lord? I assure my good Liege

I hold my dutie as I hold my soule,

Both to my God, and to my gracious King;

And I doe thinke, or els this braine of mine

Hunts not the trayle of policie so sure

As it hath vsd to doe, that I haue found

The very cause of Hamlets lunacie.

King. O speake of that, that doe I long to heare. [50]

Pol. Giue first admittance to th’embassadors,

My newes shall be the fruite to that great feast.

King. Thy selfe doe grace to them, and bring them in.

He tells me my deere Gertrard he hath found

The head and source of all your sonnes distemper.

Quee. I doubt it is no other but the maine

His fathers death, and our hastie marriage.

Enter Embassadors.

King. Well, we shall sift him, welcome my good friends,

Say Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?

Vol. Most faire returne of greetings and desires; [60]

Vpon our first, he sent out to suppresse

His Nephews leuies, which to him appeard

To be a preparation gainst the Pollacke,

But better lookt into, he truly found

It was against your highnes, whereat greeu’d

That so his sicknes, age, and impotence

Was falsly borne in hand, sends out arrests

On Fortenbrasse, which he in breefe obeyes,

Receiues rebuke from Norway, and in fine,

Makes vow before his Vncle neuer more [70]

To giue th’assay of Armes against your Maiestie:

Whereon old Norway ouercome with ioy,

Giues him threescore thousand crownes in anuall fee,

And his commission to imploy those souldiers

So leuied (as before) against the Pollacke,

With an entreatie heerein further shone,

That it might please you to giue quiet passe

Through your dominions for this enterprise

On such regards of safety and allowance

As therein are set downe.

King.                               It likes vs well, [80]

And at our more considered time, wee’le read,

Answer, and thinke vpon this busines:

Meane time, we thanke you for your well tooke labour,

Goe to your rest, at night weele feast together,

Most welcome home.

Exeunt Embassadors.

Pol.                           This busines is well ended.

My Liege and Maddam, to expostulate

What maiestie should be, what dutie is,

Why day is day, night, night, and time is time,

Were nothing but to wast night, day, and time,

Therefore breuitie is the soule of wit, [90]

And tediousnes the lymmes and outward florishes,

I will be briefe, your noble sonne is mad:

Mad call I it, for to define true madnes,

What ist but to be nothing els but mad,

But let that goe.

Quee.               More matter with lesse art.

Pol. Maddam, I sweare I vse no art at all,

That hee’s mad tis true, tis true, tis pitty,

And pitty tis tis true, a foolish figure,

But farewell it, for I will vse no art.

Mad let vs graunt him then, and now remaines [100]

That we find out the cause of this effect,

Or rather say, the cause of this defect,

For this effect defectiue comes by cause:

Thus it remaines, and the remainder thus


I haue a daughter, haue while she is mine,

Who in her dutie and obedience, marke,

Hath giuen me this, now gather and surmise,

To the Celestiall and my soules Idoll, the most

beautified Ophelia, that’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase, [110]

beautified is a vilephrase, but you shall heare: thus

in her excellent white bosome, these &c.

Quee. Came this from Hamlet to her?

Pol. Good Maddam stay awhile, I will be faithfull,

    Doubt thou the starres are fire,               Letter.

    Doubt that the Sunne doth moue,

    Doubt truth to be a lyer,

    But neuer doubt I loue.

O deere Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers, I haue not art to

recken my grones, but that I loue thee best, o most best [120]

belieue it, adew.

             Thine euermore most deere Lady, whilst this

machine is to him.              Hamlet.

Pol. This in obedience hath my daughter showne me,

And more about hath his solicitings

As they fell out by time, by meanes, and place,

All giuen to mine eare.

King. But how hath she receiu’d his loue?

Pol. What doe you thinke of me?

King. As of a man faithfull and honorable. [130]

Pol. I would faine proue so, but what might you thinke

When I had seene this hote loue on the wing,

As I perceiu’d it (I must tell you that)

Before my daughter told me, what might you,

Or my deere Maiestie your Queene heere thinke,

If I had playd the Deske, or Table booke,

Or giuen my hart a working mute and dumbe,

Or lookt vppon this loue with idle sight,

What might you thinke? no, I went round to worke,

And my young Mistris thus I did bespeake, [140]

Lord Hamlet is a Prince out of thy star,

This must not be: and then I prescripts gaue her

That she should locke her selfe from her resort,

Admit no messengers, receiue no tokens,

Which done, she tooke the fruites of my aduise:

And he repell’d, a short tale to make,

Fell into a sadnes, then into a fast,

Thence to a wath, thence into a weakenes,

Thence to lightnes, and by this declension,

Into the madnes wherein now he raues, [150]

And all we mourne for.

King.                           Doe you thinke this?

Quee. It may be very like.

Pol. Hath there been such a time, I would faine know that,

That I haue positiuely said, tis so,

When it proou’d otherwise?

King.                                 Not that I know.

Pol. Take this, from this, if this be otherwise;

If circumstances leade me, I will finde

Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeede

Within the Center.

King.                   How may we try it further?

Pol. You know sometimes he walkes four hours together [160]

Heere in the Lobby.

Quee.                     So he dooes indeede.

Pol. At such a time, Ile loose my daughter to him,

Be you and I behind an Arras then,

Marke the encounter, if he loue her not,

And be not from his reason falne thereon

Let me be no assistant for a state

But keepe a farme and carters.

King.                                      We will try it.

Enter Hamlet.

Quee. But looke where sadly the poore wretch comes reading.

Pol. Away, I doe beseech you both away,

Exit King and Queene.

Ile bord him presently, oh giue me leaue, [170]

How dooes my good Lord Hamlet?

Ham. Well, God a mercy.

Pol. Doe you knowe me my Lord?

Ham. Excellent well, you are a Fishmonger.

Pol. Not I my Lord.

Ham. Then I would you were so honest a man.

Pol. Honest my Lord.

Ham. I sir to be honest as this world goes,

Is to be one man pickt out of tenne thousand.

Pol. That’s very true my Lord. [180]

Ham. For if the sunne breede maggots in a dead dogge, being a

good kissing carrion. Haue you a daughter?

Pol. I haue my Lord.

Ham. Let her not walke i’th Sunne, conception is a blessing,

But as your daughter may conceaue, friend looke to’t.

Pol. How say you by that, still harping on my

daughter, yet hee knewe me not at first, a sayd I was a

Fishmonger, a is farre gone, and truly in my youth, I

suffred much extremity for loue, very neere this. Ile [190]

speake to him againe. What doe you reade my Lord.

Ham. Words, words, words.

Pol. What is the matter my Lord.

Ham. Betweene who.

Pol. I meane the matter that you reade my Lord.

Ham. Slaunders sir; for the satericall rogue sayes heere, that

old men haue gray beards, that their faces are

wrinckled, their eyes purging thick Amber, & plumtree

gum, & that they haue a plentifull lacke of wit,

together with most weake hams, all which sir [200]

though I most powerfully and potentlie belieue, yet I

hold it not honesty to haue it thus set downe, for

your selfe sir shall growe old as I am: if like a Crab you

could goe backward.

Pol. Though this be madnesse, yet there is method

in’t,—will you walke out of the ayre my Lord?

Ham. Into my graue.

Pol. Indeede that’s out of the ayre; how pregnant

sometimes his replies are, a happines that often

madnesse hits on, which reason and sanctity could not [210]

so prosperously be deliuered of. I will leaue him and

[suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him

and] my daughter. My Lord, I will take my leaue

of you.

Ham. You cannot take from mee any thing that I will

not more willingly part withall: except my life,

except my life, except my life.

Enter Guyldersterne, and Rosencraus.

Pol. Fare you well my Lord.

Ham. These tedious old fooles.

Pol. You goe to seeke the Lord Hamlet, there he is. [220]

Ros. God saue you sir.

Guyl. My honor’d Lord.

Ros. My most deere Lord.

Ham. My extent good friends, how doost thou

Guyldersterne? A Rosencraus, good lads how doe

you both?

Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth.

Guyl. Happy, in that we are not euer happy on Fortunes lap,

We are not the very button.

Ham. Nor the soles of her shooe. [230]

Ros. Neither my Lord.

Ham. Then you liue about her wast, or in the middle of

her fauors.

Guyl. Faith her priuates we.

Ham. In the secret parts of Fortune, oh most true, she is a

strumpet, What newes?

Ros. None my Lord, but the worlds growne honest.

Ham. Then is Doomes day neere, but your newes is not true;

[Let me question more in particular. What have you,

my good friends, deserved at the hands of Fortune [240]

that she send you to prison hither?

Guyl. Prison, my lord?

Ham. Denmark’s a prison.

Ros. Then is the world one.

Ham. A goodly one, in which there are many confines,

wards, and dungeons, Denmark being on o’th’


Ros. We think not so, my lord.

Ham. Why, then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing

either good or bad but thinking makes it so. To me [250]

it is a prison.

Ros. Why, then your ambition makes it one: ’tis too narrow

for your mind.

Ham. O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count

myself of king of infinite space—were it not that I

have bad dreams.

Guyl. Which dreams indeed are ambition; for the very

substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a


Ham. A dream of itself is but a shadow. [260]

Ros. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a

quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.

Ham. Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs

and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows. Shall

we to the’ court? For by my fay, I cannot reason.

Ros. Guyl. We’ll wait upon you.

Ham. No such matter. I will not sort 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 Elsonoure? [270]

Ros. To visit you my Lord, no other occasion.

Ham. Begger that I am, I am euer poore in thankes, but I

thanke you, and sure deare friends, my thankes are too

deare a halfpeny: were you not sent for? is it your

owne inclining? is it a free visitation? come, come,

deale iustly with me, come, come, nay speake.

Guy. What should we say my Lord?

Ham. Any thing but to’th purpose: you were sent for, and

there is a kind of confession in your lookes, which your

modesties haue not craft enough to cullour, I know [280]

the good King and Queene haue sent for you.

Ros. To what end my Lord?

Ham. That you must teach me: but let me coniure you,

by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancie of

our youth, by the obligation of our euer preserued

loue; and by what more deare a better proposer

can charge you withall, bee euen and direct with me

whether you were sent for or no.

Ros. What say you.

Ham. Nay then I haue an eye of you? if you loue me [290]

hold not of.

Guyl. My Lord we were sent for.

Ham. I will tell you why, so shall my anticipation preuent

your discouery, and your secrecie to the King &

Queene moult no feather, I haue of late, but where-

fore I knowe not, lost all my mirth, forgon all custome

of exercises: and indeede it goes so heauily with my

disposition, that this goodly frame the earth, seemes to

mee a sterill promontorie, this most excellent Canopie

the ayre, looke you, this braue orehanging firmament, [300]

this maiesticall roofe fretted with golden fire, why it

appeareth nothing to me but a foule and pestilent

congregation of vapoures. What peece of worke is a man,

how noble in reason, how infinit in faculties, in forme

and moouing, how expresse and admirable in action,

how like an Angell in apprehension, how like a God:

the beautie of the world; the paragon of Annimales;

and yet to me, what is this Quintessence of dust:

man delights not me, nor women neither, though

by your smilling, you seeme to say so. [310]

Ros. My Lord, there was no such stuffe in my thoughts.

Ham. Why did yee laugh then, when I sayd man delights

not me.

Ros. To thinke my Lord if you delight not in man, what

Lenton entertainment the players shall receaue from

you, we coted them on the way, and hether are they

comming to offer you seruice.

Ham. He that playes the King shal be welcome, his

Maiestie shal haue tribute on me, the aduenterous Knight

shall vse his foyle and target, the Louer shall not sigh [320]

gratis, the humorus Man shall end his part in peace,

[the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are

tickle a th’ scar,] and the Lady shall say her minde

freely: or the black verse shall hault for’t. What

players are they?

Ros. Euen those you were wont to take such delight in,

the Tragedians of the Citty.

Ham. How chances it they trauaile? their residence both

in reputation, and profit was better both wayes.

Ros. I thinke their inhibition, comes by the meanes of the [330]

late innouasion.

Ham. Doe they hold the same estimation they did when I

was in the Citty; are they so followed.

Ros. No indeede are they not.

Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

Ros. Nay their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but

there is, sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that

cry out on the top of question, and are most tyrannically

clapped for’t. These are now the fashion, and

so berattle the commone stages—so they call them— [340]

that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose-quills

and dare scarce come thither.

Ham. What, are they children? Who maintains ’em?

How are they ascotted? 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 [350]

the nation holds it no sin to tar them to controversy.

There was for a while no money bid for argument

unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the


Ham. Is it possible?

Guyl. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Ham. Do the boys carry it away?

Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord, Hercules and his load too.]

Ham. It is not very strange, for my Vncle is King of

Denmarke, and those that would make mouths at him [360]

while my father liued, giue twenty, fortie, fifty, a

hundred duckets a peece, for his Picture in little,

s’bloud there is somthing in this more then

naturall, if Philosophie could find it out.               A Florish.

Guyl. There are the players.

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Ham. Gentlemen you are welcome to Elsonoure, your

hands come then, th’appurtenances of welcome is

fashion and ceremonie; let mee comply with you in

this garb: let me extent to the players, which I tell

you must showe fairely outwards, should more appeare [370]

like entertainment then yours? you are welcome:

but my Vncle-father, and Aunt-mother, are deceaued.

Guyl. In what my deare Lord.

Ham. I am but mad North North west; when the wind is

Southerly, I knowe a Hauke, from a hand saw.

Enter Polonius.

Pol. Well be with you Gentlemen.

Ham. Harke you Guyldensterne, and you to, at each eare

a hearer, that great baby you see there is not yet out

of his swadling clouts.

Ros. Happily he is the second time come to them, for they [380]

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, a Monday morning,

t’was then indeede.

Pol. My Lord I haue newes to tell you.

Ham. My Lord I haue newes to tel you: when Rossius was an

Actor in Rome.

Pol. The Actors are come hether my Lord.

Ham. Buz, buz.

Pol. Vppon my honor. [390]

Ham. Then came each Actor on his Asse.

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“In the law of real property, appurtenances are those things belonging to another thing as principal, which pass as incidents of the principal thing—as in the conveyance of a house and tract of land, a right of way would pass as a neccesary incident of the grant. Welcome, being the principal thing expressed in the speech made by Hamlet, he lists fashion and ceremony as mere incidents accompanying the welcome as matter of right.” Edward J. White, The Law in Shakespeare, 2nd edition, 1913: 473.

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Pol. The best actors in the world, either for Tragedie,

Comedy, History, Pastorall, Pastorall Comicall,

Historicall Pastorall, [tragical-historical, tragical-comical-

historical-pastoral,] scene indeuidible, or Poem

vnlimited, Sceneca cannot be too heauy, nor Plautus too

light for the lawe of writ, and the liberty: these are

the only men.

Ham. O Ieptha Iudge of Israell, what a treasure had’st

thou? [400]

Pol. What a treasure had he my Lord?

Ham. Why

one faire daughter and no more,

the which he loued passing well.

Pol. Still on my daughter.

Ham. Am I not i’th right old Ieptha?

Pol. If you call me Ieptha my Lord, I haue a daughter

that I loue passing well.

Ham. Nay that followes not.

Pol. What followes then my Lord? [410]

Ham. Why

as by lot God wot,

and then you knowe

it came to passe, as most like it was;

the first rowe of the pious chanson will showe you

more, for looke where my abridgment comes.

Enter thePlayers.

Ham. You are welcome maisters, welcome all, I am

glad to see thee well, welcome good friends, oh

old friend, why thy face is valanct since I saw thee

last, com’st thou to beard me in Denmark? what [420]

my young Lady and mistris, by lady your Ladishippe

is nerer to heauen, then when I saw you last by

the altitude of a chopine, pray God your voyce like a

peece of vncurrant gold, bee not crackt within the

ring: maisters you are all welcome, weele ento’t

like friendly Fankners, fly at any thing we see, weele

haue a speech straite, come giue vs a tast of your

quality, come a passionate speech.

Player. What speech my good Lord?

Ham. I heard thee speake me a speech once, but it was [430]

neuer acted,

or if it was, not aboue once, for the

play I remember pleasd not the million, t’was

cauiary to the generall, but it was as I receaued it

& others, whose iudgements in such matters cried in

the top of mine, an excellent play, well digested in

the scenes, set downe with as much modestie as cunning.

I remember one sayd there were no sallets in the

lines, to make the matter sauory, nor no matter in

the phrase that might indite the author of affection,

but cald it an honest method, as wholesome as [440]

sweete, & by very much, more handsome then fine:

one speech in’t I chiefely loued, t’was Aeneas talke

to Dido, & there about of it especially when he

speakes of Priams slaughter, if it liue in your memory

begin at this line, let me see, let me see,

the rugged Pirbus like Th’ircanian beast,

tis not so, it beginnes with Pirrhus,

the rugged Pirrhus, he whose sable Armes,

Black as his purpose did the night resemble,

When he lay couched in th’omynous horse, [450]

Hath now this dread and black complection smeard,

With heraldy more dismall head to foote,

Now is he totall Gules horridly trickt

With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sonnes,

Bak’d and empasted with the parching streetes

That lend a tirranus and a damned light

To their Lords murther, rosted in wrath and fire,

And thus ore-cised with coagulate gore,

With eyes like Carbunkles, the hellish Phirrhus

Old grandsire Priam seekes; [460]

so proceede you.

Pol. Foregod my Lord well spoken, with good accent

and good discretion.

Play.                       Anon he finds him,

Striking too short at Greekes, his anticke sword

Rebellious to his arme, lies where it fals,

Repugnant to commaund; vnequall matcht,

Pirrhus at Priam driues, in rage strikes wide,

But with the whiffe and winde of his fell sword,

Th’vnnerued father fals: [Then Senseless Ilium] [470]

Seeming to feele this blowe, with flaming top

Stoopes to his base; and with a hiddious crash

Takes prisoner Pirrhus eare, for loe his sword

Which was declining on the milkie head

Of reuerent Priam, seem’d i’th ayre to stick,

So as a painted tirant Pirrhus stood

Like a newtrall to his will and matter,

Did nothing:

But as we often see against some storme,

A silence in the heauens, the racke stand still, [480]

The bold winds speechlesse, and the orbe belowe

As hush as death, anon the dreadfull thunder

Doth rend the region, so after Pirrhus pause,

A rowsed vengeance sets him new a worke,

And neuer did the Cyclops hammers fall,

On Marses Armor forg’d for proofe eterne,

With lesse remorse then Pirrhus bleeding sword

Now falls on Priam.

Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune, all you gods,

In generall sinod take away her power,

Breake all the spokes, and follies from her wheele, [490]

And boule the round naue downe the hill of heauen

As lowe as to the fiends.

Pol. This is too long.

Ham. It shall to the barbers with your beard; prethee

say on, he’s for a Iigge, or a tale of bawdry, or he sleepes,

say on, come to Hecuba.

Play. But who, a woe, had seene the mobled Queene,

Ham. The mobled Queene.

Pol. That’s good. [500]

Play. Runne barefoote vp and downe, threatning the flames

With Bison rehume, a clout vppon that head

Where late the Diadem stood, and for a robe,

About her lanck and all ore-teamed loynes,

A blancket in the alarme of feare caught vp,

Who this had seene, with tongue in venom steept,

Gainst fortunes state would treason haue pronounst;

But if the gods themselues did see her then,

When she saw Pirrhus make malicious sport

In mincing with his sword her husband limmes, [510]

The instant burst of clamor that she made,

Vnlesse things mortall mooue them not at all,

Would haue made milch the burning eyes of heauen

And passion in the gods.

Pol. Looke where he has not turnd his cullour, and has

teares in’s

eyes, prethee no more.

Ham. Tis well, Ile haue thee speake out the rest of this

soone, Good my Lord will you see the players well

bestowed; doe you heare, let them be well vsed, for

they are the abstract and breefe Chronicles of the time; [520]

after your death you were better haue a bad Epitaph

then their ill report while you liue.

Pol. My Lord, I will vse them according to their desert.

Ham. Gods bodkin man, much better, vse euery man

after his desert, & who shall scape whipping, vse

them after your owne honor and dignity, the lesse

they deserue the more merrit is in your bounty. Take

them in.

Pol. Come sirs.

Ham. Follow him friends, weele heare a play to morrowe; [530]

dost thou heare me old friend, can

you play the murther of Gonzago?

Play. I my Lord.

Ham. Weele ha’te to morrowe night, you could for neede

study a speech of some dosen lines, or sixteene lines, which

I would set downe and insert in’t, could you not?

Play. I my Lord.

Ham. Very well, followe that Lord, &

looke you mock him not.

My good friends, [540]

Ile leaue you tell night, you are welcome to Elsonoure.

Exeunt Pol. and Players.

Ros. Good my Lord.


Ham. I so God buy to you, now I am alone,

O what a rogue and pesant slaue am I.

Is it not monstrous that this player heere

But in a fixion, in a dreame of passion

Could force his soule so to his owne conceit

That from her working all the visage wand,

Teares in his eyes, distraction in his aspect,

A broken voyce, an his whole function suting [550]

With formes to his conceit; and all for nothing,

For Hecuba.

What’s Hecuba to him, or he to her,

That he should weepe for her? what would he doe

Had he the motiue, and that for passion

That I haue? he would drowne the stage with teares,

And cleaue the generall eare with horrid speech,

Make mad the guilty, and appale the free,

Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeede

The very faculties of eyes and eares; [560] [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

This passage, for the lawe of writ, and the liberty, regarded as obscure and impenetrable by the Arden editors, is explained by Michael Srigley (in “Hamlet, ‘the law of writ,’ and the universities,” in Studia Neophilologica 66, 1994: 35-46) as a direct reference to letters patents, documents usually issued by a king that record agreements or grants of rights, offices, or titles. They express the royal will. (See Sokal and Sokal, Shakespeare’s Legal Language—A Dictionary. 2000: 206.)

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

yet I,

A dull and muddy metteld raskall peake,

Like Iohn-a-dreames, vnpregnant of my cause,

And can say nothing; no not for a King,

Vpon whose property and most deare life,

A damn’d defeate was made: am I a coward,

Who cals me villaine, breakes my pate a crosse,

Pluckes off my beard, and blowes it in my face,

Twekes me by the nose, giues me the lie i’th thraote

As deepe as to the lunges, who does me this, [570]


s’wounds I should take it : for it cannot be

But I am pidgion liuerd, and lack gall

To make oppression bitter, or ere this

I should a fatted all the region kytes

With this slaues offall, bloody, baudy villaine,

Remorslesse, trecherous, lecherous, kindlesse villaine.

Why what an Asse am I, this is most braue,

That I the sonne of a deere murthered,

Prompted to my reuenge by heauen and hell, [580]

Must like a whore vnpacke my hart with words,

And fall a cursing like a very drabbe; a stallyon, fie vppont, foh.

About my braines; hum, I haue heard,

That guilty creatures sitting at a play,

Haue by the very cunning of the scene,

Beene strooke so to the soule, that presently

They haue proclaim’d their malefactions:

For murther, though it haue no tongue will speake

With most miraculous organ: Ile haue these Players [590]

Play something like the murther of my father

Before mine Vncle, Ile obserue his lookes,

Ile tent him to the quicke, if a doe blench

I know my course. The spirit that I haue seene

May be a deale, and the deale hath power

T’assume a pleasing shape, yea, and perhaps,

Out of my weakenes, and my melancholy,

As he is very potent with such spirits,

Abuses me to damne me; Ile haue grounds

More relatiue then this, the play’s the thing [600]

Wherein Ile catch the conscience of the King.               Exit.

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Continuing J. Anthony’s Burton’s analysis of lost inheritance in Hamlet: “Editors and critics who take their report [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s report to Claudius in 3.1.5-6 that Hamlet is distracted and they do not know why] for fact instead of proof of their ineptitude also miss the significance of Hamlet’s language in the ‘rogue and peasant slave’ soliloqey.” (103)

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