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A room in the castle.

Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.

King. And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
Ros. He does confess he feels himself distracted,
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
Guil. Nor do we find him forward to be sounded:
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,

When we would bring him on to some confes-

Of his true state.


Did he receive you well? 10

Ros. Most like a gentleman.

Guil. But with much forcing of his disposition.
Ros. Niggard of question, but of our demands
Most free in his reply.

13-14. "Niggard of question, but of our own demands most free"; Hanmer, "Most free of our question, but to our demands most niggard"; Warburton, “Most free of question, but of our demands most niggard"; Collier MS., “niggard of our question, but to our demands most free."-I. G.


To any pastime?

Did you assay him

Ros. Madam, it so fell out that certain players
We o'er-raught on the way: of these we told


And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it: they are about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.


"Tis most true: And he beseech'd me to entreat your majesties To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content


To hear him so inclined.

Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
Ros. We shall, my lord.

[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as 'twere by accident, may here
Affront Ophelia:

Her father and myself, lawful espials,

Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge,
And gather by him, as he is behaved,

If 't be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.


I shall obey you:

And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause

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Of Hamlet's wildness: so shall I hope your virtues

Will bring him to his wonted way again,


To both

your honors.


Madam, I wish it may.

[Exit Queen.

Gracious, so please

Pol. Ophelia, walk you here.


We will bestow ourselves. [To Ophelia.] Read on this book;

That show of such an exercise may color

Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,'Tis too much proved-that with devotion's visage

And pious action we do sugar o'er

The devil himself.


[Aside] O, 'tis too true!

How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!


The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burthen!

Pol. I hear him coming: let's withdraw, my lord. [Exeunt King and Polonius.

Enter Hamlet.

Ham. To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

59. "to take arms against a sea of troubles,” &c.; the alleged con

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And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: aye, there's the

For in that sleep of death what dreams may


When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;

For who would hear the whips and scorns of



The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's con


The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,


fusion of metaphors in this passage was due to the commentator's ignorance, not to Shakespeare's; vide Glossary, “take arms.”—I. G. 79, 80:

"The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns."

In Catullus' Elegy on a Sparrow, occur the words:-
"Qui nunc it per iter tenebricosum

Illuc unde negant redire quenquam.”—I. G.

And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember❜d.


Good my lord,

How does your honor for this many a day?
Ham. I humbly thank you: well, well, well.
Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of
That I have longed to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.


I never gave you aught.


No, not I;


Oph. My honor'd lord, you know right well you

And with them words of so sweet breath com-

83. “conscience”; speculative reflection.-C. H. H.

89. "Be all my sins remembered"; "This is a touch of nature. Hamlet, at the sight of Ophelia, does not immediately recollect that he is to personate madness, but makes an address grave and solemn, such as the foregoing meditation excited in his thoughts" (Johnson). -H. N. H.

92. "well, well, well"; thus the folio; the quartos have well but once. The repetition seems very apt and forcible, as suggesting the opposite of what the word means.-H. N. H.

97. "you know"; the quartos have "you know" instead of "I know." We scarce know which to prefer; but, on the whole, the folio reading seems to have more of delicacy, and at least equal feeling.-H. N. H.

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