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May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and, perhaps,
Out of my weakness, and my melancholy,
(As he is very potent with such spirits,)
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this: The play 's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king. [Exit.



SCENE I.-A Room in the Castle.


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 confession
Of his true state.


Did he receive you well? 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.


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 him;
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.


"T is 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 inclin'd.

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


[Exeunt Ros. and GUIL Sweet Gertrude, leave us too:

For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither;
That he, as 't were 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 behav'd,

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

Of Hamlet's wildness; so shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,

To both your honours.


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Pol. Ophelia, walk you here :-Gracious, so please


We will bestow ourselves :-Read on this book;


That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness. We are oft to blame in this,-

"T is too much prov'd, that, with devotion's visage,
And pious action, we do sugar o'er

The devil himself.


O, 't is too true!

How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plast'ring art,

Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it,
Than is my deed to my most painted word :
O heavy burden!

a Affront-encounter, confront.


Pol. I hear him coming; let 's withdraw, my lord. [Exeunt KING and POLONIUS.


Ham. To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 't is nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?-To die,-to sleep,-
No more; and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,-t is a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die,—to sleep ;—
To sleep! perchance to dream ;-ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
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 bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
pangs of dispriz'd 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 these 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 traveller returns, puzzles the will;
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;

a Bodkin—a small sword. Cæsar is spoken of, by old writers, as slain by bodkins.

Grunt. So the originals. The players, in their squeamishness, always give us groan; and, if they had not the terror of the blank verse before them, they would certainly inflict per spire upon us.

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprizes of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn away,
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 honour for this many a day?
Ham. I humbly thank you; well, well, well.
Oph. My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver ;

I pray you, now receive them.

Ham. No, no. I never gave you aught.

Oph. My honour'd lord, I know right well you did;
And, with them, words of so sweet breath compos'd
As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,
Take these, again; for to the noble mind,

Rich gifts wax poor, when givers prove unkind.
There, my lord.

Ham. Ha, ha! are you honest?

Oph. My lord?

Ham. Are you fair?

Oph. What means your lordship?

Ham. That if you be honest, and fair, your honesty should admit no discourse to your beauty.

Oph. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?

Ham. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness: this was some time a paradox, but now the time gives it proof. I did love you once.

Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Ham. You should not have believed me: for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it: I lov'd you not.

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