Page images

His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll :
He is gone, he is gone,

And we cast away moan;

God'a mercy on his soul! And of all christian souls!" I pray God. God be wi' you!

[Exit Ophelia. Laer. Do you see this, O God?

King. Laertes, I must commune with your grief, Or you deny me right. Go but apart, Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will, And they shall hear and judge 'twixt you and me: If by direct or by collateral hand They find us touch'd, we will our kingdom give, Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours, To you in satisfaction; but, if not, Be you content to lend your patience to us, And we shall jointly labour with your

soul To give it due content. Laer.

Let this be so;
His means of death, his obscure funeral,
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,
No noble rite, nor formal ostentation,
Cry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth,
That I must call't in question.


And, where the offence is, let the great axe fall.
pray you, go with me.

[Exeunt. * God'a mercy on his soul!

And of all christian souls !] This is the common conclusion to many of the ancient monumental inscriptions.

s No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones,] It was the custom, in the times of our author, to hang a sword over the grave of a knight, and it is uniformly kept up to this day. Not only the sword, but the helmet, gauntlet, spurs, and tabard (i. e. a coat whereon the armorial ensigns were anciently depicted, from whence the term coat of armour,) are hung over the grave of every knight.



Another Room in the same.

Enter Horatio, and a Servant. Hor. What are they, that would speak with me? Serv.

Sailors, sir; They say, they have letters for you. Hor.

Let them come in.-

[Exit Servant. I do not know from what part of the world I should be greeted, if not from lord Hamlet.

Enter Sailors. 1 Sail. God bless you, sir. Hor. Let him bless chee too.

1 Sail. He shall, sir, an't please him. There's a letter for you, sir; it comes from the ambassador that was bound for England; if your name be Horatio, as I am let to know it is.

Hor. [Reads.] Horatio, when thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the king; they have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chace : Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour ; and in the grapple i boarded them : on the instant, they got clear of our ship ; so I alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me, like thieves of mercy; but they knew what they did; I am to do a good turn for them. Let the king have the letters I have sent ; and repair thou to me with as much haste as thou would'st fly death. I have words to speak in thine ear, will make thee dumb ; yet are they much too light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course for England: of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell.

He that thou knowest thine, Hamlet.

Come, I will give you way for these your letters;
And do't the speedier, that you may direct me
To him from whom you brought them. [Exeunt.


Another Room in the same.

Enter King and LAERTES.
King. Now must your conscience my acquittance

And you must put me in your heart for friend;

have heard, and with a knowing ear,
That he, which hath your noble father slain,
Pursu'd my life.

It well appears:-But tell me,
Why you proceeded not against these feats,
So crimeful and so capital in nature,
As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else,
You mainly were stirr’d up.

O, for two special reasons; Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd, , Bat yet to me they are strong. The queen his mo

ther, Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,

for the bore of the matter.] The bore is the caliber of a gun, or the capacity of the barrel. The matter (says Hamlet) would carry heavier words.

(My virtue, or my plague, be it either which,)
She is so conjunctive to my life and soul,
That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
I could not but by her. The other motive,
Why to a publick count I might not go,
Is, the great love the general gender bear him:
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Work like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows,
Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
Would have reverted to my bow again,
And not where I had aim'd them.

Laer. And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desperate terms;
Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfections:-But my revenge will come.
King. Break not your sleeps for that: you must

not think, That we are made of stuff so flat and dull, That we can let our beard be shook with danger, And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more: I loved your father, and we love ourself; And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine,How now? what news?

Enter a Messenger. Mess.

Letters, my lord, from Hamlet: This to your majesty; this to the queen.

King. From Hamlet! who brought them?

Mess. Sailors, my lord, they say: I saw them not; They were given me by Claudio, he receiv'd them


the general gender-) The common race of the people. & Work like the spring, &c.] The allusion here is to the quality still ascribed to the dropping well at Knaresborough in Yorkshire,

-- if praises may go back again,] If I may praise what has been, but is now to be found no more.

Of him that brought them.

Laertes, you shall hear them:Leave us.

[Exit Messenger. [Reads.] High and mighty, you shall know, I am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes : when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.

Hamlet. What should this mean! Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?

Laer. Know you the hand?

'Tis Hamlet's character. Naked, And, in a postscript here, he says, alone : Can you advise me?

Laer. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come; It warms the very sickness in my heart, That I shall live and tell him to his teeth, Thus diddest thou. King.

If it be so, Laertes, As how should it be so? how otherwise! Will

you be ruld by me Laer.

Ay, my lord; So you will not o'er-rule me to a peace. King. To thine own peace. If he be now re

turn'd, -
As checking at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it,-I will work him
To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall :
And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe;
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice,
And call it, accident.

My lord, I will be rul'd;
The rather, if you could devise it so,
That I might be the organ.

! As checking at his royage,] The phrase is from falconry.


« PreviousContinue »