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ACT IV. Scene VII. 


Elsinore. Another room in the Castle.

 KING.

Noe must your conscience my acquittance seal,
And you must put me in your heart for friend,
Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
That which hath your noble father slain
Pursu'd my life.

 LEARTES.

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

 KING.

O, for two special reasons,
Which may to you, perhaps, seein much unsinew'd,
But yet to me they are strong. The Queen his mother
Lives almost by his looks; and for myself,-
My virtue or my plague, be it either which,-
She's 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 public count I might not go
Is the great love the general gender bear him,
Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gives 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.

 LAERTES.

And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desp'rate 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 lov'd your father, and we love ourself,
And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine-

Enter a Messenger with letters.

 

How now? What news?

 MESSENGER.

Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:
This to your Majesty; this to the Queen.

 KING.

From Hamlet? Who brought them?

 MESSENGER.

Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not.
They were given me by Claudio; he receiv'd them
Of him that brought them.

 KING.

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 ocassion 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?

 LAERTES.

Know you the hand?

 KING.

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

 LAERTES.

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 didest thou.'

 KING.

If it be so, Laertes
(As how should it be so? how otherwise?),
Will you be rul'd by me?

 LAERTES.

Ay my lord,
So you will not o'errule me to a peace.

 KING.

To thine own peace. If he be now return'd
As checking at his voyage, and that he means
No more to undertake it, I will work him
To exploit now ripe in my device,
Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
And for his death no wind
But even his mother shall uncharge the practice
And call it accident.

 LAERTES.

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

 KING.

It falls right.
You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
Wherein they say you shine, Your sun of parts
Did not together pluck such envy from him
As did that one; and that, in my regard,
Of the unworthiest siege.

 LAERTES.

What part is that, my lord?

 KING.

A very riband in the cap of youth-
Yet needfull too; for youth no less becomes
The light and careless livery that it wears
Thin settled age his sables and his weeds,
Importing health and graveness. Two months since
Here was a gentleman of Normandy.
I have seen myself, and serv'd against, the French,
And they can well on horseback; but this gallant
Had witchcraft in't. He grew unto his seat,
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse
As had he been incorps'd and demi-natur'd
With the brave beast. So far he topp'd my thought
That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
Come short of what he did.

 LAERTES.

A Norman was't?

 KING.

A Norman.Ô praise your excellence
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you in fine together
And wager on your heads. He, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils; so that with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
Requite him for your father.

 LAERTES.

I will do't!
And for that purpose I'll anoint my sword.Ôds do dead men's fingers call them.
There on the pendant boughs her coronet weeds
Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.

 LAERTES.

Alas, then she is drown'd?

 QUEEN.

Drown'd, drown'd.

 LAERTES.

Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet
It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
Let shame say what it will. When these are gone,Ônd finds it Christian burial.

 CLOWN.

How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
defence?

 OTHER.

Why, 'tis found so.

 CLOWN.

It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies
the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an
act hath three branches-it is to act, to do, and to perform;
argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.

 OTHER.

Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!

 CLOWN.

Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the
man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is,
will he nill he, he goes- mark you that. But if the water come to
him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not
guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.

 OTHER.

But is this law?

 CLOWN.

Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law.Ôthe gallows may do well to thee. To't again, come!

 OTHER.

Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
carpenter?

 CLOWN.

Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

 OTHER.

Marry, now I can tell!

 CLOWN.

To't.

 OTHER.

Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

 CLOWN.

Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
not mend his pace with beating; and when you are ask'd this
question next, say 'a grave-maker.' The houses he makes lasts
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
liquor.

[Exit Second Clown.]

[Clown digs and] sings.

 

In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet;Ôde. Here's fine
revolution, and we had the trick to see't. Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggets with 'em? Mine ache to think on it.

 CLOWN.

(Sings)
A pick-axe and a spade, a spade,
For and a shrouding sheet;
O, a Pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.

Throws up [another skull].

 HAMLET.

There's another. Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer?
Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures,Ôman, sir.

 HAMLET.

What woman then?

 CLOWN.

For none neither.

 HAMLET.

Who is to be buried in't?

 CLOWN.

One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.

 HAMLET.

How absolute the knave is! We must speak by the card, or
equivocation will undo us. By the Lord, Horatio, this three years
I have taken note of it, the age is grown so picked that the toe
of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier he galls
his kibe.- How long hast thou been a grave-maker?Ôagon of
Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick's
skull, the King's jester.

 HAMLET.

This?

 CLOWN.

E'en that.

 HAMLET.

Let me see. [Takes the skull.] Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him,
Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. HeÔlow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow did with desp'rate hand
Fordo it own life. 'Twas of some estate.
Couch we awhile, and mark.

[Retires with Horatio.]

 LAERTES.

What ceremony else?

 HAMLET.

That is Laertes,
A very noble youth. Mark.

 LAERTES.

What ceremony else?

 PRIEST.

Her obsequies have been as far enlarg'dÔand'ring stars, and makes them stand
Like wonder-wounded hearers? This is I,
Hamlet the Dane

[Leaps in after Laertes.

 LAERTES.

The devil take thy soul!

[Grapples with him].

 HAMLET.

Thou pray'st not well.
I prithee take thy fingers from my throat;
For, though I am not splenitive and rash,
Yet have I in me something dangerous,
Which let thy wisdom fear. Hold off thy hand!

 KING.

Pluck thein asunder.

 QUEEN.

Hamlet, Hamlet!

 ALL.

Gentlemen!

 HORATIO.

Good my lord, be quiet.

[The Attendants part them, and they come out of the

grave.]

 HAMLET.

Why, I will fight with him upon this theme
Until my eyelids will no longer wag.Ô Exit Horatio.
[To Laertes] Strengthen your patience in our last night's speech.
We'll put the matter to the present push.-
Good Gertrude, set some watch over your son.-
This grave shall have a living monument.
An hour of quiet shortly shall we see;
Till then in patience our proceeding be.

Exeunt.

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