reason and sanity could not so prosperously
be delivered of. I will leave him, and
suddenly contrive the means of meeting 220
between him and my daughter.—My honour-
able lord, I will most humbly take my leave

of you.
Ham. You can not, sir, take from me any thing

that I will more willingly part withal,— 225 [Aside] except my life, except my life,

except my life. Pol. Fare you well, my lord. Ham. These tedious old fools!

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Pol. You go to seek the Lord Hamlet? There 230

he is. Ros. [To Polonius.] God save you, sir!

[Exit Polonius. Guil. My honoured lord ! Ros. My most dear lord ! Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost 285

thou, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good

lads, how do you both? Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth. Guil. Happy, in that we are not over-happy.

On Fortune's cap we are not the very button. 240 Ham. Nor the soles of her shoe? Ros. Neither, my lord. Ham. Then you live about her waist, or in the

middle of her favours? .... What's the news?


Ros. None, my lord, but that the world's grown

honest. Ham. Then is doomsday near. But your news

is not true. Let me question more in 250 particular. What have you, my good friends,

deserved at the hands of Fortune, that she

sends you to prison hither? Guil. Prison, my lord?

Ham. Denmark's a prison. 255 Ros. Then is the world one. Ham. A goodly one, in which there are many

confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark

being one o' the worst. Ros. We think not so, my lord. 260 Ham. Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is

nothing either good or bad, but thinking

makes it so. To me it is a prison. Ros. Why, then, your ambition makes it one.

'Tis too narrow for your mind. 265 Ham. O God, I could be bounded in a nut-shell

and count myself a king of infinite space,

were it not that I have bad dreams. Guil. Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the

very substance of the ambitious is merely the 270 shadow of a dream.

Ham. A dream itself is but a shadow.
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 275 monarchs and outstretched heroes the beg

gars' shadows. Shall we to the court? for,

by my fay, I cannot reason. Ros.

We'll wait upon you. Guil. S Ham. No such matter. I will not sort you with

the rest of my servants, for, to speak to you 280 like an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of friend

ship, what make you at Elsinore? Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion. Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in 285

thanks, but I thank you; and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, deal

justly with me. Come, come. Nay, speak. 200 Guil. What should we say, my lord? Ham. Why, any thing, but to the purpose. You

were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to colour. I know the 295

good king and queen have sent for you. Ros. To what end, my lord? Ham. That you must teach me. But let me con

jure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation 300 of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for or no!



305 Ros. [Aside to Guil.] What say you? Ham. [Aside.] Nay, then, I have an eye of

you.—If you love me, hold not off. Guil. My lord, we were sent for. Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipa

tion prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no feather. I have of late-but wherefore I know notlost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical

roof fretted with golden fire, why, it 320 appeareth nothing to me but a foul and

pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man

delights not me,-no, nor woman neither, 330 though by your smiling you seem to say so. Ros. My lord, there was no such stuff in my

thoughts. Ham. Why did you laugh then, when I said,

“Man delights not me”?


Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in 885

man, what lenten entertainment the players
shall receive from you. We coted them on
the way, and hither are they coming, to offer

you service. Ham. He that plays the king shall be welcome; 840

his majesty shall have tribute of me; the
adventurous knight shall use his foil and
target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the
humorous man shall end his part in peace;
[the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs 345
are tickle o' the sere;] and the lady shall say
her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt

for 't. What players are they?
Ros. Even those you were wont to take such

delight in, the tragedians of the city. 350 Ham. How chances it they travel? Their res

idence, both in reputation and profit, was

better both ways. Ros. I think their inhibition comes by the means

of the late innovation. Ham. Do they hold the same estimation they did

when I was in the city? Are they so followed? Ros. No, indeed, are they not. [Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty? Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted 360

pace; but there is, sir, an aery 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


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