365 berattle the common stages—so they call

them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid

of goose-quills and dare scarce come thither. Ham. What, are they children? Who maintains

’em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players,— as it is most like, if their means are no better,-their writers do them wrong, to make

them exclaim against their own succession? Ros. Faith, there has been much to do on both

sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy. There was for a while

no money bid for argument unless the poet 380 and the player went to cuffs in the question.

Ham. Is't possible?
Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of

brains. Ham. Do the boys carry it away? 385 Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his

load too.] Ham. It is not very strange; for my uncle is king

of Denmark, and those that would make mows at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

[F lourish of trumpets within.


Guil. There are the players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. 395

Your hands, come then. The appurtenance
of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let
me comply with you in this garb, legt my
extent to the players, which, I tell you,
must show fairly outward, should more 400
appear like entertainment than yours. You
are welcome; but my uncle-father and

aunt-mother are deceived. Guil. In what, my dear lord? Ham. I am but mad north-north-west. When 405

the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

Enter Polonius. Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen! Ham. [Aside to them.] Hark you, Guildenstern,

and you too, at each ear a hearer, that great 410 baby you see there is not yet out of his

swadding-clouts. Ros. Haply he is the second time come to them,

for they say an old man is twice a child. Ham. I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the 415

players; mark it. [Aloud.] You say right,

sir. O'Monday morning; 'twas then indeed. Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,

420 Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord. Ham. Buz, buz!

at each ark you


Pol. Upon my honour,

Ham. “Then came each actor on his ass,—" 425 Pol. The best actors in the world, either for

tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoralcomical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical - comical - historical - pastoral,

scene individable, or poem unlimited; Seneca 430 can not be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.

For the law of writ and the liberty, these are

the only men. Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a

treasure hadst thou! 435 Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord? Ham. Why,

"One fair daughter, and no more, . The which he loved passing well.” Pol. [Aside.] Still on my daughter. 440 Ham. Am I not i’ the right, old Jephthah? Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a

daughter that I love passing well. Ham. Nay, that follows not.

Pol. What follows, then, my lord? 445 Ham. Why,

“As by lot, God wot,” and then, you know,

“It came to pass, as most like it was,”—

The first row of the pious chanson will show 450 you more, for look where my abridgement Enter four or five Players. You are welcome, masters, welcome all. I am glad to see thee well. Welcome, good friends. O, my old friend! Thy face is valanced since I saw thee last; com’st thou 455 to beard me in Denmark? What, my young lady and mistress! By ’r lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be 460 not cracked within the ring. Masters, you are all welcome. We'll s'en to't like French falconers—fly at any thing we see; we'll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate 465


speech. First Play. What speech, my good lord? Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once, but

it was never acted; or, if it was, not above
once. For the play, I remember, pleased not 470
the million; 'twas caviare to the general.
But it was—as I received it, and others,
whose judgements in such matters cried in the
top of mine—an excellent play, well digested
in the scenes, set down with as much modesty 475
as cunning. I remember, one said there
were no sallets in the lines to make the
matter savoury, nor no matter in the phrase
that might indict the author of affectation;
but called it an honest method, as wholesome 480



as sweet, and by very much more handsome
than fine. One speech in it I chiefly lov'd;
'twas Æneas's tale to Dido, and thereabout
of it especially where he speaks of Priam's
slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin
at this line: let me see, let me see-
“The rugged Phyrrus, like the Hyrcanian beast,”

—'tis not so. It begins with Pyrrhus:

“The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms, 490 Black as his purpose, did the night resemble

When he lay couched in the ominous horse,
Hath now this dread and black complexion

With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot
Now is he total gules, horribly tricked
With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons,
Baked and impasted with the parching streets,
That lend a tyrannous and damned light
To their lords' murder. Roasted in wrath and

And thus o'er-sized with coagulate gore,
With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus
Old grandsire Priam seeks.”

So, proceed you.
Pol. 'Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good

accent and good discretion. 505 First Play.

Anon he finds him Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword, Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls, Repugnant to command. Unequal matched,

Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide, 610 But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword


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