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Ros. None, my lord; but that the world's grown honest.
Ham. Then is dooms-day near : But your news is not true. Let me question more in 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. A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons; Denmark being one of the worst.
Ros. We think not so, my lord.
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.
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 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 monarchs, and outstretch'd heroes, the beggars' shadows: Shall we to the court? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.
Ros. Guil. We'll wait upon you.
Ham. No such matter: I will not sort you with the rest of my servants; for, to speak to you like
| Then are our beggars, bodies;] Shakspeare seems here to design a ridicule of those declamations against wealth and greatness, that seem to make happiness consist in poverty.
an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?
Ros. To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.
Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in 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, come; deal justly with me: come, come; nay, speak. Guil. What should we say, my
lord? Ham. 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 good king and queen have sent for you.
Ros. To what end, my lord ?
Ham. That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation 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?
Ros. What say you? [To GUILDENSTERN,
Ham. Nay, then I have an eye of you;[Aside.] -if you love me, hold not off.
Guil. My lord, we were sent for.
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late, (but, wherefore, I know not,) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises: and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly
i—too dear, a halfpenny.] i. e. a halfpenny too dear: they are worth nothing.
Nay, then † have an eye of you;] An eye of you means, I have a glimpse of your meaning.
frame, the earth, seems to me a steril promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me, than 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, nor woman neither; though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
Ros. My lord, there is 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 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; 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 are tickled 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.
lenten entertainment -] i. e. sparing, like the entertainments given in Lent.
we coted them on the way;] To cote is to overtahe.
the lady shall say her mind, &c.] The lady shall mar the measure of the verse, rather than not herself freely or fully.
Ham. How chances it, they travel?' their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better
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, they are not.
Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: But there is, sir, an aiery 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 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 them? how are they escoted?' Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing?? will they not say afterwards, if they should
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?
? How chances it, they travel ?] To travel in Shakspeare's time was the technical word, for which we have substituted to stroll.
an aiery of children, &c.] Relating to the play houses then contending, the Bankside, the Fortune, &c. played by the children of his majesty's chapel. little eyases,
that cry out on the top of question,] Little eyases; i. e. young nestlings, creatures just out of the
The meaning seems to allude to boys who ask a common question in the highest note of the voice, and declaim in common conversation.
escoted ?] Paid. From the French escot, a shot or reckoning.
? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing ?] Will they follow the profession of players no longer than they keep the voices of boys, and sing in the choir ?
their writers do them wrong, &c.) I should have been very much surprised if I had not found Ben Jonson among the writers bere alluded to. STEEVENS. VOL. X.
Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them on to controversy :* there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.
Ham. Is it possible?
Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Ham. Do the boys carry it away?
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 mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little.? 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
(Flourish of Trumpets within. Guil. There are the players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply$ with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You
to tarre them on to controversy:) To provoke any animal to rage, is to tarre him. The word is said to come from the Greek word ταράσσω.
Hercules and his load too.] The allusion may be to the Globe playhouse on the Bankside, the sign of which was Hercules carrying the Globe.
• It is not very strange: for my uncle-) I do not wonder that the new players have so suddenly risen to reputation, my uncle supplies another example of the facility with which honour is conferred upon new claimants. Johnson.
in little.] i. e. in miniature.
let me comply, &c.] To comply is apparently used in the sense of—to compliment.