This tragedy of thought is based chiefly on Saxe Grammaticus' History of Denmark.
Hamlet is simply a monomaniac too much under the spell of imagination, too much absorbed in thought, and too little governed by the sober counsels of reason and common sense. A man of speculation—not of action. Hence, his vacillation, weakness and inconsistency. Altogether egotistical, and even sometimes a contemner of himself. He is not the stuff out of which a lover is made, and this accounts for his strange and even cruel demeanour towards Ophelia. His mind has been shattered to its foundations by the imagination of the appearance of an apparition—disclosing to him the tragic fate of his father, and inciting him to revenge the death upon his royal uncle. His mind, albeit diseased, had a certain method in its operations. He was a fanatical monomaniac. He thirsts for vengeance, but his conscience struggles with his will, his passions are in conflict with his reason, and he is never able to muster up his soul towards the execution of the deed, to the accomplishment of which the Ghost had, as it were, consecrated him. Goethe thinks the key to Hamlet's whole procedure is found in the characteristic ejaculations:—
"The time is out of joint: O cursed spite!
That ever I was born to set it right!"
This is an intensely metaphysical play. Hamlet's mind is moody, misanthropical and morbid. Meditation overwhelms action. The ideal supersedes the real. The mental equilibrium is disturbed. Sense is totally subordinated to intellect. The compound nature of man is almost wholly ignored. He is a creature of fancy, and consequently his perceptions, "passing through the medium of his contemplations, acquire a form and a colour not naturally their own. Hence we see a great, an almost enormous intellectual activity, and a proportionate aversion to real action consequent upon it, with all its symptoms and accompanying qualities." This accounts for his conduct in "giving a substance to shadows, and throwing a mist over all commonplace actualities. He is vague as thought. There is nothing definite in his action. He has no decision of character in respect to his mission. He is "constantly occupied with the world within, and abstracted from the world without."
Schlegel rightly and philosophically says that this is "a tragedy of thought inspired by continual and never-satisfied meditation on human destiny, and the dark perplexity of the events of this world." The command of the Ghost is altogether unchristian. It is diabolical. Vengeance is God's prerogative—not man's. His depreciation of the personal and menial qualities of his murderer and royal successor is certainly in bad taste. Let another man praise thee, and net thine own lips—is a maxim alike applicable to all men and ghosts.
Men of great daring and action must not pause too minutely and tediously to scan the possible relations and consequences of their own conduct in great emergencies. The whole play—according to Schlegel, "is intended to show that a calculating consideration, which exhausts all the relations and possible consequences of a deed, must cripple the power of page 2 acting." Indeed, this is beautifully indicated in these expressive lines:—
"And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action."
Throughout this remarkable play, Hamlet is represented to us as a man halting between two opinions. The catastrophe is brought about not by the Prince—but by "the King himself, filling up the measure of his iniquities." Conscience—all along—has made a coward of the magnanimous Hamlet. Polonius, who met his death accidentally, is a character after Benjamin Franklin's old almanack type. His fate does not call forth our lively commiseration. The play throughout is a grand characterisation of human nature—a philosophical analysis of the metaphysical labyrinths of the human heart. It is a sublime epic of the mind.
1. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.
2. Horatio says, 'Tis but our fantasy;
And will not let belief take hold of him,
Touching this dreaded sight.
3. How now, Horatio? you tremble and look pale:
Is not this something more than fantasy?
4. With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
5. In what particular thought to work, I know not;
But, in the gross and scope of my opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our State.
6. Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week:
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day.
7. A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
In the most high and paling state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and jabber in the Roman streets:
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
And even the like precurse of fierce events,
As harbingers preceding still the fates,
And prologue to the men coming on,
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.
8. But, soft! behold! lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
Speak to me:
If there be any good thing to be done,
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
Speak to me:
If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid
Or, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death.
Speak of it!—Stay, and speak!—Stop it, Marcellus.
9. Shall I strike at it with my partisan?
10. We do it wrong, being so majestical,page 3
To offer it the show of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
11. It was about to speak when the cock crew.
12. And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the God of day; and, at his warning,
Whether in sea, or fire, in earth or air.
The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine; and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.
13. It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say, that ever 'gainst the season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.
14. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high east-earn hill.
15. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
The memory be green; and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature,
That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now
our queen, The imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy—
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral, and with dirge
in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole—
Taken to wife: nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along.
16. The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more intrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
17. My thoughts and wishes bend again towards France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
18. Ho hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave,
By laboursome petition.
19. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.
20. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend in Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st 'tis common—all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
21. Ay, madam, it is common.
22. If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
23. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems.
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,page 4
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly: these, indeed, seem,
For they are actions that a man might play:
But I have that within which passeth show;
These, but the trappings and the suits of woe.
24. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father:
But, you must know, your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow: But to persevere
In obstinate condolement, is a course of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief:
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven;
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled:
For what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we, in our peevish opposition,
Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd; whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died to-day,
This must he so. We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father: for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And, with no less nobility of love,
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire:
And we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
25. This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart; in grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell;
And the King's rouse the heavens shall bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder.
26. O that this too, too-solid flesh would melt,
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His cannon 'gainst self-slaughter! God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! O fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead .'—nay, not so much, not two;
So excellent a king; that was, to this,
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother,
That he might not between the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and Earth!
Must 1 remember? Why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month,—
Let me not think on't. Frailty, thy name is woman!
A little month; or ere these shoes were old,page 5
With which she followed my poor father's body,
Like Niobe, all tears;—why she, even she,—
O heaven! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
Would have mourned longer,—married with mine uncle,
My father's brother; but no more like my father,
Than I to Hercules; within a month;
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears,
Had left the flushing of her galled eyes,
She married:—O most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets;
It is not, nor can it come to, good;
But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue!
27. I would not hear your enemy say so;
Nor shall you do mine ear that violence
To make it truster of your own report Against yourself.
28. We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
29. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
30. I think it was to see ray mother's wedding,
31. The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables,
32. Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
Ere I had seen that day!
33. He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
34 Season your admiration for awhile
With an attent ear; till I may deliver,
Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
This marvel to you.
35. For heaven's sake let me hear.
36. By their oppressed and fear-surprised eyes:
37. Distilled almost to jelly with the act of fear.
38. Did you not speak to it?
My lord, I did;
But answer made it none: yet once methought
It lifted up its head, and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
But, even then, the naming cock crew loud;
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away.
And vanished from our sight.
39. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
40. I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape,
And bid me hold my peace.
41. Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
42. My father's spirit in arms! all is not well;
I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!
Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the eartho'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.
43. A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute.
44. Nature crescent does not grow alone,
In thews and bulk; but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now;
And now no soil nor cantel doth-be smirch
The virtue of his will; but you must fear,
His greatness weighed, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth:
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
The safety and the health of the whole state;
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that bodypage 6
Whereof he is the head: Then if he says he lores you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it,
As he in his peculiar act and place
May give his saying deed; which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain,
If with too credent ear you list his songs;
Or lose your heart; or your chaste treasure open
To his unmastered opportunity.
Fear it, Ophelia; fear it, my dear sister;
And keep within the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
If she unmask her beauty to the moon;
Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes:
The canker galls the infants of the spring.
Too oft before their buttons be disclosed.
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most immiment.
Be wary then; best safety lies in fear;
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
45. I shall the effect of this great lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart: But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whilst, like a puffed and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And reeks not his own rede.
46. A double blessing is a doublegrace, Occasion smiles upon a second leave.
47. Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame;
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are staid for there—my blessing with you!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend.
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all,—to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou cans't not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
48. "Tis in my memory locked,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
49. 'Tis told me he hath very oft of late
Given private time to you, and you yourself
Have of your audience been most free and bounteous.page 7
You do not understand yourself so clearly,
As it behoves my daughter and your honour;
What is between you? give me up the truth.
50. He hath, my lord, of late, made many tenders
Of his affection to me.
51. Affections? pugh! you speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
52. My lord, he hath importuned me with love,
In honourable fashion.
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With all the vows of heaven.
53. Aye, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Gives the tongue vows; these blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat—extinct in both,
Even in their promise as it is a making,
You must not take for fire. From this time, daughter,
Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
Set your entreatments at a higher rate, Than a command to parley.
54. Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers;
Not of that dye which their investment shows,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds,
The better to beguile.
55. The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
It is a nipping and an eager air.
56. And to my mind, though I am native here,
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honoured in the breach than in the observance.
57. This heavy-headed revel, east and west,
Makes us traduced and taxed of other nations;
They call us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and, indeed, it takes
From our achievements, though performed at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As, in their birth (wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot chose his origin),
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;
Or by some habit, that too much o'er-leavens
The form of plausive manners;—that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,
Their virtues else (be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,)
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: The dram of vile
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt,
To his own scandal.
58. Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned,
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,
That I will speak to thee; I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: Ob, answer me;
Let me not burst in ignorance! but tell,
Why thy canonised bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements! why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urned,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again! What may this mean,page 8
That thou dead corse, again in complete steel,
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition,
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?
59. It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
60. Look, with what courteous action
It wafts you to a more removed ground.
61. I do not set my life at a pin's fee;
And for my soul, what can it do for that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
62. "What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff,
That beetles o'er his base into the sea?
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
And draw you into madness? Think of it:
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain,
That looks so many fathoms to the sea,
And hears it roar beneath.
63. My fates cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
64. By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.
65. He waxes desperate with imagination.
66. To what issue will this come?
67. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
68. My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
69. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
70. Speak, I am bound to hear.
71. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
72. I am thy father's spirit;
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And! for the [day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away.
But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres;
Thy knotted and combined locks to part;
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine;
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
73. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
74. Murder most foul, as in the best it is:
But this—most foul, strange, and unnatual.
75. Haste me to know it; that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love
May sweep to my revenge.
76. I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, bear:
'Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abused; but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father's life,
Now wears his crown.
77. Oh, my prophetic soul! mine uncle!page 9
78. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With, witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,
(Oh, wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!) won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen;
O, Hamlet, what a falling off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity,
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage; and to decline
Upon a wretch, whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,—
So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
And prey on garbage.
But soft! Methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be:—Sleeping within mine orchard,—
My custom always in the afternoon,—
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And, with a sudden vigour, it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter barked about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched;
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sins
Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled;
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
79. Oh, horrible! oh, horrible! most horrible!
80. If thou hast nature in thee bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But, howsoever thou pursu'st this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven,
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And 'gins to pale his ineffectual fire;
Adieu, adieu, Hamlet! remember me!
81. O, all ye host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell?—O fie!—Hold my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up!—Remember thee?
Ay, than poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe! Remember thee?
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter; yes, by heaven!—
O most pernicious woman!—
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain;—page 10
My tables, my tables,—meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
82. Would heart of man once think it?
83. He's an arrant knave.
84. You are i' the right.
85. These are but wild and hurling words.
86. Never make known what you have seen to-night.
87. Lay your hands again upon my sword:
Never to speak of this that you have heard.
88. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
89. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
90. So grace and mercy at your most need help you.
91. And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
92. The time is out of joint;—O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
93. By this encompassment and drift of question.
24. Such wanton, wild and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.
95. You must not put another scandal on him.
That he is open to incontinency;
That's not my meaning; but breathe his faults so quaintly,
That they may seem the taints of liberty;
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind;
A savageness in unreclaimed blood,
Of general assault.
96. It is a fitch of warrant.
97. Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth:
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windaces, and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out,
98. My lord, as I was sewing in my chamber,
Lord Hamlet,—with, his doublet all unbraced;
No hat upon his head, his stockings fouled,
Ungartered, and down-gyved to his ancle:
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other;
And with a look so piteous in purport,
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors,—he comes before me.
99. Mad for thy love.
100. He took me by the wrist, and held me hard;
Then goes to the length of all his arm;
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face,
As he would draw it. Long staid he so;
At last,—a little shaking of mine arms.
And thrice his head thus waving up and down—
He raised a sigh so piteous and profound,
That it did seem to shatter all his bulk,
And end his being: That done, he lets me go;
And, with his head over his shoulder turned,
He seemed to find his way without his eyes;
For out o' doors he went without their help,
And, to the last, bended their light on me.
101. This is the very ecstacy of love;
Whose violent property fordoes itself,
And leads the will to dosperate undertakings,
As oft as any passion under heaven
That does afflict our natures.
102. I did repel his letters, and denied
His access to me.page 11
103. That hath made him mad.
104. This must be known; which, being kept elose, might move
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
105. Not the exterior nor the inward man
Resembles that it was.
106. But your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures, more into command
Than to entreaty.
107. But we both obey;
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent
To lay our service freely at your feet,
To be commanded.
108. Heavens make our presence, and our practices,
Pleasant and helpful to him!
109. I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
Both to my God, and to my gracious king.
110. I have found The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.
111. My views shall be the first to that great feast.
112. The head and source of all your sins distemper.
113. Most fair return of greetings and desires.
114. My liege and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief; your noble son is mad;
Mad, call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't, but to be nothing else but mad;
But let that go.
115. More matter, with less art.
116. I use no art all all.
117. That he is mad, 'tis true; 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad, let us grant him, then: and now remains,
That we find out the cause of this effect;
Or, rather say, the cause of this defect;
For this effect defective comes by cause';
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus, perpend.
118. Doubt thou the stars are free;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
119. A man faithful and honourable.
120. When I had seen this hot love on the wing.
121. Looked upon this love with idle sight.
122. I precepts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;
And he, repulsed, (a short tale to make,)
Fell into a sadness; then into a fast;
Thence to a watch; thence into a weakness;
Thence to a lightness; and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves.
123. If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.
124. If he love her not,
And be not from his reason fallen thereon,
Let me be no assistant for a state,
And keep a farm and carters.
125. But, look, where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.
126. To be honest, as this world goes is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.page 12
127. Let her not walk i' the sun; conception is a blessing.
128. In my youth I suffered much extremity for love.
129. Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.
130. How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of.
131. I will humbly take my leave of you.
132. You cannot, sir, take from me anything that
I will more willing part withal,—except my life.
133. The world's grown honest. Then is dooms-day near.
134. The world is a prison; in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons.
135. There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so; to me it is a prison.
136. Your ambition makes it one; 'tis too narrow for your mind.
137. 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. .
138. Dreams are ambitious; for, the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.
139. A dream itself is but a shadow.
140. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a shadow's shadow.
141. To the purpose.
142. That you must teach me.
143. Be even and direct with me.
144. If you love me, hold not off.
145. I have of late lost all my mirth, foregone 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 tire,—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 faculty! 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—though, by your smiling, you seem to say so.
146. There was no such stuff in my thoughts.
147. O, there has been much throwing about of brains.
148. There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
149. That great baby is not yet out of his swathing clouts. An old man is twice a child.
150. I heard thee speak me a speech once.
151. Players are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time.
152. Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping! Use them after your own and dignity; the less they deserve the more merit is in your bounty.
153. Now I am alone.
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
Is it not monstrous, that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
Could force his soul so to his whole conceit,
That from her working all his visage wanned;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice, and his whole function suiting,
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
What's Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her? What would he do,
Had he the motive and the cue for passionpage 13
That I have? He would drown the
stage with tears, And cleave the general ear with horrid speech;
Make mad the guilty and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant; and amaze, indeed,
The very faculties of eyes and ears.
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,
A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
'Tweaks me by the nose? gives me the lie i' the throat
As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this? ha!
Why. I should take it: for it cannot be,
But I am pigeon-livered, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter; or, ere this,
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal! Bloody, bawdy villain!
Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villian!
Why what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of the dear murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words,
And fall a cursing like a very drab,
Fie upon 't! foh! About, my brains!
I have heard,
That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck to the soul, that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions:!
For murder, though it hath no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father,
Before mine uncle; I'll observe his-looks;
I'll tent him to the quick; if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
(As he is very potent with such spirits)
Abuses me to damn me: I'll have grounds
More relative than this:—the play's the thing,
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
154. And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
Get from him why he puts on this confusion;
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
155. He does confess he feels himself distracted;
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
156. Nor do we find him forward to be sounded;
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof,
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
157. With much forcing of his disposition.
158. Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.
159. Give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
160. We will bestow ourselves, that seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge;page 14
And gather by him, as he is behaved,
If't be the affliction of his love or no,
That thus he suffers for.
161. And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet's wildness; so shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.
162. Head in this book;
That show of such an exercise may colour
Your loneliness.—We are oft to blame in this,—
'Tis too much proved, that, with devotion's visage,
And pious action, we do sugar o'er
The devil himself.
163. How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!
The harlot's cheek, beautied with plastering art,
Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it,
Than is my deed to my most painted word:
O heavy burden!
164. To be, or not to be,—that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them.—To die,—to sleep,—
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to?—'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die,—to sleep,—
To sleep! perchance to dream!—ay, that's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourne
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear the ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of'
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.—Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia!—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
165. How does your honour for this many a day?
166. My lord, I have remembrances of yours,
That I have longed long to re-deliver;
I pray you, now receive them.
167. I never gave you aught.
168. My honoured lord, I know right well you did;
And with them, words of so sweet breath composed
As made the things more rich: their perfume lost.
Take these again; for to the noble mind
Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind.page 15
169. If you be honest and fair, you honesty
Should admit no discourse to your beauty.
170. Could beauty, my lord, have better commerce than with honesty?
171. Ay, truly; for the power of beauty will sooner transform honesty from what it is to a bawd, than the force of honesty can translate beauty into his likeness.
172. Get thee to a nunnery; why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners? I am myself indifferent honest; but yet I could accuse me of such things, that it were better my mother had not borne me: I am very proud, revengeful, ambitious; with more offences at my beck than I have thoughts to put them in, imagination to give them shape, or time to act them in: What should such fellows as I do crawling between heaven and earth! We are arrant knaves, all; believe none of us: Go thy ways to a nunnery.
173. Let the doors be shut upon him, that he may play the fool nowhere but in's own house.
174. If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.
175. O heavenly powers restore him;
176. God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another! you jig, you amble, and you lisp, and nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance.
177. O, what a noble mind is hero o'erthrown!
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's eye, tongue, sword;
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers,—quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,.
That sucked the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh;
That unmatched form and feature of blown youth.
Blasted with ecstacy: O, woe is me!
To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
178. Love! his affections do not that way tend;
Nor what he spake, thought it lacked form a little,
Was not like madness. There's something in his soul,
O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;
And, I do doubt, the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger; which to prevent
I have, in quick determination,
Thus set it down: He shall with speed to England
For the demand of our neglected tribute:
Haply, the seas, and countries different,
With variable objects, shall expel
This something settled matter in his heart;
Whereon his brains still beating puts him thus
From fashion of himself.
179. The origin and commencement of his grief
Sprung from neglected love.
180. Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.
181. Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus: but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul, to see a robustious peri- page 16 wig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of groundlings, who, for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise: I could have such a fellow whipped for over doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it. Be not too tame neither, but let your discretion be your tutor; suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o'er-step not the modesty of nature; for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own features, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now, this overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of the which one must, in your allowance, o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be players that I have seen play—and heard others praise, and that highly—not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians, nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed, that 1 have thought some of Nature's journeymen had made men, and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably. Let those that play your clowns speak no moro than is set down for them; for there be of them, that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too; though, in the meantime, some necessary question of the play be then to be considered: that's villainous; and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.
182. Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
As e'er my conversation coped withal,
183. Nay, do not think I flatter:
For what advancement may I hope from thee,
That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp;
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
Where thrift may follow fawning.
Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself: for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing;
A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
Hath ta'en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, aye, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.—Something too much of this.—
There is a play to-night before the kins;
One scene of it comes near the circumstance
Which I have told thee of my father's death;
I prithee, when thou seest that act a-foot,
Even with the very comment of thy soul,
Observe mine uncle; if his occulted guilt
Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
It is a damned ghost that we have seen;
And my imaginations are as foul
As Vulcan's stithy.