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On Mars's armor, forged for proof eterne,
With less remorse than Pyrrhus' bleeding sword
Now falls on Priam.--

Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,
In general synod, take away her power;

Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, As low as to the fiends!

Pol. This is too long.

Ham. It shall to the barber's, with your beard.— 'Pr'ythee, say on.-He's for a jig,' or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps.-Say on: come to Hecuba.

1 Play. But who, ah, woe! had seen the mobled queen

Ham. The mobled queen ?

Pol. That's good; mobled queen is good.

1 Play. Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames

With bisson rheum; a clout upon that head,
Where late the diadem stood; and, for a robe,
About her lank and all o'er-teemed loins,
A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up,
Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped,
'Gainst fortune's state would treason have pronounced.
But if the gods themselves did see her then,
When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport
In mincing with his sword her husband's limbs ;
The instant burst of clamor that she made,
(Unless things mortal move them not at all,)
Would have made milch' the burning eye of heaven,
And passion in the gods.

1 Giga, in Italian, was a fiddle, or crowd; gigaro, a fiddler, or minstrel. Hence a jig (first written gigge, though pronounced with a g soft, after the Italian) was a ballad, or ditty, sung to the fiddle. There are several of the old ballads and dialogues called jigs in the Harleian Collection. 2 The folio reads inobled, an evident error of the press, for mobled, which means muffled.

3 Bisson is blind. Bisson rheum, therefore, is blinding tears.

4 i. e. mild, tender-hearted.—TODD.-By a hardy poetical license, this expression means, "Would have filled with tears the burning eye of heaven." To have "made passion in the gods" would have been to move them to compassion.

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Pol. Look, whether he has not turned his color, and has tears in's eyes.-'Prythee, no more.

Ham. 'Tis well; I'll have thee speak out the rest of this soon.-Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract, and brief chronicles, of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph, than their ill report while you live. Pol. My lord, I will use them according to their desert.


Ham. Odd's bodikin, man, much better. every man after his desert, and who shall 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity; the less they deserve, the more merit is in ` your bounty. Take them in.

Pol. Come, sirs.

[Exit POLONIUS, with some of the Players. Ham. Follow him, friends; we'll hear a play tomorrow. Dost thou hear me, old friend; can you play the murder of Gonzago?

1 Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. We'll have it to-morrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines, which I would set down, and insert in't? could you not?

1 Play. Ay, my lord.

Ham. Very well.-Follow that lord; and look you mock him not. [Exit Player.]—My good friends, [To Ros. and GUIL.] I'll leave you till night; you are welcome to Elsinore.

Ros. Good my lord!

[Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and Guildenstern. Ham. Ay, so, good bye to you;-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 own conceit,
That from her working, all his visage wanned;"

1 The folio reads warmed, which reading Steevens contended for; but surely no one can doubt, who considers the context, that wanned is the Poet's word.

Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspéct,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing?
For Hecuba!

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 cue1 for passion,

That I have? He would drown the stage with


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.

Yet I,

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

As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this?

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 villain ! 4
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave;

1 i. e. the hint or prompt word; the word or sign given by the prompter for a player to enter on his part.

2 John-a-dreams, or John-a-droynes, was a common term for any dreaming or droning simpleton. Unpregnant is not quickened or properly impressed with.

3 Defeat here signifies destruction. It was frequently used in the sense of undo or take away by our old writers.

4 Kindless is unnatural.

That I, the son of a dear father 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,

A scullion!

Fie upon't! foh! About my brains! Humph! I have heard,

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,3
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions;

For murder, though it have 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 do blench,5
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen,
May be a 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. [Exit.

1 The first folio reads thus :

"Oh vengeance!

Who? What an ass am I! I sure this is most brave,

That I the sonne of the Deere murthered."

The quarto of 1604 omits "Oh vengeance," and reads, "a deere murthered;" the quarto of 1603, "that I the son of my dear father."

2 "About my brains" is nothing more than "to work, my brains." Steevens quotes the following from Heywood's Iron Age:

"My brain about again! for thou hast found
New projects now to work on."

3 A number of instances of the kind are collected by Thomas Heywood in his Apology for Actors.

4 To tent was to probe, to search a wound.

5 To blench is to shrink or start.

Vide Winter's Tale, Act i. Sc. 2.

6 i. e. more near, more immediately connected. The first quarto reads,

"I will have sounder proofs."


SCENE I. A Room in the Castle.


King. And can you, by no drift of conference,'
Get from him why he puts on this confusion;
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?

Ros. He does confess, he feels himself distracted; But from what cause he will by no means speak.

Guil. 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.


Did he receive you well?

Ros. Most like a gentleman.

Guil. But with much forcing of his disposition. Ros. Niggard of question; but, of our demands, Most free in his reply.


To any pastime ?

Did you assay him

Ros. Madam, it so fell out, that certain players

We o'er-raught on the way. 3

Of these we told him;

And there did seem in him a kind of joy

To hear of it. They are about the court;
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.


'Tis most true;

And he beseeched me to entreat your majesties,

To hear and see the matter.

King. With all my heart; and it doth much content


1 Folio-circumstance.

2 "Slow to begin conversation, but free enough in answering our demands."

3 i. e. reached, overtook.

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