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Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal ; except my life, except my life, except my life.
Pol. Fare you well, my lord.
Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
HAM. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern ? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both ?
Ros. As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guil. Happy, in that we are not overhappy;
HAM. Nor the soles of her shoe?
HAM. Then you live about her *waist, or in the wast,O.C. middle of her favours ? GUIL. 'Faith, her privates we.b
HAM. In the secret parts of fortune ? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What news ? Ros. None, my lord; but that the world's
• the indifferent children of the earth] Who, not lifted too high, are, as is said, indifferentlywell off.
• Faith, her privates we] One sense at least here is the mi. litary one, of not being in authority or command.
HAM. Then is dooms-day near : But your news is not true. Let me question more in particu. lar: 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. Ros. Then is the world one.
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. (23)
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.
a Then are our beggars bodies and our outstretched heroes the beggars' shadows] At this rate, and, if it be true, that lofty aims are no more than air, our beggars only have the nature of substance; and our monarchs and those who are blazoned so far abroad, as to be thought materially to fill so much space, are in fact shadows, and in imagination only gigantic.
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 an honest man, I am most dreadfully attended. But, in the beaten way of friendship, a 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. Why any thing but to the purpose. * You * So, 4tos. were sent for; and there is a kind of confession in thing. But
to the puryour looks, which your modesties have not craft pose, 1623, enough to colour: I know, the good king and 52. 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 proposerd could charge you withal, be evene and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no?
* beaten way of friendship] Plain track, open and unceremonious course.
b too dear a halfpenny] i. e. at a halfpenny; at so small, or, indeed at any price. If valued as the return for any thing, such cost is beyond their worth.
c rights of our fellowship and consonancy of our youth] Habits of familiar intercourse and correspondent years.
da belter proposer] An advocate of more address in shaping his aims, who could make a stronger appeal.
• even] Without inclination any way.
vocate ofent years. Youh] Habits
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. • So 4tos. HAM. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipadiscovery of tion prevent your discovery, * and your secrecy to 1623, 32. "
n: the king and queen * moult no feather. I have of 1623, 32. late, (but, wherefore, I know not,) lost all my
mirth, forgone all custom of exercises: and, in. * heavenly. deed, it goes so heavily * with my disposition, that
2. this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a steril
promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, • firmament look you, this brave o'erhanging,* this majes4tos.
tical roof fretted with golden fire, (24) 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 expresse 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?
• Nay then, I have an eye of you] Upon or after you, a sharp look out.
oso shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king moult no feather.] Be beforehand with your discovery, and the plume and gloss of your secret pledge be in no feather shed or tarnished. The reading is from the 4tos.
• express] According to pattern, justly and perfectly modelled.
a paragon] Model of perfection. See Two G. of V. Prot.
Ros. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment (25) the players shall receive from you: we coated them on the way; (26) 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: а the clown shall make those laugh, whose lungs are tickled o’the sere;(27) and the lady shall say her mind freely, (28) 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.
HAM. How chances it, they travel ? - their re. sidence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.
Ros. I think, their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation. (29)
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 ayrie of children, (30) little(31) yases, that cry out on the top of question, (32) and are most tyrannically clapped for't:133) these are now the fashion; and so berattle * the com- beratled. mon stages, (so they call them) that many, wear. 1623. ing rapiers, are afraid of goose quills, and dare scarce come thither.
• The humorous man shall end his part in peace] The fretful or capricious man shall vent the whole of his spleen undisturbed. b travel] Become strollers.
goose quilis] Lampoons. ,