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Enter a Messenger.
How now? what news ?

Letters, my lord, from Hamlet: This to your majesty ; this to the queen,

King. From Hamlet ! Who brought them? Mess. Sailors, my lord, they say: I saw them

not. They were given to me by Claudio, he received

them, Of him that brought them. King. Laertes, you shall hear them :

[Exit Messenger.

Leave us.

[Reads.] High and mighty, you shall know, I am set naked on your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes : when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasions of my sudden and more strange return.


What should this mean? Are all the rest come

back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?

Laer. Know you the hand ?

King. 'Tis Hamlet's character. Naked, -
And in a postscript here, he says, alone :
Can you advise me ?
Laer. I am lost in it, my lord. But let him

come :
It warms the very sickness in my heart,
That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
Thus diddest thou.

If it be so, Laertes,
As how should it be so ? how otherwise ?
Will you be ruled by me?

Ay, my lord ;
So you will not o'er-rule me to a peace.

King. To thine own peace. If he be now

return'd, As checking at his voyage, and that he means No more to undertake it, - I will work him To an exploit, now ripe in my device, Under the which he shall not choose but fall ; And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe; But even his mother shall uncharge the practice, And call it, accident. Laer.

My lord, I will be ruled : The rather, if you could devise it so, That I might be the organ. king.

It falls right.
You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
Wherein, they say, you shine : your sum of

Did not together pluck such envy from him,
As did that one ; and that, in my regard,
Of the unworthiest siege.

What part is that, my lord?
King. A very riband in the cap of youth,
Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes
The light and careless livery that it wears,
Than settled age his sables, and his weeds,
Importing health and graveness. — Two months

since, Here was a gentleman of Normandy,— I have seen myself, and served against, the

French, And they can well on horseback : but this gallant Had witchcraft in't ; he grew into his seat; And to such wondrous doing brought his horse, As he had been incorpsed and demi-natured With the brave beast : so far he pass'd my


That, I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
Come short of what he did.

A Norman, was't?
King. A Norman.
Laer. Upon my life, Lamound.

The very same. Laer. I know him well : he is the brooch,

indeed, And gem of all the nation.

King. He made confession of you ; And gave you such a masterly report, For art and exercise in your defence, And for your rapier most especially, That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed, If one could match you: the scrimers of their

nation, He swore, had neither motion, guard, nor eye, If you opposed them. Sir, this report of his Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy, That he could nothing do, but wish and beg Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him. . Now, out of this, Laer.

What out of this, my lord ? King. Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, A face without a heart ? Laer.

Why ask you this? King. Not that I think you did not love your

But that I know love is begun by time;
And that I see, in passages of proof,
Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
There lives within the very flame of love
A kind of wick, or snuff, that will abate it;
And nothing is at a like goodness still ;
For goodness, growing to a plurisy,

Dies in his own too much : that we would do, We should do when we would ; for this would

changes, And hath abatements and delays as many, As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents ; And then this should is like a spendthrift sigh, That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o' the

ulcer : Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake, To show yourself your father's son in deed More than in words? Laer.

To cut his throat i' the church. King. No place, indeed, should murder sanc

tuarize; Revenge should have no bounds. But, good

Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.
Hamlet, return'd, shall know you are come home:
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence,
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you, in fine,

And wager on your heads : he, being remiss,
Most generous, and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils ; so that, with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and,

in a pass of practice,
Requite him for your father.

I will do't : And, for that purpose, I'll anoint my sword. I bought an unction of a mountebank, So mortal, that but dip a knife in it, Where it draws blood, no cataplasm so rare, Collected from all simples that have virtue Under the moon, can save the thing from death, That is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my poin

With this contagion; that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.

Let's further think of this ; Weigh, what convenience, both of time and

means, May fit us to our shape : if this should fail, And that our drift look through our bad per

formance, 'Twere better not assay'd ; therefore this project Should have a back, or second, that might hold, If this should blast in proof. Soft ;-let me see :We'll make a solemn wager on your commings,I ha't. When in your motion you are hot and dry, (As make your bouts more violent to that end) And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him A chalice for the nonce; whereon but sipping, It he by chance escape your venom'd stuck, Our purpose may hold there.

Enter QUEEN. How now, sweet queen ? Queen. One woe doth tread upon another's

heel, So fast they follow:-your sister's drown'd,

Laer. Drown'd!-0, where?

Queen. There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
There, with fantastic garlands did she come,
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples,
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call

them : There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;

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