« PreviousContinue »
ment—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 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.
Ros. My lord, there was 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 wel. come; 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.
Ham. How chances it they travel ? their resi. dence, both in reputation and profit, were better both ways.
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.
Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty ? · 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 grow themselves to common players, (as it is like most, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession ?
Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them 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 't 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 strange ; for mine uncle is king of Denmark; and those that would make mowes at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little. 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 Elsi. nore. Your hands. Come : the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply with you in the garb ; lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outward, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome : but my unclefather, and aunt-mother, are deceived
Guil. In what, my dear lord ?
Ham. I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern,-and you too ;-at each ear a hearer; that great baby you see there is not yet out of his swathing-clouts.
Ros. Happily, he's the second time come to them ; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.
Ham. I will prophesy, he comes to tell me of the players ; mark" it.—You say right, sir : 0 Morday morning ; 'twas so, indeed.
Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome,
Pol. The actors are come hither, my lord.
tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastorical. comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable, or poem unlimited : Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ, and the liberty, these are the only men.
Ham. O Jephthah, judge of Israel,—what a treasure hadst thou !
Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
One fair daughter, and no more,.
Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.
Ham. Nay, that follows not.
As by lot, God wot, and then you know,
It came to pass, as most like it was. The first row of the pious chanson will show you more : for look, where my abridgment comes.
Enter four or five Players. You're welcome, masters; welcome, all :-I am glad to see thee well :-welcome, good friends. -0, my old friend! Thy face is valiant since I saw thee last; com'st thou to beard me in Denmark ?- What! my young lady and mistress! By-'r-lady, your ladyship is nearer heaven, than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.-Masters, you are all welcome. We'll e'en to't like French falconers, fly at anything we see : we'll have a speech straight : come, give us a taste of your quality; come, a passionate
1 Play. What speech, my lord ?
Ham. I heard thee speak me a speech once, —but it was never acted ; or, if it was, not above once ; for the play, I remember, pleased not the million ; 'twas caviarie to the general : but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgments, in such matters, cried in the top of mine,) an excellent play : well digested in the scenes; set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said, there were no sallets in the lines, to make the matter savoury; nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author of affectation; but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One chief speech in it I chiefly loved : 'twas Æneas' tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's slaughter: if it live in your memory, begin at this line ; let me see, let me see ;
The rugged Pyrrhus, like the Hyrcanian beast, —it is not so; it begins with Pyrrhus :
The rugged Pyrrhus,-he, whose sable arms,