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colour: I know, the good king and 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 everpreserved love, and by what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with me, whether you were sent for, or no?
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.
Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late, (but, wherefore, I know not,) lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises : and, indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly fraine, the earth, seems to me a steril promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, 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 faculties ! 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, 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?
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 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 : 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 residence, both in reputation and profit, was 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 ?
Rus. No, indeed they are not.
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 most like, 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 on 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 it 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 very strange: for my uncle is king of Denmark; and those, that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give twenty, forty, fifty, an hundred ducats a-piece, for his picture in little. 'Sblood, 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 Elsinore. Your hands. Come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony : let me comply with you in this 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 uncle-father, 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 hand-saw.
Enter PoloniUS. Pol. Well be with you, gentlemen !
Ham. Hark you, Guildenstern ;-and you too ;at each ear a hearer: that great baby, you see there, is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts.
Ros. Hapily, he's the second time come to them; for, they say, an old man is twice a child.
Ham. I will prophecy, he comes to tell me of the players; mark it.—You say right, sir: o’Monday morning ; 'twas then, 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.
Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-bistorical-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 ?
The which he loved passing well.
[Aside. Ham. Am I not i'the right, old Jephthah?
Pol. If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter, that I love passing well.
Ham. Nay, that follows not.
Ham. Why, 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, my abridgment comes.
Enter four or five Players. You are welcome, masters; welcome, all :-I am glad to see thee well:-welcome, good friends.-0, old .friend! Why, thy face is valanced 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 to 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 any thing we see: We'll have a speech straight: Come, give us a taste of your quality ; come, a passionate speech.
i 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 caviare to the general: but it was (as I received it, and