« PreviousContinue »
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 fent for or no? Rof. What say you 1 ?
[To Guilden. Ham. Nay, then I have an eye of you : 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, foregone
all custom of exercise ; and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, 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 peftilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reafon! how infinite in faculties ! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprchenfion low 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.
Rof. My lord' there was no such stuff in my thoughts.
Ham. Why did you laugh, when I said, man delights not me?
Rof. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenien entertainment the Players shall receive from you; we accolled 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 adventosous Kniglit shall use his foil and target; the lover shall not ligh gratis; the humourous man fall end. his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickled o'th' sere ; and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall bali for't. What Players are they?
Rof. Even those you were wont to take delight in, the Tragedians of the city,
Ham. How chances it, they travel ? their residence both in reputation and profit was better, both ways.
Rof. 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 follow'd ?
Rof. No, indeed, they are not.
Rof. 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 clapt for’t; ihese are now the fafbion, and so berattle ihe common stages, (so they call them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills, and dare scarce come thither.
Ham. What, are they children ? who maintains 'em ? how are they escorted? will they pursue the Quality, no longer than they can fing? will they not fay 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?
Rf. Faith, there has been much to do on both fides; and the nation holds it no fin, 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.
* an Aiery of Children, ) Relating to the Play-houses then contending, the Bankside, the Fortune, &c, play'd by the Children of his Majesty's Chapel.
Ham. Is't possible?
Guil. Oh, there has been much throwing about of brains.
Ham. Do the Boys carry it away?
Rof. 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, fifty, an hundred ducats apiece, for his picture in little. There is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.
Flourish for the Players. Guil. There are the Players.
Ham. Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elfinoor ; your hands : comethen, the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garbe, left my extent to the players (which, I tell you, muft shew fairly outward) should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome; but my Uncle-father and Aunt-mother are deceiv'd. 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 handsawi
Pol. ELL 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 swathling-clouts.
Rof. Haply, 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; for on Monday morning 'twas fo, indeed. Pol. My lord, I have news to tell you.'
Ham. My lord, I have news to tell you.
Pol. The Actors are come hither, my lordo-
Pol. The best Allors in the world. either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, paftoral-comical, historical, paftoral, scene undividable, or Poem unlimited: Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus ido light. For the law of wit, and the Liberty, these are the only men.
Ham. Oh, Jephtha, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst Thou!
Pol. What a treasure had he, my lord ?
Ham. Why, one fair daughter, and no more,
Pol. Still on my daughter.
Pol. If you call me Jephtha, my lord, I have a daughter that I love pafling 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 firstTow of the rubric will fhew you more. For, look, where my abridgements come.
Enter four or five Players. Y' are welcome, malters, welcome all. I am glad to see thee well; welcome, good friends. Oh! old friend! thy face is valanc’d, since I saw thee laft: com'st thou to beard me in Denmark ? What! my young lady and mistress? b'erlady, your ladyship is nearer heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of * a chioppine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not crack'd within the ring
* a chioppine.] A tight-hcel'd Sloe, or a Slipper.
Mr. Popes Masters,
Masters, you are all welcome ; we'll e’en to't like friendly faulconers, 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 good 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, pleas'd not the million, 'twas Caviar to the general; but it was (as I received it, and others, whose judgment in such matters cried in ihe top of mine) an excellent Play ; well digested in the scenes, fet down with as much modefty as cunning. I remember, one said, there was no falt in the lines, to make the matter favoury; nor no matter in the phrase, that might indite the author of affection ; but call'd it, an honest method. One speech in it I chiefly lov'd; 'twas Æneas's tale to Dido; and thereabout of it especially, where he speaks of Priam's flaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line, let me fee, let me see —The rugged Pyrrhus like th' Hyrcanian beast, - It is not fo; - it begins with Pyrrhus. The rugged Pyrrhus, he, whose fable arms, Black as his purpose, did the Night resemble When he lay couched in the ominous horse ; Hath now his dread and black complexion smear'd With heraldry more difmal; head to foot. Now is he total gules; horridly trickt With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, Bak'd and impafted with the parching fires, That lend a tyrannous and damned light To murders vile. Roasted in wrath and fire, And thus o'er-lized with coagulate gore, With eyes like carbuncles, the hellith Pyrrhus Old grandfire Priam seeks.
Pol. 'Forę God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent, and good discretion.
i Play. Anon he finds him, Striking, too short, at Greeks. His antique sword,