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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 nutshell, 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.

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 outstretched heroes, the beggars' shadows. Shall we to the court ? for, by my fay, I cannot reason.

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, what make you at Elsinore ? 3

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. Any thing---but to the purpose.

You were


1 « If ambition is such an unsubstantial thing, then are our beggars (who at least can dream of greatness) the only things of substance, and monarchs and heroes, though appearing to fill such mighty space with their ambition, but the shadows of the beggars' dreams."

2 By my faith.
3 What do you at Elsinore?



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sent for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to color. 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 ? [T. 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 frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile 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 vapors. 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, no, 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?

Řos. To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten” entertainment the players shall receive

1 To have an eye of any one is to have an inkling of his purpose. The first quarto has :-“ Nay, then I see how the wind sets.”

2 See Twelfth Night, Act i. Sc. 5.

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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 fort. 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 ? 3 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 ?

Ros. No, indeed, they are not.
Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

Ros. Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted pace. But there is, sir, an aiery 4 of children, little eyases,


1 To cote is to pass alongside, to pass by.

2 The first quarto reads :-“The clown shall make them laugh that are tickled in the lungs.” The same expression occurs in Howard's Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies, 1620, folio : Discovering the moods and humors of the vulgar sort to be so loose and tickle of the seare.

3 In the first quarto copy this passage stands thus :-
66 Ham. How comes it that they travel ? do they grow restie ?
66 Gil. No, my lord, their reputation holds as it was wont.
6 Ham. How then?

6 Gil. I'faith, my lord, novelty carries it away, for the principal publicke audience that came to them, are turned to private plays, and to the humor of children."

By this we may understand what Rosencrantz means in saying their inhibition comes of the late innovation," i. e. their prevention or hinderance comes from the late innovation of companies of juvenile performers, as the children of the revels, &c. They have not relaxed in their endeavors to please, but this (brood) aiery of little children are now the fashion, and have so abused the common stages as to deter many from frequenting them.

4 i. e, a brood.
5 i. e. young nestlings; properly young, unfledged hawks.






that cry out on the top of the question, and are most tyrannically clapped fort. 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 ?4 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 5 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. 6

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, a hundred ducats apiece, 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.


1 Question is speech, conversation. The meaning may therefore be, they cry out on the top of their voice.

2 j. e. paiil.

3 i. e. profession. Mr. Gifford has remarked, that “this word seems more peculiarly appropriated to the profession of a player by our old writers.

4 "No longer than they can sing," i. e. no longer than they keep the voices of boys, and sing in the choir.

5 i. e. set them on; a phrase borrowed from the setting on a dog.

6 i. e. carry all the world before them: there is, perhaps, an allusion to the Globe theatre, the sign of which is said to have been Hercules carrying the globe.

7 First copy, “mops and moes;" folio, “ mowes."



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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 handsaw.?


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. 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; 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.
Ham. Buzz, buzz !
Pol. Upon my honor,
Ham. Then came each actor on his ass,

Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical

1 Hamlet has received his old schoolfellows with somewhat of the coldness of suspicion hitherto, but he now remembers that this is not courteous: he therefore rouses himself to give them a proper reception. “Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands. Come, then; the appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me embrace you in this fashion ; lest I should seem to give you a less courteous reception than I give the players, to whom I must behave with at least exterior politeness.” To comply with was to embrace.

2 The original form of this proverb was, undoubtedly," To know a hawk from a hernshaw;" that is, to know a hawk from the heron which it pursues, The corruption is said to be as old as the time of Shakspeare.

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