Enter King Claudius and Laertes
Now must your conscience my acquaintance seal, And you must put me in your heart for friend, Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear, That he which hath your noble father slain Pursued my life.
It well appears: but tell me Why you proceeded not against these feats, So crimeful and so capital in nature, As by your safety, wisdom, all things else, You mainly were stirr'd up.
O, for two special reasons; Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd, But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother Lives almost by his looks; and for myself— My virtue or my plague, be it either which— She's so conjunctive to my life and soul, That, as the star moves not but in his sphere, I could not but by her. The other motive, Why to a public count I might not go, Is the great love the general gender bear him; Who, dipping all his faults in their affection, Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone, Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows, Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind, Would have reverted to my bow again, And not where I had aim'd them.
And so have I a noble father lost; A sister driven into desperate terms, Whose worth, if praises may go back again, Stood challenger on mount of all the age For her perfections: but my revenge will come.
Break not your sleeps for that: you must not think That we are made of stuff so flat and dull That we can let our beard be shook with danger And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more: I loved your father, and we love ourself; And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—
Enter a Messenger
How now! what news?
Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not: They were given me by Claudio; he received them Of him that brought them.
Laertes, you shall hear them. Leave us. [Exit Messenger]
What should this mean? Are all the rest come back? Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
'Tis Hamlets character. 'Naked! And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.' Can you advise me?
I'm 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 didest thou.'
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 practise And call it accident.
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 parts Did not together pluck such envy from him As did that one, and that, in my regard, Of the unworthiest siege.
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've seen myself, and served against, the French, And they can well on horseback: but this gallant Had witchcraft in't; he grew unto 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 topp'd my thought, That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks, Come short of what he did.
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 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,—
Laertes, was your father dear to you? Or are you like the painting of a sorrow, A face without a heart?
Not that I think you did not love your father; 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?
No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize; Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes, 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 together 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 practise 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 point 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 performance, '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 cunnings: 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, If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck, Our purpose may hold there.
Enter Queen Gertrude
How now, sweet queen!
One woe doth tread upon another's heel, So fast they follow; your sister's drown'd, Laertes.
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; When down her weedy trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide; And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up: Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element: but long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death.
Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia, And therefore I forbid my tears: but yet It is our trick; nature her custom holds, Let shame say what it will: when these are gone, The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord: I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze, But that this folly douts it.
Let's follow, Gertrude: How much I had to do to calm his rage! Now fear I this will give it start again; Therefore let's follow.