Document:  All > Shakespeare > Tragedies > Hamlet > Act III, scene II

Jump to: the first appearance of where_love_is_great,_the_littlest_doubts_are_fear;

	[Enter HAMLET and Players]

HAMLET: Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
	you, trippingly on the tongue: but if you mouth it,
	as many of your players do, I had as lief the
	town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air
	too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently;
	for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say,
	the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget
	a temperance that may give it smoothness. O, it
	offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
	periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to
	very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who
	for the most part are capable of nothing but
	inexplicable dumbshows and noise: I would have such
	a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it
	out-herods Herod: pray you, avoid it.

First Player: I warrant your honour.

HAMLET: Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion
	be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the
	word to the action; with this special o'erstep not
	the modesty of nature: for any thing so overdone is
	from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the
	first and now, was and is, to hold, as 'twere, the
	mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature,
	scorn her own image, and the very age and body of
	the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone,
	or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
	laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the
	censure of the which one must in your allowance
	o'erweigh a whole theatre of others. O, there be
	players that I have seen play, and heard others
	praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely,
	that, neither having the accent of Christians nor
	the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so
	strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of
	nature's journeymen had made men and not made them
	well, they imitated humanity so abominably.

First Player: I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us,

HAMLET: O, reform it altogether. And let those that play
	your clowns speak no more than is set down for them;
	for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to
	set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh
	too; though, in the mean time, some necessary
	question of the play be then to be considered:
	that's villanous, and shows a most pitiful ambition
	in the fool that uses it. Go, make you ready.

	[Exeunt Players]


	How now, my lord! I will the king hear this piece of work?

LORD POLONIUS: And the queen too, and that presently.

HAMLET: Bid the players make haste.


	Will you two help to hasten them?

	|  We will, my lord.


HAMLET: What ho! Horatio!

	[Enter HORATIO]

HORATIO: Here, sweet lord, at your service.

HAMLET: Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man
	As e'er my conversation coped withal.

HORATIO: O, my dear lord,--

HAMLET:                   Nay, do not think I flatter;
	For what advancement may I hope from thee
	That no revenue hast but thy good spirits,
	To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flatter'd?
	No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
	And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
	Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
	Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice
	And could of men distinguish, her election
	Hath seal'd thee for herself; for thou hast been
	As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,
	A man that fortune's buffets and rewards
	Hast ta'en with equal thanks: and blest are those
	Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
	That they are not a pipe for fortune's finger
	To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
	That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
	In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
	As I do thee.--Something too much of this.--
	There is a play to-night before the king;
	One scene of it comes near the circumstance
	Which I have told thee of my father's death:
	I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot,
	Even with the very comment of thy soul
	Observe mine uncle: if his occulted guilt
	Do not itself unkennel in one speech,
	It is a damned ghost that we have seen,
	And my imaginations are as foul
	As Vulcan's stithy. Give him heedful note;
	For I mine eyes will rivet to his face,
	And after we will both our judgments join
	In censure of his seeming.

HORATIO: Well, my lord:
	If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,
	And 'scape detecting, I will pay the theft.

HAMLET: They are coming to the play; I must be idle:
	Get you a place.

	[Danish march. A flourish. Enter KING CLAUDIUS,
	GUILDENSTERN, and others]

KING CLAUDIUS: How fares our cousin Hamlet?

HAMLET: Excellent, i' faith; of the chameleon's dish: I eat
	the air, promise-crammed: you cannot feed capons so.

KING CLAUDIUS: I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet; these words
	are not mine.

HAMLET: No, nor mine now.


	My lord, you played once i' the university, you say?

LORD POLONIUS: That did I, my lord; and was accounted a good actor.

HAMLET: What did you enact?

LORD POLONIUS: I did enact Julius Caesar: I was killed i' the
	Capitol; Brutus killed me.

HAMLET: It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf
	there. Be the players ready?

ROSENCRANTZ: Ay, my lord; they stay upon your patience.

QUEEN GERTRUDE: Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

HAMLET: No, good mother, here's metal more attractive.

LORD POLONIUS: [To KING CLAUDIUS]  O, ho! do you mark that?

HAMLET: Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

	[Lying down at OPHELIA's feet]

OPHELIA: No, my lord.

HAMLET: I mean, my head upon your lap?

OPHELIA: Ay, my lord.

HAMLET: Do you think I meant country matters?

OPHELIA: I think nothing, my lord.

HAMLET: That's a fair thought to lie between maids' legs.

OPHELIA: What is, my lord?

HAMLET: Nothing.

OPHELIA: You are merry, my lord.


OPHELIA: Ay, my lord.

HAMLET: O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do
	but be merry? for, look you, how cheerfully my
	mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.

OPHELIA: Nay, 'tis twice two months, my lord.

HAMLET: So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for
	I'll have a suit of sables. O heavens! die two
	months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's
	hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half
	a year: but, by'r lady, he must build churches,
	then; or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with
	the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is 'For, O, for, O,
	the hobby-horse is forgot.'

	[Hautboys play. The dumb-show enters]

	[Enter a King and a Queen very lovingly; the Queen
	embracing him, and he her. She kneels, and makes
	show of protestation unto him. He takes her up,
	and declines his head upon her neck: lays him down
	upon a bank of flowers: she, seeing him asleep,
	leaves him. Anon comes in a fellow, takes off his
	crown, kisses it, and pours poison in the King's
	ears, and exit. The Queen returns; finds the King
	dead, and makes passionate action. The Poisoner,
	with some two or three Mutes, comes in again,
	seeming to lament with her. The dead body is
	carried away. The Poisoner wooes the Queen with
	gifts: she seems loath and unwilling awhile, but
	in the end accepts his love]


OPHELIA: What means this, my lord?

HAMLET: Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief.

OPHELIA: Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

	[Enter Prologue]

HAMLET: We shall know by this fellow: the players cannot
	keep counsel; they'll tell all.

OPHELIA: Will he tell us what this show meant?

HAMLET: Ay, or any show that you'll show him: be not you
	ashamed to show, he'll not shame to tell you what it means.

OPHELIA: You are naught, you are naught: I'll mark the play.

Prologue:      For us, and for our tragedy,
	Here stooping to your clemency,
	We beg your hearing patiently.


HAMLET: Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring?

OPHELIA: 'Tis brief, my lord.

HAMLET: As woman's love.

	[Enter two Players, King and Queen]

Player King:    Full thirty times hath Phoebus' cart gone round
	Neptune's salt wash and Tellus' orbed ground,
	And thirty dozen moons with borrow'd sheen
	About the world have times twelve thirties been,
	Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands
	Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

Player Queen:    So many journeys may the sun and moon
	Make us again count o'er ere love be done!
	But, woe is me, you are so sick of late,
	So far from cheer and from your former state,
	That I distrust you. Yet, though I distrust,
	Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must:
	For women's fear and love holds quantity;
	In neither aught, or in extremity.
	Now, what my love is, proof hath made you know;
	And as my love is sized, my fear is so:
	Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
	Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

Player King: 'Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too;
	My operant powers their functions leave to do:
	And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
	Honour'd, beloved; and haply one as kind
	For husband shalt thou--

Player Queen: O, confound the rest!
	Such love must needs be treason in my breast:
	In second husband let me be accurst!
	None wed the second but who kill'd the first.

HAMLET: [Aside]  Wormwood, wormwood.

Player Queen:    The instances that second marriage move
	Are base respects of thrift, but none of love:
	A second time I kill my husband dead,
	When second husband kisses me in bed.

Player King:    I do believe you think what now you speak;
	But what we do determine oft we break.
	Purpose is but the slave to memory,
	Of violent birth, but poor validity;
	Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree;
	But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be.
	Most necessary 'tis that we forget
	To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt:
	What to ourselves in passion we propose,
	The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
	The violence of either grief or joy
	Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
	Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
	Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
	This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
	That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
	For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
	Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
	The great man down, you mark his favourite flies;
	The poor advanced makes friends of enemies.
	And hitherto doth love on fortune tend;
	For who not needs shall never lack a friend,
	And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
	Directly seasons him his enemy.
	But, orderly to end where I begun,
	Our wills and fates do so contrary run
	That our devices still are overthrown;
	Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own:
	So think thou wilt no second husband wed;
	But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

Player Queen:    Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light!
	Sport and repose lock from me day and night!
	To desperation turn my trust and hope!
	An anchor's cheer in prison be my scope!
	Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
	Meet what I would have well and it destroy!
	Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
	If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

HAMLET: If she should break it now!

Player King: 'Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile;
	My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
	The tedious day with sleep.


Player Queen: Sleep rock thy brain,
	And never come mischance between us twain!


HAMLET: Madam, how like you this play?

QUEEN GERTRUDE: The lady protests too much, methinks.

HAMLET: O, but she'll keep her word.

KING CLAUDIUS: Have you heard the argument? Is there no offence in 't?

HAMLET: No, no, they do but jest, poison in jest; no offence
	i' the world.

KING CLAUDIUS: What do you call the play?

HAMLET: The Mouse-trap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play
	is the image of a murder done in Vienna: Gonzago is
	the duke's name; his wife, Baptista: you shall see
	anon; 'tis a knavish piece of work: but what o'
	that? your majesty and we that have free souls, it
	touches us not: let the galled jade wince, our
	withers are unwrung.


	This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.

OPHELIA: You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

HAMLET: I could interpret between you and your love, if I
	could see the puppets dallying.

OPHELIA: You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

HAMLET: It would cost you a groaning to take off my edge.

OPHELIA: Still better, and worse.

HAMLET: So you must take your husbands. Begin, murderer;
	pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come:
	'the croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.'

LUCIANUS:    Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing;
	Confederate season, else no creature seeing;
	Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected,
	With Hecate's ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
	Thy natural magic and dire property,
	On wholesome life usurp immediately.

	[Pours the poison into the sleeper's ears]

HAMLET: He poisons him i' the garden for's estate. His
	name's Gonzago: the story is extant, and writ in
	choice Italian: you shall see anon how the murderer
	gets the love of Gonzago's wife.

OPHELIA: The king rises.

HAMLET: What, frighted with false fire!

QUEEN GERTRUDE: How fares my lord?

LORD POLONIUS: Give o'er the play.

KING CLAUDIUS: Give me some light: away!

All: Lights, lights, lights!

	[Exeunt all but HAMLET and HORATIO]

HAMLET:      Why, let the stricken deer go weep,
	The hart ungalled play;
	For some must watch, while some must sleep:
	So runs the world away.
	Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers-- if
	the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me--with two
	Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a
	fellowship in a cry of players, sir?

HORATIO: Half a share.

HAMLET: A whole one, I.
	For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
	This realm dismantled was
	Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
	A very, very--pajock.

HORATIO: You might have rhymed.

HAMLET: O good Horatio, I'll take the ghost's word for a
	thousand pound. Didst perceive?

HORATIO: Very well, my lord.

HAMLET: Upon the talk of the poisoning?

HORATIO: I did very well note him.

HAMLET: Ah, ha! Come, some music! come, the recorders!
	For if the king like not the comedy,
	Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy.
	Come, some music!


GUILDENSTERN: Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

HAMLET: Sir, a whole history.

GUILDENSTERN: The king, sir,--

HAMLET: Ay, sir, what of him?

GUILDENSTERN: Is in his retirement marvellous distempered.

HAMLET: With drink, sir?

GUILDENSTERN: No, my lord, rather with choler.

HAMLET: Your wisdom should show itself more richer to
	signify this to his doctor; for, for me to put him
	to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far
	more choler.

GUILDENSTERN: Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and
	start not so wildly from my affair.

HAMLET: I am tame, sir: pronounce.

GUILDENSTERN: The queen, your mother, in most great affliction of
	spirit, hath sent me to you.

HAMLET: You are welcome.

GUILDENSTERN: Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right
	breed. If it shall please you to make me a
	wholesome answer, I will do your mother's
	commandment: if not, your pardon and my return
	shall be the end of my business.

HAMLET: Sir, I cannot.

GUILDENSTERN: What, my lord?

HAMLET: Make you a wholesome answer; my wit's diseased: but,
	sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command;
	or, rather, as you say, my mother: therefore no
	more, but to the matter: my mother, you say,--

ROSENCRANTZ: Then thus she says; your behavior hath struck her
	into amazement and admiration.

HAMLET: O wonderful son, that can so astonish a mother! But
	is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's
	admiration? Impart.

ROSENCRANTZ: She desires to speak with you in her closet, ere you
	go to bed.

HAMLET: We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have
	you any further trade with us?

ROSENCRANTZ: My lord, you once did love me.

HAMLET: So I do still, by these pickers and stealers.

ROSENCRANTZ: Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? you
	do, surely, bar the door upon your own liberty, if
	you deny your griefs to your friend.

HAMLET: Sir, I lack advancement.

ROSENCRANTZ: How can that be, when you have the voice of the king
	himself for your succession in Denmark?

HAMLET: Ay, but sir, 'While the grass grows,'--the proverb
	is something musty.

	[Re-enter Players with recorders]

	O, the recorders! let me see one. To withdraw with
	you:--why do you go about to recover the wind of me,
	as if you would drive me into a toil?

GUILDENSTERN: O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too

HAMLET: I do not well understand that. Will you play upon
	this pipe?

GUILDENSTERN: My lord, I cannot.

HAMLET: I pray you.

GUILDENSTERN: Believe me, I cannot.

HAMLET: I do beseech you.

GUILDENSTERN: I know no touch of it, my lord.

HAMLET: 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with
	your lingers and thumb, give it breath with your
	mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.
	Look you, these are the stops.

GUILDENSTERN: But these cannot I command to any utterance of
	harmony; I have not the skill.

HAMLET: Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
	me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
	my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
	mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
	the top of my compass: and there is much music,
	excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
	you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am
	easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
	instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
	cannot play upon me.


	God bless you, sir!

LORD POLONIUS: My lord, the queen would speak with you, and

HAMLET: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?

LORD POLONIUS: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.

HAMLET: Methinks it is like a weasel.

LORD POLONIUS: It is backed like a weasel.

HAMLET: Or like a whale?

LORD POLONIUS: Very like a whale.

HAMLET: Then I will come to my mother by and by. They fool
	me to the top of my bent. I will come by and by.

LORD POLONIUS: I will say so.

HAMLET: By and by is easily said.


	Leave me, friends.

	[Exeunt all but HAMLET]

	Tis now the very witching time of night,
	When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
	Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
	And do such bitter business as the day
	Would quake to look on. Soft! now to my mother.
	O heart, lose not thy nature; let not ever
	The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom:
	Let me be cruel, not unnatural:
	I will speak daggers to her, but use none;
	My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites;
	How in my words soever she be shent,
	To give them seals never, my soul, consent!



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