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

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?

Guil. O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

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

Guil. My lord, I cannot.

Ham. I pray you.

Guil. Believe me, I cannot.

Ham. I do beseech you.

Guil. I know no touch of it, my lord.


Ham. It is as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your finger and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops. Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill


Ham. 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. Why do you think that I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon


God bless


you, sir !


Pol. My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel?

Pol. By the mass, and 't is like a camel, in


Ham. Methinks, it is like a weasel.

Pol. It is backed like a weasel.

Ham. Or, like a whale?

Pol. Very like a whale,


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

Pol. I will say so.


Ham. By-and-by is easily said.-Leave me, [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, HORATIO, &c.


'Tis now the very witching time of night 400

When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes


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! [Exit.


SCENE III.-A Room in the Same.


King. I like him not; nor stands it safe with


To let his madness range. Therefore, prepare you:


your commission will forthwith despatch,

And he to England shall along with you.

The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.


We will ourselves provide.

Most holy and religious fear it is

To keep those many many bodies safe
That live and feed upon your majesty.

Ros. The single and peculiar life is bound,
With all the strength and armour of the mind,
To keep itself from noyance; but much more
That spirit upon whose weal depends and rests
The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone; but, like a gulf, doth draw
What's near it with it; it is a massy wheel,
Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
Are mortised and adjoined; which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone

Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.



King. Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy


For we will fetters put upon this fear,

Which now goes too free-footed.

Ros., Guil.

We will haste us.



Pol. My lord, he's going to his mother's closet: Behind the arras I'll convey myself,

To hear the process: I'll warrant, she'll tax him


And, as you said, and wisely was it said,


"T is meet that some more audience than a mother, Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear The speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege: I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,

And tell


you what I know.

Thanks, dear my lord.



my offence is rank, it smells to heaven:
It hath the primal eldest curse upon 't,
A brother's murder!-Pray can I not ;
Though inclination be as sharp as will,
My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent;
And, like a man to double business bound,
I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
And both neglect. What if this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves


But to confront the visage of offence?

And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,—
To be forestalléd, ere we come to fall,

Or pardoned, being down? Then, I'll look up:
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer


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