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Ham. For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god, kissing carrion, —Have you a daughter
Pol. I have, my lord.
Ham. Let her not walk i’ the sun. Conception is a blessing; but as your daughter may conceive, -friend, look to't.
Pol. How say you by that? [Aside.] Still harping on my daughter :-yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger. He is far gone, far gone; and, truly, in my youth I suffered much extremity for love ; very near this. I'll speak to him again.-—What do you read, my lord ?
Ham. Words, words, words.
Ham. Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here, that old men have gray beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes purging thick amber, and plum-tree gum; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams. All of which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should be as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.
Pol. Though this be madness, yet there's method in it. [Aside.) Will you walk out of the air, my lord ?
Ham. Into my grave ?
Pol. Indeed, that is out o'the air.—How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him
1 The old copies read—“ being a gond kissing carrion.” The emen dation is Warburton's. The same kind of expression occurs in Cymbeline :-“Common-kissing Titan.” And Malone has adduced the following passage from the play of King Edward III., 1596, which Shakspeare had certainly seen:
“ The freshest summer's day doth soonest taint
and my daughter.-—My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.'
Ham. You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal; except my life, except my life, except my life. Pol. Fare you well, my lord. Ham. These tedious old fools !
Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN. Pol. You go to seek the lord Hamlet; there he is. Ros. God save you, sir !
[Exit Polonius. Guil. My honored lord !Ros. My most dear lord !
Ham. My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern ? Ah, Rosencrantz ! Good lads, how do ye both ?
Řos. As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guil. Happy, in that we are not overhappy;
Ham. Nor the soles of her shoe?
Ham. Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors ?
Guil. Faith, her privates we.
Ham. In the secret parts of fortune ? O, most true; she is a strumpet. What news?
Ros. None, my lord; but that the world is grown honest.
Ham. Then is doomsday near. But not true. (Let me question more in particular. What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune, that she sends you to prison hither ?
Guil. Prison, my lord !
your news is
1 This speech is abridged thus in the quartos :
“I will leave him and my daughter. My lord,
I will take my leave of you." 2 All within crotchets is wanting in the quarto copies.
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 ?
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 ? VOL. VII.
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 ?
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? [To 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?
Ros. 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.
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 for't.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 ?: 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.
? Ros. Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted pace. But there is, sir, an aíery 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 :-
“ 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.