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The serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown.

HAMLET. O, my prophetic soul! my uncle!

The Ghost's Description of the Murder.

But soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be :-Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon* in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And, with a sudden vigour, it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine ;
And a most instant tetter+ bark'd about,

Most lazart like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd; §
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousell'd,|| disappointed, unanel'd ;¶
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.

Approach of Dawn.

The glow-worm shews the matin to be near,
And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire.

* Henbane.

+ Scurf.


§ Deprived. || Without having received the sacrament.

Without extreme unction.



Old Age.

Beshrew my jealousy!

It seems, it is as proper to our age

To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion.

Reflections on Man.

I have of late (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth, foregone 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'er-hanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is 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,- -nor

woman neither; though, by your smiling, you seem to

say so.

Hamlet's Reflections on the Player.

O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I !
Is it not monstrous, that this player here,
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,

Could force his soul thus to his own conceit,
That, from her working, all his visage wann'd;
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,

A broken voice, and his whole function suiting
With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing!
For Hecuba!

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,

That he should weep for her? What would he do, Had he the motive and the cue for passion

That I have? He would drown the stage with tears,
And cleave the general ear with horrid speech;
Make mad the guilty, and appal the free,
Confound the ignorant; and amaze, indeed,
The very
faculties of eyes and ears.

Yet I,

A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak,
Like John a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing; no, not for a king,
Upon whose property, and most dear life,

A damn'd defeat* was made. Am I a coward ?
Who calls me villain? breaks my pate across?
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face?
Tweaks me by the nose?
As deep as to the lungs?

gives me the lie i' the throat,
Who does me this?

Why, I should take it; for it cannot be,
But I am pigeon-liver'd, and lack gall
To make oppression bitter; or, ere this,
I should have fatted all the region kites
With this slave's offal.

Effect of a Play on the Mind.

I have heard

That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,

Have by the very cunning of the scene

* Alluding to his father's murder and the usurpation of the crown by his uncle,

Been struck so to the soul, that presently
They have proclaim'd their malefactions!*

I'll tent him to the

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ. I'll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father,
Before mine uncle: I'll observe his looks;
quick;† if he do blench
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be a devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and, perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy

I'll have grounds

(As he is very potent with such spirits)
Abuses me to damn me.
More relative than this.
Wherein I'll catch the

The play's the thing
conscience of the king.


Hamlet's Soliloquy on Life and Death.

To be, or not to be, that is the question :—
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune;
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And, by opposing, end them?-To die,-to sleep,-
No more ;—and, by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to,-'tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish'd.

To die ;-to sleep ;—

To sleep! perchance to dream ;-ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,‡

Must give us pause; there's the respect §

*Their crimes.

+ Particularly note if he betrays his guilt. Confusion. § Reason.

That makes calamity of so long life:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,"
The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus+ make
With a bare bodkin?

who would fardels§ bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death,—
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn ||
No traveller returns,-puzzles the will;

And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all ;
And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.


Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny.

A Disordered Mind.

O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown! The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword, The expectancy and rose of the fair state,

The glass of fashion, and the mould ¶ of form,

[blocks in formation]

A dagger was in our author's time sometimes called a bodkin.

§ Burthens.

|| Confines.

The model by which others might frame themselves.

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