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The observed of all observers! quite, quite down!
And I, of ladies most deject and wretched,

That suck'd the honey of his music vows,
Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh ;
That unmatch'd form and feature of blown youth,
Blasted with ecstasy."


Hamlet's Instructions to the 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 our 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) whirlwind of your 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 dumb show and noise: I would have such a fellow whipped for out-doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.

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 spécial observance, that you 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 't were, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body

* Insanity.

†That portion of the audience occupying the pit of the theatre.

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 which one must, in your allowance, overweigh 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.

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.

Hamlet's Esteem for his friend Horatio.

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,
* Prompt, facile.

And could of men distinguish her election,
She 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 bless'd are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well co-mingled,
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 hearts,
As I do thee.


'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.

The King's Despairing Soliloquy.

O, 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 mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence?
And what's in prayer, but this two-fold force,-
To be forestalled ere we come to fall,

Or pardoned, being down? Then I'll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? Forgive me my foul murder !-
That cannot be; since I am still possess'd
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
May one be pardon'd, and retain the offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world,
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice;
And oft 'tis seen, the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law.

But 'tis not so above:

There is no shuffling, there the action lies

In his true nature; and we ourselves compell'd,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
What then? what rests?

To give in evidence.

Try what repentance can: What can it not?
Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
O wretched state! O bosom, black as death !
O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,

Art more engag'd!

Help, angels, make assay !

Bow, stubborn knees! and, heart, with strings of steel, Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe;


may be well!

Hamlet and his Mother.

QUEEN. What have I done, that thou darest


In noise so rude against me?


wag thy

Such an act

That blurs the grace and blush of modesty ;

Calls virtue hypocrite; takes off the rose
From the fair forehead of an innocent love,
And sets a blister there; makes marriage vows
As false as dicers' oaths: O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction* plucks
The very soul;
and sweet religion makes

A rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow;
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,

With tristfult visage, as against the doom,

Is thought-sick at the act.


Ah me, what act,

That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?

HAMLET. Look here, upon this picture, and on this;
The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.
See, what a grace was seated on this brow:
Hyperion's curls; the front of Jove himself;

eye like Mars, to threaten and command;
A station like the herald Mercury,
New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;
A combination, and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his seal,
To give the world assurance of a man:

This was your husband.—Look you now, what follows;
Here is
your husband; like a mildew'd ear,

Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes?
Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed,
And batten on this moor? Ha! have you eyes?
You cannot call it love: for, at your age,

The hey-day in the blood is tame, 'tis humble,
And waits upon the judgment: and what judgment
Would step from this to this? Sense, sure you have,
Else could you not have motion: but, sure that sense
Is apoplex'd: for madness would not err;

* Contract of wedlock. + Mournful.


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