Enter King, Queene, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosincrance, Guildenstern, and Lords.

King. And can you by no drift of circumstance Get from him why he puts on this Confusion: Grating so harshly all his dayes of quiet With turbulent and dangerous Lunacy

Rosin. He does confesse he feeles himselfe distracted, But from what cause he will by no meanes speake

Guil. Nor do we finde him forward to be sounded, But with a crafty Madnesse keepes aloofe: When we would bring him on to some Confession Of his true state

Qu. Did he receiue you well? Rosin. Most like a Gentleman

Guild. But with much forcing of his disposition

Rosin. Niggard of question, but of our demands Most free in his reply

Qu. Did you assay him to any pastime? Rosin. Madam, it so fell out, that certaine Players We ore-wrought on the way: of these we told him, And there did seeme in him a kinde of ioy To heare of it: They are about the Court, And (as I thinke) they haue already order This night to play before him

Pol. 'Tis most true: And he beseech'd me to intreate your Maiesties To heare, and see the matter

King. With all my heart, and it doth much content me To heare him so inclin'd. Good Gentlemen, Giue him a further edge, and driue his purpose on To these delights

Rosin. We shall my Lord.


King. Sweet Gertrude leaue vs too, For we haue closely sent for Hamlet hither, That he, as 'twere by accident, may there Affront Ophelia. Her Father, and my selfe (lawful espials) Will so bestow our selues, that seeing vnseene We may of their encounter frankely iudge, And gather by him, as he is behaued, If't be th' affliction of his loue, or no. That thus he suffers for

Qu. I shall obey you, And for your part Ophelia, I do wish That your good Beauties be the happy cause Of Hamlets wildenesse: so shall I hope your Vertues Will bring him to his wonted way againe, To both your Honors

Ophe. Madam, I wish it may

Pol. Ophelia, walke you heere. Gracious so please ye We will bestow our selues: Reade on this booke, That shew of such an exercise may colour Your lonelinesse. We are oft too blame in this, 'Tis too much prou'd, that with Deuotions visage, And pious Action, we do surge o're The diuell himselfe

King. Oh 'tis true: How smart a lash that speech doth giue my Conscience? The Harlots Cheeke beautied with plaist'ring Art Is not more vgly to the thing that helpes it, Then is my deede, to my most painted word. Oh heauie burthen! Pol. I heare him comming, let's withdraw my Lord.


Enter Hamlet.

Ham. To be, or not to be, that is the Question: Whether 'tis Nobler in the minde to suffer The Slings and Arrowes of outragious Fortune, Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them: to dye, to sleepe No more; and by a sleepe, to say we end The Heart-ake, and the thousand Naturall shockes That Flesh is heyre too? 'Tis a consummation Deuoutly to be wish'd. To dye to sleepe, To sleepe, perchance to Dreame; I, there's the rub, For in that sleepe of death, what dreames may come, When we haue shuffel'd off this mortall coile, Must giue vs pawse. There's the respect That makes Calamity of so long life: For who would beare the Whips and Scornes of time, The Oppressors wrong, the poore mans Contumely, The pangs of dispriz'd Loue, the Lawes delay, The insolence of Office, and the Spurnes That patient merit of the vnworthy takes, When he himselfe might his Quietus make With a bare Bodkin? Who would these Fardles beare To grunt and sweat vnder a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The vndiscouered Countrey, from whose Borne No Traueller returnes, Puzels the will, And makes vs rather beare those illes we haue, Then flye to others that we know not of. Thus Conscience does make Cowards of vs all, And thus the Natiue hew of Resolution Is sicklied o're, with the pale cast of Thought, And enterprizes of great pith and moment, With this regard their Currants turne away, And loose the name of Action. Soft you now, The faire Ophelia? Nimph, in thy Orizons Be all my sinnes remembred

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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