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Sir, tho' I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honefty to have it thus fet down; for yourself, Sir, fhall be as old as I am, if, like a crab, you could go backward.

Pol. Though this be madness, yet there's method


Will you walk out of the air, my Lord?

Ham. Into my grave.

Pol. Indeed, that is out o' th' air: How pregnant fometimes his replies are? A happiness that often madness hits on, Which fanity and reafon could not be

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So profp'rously deliver'd of. I'll leave him,
And fuddenly contrive the means of meeting
Between him and my daughter.

My honourable Lord, I will moft 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. Pol. Fare you well, my Lord.

Ham. These tedious old fools!

Pol. You go to feek Lord Hamlet; there he is.



Enter Rofincrantz and Guildenstern.

Rof. God fave you, Sir.

Guil. Mine honour'd Lord!

Rof. My moft dear Lord!

Ham. My excellent good friends! How doft thou,

Oh, Rofincrantz, good lads! how do ye both?
Rof. As the indifferent children of the earth.
Guil. Happy, in that we are not over-happy :


On fortune's cap, we are not the very button.
Ham. Nor the foles of her fhoe?

Rof. Neither, my Lord.

Ham. Then you live about her waift, or in the middle of her favours?

Guil. 'Faith, in privates we.

Ham. In the fecret parts of fortune? oh, most true? fhe is a ftrumpet. What news?

Rof. None, my Lord, but that the word's grown honest.

Ham. Then is dooms day near; but your news is not true. Let me queftion more in particular: what have you, my good friends, deferved at the hands of fortune, that the fends you to prison hither? Guil. Prifon, my Lord!

Ham. Denmark's a prifon.

Rof. Then is the world one.

Ham. A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons; Denmark being one o'th' worst.

Rof. We think not fo, my Lord.

Ham. Why, then, 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it fo. To me, it is a prison.

Rof. Why, then your ambition makes it one: 'tis too narrow for your mind.

Ham. Oh God, I could be bounded in a nut fhell, and count myself a King of infinite fpace; were it not, that I have bad dreams.

Guil. Which dreams, indeed, are Ambition; for the very fubftance of the ambitious it merely the fhadow of a dream.

Ham. A dream itself is but a fhadow.

8 The Shadow of a dream.] Shakespeare has accidentally inverted an expression of Pindar,

that the ftate of humanity is xaç öræf, the dream of a shadow.

Ref. Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality, that it is but a fhadow's fhadow.

Ham Then are our beggars, bodies; and our monarchs and out-stretch'd heroes, the beggar' fhadows. Shall we to th' Court? for, by my fay, I can not reafon.

Both. We'll wait upon you.

Ham. No fuch matter. I will not fort you with the rest of my fervants; for, to speak to you like an honeft man, I am moft dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of Friendship, what make you at Elfinoor?

Rof. To vifit you, my Lord; no other occafion. Ham. Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you; and fure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear of a half-penny. Were you not fent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free vifitation? Come, deal juftly with me; Come, come; Nay, fpeak.

Guil. What fhould we fay, my Lord?

Ham. Any thing, but to the purpose. You were fent for; and there is a kind of confeffion in your looks, which your modefties have not craft enough to colour. I know, the good King and Queen have fent for you.

Rof. To what end, my Lord?

Ham. That you must teach me; but let me conjure you by the rights of our fellowship, by the confonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our everpreferved love, and by what more dear, a better propofer could charge you withal; be even and direct with me, whether you were fent for or no? Rof. What say you?

9. Then are our beggars, bodies;] Shakespeare feems here to defign a ridicule of thefe declamations 5

[To Guilden.

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Ham. Nay, then I have an eye of you: if you love me, hold not off.

Guil. My Lord, we were fent for.

· Ham. I will tell you why. So fhall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your fecrefy to the King and Queen moult no feather. *I have of late, but wherefore I know not, loft all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercife; and, indeed, it goes fo heavily with my difpofition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a fteril promontory; this moft 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 peftilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how noble in reafon! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehenfion how like a God! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! and yet to me, what is this quinteffence of duft? Man delights not me.-Nor woman neither; though by your smiling you feem to fay fo.

Rof. My Lord, there was no fuch stuff in my thoughts.

Ham. Why did you laugh, when I said, man delights not me?

Rof. To think, my Lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten entertainment the Players fhall receive from you; we accofted them on the way, and hither are they coming to offer you service.

Ham. He that plays the King fhall be welcome. His Majesty shall have tribute of me; the adventurous Knight shall use his foyl and target; the lover fhall

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not figh gratis; the humorous man, fhall end his.. part in peace; and 3 the lady fhall fay her mind freely, or the blank verfe fhall halt for't. What Players are. they?

Rof. Even thofe you were wont to take delight in, the Tragedians of the city.

Ham. How chances it, they travel? their refidence both in reputation and profit was better, both ways. Rof. I think, their inhibition comes by means of the late innovation,


Ham. Do they hold the fame eftimation they did, when I was in the city? are they fo follow'd? Rof. No, indeed, they are not.

*Ham. How comes it? do they grow rusty ? "Rof. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but there is, Sir, an Aiery of Children, "little Eyafes, that cry out on the top of queftion;



2 fhall end his part in peace;] After thefe words the folio adds, the clown hall make thofe laugh whofe lungs are tickled o' th' fere. WARBURTON.

This paffage I have omitted, for the fame reafon, I suppose, as the other editors. I do not understand it.

3 the lady fhall, &c.] The lady Shall have no obstruction, unlfs from the lamenes of the verf.

4 I think, their inhibition] I fancy this is tranfpofed: Hamlet enquires not about an inhibition, but an innovation; the anfwer therefore probably was, I think, their innovation, that is, their new practice of ftrolling, comes by the means of the late inhibition.

* The lines marked with commas are in the folio of 1623; but not in the quarto of 1637, nor, I suppose, in any of the quartos.

5 little Yafes, that cry out on

the top of question:] The poet.. here fteps out of his fubject to give a lafh at home, and fneer at the prevailing fashion of following plays perform'd by the Children of the Chapel, and abandoning the establish'd theatres. But why are they call'd little Yafes? As he firft calls 'em an Aiery of Children, (now, an Avery or Eyery is a hawk's or eagle's neft; there is not the leaft queftion but we ought to re-. ftore-little Eyafes; i. e. Young neftlings, creatures just out of the egg THEOBALD.

An Aiery of children,] Relating to the play houfes then contending, the Bankfide, the For tune, &c. play'd by the children of his Majefty's chapel. POPE.

6 cry out on the top of question ;] The meaning feems to be, they afk a common question in the highest notes of the voice.


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