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Home > Hamlet > ACT IV - SCENE VII. Another room in the castle.

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ACT IV - SCENE VII. Another room in the castle.
Enter KING CLAUDIUS and LAERTES

KING CLAUDIUS
1    Now must your conscience my acquaintance seal,
2    And you must put me in your heart for friend,
3    Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
4    That he which hath your noble father slain
5    Pursued my life.
LAERTES
6    It well appears: but tell me
7    Why you proceeded not against these feats,
8    So crimeful and so capital in nature,
9    As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,
10   You mainly were stirr'd up.
KING CLAUDIUS
11   O, for two special reasons;
12   Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
13   But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother
14   Lives almost by his looks; and for myself--
15   My virtue or my plague, be it either which--
16   She's so conjunctive to my life and soul,
17   That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
18   I could not but by her. The other motive,
19   Why to a public count I might not go,
20   Is the great love the general gender bear him;
21   Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
22   Would, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
23   Convert his gyves to graces; so that my arrows,
24   Too slightly timber'd for so loud a wind,
25   Would have reverted to my bow again,
26   And not where I had aim'd them.
LAERTES
27   And so have I a noble father lost;
28   A sister driven into desperate terms,
29   Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
30   Stood challenger on mount of all the age
31   For her perfections: but my revenge will come.
KING CLAUDIUS
32   Break not your sleeps for that: you must not think
33   That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
34   That we can let our beard be shook with danger
35   And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more:
36   I loved your father, and we love ourself;
37   And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine--
Enter a Messenger
38   How now! what news?
Messenger
39   Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:
40   This to your majesty; this to the queen.
KING CLAUDIUS
41   From Hamlet! who brought them?
Messenger
42   Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not:
43   They were given me by Claudio; he received them
44   Of him that brought them.
KING CLAUDIUS
45   Laertes, you shall hear them. Leave us.
Exit Messenger
Reads
46   'High and mighty, You shall know I am set naked on
47   your kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see
48   your kingly eyes: when I shall, first asking your
49   pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden
50   and more strange return. 'HAMLET.'
51   What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
52   Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
LAERTES
53   Know you the hand?
KING CLAUDIUS
54   'Tis Hamlets character. 'Naked!
55   And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.'
56   Can you advise me?
LAERTES
57   I'm lost in it, my lord. But let him come;
58   It warms the very sickness in my heart,
59   That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
60   'Thus didest thou.'
KING CLAUDIUS
61   If it be so, Laertes--
62   As how should it be so? how otherwise?--
63   Will you be ruled by me?
LAERTES
64   Ay, my lord;
65   So you will not o'errule me to a peace.
KING CLAUDIUS
66   To thine own peace. If he be now return'd,
67   As checking at his voyage, and that he means
68   No more to undertake it, I will work him
69   To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
70   Under the which he shall not choose but fall:
71   And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
72   But even his mother shall uncharge the practise
73   And call it accident.
LAERTES
74   My lord, I will be ruled;
75   The rather, if you could devise it so
76   That I might be the organ.
KING CLAUDIUS
77   It falls right.
78   You have been talk'd of since your travel much,
79   And that in Hamlet's hearing, for a quality
80   Wherein, they say, you shine: your sum of parts
81   Did not together pluck such envy from him
82   As did that one, and that, in my regard,
83   Of the unworthiest siege.
LAERTES
84   What part is that, my lord?
KING CLAUDIUS
85   A very riband in the cap of youth,
86   Yet needful too; for youth no less becomes
87   The light and careless livery that it wears
88   Than settled age his sables and his weeds,
89   Importing health and graveness. Two months since,
90   Here was a gentleman of Normandy:--
91   I've seen myself, and served against, the French,
92   And they can well on horseback: but this gallant
93   Had witchcraft in't; he grew unto his seat;
94   And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
95   As he had been incorpsed and demi-natured
96   With the brave beast: so far he topp'd my thought,
97   That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks,
98   Come short of what he did.
LAERTES
99   A Norman was't?
KING CLAUDIUS
100  A Norman.
LAERTES
101  Upon my life, Lamond.
KING CLAUDIUS
102  The very same.
LAERTES
103  I know him well: he is the brooch indeed
104  And gem of all the nation.
KING CLAUDIUS
105  He made confession of you,
106  And gave you such a masterly report
107  For art and exercise in your defence
108  And for your rapier most especially,
109  That he cried out, 'twould be a sight indeed,
110  If one could match you: the scrimers of their nation,
111  He swore, had had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
112  If you opposed them. Sir, this report of his
113  Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
114  That he could nothing do but wish and beg
115  Your sudden coming o'er, to play with him.
116  Now, out of this,--
LAERTES
117  What out of this, my lord?
KING CLAUDIUS
118  Laertes, was your father dear to you?
119  Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
120  A face without a heart?
LAERTES
121  Why ask you this?
KING CLAUDIUS
122  Not that I think you did not love your father;
123  But that I know love is begun by time;
124  And that I see, in passages of proof,
125  Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
126  There lives within the very flame of love
127  A kind of wick or snuff that will abate it;
128  And nothing is at a like goodness still;
129  For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
130  Dies in his own too much: that we would do
131  We should do when we would; for this 'would' changes
132  And hath abatements and delays as many
133  As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents;
134  And then this 'should' is like a spendthrift sigh,
135  That hurts by easing. But, to the quick o' the ulcer:--
136  Hamlet comes back: what would you undertake,
137  To show yourself your father's son in deed
138  More than in words?
LAERTES
139  To cut his throat i' the church.
KING CLAUDIUS
140  No place, indeed, should murder sanctuarize;
141  Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
142  Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.
143  Hamlet return'd shall know you are come home:
144  We'll put on those shall praise your excellence
145  And set a double varnish on the fame
146  The Frenchman gave you, bring you in fine together
147  And wager on your heads: he, being remiss,
148  Most generous and free from all contriving,
149  Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
150  Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
151  A sword unbated, and in a pass of practise
152  Requite him for your father.
LAERTES
153  I will do't:
154  And, for that purpose, I'll anoint my sword.
155  I bought an unction of a mountebank,
156  So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
157  Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare,
158  Collected from all simples that have virtue
159  Under the moon, can save the thing from death
160  That is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my point
161  With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
162  It may be death.
KING CLAUDIUS
163  Let's further think of this;
164  Weigh what convenience both of time and means
165  May fit us to our shape: if this should fail,
166  And that our drift look through our bad performance,
167  'Twere better not assay'd: therefore this project
168  Should have a back or second, that might hold,
169  If this should blast in proof. Soft! let me see:
170  We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings: I ha't.
171  When in your motion you are hot and dry--
172  As make your bouts more violent to that end--
173  And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
174  A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
175  If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
176  Our purpose may hold there.
Enter QUEEN GERTRUDE
177  How now, sweet queen!
QUEEN GERTRUDE
178  One woe doth tread upon another's heel,
179  So fast they follow; your sister's drown'd, Laertes.
LAERTES
180  Drown'd! O, where?
QUEEN GERTRUDE
181  There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
182  That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
183  There with fantastic garlands did she come
184  Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
185  That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
186  But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
187  There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
188  Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
189  When down her weedy trophies and herself
190  Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
191  And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
192  Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
193  As one incapable of her own distress,
194  Or like a creature native and indued
195  Unto that element: but long it could not be
196  Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
197  Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
198  To muddy death.
LAERTES
199  Alas, then, she is drown'd?
QUEEN GERTRUDE
200  Drown'd, drown'd.
LAERTES
201  Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
202  And therefore I forbid my tears: but yet
203  It is our trick; nature her custom holds,
204  Let shame say what it will: when these are gone,
205  The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord:
206  I have a speech of fire, that fain would blaze,
207  But that this folly douts it.
Exit

KING CLAUDIUS
208  Let's follow, Gertrude:
209  How much I had to do to calm his rage!
210  Now fear I this will give it start again;
211  Therefore let's follow.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT IV, SCENE VIACT V, SCENE I (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II

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