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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Scene III


[A room in the castle]

King.I like him not, nor stands it safe with usTo let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.I your commission will forthwith dispatch,And he to England shall along with you.The terms of our estate may not endureHazard so dangerous as doth hourly growOut of his lunacies.Guil.We will ourselves provide.Most holy and religious fear it isTo keep those many many bodies safeThat live and feed upon your Majesty.Ros.The single and peculiar life is boundWith all the strength and armour of the mindTo keep itself from noyance, but much moreThat spirit upon whose weal depends and restsThe lives of many. The cease of majestyDies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth drawWhat’s near it with it. It is a massy wheel,Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser thingsAre mortis’d and adjoin’d; which, when it fallsEach small annexment, petty consequence,Attends the boisterous ruin. Never aloneDid the King sigh, but with a general groan.King.Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage,For we will fetters put upon this fear,Which now goes too free-footed.Ros. & Guil.We will haste us.Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.

Pol.My lord, he’s going to his mother’s closet.Behind the arras I’ll convey myself,To hear the process. I’ll warrant she’ll tax him home;And, as you said, and wisely was it said,’Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,Since nature makes them partial, should o’erhearThe speech, of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.I’ll call upon you ere you go to bed,And tell you what I know.King.Thanks, dear my lord.[Exit POLONIUSO, 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 handWere thicker than itself with brother’s blood,Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavesTo wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercyBut to confront the visage of offence?And what’s in prayer but this twofold force,To be forestalled ere we come to fall,Or pardon’d being down? Then I’ll look up;My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayerCan serve my turn? “Forgive me my foul murder”?That cannot be; since I am still possess’dOf 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 worldOffence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,And oft ’tis seen the wicked prize itselfBuys out the law. But ’tis not so above.There is no shuffling, there the action liesIn his true nature; and we ourselves compell’d,Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,To give in evidence. What then? What rests?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, angles! Make assay!Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel,Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe!All may be well.[Retires and] kneels

Ham.Now might I do it pat, now he is praying.And now I’ll do ’t—And so he goes to heaven;And so am I reveng’d. That would be scann’d.A villain kills my father, and for that,I, his sole son, do this same villain sendTo heaven.Oh, this is hire and salary, not revenge.He took my father grossly, full of bread,With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;And how his audit stands who knows save Heaven?But in our circumstance and course of thought’Tis heavy with him. And am I then reveng’d,To take him in the purging of his soul,When he is fit and season’d for his passage?No!Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed,At gaming, swearing, or about some actThat has no relish of salvation in ’t,—Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,And that his soul may be as damn’d and blackAs hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.Exit.King.[Rising.]My words fly up, my thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to heaven go.Exit