Looking before, and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason

To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven1 scruple

Of thinking too precisely on the event,

A thought, which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom,
And, ever, three parts coward,-I do not know
Why yet I live to say, This thing's to do;

Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means,
To do't. Examples, gross as earth, exhort me.
Witness, this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince;
Whose spirit, with divine ambition puffed,
Makes mouths at the invisible event;
Exposing what is mortal, and unsure,
To all that fortune, death, and danger, dare,
Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great,
Is, not to stir without great argument;
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw,

When honor's at the stake. How stand I, then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason, and my blood,"
And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy, and trick of fame,

Go to their graves like beds; fight for a plot 3
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough, and continent,*
To hide the slain ?-O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth! [Exit.

1 Craven is recreant, cowardly. It may be traced from crant, creant, the old French word for an act of submission.

2 Provocations which excite both my reason and my passions to vengeance.

3 A plot of ground.

4 Continent means that which comprehends or incloses.

SCENE V. Elsinore. A Room in the Castle.

Enter Queen and HORATIO.


I will not speak with her.

Hor. She is importunate; indeed, distract; Her mood will needs be pitied.


What would she have?

Hor. She speaks much of her father; says she


There's tricks i' the world; and hems, and beats her


Spurns enviously at straws; speaks things in doubt, That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing, Yet the unshaped use of it doth move


The hearers to collection; they aim at it,
And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks and nods, and gestures yield them,
Indeed, would make one think there might be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.5

Queen. 'Twere good she were spoken with; for she may strew

Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

Let her come in.6

To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is,


Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss;7
So full of artless jealousy is guilt,

It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

1 66 Enviously, and spitefully," are treated as synonymous by our old


2 To collection, that is, to gather or deduce consequences from such premises.

3 The quartos read yawn. To aim is to guess.

4 Folio-would.

5 Unhappily, that is, mischievously.

6 The three first lines of this speech are given to Horatio in the quarto.

7 Shakspeare is not singular in his use of amiss as a substantive. Several instances are adduced by Steevens, and more by Mr. Nares, in his Glossary. "Each toy" is each trifle.

[graphic][merged small]

Re-enter HORATIO, with OPHelia.

Oph. Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark? Queen. How now, Ophelia?

Oph. How should I your true love know,

From another one?

By his cockle hat and staff,

And his sandal shoon.1


Queen. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?

Oph. Say you? nay; 'pray you, mark.

He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;

At his head a grass-green turf,

At his heels a stone.


[blocks in formation]

Queen. Alas, look here, my lord.

Oph. Larded all with sweet flowers;
Which bewept to the grave3 did go,
With true love showers.

King. How do you, pretty lady?

Oph. Well, God 'ield you! They say the owl was a baker's daughter!5 Lord, we know what we

1 These were the badges of pilgrims. The cockle-shell was an emblem of their intention to go beyond sea.

2 Garnished.

4 See Macbeth, Act i. Sc. 6.

3 Quarto-ground.

5 This (says Mr. Douce) is a common tradition in Gloucestershire, and is thus related:-"Our Savior went into a baker's shop where they were baking, and asked for some bread to eat. The mistress of the shop immediately put a piece of dough in the oven to bake for him, but was reprimanded by her daughter, who, insisting that the piece of dough was too large, reduced it to a very small size. The dough, however, immediately began to swell, and presently became of a most enormous size. Whereupon the baker's daughter cried out, Heugh, heugh, heugh, which

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