~ Hamlet ~
There is a scurry as of rats approaching.
Ah, it is not vermin but friends!
Two cries do I hear:
“My honored lord!”
“My most dear lord!”
I swallow hard, and bite back the true greeting
that tempts my lips.
“My excellent good friends!
How do you, Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz!
Good lads, how do you both?”
“Happy, in that we are not over-happy;
on fortune's cap we are not the very button.”
“Nor the soles of her shoe?”
“Neither, my lord.”
“Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?”
“'Faith, her privates we.”
“In the secret parts of fortune? Oh, most true; she
is a strumpet. What's the news?”
“None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.”
“Then is doomsday near: but your news is not true.
Let me question more in particular: what have you,
my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune,
that she sends you to prison hither?”
“Prison, my lord!”
“Denmark's a prison.”
“Then is the world one.”
“A goodly one; in which there are many confines,
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one of the worst.
Oh God, I could be bounded in a nut shell
and count myself a king of infinite space,
were it not that I have bad dreams.
But no such matter.
What make you at Elsinore?”
“To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.”
“Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I
thank you: and sure, dear friends, my thanks are
too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it
your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come,
deal justly with me: come, come; no, speak.”
“What should we say, my lord?”
“Why, any thing, but to the purpose. You were sent
for; and there is a kind of confession in your looks
which your modesties have not craft enough to color:
I know the good king and queen have sent for you.”
“To what end, my lord?”
“That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by
the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of
our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved
love, and by what more dear a better proposer could
charge you, be even and direct with me,
whether you were sent for, or no?”
“My lord, we were sent for.”
“I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king
and queen moult no feather. I have of late--but
wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily
with my disposition that this goodly frame, the
earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most
excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave
overhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted
with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to
me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how
express and admirable! In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the
world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me,
what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not
me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling
you seem to say so.”
“My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.”
“There is something in this more than
natural, if philosophy could find it out.
Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands,
come then: the appurtenance of welcome is fashion
and ceremony: You are welcome: but my
uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.”
“In what, my dear lord?”
“I am but mad north-north-west:
when the wind is southerly
I know a hawk from a handsaw.”