The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1600-1)


Act II, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

Enter Polonius and Reynaldo.

947

Polonius Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.

948

Reynaldo I will, my lord.

949

Polonius You shall do marvell's wisely, good Reynaldo,
Before You visit him, to make inquire
Of his behaviour.

950

Reynaldo My lord, I did intend it.

953

Polonius Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
Enquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;
And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,
What company, at what expense; and finding
By this encompassment and drift of question
That they do know my son, come you more nearer
Than your particular demands will touch it.
Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him;
As thus, 'I know his father and his friends,
And in part him.' Do you mark this, Reynaldo?

954

Reynaldo Ay, very well, my lord.

964

Polonius 'And in part him, but,' you may say, 'not well.
But if't be he I mean, he's very wild
Addicted so and so'; and there put on him
What forgeries you please; marry, none so rank
As may dishonour him- take heed of that;
But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.

965

Reynaldo As gaming, my lord.

973

Polonius Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,
Drabbing. You may go so far.

974

Reynaldo My lord, that would dishonour him.

976

Polonius Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him,
That he is open to incontinency.
That's not my meaning. But breathe his faults so quaintly
That they may seem the taints of liberty,
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimed blood,
Of general assault.

977

Reynaldo But, my good lord-

985

Polonius Wherefore should you do this?

986

Reynaldo Ay, my lord,
I would know that.

987

Polonius Marry, sir, here's my drift,
And I believe it is a fetch of warrant.
You laying these slight sullies on my son
As 'twere a thing a little soil'd i' th' working,
Mark you,
Your party in converse, him you would sound,
Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes
The youth you breathe of guilty, be assur'd
He closes with you in this consequence:
'Good sir,' or so, or 'friend,' or 'gentleman'-
According to the phrase or the addition
Of man and country-

989

Reynaldo Very good, my lord.

Polonius And then, sir, does 'a this- 'a does- What was I about to say?
By the mass, I was about to say something! Where did I leave?

Reynaldo At 'closes in the consequence,' at 'friend or so,' and
gentleman.'

Polonius At 'closes in the consequence'- Ay, marry!
He closes thus: 'I know the gentleman.
I saw him yesterday, or t'other day,
Or then, or then, with such or such; and, as you say,
There was 'a gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse;
There falling out at tennis'; or perchance,
'I saw him enter such a house of sale,'
Videlicet, a brothel, or so forth.
See you now-
Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out.
So, by my former lecture and advice,
Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?

Reynaldo My lord, I have.

Polonius God b' wi' ye, fare ye well!

Reynaldo Good my lord! [Going.]

Polonius Observe his inclination in yourself.

Reynaldo I shall, my lord.

Polonius And let him ply his music.

Reynaldo Well, my lord.

Polonius Farewell!
[Exit Reynaldo.]
[Enter Ophelia.]
How now, Ophelia? What's the matter?

Ophelia O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!

Polonius With what, i' th' name of God?

Ophelia My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac'd,
No hat upon his head, his stockings foul'd,
Ungart'red, and down-gyved to his ankle;
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors- he comes before me.

Polonius Mad for thy love?

Ophelia My lord, I do not know,
But truly I do fear it.

Polonius What said he?

Ophelia He took me by the wrist and held me hard;
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stay'd he so.
At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
And with his head over his shoulder turn'd
He seem'd to find his way without his eyes,
For out o' doors he went without their help
And to the last bended their light on me.

Polonius Come, go with me. I will go seek the King.
This is the very ecstasy of love,
Whose violent property fordoes itself
And leads the will to desperate undertakings
As oft as any passion under heaven
That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.
What, have you given him any hard words of late?

Ophelia No, my good lord; but, as you did command,
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me.

Polonius That hath made him mad.
I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
I had not quoted him. I fear'd he did but trifle
And meant to wrack thee; but beshrew my jealousy!
By heaven, it is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
This must be known; which, being kept close, might move
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
Come.

Exeunt.

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