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


Act IV, Scene 2

Elsinore. A passage in the Castle.

Enter Hamlet.

Hamlet Safely stow'd.

Gentlemen [within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!

Hamlet But soft! What noise? Who calls on Hamlet? O, here they

come.

Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

Rosencrantz What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?

Hamlet Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin.

Rosencrantz Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence
And bear it to the chapel.

Hamlet Do not believe it.

Rosencrantz Believe what?

Hamlet That I can keep your counsel, and not mine own. Besides, to be
demanded of a sponge, what replication should be made by the son
of a king?

Rosencrantz Take you me for a sponge, my lord?

Hamlet Ay, sir; that soaks up the King's countenance, his rewards,
his authorities. But such officers do the King best service in
the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw;
first mouth'd, to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have
glean'd, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry
again.

Rosencrantz I understand you not, my lord.

Hamlet I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.

Rosencrantz My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to
the King.

Hamlet The body is with the King, but the King is not with the body.
The King is a thing-

Guildenstern A thing, my lord?

Hamlet Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after.

Exeunt.

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