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


Act IV, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Enter King.

Claudius I have sent to seek him and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him.
He's lov'd of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
And where 'tis so, th' offender's scourge is weigh'd,
But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem
Deliberate pause. Diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are reliev'd,
Or not at all.
[Enter Rosencrantz.]
How now O What hath befall'n?

Rosencrantz Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,
We cannot get from him.

Claudius But where is he?

Rosencrantz Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.

Claudius Bring him before us.

Rosencrantz Ho, Guildenstern! Bring in my lord.

Enter Hamlet and Guildenstern [with Attendants].

Claudius Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?

Hamlet At supper.

Claudius At supper? Where?

Hamlet Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain
convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your
only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and
we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar
is but variable service- two dishes, but to one table. That's the
end.

Claudius Alas, alas!

Hamlet A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat
of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

Claudius What dost thou mean by this?

Hamlet Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through
the guts of a beggar.

Claudius Where is Polonius?

Hamlet In heaven. Send thither to see. If your messenger find him not
there, seek him i' th' other place yourself. But indeed, if you
find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up
the stair, into the lobby.

Claudius Go seek him there. [To Attendants.]

Hamlet He will stay till you come.

[Exeunt Attendants.]

Claudius Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,-
Which we do tender as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done,- must send thee hence
With fiery quickness. Therefore prepare thyself.
The bark is ready and the wind at help,
Th' associates tend, and everything is bent
For England.

Hamlet For England?

Claudius Ay, Hamlet.

Claudius So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.

Hamlet I see a cherub that sees them. But come, for England!
Farewell, dear mother.

Claudius Thy loving father, Hamlet.

Hamlet My mother! Father and mother is man and wife; man and wife is
one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!

Exit.

Claudius Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard.
Delay it not; I'll have him hence to-night.
Away! for everything is seal'd and done
That else leans on th' affair. Pray you make haste.
[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern]
And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught,-
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
Pays homage to us,- thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process, which imports at full,
By letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me. Till I know 'tis done,
Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. Exit.

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