That guilty creatures, sitting at a play,
Have by the very cunning of the scene
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaim’d their malefactions;
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ, I’ll have these players
Play something like the murder of my father
Before mine uncle: I’ll observe his looks;
I’ll tent him to the quick: if he but blench,
I know my course. The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil: and the devil hath power
To assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,—
As he is very potent with such spirits,—
Abuses me to damn me: I’ll have grounds
More relative than this.—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.
Scene I. A room in the Castle.
[Enter King, Queen, Polonius, Ophelia, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.]
And can you, by no drift of circumstance,
Get from him why he puts on this confusion,
Grating so harshly all his days of quiet
With turbulent and dangerous lunacy?
He does confess he feels himself distracted,
But from what cause he will by no means speak.
Nor do we find him forward to be sounded,
But, with a crafty madness, keeps aloof
When we would bring him on to some confession
Of his true state.
Did he receive you well?
Most like a gentleman.
But with much forcing of his disposition.
Niggard of question; but, of our demands,
Most free in his reply.
Did you assay him
To any pastime?
Madam, it so fell out that certain players
We o’er-raught on the way: of these we told him,
And there did seem in him a kind of joy
To hear of it: they are about the court,
And, as I think, they have already order
This night to play before him.
’Tis most true;
And he beseech’d me to entreat your majesties
To hear and see the matter.
With all my heart; and it doth much content me
To hear him so inclin’d.—
Good gentlemen, give him a further edge,
And drive his purpose on to these delights.
We shall, my lord.
[Exeunt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.]
Sweet Gertrude, leave us too;
For we have closely sent for Hamlet hither,
That he, as ’twere by accident, may here
Her father and myself,—lawful espials,—
Will so bestow ourselves that, seeing, unseen,
We may of their encounter frankly judge;
And gather by him, as he is behav’d,
If’t be the affliction of his love or no
That thus he suffers for.
I shall obey you:—
And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish
That your good beauties be the happy cause
Of Hamlet’s wildness: so shall I hope your virtues
Will bring him to his wonted way again,
To both your honours.