Act IV, Scene 7
Elsinore. Another room in Elsinore castle.
- Enter King and Laertes.
Claudius1 - 5
- Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
- And you must put me in your heart for friend,
- Sith you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
- That he which hath your noble father slain
- Pursued my life.
Laertes6 - 10
- It well appears. But tell me
- Why you proceeded not against these feats
- So criminal and so capital in nature,
- As by your safety, greatness, wisdom, all things else
- You mainly were stirr’d up.
Claudius11 - 26
- O, for two special reasons,
- Which may to you perhaps seem much unsinew’d,
- But yet to me th’ are strong. The Queen his mother
- Lives almost by his looks, and for myself—
- My virtue or my plague, be it either which—
- She is so conjunctive to my life and soul,
- That, as the star moves not but in his sphere,
- I could not but by her. The other motive,
- Why to a public count I might not go,
- Is the great love the general gender bear him,
- Who, dipping all his faults in their affection,
- Work like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
- Convert his gyves to graces, so that my arrows,
- Too slightly timber’d for so loud a wind,
- Would have reverted to my bow again,
- But not where I have aim’d them.
Laertes27 - 31
- And so have I a noble father lost,
- A sister driven into desp’rate terms,
- Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
- Stood challenger on mount of all the age
- For her perfections—but my revenge will come.
Claudius32 - 38
- Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
- That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
- That we can let our beard be shook with danger
- And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more.
- I lov’d your father, and we love ourself,
- And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—
- Enter a Messenger with letters.
- How now? What news?
Messenger39 - 40
- Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:
- These to your Majesty, this to the queen.
- From Hamlet? Who brought them?
Messenger42 - 44
- Sailors, my lord, they say, I saw them not.
- They were given me by Claudio. He receiv’d them
- Of him that brought them.
Claudius45 - 52
- Laertes, you shall hear them.
- —Leave us.
- Exit Messenger.
- “High and mighty, You shall know I am set naked on your
- kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes,
- when I shall, first asking you pardon thereunto, recount the
- occasion of my sudden and more strange return. Hamlet.”
- What should this mean? Are all the rest come back?
- Or is it some abuse, and no such thing?
- Know you the hand?
Claudius54 - 56
- ’Tis Hamlet’s character. “Naked”!
- And in a postscript here he says “alone.”
- Can you devise me?
Laertes57 - 60
- I am lost in it, my lord. But let him come,
- It warms the very sickness in my heart
- That I shall live and tell him to his teeth,
- “Thus didst thou.”
Claudius61 - 63
- If it be so, Laertes—
- As how should it be so? How otherwise?—
- Will you be rul’d by me?
Laertes64 - 65
- Ay, my lord,
- So you will not o’errule me to a peace.
Claudius66 - 73
- To thine own peace. If he be now returned
- As checking at his voyage, and that he means
- No more to undertake it, I will work him
- To an exploit, now ripe in my device,
- Under the which he shall not choose but fall;
- And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,
- But even his mother shall uncharge the practice,
- And call it accident.
Laertes74 - 76
- My lord, I will be rul’d,
- The rather if you could devise it so
- That I might be the organ.
Claudius77 - 83
- It falls right.
- You have been talk’d of since your travel much,
- And that in Hamlet’s hearing, for a quality
- Wherein they say you shine. Your sum of parts
- Did not together pluck such envy from him
- As did that one, and that, in my regard,
- Of the unworthiest siege.
- What part is that, my lord?
Claudius85 - 98
- A very riband in the cap of youth,
- Yet needful too, for youth no less becomes
- The light and careless livery that it wears
- Than settled age his sables and his weeds,
- Importing health and graveness. Two months since
- Here was a gentleman of Normandy:
- I have seen myself, and serv’d against, the French,
- And they can well on horseback, but this gallant
- Had witchcraft in’t, he grew unto his seat,
- And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
- As had he been incorps’d and demi-natur’d
- With the brave beast. So far he topp’d my thought,
- That I in forgery of shapes and tricks
- Come short of what he did.
- A Norman was’t?
- A Norman.
- Upon my life, Lamord.
- The very same.
Laertes103 - 104
- I know him well. He is the brooch indeed
- And gem of all the nation.
Claudius105 - 116
- He made confession of you,
- And gave you such a masterly report
- For art and exercise in your defense,
- And for your rapier most especial,
- That he cried out ’twould be a sight indeed
- If one could match you. The scrimers of their nation
- He swore had neither motion, guard, nor eye,
- If you oppos’d them. Sir, this report of his
- Did Hamlet so envenom with his envy
- That he could nothing do but wish and beg
- Your sudden coming o’er to play with you.
- Now, out of this—
- What out of this, my lord?
Claudius118 - 120
- Laertes, was your father dear to you?
- Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
- A face without a heart?
- Why ask you this?
Claudius122 - 138
- Not that I think you did not love your father,
- But that I know love is begun by time,
- And that I see, in passages of proof,
- Time qualifies the spark and fire of it.
- There lives within the very flame of love
- A kind of week or snuff that will abate it,
- And nothing is at a like goodness still,
- For goodness, growing to a plurisy,
- Dies in his own too much. That we would do,
- We should do when we would; for this “would” changes,
- And hath abatements and delays as many
- As there are tongues, are hands, are accidents,
- And then this ’should’ is like a spendthrift’s sigh,
- That hurts by easing. But to the quick of th’ ulcer:
- Hamlet comes back. What would you undertake
- To show yourself indeed your father’s son
- More than in words?
- To cut his throat i’ th’ church.
Claudius140 - 152
- No place indeed should murder sanctuarize,
- Revenge should have no bounds. But, good Laertes,
- Will you do this, keep close within your chamber.
- Hamlet return’d shall know you are come home.
- We’ll put on those shall praise your excellence,
- And set a double varnish on the fame
- The Frenchman gave you, bring you in fine together,
- And wager o’er your heads. He, being remiss,
- Most generous, and free from all contriving,
- Will not peruse the foils, so that with ease,
- Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
- A sword unbated, and in a pass of practice
- Requite him for your father.
Laertes153 - 162
- I will do’t,
- And for that purpose I’ll anoint my sword.
- I bought an unction of a mountebank,
- So mortal that, but dip a knife in it,
- Where it draws blood, no cataplasm so rare,
- Collected from all simples that have virtue
- Under the moon, can save the thing from death
- That is but scratch’d withal. I’ll touch my point
- With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly,
- It may be death.
Claudius163 - 177
- Let’s further think of this,
- Weigh what convenience both of time and means
- May fit us to our shape. If this should fail,
- And that our drift look through our bad performance,
- ’Twere better not assay’d; therefore this project
- Should have a back or second, that might hold
- If this did blast in proof. Soft, let me see.
- We’ll make a solemn wager on your cunnings—
- I ha’t!
- When in your motion you are hot and dry—
- As make your bouts more violent to that end—
- And that he calls for drink, I’ll have preferr’d him
- A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
- If he by chance escape your venom’d stuck,
- Our purpose may hold there. But stay, what noise?
- Enter Queen.
Gertrude178 - 179
- One woe doth tread upon another’s heel,
- So fast they follow. Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes.
- Drown’d! O, where?
Gertrude181 - 198
- There is a willow grows aslant the brook,
- That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream,
- Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
- Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
- That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
- But our cull-cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them.
- There on the pendant boughs her crownet weeds
- Clamb’ring to hang, an envious sliver broke,
- When down her weedy trophies and herself
- Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
- And mermaid-like awhile they bore her up,
- Which time she chaunted snatches of old lauds,
- As one incapable of her own distress,
- Or like a creature native and indued
- Unto that element. But long it could not be
- Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
- Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
- To muddy death.
- Alas, then she is drown’d?
- Drown’d, drown’d.
Laertes201 - 207
- Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,
- And therefore I forbid my tears; but yet
- It is our trick, Nature her custom holds,
- Let shame say what it will; when these are gone,
- The woman will be out. Adieu, my lord,
- I have a speech a’ fire that fain would blaze,
- But that this folly drowns it.
Claudius208 - 211
- Let’s follow, Gertrude.
- How much I had to do to calm his rage!
- Now fear I this will give it start again,
- Therefore let’s follow.