Hamlet By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 7

Scene VII. Another room in the Castle.

[Enter King and Laertes.]

KING.
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
Pursu'd my life.

LAERTES.
It well appears: — but tell me
Why you proceeded not against these feats,
So crimeful and so capital in nature,
As by your safety, wisdom, all things else,
You mainly were stirr'd up.

KING.
O, for two special reasons;
Which may to you, perhaps, seem much unsinew'd,
But yet to me they are strong. The queen his mother
Lives almost by his looks; and for myself, —
My virtue or my plague, be it either which, —
She's 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,
Would, 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,
And not where I had aim'd them.

LAERTES.
And so have I a noble father lost;
A sister driven into desperate 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.

KING.
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.]

How now! What news?

MESSENGER.
Letters, my lord, from Hamlet:
This to your majesty; this to the queen.

KING.
From Hamlet! Who brought them?

MESSENGER.
Sailors, my lord, they say; I saw them not:
They were given me by Claudio: — he receiv'd them
Of him that brought them.

KING.
Laertes, you shall hear them.
Leave us.

[Exit Messenger.]

[Reads]'High and mighty, — You shall know I am set naked on your
kingdom. To-morrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes:
when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the
occasions 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?

LAERTES.
Know you the hand?

KING.
'Tis Hamlet's character: — 'Naked!' —
And in a postscript here, he says 'alone.'
Can you advise me?

Continued on next page...

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