Hamlet By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 2

HAMLET.
What, are they children? who maintains 'em? How are they
escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can
sing? will they not say afterwards, if they should grow
themselves to common players, — as it is most like, if their means
are no better, — their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim
against their own succession?

ROSENCRANTZ.
Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation
holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy: there was, for
awhile, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player
went to cuffs in the question.

HAMLET.
Is't possible?

GUILDENSTERN.
O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

HAMLET.
Do the boys carry it away?

ROSENCRANTZ.
Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.

HAMLET.
It is not very strange; for my uncle is king of Denmark, and
those that would make mouths at him while my father lived, give
twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats a-piece for his picture in
little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if
philosophy could find it out.

[Flourish of trumpets within.]

GUILDENSTERN.
There are the players.

HAMLET.
Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come: the
appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony: let me comply
with you in this garb; lest my extent to the players, which I
tell you must show fairly outward, should more appear like
entertainment than yours. You are welcome: but my uncle-father
and aunt-mother are deceived.

GUILDENSTERN.
In what, my dear lord?

HAMLET.
I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I
know a hawk from a handsaw.

[Enter Polonius.]

POLONIUS.
Well be with you, gentlemen!

HAMLET.
Hark you, Guildenstern; — and you too; — at each ear a hearer: that
great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling clouts.

ROSENCRANTZ.
Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old
man is twice a child.

HAMLET.
I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players; mark it. — You
say right, sir: o' Monday morning; 'twas so indeed.

POLONIUS.
My lord, I have news to tell you.

HAMLET.
My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in
Rome, —

POLONIUS.
The actors are come hither, my lord.

HAMLET.
Buzz, buzz!

POLONIUS.
Upon my honour, —

HAMLET.
Then came each actor on his ass, —

Continued on next page...

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