Enter Laertes and Ophelia (R.H.)

Laer. (L.C.) My necessaries are embarked: farewell:

And, sister, as the winds give benefit,

Let me hear from you.

Oph. (R.C.)

Do you doubt that?

Laer. For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,

Hold it a fashion, and a toy in blood;

A violet in the youth of primy nature,

Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,

The pérfume and suppliance of a minute.

Oph. No more but so?

Laer. He may not, as unvalued persons do,

Carve for himself; for on his choice depends

The safety and the health of the whole state.

Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain,

If with too credent ear you list his songs.

Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister;

And keep within the rear of your affection,

Out of the shot and danger of desire.

The chariest maid is prodigal enough,

If she unmask her beauty to the moon:

Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes:

Be wary, then; best safety lies in fear:

Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

Oph. I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,

As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,

Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,

Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven

Whilst, like a puff’d and reckless libertine,

Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,

And recks not his own read.


O, fear me not.

I stay too long;—but here my father comes.

Enter Polonius (L.H.)

Pol. Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!

The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,

And you are staid for. There,—my blessing with you!

[Laying his hand on Laertes’ head.]

And these few precepts in thy memory—

Look thou charácter. Give thy thoughts no tongue, any unproportion’d thought his act.

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.

The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,

Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel;

But do not dull thy palm with entertainment

Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,

Bear it, that the opposer may beware of thee.

Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:

Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,

But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy:

For the apparel oft proclaims the man;

And they in France of the best rank and station

Are most select and generous, chief in that.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be:

For loan oft loses both itself and friend;

And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

This above all,—To thine ownself be true;

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Farewell; my blessing season this in thee!

Laer. Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

[Crosses to L.]

Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well

What I have said to you.

Oph. (Crosses to Laertes.) ‘Tis in my memory lock’d,

And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

Laer. Farewell.

[Exit Laertes, L.H.]

Pol. What is it, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

Oph. So please you, something touching the lord Hamlet.

Pol. Marry, well bethought:

‘Tis told me, he hath very oft of late

Given private time to you; and you yourself

Have of your audience been most free and bounteous:

If it be so (as so ‘tis put on me,

And that in way of caution), I must tell you,

You do not understand yourself so clearly

As it behoves my daughter, and your honour.

What is between you? give me up the truth.

Oph. He hath, my lord, of late, made many tenders

Of his affection to me.

Pol. Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,

Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.

Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Oph. I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

Pol. Marry, I’ll teach you: think yourself a baby;

That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,

Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;

Or, you’ll tender me a fool.

Oph. My lord, he hath impórtun’d me with love

In honourable fashion.

Pol. Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.

Oph. And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,

With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

Pol. Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,

When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul

Lends the tongue vows: This is for all,—

I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,

Have you so slander any leisure moment,

As to give words or talk with the lord Hamlet.

Look to’t, I charge you: come your ways.

Oph. I shall obey, my lord.

[Exeunt, R.H.]