Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 3


           Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA,
           his sister.  Full Summary

       LAERTES
  1   My necessaries are embark'd: farewell:
  2   And, sister, as the winds give benefit
  3   And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
  4   But let me hear from you.

      OPHELIA
  4                                           Do you doubt that?

      LAERTES
  5   For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,
  6   Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
  7   A violet in the youth of primy nature,
  8   Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
  9   The perfume and suppliance of a minute—
 10   No more.

      OPHELIA
 10                     No more but so?

      LAERTES
 10                                            Think it no more;
 11   For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
 12   In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,
 13   The inward service of the mind and soul
 14   Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
 15   And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
 16   The virtue of his will; but you must fear,
 17   His greatness weigh'd, his will is not his own;
 18   For he himself is subject to his birth:
 19   He may not, as unvalued persons do,
 20   Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
 21   The safety and health of this whole state;
 22   And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
 23   Unto the voice and yielding of that body
 24   Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
 25   It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
 26   As he in his particular act and place
 27   May give his saying deed; which is no further
 28   Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
 29   Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain,
 30   If with too credent ear you list his songs,
 31   Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
 32   To his unmaster'd importunity.
 33   Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister,
 34   And keep you in the rear of your affection,
 35   Out of the shot and danger of desire.
 36   The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
 37   If she unmask her beauty to the moon:
 38   Virtue itself scapes not calumnious strokes:
 39   The canker galls the infants of the spring,
 40   Too oft before their buttons be disclosed,
 41   And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
 42   Contagious blastments are most imminent.
 43   Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.
 44   Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

      OPHELIA
 45   I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
 46   As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
 47   Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
 48   Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven,
 49   Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
 50   Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
 51   And recks not his own rede.

      LAERTES
 51                                             O, fear me not.
 52   I stay too long: but here my father comes.

           Enter POLONIUS.  Full Summary

 53   A double blessing is a double grace,
 54   Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

      POLONIUS
 55   Yet here, Laertes! aboard, aboard, for shame!
 56   The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
 57   And you are stay'd for. There, my blessing with thee!
 58   And these few precepts in thy memory
 59   See thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
 60   Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
 61   Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
 62   Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
 63   Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
 64   But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
 65   Of each new-hatch'd, unfledged courage. Beware
 66   Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
 67   Bear't that the opposed may beware of thee.
 68   Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
 69   Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.
 70   Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
 71   But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy,
 72   For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
 73   And they in France of the best rank and station
 74   Or of a most select and generous chief in that.
 75   Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
 76   For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
 77   And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
 78   This above all: to thine ownself be true,
 79   And it must follow, as the night the day,
 80   Thou canst not then be false to any man.
 81   Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!

      LAERTES
 82   Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

      POLONIUS
 83   The time invests you. Go, your servants tend.

      LAERTES
 84   Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well
 85   What I have said to you.

      OPHELIA
 85                                       'Tis in my memory lock'd,
 86   And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

      LAERTES
 87   Farewell.

           Exit Laertes.  Full Summary

      POLONIUS
 88   What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

      OPHELIA
 89   So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

      POLONIUS
 90   Marry, well bethought:
 91   'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late
 92   Given private time to you; and you yourself
 93   Have of your audience been most free and bounteous:
 94   If it be so—as so 'tis put on me,
 95   And that in way of caution—I must tell you,
 96   You do not understand yourself so clearly
 97   As it behooves my daughter and your honor.
 98   What is between you? give me up the truth.

      OPHELIA
 99   He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
100   Of his affection to me.

      POLONIUS
101   Affection! pooh! you speak like a green girl,
102   Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
103   Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

      OPHELIA
104   I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

      POLONIUS
105   Marry, I'll teach you: think yourself a baby
106   That you have ta'en these tenders for true pay,
107   Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
108   Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
109   Running it thus—you'll tender me a fool.

      OPHELIA
110   My lord, he hath importuned me with love
111   In honourable fashion.

      POLONIUS
112   Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.

      OPHELIA
113   And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
114   With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

      POLONIUS
115   Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
116   When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
117   Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter,
118   Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
119   Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
120   You must not take for fire. From this time
121   Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence;
122   Set your entreatments at a higher rate
123   Than a command to parle. For Lord Hamlet,
124   Believe so much in him, that he is young
125   And with a larger tether may he walk
126   Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
127   Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers,
128   Not of that dye which their investments show,
129   But mere implorators of unholy suits,
130   Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds,
131   The better to beguile. This is for all:
132   I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth,
133   Have you so slander any moment leisure,
134   As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
135   Look to't, I charge you: come your ways.

      OPHELIA
136   I shall obey, my lord.

           Exeunt.