Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 2

page Act 2 Scene 2 Page 18

Original Text

Modern Text

As by lot, God wot, and then, you know,  It came to pass, as most like it was— The first row of the pious chanson will show you more, for look where my abridgement comes.
As if by chance, God knows,
and then, you know,
It happened, as you’d expect
If you want to know more, you can refer to the popular song, because now I have to stop.
Enter the PLAYERS
The PLAYERS enter.
You are welcome, masters, welcome, all!—I am glad to see thee well.—Welcome, good friends.—O old friend? Why, thy face is valenced since I saw thee last. Comest thou to beard me in Denmark?—What, my young lady and mistress! By 'r Lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.—Masters, you are all welcome. We’ll e'en to ’t like French falconers, fly at any thing we see. We’ll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality. Come, a passionate speech.
Welcome, welcome to all of you. (he turns to one of the actors)—Oh, you, I’m glad to see you. (turns back to all of them)—Welcome, my good friends. (turns to another actor)—Oh, it’s you! You’ve grown a beard since I saw you last. Are you going to put a beard on me too?

(turns to an actor dressed as a woman)

Boys played female dramatic roles in Shakespeare’s day.

(turns to an actor dressed as a woman)
—Well hello, my young lady friend. You’ve grown as much as the height of a pair of platform shoes at least! I hope your voice hasn’t changed yet. (to the whole company)—All of you are most welcome here. We’ll get right to business. First, a speech. Come on, give us a little speech to whet our appetites. A passionate speech, please.

FIRST PLAYER

What speech, my good lord?

FIRST PLAYER

Which speech, my lord?

HAMLET

I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted. Or, if it was, not above once, for the play, I remember, pleased not the million. 'Twas caviary to the general. But it was—as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine—an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning.

HAMLET

I heard you recite a speech for me once that was never acted out, or if it was, it was performed only once, since the play was not popular—like caviar for a slob who couldn’t appreciate it. But the critics and I found it to be an excellent play, with well-ordered scenes that were clever but not fancy.