by: William Shakespeare

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Modern Text

As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.
sound like your average young guy, the kind of trouble they get into.
  As gaming, my lord?
Like gambling, sir?
25Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing,
Quarreling, drabbing—you may go so far.
That’s right, or drinking, swearing, fist-fighting, visiting prostitutes—that kind of thing.
My lord, that would dishonor him!
But that would ruin his reputation!
'Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him
30That he is open to incontinency.
That’s not my meaning. But breathe his faults so quaintly
That they may seem the taints of liberty,
The flash and outbreak of a fiery mind,
A savageness in unreclaimèd blood,
35Of general assault.
Oh no, not if you say it right. I don’t want you to say he’s a sex fiend, that’s not what I mean. Just mention his faults lightly, so they make him seem like a free spirit who’s gone a little too far.
  But, my good lord—
But, sir—
Wherefore should you do this?
Why should you do this, you want to know?
Ay, my lord. I would know that.
Yes, sir. I’d like to know.
Marry, sir, here’s my drift:
(And I believe it is a fetch of wit)
40You, laying these slight sullies on my son
As ’twere a thing a little soiled i' th' working—
Mark you, your party in converse, him you would sound,
Having ever seen in the prenominate crimes
The youth you breathe of guilty, be assured
45He closes with you in this consequence:
“Good sir” or so, or “Friend,” or “Gentleman,”
According to the phrase or the addition
Of man and country.
Well, here’s what I’m thinking. (I’m quite proud of myself for coming up with this.) As you talk with someone and hint about my son’s faults and little sins, you’ll watch his reaction, and if he’s ever seen Laertes do any of these things, it will only be natural for him to agree with you, at which point he’ll call you “sir,” or “my good friend,” depending on who the person is, where he comes from, and so on.