“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for
it is the fate – the genetic and neural fate – of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”
“He likes dance — he’s gay”
“Nope. I call it girl-watching.
And life is so good”
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— 4.6 —
In another room in the castle, Horatio said to a servant, “Who are they who would speak with me?”
“Sailors, sir,” the servant replied. “They say they have letters for you.”
“Let them come in.”
The servant left to get the sailors.
Horatio said to himself, “I do not know from what part of the world I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.”
Some sailors entered the room.
The first sailor said, “God bless you, sir.”
“Let Him bless you, too,” Horatio replied.
“He shall, sir, if it please Him,” the first sailor said.
He handed Horatio a letter and said, “There’s a letter for you, sir; it comes from the ambassador who was bound for England. This letter is for you, assuming that your name is Horatio, as I am told it is.”
The letter was from Hamlet, who had told the sailors that he was an ambassador instead of telling them that he was a Prince and presumably the next in line to be King.
Horatio read the letter out loud.
“Horatio, when you shall have looked over this letter, give these fellows some way to have contact with the King: They have letters for him. Before we were two days out at sea, a pirate ship ready to do battle chased us. Finding ourselves too slow of sail, we were forced to be brave and fight, and the pirates threw grappling irons to our ship. I crossed the lines to the pirate ship, and then the pirate ship and our ship separated with the result that I became the pirates’ only prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves of mercy — like merciful thieves — but they knew what they were doing. In return for their mercy, I am to do a good turn for them.
“Let the King have the letters I have sent and then come to me with as much speed as you would use to flee from death. I have words to speak in your ear that will make you speechless; yet they are much too light for the seriousness of the matter. These good fellows will bring you to where I am.
“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern still hold their course for England. Of them I have much to tell you.
“He whom you know to be your friend,
Horatio said to the sailors, “Come, I will give you help to deliver these letters of yours, and I will do that as quickly as possible so that you may take me to the man whose letters you brought.”
— 4.7 —
In another room of the castle, King Claudius and Laertes were talking together, alone.
King Claudius said, “Now you must agree that I am not guilty of the death of your father, and you must regard me as a friend since you have heard and learned that the man who has slain your noble father has tried to kill me.”
“It looks that way,” Laertes replied. “But tell me why you did not try to punish the man who committed these deeds that are so criminal and punishable by death. Regard for your own safety, as well as wisdom and everything else, ought to have provoked you and made you punish him.”
“I had two special reasons,” King Claudius said. “To you they may seem very weak, but to me they are strong.
“The first reason is that the Queen his mother dotes on him. As for me — my virtue or my plague, whichever it is — she is such a part of my life and soul that, just like a star moves only in its orbit-sphere, I must be with her and move with her.
“My other reason, explaining why I could not try him in a public court, is that the general public loves him. They dip his faults in their affection, and they are like a spring that turns wood to stone by petrifying it; they convert his metaphorical fetters — his faults — to graces. And so my arrows, which are too slight to be used in such a wind, would have returned again to my bow — they would not have hit the target I aimed at.”
“And so I have lost a noble father, and my sister has been driven into a desperate condition,” Laertes said. “Her worth, if praises may go back again to what she used to be, offered a conspicuous challenge — as if she stood on a mountain — to others to equal her perfections. But my revenge will come.”
“Don’t toss and turn at night because of thinking about revenge,” King Claudius said. “Don’t think that I am made of stuff so flat and dull that I will let my beard be shook with danger and think that it is a joke and a game. You shortly shall hear more.”
By sending Hamlet to England, King Claudius was hoping that Hamlet would soon be killed. King Claudius thought that he could soon tell Laertes that the man who had killed his father was dead.
King Claudius continued, “I loved your father, and I love myself, and that, I hope, will teach you to imagine —”
A messenger entered the room, and King Claudius broke off what he was saying to Laertes and instead asked the messenger, “What is it? What is the news?”
“I bring letters, my lord, from Hamlet. This letter is to your majesty; this letter is to the Queen.”
“From Hamlet! Who brought them?”
“Sailors, my lord, they say,” the messenger replied. “I did not see them. These letters were given me by Claudio; he received them from the person who brought them.”
King Claudius said, “Laertes, you shall hear this letter.”
He ordered the messenger, “Leave us.”
The messenger exited.
King Claudius read out loud the letter that Hamlet had written to him:
“High and mighty one,
“You need to know that I have been set naked — without any possessions — on the land of your Kingdom. Tomorrow I shall beg for permission to see your Kingly eyes. At that time, I shall, after first asking your pardon to do so, recount the occasion of my sudden and very strange return to Denmark.
King Claudius asked, “What does this mean? Have all the rest come back to Denmark, too? Or is this some trick, and Hamlet has not returned?”
“Do you know the handwriting?”
“It is Hamlet’s handwriting,” King Claudius said. “He writes, ‘Naked’! And in a postscript here, he writes that he is ‘alone.’ Do you know anything about this?”
“I know nothing about it, my lord,” Laertes replied. “But let Hamlet come. It warms the very sickness in my heart to know that I shall live and tell him to his teeth, ‘You did this: You killed my father. And now you die.’”
“If the contents of this letter are true, Laertes — as how could they be otherwise? — will you allow yourself to be ruled by me? Will you do what I tell you to do?”
“Yes, my lord,” Laertes said, “as long as you do not overrule my desires and order me to make peace with Hamlet.”
“I want you to be at peace with yourself,” King Claudius said. “If Hamlet has now returned to Denmark, rejecting his voyage to England and with no intention of undertaking it in the future, I will persuade him to undertake an exploit that will result in his death, and no one shall suspect ill play. Even his mother will think that Hamlet died by accident.”
“My lord, I will do what you tell me to do,” Laertes said. “I will especially do it if you can arrange for me to be the cause of Hamlet’s death.”
“I have an idea,” King Claudius said. “You have been much talked about since your travels, and Hamlet has heard what people have said about you. They praise a skill in which you shine. None of your other good points made Hamlet as envious as that one skill, although in my opinion, that skill is not the best of those things in which you excel.”
“What skill is that, my lord?” Laertes asked.
“It is a mere ribbon in the cap of youth,” King Claudius said, “and yet it is a necessary skill, too. Light and careless clothing is as becoming to young people as is dark and serious clothing that denotes well being and seriousness to the old. Some things are suitable for young men, and other things are suitable for old men.
“Two months ago, a gentleman of Normandy visited here, I’ve seen and served against the French, and they can ride well on horseback, but this gallant Norman’s skill on horseback had witchcraft in it. He seemed to grow into his seat, and he made his horse do such wondrous things that it was if he and his horse were one being, like a Centaur. He performed better than I ever imagined that a man could perform on horseback. Whatever I was able to conceive in my imagination, he outperformed.”
“He was a Norman?”
“Yes, a Norman.”
“I bet my life that his name was Lamond.”
“The very same.”
“I know him well,” Laertes said. “He is the ornament and jewel indeed of all his nation.”
“He said that he knew you, and he praised highly your skill in the exercise of the defensive arts. He especially praised your skill with the rapier. He cried out that it would indeed be a sight if anyone could match you. The fencers of France, he swore, would lack motion, guard, and eye, if you opposed them.
“Sir, Lamond’s report about you inflamed Hamlet with such envy that he could do nothing but wish and beg that you would return to Denmark so that he could fence with you.
“Now, out of this …” King Claudius started to say, and then he hesitated.
“What can come out of this, my lord?” Laertes asked.
“Laertes, was your father dear to you?” King Claudius asked. “Or are you like the painting of a sorrow — a mere face without a heart?”
“Why are you asking me this?”
“It is not the case that I think you did not love your father,” King Claudius said. “But I know that time causes love to come into being, and I see from well-attested examples that time diminishes the spark and fire of love. There lives within the very flame of love a kind of wick that will burn and diminish and so will abate and lessen love. Love burns out; nothing remains the same. Even goodness, growing to excess, can die from that excess. Love can die slowly over time, and love can burn out through over-intensity.
“When should we do those things we ought to do? We should do them when we ought to do them. What we want and ought to do is subjected to weakenings and delays; there are as many weakenings and delays as there are tongues, and hands, and impediments.
“We have an awareness of what we ought to do and what we should do. Unless we take action and do those things, we are hurting ourselves. Taking the easy way out by not taking action may seem to be a kind of relief, but that is only appearance, not reality.
“But, to go to the quick — the most sensitive and painful part — of the ulcer, Hamlet is coming back to Elsinore.
“What are you willing to do that will show yourself to be your father’s son in deed and not just in words?”
“I am willing to cut Hamlet’s throat in the church,” Laertes replied.
“No place, indeed, should be a sanctuary for a murderer,” King Claudius said.
He meant that no place should be a sanctuary for Hamlet, but if Laertes were to murder Hamlet, then King Claudius’ sentence would apply also to Laertes.
King Claudius continued, “Revenge should have no bounds.
He meant that Laertes’ revenge should have no bounds, but his sentence could apply also to Hamlet’s revenge.
King Claudius continued, “But, good Laertes, will you do what I want you to do? Will you stay hidden within your chamber? When Hamlet returns, he will learn that you are here. I will have other people praise your excellence in fencing; their praise will be added to that of the Norman.
“We will then finally bring you two together, and place bets on the duel. Hamlet is carelessly trusting; he is very magnanimous and he does not engage in deceitful practices, and so he will not closely inspect the swords. Therefore, you can easily — or, if need be, use some trickery to — choose a sword that has not been blunted. In the duel, you will kill him and avenge your father.”
“I will do it,” Laertes said. “And, to make sure I kill Hamlet, I’ll anoint my sword with poison. I bought an ointment from a mountebank — a travelling quack. The ointment is so poisonous and deadly that if a knife that has been dipped in it draws blood, there is no mixture of medicines so strong that it can save the person who has been scratched.
“I will touch the point of my sword with this contagion, with the result that, if I touch him even slightly, he will die.”
“Let me think further about this,” King Claudius said. “Let me figure out which time and which method are most likely to work. If this plot should fail, and if our part in it should become known, it would have been better for us not to have tried it. Therefore, we should have a backup plan to kill Hamlet, in case this plan fails to work.
“Think! Let me see. We’ll make a solemn wager on your respective skills — I have it!
“When in your duel you both are hot and dry — make the duel very active to achieve that end — and so Hamlet calls for something to drink, I’ll have prepared a chalice of poisoned drink for him for the occasion. If Hamlet merely sips from the chalice, he will die, even if he escapes being injured by your poisoned sword.”
Queen Gertrude entered the room.
King Claudius asked, “How are you, sweet Queen?”
“One woe treads upon another woe’s heel, so fast they follow,” she replied. “Ophelia, your sister, has drowned, Laertes.”
“There is a willow that is growing slantingly over a brook,” Queen Gertrude replied. “The grey undersides of its leaves are reflected in the glassy waters of the stream. There Ophelia came with fantastic garlands of crow-flowers, non-stinging nettles, daisies, and long purple flowers that rudely speaking shepherds give a crude name, but that our chaste maidens call dead men’s fingers.
“There, as she clambered on the boughs to hang her coronet weeds, an envious branch broke, and she and her flowery trophies fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide, and for a while they bore her up like a mermaid, during which time she chanted snatches of old tunes, like one who is incapable of understanding the danger she was in, or like a creature born and equipped to live in water, but before long her clothing, heavy with their drink, pulled the poor wretch from her melodious lay down to muddy death.”
“Alas, then, she is drowned!” Laertes exclaimed.
“Drowned! Drowned!” Queen Gertrude said.
“Too much water you have had, poor Ophelia,” Laertes said, “and therefore I forbid my tears to fall, but yet crying with grief is our way; nature must have her custom, let shame say what it will. When these tears are gone, the womanish part of me will be out of my body.”
He said to King Claudius, “Adieu, my lord. I have a speech of fire, which would like to blaze, except that this folly of tears puts it out.”
He exited from the room.
King Claudius said, “Let’s follow him, Gertrude. How much effort I had to make to calm Laertes’ rage! Now I fear this will start it up again. Therefore let’s follow him.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
Eric Roberts acted in It’s My Party, a movie in which he had a number of flashback scenes with a white horse. The horse’s name was Silk, and it was a gift to Mr. Roberts from Wayne Newton, whom Mr. Roberts had helped to be cast in the movie Best of the Best 2 and had become friends with. After Mr. Newton gave Mr. Roberts the horse, but it had not been delivered yet, Mr. Robert heard on the news that Mr. Newton owed $7 million in back taxes. He immediately thought, “Well, I’ll never see that horse, but I love that guy, anyway.” Of course, he had underestimated Mr. Newton, as many people do. A month later, he received a telephone call asking him where the horse should be delivered. He arranged a spot for her at the equestrian center in Los Angeles, and very quickly the mare arrived. Why had it taken a month for the horse to arrive? Mr. Newton had taken the time to have her bred. Soon, she gave birth to a male that Mr. Roberts named Sagan (after Carl Sagan).
The gift of a dress and stockings saved the life of a Jewish woman known as “FF” during the Holocaust. At Auschwitz, FF dug trenches. One day, she saw a Gentile boy who looked familiar. He was Kazik Wonisowski, a political prisoner who was originally from her hometown: Mozowircki. The following day, she saw Zosia, Kazik’s sister, who was also a political prisoner. Zosia gave FF a dress and stockings. How did this gift save her life? Frequently, the Jews at Auschwitz were forced to submit to inspections, during which they were looked over for signs of illness such as sores, boils, and scabs. Jews showing such signs were killed. The gift of the dress and stockings saved FF because although at inspections the top half of her body, which was free of sores, was naked, the dress and stockings hid the lower half of her body, which was covered with sores. FF survived the Holocaust.
Before World War II, Lucy Carrington Wertheimer ran an art gallery that concentrated on the work of then-modern artists. Often, she heard only criticism of these artists’ works, although many of them became well known and well respected as artists later. One late afternoon, after she had heard nothing but criticism all day, a couple of tourists dropped into her gallery and made very admiring remarks about the works of art, although unfortunately they had no money with which to buy them. Ms. Wertheim was so happy to hear their positive comments—especially about a picture by Kolle that they admired—that she gave it to them: “Please have it. Please take it away with you. Do go on enjoying it.”
Chana Levine, whose husband was Rabbi Aryeh Levine, did good deeds like her husband did. She took care of her father after he became widowed, but after making sure that he would be well taken care of, she visited her sister, who lived in Israel. Before she left, her father gave her a beautiful necklace that had belonged to his wife, her mother. After Chana had arrived in Israel, her sister asked what had happened to the necklace. Chana realized that her sister valued the necklace, so she said, “I have it, Father gave it to me to give to you.” After Chana died, her husband revealed the good deed she had done.
The family that Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women, grew up in was poor but was also concerned about families who were poorer than they were. The Alcott family often ate two meals a day, giving away the third meal to an even poorer family. Louisa’s father, Bronson, was thoroughly impractical. A kind neighbor once gave the Alcott family a load of wood, but Bronson gave it away to a family with an ill baby, even though his own family needed it. Fortunately, another neighbor arrived with another gift of wood for the Alcotts. Branson told his family, “I told you we would not suffer.”
Learning to dance ballet with a partner can be difficult. When Chan Hon Goh, later a prima ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada, was learning to dance with Che Chun, she was terrified at first when he lifted her because she was afraid that he would drop her. Eventually, she learned to trust him, and she treasured a swan-shaped mirror he gave her before their first show together. The card that came with the gift said, “May this be a grand jeté to a brilliant career.” (It was a grand jeté to a brilliant career — and more. Later, they married.)
Soprano Lilian Stiles-Allen, who was professionally known as Stiles-Allen because early in her career some organizers of concerts disliked having long names on their programs, received several baskets of flowers after singing Hiawatha at the Albert Hall. Conductor Malcolm Sargent noticed that one basket seemed very heavy, and when Ms. Stiles-Allen looked at the basket closely she discovered that it contained two dressed ducks, green peas, and strawberries and cream! (Later, Ms. Stiles-Allen became the teacher of Julie Andrews.)
Before the game that determined the winner of the gold medal in women’s softball at the 1996 Olympic Games, a number of great softball players—pioneers of the sport—autographed a softball that they gave to United States team member Dorothy “Dot” Richardson. These players included Kathy Arendsen, Joan Joyce, Snookie Mulder, Marge Ricker, Diane Schumacher, Irene Shea, and Stephanie Tenney. Dot much appreciated the autographed softball, and she hit the gold-medal-winning home run.
Enrico Caruso enjoyed giving gifts. One day, Aimé Gerber, paymaster of the Metropolitan Opera Association, left a prized pair of cuff-links on his desk. Unfortunately, they turned up missing. Fortunately, a few days later, on Christmas Eve, Mr. Caruso brought him two packages. In one package were the missing cuff-links. In the other was a matching stick-pin. Mr. Caruso explained, “I want to make sure I get the pattern right, so I swipe cuffs and all while you were away, to show to the jeweler!”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
I HAD fiddled all day at the county fair.
But driving home “Butch” Weldy and Jack McGuire,
Who were roaring full, made me fiddle and fiddle
To the song of Susie Skinner, while whipping the horses
Till they ran away. Blind as I was, I tried to get out
As the carriage fell in the ditch,
And was caught in the wheels and killed.
There’s a blind man here with a brow
As big and white as a cloud.
And all we fiddlers, from highest to lowest,
Writers of music and tellers of stories
Sit at his feet,
And hear him sing of the fall of Troy.
My words are easy to understand
and easier to put into practice.
Yet no one in the world seems to understand them,
or be able to apply what I teach.
My teachings come from the ancients,
the things I do are done for a reason.
Because you do not know me,
you are not able to understand my teachings.
Because those who know me are few,
my teachings become even more precious.
Tao Te Ching
A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a faggot of sticks, and said to his eldest son: ‘Break it.’ The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. ‘Untie the faggots,’ said the father, ‘and each of you take a stick.’ When they had done so, he called out to them: ‘Now, break,’ and each stick was easily broken. ‘You see my meaning,’ said their father.
Union gives strength.
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