Hamlet's noble advice

After the First Player's speech in Act 2 of Hamlet, one of my favorite speeches in Shakespeare (the performance by Charlton Heston is phenomenal), an exchange between Hamlet and Polonius reveals an interesting bit of Hamlet's moral fiber:

'Tis well: I'll have thee speak out the rest soon.
Good my lord, will you see the players well
bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for
they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the
time: after your death you were better have a bad
epitaph than their ill report while you live.
My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man
after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?
Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less
they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
Take them in.

I'm convinced that Shakespeare's lines in total serve as a sort of treasure trove of 16th-century English culture. Hoping to study them closer in the ensuing months.
Written on December 11, 2012