THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK
by William Shakespeare
About this edition: This etext was prepared by Dianne Bean. Release Date: November 1998
HAMLET, Prince of Denmark.
CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle.
The GHOST of the late king, Hamlet’s father.
GERTRUDE, the Queen, Hamlet’s mother, now wife of Claudius.
POLONIUS, Lord Chamberlain.
LAERTES, Son to Polonius.
OPHELIA, Daughter to Polonius.
HORATIO, Friend to Hamlet.
FORTINBRAS, Prince of Norway.
FRANCISCO, a Soldier
REYNALDO, Servant to Polonius.
A Gentleman, Courtier.
Two Clowns, Grave-diggers.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers, and Attendants.
SCENE I. Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.
Enter Francisco and Barnardo, two sentinels.
Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
Long live the King!
You come most carefully upon your hour.
’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
For this relief much thanks. ’Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.
Have you had quiet guard?
Not a mouse stirring.
Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there?
Friends to this ground.
And liegemen to the Dane.
Give you good night.
O, farewell, honest soldier, who hath reliev’d you?
Barnardo has my place. Give you good-night.
Say, what, is Horatio there?
A piece of him.
Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
What, has this thing appear’d again tonight?
I have seen nothing.
Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us.
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That if again this apparition come
He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.
Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.
Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
Last night of all,
When yond same star that’s westward from the pole,
Had made his course t’illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one—
Peace, break thee off. Look where it comes again.
In the same figure, like the King that’s dead.
Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.
Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.
Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
It would be spoke to.
Question it, Horatio.
What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee speak.
It is offended.
See, it stalks away.
Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee speak!
’Tis gone, and will not answer.
How now, Horatio! You tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on’t?
Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.
Is it not like the King?
As thou art to thyself:
Such was the very armour he had on
When he th’ambitious Norway combated;
So frown’d he once, when in an angry parle
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
In what particular thought to work I know not;
But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
And foreign mart for implements of war;
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:
Who is’t that can inform me?
That can I;
At least, the whisper goes so. Our last King,
Whose image even but now appear’d to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto prick’d on by a most emulate pride,
Dar’d to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet,
For so this side of our known world esteem’d him,
Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal’d compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seiz’d of, to the conqueror;
Against the which, a moiety competent
Was gaged by our King; which had return’d
To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
Had he been vanquisher; as by the same cov’nant
And carriage of the article design’d,
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle, hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
Shark’d up a list of lawless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in’t; which is no other,
As it doth well appear unto our state,
But to recover of us by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The source of this our watch, and the chief head
Of this post-haste and rummage in the land.
I think it be no other but e’en so:
Well may it sort that this portentous figure
Comes armed through our watch so like the King
That was and is the question of these wars.
A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
And even the like precurse of fierce events,
As harbingers preceding still the fates
And prologue to the omen coming on,
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.
But, soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
I’ll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done,
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it. Stay, and speak!
[The cock crows.]
Stop it, Marcellus!
Shall I strike at it with my partisan?
Do, if it will not stand.
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence,
For it is as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
It was about to speak, when the cock crew.
And then it started, like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th’extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine. And of the truth herein
This present object made probation.
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm;
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.
So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn in russet mantle clad,
Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet; for upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
Let’s do’t, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently.
SCENE II. Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.
Enter Claudius King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltemand,
Cornelius, Lords and Attendant.
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
Th’imperial jointress to this warlike state,
Have we, as ’twere with a defeated joy,
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
Taken to wife; nor have we herein barr’d
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows, that you know young Fortinbras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother’s death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail’d to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting:
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew’s purpose, to suppress
His further gait herein; in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions are all made
Out of his subject: and we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the King, more than the scope
Of these dilated articles allow.
Farewell; and let your haste commend your duty.
CORNELIUS and VOLTEMAND.
In that, and all things, will we show our duty.
We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.
[Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius.]
And now, Laertes, what’s the news with you?
You told us of some suit. What is’t, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
Dread my lord,
Your leave and favour to return to France,
From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
To show my duty in your coronation;
Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?
He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laboursome petition; and at last
Upon his will I seal’d my hard consent.
I do beseech you give him leave to go.
Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will!
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son—
[Aside.] A little more than kin, and less than kind.
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Not so, my lord, I am too much i’ the sun.
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know’st ’tis common, all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Ay, madam, it is common.
If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
Seems, madam! Nay, it is; I know not seems.
’Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play;
But I have that within which passeth show;
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
’Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father;
But you must know, your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persevere
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. ’Tis unmanly grief,
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschool’d;
For what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we in our peevish opposition
Take it to heart? Fie, ’tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd, whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse till he that died today,
‘This must be so.’ We pray you throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father; for let the world take note
You are the most immediate to our throne,
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire:
And we beseech you bend you to remain
Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
I pray thee stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;
This gentle and unforc’d accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart; in grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the King’s rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
[Exeunt all but Hamlet.]
O that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d
His canon ’gainst self-slaughter. O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! Oh fie! ’tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two:
So excellent a king; that was to this
Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother,
That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on; and yet, within a month—
Let me not think on’t—Frailty, thy name is woman!
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she followed my poor father’s body
Like Niobe, all tears.—Why she, even she—
O God! A beast that wants discourse of reason
Would have mourn’d longer,—married with mine uncle,
My father’s brother; but no more like my father
Than I to Hercules. Within a month?
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
She married. O most wicked speed, to post
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
It is not, nor it cannot come to good.
But break my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
Enter Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo.
Hail to your lordship!
I am glad to see you well:
Horatio, or I do forget myself.
The same, my lord,
And your poor servant ever.
Sir, my good friend;
I’ll change that name with you:
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?—
My good lord.
I am very glad to see you.—Good even, sir.—
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
A truant disposition, good my lord.
I would not hear your enemy say so;
Nor shall you do my ear that violence,
To make it truster of your own report
Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
But what is your affair in Elsinore?
We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.
I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student.
I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.
Indeed, my lord, it follow’d hard upon.
Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak’d meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio.
My father,—methinks I see my father.
Where, my lord?
In my mind’s eye, Horatio.
I saw him once; he was a goodly king.
He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
My lord, the King your father.
The King my father!
Season your admiration for a while
With an attent ear, till I may deliver
Upon the witness of these gentlemen
This marvel to you.
For God’s love let me hear.
Two nights together had these gentlemen,
Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch
In the dead waste and middle of the night,
Been thus encounter’d. A figure like your father,
Armed at point exactly, cap-à-pie,
Appears before them, and with solemn march
Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk’d
By their oppress’d and fear-surprised eyes,
Within his truncheon’s length; whilst they, distill’d
Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
Stand dumb, and speak not to him. This to me
In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
And I with them the third night kept the watch,
Where, as they had deliver’d, both in time,
Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
The apparition comes. I knew your father;
These hands are not more like.
But where was this?
My lord, upon the platform where we watch.
Did you not speak to it?
My lord, I did;
But answer made it none: yet once methought
It lifted up it head, and did address
Itself to motion, like as it would speak.
But even then the morning cock crew loud,
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,
And vanish’d from our sight.
’Tis very strange.
As I do live, my honour’d lord, ’tis true;
And we did think it writ down in our duty
To let you know of it.
Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
Hold you the watch tonight?
Mar. and BARNARDO.
We do, my lord.
Arm’d, say you?
Arm’d, my lord.
From top to toe?
My lord, from head to foot.
Then saw you not his face?
O yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.
What, look’d he frowningly?
A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
Pale, or red?
Nay, very pale.
And fix’d his eyes upon you?
I would I had been there.
It would have much amaz’d you.
Very like, very like. Stay’d it long?
While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
MARCELLUS and BARNARDO.
Not when I saw’t.
His beard was grizzled, no?
It was, as I have seen it in his life,
A sable silver’d.
I will watch tonight;
Perchance ’twill walk again.
I warrant you it will.
If it assume my noble father’s person,
I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
If you have hitherto conceal’d this sight,
Let it be tenable in your silence still;
And whatsoever else shall hap tonight,
Give it an understanding, but no tongue.
I will requite your loves. So, fare ye well.
Upon the platform ’twixt eleven and twelve,
I’ll visit you.
Our duty to your honour.
Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.
[Exeunt Horatio, Marcellus and Barnardo.]
My father’s spirit in arms! All is not well;
I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!
Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o’erwhelm them, to men’s eyes.
SCENE III. A room in Polonius’s house.
Enter Laertes and Ophelia.
My necessaries are embark’d. Farewell.
And, sister, as the winds give benefit
And convoy is assistant, do not sleep,
But let me hear from you.
Do you doubt that?
For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favour,
Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood;
A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting;
The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
No more but so?
Think it no more.
For nature crescent does not grow alone
In thews and bulk; but as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will; but you must fear,
His greatness weigh’d, his will is not his own;
For he himself is subject to his birth:
He may not, as unvalu’d persons do,
Carve for himself; for on his choice depends
The sanctity and health of this whole state;
And therefore must his choice be circumscrib’d
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
It fits your wisdom so far to believe it
As he in his particular act and place
May give his saying deed; which is no further
Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal.
Then weigh what loss your honour may sustain
If with too credent ear you list his songs,
Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open
To his unmaster’d importunity.
Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister;
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough
If she unmask her beauty to the moon.
Virtue itself scopes not calumnious strokes:
The canker galls the infants of the spring
Too oft before their buttons be disclos’d,
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent.
Be wary then, best safety lies in fear.
Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.
I shall th’effect of this good lesson keep
As watchman to my heart. But good my brother,
Do not as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whilst like a puff’d and reckless libertine
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.
O, fear me not.
I stay too long. But here my father comes.
A double blessing is a double grace;
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.
Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame.
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay’d for. There, my blessing with you.
[Laying his hand on Laertes’s head.]
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that th’opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be:
For loan oft loses both itself and friend;
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee.
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
The time invites you; go, your servants tend.
Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well
What I have said to you.
’Tis in my memory lock’d,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.
What is’t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?
So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
Marry, well bethought:
’Tis told me he hath very oft of late
Given private time to you; and you yourself
Have of your audience been most free and bounteous.
If it be so,—as so ’tis put on me,
And that in way of caution,—I must tell you
You do not understand yourself so clearly
As it behoves my daughter and your honour.
What is between you? Give me up the truth.
He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.
Affection! Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?
I do not know, my lord, what I should think.
Marry, I’ll teach you; think yourself a baby;
That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay,
Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly;
Or,—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase,
Roaming it thus,—you’ll tender me a fool.
My lord, he hath importun’d me with love
In honourable fashion.
Ay, fashion you may call it; go to, go to.
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven.
Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows: these blazes, daughter,
Giving more light than heat, extinct in both,
Even in their promise, as it is a-making,
You must not take for fire. From this time
Be something scanter of your maiden presence;
Set your entreatments at a higher rate
Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet,
Believe so much in him that he is young;
And with a larger tether may he walk
Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia,
Do not believe his vows; for they are brokers,
Not of that dye which their investments show,
But mere implorators of unholy suits,
Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds,
The better to beguile. This is for all.
I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth
Have you so slander any moment leisure
As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.
Look to’t, I charge you; come your ways.
I shall obey, my lord.
SCENE IV. The platform.
Enter Hamlet, Horatio and Marcellus.
The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
It is a nipping and an eager air.
What hour now?
I think it lacks of twelve.
No, it is struck.
Indeed? I heard it not. It then draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
[A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off within.]
What does this mean, my lord?
The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering upspring reels;
And as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.
Is it a custom?
Ay marry is’t;
And to my mind, though I am native here,
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour’d in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduc’d and tax’d of other nations:
They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
From our achievements, though perform’d at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So oft it chances in particular men
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As in their birth, wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin,
By their o’ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason;
Or by some habit, that too much o’erleavens
The form of plausive manners;—that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being Nature’s livery or Fortune’s star,—
His virtues else,—be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo,
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of evil
Doth all the noble substance often doubt
To his own scandal.
Look, my lord, it comes!
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou com’st in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee. I’ll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane. O, answer me!
Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell
Why thy canoniz’d bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn’d,
Hath op’d his ponderous and marble jaws
To cast thee up again! What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel,
Revisit’st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous, and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? Wherefore? What should we do?
[Ghost beckons Hamlet.]
It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
Look with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground.
But do not go with it.
No, by no means.
It will not speak; then will I follow it.
Do not, my lord.
Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life at a pin’s fee;
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again. I’ll follow it.
What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o’er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason,
And draw you into madness? Think of it.
The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fadoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.
It waves me still.
Go on, I’ll follow thee.
You shall not go, my lord.
Hold off your hands.
Be rul’d; you shall not go.
My fate cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve.
Still am I call’d. Unhand me, gentlemen.
[Breaking free from them.]
By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me.
I say, away!—Go on, I’ll follow thee.
[Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.]
He waxes desperate with imagination.
Let’s follow; ’tis not fit thus to obey him.
Have after. To what issue will this come?
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Heaven will direct it.
Nay, let’s follow him.
SCENE V. A more remote part of the Castle.
Enter Ghost and Hamlet.
Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further.
My hour is almost come,
When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Alas, poor ghost!
Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
Speak, I am bound to hear.
So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Haste me to know’t, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love
May sweep to my revenge.
I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
’Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abus’d; but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
Now wears his crown.
O my prophetic soul!
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,—
O wicked wit, and gifts, that have the power
So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.
O Hamlet, what a falling off was there,
From me, whose love was of that dignity
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage; and to decline
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine. But virtue, as it never will be mov’d,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven;
So lust, though to a radiant angel link’d,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed
And prey on garbage.
But soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment, whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine;
And a most instant tetter bark’d about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatch’d:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhous’led, disappointed, unanel’d;
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
O horrible! O horrible! most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But howsoever thou pursu’st this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven,
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
Adieu, adieu, adieu. Hamlet, remember me.
O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee?
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix’d with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling damned villain!
My tables. Meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;
It is ‘Adieu, adieu, remember me.’
I have sworn’t.
HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
[Within.] My lord, my lord.
[Within.] Lord Hamlet.
[Within.] Heaven secure him.
So be it!
[Within.] Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
How is’t, my noble lord?
What news, my lord?
Good my lord, tell it.
No, you’ll reveal it.
Not I, my lord, by heaven.
Nor I, my lord.
How say you then, would heart of man once think it?—
But you’ll be secret?
HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
Ay, by heaven, my lord.
There’s ne’er a villain dwelling in all Denmark
But he’s an arrant knave.
There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.
Why, right; you are i’ the right;
And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:
You, as your business and desires shall point you,—
For every man hath business and desire,
Such as it is;—and for my own poor part,
Look you, I’ll go pray.
These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
I’m sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes faith, heartily.
There’s no offence, my lord.
Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you.
For your desire to know what is between us,
O’ermaster’t as you may. And now, good friends,
As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
Give me one poor request.
What is’t, my lord? We will.
Never make known what you have seen tonight.
HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
My lord, we will not.
Nay, but swear’t.
In faith, my lord, not I.
Nor I, my lord, in faith.
Upon my sword.
We have sworn, my lord, already.
Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.
[Cries under the stage.] Swear.
Ha, ha boy, say’st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?
Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
Consent to swear.
Propose the oath, my lord.
Never to speak of this that you have seen.
Swear by my sword.
Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground.
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands again upon my sword.
Never to speak of this that you have heard.
Swear by my sword.
Well said, old mole! Canst work i’ th’earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come,
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,—
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on—
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As ‘Well, we know’, or ‘We could and if we would’,
Or ‘If we list to speak’; or ‘There be and if they might’,
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me:—this not to do.
So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
Rest, rest, perturbed spirit. So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you;
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do t’express his love and friending to you,
God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right.
Nay, come, let’s go together.