The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1600-1)

(Complete Text)
Intro
Online Critical Edition in Progress - Version 1.a.
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Act I, Scene 1

Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

Bernardo
Who's there?

Francisco
Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

Bernardo
Long live the King!

Francisco
Bernardo?

Francisco
You come most carefully upon your hour.

Bernardo
'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.

Francisco
For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.

Bernardo
Have you had quiet guard?

Francisco
Not a mouse stirring.

Bernardo
Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

Francisco
I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there?

Horatio
Friends to this ground.

Marcellus
And liegemen to the Dane.

Francisco
Give you good night.

Marcellus
O, farewell, honest soldier.
Who hath reliev'd you?

Francisco
Bernardo hath my place.
Give you good night. Exit.

Marcellus
Holla, Bernardo!

Bernardo
Say-
What, is Horatio there ?

Horatio
A piece of him.

Bernardo
Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.

Marcellus
What, has this thing appear'd again to-night?

Bernardo
I have seen nothing.

Marcellus
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.

Horatio
Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.

Bernardo
Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.

Horatio
Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

Bernardo
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-

Marcellus
Peace! break thee off! Look where it comes again!

Bernardo
In the same figure, like the King that's dead.

Marcellus
Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.

Bernardo
Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.

Horatio
Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.

Bernardo
It would be spoke to.

Marcellus
Question it, Horatio.

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!

Marcellus
It is offended.

Bernardo
See, it stalks away!

Horatio
Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee speak!

Marcellus
'Tis gone and will not answer.

Bernardo
How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on't?

Horatio
Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.

Marcellus
Is it not like the King?

Horatio
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.
'Tis strange.

Marcellus
Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

Horatio
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.

Marcellus
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?

Horatio
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 romage in the land.

Bernardo
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.

Horatio
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 climature and countrymen.
[Enter Ghost again.]
But soft! behold! Lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me.- Stay illusion!
[Spreads his arms.]
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,
O, speak!
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),
[The cock crows.]
Speak of it! Stay, and speak!- Stop it, Marcellus!

Marcellus
Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

Horatio
Do, if it will not stand.

Bernardo
'Tis here!

Horatio
'Tis here!

Marcellus
'Tis gone!
[Exit Ghost.]
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.

Bernardo
It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

Horatio
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.

Marcellus
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.

Horatio
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 to-night
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.

Act I, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.

Claudius
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 an auspicious, and a 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 bands 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 bedrid, 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. [Gives a paper.]
Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.

Cornelius
[with Voltemand] In that, and all things, will we show our duty.

Claudius
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?

Laertes
My dread 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.

Claudius
Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?

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.

Claudius
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-

Hamlet
[aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind!

Claudius
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

Hamlet
Not so, my lord. I am too much i' th' sun.

Gertrude
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.

Hamlet
Ay, madam, it is common.

Gertrude
If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?

Hamlet
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 havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes 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.

Claudius
'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 persever
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 to-day,
'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.

Gertrude
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.

Hamlet
I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

Claudius
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 to-day
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the King's rouse the heaven shall bruit again,
Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.

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! God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah, 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 my 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!

Horatio
Hail to your lordship!

Hamlet
I am glad to see you well.
Horatio!- or I do forget myself.

Horatio
The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

Hamlet
Sir, my good friend- I'll change that name with you.
And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio?
Marcellus?

Marcellus
My good lord!

Hamlet
I am very glad to see you.- [To Bernardo] Good even, sir.-
But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?

Horatio
A truant disposition, good my lord.

Hamlet
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.

Horatio
My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

Hamlet
I prithee do not mock me, fellow student.
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

Horatio
Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

Hamlet
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.

Horatio
O, where, my lord?

Hamlet
In my mind's eye, Horatio.

Horatio
I saw him once. He was a goodly king.

Hamlet
He was a man, take him for all in all.
I shall not look upon his like again.

Horatio
My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.

Hamlet
Saw? who?

Horatio
My lord, the King your father.

Hamlet
The King my father?

Horatio
Season your admiration for a while
With an attent ear, till I may deliver
Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
This marvel to you.

Hamlet
For God's love let me hear!

Horatio
Two nights together had these gentlemen
(Marcellus and Bernardo) on their watch
In the dead vast and middle of the night
Been thus encount'red. A figure like your father,
Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
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.

Hamlet
But where was this?

Marcellus
My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.

Hamlet
Did you not speak to it?

Horatio
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.

Hamlet
'Tis very strange.

Horatio
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.

Hamlet
Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.
Hold you the watch to-night?

Marcellus
[with Bernardo] We do, my lord.

Hamlet
Arm'd, say you?

Marcellus
[with Bernardo] Arm'd, my lord.

Hamlet
From top to toe?

Marcellus
[with Bernardo] My lord, from head to foot.

Hamlet
Then saw you not his face?

Horatio
O, yes, my lord! He wore his beaver up.

Hamlet
What, look'd he frowningly.

Horatio
A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

Hamlet
Pale or red?

Horatio
Nay, very pale.

Hamlet
And fix'd his eyes upon you?

Horatio
Most constantly.

Hamlet
I would I had been there.

Horatio
It would have much amaz'd you.

Hamlet
Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?

Horatio
While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

Marcellus
[with Bernardo] Longer, longer.

Horatio
Not when I saw't.

Hamlet
His beard was grizzled- no?

Horatio
It was, as I have seen it in his life,
A sable silver'd.

Hamlet
I will watch to-night.
Perchance 'twill walk again.

Horatio
I warr'nt it will.

Hamlet
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 to-night,
Give it an understanding but no tongue.
I will requite your loves. So, fare you well.
Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
I'll visit you.

All
Our duty to your honour.

Hamlet
Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
[Exeunt [all but Hamlet].]
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.

Act I, Scene 3

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

Laertes
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.

Ophelia
Do you doubt that?

Laertes
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.

Ophelia
No more but so?

Laertes
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 unvalued persons do,
Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
The safety 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 unmast'red 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.

Ophelia
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,
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads
And recks not his own rede.

Laertes
O, fear me not!
[Enter Polonius. ]
I stay too long. But here my father comes.
A double blessing is a double grace;
Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

Polonius
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 thee!
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 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!

Laertes
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

Polonius
The time invites you. Go, your servants tend.

Laertes
Farewell, Ophelia, and remember well
What I have said to you.

Ophelia
'Tis in my memory lock'd,
And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

Laertes
Farewell. Exit.

Polonius
What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

Ophelia
So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

Polonius
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 behooves my daughter and your honour.
What is between you? Give me up the truth.

Ophelia
He hath, my lord, of late made many tenders
Of his affection to me.

Polonius
Affection? Pooh! You speak like a green girl,
Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.
Do you believe his tenders, as you call them?

Ophelia
I do not know, my lord, what I should think,

Polonius
Marry, I will 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,
Running it thus) you'll tender me a fool.

Ophelia
My lord, he hath importun'd me with love
In honourable fashion.

Polonius
Ay, fashion you may call it. Go to, go to!

Ophelia
And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,
With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

Polonius
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.

Ophelia
I shall obey, my lord.

Act I, Scene 4

Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.

Hamlet
The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

Horatio
It is a nipping and an eager air.

Hamlet
What hour now?

Horatio
I think it lacks of twelve.

Marcellus
No, it is struck.

Horatio
Indeed? I heard it not. It then draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
[A flourish of trumpets, and two pieces go off.]
What does this mean, my lord?

Hamlet
The King doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swagg'ring upspring reels,
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.

Horatio
Is it a custom?

Hamlet
Ay, marry, is't;
But 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 clip 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 the 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,
Their 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 e'il
Doth all the noble substance often dout To his own scandal.

Horatio
Look, my lord, it comes!

Hamlet
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,
Revisits 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?

Horatio
It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.

Marcellus
Look with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground.
But do not go with it!

Horatio
No, by no means!

Hamlet
It will not speak. Then will I follow it.

Horatio
Do not, my lord!

Hamlet
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.

Horatio
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.

Hamlet
It waves me still.
Go on. I'll follow thee.

Marcellus
You shall not go, my lord.

Hamlet
Hold off your hands!

Horatio
Be rul'd. You shall not go.

Hamlet
My fate cries out
And makes each petty artire in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
[Ghost beckons.]
Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.
By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!-
I say, away!- Go on. I'll follow thee.

Horatio
He waxes desperate with imagination.

Marcellus
Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.

Horatio
Have after. To what issue will this come?

Marcellus
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Horatio
Heaven will direct it.

Marcellus
Nay, let's follow him.

Act I, Scene 5

Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.

Hamlet
Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak! I'll go no further.

Hamlet
I will.

Father's Ghost
My hour is almost come,
When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.

Hamlet
Alas, poor ghost!

Father's Ghost
Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.

Hamlet
Speak. I am bound to hear.

Father's Ghost
So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

Hamlet
What?

Father's Ghost
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-

Hamlet
O God!

Father's Ghost
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther.

Hamlet
Murther?

Father's Ghost
Murther most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.

Hamlet
Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.

Father's Ghost
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.

Hamlet
O my prophetic soul!
My uncle?

Father's Ghost
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 hebona 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.

Hamlet
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!

Father's Ghost
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 pursuest 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 glowworm shows the matin to be near
And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me. Exit.

Hamlet
O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? Hold, 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. [Writes.]
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
I have sworn't.

Horatio
[within] My lord, my lord!

Marcellus
Lord Hamlet!

Horatio
Heaven secure him!

Hamlet
So be it!

Marcellus
Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

Hamlet
Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.

Marcellus
How is't, my noble lord?

Horatio
What news, my lord?

Marcellus
O, wonderful!

Horatio
Good my lord, tell it.

Hamlet
No, you will reveal it.

Horatio
Not I, my lord, by heaven!

Marcellus
Nor I, my lord.

Hamlet
How say you then? Would heart of man once think it?
But you'll be secret?

Marcellus
[with Horatio] Ay, by heaven, my lord.

Hamlet
There's neer a villain dwelling in all Denmark
But he's an arrant knave.

Horatio
There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.

Hamlet
Why, right! You are in 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.

Horatio
These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

Hamlet
I am sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes, faith, heartily.

Horatio
There's no offence, my lord.

Hamlet
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.

Horatio
What is't, my lord? We will.

Hamlet
Never make known what you have seen to-night.

Marcellus
[with Horatio] My lord, we will not.

Hamlet
Nay, but swear't.

Horatio
In faith,
My lord, not I.

Marcellus
Nor I, my lord- in faith.

Hamlet
Upon my sword.

Marcellus
We have sworn, my lord, already.

Hamlet
Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

Hamlet
Aha boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?
Come on! You hear this fellow in the cellarage.
Consent to swear.

Horatio
Propose the oath, my lord.

Hamlet
Never to speak of this that you have seen.
Swear by my sword.

Father's Ghost
[beneath] Swear.

Hamlet
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.

Father's Ghost
[beneath] Swear by his sword.

Hamlet
Well said, old mole! Canst work i' th' earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends."

Horatio
O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

Hamlet
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 encumb'red thus, or this head-shake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As 'Well, well, we know,' or 'We could, an if we would,'
Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be, an if they might,'
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me- this is not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
Swear.

Father's Ghost
[beneath] Swear.

Hamlet
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.

Act II, Scene 1

Elsinore. A room in the house of Polonius.

Polonius
Give him this money and these notes, Reynaldo.

Reynaldo
I will, my lord.

Polonius
You shall do marvell's wisely, good Reynaldo,
Before You visit him, to make inquire
Of his behaviour.

Reynaldo
My lord, I did intend it.

Polonius
Marry, well said, very well said. Look you, sir,
Enquire me first what Danskers are in Paris;
And how, and who, what means, and where they keep,
What company, at what expense; and finding
By this encompassment and drift of question
That they do know my son, come you more nearer
Than your particular demands will touch it.
Take you, as 'twere, some distant knowledge of him;
As thus, 'I know his father and his friends,
And in part him.' Do you mark this, Reynaldo?

Reynaldo
Ay, very well, my lord.

Polonius
'And in part him, but,' you may say, 'not well.
But if't be he I mean, he's very wild
Addicted so and so'; and there put on him
What forgeries you please; marry, none so rank
As may dishonour him- take heed of that;
But, sir, such wanton, wild, and usual slips
As are companions noted and most known
To youth and liberty.

Reynaldo
As gaming, my lord.

Polonius
Ay, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling,
Drabbing. You may go so far.

Reynaldo
My lord, that would dishonour him.

Polonius
Faith, no, as you may season it in the charge.
You must not put another scandal on him,
That 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 unreclaimed blood,
Of general assault.

Reynaldo
But, my good lord-

Polonius
Wherefore should you do this?

Reynaldo
Ay, my lord,
I would know that.

Polonius
Marry, sir, here's my drift,
And I believe it is a fetch of warrant.
You laying these slight sullies on my son
As 'twere a thing a little soil'd 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 assur'd
He 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-

Reynaldo
Very good, my lord.

Polonius
And then, sir, does 'a this- 'a does- What was I about to say?
By the mass, I was about to say something! Where did I leave?

Reynaldo
At 'closes in the consequence,' at 'friend or so,' and
gentleman.'

Polonius
At 'closes in the consequence'- Ay, marry!
He closes thus: 'I know the gentleman.
I saw him yesterday, or t'other day,
Or then, or then, with such or such; and, as you say,
There was 'a gaming; there o'ertook in's rouse;
There falling out at tennis'; or perchance,
'I saw him enter such a house of sale,'
Videlicet, a brothel, or so forth.
See you now-
Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of truth;
And thus do we of wisdom and of reach,
With windlasses and with assays of bias,
By indirections find directions out.
So, by my former lecture and advice,
Shall you my son. You have me, have you not?

Reynaldo
My lord, I have.

Polonius
God b' wi' ye, fare ye well!

Reynaldo
Good my lord! [Going.]

Polonius
Observe his inclination in yourself.

Reynaldo
I shall, my lord.

Polonius
And let him ply his music.

Reynaldo
Well, my lord.

Polonius
Farewell!
[Exit Reynaldo.]
[Enter Ophelia.]
How now, Ophelia? What's the matter?

Ophelia
O my lord, my lord, I have been so affrighted!

Polonius
With what, i' th' name of God?

Ophelia
My lord, as I was sewing in my closet,
Lord Hamlet, with his doublet all unbrac'd,
No hat upon his head, his stockings foul'd,
Ungart'red, and down-gyved to his ankle;
Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other,
And with a look so piteous in purport
As if he had been loosed out of hell
To speak of horrors- he comes before me.

Polonius
Mad for thy love?

Ophelia
My lord, I do not know,
But truly I do fear it.

Polonius
What said he?

Ophelia
He took me by the wrist and held me hard;
Then goes he to the length of all his arm,
And, with his other hand thus o'er his brow,
He falls to such perusal of my face
As he would draw it. Long stay'd he so.
At last, a little shaking of mine arm,
And thrice his head thus waving up and down,
He rais'd a sigh so piteous and profound
As it did seem to shatter all his bulk
And end his being. That done, he lets me go,
And with his head over his shoulder turn'd
He seem'd to find his way without his eyes,
For out o' doors he went without their help
And to the last bended their light on me.

Polonius
Come, go with me. I will go seek the King.
This is the very ecstasy of love,
Whose violent property fordoes itself
And leads the will to desperate undertakings
As oft as any passion under heaven
That does afflict our natures. I am sorry.
What, have you given him any hard words of late?

Ophelia
No, my good lord; but, as you did command,
I did repel his letters and denied
His access to me.

Polonius
That hath made him mad.
I am sorry that with better heed and judgment
I had not quoted him. I fear'd he did but trifle
And meant to wrack thee; but beshrew my jealousy!
By heaven, it is as proper to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion. Come, go we to the King.
This must be known; which, being kept close, might move
More grief to hide than hate to utter love.
Come.

Act II, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room in the Castle.

Claudius
Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Moreover that we much did long to see you,
The need we have to use you did provoke
Our hasty sending. Something have you heard
Of Hamlet's transformation. So I call it,
Sith nor th' exterior nor the inward man
Resembles that it was. What it should be,
More than his father's death, that thus hath put him
So much from th' understanding of himself,
I cannot dream of. I entreat you both
That, being of so young days brought up with him,
And since so neighbour'd to his youth and haviour,
That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court
Some little time; so by your companies
To draw him on to pleasures, and to gather
So much as from occasion you may glean,
Whether aught to us unknown afflicts him thus
That, open'd, lies within our remedy.

Gertrude
Good gentlemen, he hath much talk'd of you,
And sure I am two men there are not living
To whom he more adheres. If it will please you
To show us so much gentry and good will
As to expend your time with us awhile
For the supply and profit of our hope,
Your visitation shall receive such thanks
As fits a king's remembrance.

Rosencrantz
Both your Majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.

Guildenstern
But we both obey,
And here give up ourselves, in the full bent,
To lay our service freely at your feet,
To be commanded.

Claudius
Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.

Gertrude
Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz.
And I beseech you instantly to visit
My too much changed son.- Go, some of you,
And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

Guildenstern
Heavens make our presence and our practices
Pleasant and helpful to him!

Gertrude
Ay, amen!

Polonius
Th' ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,
Are joyfully return'd.

Claudius
Thou still hast been the father of good news.

Polonius
Have I, my lord? Assure you, my good liege,
I hold my duty as I hold my soul,
Both to my God and to my gracious king;
And I do think- or else this brain of mine
Hunts not the trail of policy so sure
As it hath us'd to do- that I have found
The very cause of Hamlet's lunacy.

Claudius
O, speak of that! That do I long to hear.

Polonius
Give first admittance to th' ambassadors.
My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.

Claudius
Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.
[Exit Polonius.]
He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found
The head and source of all your son's distemper.

Gertrude
I doubt it is no other but the main,
His father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.

Claudius
Well, we shall sift him.
[Enter Polonius, Voltemand, and Cornelius.]
Welcome, my good friends.
Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?

Voltemand
Most fair return of greetings and desires.
Upon our first, he sent out to suppress
His nephew's levies; which to him appear'd
To be a preparation 'gainst the Polack,
But better look'd into, he truly found
It was against your Highness; whereat griev'd,
That so his sickness, age, and impotence
Was falsely borne in hand, sends out arrests
On Fortinbras; which he, in brief, obeys,
Receives rebuke from Norway, and, in fine,
Makes vow before his uncle never more
To give th' assay of arms against your Majesty.
Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee
And his commission to employ those soldiers,
So levied as before, against the Polack;
With an entreaty, herein further shown,
[Gives a paper.]
That it might please you to give quiet pass
Through your dominions for this enterprise,
On such regards of safety and allowance
As therein are set down.

Claudius
It likes us well;
And at our more consider'd time we'll read,
Answer, and think upon this business.
Meantime we thank you for your well-took labour.
Go to your rest; at night we'll feast together.
Most welcome home! Exeunt Ambassadors.

Polonius
This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night is night, and time is time.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.

Gertrude
More matter, with less art.

Polonius
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.
That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;
And pity 'tis 'tis true. A foolish figure!
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him then. And now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect-
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.
Perpend.
I have a daughter (have while she is mine),
Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this. Now gather, and surmise.
[Reads] the letter.]
'To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia,'-
That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; 'beautified' is a vile phrase.
But you shall hear. Thus:
[Reads.]
'In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.'

Gertrude
Came this from Hamlet to her?

Polonius
Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful. [Reads.]
'Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
'O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to
reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best, believe
it. Adieu.
'Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to
him, HAMLET.'
This, in obedience, hath my daughter shown me;
And more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means, and place,
All given to mine ear.

Claudius
But how hath she
Receiv'd his love?

Polonius
What do you think of me?

Claudius
As of a man faithful and honourable.

Polonius
I would fain prove so. But what might you think,
When I had seen this hot love on the wing
(As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me), what might you,
Or my dear Majesty your queen here, think,
If I had play'd the desk or table book,
Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb,
Or look'd upon this love with idle sight?
What might you think? No, I went round to work
And my young mistress thus I did bespeak:
'Lord Hamlet is a prince, out of thy star.
This must not be.' And then I prescripts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens.
Which done, she took the fruits of my advice,
And he, repulsed, a short tale to make,
Fell into a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And all we mourn for.

Claudius
Do you think 'tis this?

Gertrude
it may be, very like.

Polonius
Hath there been such a time- I would fain know that-
That I have Positively said 'Tis so,'
When it prov'd otherwise.?

Claudius
Not that I know.

Polonius
[points to his head and shoulder] Take this from this, if this be otherwise.
If circumstances lead me, I will find
Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed
Within the centre.

Claudius
How may we try it further?

Polonius
You know sometimes he walks for hours together
Here in the lobby.

Gertrude
So he does indeed.

Polonius
At such a time I'll loose my daughter to him.
Be you and I behind an arras then.
Mark the encounter. If he love her not,
And he not from his reason fall'n thereon
Let me be no assistant for a state,
But keep a farm and carters.

Claudius
We will try it.

Gertrude
But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

Polonius
Away, I do beseech you, both away
I'll board him presently. O, give me leave.
[Exeunt King and Queen, [with Attendants].]
How does my good Lord Hamlet?

Hamlet
Well, God-a-mercy.

Polonius
Do you know me, my lord?

Hamlet
Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.

Polonius
Not I, my lord.

Hamlet
Then I would you were so honest a man.

Polonius
Honest, my lord?

Hamlet
Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man
pick'd out of ten thousand.

Polonius
That's very true, my lord.

Hamlet
For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god
kissing carrion- Have you a daughter?

Polonius
I have, my lord.

Hamlet
Let her not walk i' th' sun. Conception is a blessing, but not
as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to't.

Polonius
[aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet
he knew me not at first. He said I was a fishmonger. He is far
gone, far gone! And truly in my youth I suff'red much extremity
for love- very near this. I'll speak to him again.- What do you
read, my lord?

Hamlet
Words, words, words.

Polonius
What is the matter, my lord?

Hamlet
Between who?

Polonius
I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Hamlet
Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old men
have grey beards; that their faces are wrinkled; their eyes
purging thick amber and plum-tree gum; and that they have a
plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams. All which,
sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it
not honesty to have it thus set down; for you yourself, sir,
should be old as I am if, like a crab, you could go backward.

Polonius
[aside] Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't.-
Will You walk out of the air, my lord?

Hamlet
Into my grave?

Polonius
Indeed, that is out o' th' air. [Aside] How pregnant sometimes
his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which
reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I
will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between
him and my daughter.- My honourable lord, I will most humbly take
my leave of you.

Hamlet
You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more
willingly part withal- except my life, except my life, except my
life,

Polonius
Fare you well, my lord.

Hamlet
These tedious old fools!

Polonius
You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.

Rosencrantz
[to Polonius] God save you, sir!

Guildenstern
My honour'd lord!

Rosencrantz
My most dear lord!

Hamlet
My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern? Ah,
Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do ye both?

Rosencrantz
As the indifferent children of the earth.

Guildenstern
Happy in that we are not over-happy.
On Fortune's cap we are not the very button.

Hamlet
Nor the soles of her shoe?

Rosencrantz
Neither, my lord.

Hamlet
Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her
favours?

Guildenstern
Faith, her privates we.

Hamlet
In the secret parts of Fortune? O! most true! she is a
strumpet. What news ?

Rosencrantz
None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.

Hamlet
Then is doomsday near! But your news is not true. Let me
question more in particular. What have you, my good friends,
deserved at the hands of Fortune that she sends you to prison
hither?

Guildenstern
Prison, my lord?

Hamlet
Denmark's a prison.

Rosencrantz
Then is the world one.

Hamlet
A goodly one; in which there are many confines, wards, and
dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.

Rosencrantz
We think not so, my lord.

Hamlet
Why, then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good
or bad but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

Rosencrantz
Why, then your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your
mind.

Hamlet
O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a
king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

Guildenstern
Which dreams indeed are ambition; for the very substance of
the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Hamlet
A dream itself is but a shadow.

Rosencrantz
Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that
it is but a shadow's shadow.

Hamlet
Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretch'd
heroes the beggars' shadows. Shall we to th' court? for, by my
fay, I cannot reason.

Rosencrantz
[with Guildenstern] We'll wait upon you.

Hamlet
No such matter! I will not sort you with the rest of my
servants; for, to speak to you like an honest man, I am most
dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of friendship, what
make you at Elsinore?

Rosencrantz
To visit you, my lord; no other occasion.

Hamlet
Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thank you;
and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were
you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free
visitation? Come, deal justly with me. Come, come! Nay, speak.

Guildenstern
What should we say, my lord?

Hamlet
Why, anything- but to th' purpose. You were sent for; and
there is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties
have not craft enough to colour. I know the good King and Queen
have sent for you.

Rosencrantz
To what end, my lord?

Hamlet
That you must teach me. But let me conjure you by the rights
of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the
obligation of our ever-preserved love, and by what more dear a
better proposer could charge you withal, be even and direct with
me, whether you were sent for or no.

Rosencrantz
[aside to Guildenstern] What say you?

Hamlet
[aside] Nay then, I have an eye of you.- If you love me, hold
not off.

Guildenstern
My lord, we were sent for.

Hamlet
I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation prevent your
discovery, and your secrecy to the King and Queen moult no
feather. I have of late- but wherefore I know not- lost all my
mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed, it goes so
heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth,
seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the
air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical
roof fretted with golden fire- why, it appeareth no other thing
to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a
piece of work is a man! how noble in reason! how infinite in
faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable! in
action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the
beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet to me what
is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me- no, nor woman
neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Rosencrantz
My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

Hamlet
Why did you laugh then, when I said 'Man delights not me'?

Rosencrantz
To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what lenten
entertainment the players shall receive from you. We coted them
on the way, and hither are they coming to offer you service.

Hamlet
He that plays the king shall be welcome- his Majesty shall
have tribute of me; the adventurous knight shall use his foil and
target; the lover shall not sigh gratis; the humorous man shall
end his part in peace; the clown shall make those laugh whose
lungs are tickle o' th' sere; and the lady shall say her mind
freely, or the blank verse shall halt for't. What players are
they?

Rosencrantz
Even those you were wont to take such delight in, the
tragedians of the city.

Hamlet
How chances it they travel? Their residence, both in
reputation and profit, was better both ways.

Rosencrantz
I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late
innovation.

Hamlet
Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was in the
city? Are they so follow'd?

Rosencrantz
No indeed are they not.

Hamlet
How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

Rosencrantz
Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace; but there is,
sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top
of question and are most tyrannically clapp'd for't. These are now
the fashion, and so berattle the common stages (so they call
them) that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills and
dare scarce come thither.

Hamlet
What, are they children? Who maintains 'em? How are they
escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can
sing? Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow
themselves to common players (as it is most like, if their means
are no better), their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim
against their own succession.

Rosencrantz
Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation
holds it no sin to tarre them to controversy. There was, for a
while, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player
went to cuffs in the question.

Hamlet
Is't possible?

Guildenstern
O, there has been much throwing about of brains.

Hamlet
Do the boys carry it away?

Rosencrantz
Ay, that they do, my lord- Hercules and his load too.

Hamlet
It is not very strange; for my uncle is King of Denmark, and
those that would make mows at him while my father lived give
twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in
little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if
philosophy could find it out.

Guildenstern
There are the players.

Hamlet
Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come! Th'
appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply
with you in this garb, lest my extent to the players (which I
tell you must show fairly outwards) should more appear like
entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father
and aunt-mother are deceiv'd.

Guildenstern
In what, my dear lord?

Hamlet
I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly I
know a hawk from a handsaw.

Polonius
Well be with you, gentlemen!

Hamlet
Hark you, Guildenstern- and you too- at each ear a hearer!
That great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling
clouts.

Rosencrantz
Happily he's the second time come to them; for they say an old
man is twice a child.

Hamlet
I will prophesy he comes to tell me of the players. Mark it.-
You say right, sir; a Monday morning; twas so indeed.

Polonius
My lord, I have news to tell you.

Hamlet
My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome-

Polonius
The actors are come hither, my lord.

Hamlet
Buzz, buzz!

Polonius
Upon my honour-

Hamlet
Then came each actor on his ass-

Polonius
The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,
tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene
individable, or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor
Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are
the only men.