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


Act I, Scene 1

Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

Enter two Sentinels-[first,] Francisco, [who paces up and down at his post; then] Bernardo, [who approaches him].

1

Bernardo Who's there?

2

Francisco Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

3

Bernardo Long live the King!

4

Francisco Bernardo?

5

Francisco You come most carefully upon your hour.

7

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

8

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

9

Bernardo Have you had quiet guard?

11

Francisco Not a mouse stirring.

12

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

13

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

16

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

17

Horatio Friends to this ground.

18

Marcellus And liegemen to the Dane.

19

Francisco Give you good night.

20

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

21

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

23

Marcellus Holla, Bernardo!

25

Bernardo Say-
What, is Horatio there ?

26

Horatio A piece of him.

28

Bernardo Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.

29

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

30

Bernardo I have seen nothing.

31

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.

32

Horatio Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.

39

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.

40

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

44

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-

46

Enter Ghost.

51

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

52

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

53

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

54

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

55

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

56

Bernardo It would be spoke to.

57

Marcellus Question it, Horatio.

58

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!

59

Marcellus It is offended.

63

Bernardo See, it stalks away!

64

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

65

Exit Ghost.

66

Marcellus 'Tis gone and will not answer.

67

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

68

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

71

Marcellus Is it not like the King?

74

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.

75

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

81

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.

83

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?

86

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.

96

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.

125

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!

129

Marcellus Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

160

Horatio Do, if it will not stand.

161

Bernardo 'Tis here!

162

Horatio 'Tis here!

163

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.

164

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

170

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.

171

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.

180

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.

188

Exeunt.

199
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