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


Act I, Scene 4

Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.

Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.

625

Hamlet The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

626

Horatio It is a nipping and an eager air.

627

Hamlet What hour now?

628

Horatio I think it lacks of twelve.

629

Marcellus No, it is struck.

630

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?

631

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.

635

Horatio Is it a custom?

640

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.

641

Enter Ghost.

666

Horatio Look, my lord, it comes!

667

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?

668

Ghost beckons Hamlet.

687

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

688

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

691

Horatio No, by no means!

694

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

695

Horatio Do not, my lord!

696

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.

697

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.

702

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

712

Marcellus You shall not go, my lord.

714

Hamlet Hold off your hands!

715

Horatio Be rul'd. You shall not go.

716

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.

717

Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.

724

Horatio He waxes desperate with imagination.

725

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

726

Horatio Have after. To what issue will this come?

727

Marcellus Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

728

Horatio Heaven will direct it.

729

Marcellus Nay, let's follow him.

730

Exeunt.

731
© Copyright 2018 - 2019: Shakespeare Network - Maximianno Cobra - All rights reserved.