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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Scene II

Act I

[A room of state in the castle]
Flourish. Enter the KING, QUEEN, HAMLET, POLONIUS, LAERTES, OPHELIA, Lords, and Attendants

King.Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s deathThe memory be green, and that it us befittedTo bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdomTo be contracted in one brow of woe,Yet so far hath discretion fought with natureThat we with wisest sorrow think on himTogether with remembrance of ourselves.Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,The imperial jointress of 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’dYour better wisdoms, which have freely goneWith 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 deathOur state to be disjoint and out of frame,Colleagued with the dream of his advantage,He hath not fail’d to pester us with messageImporting the surrender of those landsLost 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 writTo Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,—Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hearsOf this his nephew’s purpose,—to suppressHis further gait herein, in that the levies,The lists and full proportions, are all madeOut of his subject; and we here dispatchYou, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;Giving to you no further personal powerTo business with the king, more than the scopeOf these delated articles allow.[Giving a paper.Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.[Cor.] & Vol.In that and all things will we show our duty.King.We doubt it nothing; heartily farewell.Exeunt VOLTIMAND 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?Laer.Dread my lord,Your leave and favour to return to France;From whence though willingly I came to DenmarkTo show my duty in your coronation,Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,My thoughts and wishes bend again towards FranceAnd bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.King.Have you your father’s leave? What says Polonius?Pol.He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leaveBy laboursome petition, and at lastUpon his will I seal’d my hard consent.]I do beseech you, give him leave to go.King.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,—Ham.[Aside.]A little more than kin, and less than kind.King.How is it that the clouds still hang on you?Ham.Not so, my lord; I am too much i’ the sun.Queen.Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.Do not for ever with thy vailed lidsSeek for thy noble father in the dust.Thou know’st ’tis common; all that lives must die,Passing through nature to eternity.Ham.Ay, madam, it is common.Queen.If it be,Why seems it so particular with thee?Ham.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.King.’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 boundIn filial obligation for some termTo do obsequious sorrow. But to perseverIn obstinate condolement is a courseOf 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 commonAs any the most vulgar thing to sense,Why should we in our peevish oppositionTake it to heart? Fie! ’tis a fault to heaven,A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,To reason most absurd, whose common themeIs 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 earthThis unprevailing woe, and think of usAs of a father; for, let the world take note,You are the most immediate to our throne,And with no less nobility of loveThan that which dearest father bears his son,Do I impart towards you. For your intentIn going back to school in Wittenberg,It is most retrograde to our desire;And we beseech you, bend you to remainHere in the cheer and comfort of our eye,Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.Queen.Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet,I prithee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.Ham.I shall in all my best obey you, madam.King.Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply.Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;This gentle and unforc’d accord of HamletSits 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 heavens shall bruit again,Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.Flourish. Exeunt all but HAMLET.Ham.O, that this too too solid flesh would melt,Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!Or that the Everlasting had not fix’dHis canon ’gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,Seems to me all the uses of this world!Fie on’t! oh fie, fie! ’Tis an unweeded garden,That grows to seed; things rank and gross in naturePossess 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 motherThat he might not beteem the winds of heavenVisit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him,As if increase of appetite had grownBy what it fed on; and yet, within a month,—Let me not think on ’t!—Frailty, thy name is woman!—A little month, or e’er those shoes were oldWith 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 fatherThan I to Hercules; within a month,Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tearsHad left the flushing of her galled eyes,She married. O, most wicked speed, to postWith such dexterity to incestuous sheets!It is not, nor it cannot come to good.—But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.

Hor.Hail to your lordship!Ham.I am glad to see you well,Horatio!—or I do forget myself.Hor.The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.Ham.Sir, my good friend; I’ll change that name with you.And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? Marcellus?Mar.My good lord!Ham.I am very glad to see you. [To BER.] Good even, sir.—But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?Hor.A truant disposition, good my lord.Ham.I would not hear your enemy say so,Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,To make it truster of your own reportAgainst yourself. I know you are no truant.But what is your affair in Elsinore?We’ll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.Hor.My lord, I came to see your father’s funeral.Ham.I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student.I think it was to see my mother’s wedding.Hor.Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.Ham.Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak’d-meatsDid coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.Would I had met my dearest foe in heavenEre I had ever seen that day, Horatio!My father!—methinks I see my father.Hor.Oh, where, my lord?Ham.In my mind’s eye, Horatio,Hor.I saw him once; he was a goodly king.Ham.He was a man, take him for all in all,I shall not look upon his like again.Hor.My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.Ham.Saw? Who?Hor.My lord, the King your father.Ham.The King my father!Hor.Season your admiration for a whileWith an attent ear, till I may deliver,Upon the witness of these gentlemen,This marvel to you.Ham.For God’s love, let me hear.Hor.Two nights together had these gentlemen,Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch,In the dead waste and middle of the night,Been thus encount’red. A figure like your father,Arm’d at all points exactly, cap-a-pie,Appears before them, and with solemn marchGoes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walk’dBy their oppress’d and fear-surprised eyes,Within his truncheon’s length; whilst they, distill’dAlmost to jelly with the act of fear,Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to meIn 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.Ham.But where was this!Mar.My lord, upon the platform where we watch’d.Ham.Did you not speak to it?Hor.My lord, I did;But answer made it none. Yet once methoughtIt lifted up it head and did addressItself 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.Ham.’Tis very strange.Hor.As I do live, my honour’d lord, ’tis true,And we did think it writ down in our dutyTo let you know of it.Ham.Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.Hold you the watch to-night?Mar. & Ber.We do, my lord.Ham.Arm’d, say you?Mar. & Ber.Arm’d, my lord.Ham.From top to toe?Mar. & Ber.My lord, from head to foot.Ham.Then saw you not his face?Hor.O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.Ham.What, look’d he frowningly?Hor.A countenance moreIn sorrow than in anger.Ham.Pale, or red?Hor.Nay, very pale.Ham.And fix’d his eyes upon you?Hor.Most constantly.Ham.I would I had been there.Hor.It would have much amaz’d you.Ham.Very like, very like. Stay’d it long?Hor.While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.Mar. & Ber.Longer, longer.Hor.Not when I saw ’t.Ham.His beard was grizzly? No?Hor.It was, as I have seen it in his life,A sable silver’d.Ham.I will watch to-night;Perchance ’twill walk again.Hor.I warrant you it will.Ham.If it assume my noble father’s person,I’ll speak to it, though hell itself should gapeAnd 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 ye well.Upon the platform ’twixt eleven and twelve,I’ll visit you.All.Our duty to your honour.Ham.Your love, 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.Exit.