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ACT I. SCENE II. 


Elsinore. The Castle

Flourish. Enter CLAUDIUS KING OF DENMARK, GERTRUDE THE QUEEN, and COUNCILLORS, including POLONIUS, his son LAERTES, VOLTEMAND CORNELIUS, and HAMLET.

 KING.

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.

 BOTH.

In that, and all things, will we show our duty.

 KING.

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,Ôh 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 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;Ôaking earthly thunder. Come away.

Flourish. Exeunt all but Hamlet.

 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 reasonÔ 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 gentlemenÔ 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?

Both [Mar. and Ber.] We do, my lord.

 HAMLET.

Arm'd, say you?

 BOTH.

Arm'd, my lord.

 HAMLET.

From top to toe?

 BOTH.

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.

 BOTH.

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.Ôonour.

 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. Exit.

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