Act 1, scene 2

Act 1, scene ii

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 natureThat 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 drooping eye
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage
In equal scale weighing delight and dole
Taken to wife.
 
Nor have we herein barred
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 the 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 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 writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,–
Who, impotent and bed-rid, 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 delated articles allow.
 
Farewell; and let your haste command your duty.
 
In that and all things will we show our duty.
 
We doubt it nothing.
 
Heartily farewell.
 
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?
 
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.
 
Have you your father’s leave?
 
What says Polonius? 
 
He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laborsome petition and at last upon his will
I sealed my hard consent.
 
I do beseech you give him leave to go.
 
KING 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.

KING CLAUDIUS

How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

HAMLET

Not so, my lord; I am too much i’ the sun.

QUEEN GERTRUDE

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.

Do not for ever with thy veiled lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:

Thou know’st ’tis commonAll that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

HAMLET

Ay, madam, it is common.

QUEEN 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 forced 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.

KING 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.

QUEEN 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.

KING CLAUDIUS

Why, ’tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come.
This gentle and unforced 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 heavens all bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.

HAMLET

O, that this too too sullied 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 follow’d 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 friendI’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. 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 mine 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, HoratioThe funeral baked 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

Where, my lord?

HAMLET

In my mind’s eye, Horatio.

HORATIO

I saw him once. A’ 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 awhile
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 encounter’d. 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, distilled
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 its 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 BERNARDO

We do, my lord.

HAMLET

Arm’d, say you?

MARCELLUS BERNARDO

Arm’d, my lord.

HAMLET

From top to toe?

MARCELLUS 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 amazed you.

HAMLET

Very like, very like. Stay’d it long?

HORATIO

While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

MARCELLUS 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 warrant 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.

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.

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