Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)


[4.4]
Enter Fortinbras [and a Captain] with his army over the stage.
2735Fortinbras Go, captain, from me greet the Danish King.
Tell him that by his license Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promised march
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
If that his majesty would aught with us,
2740We shall express our duty in his eye;
And let him know so.
Captain I will do't, my lord.
Fortinbras [To his soldiers] Go softly on.
[Exeunt all but the Captain.]
2743.1
Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, [Guildenstern,] etc.
Hamlet [To the Captain] Good sir, whose powers are these?
Captain They are of Norway, sir.
Hamlet How purposed, sir, I pray you?
.5Captain Against some part of Poland.
Hamlet Who commands them, sir?
Captain The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.
Hamlet Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?
.10Captain Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it,
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
.15A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
Hamlet Why then the Polack never will defend it.
Captain Yes, it is already garrisoned.
Hamlet Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw.
.20This is th'impostume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.
Captain
God buy you, sir.
[Exit.]
Rosencrantz
Will't please you go, my lord?
.25Hamlet I'll be with you straight. Go a little before.
[Exeunt all except Hamlet.]
How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! What is a man
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
.30Sure he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
That capability and godlike reason
To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
.35Of thinking too precisely on th'event--
A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom
And ever three parts coward--I do not know
Why yet I live to say this thing's to do,
Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means
.40To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me.
Witness this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
.45Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
.50When honor's at the stake. How stand I, then,
That have a father killed, a mother stained,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep, while to my shame I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men
.55That for a fantasy and trick of fame
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth,
.60My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
Exit.