Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Hamlet (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • Textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Folio 1, 1623)

    The Tragedie of Hamlet.
    Ham. You cannot Sir take from me any thing, that I
    will more willingly part withall, except my life, my
    Polon. Fare you well my Lord.
    Ham. These tedious old fooles.
    Polon. You goe to seeke my Lord Hamlet; there
    hee is.

    Enter Rosincran and Guildensterne.
    Rosin. God saue you Sir.
    Guild. Mine honour'd Lord?
    Rosin. My most deare Lord?
    Ham. My excellent good friends? How do'st thou
    1270Guildensterne? Oh, Rosincrane; good Lads: How doe ye
    Rosin. As the indifferent Children of the earth.
    Guild. Happy, in that we are not ouer-happy: on For-
    tunes Cap, we are not the very Button.
    1275Ham. Nor the Soales of her Shoo?
    Rosin. Neither my Lord.
    Ham. Then you liue about her waste, or in the mid-
    dle of her fauour?
    Guil. Faith, her priuates, we.
    1280Ham. In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true:
    she is a Strumpet. What's the newes?
    Rosin. None my Lord; but that the World's growne
    Ham. Then is Doomesday neere: But your newes is
    1285not true. Let me question more in particular: what haue
    you my good friends, deserued at the hands of Fortune,
    that she sends you to Prison hither?
    Guil. Prison, my Lord?
    Ham. Denmark's a Prison.
    1290Rosin. Then is the World one.
    Ham. A goodly one, in which there are many Con-
    fines, Wards, and Dungeons; Denmarke being one o'th'
    Rosin. We thinke not so my Lord.
    1295Ham. Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing
    either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me it is
    a prison.
    Rosin. Why then your Ambition makes it one: 'tis
    too narrow for your minde.
    1300Ham. O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and
    count my selfe a King of infinite space; were it not that
    I haue bad dreames.
    Guil. Which dreames indeed are Ambition: for the
    very substance of the Ambitious, is meerely the shadow
    1305of a Dreame.
    Ham. A dreame it selfe is but a shadow.
    Rosin. Truely, and I hold Ambition of so ayry and
    light a quality, that it is but a shadowes shadow.
    Ham. Then are our Beggers bodies; and our Mo-
    1310narchs and out-stretcht Heroes the Beggers Shadowes:
    shall wee to th' Court: for, by my fey I cannot rea-
    Both. Wee'l wait vpon you.
    Ham. No such matter. I will not sort you with the
    1315rest of my seruants: for to speake to you like an honest
    man: I am most dreadfully attended; but in the beaten
    way of friendship, What make you at Elsonower?
    Rosin. To visit you my Lord, no other occasion.
    Ham. Begger that I am, I am euen poore in thankes;
    1320but I thanke you: and sure deare friends my thanks
    are too deare a halfepeny; were you not sent for? Is it
    your owne inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come,
    deale iustly with me: come, come; nay speake.
    Guil. What should we say my Lord?
    1325Ham. Why any thing. But to the purpose; you were
    sent for; and there is a kinde confession in your lookes;
    which your modesties haue not craft enough to co-
    lor, I know the good King & Queene haue sent for you.
    Rosin. To what end my Lord?
    1330Ham. That you must teach me: but let mee coniure
    you by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of
    our youth, by the Obligation of our euer-preserued loue,
    and by what more deare, a better proposer could charge
    you withall; be euen and direct with me, whether you
    1335were sent for or no.
    Rosin. What say you?
    Ham. Nay then I haue an eye of you: if you loue me
    hold not off.
    Guil. My Lord, we were sent for.
    1340Ham. I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation
    preuent your discouery of your secricie to the King and
    Queene: moult no feather, I haue of late, but wherefore
    I know not, lost all my mirth, forgone all custome of ex-
    ercise; and indeed, it goes so heauenly with my dispositi-
    1345on; that this goodly frame the Earth, seemes to me a ster-
    rill Promontory; this most excellent Canopy the Ayre,
    look you, this braue ore-hanging, this Maiesticall Roofe,
    fretted with golden fire: why, it appeares no other thing
    to mee, then a foule and pestilent congregation of va-
    1350pours. What a piece of worke is a man! how Noble in
    Reason? how infinite in faculty? in forme and mouing
    how expresse and admirable? in Action, how like an An-
    gel? in apprehension, how like a God? the beauty of the
    world, the Parragon of Animals; and yet to me, what is
    1355this Quintessence of Dust? Man delights not me; no,
    nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seeme
    to say so.
    Rosin. My Lord, there was no such stuffe in my
    1360Ham. Why did you laugh, when I said, Man delights
    not me?
    Rosin. To thinke, my Lord, if you delight not in Man,
    what Lenton entertainment the Players shall receiue
    from you: wee coated them on the way, and hither are
    1365they comming to offer you Seruice.
    Ham. He that playes the King shall be welcome; his
    Maiesty shall haue Tribute of mee: the aduenturous
    Knight shal vse his Foyle and Target: the Louer shall
    not sigh gratis, the humorous man shall end his part in
    1370peace: the Clowne shall make those laugh whose lungs
    are tickled a'th' sere: and the Lady shall say her minde
    freely; or the blanke Verse shall halt for't: what Players
    are they?
    Rosin. Euen those you were wont to take delight in
    1375the Tragedians of the City.
    Ham. How chances it they trauaile? their resi-
    dence both in reputation and profit was better both
    Rosin. I thinke their Inhibition comes by the meanes
    1380of the late Innouation?
    Ham. Doe they hold the same estimation they did
    when I was in the City? Are they so follow'd?
    Rosin. No indeed, they are not.
    Ham. How comes it? doe they grow rusty?
    1385Rosin. Nay, their indeauour keepes in the wonted
    pace; But there is Sir an ayrie of Children, little
    Yases, that crye out on the top of question; and
    are most tyrannically clap't for't: these are now the