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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.
    At lea st the whisper goes so: Our la st King,
    Whose Image euen but now appear'd to vs,
    Was (as you know) by Fortinbras of Norway,
    100(Thereto prick'd on by a mo st emulate Pride)
    Dar'd to the Combate. In which, our Valiant Hamlet,
    (For so this side of our knowne world e steem'd him)
    Did slay this Fortinbras: who by a Seal'd Compact,
    Well ratified by Law, and Heraldrie,
    105Did forfeite (with his life) all those his Lands
    Which he stood seiz'd on, to the Conqueror:
    Again st the which, a Moity competent
    Was gaged by our King: which had return'd
    To the Inheritance of Fortinbras,
    110Had he bin Vanqui sher, as by the same Cou'nant
    And carriage of the Article de signe,
    His fell to Hamlet. Now sir, young Fortinbras,
    Of vnimproued Mettle, hot and full,
    Hath in the skirts of Norway, heere and there,
    115Shark'd vp a Li st of Landle s s e Resolutes,
    For Foode and Diet, to some Enterprize
    That hath a stomacke in't: which is no other
    (And it doth well appeare vnto our State)
    But to recouer of vs by strong hand
    120And termes Compulsatiue, those foresaid Lands
    So by his Father lo st: and this (I take it)
    Is the maine Motiue of our Preparations,
    The Sourse of this our Watch, and the cheefe head
    Of this po st-ha st, and Romage in the Land.
    125 Enter Gho st againe.
    But soft, behold: Loe, where it comes againe:
    Ile cro s s e it, though it bla st me. Stay Illu sion:
    If thou ha st any sound, or vse of Voyce,
    Speake to me. If there be any good thing to be done,
    130That may to thee do ease, and grace to me; speak to me.
    If thou art priuy to thy Countries Fate
    (Which happily foreknowing may auoyd) Oh speake.
    Or, if thou ha st vp-hoorded in thy life
    Extorted Treasure in the wombe of Earth,
    135(For which, they say, you Spirits oft walke in death)
    Speake of it. Stay, and speake. Stop it Marcellus.
    Mar. Shall I strike at it with my Partizan?
    Hor. Do, if it will not stand.
    Barn. 'Tis heere.
    140 Hor. 'Tis heere.
    Mar. 'Tis gone. Exit Gho st .
    We do it wrong, being so Maie sticall
    To offer it the shew of Violence,
    For it is as the Ayre, invulnerable,
    145And our vaine blowes, malicious Mockery.
    Barn. It was about to speake, when the Cocke crew.
    Hor. And then it started, like a guilty thing
    Vpon a fearfull Summons. I haue heard,
    The Cocke that is the Trumpet to the day,
    150Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding Throate
    Awake the God of Day: and at his warning,
    Whether in Sea, or Fire, in Earth, or Ayre,
    Th'extrauagant, and erring Spirit, hyes
    To his Confine. And of the truth heerein,
    155This present Obiect made probation.
    Mar. It faded on the crowing of the Cocke.
    Some sayes, that euer 'gain st that Season comes
    Wherein our Sauiours Birth is celebrated,
    The Bird of Dawning singeth all night long:
    160And then (they say) no Spirit can walke abroad,
    The nights are wholsome, then no Planets strike,
    No Faiery talkes, nor Witch hath power to Charme:
    So hallow'd, and so gracious is the time.
    Hor. So haue I heard, and do in part beleeue it.
    165But looke, the Morne in Ru s s et mantle clad,
    Walkes o're the dew of yon high Ea sterne Hill,
    Breake we our Watch vp, and by my aduice
    Let vs impart what we haue seene to night
    Vnto yong Hamlet. For vpon my life,
    170This Spirit dumbe to vs, will speake to him:
    Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
    As needfull in our Loues, fitting our Duty?
    Mar. Let do't I pray, and I this morning know
    Where we shall finde him mo st conueniently. Exeunt

    175 Scena Secunda.

    Enter Claudius King of Denmarke, Gertrude the Queene,
    Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, and his Si ster O-
    phelia, Lords Attendant..

    King. Though yet of Hamlet our deere Brothers death
    180The memory be greene: and that it vs befitted
    To beare our hearts in greefe, and our whole Kingdome
    To be contracted in one brow of woe:
    Yet so farre hath Discretion fought with Nature,
    That we with wise st sorrow thinke on him,
    185Together with remembrance of our selues.
    Therefore our sometimes Si ster, now our Queen,
    Th'Imperiall Ioyntre s s e of this warlike State,
    Haue we, as 'twere, with a defeated ioy,
    With one Auspicious, and one Dropping eye,
    190With mirth in Funerall, and with Dirge in Marriage,
    In equall Scale weighing Delight and Dole
    Taken to Wife; nor haue we heerein barr'd
    Your better Wisedomes, which haue freely gone
    With this affaire along, for all our Thankes.
    195Now followes, that you know young Fortinbras,
    Holding a weake supposall of our worth;
    Or thinking by our late deere Brothers death,
    Our State to be di sioynt, and out of Frame,
    Colleagued with the dreame of his Aduantage;
    200He hath not fayl'd to pe ster vs with Me s s age,
    Importing the surrender of those Lands
    Lo st by his Father: with all Bonds of Law
    To our mo st valiant Brother. So much for him.
    Enter Voltemand and Cornelius.
    205Now for our selfe, and for this time of meeting
    Thus much the bu sine s s e is. We haue heere writ
    To Norway, Vncle of young Fortinbras,
    Who Impotent and Bedrid, scarsely heares
    Of this his Nephewes purpose, to suppre s s e
    210His further gate heerein. In that the Leuies,
    The Li sts, and full proportions are all made
    Out of his subiect: and we heere dispatch
    You good Cornelius, and you Voltemand,
    For bearing of this greeting to old Norway,
    215Giuing to you no further personall power
    To bu sine s s e with the King, more then the scope
    Of these dilated Articles allow:
    Farewell, and let your ha st commend your duty.
    Volt. In that, and all things, will we shew our duty.
    220 King. We doubt it nothing, heartily farewell.
    Exit Voltemand and Cornelius.
    And now Laertes, what's the newes with you?