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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 least the whisper goes so: Our last 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 most emulate Pride)
    Dar'd to the Combate. In which, our Valiant Hamlet,
    (For so this side of our knowne world esteem'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:
    Against the which, a Moity competent
    Was gaged by our King: which had return'd
    To the Inheritance of Fortinbras,
    110Had he bin Vanquisher, as by the same Cou'nant
    And carriage of the Article designe,
    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 List of Landlesse 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 lost: and this (I take it)
    Is the maine Motiue of our Preparations,
    The Sourse of this our Watch, and the cheefe head
    Of this post-hast, and Romage in the Land.
    Enter Ghost againe.
    But soft, behold: Loe, where it comes againe:
    Ile crosse it, though it blast me. Stay Illusion:
    If thou hast 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 hast 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.
    140Hor. 'Tis heere.
    Mar. 'Tis gone.
    Exit Ghost.
    We do it wrong, being so Maiesticall
    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 'gainst 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 Russet mantle clad,
    Walkes o're the dew of yon high Easterne 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 most conueniently.

    Scena Secunda.

    Enter Claudius King of Denmarke, Gertrude the Queene,
    Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, and his Sister 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 wisest sorrow thinke on him,
    185Together with remembrance of our selues.
    Therefore our sometimes Sister, now our Queen,
    Th'Imperiall Ioyntresse 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 disioynt, and out of Frame,
    Colleagued with the dreame of his Aduantage;
    200He hath not fayl'd to pester vs 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.
    Enter Voltemand and Cornelius.
    205Now for our selfe, and for this time of meeting
    Thus much the businesse is. We haue heere writ
    To Norway, Vncle of young Fortinbras,
    Who Impotent and Bedrid, scarsely heares
    Of this his Nephewes purpose, to suppresse
    210His further gate heerein. In that the Leuies,
    The Lists, 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 businesse with the King, more then the scope
    Of these dilated Articles allow:
    Farewell, and let your hast commend your duty.
    Volt. In that, and all things, will we shew our duty.
    220King. We doubt it nothing, heartily farewell.
    Exit Voltemand and Cornelius.
    And now Laertes, what's the newes with you?