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.
    Make choice of whom your wisest Friends you will,
    2955And they shall heare and iudge 'twixt you and me;
    If by direct or by Colaterall hand
    They finde vs touch'd, we will our Kingdome giue,
    Our Crowne, our Life, and all that we call Ours
    To you in satisfaction. But if not,
    2960Be you content to lend your patience to vs,
    And we shall ioyntly labour with your soule
    To giue it due content.
    Laer. Let this be so:
    His meanes of death, his obscure buriall;
    2965No Trophee, Sword, nor Hatchment o're his bones,
    No Noble rite, nor formall ostentation,
    Cry to be heard, as 'twere from Heauen to Earth,
    That I must call in question.
    King. So you shall:
    2970And where th'offence is, let the great Axe fall.
    I pray you go with me.

    Enter Horatio, with an Attendant.

    Hora. What are they that would speake with me?
    Ser. Saylors sir, they say they haue Letters for you.
    2975Hor. Let them come in,
    I do not know from what part of the world
    I should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.
    Enter Saylor.
    Say. God blesse you Sir.
    2980Hor. Let him blesse thee too.
    Say. Hee shall Sir, and't please him. There's a Letter
    for you Sir: It comes from th' Ambassadours that was
    bound for England, if your name be Horatio, as I am let
    to know it is.

    Reads the Letter.
    HOratio, When thou shalt haue ouerlook'd this, giue these
    Fellowes some meanes to the King: They haue Letters
    for him. Ere we were two dayes old at Sea, a Pyrate of very
    Warlicke appointment gaue vs Chace. Finding our selues too
    2990slow of Saile, we put on a compelled Valour. In the Grapple, I
    boorded them: On the instant they got cleare of our Shippe, so
    I alone became their Prisoner. They haue dealt with mee, like
    Theeues of Mercy, but they knew what they did. I am to doe
    a good turne for them. Let the King haue the Letters I haue
    2995sent, and repaire thou to me with as much hast as thou wouldest
    flye death. I haue words to speake in your eare, will make thee
    dumbe, yet are they much too light for the bore of the Matter.
    These good Fellowes will bring thee where I am. Rosincrance
    and Guildensterne, hold their course for England. Of them
    3000I haue much to tell thee, Farewell.
    He that thou knowest thine,
    Come, I will giue you way for these your Letters,
    And do't the speedier, that you may direct me
    3005To him from whom you brought them.

    Enter King and Laertes.
    King. Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
    And you must put me in your heart for Friend,
    Sith you haue heard, and with a knowing eare,
    3010That he which hath your Noble Father slaine,
    Pursued my life.
    Laer. It well appeares. But tell me,
    Why you proceeded not against these feates,
    So crimefull, and so Capitall in Nature,
    3015As by your Safety, Wisedome, all things else,
    You mainly were stirr'd vp?
    King. O for two speciall Reasons,
    Which may to you (perhaps) seeme much vnsinnowed,
    And yet to me they are strong. The Queen his Mother,
    3020Liues almost by his lookes: and for my selfe,
    My Vertue or my Plague, be it either which,
    She's so coniunctiue to my life and soule;
    That as the Starre moues not but in his Sphere,
    I could not but by her. The other Motiue,
    3025Why to a publike count I might not go,
    Is the great loue the generall gender beare him,
    Who dipping all his Faults in their affection,
    Would like the Spring that turneth Wood to Stone,
    Conuert his Gyues to Graces. So that my Arrowes
    3030Too slightly timbred for so loud a Winde,
    Would haue reuerted to my Bow againe,
    And not where I had arm'd them.
    Laer. And so haue I a Noble Father lost,
    A Sister driuen into desperate tearmes,
    3035Who was (if praises may go backe againe)
    Stood Challenger on mount of all the Age
    For her perfections. But my reuenge will come.
    King. Breake not your sleepes for that,
    You must not thinke
    3040That we are made of stuffe, so flat, and dull,
    That we can let our Beard be shooke with danger,
    And thinke it pastime. You shortly shall heare more,
    I lou'd your Father, and we loue our Selfe,
    And that I hope will teach you to imagine---
    Enter a Messenger.
    How now? What Newes?
    Mes. Letters my Lord from Hamlet. This to your
    Maiesty: this to the Queene.
    King. From Hamlet? Who brought them?
    3050Mes. Saylors my Lord they say, I saw them not:
    They were giuen me by Claudio, he receiu'd them.
    King. Laertes you shall heare them:
    Leaue vs.
    Exit Messenger
    High and Mighty, you shall know I am set naked on your
    3055Kingdome. To morrow shall I begge leaue to see your Kingly
    Eyes. When I shall (first asking your Pardon thereunto) re-
    count th'Occasions of my sodaine, and more strange returne.
    What should this meane? Are all the rest come backe?
    3060Or is it some abuse? Or no such thing?
    Laer. Know you the hand?
    Kin. 'Tis Hamlets Character, naked and in a Post-
    script here he sayes alone: Can you aduise me?
    Laer. I'm lost in it my Lord; but let him come,
    3065It warmes the very sicknesse in my heart,
    That I shall liue and tell him to his teeth;
    Thus diddest thou.
    Kin. If it be so Laertes, as how should it be so:
    How otherwise will you be rul'd by me?
    3070Laer. If so you'l not o'rerule me to a peace.
    Kin. To thine owne peace: if he be now return'd,
    As checking at his Voyage, and that he meanes
    No more to vndertake it; I will worke him
    To an exployt now ripe in my Deuice,
    3075Vnder the which he shall not choose but fall;
    And for his death no winde of blame shall breath,
    But euen his Mother shall vncharge the practice,
    And call it accident: Some two Monthes hence
    Here was a Gentleman of Normandy,
    3080I'ue seene my selfe, and seru'd against the French,
    And they ran well on Horsebacke; but this Gallant