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)

    Enter King, Rosincrance, and Guildensterne.
    King. I like him not, nor stands it safe with vs,
    To let his madnesse range. Therefore prepare you,
    I your Commission will forthwith dispatch,
    2275And he to England shall along with you:
    The termes of our estate, may not endure
    Hazard so dangerous as doth hourely grow
    Out of his Lunacies.
    Guild. We will our selues prouide:
    2280Most holie and Religious feare it is
    To keepe those many many bodies safe
    That liue and feede vpon your Maiestie.
    Rosin. The single
    And peculiar life is bound
    2285With all the strength and Armour of the minde,
    To keepe it selfe from noyance: but much more,
    That Spirit, vpon whose spirit depends and rests
    The liues of many, the cease of Maiestie
    Dies not alone; but like a Gulfe doth draw
    2290What's neere it, with it. It is a massie wheele
    Fixt on the Somnet of the highest Mount,
    To whose huge Spoakes, ten thousand lesser things
    Are mortiz'd and adioyn'd: which when it falles,
    Each small annexment, pettie consequence
    2295Attends the boystrous Ruine. Neuer alone
    Did the King sighe, but with a generall grone.
    King. Arme you, I pray you to this speedie Voyage;
    For we will Fetters put vpon this feare,
    Which now goes too free-footed.
    2300Both. We will haste vs.
    Exeunt Gent.
    Enter Polonius.
    Pol. My Lord, he's going to his Mothers Closset:
    Behinde the Arras Ile conuey my selfe
    To heare the Processe. Ile warrant shee'l tax him home,
    2305And as you said, and wisely was it said,
    'Tis meete that some more audience then a Mother,
    Since Nature makes them partiall, should o're-heare
    The speech of vantage. Fare you well my Liege,
    Ile call vpon you ere you go to bed,
    2310And tell you what I know.
    King. Thankes deere my Lord.
    Oh my offence is ranke, it smels to heauen,
    It hath the primall eldest curse vpon't,
    A Brothers murther. Pray can I not,
    2315Though inclination be as sharpe as will:
    My stronger guilt, defeats my strong intent,
    And like a man to double businesse bound,
    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
    And both neglect; what if this cursed hand
    2320Were thicker then it selfe with Brothers blood,
    Is there not Raine enough in the sweet Heauens
    To wash it white as Snow? Whereto serues mercy,
    But to confront the visage of Offence?
    And what's in Prayer, but this two-fold force,
    2325To be fore-stalled ere we come to fall,
    Or pardon'd being downe? Then Ile looke vp,
    My fault is past. But oh, what forme of Prayer
    Can serue my turne? Forgiue me my foule Murther:
    That cannot be, since I am still possest
    2330Of those effects for which I did the Murther.
    My Crowne, mine owne Ambition, and my Queene:
    May one be pardon'd, and retaine th'offence?
    In the corrupted currants of this world,
    Offences gilded hand may shoue by Iustice,
    2335And oft 'tis seene, the wicked prize it selfe
    Buyes out the Law; but 'tis not so aboue,
    There is no shuffling, there the Action lyes
    In his true Nature, and we our selues compell'd
    Euen to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
    2340To giue in euidence. What then? What rests?
    Try what Repentance can. What can it not?
    Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
    Oh wretched state! Oh bosome, blacke as death!
    Oh limed soule, that strugling to be free,
    2345Art more ingag'd: Helpe Angels, make assay:
    Bow stubborne knees, and heart with strings of Steele,
    Be soft as sinewes of the new-borne Babe,
    All may be well.
    Enter Hamlet.
    2350Ham. Now might I do it pat, now he is praying,
    And now Ile doo't, and so he goes to Heauen,
    And so am I reueng'd: that would be scann'd,
    A Villaine killes my Father, and for that
    I his foule Sonne, do this same Villaine send
    2355To heauen. Oh this is hyre and Sallery, not Reuenge.
    He tooke my Father grossely, full of bread,
    With all his Crimes broad blowne, as fresh as May,
    And how his Audit stands, who knowes, saue Heauen:
    But in our circumstance and course of thought
    2360'Tis heauie with him: and am I then reueng'd,
    To take him in the purging of his Soule,
    When he is fit and season'd for his passage? No.
    Vp Sword, and know thou a more horrid hent
    When he is drunke asleepe: or in his Rage,
    2365Or in th'incestuous pleasure of his bed,
    At gaming, swearing, or about some acte
    That ha's no rellish of Saluation in't,
    Then trip him, that his heeles may kicke at Heauen,
    And that his Soule may be as damn'd aud blacke
    2370As Hell, whereto it goes. My Mother stayes,
    This Physicke but prolongs thy sickly dayes.
    King. My words flye vp, my thoughts remain below,
    Words without thoughts, neuer to Heauen go.