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  • Title: Hamlet (Modern, Quarto 1)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • 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
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Modern, Quarto 1)

    [Scene 4]
    Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.
    Hamlet The air bites shrewd; it is an eager and
    605A nipping wind. What hour is't?
    Horatio I think it lacks of twelve.
    Sound Trumpets.
    Marcellus No, 'tis struck.
    Horatio Indeed, I heard it not. What doth this mean, my lord?
    Hamlet Oh, the King doth wake tonight, and takes his rouse,
    Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels,
    And as he dreams, his draughts of Rhenish down,
    615The kettledrum and trumpet thus bray out
    The triumphs of his pledge.
    Horatio Is it a custom here?
    Hamlet Ay, marry, is't, and, though I am
    Native here and to the manner borne,
    620It is a custom more honored in the breach
    Than in the observance.
    Enter the Ghost.
    Horatio Look, my lord, it comes!
    Hamlet Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
    625Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damned,
    Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
    Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
    Thou comest in such questionable shape
    That I will speak to thee.
    I'll call thee Hamlet, king, father, royal Dane.
    630Oh, answer me! Let me not burst in ignorance,
    But say why thy canonized bones, hearsèd in death,
    Have burst their ceremonies, why thy sepulcher,
    In which we saw thee quietly interred,
    635Hath burst his ponderous and marble jaws
    To cast thee up again. What may this mean
    That thou, dead corse, again in compleat steel,
    Revisits thus the glimpses of the moon,
    Making night hideous, and we fools of nature,
    640So horridly to shake our disposition
    With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
    Say, speak, wherefore? What may this mean?
    Horatio It beckons you, as though it had something
    645To impart to you alone.
    Marcellus Look with what courteous action
    It waves you to a more removèd ground.
    But do not go with it.
    650Horatio No, by no means, my lord.
    Hamlet It will not speak. Then will I follow it.
    Horatio What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
    660That beckles o'er his base into the sea,
    And there assume some other horrible shape
    Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
    And drive you into madness? Think of it.
    Hamlet Still am I called.--Go on, I'll follow thee.
    665Horatio My lord, you shall not go.
    Hamlet Why, what should be the fear?
    I do not set my life at a pin's fee,
    655And, for my soul, what can it do to that,
    Being a thing immortal like itself?--
    Go on, I'll follow thee.
    Marcellus My lord, be ruled, you shall not go.
    Hamlet My fate cries out, and makes each petty artery
    670As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
    Still am I called. Unhand me, gentlemen!
    By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.
    Away, I say!--Go on, I'll follow thee.
    [Exeunt Ghost and Hamlet.]
    675Horatio He waxeth desperate with imagination.
    Marcellus Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
    Horatio Have after. To what issue will this sort?
    Marcellus Let's follow. 'Tis not fit thus to obey him.
    Exit [with Horatio].