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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)

    270 The Tragedie of Hamlet.
    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. Exit.
    King. My words flye vp, my thoughts remain below,
    Words without thoughts, neuer to Heauen go. Exit.

    Enter Queene and Polonius.
    2375Pol. He will come straight:
    Looke you lay home to him,
    Tell him his prankes haue been too broad to beare with,
    And that your Grace hath scree'nd, and stoode betweene
    Much heate, and him. Ile silence me e'ene heere:
    2380Pray you be round with him.
    Ham. within. Mother, mother, mother.
    Qu. Ile warrant you, feare me not.
    Withdraw, I heare him comming.
    Enter Hamlet.
    2385Ham. Now Mother, what's the matter?
    Qu. Hamlet, thou hast thy Father much offended.
    Ham. Mother, you haue my Father much offended.
    Qu. Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.
    Ham. Go, go, you question with an idle tongue.
    2390Qu. Why how now Hamlet?
    Ham. Whats the matter now?
    Qu. Haue you forgot me?
    Ham. No by the Rood, not so:
    You are the Queene, your Husbands Brothers wife,
    2395But would you were not so. You are my Mother.
    Qu. Nay, then Ile set those to you that can speake.
    Ham. Come, come, and sit you downe, you shall not
    You go not till I set you vp a glasse,
    2400Where you may see the inmost part of you?
    Qu. What wilt thou do? thou wilt not murther me?
    Helpe, helpe, hoa.
    Pol. What hoa, helpe, helpe, helpe.
    Ham. How now, a Rat? dead for a Ducate, dead.
    2405Pol. Oh I am slaine. Killes Polonius.
    Qu. Oh me, what hast thou done?
    Ham. Nay I know not, is it the King?
    Qu. Oh what a rash, and bloody deed is this?
    Ham. A bloody deed, almost as bad good Mother,
    2410As kill a King, and marrie with his Brother.
    Qu. As kill a King?
    Ham. I Lady, 'twas my word.
    Thou wretched, rash, intruding foole farewell,
    I tooke thee for thy Betters, take thy Fortune,
    2415Thou find'st to be too busie, is some danger.
    Leaue wringing of your hands, peace, sit you downe,
    And let me wring your heart, for so I shall
    If it be made of penetrable stuffe;
    If damned Custome haue not braz'd it so,
    2420That it is proofe and bulwarke against Sense.
    Qu. What haue I done, that thou dar'st wag thy tong,
    In noise so rude against me?
    Ham. Such an Act
    That blurres the grace and blush of Modestie,
    2425Cals Vertue Hypocrite, takes off the Rose
    From the faire forehead of an innocent loue,
    And makes a blister there. Makes marriage vowes
    As false as Dicers Oathes. Oh such a deed,