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 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---
    3045 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
    276 The Tragedie of Hamlet.
    Had witchcraft in't; he grew into his Seat,
    And to such wondrous doing brought his Horse,
    As had he beene encorps't and demy-Natur'd
    3085With the braue Beast, so farre he past my thought,
    That I in forgery of shapes and trickes,
    Come short of what he did.
    Laer. A Norman was't?
    Kin. A Norman.
    3090Laer. Vpon my life Lamound.
    Kin. The very same.
    Laer. I know him well, he is the Brooch indeed,
    And Iemme of all our Nation.
    Kin. Hee mad confession of you,
    3095And gaue you such a Masterly report,
    For Art and exercise in your defence;
    And for your Rapier most especially,
    That he cryed out, t'would be a sight indeed,
    If one could match you Sir. This report of his
    3100Did Hamlet so envenom with his Enuy,
    That he could nothing doe but wish and begge,
    Your sodaine comming ore to play with him;
    Now out of this.
    Laer. Why out of this, my Lord?
    3105Kin. Laertes was your Father deare to you?
    Or are you like the painting of a sorrow,
    A face without a heart?
    Laer. Why aske you this?
    Kin. Not that I thinke you did not loue your Father,
    3110But that I know Loue is begun by Time:
    And that I see in passages of proofe,
    Time qualifies the sparke and fire of it:
    Hamlet comes backe: what would you vndertake,
    To show your selfe your Fathers sonne indeed,
    3115More then in words?
    Laer. To cut his throat i'th' Church.
    Kin. No place indeed should murder Sancturize;
    Reuenge should haue no bounds: but good Laertes
    Will you doe this, keepe close within your Chamber,
    3120Hamlet return'd, shall know you are come home:
    Wee'l put on those shall praise your excellence,
    And set a double varnish on the fame
    The Frenchman gaue you, bring you in fine together,
    And wager on your heads, he being remisse,
    3125Most generous, and free from all contriuing,
    Will not peruse the Foiles? So that with ease,
    Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
    A Sword vnbaited, and in a passe of practice,
    Requit him for your Father.
    3130Laer. I will doo't,
    And for that purpose Ile annoint my Sword:
    I bought an Vnction of a Mountebanke
    So mortall, I but dipt a knife in it,
    Where it drawes blood, no Cataplasme so rare,
    3135Collected from all Simples that haue Vertue
    Vnder the Moone, can saue the thing from death,
    That is but scratcht withall: Ile touch my point,
    With this contagion, that if I gall him slightly,
    It may be death.
    3140Kin. Let's further thinke of this,
    Weigh what conuenience both of time and meanes
    May fit vs to our shape, if this should faile;
    And that our drift looke through our bad performance,
    'Twere better not assaid; therefore this Proiect
    3145Should haue a backe or second, that might hold,
    If this should blast in proofe: Soft, let me see
    Wee'l make a solemne wager on your commings,
    I ha't: when in your motion you are hot and dry,
    As make your bowts more violent to the end,
    3150And that he cals for drinke; Ile haue prepar'd him
    A Challice for the nonce; whereon but sipping,
    If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
    Our purpose may hold there; how sweet Queene.
    Enter Queene.
    3155Queen. One woe doth tread vpon anothers heele,
    So fast they'l follow: your Sister's drown'd Laertes.
    Laer. Drown'd! O where?
    Queen. There is a Willow growes aslant a Brooke,
    That shewes his hore leaues in the glassie streame:
    3160There with fantasticke Garlands did she come,
    Of Crow-flowers, Nettles, Daysies, and long Purples,
    That liberall Shepheards giue a grosser name;
    But our cold Maids doe Dead Mens Fingers call them:
    There on the pendant boughes, her Coronet weeds
    3165Clambring to hang; an enuious sliuer broke,
    When downe the weedy Trophies, and her selfe,
    Fell in the weeping Brooke, her cloathes spred wide,
    And Mermaid-like, a while they bore her vp,
    Which time she chaunted snatches of old tunes,
    3170As one incapable of her owne distresse,
    Or like a creature Natiue, and indued
    Vnto that Element: but long it could not be,
    Till that her garments, heauy with her drinke,
    Pul'd the poore wretch from her melodious buy,
    3175To muddy death.
    Laer. Alas then, is she drown'd?
    Queen. Drown'd, drown'd.
    Laer. Too much of water hast thou poore Ophelia,
    And therefore I forbid my teares: but yet
    3180It is our tricke, Nature her custome holds,
    Let shame say what it will; when these are gone
    The woman will be out: Adue my Lord,
    I haue a speech of fire, that faine would blaze,
    But that this folly doubts it. Exit.
    3185Kin. Let's follow, Gertrude:
    How much I had to doe to calme his rage?
    Now feare I this will giue it start againe;
    Therefore let's follow. Exeunt.