Enter King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltimand, Cornelius, Lords, and Attendants
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death The memory be green, and that it us befitted To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe, Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature That we with wisest sorrow think on him, Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, The imperial jointress to this warlike state, Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,— With an auspicious and a dropping eye, With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole,— Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone With this affair along. For all, our thanks. Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras, Holding a weak supposal of our worth, Or thinking by our late dear brother's death Our state to be disjoint and out of frame, Colleagued with the dream of his advantage, He hath not fail'd to pester us with message, Importing the surrender of those lands Lost by his father, with all bonds of law, To our most valiant brother. So much for him. Now for ourself and for this time of meeting: Thus much the business is: we have here writ To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,— Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears Of this his nephew's purpose,—to suppress His further gait herein; in that the levies, The lists and full proportions, are all made Out of his subject: and we here dispatch You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand, For bearers of this greeting to old Norway; Giving to you no further personal power To business with the king, more than the scope Of these delated articles allow. Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.
Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes? You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, And loose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes, That shall not be my offer, not thy asking? The head is not more native to the heart, The hand more instrumental to the mouth, Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father. What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
My dread lord, Your leave and favour to return to France; From whence though willingly I came to Denmark, To show my duty in your coronation, Yet now, I must confess, that duty done, My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave By laboursome petition, and at last Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent: I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine, And thy best graces spend it at thy will! But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,—
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Do not for ever with thy vailed lids Seek for thy noble father in the dust: Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die, Passing through nature to eternity.
Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.' 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Nor customary suits of solemn black, Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage, Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, That can denote me truly: these indeed seem, For they are actions that a man might play: But I have that within which passeth show; These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, To give these mourning duties to your father: But, you must know, your father lost a father; That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound In filial obligation for some term To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever In obstinate condolement is a course Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief; It shows a will most incorrect to heaven, A heart unfortified, a mind impatient, An understanding simple and unschool'd: For what we know must be and is as common As any the most vulgar thing to sense, Why should we in our peevish opposition Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven, A fault against the dead, a fault to nature, To reason most absurd: whose common theme Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried, From the first corse till he that died to-day, 'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth This unprevailing woe, and think of us As of a father: for let the world take note, You are the most immediate to our throne; And with no less nobility of love Than that which dearest father bears his son, Do I impart toward you. For your intent In going back to school in Wittenberg, It is most retrograde to our desire: And we beseech you, bend you to remain Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye, Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet: I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply: Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come; This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof, No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day, But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell, And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again, Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
Exeunt all but Hamlet
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt Thaw and resolve itself into a dew! Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable, Seem to me all the uses of this world! Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden, That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature Possess it merely. That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: and yet, within a month— Let me not think on't—Frailty, thy name is woman!— A little month, or ere those shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body, Like Niobe, all tears:—why she, even she— O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason, Would have mourn'd longer—married with my uncle, My father's brother, but no more like my father Than I to Hercules: within a month: Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears Had left the flushing in her galled eyes, She married. O, most wicked speed, to post With such dexterity to incestuous sheets! It is not nor it cannot come to good: But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.
Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo
Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you: And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? Marcellus?
I would not hear your enemy say so, Nor shall you do mine ear that violence, To make it truster of your own report Against yourself: I know you are no truant. But what is your affair in Elsinore? We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables. Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio! My father!—methinks I see my father.
Season your admiration for awhile With an attent ear, till I may deliver, Upon the witness of these gentlemen, This marvel to you.
Two nights together had these gentlemen, Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch, In the dead vast and middle of the night, Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father, Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe, Appears before them, and with solemn march Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk'd By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes, Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distilled Almost to jelly with the act of fear, Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me In dreadful secrecy impart they did; And I with them the third night kept the watch; Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time, Form of the thing, each word made true and good, The apparition comes: I knew your father; These hands are not more like.
My lord, I did; But answer made it none: yet once methought It lifted up its head and did address Itself to motion, like as it would speak; But even then the morning cock crew loud, And at the sound it shrunk in haste away, And vanish'd from our sight.
As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true; And we did think it writ down in our duty To let you know of it.
If it assume my noble father's person, I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all, If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight, Let it be tenable in your silence still; And whatsoever else shall hap to-night, Give it an understanding, but no tongue: I will requite your loves. So, fare you well: Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve, I'll visit you.
Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.
Exeunt all but Hamlet
My father's spirit in arms! all is not well; I doubt some foul play: would the night were come! Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise, Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.