Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

print/save print/save view


Act I, Scene 2

Elsinore. A room of state in the Castle.


Flourish. [Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes and his sister Ophelia, [Voltemand, Cornelius,] Lords Attendant.

  • Claudius. 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 205
    That we with wisest sorrow think on him
    Together with remembrance of ourselves.
    Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
    Th' imperial jointress to this warlike state,
    Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy, 210
    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 215
    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, 220
    Colleagued with this 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 bands of law,
    To our most valiant brother. So much for him. 225
    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 bedrid, scarcely hears
    Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress 230
    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, Voltemand,
    For bearers of this greeting to old Norway, 235
    Giving to you no further personal power
    To business with the King, more than the scope
    Of these dilated articles allow. [Gives a paper.]
    Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
  • Cornelius. [with Voltemand] In that, and all things, will we show our duty. 240
  • Claudius. We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
    [Exeunt Voltemand 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 245
    And lose 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. 250
    What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
  • 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, 255
    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.
  • Claudius. Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
  • Polonius. He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave 260
    By laboursome petition, and at last
    Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent.
    I do beseech you give him leave to go.
  • Claudius. Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
    And thy best graces spend it at thy will! 265
    But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son-
  • Hamlet. [aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind!
  • Claudius. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
  • Hamlet. Not so, my lord. I am too much i' th' sun.
  • Gertrude. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, 270
    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. 275
  • Hamlet. Ay, madam, it is common.
  • Gertrude. If it be,
    Why seems it so particular with thee?
  • Hamlet. Seems, madam, Nay, it is. I know not 'seems.'
    'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, 280
    Nor customary suits of solemn black,
    Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
    No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
    Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
    Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief, 285
    '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.
  • Claudius. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet, 290
    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 295
    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; 300
    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, 305
    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 310
    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 315
    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. 320
  • Gertrude. Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
    I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
  • Hamlet. I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
  • Claudius. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
    Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come. 325
    This gentle and unforc'd 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 heaven shall bruit again, 330
    Respeaking earthly thunder. Come away.

Flourish. Exeunt all but Hamlet.

  • 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 335
    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 340
    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 345
    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!- 350
    A little month, or ere those shoes were old
    With which she followed 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; 355
    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 360
    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.

  • Horatio. Hail to your lordship! 365
  • Hamlet. I am glad to see you well.
    Horatio!- or I do forget myself.
  • Horatio. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
  • Hamlet. Sir, my good friend- I'll change that name with you.
    And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? 370
  • Hamlet. I am very glad to see you.- [To Bernardo] Good even, sir.-
    But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
  • Horatio. A truant disposition, good my lord. 375
  • Hamlet. I would not hear your enemy say so,
    Nor shall you do my 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? 380
    We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
  • Horatio. My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
  • Hamlet. I prithee do not mock me, fellow student.
    I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
  • Horatio. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon. 385
  • Hamlet. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! The funeral bak'd 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. 390
  • Hamlet. In my mind's eye, Horatio.
  • Horatio. I saw him once. He was a goodly king.
  • Hamlet. He was a man, take him for all in all.
    I shall not look upon his like again. 395
  • Horatio. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
  • Horatio. My lord, the King your father.
  • Horatio. Season your admiration for a while 400
    With an attent ear, till I may deliver
    Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
    This marvel to you.
  • Hamlet. For God's love let me hear!
  • Horatio. Two nights together had these gentlemen 405
    (Marcellus and Bernardo) on their watch
    In the dead vast and middle of the night
    Been thus encount'red. A figure like your father,
    Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
    Appears before them and with solemn march 410
    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 distill'd
    Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
    Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me 415
    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. 420
    These hands are not more like.
  • Marcellus. My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.
  • Hamlet. Did you not speak to it?
  • Horatio. My lord, I did; 425
    But answer made it none. Yet once methought
    It lifted up it 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 430
    And vanish'd from our sight.
  • Horatio. 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. 435
  • Hamlet. Indeed, indeed, sirs. But this troubles me.
    Hold you the watch to-night?
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Arm'd, my lord. 440
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] My lord, from head to foot.
  • Hamlet. Then saw you not his face?
  • Horatio. O, yes, my lord! He wore his beaver up.
  • Hamlet. What, look'd he frowningly. 445
  • Horatio. A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
  • Hamlet. And fix'd his eyes upon you?
  • Hamlet. I would I had been there.
  • Horatio. It would have much amaz'd you.
  • Hamlet. Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?
  • Horatio. While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
  • Marcellus. [with Bernardo] Longer, longer. 455
  • Hamlet. His beard was grizzled- no?
  • Horatio. It was, as I have seen it in his life,
    A sable silver'd.
  • Hamlet. I will watch to-night. 460
    Perchance 'twill walk again.
  • Hamlet. 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, 465
    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. 470
    Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
    I'll visit you.
  • All. Our duty to your honour.
  • Hamlet. Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
    [Exeunt [all but Hamlet].] 475
    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.