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The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

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Act I, Scene 5

Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.


Enter Ghost and Hamlet.

  • Hamlet. Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak! I'll go no further.
  • Father's Ghost. My hour is almost come,
    When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
  • Father's Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing 740
    To what I shall unfold.
  • Hamlet. Speak. I am bound to hear.
  • Father's Ghost. I am thy father's spirit, 745
    Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
    And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
    Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison house, 750
    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
    Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
    Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
    And each particular hair to stand on end 755
    Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
    If thou didst ever thy dear father love-
  • Father's Ghost. Murther most foul, as in the best it is;
    But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
  • Hamlet. Haste me to know't, that I, with wings as swift 765
    As meditation or the thoughts of love,
    May sweep to my revenge.
  • Father's Ghost. I find thee apt;
    And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
    That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, 770
    Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
    'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
    A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
    Is by a forged process of my death
    Rankly abus'd. But know, thou noble youth, 775
    The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown.
  • Hamlet. O my prophetic soul!
    My uncle?
  • Father's Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, 780
    With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts-
    O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
    So to seduce!- won to his shameful lust
    The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen.
    O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there, 785
    From me, whose love was of that dignity
    That it went hand in hand even with the vow
    I made to her in marriage, and to decline
    Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
    To those of mine! 790
    But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,
    Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
    So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
    Will sate itself in a celestial bed
    And prey on garbage. 795
    But soft! methinks I scent the morning air.
    Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
    My custom always of the afternoon,
    Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
    With juice of cursed hebona in a vial, 800
    And in the porches of my ears did pour
    The leperous distilment; whose effect
    Holds such an enmity with blood of man
    That swift as quicksilver it courses through
    The natural gates and alleys of the body, 805
    And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
    And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
    The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine;
    And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
    Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust 810
    All my smooth body.
    Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
    Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd;
    Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
    Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd, 815
    No reckoning made, but sent to my account
    With all my imperfections on my head.
  • Hamlet. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
  • Father's Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
    Let not the royal bed of Denmark be 820
    A couch for luxury and damned incest.
    But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,
    Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
    Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven,
    And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge 825
    To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
    The glowworm shows the matin to be near
    And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
    Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me. Exit.
  • Hamlet. O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? 830
    And shall I couple hell? Hold, hold, my heart!
    And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
    But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
    Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
    In this distracted globe. Remember thee? 835
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
    All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
    That youth and observation copied there,
    And thy commandment all alone shall live 840
    Within the book and volume of my brain,
    Unmix'd with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
    O most pernicious woman!
    O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
    My tables! Meet it is I set it down 845
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
    At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark. [Writes.]
    So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
    It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
    I have sworn't. 850
  • Horatio. [within] My lord, my lord!

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

  • Hamlet. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.
  • Hamlet. No, you will reveal it.
  • Horatio. Not I, my lord, by heaven!
  • Hamlet. How say you then? Would heart of man once think it? 865
    But you'll be secret?
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] Ay, by heaven, my lord.
  • Hamlet. There's neer a villain dwelling in all Denmark
    But he's an arrant knave.
  • Horatio. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave 870
    To tell us this.
  • Hamlet. Why, right! You are in the right!
    And so, without more circumstance at all,
    I hold it fit that we shake hands and part;
    You, as your business and desires shall point you, 875
    For every man hath business and desire,
    Such as it is; and for my own poor part,
    Look you, I'll go pray.
  • Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am sorry they offend you, heartily; 880
    Yes, faith, heartily.
  • Horatio. There's no offence, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you. 885
    For your desire to know what is between us,
    O'ermaster't as you may. And now, good friends,
    As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
    Give me one poor request.
  • Horatio. What is't, my lord? We will. 890
  • Hamlet. Never make known what you have seen to-night.
  • Marcellus. [with Horatio] My lord, we will not.
  • Horatio. In faith,
    My lord, not I. 895
  • Hamlet. Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

Ghost cries under the stage.

  • Hamlet. Aha boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?
    Come on! You hear this fellow in the cellarage.
    Consent to swear.
  • Horatio. Propose the oath, my lord. 905
  • Hamlet. Never to speak of this that you have seen.
    Swear by my sword.
  • Hamlet. Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
    Come hither, gentlemen, 910
    And lay your hands again upon my sword.
    Never to speak of this that you have heard:
    Swear by my sword.
  • Hamlet. Well said, old mole! Canst work i' th' earth so fast? 915
    A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends."
  • Horatio. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
  • Hamlet. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 920
    But come!
    Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
    How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself
    (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
    To put an antic disposition on), 925
    That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
    With arms encumb'red thus, or this head-shake,
    Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
    As 'Well, well, we know,' or 'We could, an if we would,'
    Or 'If we list to speak,' or 'There be, an if they might,' 930
    Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
    That you know aught of me- this is not to do,
    So grace and mercy at your most need help you,

[They swear.]

  • Hamlet. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So, gentlemen,
    With all my love I do commend me to you;
    And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
    May do t' express his love and friending to you, 940
    God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
    And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
    The time is out of joint. O cursed spite
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    Nay, come, let's go together. 945