Hamlet - Act 1, scene 1
Last updated: Tue, Jun 02, 2020
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Act 1, scene 1
On the guards’ platform at Elsinore, Horatio waits with Barnardo and Marcellus to question a ghost that has twice before appeared. The Ghost, in the form of the late King Hamlet of Denmark, appears but will not speak. Horatio decides to tell his fellow student, Prince Hamlet, about the Ghost’s appearance.Enter Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels.
BARNARDO 0001 Who’s there?
0002 Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
BARNARDO 0003 Long live the King!
FRANCISCO 0004 Barnardo?
BARNARDO 0005 5He.
0006 You come most carefully upon your hour.
0007 ’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
0008 For this relief much thanks. ’Tis bitter cold,
0009 And I am sick at heart.
BARNARDO 0010 10Have you had quiet guard?
FRANCISCO 0011 Not a mouse stirring.
BARNARDO 0012 Well, good night.
0013 If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
0014 The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
0015 15 I think I hear them.—Stand ho! Who is there?
HORATIO 0016 Friends to this ground.
FRANCISCO 0018 Give you good night.
0019 O farewell, honest ⟨soldier.⟩ Who hath relieved
0020 20 you?
0021 Barnardo hath my place. Give you good night.
MARCELLUS 0022 Holla, Barnardo.
BARNARDO 0023 Say, what, is Horatio there?
HORATIO 0024 A piece of him.
0025 25 Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.
0026 What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
BARNARDO 0027 I have seen nothing.
0028 Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy
0029 And will not let belief take hold of him
0030 30 Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
0031 Therefore I have entreated him along
0032 With us to watch the minutes of this night,
0033 That, if again this apparition come,
0034 He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
0035 35 Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.
BARNARDO 0036 Sit down awhile,
0037 And let us once again assail your ears,
0038 That are so fortified against our story,
0039 What we have two nights seen.
HORATIO 0040 40 Well, sit we down,
0041 And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
BARNARDO 0042 Last night of all,
0043 When yond same star that’s westward from the pole
0044 Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven
0045 45 Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
0046 The bell then beating one—
0047 Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again.
0048 In the same figure like the King that’s dead.
MARCELLUS, ⌜to Horatio⌝
0049 Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.
0050 50 Looks he not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.
0051 Most like. It ⟨harrows⟩ me with fear and wonder.
0052 It would be spoke to.
MARCELLUS 0053 Speak to it, Horatio.
0054 What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,
0055 55 Together with that fair and warlike form
0056 In which the majesty of buried Denmark
0057 Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee,
0059 It is offended.
BARNARDO 0060 60 See, it stalks away.
0061 Stay! speak! speak! I charge thee, speak!
MARCELLUS 0062 ’Tis gone and will not answer.
0063 How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale.
0064 Is not this something more than fantasy?
0065 65 What think you on ’t?
0066 Before my God, I might not this believe
0067 Without the sensible and true avouch
0068 Of mine own eyes.
HORATIO 0070 70As thou art to thyself.
0071 Such was the very armor he had on
0072 When he the ambitious Norway combated.
0073 So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,
0074 He smote the sledded ⌜Polacks⌝ on the ice.
0075 75 ’Tis strange.
0076 Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
0077 With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
0078 In what particular thought to work I know not,
0079 But in the gross and scope of mine opinion
0080 80 This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
0081 Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
0082 Why this same strict and most observant watch
0083 So nightly toils the subject of the land,
0084 And ⟨why⟩ such daily ⟨cast⟩ of brazen cannon
0085 85 And foreign mart for implements of war,
0086 Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
0087 Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
0088 What might be toward that this sweaty haste
0089 Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?
0090 90 Who is ’t that can inform me?
HORATIO 0091 That can I.
0092 At least the whisper goes so: our last king,
0093 Whose image even but now appeared to us,
0094 Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
0095 95 Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
0096 Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet
0097 (For so this side of our known world esteemed him)
0098 Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact,
0099 Well ratified by law and heraldry,
0100 100 Did forfeit, with his life, all ⟨those⟩ his lands
0101 Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror.
0103 Was gagèd by our king, which had ⟨returned⟩
0104 To the inheritance of Fortinbras
0105 105 Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same comart
0106 And carriage of the article ⌜designed,⌝
0107 His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
0108 Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,
0109 Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
0110 110 Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes
0111 For food and diet to some enterprise
0112 That hath a stomach in ’t; which is no other
0113 (As it doth well appear unto our state)
0114 But to recover of us, by strong hand
0115 115 And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
0116 So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
0117 Is the main motive of our preparations,
0118 The source of this our watch, and the chief head
0119 Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.
0120 120 I think it be no other but e’en so.
0121 Well may it sort that this portentous figure
0122 Comes armèd through our watch so like the king
0123 That was and is the question of these wars.
0124 A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.
0125 125 In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
0126 A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
0127 The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
0128 Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
0129 As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
0130 130 Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
0131 Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands,
0132 Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
0133 And even the like precurse of ⌜feared⌝ events,
0134 As harbingers preceding still the fates
0135 135 And prologue to the omen coming on,
0137 Unto our climatures and countrymen.]
0138 But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!
0139 I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!
It spreads his arms.
0140 140 If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
0141 Speak to me.
0142 If there be any good thing to be done
0143 That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
0144 Speak to me.
0145 145 If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,
0146 Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
0147 O, speak!
0148 Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
0149 Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
0150 150 For which, they say, ⟨you⟩ spirits oft walk in death,
0151 Speak of it.The cock crows.
0152 Stay and speak!—Stop it, Marcellus.
0153 Shall I strike it with my partisan?
HORATIO 0154 Do, if it will not stand.
BARNARDO 0155 155’Tis here.
HORATIO 0156 ’Tis here.
MARCELLUS 0157 ’Tis gone.
0158 We do it wrong, being so majestical,
0159 To offer it the show of violence,
0160 160 For it is as the air, invulnerable,
0161 And our vain blows malicious mockery.
0162 It was about to speak when the cock crew.
0163 And then it started like a guilty thing
0164 Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
0166 Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
0167 Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
0168 Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
0169 Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies
0170 170 To his confine, and of the truth herein
0171 This present object made probation.
0172 It faded on the crowing of the cock.
0173 Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
0174 Wherein our Savior’s birth is celebrated,
0175 175 This bird of dawning singeth all night long;
0176 And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad,
0177 The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
0178 No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
0179 So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
0180 180 So have I heard and do in part believe it.
0181 But look, the morn in russet mantle clad
0182 Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
0183 Break we our watch up, and by my advice
0184 Let us impart what we have seen tonight
0185 185 Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
0186 This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
0187 Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it
0188 As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
0189 Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know
0190 190 Where we shall find him most convenient.