Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 1.4

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ACT I
SCENE IV. The platform.
[Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS]
HAMLET.
790 The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
HORATIO.
It is a nipping and an eager air.
HAMLET.
What hour now?
795 HORATIO.
I think it lacks of twelve.
HAMLET.
No, it is struck.
HORATIO.
800 Indeed? I heard it not: then it draws near the season
Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk.
[A flourish of trumpets, and ordnance shot off, within]
What does this mean, my lord?
HAMLET.
805 The king doth wake to-night and takes his rouse,
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels;
And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,
The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out
The triumph of his pledge.
810 HORATIO.
Is it a custom?
HAMLET.
Ay, marry, is't:
But to my mind, though I am native here
815 And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour'd in the breach than the observance.
This heavy-headed revel east and west
Makes us traduced and tax'd of other nations:
They clepe us drunkards, and with swinish phrase
820 Soil our addition; and indeed it takes
From our achievements, though perform'd at height,
The pith and marrow of our attribute.
So, oft it chances in particular men,
That for some vicious mole of nature in them,
825 As, in their birth--wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin--
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens
830 The form of plausive manners, that these men,
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,--
Their virtues else--be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo--
835 Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault: the dram of eale
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt
To his own scandal.
HORATIO.
840 Look, my lord, it comes!
[Enter Ghost]
HAMLET.
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
845 Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou comest in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee: I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane: O, answer me!
850 Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell
Why thy canonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly inurn'd,
Hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws,
855 To cast thee up again. What may this mean,
That thou, dead corse, again in complete steel
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous; and we fools of nature
So horridly to shake our disposition
860 With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?
[Ghost beckons HAMLET]
HORATIO.
It beckons you to go away with it,
865 As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
MARCELLUS.
Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed ground:
870 But do not go with it.
HORATIO.
No, by no means.
HAMLET.
It will not speak; then I will follow it.
875 HORATIO.
Do not, my lord.
HAMLET.
Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life in a pin's fee;
880 And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again: I'll follow it.
HORATIO.
What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
885 Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff
That beetles o'er his base into the sea,
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
And draw you into madness? think of it:
890 The very place puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain
That looks so many fathoms to the sea
And hears it roar beneath.
HAMLET.
895 It waves me still.
Go on; I'll follow thee.
MARCELLUS.
You shall not go, my lord.
HAMLET.
900 Hold off your hands.
HORATIO.
Be ruled; you shall not go.
HAMLET.
My fate cries out,
905 And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.
Still am I call'd. Unhand me, gentlemen.
By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me!
I say, away! Go on; I'll follow thee.
910 [Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET]
HORATIO.
He waxes desperate with imagination.
MARCELLUS.
Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him.
915 HORATIO.
Have after. To what issue will this come?
MARCELLUS.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
HORATIO.
920 Heaven will direct it.
MARCELLUS.
Nay, let's follow him.
[Exeunt]

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