Hamlet* by William Shakespeare § 4.4

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ACT IV
SCENE IV. A plain in Denmark.
[Enter FORTINBRAS, a Captain, and Soldiers, marching]
3625 PRINCE FORTINBRAS.
Go, captain, from me greet the Danish king;
Tell him that, by his licence, Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promised march
Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.
3630 If that his majesty would aught with us,
We shall express our duty in his eye;
And let him know so.
CAPTAIN.
I will do't, my lord.
3635 PRINCE FORTINBRAS.
Go softly on.
[Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Soldiers]
[Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others]
HAMLET.
3640 Good sir, whose powers are these?
CAPTAIN.
They are of Norway, sir.
HAMLET.
How purposed, sir, I pray you?
3645 CAPTAIN.
Against some part of Poland.
HAMLET.
Who commands them, sir?
CAPTAIN.
3650 The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.
HAMLET.
Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?
CAPTAIN.
3655 Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
3660 A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
HAMLET.
Why, then the Polack never will defend it.
CAPTAIN.
Yes, it is already garrison'd.
3665 HAMLET.
Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw:
This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
3670 Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.
CAPTAIN.
God be wi' you, sir.
[Exit]
ROSENCRANTZ.
3675 Wilt please you go, my lord?
HAMLET.
I'll be with you straight go a little before.
[Exeunt all except HAMLET]
How all occasions do inform against me,
3680 And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,
If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
Looking before and after, gave us not
3685 That capability and god-like reason
To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be
Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
Of thinking too precisely on the event,
A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom
3690 And ever three parts coward, I do not know
Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'
Sith I have cause and will and strength and means
To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me:
Witness this army of such mass and charge
3695 Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger dare,
3700 Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake. How stand I then,
That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
3705 Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
3710 Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
[Exit]

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