Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Hamlet
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act I
Scene V
[Another part of the platform]
Enter Ghost and HAMLET

  Ham.  Where wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further.
  Ghost.  Mark me.
  Ham.        I will.
  Ghost.        My hour is almost come,        4
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
  Ham.        Alas, poor ghost!
  Ghost.  Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing        8
To what I shall unfold.
  Ham.        Speak; I am bound to hear.
  Ghost.  So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
  Ham.  What?        12
  Ghost.  I am thy father’s spirit,
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        16
Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,        20
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotty and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine. 1        24
But this eternal blazon 2 must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, Hamlet, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love—
  Ham.  O God!        28
  Ghost.  Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
  Ham.  Murder!
  Ghost.  Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.        32
  Ham.  Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
  Ghost.        I find thee apt;        36
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, 3
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear.
It’s given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,        40
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process 4 of my death
Rankly abus’d; 5 but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life        44
Now wears his crown.
  Ham.        O my prophetic soul!
Mine uncle!
  Ghost.  Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,        48
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.        52
O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
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        56
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,        60
So lust, though to a radiant angel link’d,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed
And prey on garbage.
But, soft! methinks I scent the morning’s air.        64
Brief let me be. Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always in the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon 6 in a vial,        68
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through        72
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset 7
And curd, like eager 8 droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine,        76
And a most instant tetter 9 bark’d about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand        80
Of life, of crown, and queen, at once dispatch’d;
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel’d, 10 disappointed, 11 unanel’d, 12
No reckoning made, but sent to my account        84
With all my imperfections on my head.
O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be        88
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        92
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And ’gins to pale his uneffectual fire.        96
Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.  Exit.
  Ham.  O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,        100
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory        104
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond 13 records,
All saws 14 of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there,
And thy commandment all alone shall live        108
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix’d with baser matter. Yes, yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!        112
My tables, my tables,—meet it is I set it down!
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark.
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;        116
It is “Adieu, adieu! remember me.”
I have sworn ’t.
  Mar. & Hor.  (Within.)  My lord, my lord!
  Mar.        [Within.]  Lord Hamlet!        120
  Hor.        [Within.]  Heaven secure him!
  Ham.  So be it!
  Mar.  [Within.]  Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
  Ham.  Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.        124

  Mar.  How is ’t, my noble lord?
  Hor.        What news, my lord?
  Ham.  O, wonderful!
  Hor.  Good my lord, tell it.        128
  Ham.        No, you’ll reveal it.
  Hor.  Not I, my lord, by heaven.
  Mar.        Nor I, my lord.
  Ham.  How say you, then, would heart of man once think it?—        132
But you’ll be secret?
  Hor. & Mar.        Ay, by heaven, my lord.
  Ham.  There’s ne’er a villain dwelling in all Denmark—
But he’s an arrant knave.        136
  Hor.  There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.
  Ham.        Why, right, you are i’ the right.
And so, without more circumstance at all,        140
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part;
You, as your business and desires shall point you,
For every man has business and desire,
Such as it is; and for mine own poor part,        144
Look you, I’ll go pray.
  Hor.  These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  Ham.  I’m sorry they offend you, heartily;
Yes, faith, heartily.        148
  Hor.        There’s no offence, my lord.
  Ham.  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.        152
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.        156
  Hor.  What is ’t, my lord? We will.
  Ham.  Never make known what you have seen to-night.
  Hor. & Mar.  My lord, we will not.
  Ham.        Nay, but swear ’t.        160
  Hor.        In faith,
My lord, not I.
  Mar.        Nor I, my lord, in faith.
  Ham.  Upon my sword.        164
  Mar.        We have sworn, my lord, already.
  Ham.  Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.
  Ghost.  Swear!  Ghost cries under the stage.
  Ham.  Ah, ha, boy! say’st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?        168
Come on; you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
Consent to swear.
  Hor.        Propose the oath, my lord.
  Ham.  Never to speak of this that you have seen.        172
Swear by my sword.
  Ghost.  [Beneath.]  Swear.
  Ham.  Hic et ubique? 15 Then we’ll shift our ground.
Come thither, gentlemen,        176
And lay your hands again upon my sword.
Never to speak of this that you have heard,
Swear by my sword.
  Ghost.  [Beneath.]  Swear.        180
  Ham.  Well said, old mole! Canst work i’ the earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! 16 Once more remove, good friends.
  Hor.  O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
  Ham.  And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.        184
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
But come;
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,        188
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,—
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on—
That you, at such time seeing me, never shall,        192
With arms encumb’red thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As “Well, we know,” or “We could, an if we would,”
Or “If we list to speak,” or “There be, an if they might,”        196
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me,—this not to do,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
Swear.        200
  Ghost.  [Beneath.]  Swear.
  Ham.  Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! [They swear.] So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you.
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is        204
May do, to express his love and friending to you,
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,        208
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together.  Exeunt.
Note 1. Porcupine. [back]
Note 2. Declaration about the eternal world. [back]
Note 3. Bank. [back]
Note 4. Account. [back]
Note 5. Deceived. [back]
Note 6. An unknown poison. [back]
Note 7. Thicken. [back]
Note 8. Sour. [back]
Note 9. Scurf. [back]
Note 10. Without the sacrament. [back]
Note 11. Unprepared. [back]
Note 12. Without extreme unction. [back]
Note 13. Foolish. [back]
Note 14. Sayings. [back]
Note 15. Lat. Here and everywhere. [back]
Note 16. Pioneer. [back]


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