William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
[Elsinore. A platform before the castle]
FRANCISCO [at his post. Enter to him] BERNARDO
BernardoWHO’S there?Fran.Nay, answer me. Stand, and unfold yourself.Ber.Long live the king!Fran.Bernardo?Ber.He.Fran.You come most carefully upon your hour.Ber.’Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.Fran.For this relief much thanks. ’Tis bitter cold,And I am sick at heart.Ber.Have you had quiet guard?Fran.Not a mouse stirring.Ber.Well, good-night.If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS
Fran.I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who’s there?Hor.Friends to this ground.Mar.And liegemen to the Dane.Fran.Give you good-night.Mar.O, farewell, honest soldier.Who hath reliev’d you?Fran.Bernardo has my place.Give you good-nightExit.Mar.Holla! Bernardo!Ber.Say,What, is Horatio there?Hor.A piece of him.Ber.Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Marcellus.Hor.What, has this thing appear’d again to-night?Ber.I have seen nothing.Mar.Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy,And will not let belief take hold of himTouching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us;Therefore I have entreated him alongWith us to watch the minutes of this night,That if again this apparition come,He may approve our eyes and speak to it.Hor.Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.Ber.Sit down a while,And let us once again assail your ears,That are so fortified against our story,What we two nights have seen.Hor.Well, sit we down,And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.Ber.Last night of all,When yond same star that’s westward from the poleHad made his course to illume that part of heavenWhere now it burns, Marcellus and myself,The bell then beating one,—
Mar.Peace, break thee off! Look, where it comes again!Ber.In the same figure, like the king that’s dead.Mar.Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.Ber.Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.Hor.Most like; it harrows me with fear and wonder.Ber.It would be spoke to.Mar.Question it, Horatio.Hor.What art thou that usurp’st this time of night,Together with that fair and warlike formIn which the majesty of buried DenmarkDid sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee, speak!Mar.It is offended.Ber.See, it stalks away!Hor.Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!Exit Ghost.Mar.’Tis gone, and will not answer.Ber.How now, Horatio! you tremble and look pale.Is not this something more than fantasy?What think you on’t?Hor.Before my God, I might not this believeWithout the sensible and true avouchOf mine own eyes.Mar.Is it not like the King?Hor.As thou art to thyself.Such was the very armour he had onWhen he the ambitious Norway combated.So frown’d he once, when, in an angry parle,He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.’Tis strange.Mar.Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.Hor.In what particular thought to work I know not;But, in the gross and scope of my opinion,This bodes some strange eruption to our state.Mar.Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,Why this same strict and most observant watchSo nightly toils the subject of the land,And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,And foreign mart for implements of war;Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore taskDoes not divide the Sunday from the week.What might be toward, that this sweaty hasteDoth make the night joint-labourer with the day,Who is’t that can inform me?Hor.That can I;At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,Whose image even but now appear’d to us,Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,Thereto prick’d on by a most emulate pride,Dar’d to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet—For so this side of our known world esteem’d him—Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal’d compact,Well ratified by law and heraldry,Did forfeit, with his life, all those his landsWhich he stood seiz’d of, to the conqueror;Against the which, a moiety competentWas gaged by our king; which had return’dTo the inheritance of Fortinbras,Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,And carriage of the article design’d,His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,Of unimproved mettle hot and full,Hath in the skirts of Norway here and thereShark’d up a list of landless resolutes,For food and diet, to some enterpriseThat hath a stomach in ’t; which is no other—As it doth well appear unto our state—But to recover of us, by strong handAnd terms compulsative, those foresaid landsSo by his father lost; and this, I take it,Is the main motive of our preparations,The source of this our watch, and the chief headOf this post-haste and romage in the land.[Ber.I think it be no other but e’en so.Well may it sort that this portentous figureComes armed through our watch, so like the KingThat was and is the question of these wars.Hor.A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.In the most high and palmy state of Rome,A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted deadDid squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,Disasters in the sun; and the moist starUpon whose influence Neptune’s empire standsWas sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.And even the like precurse of fierce events,As harbingers preceding still the fatesAnd prologue to the omen coming on,Have heaven and earth together demonstratedUnto our climatures and countrymen.]
But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again!I’ll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,Speak to me;If there be any good thing to be doneThat may to thee do ease and grace to me,Speak to me;If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,O speak!Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy lifeExtroted treasure in the womb of earth,For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,Speak of it; stay, and speak!(Cock crows.)Stop it, Marcellus.Mar.Shall I strike at it with my partisan?Hor.Do, if it will not stand.Ber.’Tis here!Hor.’Tis here!Mar.’Tis gone!Exit Ghost.We do it wrong, being so majestical,To offer it the show of violence;For it is, as the air, invulnerable,And our vain blows malicious mockery.Ber.It was about to speak, when the cock crew.Hor.And then it started like a guilty thingUpon a fearful summons. I have heard,The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throatAwake the god of day; and, at his warning,Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,The extravagant and erring spirit hiesTo his confine; and of the truth hereinThis present object made probation.Mar.It faded on the crowing of the cock.Some say that ever ’gainst that season comesWherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,The bird of dawning singeth all night long;And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.Hor.So have I heard and do in part believe it.But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastern hill.Break we our watch up; and, by my advice,Let us impart what we have seen to-nightUnto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?Mar.Let’s do ’t, I pray; and I this morning knowWhere we shall find him most conveniently.Exeunt.