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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: Act 1 Scene 4
Scene IV The platform.
- [Enter HAMLET, HORATIO, and MARCELLUS]
- The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.
- It is a nipping and an eager air.
- What hour now?
- I think it lacks of twelve.
- No, it is struck.
- 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?
- 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.
- Is it a custom?
- Ay, marry, is't:
- But to my mind, though I am native here
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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--
- 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.
- Look, my lord, it comes!
- [Enter Ghost]
- Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
- Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd,
- 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!
- 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,
- 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
- With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls?
- Say, why is this? wherefore? what should we do?
- [Ghost beckons HAMLET]
- It beckons you to go away with it,
- As if it some impartment did desire
- To you alone.
- Look, with what courteous action
- It waves you to a more removed ground:
- But do not go with it.
- No, by no means.
- It will not speak; then I will follow it.
- Do not, my lord.
- Why, what should be the fear?
- I do not set my life in a pin's fee;
- 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.
- What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord,
- 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:
- 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.
- It waves me still.
- Go on; I'll follow thee.
- You shall not go, my lord.
- Hold off your hands.
- Be ruled; you shall not go.
- My fate cries out,
- 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.
- [Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET]
- He waxes desperate with imagination.
- Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him.
- Have after. To what issue will this come?
- Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
- Heaven will direct it.
- Nay, let's follow him.