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Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: Act 4 Scene 4
Scene IV A plain in Denmark.
- [Enter FORTINBRAS, a Captain, and Soldiers, marching]
- 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.
- If that his majesty would aught with us,
- We shall express our duty in his eye;
- And let him know so.
- I will do't, my lord.
- PRINCE FORTINBRAS
- Go softly on.
- [Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Soldiers]
- [Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others]
- Good sir, whose powers are these?
- They are of Norway, sir.
- How purposed, sir, I pray you?
- Against some part of Poland.
- Who commands them, sir?
- The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.
- Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
- Or for some frontier?
- 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
- A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
- Why, then the Polack never will defend it.
- Yes, it is already garrison'd.
- 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
- Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.
- God be wi' you, sir.
- Wilt please you go, my lord?
- I'll be with you straight go a little before.
- [Exeunt all except HAMLET]
- How all occasions do inform against me,
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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,
- 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
- 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!