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    Act 1. Scene II

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    Chapter 2
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    SCENE II. A room of state in the castle.

    Enter KING CLAUDIUS, QUEEN GERTRUDE, HAMLET, POLONIUS, LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and Attendants
    KING CLAUDIUS
    Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
    The memory be green, and that it us befitted
    To bear our hearts in grief and our whole kingdom
    To be contracted in one brow of woe,
    Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
    That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
    Together with remembrance of ourselves.
    Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
    The imperial jointress to this warlike state,
    Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy,--
    With an auspicious and a dropping eye,
    With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
    In equal scale weighing delight and dole,--
    Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd
    Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
    With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
    Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,
    Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
    Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
    Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
    Colleagued with the dream of his advantage,
    He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
    Importing the surrender of those lands
    Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
    To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
    Now for ourself and for this time of meeting:
    Thus much the business is: we have here writ
    To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,--
    Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
    Of this his nephew's purpose,--to suppress
    His further gait herein; in that the levies,
    The lists and full proportions, are all made
    Out of his subject: and we here dispatch
    You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
    For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
    Giving to you no further personal power
    To business with the king, more than the scope
    Of these delated articles allow.
    Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.

    CORNELIUS VOLTIMAND
    In that and all things will we show our duty.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    We doubt it nothing: heartily farewell.

    Exeunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS

    And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
    You told us of some suit; what is't, Laertes?
    You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
    And loose your voice: what wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
    That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
    The head is not more native to the heart,
    The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
    Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
    What wouldst thou have, Laertes?

    LAERTES
    My dread lord,
    Your leave and favour to return to France;
    From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,
    To show my duty in your coronation,
    Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,
    My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
    And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?

    LORD POLONIUS
    He hath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
    By laboursome petition, and at last
    Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:
    I do beseech you, give him leave to go.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
    And thy best graces spend it at thy will!
    But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,--

    HAMLET
    [Aside] A little more than kin, and less than kind.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    How is it that the clouds still hang on you?

    HAMLET
    Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
    And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
    Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
    Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
    Thou know'st 'tis common; all that lives must die,
    Passing through nature to eternity.

    HAMLET
    Ay, madam, it is common.

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    If it be,
    Why seems it so particular with thee?

    HAMLET
    Seems, madam! nay it is; I know not 'seems.'
    'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
    Nor customary suits of solemn black,
    Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
    No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
    Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
    Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
    That can denote me truly: these indeed seem,
    For they are actions that a man might play:
    But I have that within which passeth show;
    These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
    To give these mourning duties to your father:
    But, you must know, your father lost a father;
    That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
    In filial obligation for some term
    To do obsequious sorrow: but to persever
    In obstinate condolement is a course
    Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief;
    It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
    A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
    An understanding simple and unschool'd:
    For what we know must be and is as common
    As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
    Why should we in our peevish opposition
    Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
    A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
    To reason most absurd: whose common theme
    Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
    From the first corse till he that died to-day,
    'This must be so.' We pray you, throw to earth
    This unprevailing woe, and think of us
    As of a father: for let the world take note,
    You are the most immediate to our throne;
    And with no less nobility of love
    Than that which dearest father bears his son,
    Do I impart toward you. For your intent
    In going back to school in Wittenberg,
    It is most retrograde to our desire:
    And we beseech you, bend you to remain
    Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
    Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.

    QUEEN GERTRUDE
    Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
    I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.

    HAMLET
    I shall in all my best obey you, madam.

    KING CLAUDIUS
    Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply:
    Be as ourself in Denmark. Madam, come;
    This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
    Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,
    No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day,
    But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
    And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again,
    Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.

    Exeunt all but HAMLET

    HAMLET
    O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
    Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
    Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
    His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
    How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
    But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two:
    So excellent a king; that was, to this,
    Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother
    That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
    Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth!
    Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
    As if increase of appetite had grown
    By what it fed on: and yet, within a month--
    Let me not think on't--Frailty, thy name is woman!--
    A little month, or ere those shoes were old
    With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
    Like Niobe, all tears:--why she, even she--
    O, God! a beast, that wants discourse of reason,
    Would have mourn'd longer--married with my uncle,
    My father's brother, but no more like my father
    Than I to Hercules: within a month:
    Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
    Had left the flushing in her galled eyes,
    She married. O, most wicked speed, to post
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
    It is not nor it cannot come to good:
    But break, my heart; for I must hold my tongue.

    Enter HORATIO, MARCELLUS, and BERNARDO

    HORATIO
    Hail to your lordship!

    HAMLET
    I am glad to see you well:
    Horatio,--or I do forget myself.

    HORATIO
    The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.

    HAMLET
    Sir, my good friend; I'll change that name with you:
    And what make you from Wittenberg, Horatio? Marcellus?

    MARCELLUS
    My good lord--

    HAMLET
    I am very glad to see you. Good even, sir.
    But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?

    HORATIO
    A truant disposition, good my lord.

    HAMLET
    I would not hear your enemy say so,
    Nor shall you do mine ear that violence,
    To make it truster of your own report
    Against yourself: I know you are no truant.
    But what is your affair in Elsinore?
    We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.

    HORATIO
    My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.

    HAMLET
    I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;
    I think it was to see my mother's wedding.

    HORATIO
    Indeed, my lord, it follow'd hard upon.

    HAMLET
    Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats
    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
    Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
    Or ever I had seen that day, Horatio!
    My father!--methinks I see my father.

    HORATIO
    Where, my lord?

    HAMLET
    In my mind's eye, Horatio.

    HORATIO
    I saw him once; he was a goodly king.

    HAMLET
    He was a man, take him for all in all,
    I shall not look upon his like again.

    HORATIO
    My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.

    HAMLET
    Saw? who?

    HORATIO
    My lord, the king your father.

    HAMLET
    The king my father!

    HORATIO
    Season your admiration for awhile
    With an attent ear, till I may deliver,
    Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
    This marvel to you.

    HAMLET
    For God's love, let me hear.

    HORATIO
    Two nights together had these gentlemen,
    Marcellus and Bernardo, on their watch,
    In the dead vast and middle of the night,
    Been thus encounter'd. A figure like your father,
    Armed at point exactly, cap-a-pe,
    Appears before them, and with solemn march
    Goes slow and stately by them: thrice he walk'd
    By their oppress'd and fear-surprised eyes,
    Within his truncheon's length; whilst they, distilled
    Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
    Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
    In dreadful secrecy impart they did;
    And I with them the third night kept the watch;
    Where, as they had deliver'd, both in time,
    Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
    The apparition comes: I knew your father;
    These hands are not more like.

    HAMLET
    But where was this?

    MARCELLUS
    My lord, upon the platform where we watch'd.

    HAMLET
    Did you not speak to it?

    HORATIO
    My lord, I did;
    But answer made it none: yet once methought
    It lifted up its head and did address
    Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
    But even then the morning cock crew loud,
    And at the sound it shrunk in haste away,
    And vanish'd from our sight.

    HAMLET
    'Tis very strange.

    HORATIO
    As I do live, my honour'd lord, 'tis true;
    And we did think it writ down in our duty
    To let you know of it.

    HAMLET
    Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
    Hold you the watch to-night?

    MARCELLUS BERNARDO
    We do, my lord.

    HAMLET
    Arm'd, say you?

    MARCELLUS BERNARDO
    Arm'd, my lord.

    HAMLET
    From top to toe?

    MARCELLUS BERNARDO
    My lord, from head to foot.

    HAMLET
    Then saw you not his face?

    HORATIO
    O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.

    HAMLET
    What, look'd he frowningly?

    HORATIO
    A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.

    HAMLET
    Pale or red?

    HORATIO
    Nay, very pale.

    HAMLET
    And fix'd his eyes upon you?

    HORATIO
    Most constantly.

    HAMLET
    I would I had been there.

    HORATIO
    It would have much amazed you.

    HAMLET
    Very like, very like. Stay'd it long?

    HORATIO
    While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.

    MARCELLUS BERNARDO
    Longer, longer.

    HORATIO
    Not when I saw't.

    HAMLET
    His beard was grizzled--no?

    HORATIO
    It was, as I have seen it in his life,
    A sable silver'd.

    HAMLET
    I will watch to-night;
    Perchance 'twill walk again.

    HORATIO
    I warrant it will.

    HAMLET
    If it assume my noble father's person,
    I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
    And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
    If you have hitherto conceal'd this sight,
    Let it be tenable in your silence still;
    And whatsoever else shall hap to-night,
    Give it an understanding, but no tongue:
    I will requite your loves. So, fare you well:
    Upon the platform, 'twixt eleven and twelve,
    I'll visit you.

    All
    Our duty to your honour.

    HAMLET
    Your loves, as mine to you: farewell.

    Exeunt all but HAMLET

    My father's spirit in arms! all is not well;
    I doubt some foul play: would the night were come!
    Till then sit still, my soul: foul deeds will rise,
    Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.

    Exit
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