Hamlet By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 4

Scene IV. The platform.

[Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus.]

HAMLET.
The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold.

HORATIO.
It is a nipping and an eager air.

HAMLET.
What hour now?

HORATIO.
I think it lacks of twelve.

MARCELLUS.
No, it is struck.

HORATIO.
Indeed? I heard it not: then 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?

HAMLET.
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.

HORATIO.
Is it a custom?

HAMLET.
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 traduc'd 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 often doubt
To his own scandal.

HORATIO.
Look, my lord, it comes!

[Enter Ghost.]

HAMLET.
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 com'st 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 canoniz'd bones, hearsed in death,
Have burst their cerements; why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd,
Hath op'd 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.]

Continued on next page...

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