Hamlet-ACT01-4

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Scene Four.—THE PLATFORM. Night.

***

Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus (L.H.U.E.)

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

Hor. It is a nipping and an eager air.

Ham. What hour now?

Hor.

I think it lacks of twelve.

Mar. No, it is struck.

Hor. (R.C.) 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 without.]

What does this mean, my lord?

Ham. (L.C.) The king doth wake to-night, and takes his rouse,

And, as he drains his draughts of Rhenish down,

The kettle-drum and trumpet thus bray out

The triumph of his pledge.

Hor.

Is it a custom?

Ham. Ay, marry, is’t: [Crosses to Horatio.]

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.

Enter Ghost (L.H.)

Hor. (R.H.) Look, my lord, it comes!

Ham. (C.) 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 cómplete steel,

Revisits 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.]

Hor. It beckons you to go away with it,

As if it some impartment did desire

To you alone.

[Ghost beckons again.]

Mar. Look, with what courteous action

It waves you to a more removèd ground:

But do not go with it.

Hor.

No, by no means.

Ham. It will not speak; then I will follow it.

Hor. Do not, my lord.

Ham.

Why, what should be the fear?

I do not set my life at a pin’s fee;

And for my soul, what can it do to that,

Being a thing immortal as itself?

[Ghost beckons.]

It waves me forth again;—I’ll follow it.

Hor. 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,

And draw you into madness?

[Ghost beckons.]

Ham.

It waves me still.—

Go on; I’ll follow thee.

Mar. You shall not go, my lord.

Ham.

Hold off your hands.

Hor. Be rul’d; you shall not go.

Ham.

My fate cries out,

And makes each petty artery in this body

As hardy as the Némean lion’s nerve.

[Ghost beckons]

Still am I call’d:—unhand me, gentlemen;

[Breaking from them.]

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, L.H., followed at a distance by Horatio and Marcellus.]