Scene Five.—A MORE REMOTE PART OF THE PLATFORM. Night.
Re-enter Ghost and Hamlet (L.H.U.E.)
Ham. (R.) Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak; I’ll go no further.
Ghost. (L.) Mark me.
My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Alas, poor ghost!
Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold.
Speak; I am bound to hear.
Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
Ghost. I am thy father’s spirit;
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres;
Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.—List, list, O, list!—
If thou didst ever thy dear father love,——
Ham. O Heaven!
Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Ghost. Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Ham. Haste me to know it, that I, with wings as swift
As meditation or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
‘Tis given out that, sleeping in mine orchard,
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abus’d: but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
Now wears his crown.
Ham. O, my prophetic soul! my uncle!
Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts,
Won to his shameful lust
The will of my most seeming virtuous queen:
O, Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity,
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage; and to decline
Upon a wretch, whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be.—Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always in the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
So did it mine;
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once despatch’d:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel’d, disappointed, unanel’d;
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
Ham. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damnèd incest.
But, howsoever thou pursu’st this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
Against thy mother aught: leave her to Heaven,
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And ‘gins to pale his ineffectual fire:
Adieu, adieu, adieu! remember me.
Ham. Hold, hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up.—Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all forms, all pressures past,
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix’d with baser matter: yes, by heaven,
I have sworn’t.
Hor. (Without.) My lord, my lord,——
Mar. (Without.) Lord Hamlet,——
Hor. (Without.) Heaven secure him!
So be it!
Mar. (Without.) Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
Ham. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus (L.H.U.E.)
Mar. (R.) How is’t, my noble lord?
What news, my lord?
Ham. (C.) O, wonderful!
Good my lord, tell it.
You will reveal it.
Hor. Not I, my lord, by heaven.
Nor I, my lord.
Ham. How say you, then; would heart of man once think it?
But you’ll be secret?—
Ay, by heaven, my lord.
Ham. There’s ne’er a villain, dwelling in all Denmark—
But he’s an arrant knave.
Hor. There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
To tell us this.
Ham. Why, right; you are in the right;
And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands, and part:
You as your business and desire shall point you,
For every man hath business and desire,
Such as it is;—and, for my own poor part,
Look you, I will go pray.
Hor. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
Ham. I am sorry they offend you, heartily.
Hor. There’s no offence, my lord.
Ham. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offence, too. Touching this vision here,
It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you:
For your desire to know what is between us,
O’er-master it as you may. And now, good friends,
As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
Give me one poor request.
What is’t, my lord?
Ham. Never make known what you have seen to-night.
My lord, we will not.
Nay, but swear’t.
Propose the oath, my lord.
Ham. Never to speak of this that you have seen.
Swear by my sword.
[Horatio and Marcellus place each their right hand on Hamlet’s sword.]
Ghost. (Beneath.) Swear.
Hor. O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
Ham. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself,
As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet
To put an antick disposition on,—
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumber’d thus, or this head-shake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
As, Well, we know; or, We could, an if we would; or, If
we list to speak;—or, There be, an if they might;—
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me:—This do you swear,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you!
[Horatio and Marcellus again place their hands on Hamlet’s sword.]
Ghost. (Beneath.) Swear.
Ham. Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you:
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do, to express his love and friending to you,
Heaven willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
[Crosses to L.]
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint;—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let’s go together.
END OF ACT FIRST.