Act I.iv Scene 4 Elsinore. The platform before the Castle. (Hamlet, Horatio, Marcellus, Ghost) Enter Hamlet, Horatio, and Marcellus. HAM. The air bites shrowdly, it is very cold. HOR. It is a nipping and an eager air. HAM. What hour now? HOR. I think it lacks of twelf. MAR. No, it is strook. HOR. Indeed? I heard it not. It then draws near the season Wherein the spirit held his wont to walk. A flourish of trumpets, and two pieces goes off within. What does this mean, my lord? HAM. The King doth wake tonight and takes his rouse, Keeps wassail, and the swagg’ring 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. HOR. Is it a custom? HAM. Ay, marry, is’t, But to my mind, though I am native here And to the manner born, it is a custom More honor’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 clip 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 their 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, His 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 ev’l Doth all the noble substance of a doubt To his own scandal. Enter Ghost. HOR. Look, my lord, it comes! HAM. 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 inurn’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 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 Hamlet. HOR. It beckons you to go away with it, As if it some impartment did desire To you alone. MAR. Look with what courteous action It waves you to a more removed 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? 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 Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, And draw you into madness? Think of it. The very place puts toys of desperation, Without more motive, into every brain That looks so many fadoms to the sea And hears it roar beneath. 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 artere in this body As hardy as the Nemean lion’s nerve. Still am I call’d. Unhand me, gentlemen. 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. HOR. He waxes desperate with imagination. MAR. Let’s follow. ’Tis not fit thus to obey him. HOR. Have after. To what issue will this come? MAR. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. HOR. Heaven will direct it. MAR. Nay, let’s follow him. Exeunt.
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