Act 1, Scene 1

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[Elsinore castle, a lookout platform. Francisco is at
his guard post. Bernardo enters.] 

Bernardo   

Who's there?

Francisco 

Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

Bernardo

Long live the king!

Francisco

Bernardo?

Bernardo

He.

Francisco 

You come most carefully upon your hour.

Bernardo

'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.

Francisco 

For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.

Bernardo

Have you had quiet guard?

Francisco

                                                  Not a mouse stirring.    

Bernardo

Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
[Enter Horatio and Marcellus.]

Francisco 

I think I hear them. Stand! Who's there?

Horatio 

Friends to this ground. 

Marcellus

                                          And liegemen to the Dane.

Francisco

Give you good night.

Marcellus

                                       Oh, farewell, honest soldier.
Who has relieved you?

Francisco

                                           Bernardo has my place.
Give you good night.
[Exit.]

Marcellus

                                      Holla! Bernardo!

Bernardo

                                                                          Say,
What, is Horatio there?

Horatio

                                           A piece of him. 

Bernardo

Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.    

Marcellus 

What, has this thing appeared again tonight?

Bernardo

I have seen nothing. 

Marcellus

Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us.
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That if again this apparition come, 
He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

Horatio

Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.

Bernardo

                                                  Sit down awhile,
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen. 

Horatio

                                                        Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

Bernardo

Last night of all,
When yond same star that's westward from the pole
Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself —
The bell then beating one ...
[Enter Ghost]

Marcellus 

Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again! 

Bernardo 

In the same figure like the king that's dead.

Marcellus

Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.

Bernardo 

Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.

Horatio 

Most like, it harrows me with fear and wonder.

Bernardo

It would be spoke to.

Marcellus

                                        Question it, Horatio.

Horatio 

What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,
Together with that fair and warlike form
In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee, speak!

Marcellus

It is offended.

Bernardo

                           See, it stalks away!

Horatio   

Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!       
[Exit Ghost.]

Marcellus  

'Tis gone and will not answer. 

Bernardo

How now, Horatio! You tremble and look pale.
Is not this something more than fantasy?
What think you on't?

Horatio 

Before my God, I might not this believe
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.

Marcellus

                                   Is it not like the king?

Horatio   

As thou art to thyself.
Such was the very armor he had on
When he the ambitious Norway combated.
So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
'Tis strange. 

Marcellus 

Thus twice before — and just at this dead hour —
With martial stalk, hath he gone by our watch.

Horatio 

In what particular thought to work, I know not.
But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

Marcellus

Good now. Sit down and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
And foreign mart for implements of war,
Why such impress of shipwrights whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week.
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day?
Who is't that can inform me?

Horatio

                                                       That can I. 
At least the whisper goes so. Our last king,
Whose image even but now appeared to us, 
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway
Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
Dared to the combat in which our valiant Hamlet —
For so, this side of our known world esteemed him —
Did slay this Fortinbras who by a sealed compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized of to the conqueror.
Against the which, a moiety competent 
Was gaged by our king, which had returned
To the inheritance of Fortinbras
Had he been vanquisher, as by the same covenant
And carriage of the article designed,
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras, 
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
Sharked up a list of landless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't, which is no other —
And it doth well appear unto our state —
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
So by his father lost. And this, I take it, 
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The source of this our watch, and the chief
Of this post-haste and rummage in the land.
[Enter Ghost.]
But soft, behold! Lo where it comes again! 
I'll cross it though it blast me. 
[The ghost spreads its arms.]
                                                      Stay, illusion! 
If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done,
That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country's fate, 
Which, happily foreknowing, may avoid, 
Oh, speak!
Or if thou hast uphoarded, in thy life,
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth 
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it. Stay and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.
[The cock crows.]

Marcellus 

Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

Horatio 

Do, if it will not stand.
[They strike at the Ghost.]

Bernardo

                                         'Tis here!

Horatio 

                                                             'Tis here!
[Exit Ghost.]

Marcellus

'Tis gone!
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence.
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.

Bernardo 

It was about to speak when the cock crew.

Horatio  

And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth, with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat,
Awake the god of day, and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine. And of the truth herein,
This present object made probation.

Marcellus 

It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes around
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long,
And then, they say, no spirit dares walk abroad.
The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is the time.

Horatio 

So have I heard and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet. For upon my life,
This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

Marcellus 

Let's do't, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently.
[Exit.]