[The throne room of Elsinore castle. King Claudius enters with his newly wed Queen, Hamlet's recently widowed mother. They are followed by the king's chief counselor Polonius, Polonius' son Laertes, his daugher Ophelia, and other nobles.]
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death,
The memory be green, and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;
Yet so far has discretion fought with nature
That we with wisest sorrow think on him
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometimes sister, now our queen,
Th' imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we (as 'twere with a defeated joy,
With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole)
Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
Your better wisdoms which have freely gone
With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
Now follows that you know — young Fortinbras,
Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with the dream of his advantage,
He has not failed to pester us with messages,
Importing the surrender of those lands
Lost by his father with all bonds of law
To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
Now for ourself and for this time of meeting.
Thus much the business is: we have here writ
To Norway (uncle of young Fortinbras
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose) to suppress
His further gait herein in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions are all made
Out of his subjects. And we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
For bearing of this greeting to old Norway,
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king more than the scope
Of these delated articles allow.
Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
Voltemand and Cornelius
In that and all things will we show our duty.
We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
[Exit Voltemand and Cornelius.]
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit. What is't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
Your leave and favor to return to France,
From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
To show my duty in your coronation.
Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
He has, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
By laborsome petition, and at last
Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.
I do beseech you give him leave to go.
Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
And thy best graces spend it at thy will!
[Addressing Hamlet whose dark clothes indicate that he's still in mourning for his father's death]
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son —
A little more than kin, and less than kind.
How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Not so, my lord; I am too much i' the sun.
Good Hamlet, cast thy nightly color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not for ever with thy vailed lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know'st 'tis common: all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Why seems it so particular with thee?
Seems, madam! Nay, it is! I know not 'seems.'
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play.
But I have that within which passes show.
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
To give these mourning duties to your father.
But you must know your father lost a father;
That father lost, lost his; and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term,
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persevere
In obstinate condolement is a course
Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
An understanding simple and unschooled
For what we know must be, and is as common
As any the most vulgar thing to sense.
Why should we, in our peevish opposition,
Take it to heart? Fie! 'Tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd — whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still has cried,
From the first corpse till he that died today,
'This must be so.' We pray you throw to earth
This unprevailing woe, and think of us
As of a father. For let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne.
And with no less nobility of love
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart towards you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desire.
And we beseech you bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg.
I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
Be as ourself, in Denmark. Madam, come.
This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
Sits smiling to my heart. In grace whereof,
No jocund health that Denmark drinks today,
But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
And the king's rouse the heavens all bruit again,
Re-speaking earthly thunder. Come away.
[Exit all except Hamlet]