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By the 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,
Their 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 base
Doth all the noble substance often dout,4
To his own scandal.
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
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,
Thou com’st in such a questionables 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 thée 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 complete steel
Revisit’st 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?
Hor. It beckons you to go away with it,
As if it some impartment did desire
To you alone.
Look, with what courteous action
It waves you to a more removed 7 ground:
But do not go with it.
No, by no means.
Ham. It will not speak; then I will follow it.
Hor. Do not, my lord.
Why, what should be the fear ?
I do not set my life at a pin's fee;8
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
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff,
That beetles 9 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 fathoms to the sea,
And hears it roar beneath.
It waves me still:-
Go on, I'll follow thee.
Mar. You shall not go, my lord.
Hor. Be rul'd, you shall not go.
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 2 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 Den
mark. Hor. Heaven will direct it. Mar.
Nay, let's follow him.
A more remote Part of the Platform.
Re-enter Ghost and HAMLET. Ham. Whither wilt thou lead me ? speak, I'll g
no further. Ghost. Mark me.
My hour is almost come, When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames Must render up myself. Ham.
Alas, poor ghost! Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold. Ham.
Speak, I am bound to hear. Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt
hear. Ham. What?
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
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon3 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 mur-
der. Ham. 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
As meditation, or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.
I find thee apt ;
And duller should'st thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Would'st 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 prophetick soul! my uncle !
Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, (O wicked wit, and gifts, that have the power So to seduce!) won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming virtuous queen : 0, 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 virtue, as it never will be mov'd, Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven; So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd, Will sate 5 itself in a celestial bed,