SCENE I. Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle.

FRANCISCO on his post. Enter to him, Bernardo.

Bernardo. WHO's there?



Nay, answer me;1 stand, and unfold

Ber. Long live the king!





Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour. Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed,


Fran. For this relief, much thanks; 'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.

Ber. Have you had quiet guard?


Ber. Well, good night.

Not a mouse stirring.

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals 2 of my watch, bid them make haste.

1 i. e. me, who have a right to demand the watchword; which appears to have been, "Long live the king."

2 Shakspeare uses rivals for associates, partners; and competitor has the same sense throughout these plays. It is the original sense of rivalis.

Enter HORATIO and MARCellus.

Fran. I think I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who is

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Ber. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Marcellus. Hor. What, has this thing appeared again to-night? Ber. I have seen nothing.

Mar. 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 approve1 our eyes, and speak to it.
Hor. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.


Sit down awhile;

Well, sit we down,

And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

Ber. Last night of all,

When yon 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,

Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

1 To approve is to confirm.

Enter Ghost.

Ber. In the same figure like the king that's dead.
Mar. Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.1
Ber. Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.
Hor. Most like ;-it harrows me with fear and


Ber. It would be spoke to.


Hor. What art thou, that



Speak to it, Horatio.

usurp'st this time of

Together with that fair and warlike form

In which the majesty of buried Denmark

Did sometimes march? By Heaven, I charge thee,


Mar. It is offended.

Ber. See! it stalks away.

Hor. Stay; speak: speak, I charge thee speak.

Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.

[Exit Ghost.

Ber. How now, Horatio? you tremble, and look


Is not this something more than fantasy?

What think you of it?

Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe, Without the sensible and true avouch

Of mine own eyes.


Is it not like the king?

Hor. 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 Polack 3 on the ice.

'Tis strange.

1 It was a vulgar notion, that a supernatural being could only be spoken to, with effect, by persons of learning; exorcisms being usually practised by the clergy in Latin.

2 The first quarto reads, "it horrors me."

3 i. e. the sledged Polander (Polaque, Fr.). The old copy reads Pollar.

Mar. Thus, twice before, and jump1 at this dead


With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

Hor. In what particular thought to work, I know not; 2


But, in the gross and scope of mine opinion,

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

Mar. Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that


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?


That can I;

Our last king,


At least, the whisper goes so.
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,

1 Jump. So the quarto of 1603, and that of 1604. The folio reads just. Jump and just were synonymous. So in Chapman's May Day, 1611:

"Your appointment was jumpe at three with me."

2 That is, "what particular train of thought to follow," &c. The first quarto reads:

"In what particular to work I know not."

Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same co-mart,1
And carriage of the article designed,

His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,3

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 5 in't; which is no other,
(As it doth well appear unto our state,)
But to recover of us, by strong hand,

And terms compulsative, 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 head
Of this post-haste and romage in the land.



[Ber. I think it be no other, but even so.


may it sort, that this portentous figure
Comes armed through our watch; so like the king
That was, and is, the question of these wars.
Hor. A mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye.
In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,

The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.






As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,


1 Co-mart is the reading of the quarto of 1604; the folio reads covenant. Co-mart, it is presumed, means a joint bargain. No other instance of the word is known.

2 i. e. "and import of that article marked out for that purpose."

3 The first quarto reads, "Of unapproved." Dr. Johnson explains it, "full of spirit, not regulated or guided by knowledge or experience," and has been hitherto uncontradicted.

4 i. e. snapped up or taken up hastily. Scroccare is properly to do any thing at another man's cost, to shark or shift for any thing. 5 Stomach is used for determined purpose.

6 Romage, now spelt rummage, and in common use as a verb, for making a thorough search, a busy and tumultuous movement.

7 All the lines within crotchets, in this play, are omitted in the folio of 1623. The title-pages of the quartos of 1604 and 1605 declare this play to be "enlarged to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and perfect copie."

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