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Hor. That can I;
At least, the whisper goes fo. Our last King,
Whose image but even now appeared to us,
Was, as you know, by Fontinbras of Norway,
(Thereto prick'd on by a molt emulate pride)
Dar'd to the fight: in which our valiant Hamlet,
(For fo this fide of our known world esteemed him)
Did flay this Fortinbras; who by fealed compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit (with his life) all thofe his lands,
Which he flood feised 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 that covenant,
And carriage of the articles defigned,
His fell to Hamlet. Now young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there,
Shark'd up a lift of landless refolutes,
For food and diet, to fome enterprize
That hath a ftomach in't; which is no other,
As it doth well appear unto our state,
But to recover of us by ftrong hand,
And terms compulfative, thofe forefaid lands
So by his father loft: and this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,
The fource of this our watch, and the chief head
Of this poft hate and romage in the land.
Ber. I think it be no other but even fo:
Well may it fort, that this portentous figure
Comes armed through our watch fo like the King,
That was, and is, the queflion of thefe 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 mightieft Julius fell,
The graves ftood tenantlefs: the fheeted dead
Did fqueak and gibber in the Roman streets;
Stars fhone with trains of fire, dews of blood fell;
Difafters veiled the fun; and the moist star,
Upon whofe influence Neptune's empire ftands,
Was almoft fick to doomsday with eclipfe.
And even the like precurfe of fierce events,
As harbingers preceding ftill the Fates,
And prologued to the omened coming on, (2)
Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
Unto our climatures and countrymen.
Enter Ghoft again.
But foft, behold! Jo, where it comes again!
I'll crofs it, though it blaft me. Stay, illufion!
[Spreading his arms,
If thou haft any found, or ufe of voice,
Speak to me.
If there be any good thing to be done,
That may to thee do eafe, and grace to me,
Speak to me.
If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
Or, if thou haft uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treafure in the womb of earth, [Cock crows.
For which, they fay, you fpirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it. Stay, and fpeak--Stop it, Marcellus.--
Mar. Shall I ftrike it with my partizan ?
Hor. Do, if it will not stand.
(2) And prologue to the omen coming on.] But prologue and men are merely fynonymous here, and muft fignify one and the fame thing. But the Poet means, that these strange phænomena are prologues and forerunners of the events prefaged by them; and fuch fenfe the flight alteration which I have ventured to make by a fingle letter added, very aptly
Ber. 'Tis here----
Hor. 'Tis here.
Mar. 'Tis gone,
We do it wrong, being fo majestical,
To offer it fhew of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
Ber. It was about to speak when the cock crew.
Hor. And then it ftarted like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful fummons. I have heard,
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and fhrill-founding throat
Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,
Whether in fea or fire, in earth or air,
Th' exravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine: and of the truth herein
This prefent object made probation.
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some fay, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning fingeth all night long:
And then they say no spirit walks abroad;
The nights are wholfome, then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, no witch hath power to charm;
So hallowed and fo gracious is the time.
Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But look, the morn, in ruffet 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 feen to-night
Unto young Hamlet: for upon my life
This fpirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
you confent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
Where we fhall find him moft conveniently. [Exe.
SCENE changes to the Palace.
Enter CLAUDIUS King of Denmark, GERTRUDE the Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS, LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, Lords, and Attendants.
King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's The memory be green, and that it fitted [death To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom To be contracted in one brow of woe; Yet fo far hath Difcretion fought with Nature, That we with wifeft forrow think on him, Together with remembrance of ourselves. Therefore our fometime fifter, now our Queen, Th' imperial jointress of this warlike state, Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy, With one aufpicious, and one dropping eye, With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage, In equal fcale 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 fuppofal of our worth; Or thinking by our late dear brother's death Our state to be disjointed and out of frame; Colleagued with this dream of his advantage He hath not failed to pefter us with meffage, Importing the furrender of thofe lands
Loft by his father, by all bands 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, fcarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose) to fupprefs
His further gate herein; in that the levies,
The lifts, and full proportions are all made
Out of his fubjects: and we here dispatch
You, good Cornelius, and you Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
Giving to you no further perfonal power
To business with the King, more than the scope
Which thefe dilated articles allow.
Farewel, and let your hafte commend your duty.
Vol. In that, and all things, will we thew our
King. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewel. [Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? You told us of fome fuit. What is't, Laertes? You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, And lofe your voice. What would'st thou beg, Laertes,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more inftrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What would't thou have, Laertes?
Laer. My dread Lord,
Your leave and fav our to return to France;
From whence, though willingly I came to Denmark,
To fhew my duty in your coronation;
Yet now I muft confefs, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again towards France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
King. Have you your father's leave? what says
Pol. He hath, my Lord, by labour fome petition, Wrung from me my flow leave; and, at the last, Upon his will I fealed my hard confent. I do befeech you give him leave to go.