To his unmaster'd* importunity.

Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister;
And keep you in the rear of your affection,
Out of the shot and danger of desire.
The chariest maid is prodigal enough,
If she unmask her beauty to the moon:
Virtue itself 'scapes not calumnious strokes :
The canker galls the infants of the spring,
Too oft before their buttons be disclos'd;
And in the morn and liquid dew of youth
Contagious blastments are most imminent.


I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart: But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,

Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whilst, like a puff'd and reckless+ libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own read§.


Give thy thoughts no tongue,

Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hooks of steel;
But do not dull thy palm|| with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg'd comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel: but, being in,

Bear it that the opposer may beware of thee.
Give every man
thine ear, but few thy voice:

+ Most cautious.


|| Palm of the hand.

* Licentious.
§ Regards not his own lessons.

Take each man's censure*, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;

And they in France, of the best rank and station,
Are most select and generoust, chief in that.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be:

For loan oft loses both itself and friend;
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry§.
This above all,-To thine own self be true;
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.


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 hell,
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable,

Thou com'st in such a questionable|| 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 thee quietly inurn'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?

* Opinion.
§ Economy.

+ Noble.




What, if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff, That beetles* 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.

SCENE. A more remote Part of the Platform.

Re-enter GHOST and HAMLET.

Ham. Whither wilt thou lead me? speak, I'll go Ghost. Mark me.



[no further.

I will.

My hour is almost come,

Alas, poor ghost!

When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames

Must render up myself.


Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold.


Speak, I am bound to hear.

Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt 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,

* Hangs.

+ Whims.

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, [spheres;
And each particular hair to stand an-end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon* 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 murder.

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 swift

As meditation, or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.

I find thee apt;

And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,

Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
'Tis given out, that, sleeping in mine orchardt,
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 prophetic 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

[blocks in formation]

The will of my most seeming virtuous queen:
O, 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* itself in a celestial bed,

And prey on garbage.

But, soft! methinks, I scent the morning air:
Brief let me be:-Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment: whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body;
And, with a sudden vigour, it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
And a most instant tetter‡ bark'd about,
Most lazar-like§, with vile and loathsome crust,
All my smooth body.

Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand,
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd||:
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousel'd¶, disappointed**, unanel'd++;

* Satiate. + Henbane.


Scab, scurf.

§ Leprous.

Without having received the Sacrament. **Unappointed, unprepared. ++ Without extreme unction.


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