Home» Classics » Hamlet

Act 4, Scene 4: A plain in Denmark.

Enter FORTINBRAS, a Captain, and Soldiers, marching 

PRINCE FORTINBRAS

Go, captain, from me greet the Danish king;

Tell him that, by his licence, Fortinbras

Craves the conveyance of a promised march

Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous.

If that his majesty would aught with us,

We shall express our duty in his eye;

And let him know so.

Captain

I will do't, my lord.

PRINCE FORTINBRAS

Go softly on.

Exeunt FORTINBRAS and Soldiers

Enter HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others

HAMLET

Good sir, whose powers are these?

Captain

They are of Norway, sir.

HAMLET

How purposed, sir, I pray you?

Captain

Against some part of Poland.

HAMLET

Who commands them, sir?

Captain

The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.

HAMLET

Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,

Or for some frontier?

Captain

Truly to speak, and with no addition,

We go to gain a little patch of ground

That hath in it no profit but the name.

To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;

Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole

A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.

HAMLET

Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

Captain

Yes, it is already garrison'd.

HAMLET

Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats

Will not debate the question of this straw:

This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,

That inward breaks, and shows no cause without

Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.

Captain

God be wi' you, sir.

Exit

ROSENCRANTZ

Wilt please you go, my lord?

HAMLET

I'll be with you straight go a little before.

Exeunt all except HAMLET

How all occasions do inform against me,

And spur my dull revenge! What is a man,

If his chief good and market of his time

Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more.

Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,

Looking before and after, gave us not

That capability and god-like reason

To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be

Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple

Of thinking too precisely on the event,

A thought which, quarter'd, hath but one part wisdom

And ever three parts coward, I do not know

Why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'

Sith I have cause and will and strength and means

To do't. Examples gross as earth exhort me:

Witness this army of such mass and charge

Led by a delicate and tender prince,

Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd

Makes mouths at the invisible event,

Exposing what is mortal and unsure

To all that fortune, death and danger dare,

Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great

Is not to stir without great argument,

But greatly to find quarrel in a straw

When honour's at the stake. How stand I then,

That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,

Excitements of my reason and my blood,

And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see

The imminent death of twenty thousand men,

That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,

Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot

Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,

Which is not tomb enough and continent

To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,

My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

Exit

Comments

Post your comment »