scene 4

Scene IV. A plain in Denmark.

[Enter Fortinbras, and Forces marching.]

Fortinbras
Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king:
Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras
Craves the conveyance of a promis’d 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.

Fortinbras
Go softly on.

[Exeunt all Fortinbras and Forces.]

[Enter Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, &c.]

Hamlet
Good sir, whose powers are these?

Captain
They are of Norway, sir.

Hamlet
How purpos’d, sir, I pray you?

Captain
Against some part of Poland.

Hamlet
Who commands them, sir?

Captain
The nephew 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 b’ wi’ you, sir.

[Exit.]

Rosencrantz
Will’t please you go, my lord?

Hamlet
I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.

[Exeunt all but 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 godlike reason
To fust in us unus’d. 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.]