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SC. 11.]



pleasure hold to play with Laertes, or that you will
take longer time.

Ham. I am constant to my purposes; they follow the king's pleasure. If his fitness speaks, mine is ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able

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as now.

Lord. The king, and queen, and all are coming down.

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Ham. In happy time.

Lord. The queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes, before you fall to play.

[Exit Lord.

Ham. She well instructs me.
Hor. You will lose this wager, my lord.

Ham. I do not think so; since he went into France, I have been in continual practice; I shall win at the odds. But thou wouldst not think how ill all's here about my heart; but it is no matter.

Hor. Nay, good my lord,

Ham. It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gain-giving,' as would, perhaps, trouble a woman.

Hor. If your mind dislike any thing, obey it. I will forestall their repair hither, and say you are not fit.

Ham. Not a whit; we defy augury. There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves,knows-what is't to leave betimes ?2 Let be.

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1 i. e. misgiving; a giving against, or an internal feeling and prognostic of evil.

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2 This is the reading of the folio; the quarto reads, "Since no man has aught of what he leaves. What is't to leave betimes." Has is evidently here a blunder for knows. Johnson thus interprets the passage:-“ Since no man knows aught of the state which he leaves, since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should we be afraid of leaving life betimes?" Warburton's explanation is very ingenious, but perhaps strains the Poet's meaning farther than he intended. "It is true, that by death we lose all the goods of life; yet, seeing this loss is no otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it, and since death removes all sense of it, what matters it how soon we lose them?"



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Enter King, Queen, LAERTES, Lords, OSRIC, and
Attendants, with foils, &c.

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King. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.

[The King puts the hand of LAERTES into that of HAMLET.

Ham. Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you


But pardon it, as you are a gentleman.


This presence knows, and you must needs have heard,
How I am punished with a sore distraction.
What I have done,

That might your nature, honor, and exception,
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
Was❜t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never, Hamlet.
If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,

And, when he's not himself, does wrong Laertes,
Then Hamlet does it not, Hamlet denies it.
Who does it then? His madness.-If't be so,
Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged;
His madness is Hamlet's enemy.
Sir, in this audience,2

Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
That I have shot my arrow o'er the house,
And hurt my brother.

1. e. the king and queen.


I am satisfied in nature,
Whose motive, in this case, should stir me most
To my revenge; but in my terms of honor,
I stand aloof; and will no reconcilement,
Till by some elder masters, of known honor,
I have a voice and precedent of peace,
To keep my name ungorged. But till that time,
I do receive your offered love like love,
And will not wrong it.



I embrace it freely,

2 This line is not in the quarto

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SC. II.]


And will this brother's wager frankly play.-
Give us the foils; come on.


Come, one for me.

Ham. I'll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignorance
Your skill shall, like a star i̇' the darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.

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You mock me, sir.


Ham. No, by this hand.

King. Give them the foils, young Osric.-Cousin

You know the wager?
Very well, my lord;
Your grace hath laid the odds1 o' the weaker side.
King. I do not fear it. I have seen you both.-
But since he's bettered, we have therefore odds.

Laer. This is too heavy; let me see another.
Ham. This likes me well. These foils have all a
[They prepare to play.

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Osr. Ay, my good lord.
King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.
If Hamlet give the first or second hit,
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,

Let all the battlements their ordnance fire.

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The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth,
Now the king drinks to Hamlet.--Come, begin ;---
And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.


The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath;
And in the cup an union shall he throw,
Richer than that which four successive kings
In Denmark's crown have worn.
Give me the cups;
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,


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1 The king had wagered six Barbary horses to a few rapiers, poniards, &c.; that is, about twenty to one.-These are the odds here meant. The odds the king means in the next speech were twelve to nine in favor of Hamlet, by Laertes giving him three.

2 Stoup is a common word in Scotland at this day, and denotes a pewter vessel resembling our wine measures; but of no determinate quantity.

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3 An union is a precious pearl, remarkable for its size. Under pretence of throwing a pearl into the cup, the king may be supposed to drop some poisonous drug into the wine. Hamlet subsequently asks him tauntingly, "Is the union here?"

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Ham. Come on, sir.




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Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit.

Come, my lord.

King. Stay, give me drink.

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Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes.

I pray you, pass with your best violence;
I am afeard you make a wanton2 of me.
Laer. Say you so? come on.
Osr. Nothing neither way.


[They play

Here's to thy health.-Give him the cup.

[Trumpets sound; and cannon shot off within. Ham. I'd play this bout first; set it by awhile. Come.--Another hit; what say you?

[They play.

Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess.
King. Our son shall win.
He's fat, and scant of breath.-
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
The queen carouses' to thy fortune, Hamlet.
Ham. Good madam,-


Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen. I will, my lord ;-I pray you, pardon me.
King. It is the poisoned cup; it is too late. [Aside.
Ham. I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.
Queen. Come, let me wipe thy face.
Laer. My lord, I'll hit him now.

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Hamlet, this pearl is



I do not think it.
Laer. And yet it is almost against my conscience.
You do but

1 i. e. the queen drinks to thy good success.

e. you trifle or play with me as if I were a child.

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[They play.

Laer. Have at you now.

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling,
they change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds


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SC. II.]

Part them; they are incensed.
Ham. Nay, come again. [The Queen falls.
Look to the queen there, ho!
Hor. They bleed on both sides;-how is it, my lord?
Osr. How is't, Laertes?

Laer. Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe,


I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
Ham. How does the queen ?


She swoons to see them bleed.
Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,-O my dear

The drink, the drink ;-I am poisoned!


Ham. O villany!-Ho! let the door be locked.
Treachery! seek it out.
[LAERTES falls.
Laer. It is here, Hamlet; Hamlet, thou art slain;
No medicine in the world can do thee good;
In thee there is not half an hour's life.
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated,' and envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me; lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again. Thy mother's poisoned;
I can no more; the king, the king's to blame.
The point
Envenomed too!-Then, venom, to thy work.2
[Stabs the King.


Drink off this potion.-Is the union here?

Follow my mother.

Osr, and Lords. Treason! treason!
King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.
Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned


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He is justly served 1;
It is a poison tempered by himself.
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.

1 See note 2, p. 365.

2 In the quarto of 1603 :-


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[King dies.

[King dies."

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