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ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be so able

as now.

fall to play.

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

Ham. In happy time.

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

you Ham. She well instructs me. [Exit Lord, 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 would'st not think, how ill all's here about iny 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



Hor. If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:3 I will forestal 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 rea





If your

gentle entertainment - ] Mild and temperate conversation.

I shall win at the odds.] I shall succeed with the advantage that I am allowed.

a kind of gain-giving,} the same as misgiving.

mind dislike any thing, obey it:] With these presages of future evils arising in the mind, the poet has fore-run many events which are to happen at the conclusions of his plays; and sometimes so particularly, that even the circumstances of calamity are minutely hinted at, as in the instance of Juliet, who tells her lover from the window, that he appears like one dead in the bottom of a tomb. The supposition that the genius of the mind gave an alarm before approaching dissolution, is a very ancient one, and perhaps can never be totally driven out: yet it must be allowed the merit of adding beauty to poetry, however injurious it inay sonietimes prove to the weak and superstitious. STEEVENS.

diness is all: Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is't to leave betimes4 Let be.

from me.

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Lords, Osric, and

Attendants with Foils, &c. King. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand [The King puts the Hand of Laertes into that

of HAMLET. Ham. Give me your pardon, sir:' I have done

you wrong; But pardon it, as you are a gentleman. This presence knows, and you must needs have

heard, How I am punish'd with a sore distraction. What I have done, That might your nature, honour, and exception, Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness. Was't Hamlet wrong'd Laertes? Never, Hamlet: If Hamlet from hiinself 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 wrong'd; His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy. Sir, in this audience, Let my disclaiming from a purpos'd evil Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,

Since no mar, of aught he leares, knows, what is't to leave betimes?] The meaning may be, “ 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? Therefore come what will, I am prepared."

5 Give me your pardon, sir:] I wish Hamlet had made some other defence; it is unsuitable to the character of a good or a brave man, to shelter himself in falsehood. JOHNSON. VOL. IX.


That I have shot my arrow o'er the house,
And hurt


brother. Laer.

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

I embrace it freely;
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 i'the darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.

You mock me, sir.
Ham. No, by this hand.
King. Give them the foils, young Osric.-

Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?

Very well, my lord;
Your grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.

King. I do not fear it: I have seen you both :But since he's better'd, we have therefore odds.?

Laer. This is too heavy, let me see another.
Ham. This likes me well: These foils have all a

length? [They prepare to play. Osr. Ay, my good lord.

I am satisfied in nature, &c.] This was a piece of satire on fantastical honour. Though nature is satisfied, yet he will ask advice of older men of the sword, whether artificial honour ought to be contented with Hamlet's submission.

? But since he's better'd, we have therefore odds.] These odds were twelve to nine in favour of Hamlet, by Laertes giving him three,

King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that ta

If Hamlet give the first or second hit,
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,
Let all the battlements their ordnance fire;
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,
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.

Ham. Come on, sir.
Laer. Come, my lord. [They play.


No. Ham.

Judgment. Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit. Laer.

Well,-again. King. Stay, give me drink: Hamlet, this pearl is

thine;' Here's to thy health.—Give him the cup. .

[Trumpets sound ; and Cannon shot off within. Ham. I'll 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.

Queen. He's fat, and scant of breath. Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows;

the stoups of wine-) A stoop is a kind of flagon. 9 And in the cup an union-) a species of pearl.

this pearl is thine ;] Under pretence of throwing a pearl into the cup, the King may be supposed to drop some poisonous drug into the wine. Hamlet seems to suspect this, when he afterwards discovers the effects of the poison, and tauntingly asks him, - Is the union here?”



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 poison'd 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. King.

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

[Aside. Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes: You do but

pray you, pass


best violence; I am afeard, you make a wanton of me.3

Laer. Say you so? come on. [They play.
Osr. Nothing neither way.
Laer. Have at you now.
[LAERTES wounds Hamlet; then, in scuffling,

they change Rapiers, and HAMLET wounds


Part them, they are incens'd. Ham. Nay, come again. [The Queen falls. Osr.

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 my own springe,

I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Ham. How does the queen?

She swoons to see them bleed.

luck to you

2 The queen carouses-] i. e. (in humbler language) drinks good

make a wanton of me,] You trifle with me as if


you ng with a child.


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