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Osr. The king, Sir, hath laid, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits; he hath laid, on twelve for nine; and it would come to immediate trial, if your lordship would vouchsafe the answer.

Ham. How, if I answer, no?

Osr. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial. Ham. Sir, I will walk here in the hall: if it please his majesty, it is the breathing time of day with me: let the foils be brought, the gentleman willing, and the king hold his purpose, I will win for him, if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame, and the odd hits.

Osr. Shall I deliver you so ?

Ham. To this effect, Sir; after what flourish your nature will. Osr. I commend my duty to your lordship. [Exit. Ham. Yours, yours. He does well to commend it himself; there are no tongues else for's turn.

Hor. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head. Ham. He did comply* with his dug, before he sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same breed, that, I know, the drossy age doats on,) only got the tune of the time, and outward habit of encounter; a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fandt and winnowed opinions: and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are out.

Enter a LORD.

Lord. My lord, his majesty commended him to you by young Osric, who brings back to him, that you attend him in the hall: He sends to know if your 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 as now.

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 fall to play.

Ham. She well instructs me.

Hor. You will lose this wager, my lord.

[Exit 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 anything, obey it: 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 readiness is all: Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

*Pass compliments. † Fanned, as corn from dust.


Enter KING, QUEEN, LAERTES, LORDS, OSRIC, and Attendants, with Foils, &c.

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 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 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 wrong'd,
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.

Sir, in this audience,

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.

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.

Ham. I embrace it freely;

And will this brother's wager frankly play.

Give us the foils; come on.

Laer. 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.

Laer. You mock me, Sir.

Ham. No, by this hand.

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

You know the wager?

Ham. 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?

Osr. Ay, my good lord.

[They prepare to play.

King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that table :

If Hamlet gives 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.

Ham. One.

Laer. No.

Ham. Judgment.

Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit.

Laer. Well, again.

[They play.

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?

Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess.

King. Our son shall win.

Queen. He's fat, and scant o' breath.

Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, † rub thy brows:

The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

Ham. Good madam,

King. Gertrude, do not drink.

[They play.

Queen. I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.

King. It is the poison'd cup; it is too late.


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.


Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes: you do but dally;

[They play.

I pray you, pass with your best violence;

I am afeard, you make a wanton ‡ of me.
Laer. Say you so? come on.

Osr. Nothing neither way.

Laer. Have at you now.

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

King. Part them, they are incensed.

Ham. Nay, come again.

Osr. Look to the Queen there, ho!

[The QUEEN falls.

Hor. They bleed on both sides:-How is it, my lord?

Osr. How is't, Laertes ?

* A pearl.

† Handkerchief.

+ Boy.

Laer. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osric; I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Ham. How does the Queen?

King. She swoons to see them bleed.

Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,-O my dear Hamlet!

The drink, the drink: I am poison'd!

Ham. O villany!-Ho! let the door be lock'd: 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 envenom'd; the foul practice
Hath turn'd itself on me; lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again: Thy mother's poison'd;
I can no more; the king, the king's to blame.
Ham. The point

Envenom'd too!-Then venom, to thy work. [Stabs the KING.

Osr. and Lords. Treason, treason!

King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.

Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane,

Drink off this potion:-Is the union † here ?

Follow my mother.

Laer. He is justly served;

It is a poison temper'd by himself,

Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee;
Nor thine on me.

Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
I am dead, Horatio:-Wretched queen, adieu !—
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act,
Had I but time (as this fell sergeant,§ death,
Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you,-
But let it be:-Horatio, I am dead;

Thou livest; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

Hor. Never believe it;

I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,
Here's yet some liquor left.

Ham. As thou'rt a man,

Give me the cup; let go; by heaven I'll have it.

O God!-Horatio, what a wounded name,

[KING dies.

Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me!

If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,

Absent thee from felicity awhile,

And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,

To tell my story.

What warlike noise is this?


[March afar off, and shot within.

Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,

* Without a button and poisoned.

+ Mixed.

+ The pearl the king spoke of. Sheriff's officer.

To the ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

Ham. O, I die, Horatio;

The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit;

I cannot live to hear the news from England:
But I do prophesy the election lights

On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice;

So tell him, with the occurrents,* more or less,

Which have solicited,†-The rest is silence.


Hor. Now cracks a noble heart;-Good night, sweet prince;

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!—

Why does the drum come hither?

[March within.


Fort. Where is this sight?

Hor. What is it you would see?

If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search.

Fort. This quarry cries on havoc !§-O, proud death!

What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,

That thou so many princes, at a shot,

So bloodily hast struck?

1 Amb. The sight is dismal;

And our affairs from England come too late :
The ears are senseless, that should give us hearing,
To tell him, his commandment is fulfill'd,

That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead:
Where should we have our thanks?

Hor. Not from his mouth,

Had it the ability of life to thank you;

He never gave commandment for their death.
But since, so jump|| upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack wars, and you from England,'
Are here arrived; give order, that these bodies
High on a stage be placed to the view;
And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world,
How these things come about: So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts;
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;
Of deaths put on by cunning, and forced cause;
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook

Fallen on the inventors' heads: all this can I
Truly deliver.

Fort. Let us haste to hear it,

And call the noblest to the audience.

For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune;
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,

And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more:

* Incidents.


Heap of dead game.

A word of censure when more game was destroyed than was reason

† Incited.


¶ Polish.

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