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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
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.
[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 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.
1 i. e. misgiving; a giving against, or an internal feeling and prognostic of evil.
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?"
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
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,
And, when he's not himself, does wrong Laertes,
Who does it then? His madness.-If't be so,
Sir, in this audience,2
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
I stand aloof; and will no reconcilement,
To keep my name ungorged. But till that time,
And will not wrong it.
1. e. the king and queen.
I embrace it freely,
2 This line is not in the quarto
3 i. e. unwounded.
And will this brother's wager frankly play.-
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.
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 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.
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.
The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath;
Give me the cups;
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
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.
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?"
Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit.
King. Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is
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?
Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess.
He's fat, and scant of breath.
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin; rub thy brows.
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.
Laer. And yet it is almost against my conscience.
I do not think it.
[Aside. You do but
Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes.
I pray you, pass with your best violence;
I am afeard you make a wanton2 of me.
Osr. Nothing neither way.
Laer. Have at you now.
[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds
1 i. e. the queen drinks to thy good success.
e. you trifle or play with me as if I were a child.
Part them; they are incensed.
Ham. Nay, come again.
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.
Laer. It is here, Hamlet; Hamlet, thou art slain;
No medicine in the world can do thee good;
Osr, and Lords. Treason! treason!
Drink off this potion.-Is the union here?
Follow my mother.
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 :-
"The poisoned instrument within my hand?