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Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is

Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should compare with him in excellence; but, to know a man well, were to know himself.

Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the imputation laid on him by them, in his meed' he's unfellowed.

Ham. What's his weapon?

Osr. Rapier and dagger.

Ham. That's two of his weapons: but, well.

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. away with the shell on his

Hor. This lapwing runs head.

Ham. He did comply with his dug, before he sucked it. Thus has he (and many more of the same

' in his excellence.

2 JOHNSON suggests ran away.

3 comply with, compliment.

breed, that, I know, the drossy age dotes 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 fond 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


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 would'st 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 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

i.e. mild and temperate conversation.

2 i. e. with the advantage that I am allowed. 3 mis-giving.

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?1 Let be.

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 LAER. into that of HAM.
Ham. Give me your pardon, sir: I have done you
But pardon it, as you are a gentleman. [wrong;
This presence knows, and you must needs have heard,
How I am punish'd with a sore distraction.
What have I 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 purpos'd evil

Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
That I have shot my arrow o'er the house,

And hurt my brother.2


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,

Since no man knows ought of the state of life which he leaves, i. e. since he cannot judge what other years may produce, why should he be afraid of leaving life betimes?

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,

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


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 i̇' th' darkest night, Stick fiery off indeed.


You mock me, sir.

Ham. No, by this hand. King. Give them the foils, young Osric.-Cousin You know the wager? [Hamlet,

Ham. Very well, my lord; Your grace hath laid the odds o' th' 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.
King. Set me the stoups' of wine
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

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upon that table::

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,

A stoup is a flaggon, or bowl. • union, a precious pearl.

Now the king drinks to Hamlet.-Come, begin;-
And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

Ham. Come on, sir.


Come, my lord.

[They play.








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. [thine; [Trumpets sound; and cannons shot off within. Ham. I'll play this bout first, set it by a while. 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 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.

I do not think it.

Laer. And yet it is almost against my conscience.

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

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.


[They play.

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling, they change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds LAERTES. Part them, they are incens'd.


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