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Your skill shall, like a star i'the darkest night,
You mock me, sir.
Very well, my lord;
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 : c These foils have all
a length ? [They prepare to play.
• like a star i'the darkest night, stick fiery, off] Be made by the strongest relief to stand brightly prominent. For darkest the fo. of 1632 strangely reads brightest.
b Your grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.
King. But since, &c.] The wager having been twelve hits of Laertes's to nine of Hamlet's, we are here prepared rather to read “ taken, than laid, the odds ;” and at first to suppose with Johnson, as it struck Hanmer, who omits “ the odds," that it was a slip of our author's. But, as the king replies, “ since he's better'd, we have therefore odds," we may well conceive the phrase to be used by the different speakers with a different aim : and that Hamlet refers to the higher value of the articles pledged, and the king to the advantage had in the other terms of the wager; those that respected the issue of this trial of skill, viz. the number of hits on each side.
Bettered is stands higher in estimation. The quartos read, better.
« This likes me well] See II. 2. King.
The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath;
HAM. Come on, sir.
hey play. HAM.
[Trumpets sound; and Cannon 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.
QUEEN. He's fat, and scant of breath.
HAM. Good madam,
Gertrude, do not drink.
[ Aside. Ham. I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.
Queen. Come, let me wipe thy face.
I do not think it. LAER. And yet it is almost against my conscience.
[ Aside. Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes; You do but
LAER. Say you so ? come on. (They play.
fling, they change Rapiers, and HAMLET
Look to the queen there, ho!
my lord ? Osr. How is't, Laertes ? LAER. Why, as a woodcock to mine * springe, b. mine own,
Ham. How does the queen ?
She swoons to see them bleed.
4tos, my, 1632.
• With respect to the probability of this part of the plot, Mr. Steevens has justly observed, that he does not easily conceive that rapiers can be changed in a scuffle without knowing it at the time.
Das a woodcock to mine springe] I have run into a springe like a woodcock, and into such a noose or trap as a fool only would have fallen into; one of my own setting.
Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,-0 my
dear Hamlet ! The drink, the drink; I am poison'd! [Dies.
HAM. O villainy! Ho! let the door be lock'd: Treachery! seek it out. [Laertes falls. · LAER. It is here, Hamlet : Hamlet, thou art
HAM. The point
[Stabs the King.
[King dies. LAER.
He is justly serv’d;
[Dies. Him. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow
unbated] See IV. 7. King. o the foul practice] . See “pass of practice,” IV.7. King.
c Is thy union here? follow my mother] A bitter sarcasm. Take this as thy lot or portion ! the richly prepared cup! D'ye find here an union? Go with, follow the queen!
temper']] Prepared, having the ingredients mixed.
I am dead, Horatio : Wretched queen, adieu !
Never believe it; '.
As thou’rt a man,
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.
[March afar off, and Shot within.
What warlike noise is this? Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come
O, I die, Horatio; • Thut are but mutes or audience to this act] That are either auditors of this catastrophe, or at most only mute performers, that fill the stage without any part in the action. Johnson.
to live behind me] Survive me.
• If thou didst ever—to tell my story) There is hardly a bosoin that can be unmoved by the interest and feeling excited in this passage: but it is its ease, that constitutes its felicity; it is its unlaboured, simple beauties that give the character of sublimity to this solemn and dignified farewel. .
Kent, though not indeed with so high an interest and such exquisite feeling, utters a similar sentiment, when Lear expires.
" Would not upon the rack of this rough world