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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;
You grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.b.

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.
Osr. Ay, my good lord.
King. Set me the stoups of wined upon that

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

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.
• Stoups of wine] See V. I. 1 Clown.
* quit in answer] Make the wager quit, or go far drawn.


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The king shall drink to Hamlet's better breath;
And in the cup an *union (59) shall he throw,
Richer than that which four successive kings
In Denmark's crown have worn; Give me the

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.

hey play. HAM.


No. :

Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit.

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 a while. 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 queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.(60)

HAM. Good madam,

Gertrude, do not drink.
QUEEN. I will, my lord; I pray you, pardon

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.(61)

LAER. Say you so ? come on. (They play.
Osr. Nothing neither way.
LAER. Have at you now.
(LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuf.

fling, they change Rapiers, and HAMLET

wounds LAERTES.
KING. Part them, they are incensed.
HAM. Nay, come again. [The Queen falls.

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 * springe, b. mine own,

I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

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

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 envenomd: 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. & LORDS. Treason! treason!
King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.
HAM. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned

the onire, Drink off this potion : Is thy union* here?
Follow my mother."

[King dies. LAER.

He is justly serv’d;
It is a poison temper’dd by himself.-
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee;
Nor thine on me! (62)

[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 !
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,) (63) O, I could tell you,
But let it be: Horatio, I am dead;
Thou liv'st; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.

Never believe it; '.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,
Here's yet some liquor left.

As thou’rt a man,
Give me the cup; let go; by heaven l'll have it.
O God! Horatio, what a wounded name,
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.

[March afar off, and Shot within.

What warlike noise is this? Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come

from Poland,
To the ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

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 everto 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
“ Stretch him out longer.” End of the play.

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