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King. Give them the foils, young Osrick.-Cousin


You know the wager?

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 is better'd, we have therefore odds.
Laer. This is too heavy; let me see another.
Ham. This likes me well.


Osr. Ay, my good lord.

These foils have all a

[They prepare to play.

King. Set me the stoops 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:
And in the cup an union shall be throw2,
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 heavens to earth, "Now the king drinks to Hamlet!"-Come, begin ;And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

Ham. Come on, sir.

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King. Stay; give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is



2 And in the cup an UNION shall he throw ;] So the folio, rightly, an union being the most valuable kind of pearl. The quarto, 1604, has unice, the undated quarto Onix, and so it continued to be printed in the quarto, 1637.

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 awhile3. Come. Another hit; what say you?

Laer. A touch; a touch, I do confess.
King. Our son shall win.


[They play.

He's fat, and scant of breath'.

Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows3:
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.

I do not think it.

Laer. My lord, I'll hit him now.
Laer. And yet it is almost against my conscience.


Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes. You but dally:

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.

[They play.

set it by awhile.] The folio omits "it," and the quartos afterwards, "A touch, a touch."

4 He's fat, and scant of breath.] On the authority of "Wright's Historia Histrionica," 1699, it has been supposed that Taylor was the original Hamlet. This is a mistake: Wright says that "Taylor acted Hamlet incomparably well;" but he had the advantage of seeing Burbage in the part until 1619. We know, on the authority of the MS. epitaph upon Burbage, that he was celebrated for his Hamlet, and Shakespeare's words are employed, with reference to the obesity of the actor :

"No more young Hamlet, though but scant of breath,

Shall cry revenge for his dear father's death."

These lines must have been written very soon after the decease of the subject of them, and they are decisive upon the point that Burbage was the performer who first acted the part of Hamlet. See the Introduction.

5 Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows:] So the quartos: the folio, defectively, "Here's a napkin rub thy brows."

6 I am AFEARD, you make a WANTON of me.] The quartos, "I am sure," &c. "Wanton" here means a feeble effeminate person.

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Laer. Have at you now.

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


Ham. Nay, come again.


[The Queen falls.

Look to the queen there, ho!

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


Osr. How is't, Laertes?

Laer. Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osrick';

I am justly kill'd 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 poison'd.


Ham. O villainy!-How? 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 of 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.

All. Treason! treason!

[Stabs the King.

King. O! yet defend me, friends; I am but hurt. Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned


Drink off this potion:-is thy union here?

7 Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osrick ;] The folio omits "own." half an hour of life ;] So the folio: the quartos, "half an hour's life.”


Follow my mother.

He is justly serv'd;

It is a poison temper'd by himself.—

[King dies.

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 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 I'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

To the ambassadors of England gives

This warlike volley.

9- and my cause aright] The folio, "and my causes right."

1 O GOD!-Horatio,] The folio, "O good Horatio !" In the next line, for "shall live behind me" of the folio, the quartos have "shall I leave behind me."

2 — and SHOT within.] The folio, which only has this part of the stagedirection, reads, " and shout within ;" but the "warlike volley" afterwards mentioned would show that shout was a misprint for "shot."


O! I die, Horatio;

The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit3:
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 and less,
Which have solicited-The rest is silence1.


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


And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

Why does the drum come hither?

[March within.

Enter FORTINBRAS, the English Ambassadors, and Others.

Fort. Where is this sight?


What is it ye would see?

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

Fort. This quarry cries on havock.-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?


Not from his mouth,

Had it th' 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 arriv'd, give order that these bodies.

3- quite o'ER-CROWS my spirit :] Malone states that only the quarto, 1637, reads o'er-grows for "o'er-crows ;" but the fact is, that that reading (whether it be or be not an improvement upon the word in the quarto, 1604, and in the folio, 1623) is found in the undated quarto, and in that of 1611.

The rest is silence.] The folio has "O! O! O! O!” after "silence."

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