The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1600-1)


Act V, Scene 2

Elsinore. A hall in the Castle.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio.

Hamlet So much for this, sir; now shall you see the other.
You do remember all the circumstance?

Horatio Remember it, my lord!

Hamlet Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting
That would not let me sleep. Methought I lay
Worse than the mutinies in the bilboes. Rashly-
And prais'd be rashness for it; let us know,
Our indiscretion sometime serves us well
When our deep plots do pall; and that should learn us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will-

Horatio That is most certain.

Hamlet Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarf'd about me, in the dark
Grop'd I to find out them; had my desire,
Finger'd their packet, and in fine withdrew
To mine own room again; making so bold
(My fears forgetting manners) to unseal
Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio
(O royal knavery!), an exact command,
Larded with many several sorts of reasons,
Importing Denmark's health, and England's too,
With, hoo! such bugs and goblins in my life-
That, on the supervise, no leisure bated,
No, not to stay the finding of the axe,
My head should be struck off.

Horatio Is't possible?

Hamlet Here's the commission; read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou bear me how I did proceed?

Horatio I beseech you.

Hamlet Being thus benetted round with villanies,
Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play. I sat me down;
Devis'd a new commission; wrote it fair.
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labour'd much
How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman's service. Wilt thou know
Th' effect of what I wrote?

Horatio Ay, good my lord.

Hamlet An earnest conjuration from the King,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear
And stand a comma 'tween their amities,
And many such-like as's of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving time allow'd.

Horatio How was this seal'd?

Hamlet Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
I had my father's signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal;
Folded the writ up in the form of th' other,
Subscrib'd it, gave't th' impression, plac'd it safely,
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
Thou know'st already.

Horatio So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to't.

Hamlet Why, man, they did make love to this employment!
They are not near my conscience; their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow.
'Tis dangerous when the baser nature comes
Between the pass and fell incensed points
Of mighty opposites.

Horatio Why, what a king is this!

Hamlet Does it not, thinks't thee, stand me now upon-
He that hath kill'd my king, and whor'd my mother;
Popp'd in between th' election and my hopes;
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such coz'nage- is't not perfect conscience
To quit him with this arm? And is't not to be damn'd
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil?

Horatio It must be shortly known to him from England
What is the issue of the business there.

Hamlet It will be short; the interim is mine,
And a man's life is no more than to say 'one.'
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,
That to Laertes I forgot myself,
For by the image of my cause I see
The portraiture of his. I'll court his favours.
But sure the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a tow'ring passion.

Horatio Peace! Who comes here?

Enter young Osric, a courtier.

Osric Your lordship is right welcome back to Denmark.

Hamlet I humbly thank you, sir. [Aside to Horatio] Dost know this
waterfly?

Horatio [aside to Hamlet] No, my good lord.

Hamlet [aside to Horatio] Thy state is the more gracious; for 'tis a
vice to know him. He hath much land, and fertile. Let a beast be
lord of beasts, and his crib shall stand at the king's mess. 'Tis
a chough; but, as I say, spacious in the possession of dirt.

Osric Sweet lord, if your lordship were at leisure, I should impart
a thing to you from his Majesty.

Hamlet I will receive it, sir, with all diligence of spirit. Put your
bonnet to his right use. 'Tis for the head.

Osric I thank your lordship, it is very hot.

Hamlet No, believe me, 'tis very cold; the wind is northerly.

Osric It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

Hamlet But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot for my complexion.

Osric Exceedingly, my lord; it is very sultry, as 'twere- I cannot
tell how. But, my lord, his Majesty bade me signify to you that
he has laid a great wager on your head. Sir, this is the matter-

Hamlet I beseech you remember.

[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat.]

Osric Nay, good my lord; for mine ease, in good faith. Sir, here is
newly come to court Laertes; believe me, an absolute gentleman,
full of most excellent differences, of very soft society and
great showing. Indeed, to speak feelingly of him, he is the card
or calendar of gentry; for you shall find in him the continent of
what part a gentleman would see.

Hamlet Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in you; though, I
know, to divide him inventorially would dozy th' arithmetic of
memory, and yet but yaw neither in respect of his quick sail.
But, in the verity of extolment, I take him to be a soul of great
article, and his infusion of such dearth and rareness as, to make
true diction of him, his semblable is his mirror, and who else would trace him, his umbrage, nothing more.

Osric Your lordship speaks most infallibly of him.

Hamlet The concernancy, sir? Why do we wrap the gentleman in our more
rawer breath?

Horatio [aside to Hamlet] Is't not possible to understand in another
tongue? You will do't, sir, really.

Hamlet What imports the nomination of this gentleman?

Osric Of Laertes?

Horatio [aside] His purse is empty already. All's golden words are
spent.

Hamlet Of him, sir.

Osric I know you are not ignorant-

Hamlet I would you did, sir; yet, in faith, if you did, it would not
much approve me. Well, sir?

Osric You are not ignorant of what excellence Laertes is-

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

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

Hamlet What's his weapon?

Osric Rapier and dagger.

Hamlet That's two of his weapons- but well.

Osric The King, sir, hath wager'd with him six Barbary horses;
against the which he has impon'd, as I take it, six French
rapiers and poniards, with their assigns, as girdle, hangers, and
so. Three of the carriages, in faith, are very dear to fancy,
very responsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of
very liberal conceit.

Hamlet What call you the carriages?

Horatio [aside to Hamlet] I knew you must be edified by the margent
ere you had done.

Osric The carriages, sir, are the hangers.

Hamlet The phrase would be more germane to the matter if we could
carry cannon by our sides. I would it might be hangers till then.
But on! Six Barbary horses against six French swords, their
assigns, and three liberal-conceited carriages: that's the French
bet against the Danish. Why is this all impon'd, as you call it?

Osric 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.

Hamlet How if I answer no?

Osric I mean, my lord, the opposition of your person in trial.

Hamlet 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.

Osric Shall I redeliver you e'en so?

Hamlet To this effect, sir, after what flourish your nature will.

Osric I commend my duty to your lordship.

Hamlet Yours, yours. [Exit Osric.] He does well to commend it
himself; there are no tongues else for's turn.

Horatio This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.

Hamlet He did comply with his dug before he suck'd it. Thus has he,
and many more of the same bevy 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 fann'd 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.

Hamlet 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 now.

Lord The King and Queen and all are coming down.

Hamlet In happy time.

Lord The Queen desires you to use some gentle entertainment to
Laertes before you fall to play.

Hamlet She well instructs me.

[Exit Lord.]

Horatio You will lose this wager, my lord.

Hamlet 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.

Horatio Nay, good my lord--

Hamlet It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gaingiving as
would perhaps trouble a woman.

Horatio If your mind dislike anything, obey it. I will forestall their
repair hither and say you are not fit.

Hamlet Not a whit, we defy augury; there's 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 knows aught of what he leaves,
what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

Enter King, Queen, Laertes, Osric, and Lords, with other

Attendants with foils and gauntlets.

A table and flagons of wine on it.

Claudius Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.

[The King puts Laertes' hand into Hamlet's.]

Hamlet Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
But pardon't, as you are a gentleman.
This presence knows,
And you must needs have heard, how I am punish'd
With sore distraction. What I have 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 taken 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.

Laertes 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
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 it.

Hamlet I embrace it freely,
And will this brother's wager frankly play.
Give us the foils. Come on.

Laertes Come, one for me.

Hamlet I'll be your foil, Laertes. In mine ignorance
Your skill shall, like a star i' th' darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.

Laertes You mock me, sir.

Hamlet No, by this hand.

Claudius Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?

Hamlet Very well, my lord.
Your Grace has laid the odds o' th' weaker side.

Claudius I do not fear it, I have seen you both;
But since he is better'd, we have therefore odds.

Laertes This is too heavy; let me see another.

Hamlet This likes me well. These foils have all a length?

Prepare to play.

Osric Ay, my good lord.

Claudius 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,
And in the cup an union shall he throw
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 heaven to earth,
'Now the King drinks to Hamlet.' Come, begin.
And you the judges, bear a wary eye.

Hamlet Come on, sir.

Laertes Come, my lord. They play.

Hamlet Judgment!

Osric A hit, a very palpable hit.

Laertes Well, again!

Claudius Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine;
Here's to thy health.
[Drum; trumpets sound; a piece goes off [within].]
Give him the cup.

Hamlet I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile.
Come. [They play.] Another hit. What say you?

Laertes A touch, a touch; I do confess't.

Claudius Our son shall win.

Gertrude He's fat, and scant of breath.
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.
The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

Hamlet Good madam!

Claudius Gertrude, do not drink.

Gertrude I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me. Drinks.

Claudius [aside] It is the poison'd cup; it is too late.

Hamlet I dare not drink yet, madam; by-and-by.

Gertrude Come, let me wipe thy face.

Laertes My lord, I'll hit him now.

Claudius I do not think't.

Laertes [aside] And yet it is almost against my conscience.

Hamlet Come for the third, Laertes! You but dally.
Pray you pass with your best violence;
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.

Laertes Say you so? Come on. Play.

Osric Nothing neither way.

Laertes Have at you now!

[Laertes wounds Hamlet; then] in scuffling, they change rapiers, [and Hamlet wounds Laertes].

Claudius Part them! They are incens'd.

Hamlet Nay come! again! The Queen falls.

Osric Look to the Queen there, ho!

Horatio They bleed on both sides. How is it, my lord?

Osric How is't, Laertes?

Laertes Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Hamlet How does the Queen?

Claudius She sounds to see them bleed.

Gertrude No, no! the drink, the drink! O my dear Hamlet!
The drink, the drink! I am poison'd. [Dies.]

Hamlet O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd.
Treachery! Seek it out.

[Laertes falls.]

Laertes 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.

Hamlet The point envenom'd too?
Then, venom, to thy work. Hurts the King.

All Treason! treason!

Claudius O, yet defend me, friends! I am but hurt.

Hamlet Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane,
Drink off this potion! Is thy union here?
Follow my mother. King dies.

Laertes He is justly serv'd.
It is a poison temper'd by himself.
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me! Dies.

Hamlet 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.

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

Hamlet As th'art a man,
Give me the cup. Let go! By heaven, I'll ha't.
O good 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?

Osric Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To the ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

Hamlet O, I die, Horatio!
The potent poison quite o'ercrows my spirit.
I cannot live to hear the news from England,
But I do prophesy th' election lights
On Fortinbras. He has my dying voice.
So tell him, with th' occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited- the rest is silence. Dies.

Horatio Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
[March within.]
Why does the drum come hither?
Enter Fortinbras and English Ambassadors, with Drum, Colours, and Attendants.

Fortinbras Where is this sight?

Horatio What is it you will see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.

Fortinbras This quarry cries on havoc. O proud Death,
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell
That thou so many princes at a shot
So bloodily hast struck.

Ambassador 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?

Horatio 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
High on a stage be placed to the view;
And let me speak to the yet unknowing world
How these things came about. So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts;
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;
Of deaths put on by cunning and forc'd cause;
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on th' inventors' heads. All this can I
Truly deliver.

Fortinbras Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune.
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom
Which now, to claim my vantage doth invite me.

Horatio Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more.
But let this same be presently perform'd,
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance
On plots and errors happen.

Fortinbras Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov'd most royally; and for his passage
The soldiers' music and the rites of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.

Exeunt marching; after the which a peal of ordnance are shot off.

THE END

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