ACT 5, SCENE 2: The Castle.


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                                    [5]
Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly --
And praised 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,                                               [10]
Rough-hew them how we will.

HORATIO:                           That is most certain.

HAMLET: Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarfed about me, in the dark
Groped I to find out them, had my desire,
Fingered their packet; and in fine withdrew                                       [15]
To mine own room again, making so bold,
My fears forgetting manners, to unseal
Their grand commission; where I found, Horatio --
Ah, royal knavery! -- an exact command,
Larded with many several sorts of reasons,                                         [20]
Importing Denmark's health and England's too,
With, ho, such bugs and goblins in my life,
That, on the supervise, no leisure bated,
No, not to stay the grinding of the axe,
My head should be struck off.                                                                 [25]

HORATIO:                           Is't possible?

HAMLET: Here's the commission, read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou hear now how I did proceed?

HORATIO: I beseech you.

HAMLET: Being thus benetted round with villainies,
Ere I could make a prologue to my brains,                                           [30]
They had begun the play. I sat me down,
Devised a new commission, wrote it fair.
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and laboured much
How to forget that learning, but, sir, now                                            [35]
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,                       [40]
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,                                         [45]
He should those bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving time allowed.

HORATIO:                           How was this sealed?

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;                                          [50]
Folded the writ up in the form of th' other,
Subscribed it, gave't th' impression, placed it safely,
The changeling never known. Now the next day
Was our sea-fight, and what to this was sequent
Thou knowest already.                                                                             [55]

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                                      [60]
Between the pass and fell incensed points
Of mighty opposites.

HORATIO:                           Why, what a king is this!

HAMLET: Does it not, think thee, stand me now upon --
He that hath killed my king and whored my mother,
Popp'd in between th' election and my hopes,                                    [65]
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such cozenage -- is't not perfect conscience
To quit him with this arm? And is't not to be damned,
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil?                                                                                           [70]

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's mine,
And a man's life's no more than to say łone.˛
But I am very sorry, good Horatio,                                                         [75]
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.                                                                            [80]

HORATIO:                           Peace, who comes here?

Enter young OSRIC, a courtier.

OSRIC: Your lordship is right welcome back to Den-

HAMLET: I humbly thank you, sir. -- [Aside to Horatio]
Dost know this water-fly?

HORATIO: [Aside to Hamlet] No, my good lord.                                            [85]

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.                                           [90]

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.                                                                                                              [95]

OSRIC: I thank your lordship, it is very hot.

HAMLET: No, believe me, 'tis very cold, the wind is

OSRIC: It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.

HAMLET: But yet methinks it is very sultry and hot                                     [100]
for my complexion.

OSRIC: Exceedingly, my lord, it is very sultry -- as
'twere -- I cannot tell how. My lord, his Majesty
bade me signify to you that 'a has laid a great wager on
your head. Sir, this is the matter --                                                       [105]

HAMLET: I beseech you remember.

[Hamlet moves him to put on his hat.]

OSRIC: Nay, good my lord, for my case, in good faith.
Sir, here is newly come to court Laertes, believe me,
an absolute gentleman, full of most excellent differ-
ences, of very soft society, and great showing; indeed,                      [110]
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                               [115]
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                         [120]
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?                                           [125]


HORATIO: Is't not possible to understand in another
tongue? You will to't, sir, really.

HAMLET: What imports the nomination of this gentle-
man?                                                                                                             [130]

OSRIC: Of Laertes?

HORATIO:[Aside to Hamlet] His purse is empty
already: all's golden words are spent.

HAMLET: Of him, sir.

OSRIC: I know you are not ignorant --                                                             [135]

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                               [140]
with him in excellence, but to know a man well were
to know himself.

OSRIC: I mean, sir, for his weapon, but in the imputa-
tion laid on him by them, in his meed he's un-
fellowed.                                                                                                       [145]

HAMLET: What's his weapon?

OSRIC: Rapier and dagger.

HAMLET: That's two of his weapons -- but well.

OSRIC: The King, sir, hath wagered with him six
Barbary horses, against the which he has impawned,                       [150]
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 re-
sponsive to the hilts, most delicate carriages, and of
very liberal conceit.                                                                                    [155]

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                                  [160]
matter if we could carry a cannon by our sides; I
would it might be hangers till then. But on: six Bar-
bary horses against six French swords, their assigns,
and three liberal-conceited carriages; that's the
French bet against the Danish. Why is this all im-                            [165]
pawned, as you call it?

OSRIC: The King, sir, hath laid, sir, 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                               [170]
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                                   [175]
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 and I can;
if not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd
hits.                                                                                                                [180]

OSRIC: Shall I deliver you 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. 'A does well to                                     [185]
commend it himself, there are no tongues else for 's

HORATIO: This lapwing runs away with the shell on
his head.

HAMLET: 'A did comply, sir, with his dug before 'a                                      [190]
sucked it. Thus has he, and many more of the same
breed that I know the drossy age dotes on, only got the
tune of the time, and out of an habit of encounter, a
kind of yesty collection, which carries them through
and through the most profound and winnowed opinions,             [195]
and do but blow them to their trial, the bubbles are

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                              [200]
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.                            [205]

LORD: The King and Queen and all are coming down.

HAMLET: In happy time.

LORD: The Queen desires you to use some gentle enter-
tainment to Laertes before you fall to play.

HAMLET: She well instructs me.                                                                       [210]

[Exit LORD.]

HORATIO: You will lose, 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. Thou wouldst not think how ill all's here
about my heart -- but it is no matter.                                                   [215]

HORATIO: Nay, good my lord --

HAMLET: It is but foolery, but it is such a kind of gain-
giving, as would perhaps trouble a woman.

HORATIO: If your mind dislike any thing, obey it. I
will forestall their repair hither, and say you are not fit.                  [220]

HAMLET: Not a whit, we defy augury. There is 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 of aught he leaves knows, what is't to leave                        [225]
betimes? Let be.

A table prepared, and flagons of wine on it.
Enter Trumpets, Drums, and Officers with cushions, foils,
daggers; KING, QUEEN, LAERTES, OSRIC, and all
the State.

KING: 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,                   [230]
How I am punished with a sore distraction.
What I have done
That might your nature, honour, and exception
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
Was't Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet!                               [235]
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 wronged,                                              [240]
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
Sir, in this audience,
Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
Free me so far in your most generous thoughts,
That I have shot my arrow o'er the house                                           [245]
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                                     [250]
I have a voice and precedent of peace
To keep my name ungored. But till that time
I do receive your offered love like love,
And will not wrong it.

HAMLET:                           I embrace it freely,
And will this brothers' wager frankly play.                                          [255]
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.                                                                                 [260]

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

HAMLET:                           Very well, my lord.
Your Grace has laid the odds a' th' weaker side.

KING: I do not fear it, I have seen you both;
But since he is bettered, we have therefore odds.                               [265]

LAERTES: This is too heavy; let me see another.

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

[They] prepare to play.

OSRIC: Ay, my good lord.

KING: Set me the stoups of wine upon that table.
If Hamlet give the first or second hit,                                                    [270]
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                                     [275]
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,
łNow the King drinks to Hamlet.˛ Come begin;                                [280]

Trumpets the while.

And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

HAMLET: Come on, sir.

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

They play.

HAMLET:                           One.

LAERTES:                           No.

HAMLET:                           Judgment.

OSRIC: A hit, a very palpable hit.

LAERTES:                           Well, again.

KING: Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine,
Here's to thy health! Give him the cup.                                               [285]

[Drum, trumpets, and shot. Flourish. A piece goes off.]

HAMLET: I'll play this bout first, set it by a while.

[They play.] Another hit; what say you?

LAERTES: A touch, a touch, I do confess't.

KING: Our son shall win.

QUEEN:                           He's fat, and scant of breath.
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.                                   [290]
The Queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

HAMLET: Good madam!

KING:                           Gertrude, do not drink.

QUEEN: I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me. [Drinks.]

KING: [Aside.] It is the poisoned cup, it is too late.

HAMLET: I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.                                         [295]

QUEEN: Come, let me wipe thy face.

LAERTES: My lord, I'll hit him now.

KING:                           I do not think't.

LAERTES: [Aside.] And yet it is almost against my conscience.

HAMLET: Come, for the third, Laertes, you do but dally.
I pray you pass with your best violence;                                               [300]
I am sure you make a wanton of me.

LAERTES: Say you so? Come on.

[They] play.

OSRIC: Nothing, neither way.

LAERTES: Have at you now!

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

KING:                           Part them, they are incensed.

HAMLET: Nay, come again.                                                                                 [305]

[Hamlet wounds Laertes.] 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 killed with mine own treachery.

HAMLET: How does the Queen?                                                                        [310]

KING:                           She sounds to see them bleed.

QUEEN: No, no, the drink, the drink -- O my dear Hamlet --
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.


HAMLET: O villainy! Ho, let the door be locked!
Treachery! Seek it out.

[Laertes falls.]

LAERTES: It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain.                                    [315]
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 envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me. Lo here I lie,                                                 [320]
Never to rise again. Thy mother's poisoned.
I can no more -- the King, the King's to blame.

HAMLET: The point envenomed too!
Then, venom, to thy work.

Hurts the King.

ALL: Treason! treason!                                                                                          [325]

KING: O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.

HAMLET: Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane,
Drink off this potion! Is thy union here?
Follow my mother!

King dies.

LAERTES:                          He is justly served,
It is a poison tempered by himself.                                                        [330]
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
Nor thine on me!


HAMLET: Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
I am dead, Horatio. Wretched queen, adieu!                                       [335]
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,                                                             [340]
Thou livest. 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!                                      [345]
O God, Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall I leave behind me!
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity a while,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain                              [350]
To tell my story.

A march afar off and a shot.

                           What warlike noise is this?

[Osric goes to the door and returns.]

OSRIC: Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To th' ambassadors of England gives
This warlike volley.

HAMLET:                           O, I die, Horatio,
The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit.                                     [355]
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.                                         [360]


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?

              with Drum, Colours, and Attendants.

FORTINBRAS: Where is this sight?

HORATIO:                           What is it you would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.                                     [365]

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?

FIRST AMBASSADOR.              The sight is dismal,
And our affairs from England come too late.                                      [370]
The ears are senseless that should give us hearing,
To tell him his commandment is fulfilled,
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.                                                     [375]
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 arrived, give order that these bodies
High on a stage be placed to the view,                                                   [380]
And let me speak to th' 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 forced cause,                                   [385]
And in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fallen 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.                                        [390]
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 performed                                             [395]
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 proved most royal; and for his passage,                                [400]
The soldiers' music and the rite 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.                                                                         [405]

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

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