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Hor. You will lose this wager, my lord.31

Ham. I do not think so: since he went into France, I have been in continual practice ; I shall win at the odds. Thou would'st not think, how ill all's here about my heart ; but it is no matter.

Hor. Nay, good my lord,

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

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

Ham. Not a whit, we defy augury: there is 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 of aught he leaves knows, what is't to leave betimes ? 33 Let be.

31 The words, “this wager," are wanting in the quartos.



32 The folio has gain-giving; the quartos, gam-giving and game-giving. Gain-giving is misgiving or giving-against ; here meaning a dim prognostic or presentiment of evil. --" Shakespeare,” says Coleridge, “ seems to mean all Hamlet's character to be brought together before his final disappearance from the scene ; - his meditative excess in the grave-digging, his yielding to passion with Laertes, his love for Ophelia blazing out, his tendency to generalize on all occasions in the dialogue with Horatio, his fine gentlemanly manners with Osrick, and bis and Shakespeare's own fondness for presentiment.”

33 This is the reading of the quartos : the folio reads, “Since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes ?Johnson thus interprets the passage : “Since no man knows aught of the state which he leaves ; since he cannot judge what other years may produce; why should we be afraid of leaving life betimes ?Warburton's explanation is very ingenious, but perhaps strains the Poet's meaning : “ It is true that by death we lose all the goods of life ; yet seeing this loss is no otherwise an evil than as we are sensible of it; and since death removes all sense of it; what matters it how soon we lose them ?

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Enter the King, the Queen, LAERTES, Lords, Os

RICK, and Attendants, with Foils, foc. King. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand from me.

[He puts the hand of LAERTES

into that of HAMLET. Ham. Give me your pardon, sir : I've done you

wrong; But pardon 't, as you are a gentleman. This presence

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 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 wrong’d;
His madness is


Sir, in his audience, 34
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.

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

34 This hemstitch is in the folio only. In what follows, the folio misprints mother for brother, and ungorg'd for ungor'd.


I do receive your offer'd love like love,
And will not wrong it.

I embrace it freely ;
And will this brother's wager frankly play. –
Give us the foils ; come on.

Ham. I'll be your foil, Laertes: in mine igno-


for me.



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 Osrick.- Cous-

in Hamlet, You know the wager ? Ham.

Very well, my lord : Your grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side.3

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. These foils have all a length ?

[They prepare to play. Osr. Ay, my good lord. 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 he throw, 37

35 The words, “come on,” are not in the quartos.

36 The King had wagered six Barbary horses to a few rapiers, poniards, &c.; that is, about twenty to one. These are the odds here meant. The odds the King means in the next speech were twelve to nine in favour of Hamlet, by Laertes giving him three.

37 The folio has union ; the quartos, unice and onix. Union

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, be-

And you, the judges, bear a wary eye.

Ham. Come on, sir.
Laer. Come, my lord.

[They play.
Ham. One.
Laer. No.
Ham. Judgment.
Osr. A hit, a very palpable hit.
Laer. Well, - again.
King. Stay; give me drink : Hamlet, this pearl

is thine ; Here's to thy health. — Give him the cup.

[Trumpets sound; and Cannons shot off within. Ham. I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile. Come. - [They play.) Another bit; what say you ?

Laer. A touch, a touch ; I do confess.38
King. Our son shall win.
Queen. He's fat, and scant of breath.”


is a name for large and precious pearls. Afterwards, on finding out what the King's union was, Hamlet tauntingly asks, “Is thy union bere ?According to Rondeletus, pearls were thought 10 have an exhilarating quality. To swallow them in a draught, was esteemed a high strain of magnificence. Thus in If You know not Me You know Nobody :

“ Here sixteen thousand pound at one clap goes,

Instead of sugar: Gresham drinks this pearl

Unto the queen his mistress.” 38 The words, “ A touch, a touch,” are not in the quartos.

39 This speaking of Hamlet as “fat and scant of breath” is greatly at odds with the idea we are apt to form of him ; though



Herc, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows :
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. [Aside. It is the poison'd cup! it is too

late. 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. King.

I do not think it. Laer. [Aside.] And yet it is almost 'gainst my

conscience. Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes. You but

I pray you, pass with your best violence :
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.

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.


there is no good reason why the being somewhat fat should in any point take off from his excellences as a man or a prince. It is thought by some, however, and seems indeed likely enough to have been true, that the expression was used with special reference to Burbage, the original actor of Hamlet's part. Burbage died in 1619; and in a manuscript elegy upon his death, sold, not many years since, among Heber's books, are the following lines, which both ascertain his original performance of the part, and also render it probable that the words in question had reference to him :

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

Shall cry • Revenge !' for his dear father's death." 40 That is, that you trifle with me as if I were a child, or one not worth “ your best violence." - The quartos have sure instead of a feard. VOL. X.




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