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for him, if I can; if not, I will gain nothing but my shame, and the odd hits.
Osr. Shall I deliver you so?
Ham. To this effect, sir; after what flourish your nature will Osr. I commend my duty to your lordship.
[Erit. Ham. Yours, yours.--He does well, to commend it himself; there are no tongues else for's turn.
Hor. This lapwing runs away with the shell on his head.
Ham. He did comply with his dug, before he 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 outward habit of encounter;" a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond 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.
Ham. I am constant to my purposes, they follow the king's pleasure: if his fitness speaks, mine is * He did comply-] For compliment.
outward habit of encounter ;] i. e. exterior politeness of address ; in allusion to Osric's last speech.
s — a kind of yesty collection, which carries them through and through the most fond and winnowed opinions ;] The meaning is, “ these men have got the cant of the day, a superficial readiness of slight and cursory conversation, a kind of frothy collection of fashionable prattle, which yet carries them through the most select and approving judgments. This airy facility of talk sometimes imposes upon wise men.
ready; now, or whensoever, provided I be só able
Lord. The king, and queen, and all are coming down.
Ham. In happy time.
Lord. The queen desires you, to use some gentle entertainment to Laertes, before you fall to play.
Ham. She well instructs me. [Exit Lord. Hor. You will lose this wager, my lord.
Ham. I do not think so; since he went into France, I have been in continual practice; I shall win at the odds.' But 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
Hor. If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:: I will forestal 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 rea
9-gentle entertainment-] Mild and temperate conversation.
I shall win at the odds.] I shall succeed with the advantage that I am allowed.
a kind of gain-giving,] the same as misgiving. 3 If your mind dislike any thing, obey it:] With these presages of future evils' arising in the mind, the poet has fore-run many events which are to happen at the conclusions of his plays; and sometimes so particularly, that even the circumstances of calamity are minutely hinted at, as in the instance of Juliet, who tells her lover from the window, that he appears like one dead in the bottom of a tomb. The supposition that the genius of the mind gave an alarm before approaching dissolution,
is a very ancient one, and perhaps can never be totally driven out: yet it must be allowed the merit of adding beauty to poetry, however injurious it may sometimes prove to the weak and superstitious. STEEVENS.
diness is all: Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is't to leave betimes ?4 Let be.
Enter King, Queen, LAERTES, Lords, Osric, and
Attendants with Foils, &c.
of HAMLET. Ham. Give me your pardon, sir :5 I have done
you wrong; But pardon it, as you are a gentleman. This presence knows, and you must needs have
heard, How I am punish'd 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 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 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,
• Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows, what is’t to leave betimes?] The meaning may be, “ 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? Therefore come what will, I am prepared.”
5 Give me your pardon, sir :! I wish Hamlet had made some other defence ;- it is unsuitable to the character of a good or a brave man, to shelter himself in falsehood. JOHNSON. VOL. IX.
That I have shot my arrow o'er the house,
I am satisfied in nature,
I embrace it freely;
Come, one for me.
You mock me, sir.
Very well, my
grace hath laid the odds o'the weaker side. 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. 6 I am satisfied in nature, &c.] This was a piece of satire on fantastical honour. Though nature is satisfied, yet he will ask advice of older men of the sword, whether artificial honour ought to be contented with Hamlet's submission.
7 But since he's better'd, we have therefore odds.] These odds were twelve to nine in favour of Hamlet, by Laertes giving him three
King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that ta
ble : 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. Ham. Come on, sir. Laer. Come, my lord. [They play. 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 Cannon shot off within. Ham. I'll play this bout first, set it by awhile. Come. Another hit; What say you? [They play.
Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess.
He's fat, and scant of breath... Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows:
8-the stoups of wine-) A stoop is a kind of flagon. 9 And in the cup an union-) A species of pearl.
this pearl is thine ;] Under pretence of throwing a pearl into the cup, the King. may be supposed to drop some poisonous drug into the wine. Hamlet seems to suspect this, when he afterwards discovers the effects of the poison, and tauntingly asks him,
" Is the union here?”