William Shakespeare's Hamlet the Bard's most famous play is the story of a young man's idealism utterly destroyed
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Act V. Scene II.

Scene II.—A Ball in the Castle.


Ham. So much for this, sir: now shall you
see the other;
You do remember all the circumstance?
Hor. Remember it, my lord?
Ham. Sir, In my heart there was a kind of
That would not let me sleep; methought I lay
Worse than the mutines in the bilboes. Rashly,
And prais'd be rashness for it, let us know,
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well
When our deep plots do pall; and that should
teach us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.
Hor. That is most certain.
Ham. 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, 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.
Hor. Is't possible?
Ham. Here's the commission: read it at
more leisure.
But wilt thou hear me how I did proceed?
Hor. I beseech you.
Ham. Being thus benetted round with vil-
Ere 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
The effect of what I wrote?
Hor. Ay, good my lord.
Ham. An earnest conjuration from the king,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm should
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear,
And stand a comma 'tween their amities,
And many such-like 'As'es of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these con-
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving-time allow'd
Hor. How was this seal'd?
Ham. Why, even in that was heaven ordi-
I had my father's signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal;
Folded the writ up in form of the other,
Subscrib'd it, gave't th' impression, plac'd it
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight, and what to this was sequent
Thou know'st already.
Hor. So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go
Ham. Why, man, they did make love to this
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.
Hor. Why, what a king is this!
Ham. Does it not, thinks't thee, stand me
now upon—
He that hath kill'd my king and whor'd my
Popp'd in between the election and my hopes,
Thrown out his angle for my proper life,
And with such cozenage—is't not perfect con-
To quit him with this arm? and is't not to be
To let this canker of our nature come
In further evil?
Hor. It must be shortly known to him from
What is the issue of the business there.
Ham. It will be short; the interim is mine;
And a man's life's 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 count his favours:
But, sure, the bravery of his grief did put me
Into a towering passion.
Hor. 'Peace! who comes here?

Enter OSRIC.
Osr. Your lordship is right welcome back to
Ham. I humbly thank you, sir, [Aside to
HORATIO.] Dost know this water-fly?
Hor. [Aside to HAMLET.] No, my good lord.
Ham. [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.
Osr. Sweet lord, if your lordship were at
leisure, I should impart a thing to you from his
Ham. I will receive it, sir, with all diligence
of spirit. Your bonnet to his right use; 'tis for
the head.
Osr. I thank your lordship, 'tis very hot.
Ham. No, believe me, 'tis very cold; the wind
is northerly.
Osr. It is indifferent cold, my lord, indeed.
Ham. But yet methinks it is very sultry and
hot for my complexion.
Osr. 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
Ham. I beseech you, remember—
[HAMLET moves him to put on his hat.
Osr. 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.
Ham. Sir, his definement suffers no perdition
in you; though, I know, to divide him invento-
rially would dizzy the 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.
Osr. Your lordship speaks most infallibly of
Ham. The concernancy, sir? why do we wrap
the gentleman in our more rawer breath?
Osr. Sir?
Hor. Is't not possible to understand in another
tongue? You will do't, sir, really.
Ham. What imports the nomination of this
Osr. Of Laertes?
Hor. His purse is empty already; all's golden
words are spent.
Ham. Of him, sir.
Osr. I know you are not ignorant—
Ham. I would you did, sir; in faith, if you
did, it would not much approve me. Well, sir.
Osr. You are not ignorant of what excellence
Laertes is—
Ham. I dare not confess that, lest I should
compare with him in excellence; but, to know a
man well, were to know himself.
Osr. I mean, sir, for his weapon; but in the
imputation laid on him by them, in his meed
he's unfellowed.
Ham. What's his weapon?
Osr. Rapier and dagger.
Ham. That's two of his weapons; but, well.
Osr. The king, sir, hath wagered with him six
Barbary horses; against the which he has im-
poned, 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.
Ham. What call you the carriages?
Hor. I knew you must be edified by the mar-
gent, ere you had done.
Osr. The carriages, sir, are the hangers.
Ham. The phrase would be more german 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 'imponed,' as you call it?
Osr. 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.
Ham. How if I answer no?
Osr. I mean, my lord, the opposition of your
person in trial.
Ham. Sir, I will walk here in the hall; if it
please his majesty, 'tis 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 an I can; if not, I will gain nothing but
my shame and the odd hits.
Osr. Shall I re-deliver you so?
Ham. To this effect, sir; after what flourish
your nature will
Osr. I commend my duty to your lordship.
Ham. Yours, yours. [Exit OSRIC.] 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 bis dug before he
sucked 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 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 ready; now, or whensoever, provided I
be so able as now.
Lord. The king, and queen, and all are com-
ing 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 wouldst 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'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 has aught
of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes?
Let be.

OSRIC, and Attendants with foils, &c,
King. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this
hand from me.
[The KING 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 knows,
And you must needs have heard, how I am
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 la'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,
That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house,
And hurt my brother.
Laer. 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.
Ham. I embrace it freely;
And will this brother's wager frankly play.
Give us the foils. Come on.
Laer. Come, one for we.
Ham. I'll be your foil, Laertes; in mine
Your skill shall, like a star i' the darkest night,
Stick fiery off indeed.
Laer. You mock me, sir.
Ham. No, by this hand.
King. Give them the foils, young Osric.
Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?
Ham. Very well, my lord;
Your Grace hath laid the odds o' the weaker
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. These foils have
all a length?
Osr. Ay, my good lord.
[They prepare to play.
King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that
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
And let the kettle to the trumpet speak,
The trumpet to the cannoneer without,
The cannons to the heavens, the heavens to
'Now the king drinks to Hamlet!' Come,
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 cannon shot off
Ham. I'll play this bout first; set it by
Come—[They play.] Another hit; what say
Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess.
King. Our son shall win.
Queen. He's fat, and scant of breath.
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows;
The queen carouses to thy fortune. Hamlet
Ham. Good madam!
King. Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen. I will, my lord; I pray you, pardon
King. [Aside.] It is the poisoned 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't.
Laer. [Aside.] And yet 'tis 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
scuffling, they change rapiers, and
King. Part them! they are incens'd.
Ham. Nay, come, again. [The QUEEN falls.
Osr. Look to the queen there, ho!
Hor. They bleed on both sides. How is it,
my lord?
Osr. How is it, Laertes?
Laer. Why, as a woodcock to mine own
springe, Osric;
I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.
Ham. How does the queen?
King. She swounds to see them bleed.
Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,—O my
dear Hamlet!
The drink, the drink; I am poison'd. [Dies.
Ham. O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd:
Treachery! seek it out. [LAERTES falls.
Laer. It is here. Hamlet, Hamlet, thou art
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. [Stabs the KING.
All. Treason! treason!
King. O! yet defend me, friends; I am but
Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murderous,
damned Dane,
Drink off this potion;—is thy union here?
Follow my mother. [KING dies.
Laer. 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
Nor thine on me! [Dies.
Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow
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.
Hor. Never believe it;
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane:
Here's yet some liquor left.
Ham. As thou'rt a man,
Give me the cup: let go; by heaven, I'll have't.
O God! Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in
To tell my story.
[March afar off, and shot within.
What war-like noise is this?
Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come
from Poland,
To the ambassadors of England gives
This war-like volley.
Ham. O! I die, Horatio;
The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit:
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 silence. [Dies.
Hor. Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night,
sweet prince,
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?
Hor. What is it ye would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
fort. This quarry cries on havoc. O proud
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,
That thou so many princes at a shot
So bloodily hast struck?
First Amb. The sight is dismal;
And our affairs from England come too late:
The ears are senseless that should give us
To tell him his commandment is fulfill'd,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.
Where should we have our thanks?
Hor. Not from his mouth,
Had it the 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
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 the inventors' heads; all this can I
Truly deliver.
Fort. 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.
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on
But let this same be presently perform'd,
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mis-
On plots and errors happen.
Fort. 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 pas-
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.
[A dead march. Exeunt, bearing off the
bodies; after which a peal of ordnance
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