[Enter Claudius, Gertrude, Lords, and attendants with exercise swords and gloves.]
Come, Hamlet, come and take this hand from me.
[He puts Laertes's hand into Hamlet's.]
[To Laertes] 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 punished with a sore distraction.
That might your nature, honor, and exception
Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.
Was't Hamlet wronged 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 wronged.
His madness is poor Hamlet's enemy.
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
I am satisfied in nature,
Whose motive in this case should stir me most
To my revenge. But in my terms of honor,
I stand aloof and will no reconcilement
Till, by some elder masters of known honor,
I have a voice and precedent of peace
To keep my name ungored. But all that time
I do receive your offered love like love,
And will this brother's wager frankly play.
Give us the foils. Come on.
I'll be your foil, Laertes. In mine ignorance
Your skill shall, like a star i'th' darkest night,
Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
Your grace has laid the odds o'th' weaker side.
I do not fear it: I have seen you both.
But since he is bettered, we have therefore odds.
[Foils are handed to Hamlet and Laertes.]
This is too heavy, let me see another.
[He exchanges his foil for another.]
This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
[Hamlet and Laertes prepare to play.]
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.
[They play. Hamlet scores a hit.]
A hit, a very palpable hit.
Stay. Give me drink. Hamlet this pearl is thine.
[He drinks, and drops a pearl in Hamlet's cup.]
Here's to thy health. Give him the cup.
[Trumpets sound, and a shot goes off.]
I'll play this bout first. Set it by awhile.
[Hamlet scores a second hit.]
Another hit. What say you?
A touch, a touch, I do confess.
[To Gertrude] Our son shall win.
He's fat and scant of breath.
Here Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.
The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.
I will, my lord, I pray you pardon me.
[She drinks, then offers the cup to Hamlet.]
[Aside] It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.
I dare not drink yet, madam, by and by.
Come, let me wipe thy face.
[Aside to Claudius] My lord, I'll hit him now.
And yet 'tis almost 'gainst my conscience.
Come, for the third, Laertes. You do but dally.
I pray you, pass with your best violence.
I am afeard you make a wanton of me.
[Laertes wounds Hamlet with his poisoned rapier. In scuffling they change rapiers. Hamlet wounds Laertes with the poisoned rapier.]
Part them! They are incensed.
[Gertrude falls down.]
Look to the Queen there, ho!
They bleed on both sides. [To Hamlet] How is't, my lord?
Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
She swoons to see them bleed.
No, no, the drink, the drink — Oh my dear Hamlet —
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.
Oh, villainy! Ho, let the door be locked.
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 envenomed. The foul practice
Hath turned itself on me. Lo, here I lie
Never to rise again. Thy mother's poisoned;
I can no more. The king, the king's to blame.
The point envenomed too? Then, venom, to thy work.
[He stabs Claudius.]
Oh, yet defend me friends, I am but hurt.
Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane,
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?
[He forces Claudius to drink.]
It is a poison tempered by himself.
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet.
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee,
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 — oh, I could tell you ...
But let it be. Horatio, I am dead.
Thou livest; report me and my causes right
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here's yet some liquor left.
[He attempts to drink from the poisoned cup, but is prevented by Hamlet.]
Give me the cup! Let go! By heaven I'll have't.
Oh good 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 awhile,
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain
[Military drums far off and a canon shot within.]
What warlike noise is this?
Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from Poland,
To th' ambassadors of England gives
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 the occurrents more and less
Which have solicited — the rest is silence.
[Hamlet sighs and dies.]
Now cracks a noble heart! Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
[Military music offstage.]
Why does the drum come hither?
[Enter Fortinbras, English Ambassadors, soldiers with drums and flags.]
What is it you would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
This quarry cries on havoc. Oh proud Death,
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,
That thou so many princes, at a shoot,
And our affairs from England come too late —
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?
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 arrived — give order that these bodies
High on a stage be placèd to the view.
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.
And in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on the inventors' heads. All this can I
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.
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,
Even while men's minds are wild, lest more mischance,
On plots and errors, happen.
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royally; and for his passage,
The soldiers' music and the rites of war
Take up the body. Such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
[Exit marching, after which a peal of cannons are shot off.]