Scene 2
Enter Osric, a courtier.

OSRIC    Your Lordship is right welcome back to
HAMLET    I humbly thank you, sir. Aside to Horatio.
Dost know this waterfly?
HORATIO , aside to Hamlet    No, my good lord.
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.
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
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 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 he has laid a great wager
on your head. Sir, this is the matter—
HAMLET    I beseech you, remember. He motions to Osric to put on his hat.
OSRIC    Nay, good my lord, for my 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.
HAMLET    Sir, his definement suffers no perdition in
you, though I know to divide him inventorially
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
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?
OSRIC    Sir?
HORATIO    Is ’t not possible to understand
in another
tongue? You will to ’t, sir, really.
HAMLET , to Osric    What imports the nomination of
this gentleman?
OSRIC    Of Laertes?
HORATIO    His purse is empty already; all ’s
golden words
are spent.
HAMLET    Of him, sir.
OSRIC    I know you are not ignorant—
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
HAMLET    I dare not confess that, lest I should compare
with him in excellence. But to know a man well
were to know himself.
OSRIC    I mean, sir, for his weapon. But in the imputation
laid on him by them, in his meed he’s
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, 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.
HAMLET    What call you the “carriages”?
HORATIO    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
matter if we could carry a 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
all “impawned,” 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 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 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, an I can.
If not, I will gain nothing but my shame and the odd
OSRIC    Shall I deliver you e’en so?
HAMLET    To this effect, sir, after what flourish your
nature will.
OSRIC    I commend my duty to your Lordship.
HAMLET    Yours. Osric exits. A table prepared. Enter Trumpets, Drums, and Officers with cushions, King, Queen, Osric, and all the state, foils, daggers, flagons of wine, and Laertes.

Come, Hamlet, come and take this hand from me.
He puts Laertes’ hand into Hamlet’s.
HAMLET , to Laertes    
Give me your pardon, sir. I have done you wrong;
But pardon ’t as you are a gentleman. This presence
And you must needs have heard, how I am punished
With a sore distraction. What I have done
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.
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
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 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 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.—
Give us the foils. Come on.
LAERTES    Come, one for me.
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.
Give them the foils, young Osric. Cousin Hamlet,
You know the wager?
HAMLET    Very well, my lord.
Your Grace has laid the odds o’ th’ weaker side.
I do not fear it; I have seen you both.
But, since he is better, we have therefore odds.
This is too heavy. Let me see another.
This likes me well. These foils have all a length?
OSRIC    Ay, my good lord.
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.
Trumpets the while.
HAMLET    Come on, sir.
LAERTES    Come, my lord.They play.
HAMLET    One.
HAMLET    Judgment!
OSRIC    A hit, a very palpable hit.
LAERTES    Well, again.
Stay, give me drink.—Hamlet, this pearl is thine.
Here’s to thy health.
He drinks and then drops the pearl in the cup.
Drum, trumpets, and shot.
Give him the cup.
I’ll play this bout first. Set it by awhile.
Come. They play. Another hit. What say you?
A touch, a touch. I do confess ’t.
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.
She lifts the cup.
HAMLET    Good madam.
KING    Gertrude, do not drink.
I will, my lord; I pray you pardon me.She drinks.
KING , aside    
It is the poisoned cup. It is too late.
I dare not drink yet, madam—by and by.
QUEEN    Come, let me wipe thy face.
LAERTES , to Claudius    
My lord, I’ll hit him now.
KING    I do not think ’t.
LAERTES , aside    
And yet it is almost against 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    Say you so? Come on.Play.
OSRIC    Nothing neither way.
LAERTES    Have at you now!
Laertes wounds Hamlet. Then in scuffling they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes.
KING    Part them. They are incensed.
HAMLET    Nay, come again.
The Queen falls.
OSRIC    Look to the Queen there, ho!
They bleed on both sides.—How is it, my lord?
OSRIC    How is ’t, Laertes?
Why as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric.
He falls.
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
How does the Queen?
KING    She swoons to see them bleed.
No, no, the drink, the drink! O, my dear Hamlet!
The drink, the drink! I am poisoned.She dies.
O villainy! Ho! Let the door be locked.Osric exits. Enter 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’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 th’ occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited—the rest is silence.
O, O, O, O!Dies.
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?

Enter Fortinbras with the English Ambassadors with Drum, Colors, and Attendants.

FORTINBRAS    Where is this sight?
HORATIO    What is it you would see?
If aught of woe or wonder, cease your search.
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?
AMBASSADOR    The sight is dismal,
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?
HORATIO    Not from his
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 placed 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 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.
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
But let this same be presently performed
Even while men’s minds are wild, lest more
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,
The soldier’s 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.
They exit, marching, after the which, a peal of ordnance are shot off.