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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 side.

King. I do not fear it; I have seen you both :-
But since he's better'd, we have therefore odds.2

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 stoups of wine3 upon that table:

9 — like a star i' the darkest night,

Stick fiery off indeed.] So, in Chapman's version of the twen-, ty-second Iliad:

" a world of stars &c.--
" the midnight that renders them most showne,

“ Then being their foil;.” Steevens. i Tour grace hath laid the odds othe weaker side. ] When the odds were on the side of Laertes, who was to hit Hamlet twelve times to nine, it was perhaps the author's slip. Sir T. Hanmer reads

Your grace hath laid upon the weaker side. Fohnson. I see no reason for altering this passage. Hamlet considers the things imponed by the King, as of more value than those imponed by Laertes; and therefore says, that he had laid the odds on the weaker side.” M. Mason.

Hamlet either means, that what the King had laid was more valuable than what Laertes staked; or that the king hath made his bet, an advantage being given to the weaker party. I believe the first is the true interpretation. In the next line but one the word odds certainly means an advantage given to the party, but here it may have a different sense. This is not an uncommon practice with our poet. Malone.

The King had wagered, on Hamlet, six Barbary horses, against a few rapiers, poniards, &c. that is, about twenty to one. These are the odds here meant. Ritson.

2 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. "Ritson. 3 the stoups of wine – ] A story is a kind of fagon.

Steevens. Containing somewhat more than two quarts. Malone.

Stoup is a common word in Scotland at this day, and denotes a pewter vessel, resembling our wine measure; but of no deter

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;

minate quantity, that being ascertained by an adjunct, as gallonstoup, pint-stoup, mutchkin-stoup, &c. The vessel in which they fetch or keep water is also called the water-stoup. A stoup of wine is therefore equivalent to a pitcher of wine. "Ritson. 4 And in the cup an union shall he throw,] In some editions:

And in the cup an onyx shall he throw. This is a various reading in several of the old copies; but union seems to me to be the true word. If I am not mistaken, neither the onyx, nor sardonyx, are jewels which ever found place in an imperial crown. An union is the finest sort of pearl, and has its place in all crowns, and coronets. Besides, let us consider what the King says on Hamlet's giving Laertes the first hit:

" Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine;

“ Here's to thy health.” Therefore, if an union be a pearl, and an onyx a gem, or stone, quite differing in its nature from pearls; the King saying, that Hamlet has earned the pearl, I think, amounts to a demonstration that it was an union pearl, which he meant to throw into the cup. Theobald.

And in the cup an union shall he throw,] Thus the folio rightly. In the first quarto, by the carelessness of the printer, for union we have unice, which in the subsequent quarto copies was made onyx. An union is a very precious pearl. See Bullokar's Englisiz Expositor, 1616, and Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, in v.

Malone. So, in Soliman and Perseda:

“ Ay, were it Cleopatra's union." The union is thus mentioned in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History: “ And hereupon it is that our dainties and delicates here at Rome, &c. call them unions, as a man would say singular and by themselves alone.”

To swallow a pearl in a draught seems to have been equally common to royal and mercantile prodigality. So, in the Second Part of If You know not Me, You know Nobody, 1606, Sir Thomas Gresham says:

Here 16,000 pound at one clap goes.
“ Instead of sugar, Gresham drinks this pearle

“ Unto his queen and mistress.” It may be observed, however, that pearls were supposed to possess an exhilarating quality. Thus, Rondelet, Lib. I, de Testac, c. XV: “ Uniones quæ à conchis &c. valde cordiales sunt.”

Steevens

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.

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 ;5 Here's to thy health. Give him the cup.

[Trumpets sound ; and Cannon shot off within. Ham. I'îl play this bout first, set it by awhile. Come.-Another hit; What say you? [They play.

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

5 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 af. terwards discovers the effects of the poison, and tauntingly asks him,-“ Is the union here?”- Steevensi

6 Queen. He's fat, and scant of breath.] It seems that Fohn Lowin, who was the original Falstaff, was no less celebrated for his performance of Henry VIII, and Hamlet. See the Historia Histrionica, &c. If he was adapted, by the corpulence of his figure, to appear with propriety in the two former of these characters, Shakspeare might have put this observation into the mouth of her majesty, to apologize for the want of such elegance of person as an audience might expect to meet with in the representative of the youthful prince of Denmark, whom Ophelia speaks of as “the glass of fashion and the mould of form." This, however, is mere conjecture, as Joseph Taylor likewise acted Hamlet during the life of Shakspeare.

In Ratsie's Ghost, (Gamaliel) no date, about 1605, bl. 1. 4o. the second part of his madde prankes &C.--He robs a company of players. * Sirra, saies he to the chiefest of them, thou hast a good presence on a stage-get thee to London, for if one man were dead, (Lowin, perhaps,] there would be none fitter than thyself to play his parts.I durst venture all the money in my purse on thy head to play Hamlet with him for a wager." He knights him afterwards, and bids him-“ Rise up, Sir Simon

Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows:
The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.7

Ham. Good madam,
King.

Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen. I will, my lord;-I pray you, pardon me.
King. It is the poison'd cup; it is too late. [Aside.
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. And yet it is almost against my conscience.

TAside: Ham. 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.9

two shares & a halfe." I owe this quotation to one of Dr. Farmer's memoranda. Steevens.

The author of Historia Histrionica, and Downes the prompter, concur in saying, that Taylor was the performer of Hamlet. Roberts the player alone has asserted, (apparently without any authority) that this part was performed by Lowin. Malone.

7 T'he queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet,]i. e. (in humbler language) drinks good luck to you. A similar phrase occurs in David and Bethsabe, 1599:

“ With full carouses to his fortune past.” Steevens. 8 Come, let me wipe thy face. ] These very words (the present repetition of which might have been spared) are addressed by Doll Tearsheet to Falstaff, when he was heated by his pursuit of Pistol. See Vol. IX, p. 74. Steevens.

9- you make a wanton of me.] A wanton was a man feeble and effeminate. In Cymbeline, Imogen says, I am not

" so citizen a wanton, as

" To seem to die, ere sick.” Fohnson. Rather, you trifle with me as if you were playing with a child. So, in Romeo and Fuliet:

" I would have thee gone,
“ And yet no further than a wanton's bird,
“ That lets it hop a little from her hand,

“ And with a silk thread pulls it back again.” Ritson. A passage in King Fohn shows that wanton here means a man feeble and effeminate, as Dr. Johnson has explained it:

66 Shall a beardless boy,
" A cocker'd silken wanton, brave our fields,

“ And flesh his spirit in a warlike soil,” &c. Malone. The following passage in the first scene of Lee's Alexander the Great, may furnish a sufficient comment on the words of Hamlet: Laer. Say you so? come on.

[They play. Osr. Nothing neither way. Laer. Have at you now. (LAER, wounds HAM.; then, in scuffling, they change

ja Rapiers, and Ham. wounds LAER. 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 't, Laertes?

Laer. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osric; I am justly kill'd with mine own treachery.

Ham. How does the queen?
King.

She swoons 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 villainy!-Ho! let the door be lock’d: Treachery! seek it out.

[LAER. falls-
Laer. 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's 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,
Osr. & Lords. Treason! treason!
King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.
Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned

Dane,

Drink off this potion :-Is the union here?1
Follow my mother.

[King dies.

He dallied with my point, and when I thrust,
“ He frown'd and smil'd, and foil'd me like a fencer.”

Steevens. 1 Is the union here?] In this place likewise the quarto reads, an onyx. Steevens.

- Is the union here?] Thus the folio. In a former passage in the quarto, 1604, for union we had unice ; here it has onyk.

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