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CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.
Hamlet, Son to the former, and Nephew to the prefent Kings
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother to Hamlet.
Ophelia, Daughter to Polonius, beloved by Hamlet.
Ladies attending on the Queen.
Players, Grave makers, Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants
HAM LE T. (1)
A C T I.
SCENE, a Platform before the Palace.
Enter BERNARDO and FRANCISCO, two Centinels.
Fran. Nay, anfwer me: ftand, and un fold yourself. Ber. Long live the King!
(1) Honest Langbaine (in his account of Dramatic Poets) having told us that he knew not whether this story were true or falfe, not finding in the lift given by Doctor Heylin such a King of Denmark as Claudius; Mr Pope comes and tells us, that this flory was not invented by our Author, though from whence he took it he knows not. Langbaine gives us a fenfible reafon for his ignorance in this point; what to make of Mr Pope's affertion, upon the grounds he gives us for it, I confefs I know not. But we'll allow this gentleman, for once, a prophet in his declaration; for the story is taken from Saxo Grammaticus, in his Danifh history. I'll fubjoin a fhort extract of the material circumstances on which the groundwork of the plot is built; and how happily the Poet has adapted his incidents, I fhall leave to the obfervation of every reader. The hiftorian calls our Poet's hero Amlethus; his father, Horwendillus; his uncle, Fengo; and his mother Gerutha. The old King in fingle combat flew Collerus, King of Norway; Fengo makes away with his brother Horwendillus, and marries his widow Gerutha. Amlethus, to avoid being fufpected by his uncle of designs, affumes a form of utter madnefs. A fine woman is planted upon him, to try if he would yield to the impreffions of love. Fengo contrives that Amlethus, in order to found him,
Fran. You come moft carefully upon your hour. Ber. 'Tis now ftruck twelve; get thee to bed, Francifco.
Fran. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter And I am fick at heart.
Ber. Have you had quiet guard?
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
Fran. I think I hear them. Stand, ho! who is
Mar. And liege-men to the Dane.
Fran. Bernardo has my place; give you good night. [Exit Francifco.
Mar. Holla! Bernardo.
fhould be clofeted by his mother. A man is concealed in the rushes to overhear their difcourfe, whom Amlethus difcovers and kills. When the Queen is frighted at this behaviour of his, he talks her about her criminal course of life, and incestuous converfation with her former husband's murderer; confesses his madness is but counterfeited, to preferve himself and fecure his revenge for his father; to which he injoins the Queen filence. Fengo fends Amlethus to Britain; two of the King's fervants attend him, with letters to the British King, ftricly preffing the death of Amlethus, who in the night time, coming at their commiffion, overreads it, forms a new one, and turns the destruction, defigned towards himself, on the bearers of the letters. Amlethus, returning home, by a wile furprizes and kills his uncle,
Ber. Say, what, is Horatio there?
Ber. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good MarMar. What, has this thing appeared again toBer. I have feen nothing.
Mar. Horatio fays, 'tis but our fantasy;
And let us once again affail your ears,
And let us hear Bernardo fpeak of this.
When yon fame ftar, that's weftward from the pole,
Mar. Peace, break thee off;
Enter the Ghoft.
Look, where it comes again.
Ber. In the fame figure, like the King that's dead. Mar. Thou art a fcholar, speak to it, Horatio. Ber. Looks it not like the King? mark it, Horatio. Hor. Moft like it harrows me with fear and
Ber. It would be spoke to.
Mar. Speak to it, Horatio.
Together with that fair and warlike form,
Ber. See! it stalks away.
Hor. Stay; fpeak: I charge thee, speak.
Mar, 'Tis gone, and will not answer. Ber. How now, Horatio? you tremble and look Is not this for thing more than fantasy? What think you of it?
Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe, Without the fenfible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.
Mar. Is it not like the King?
Such was the very armour he had on,
Mar. Thus twice before, and juft at this dead With martial ftalk, he has gone by our watch.
Hor. In what particular thought to work, I know But, in the grofs and fcope of my opinion, [not: This bodes fome strange eruption to our state.
Mar. Good now fit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this fame strict and most observant watch