Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

What Majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time,

Were

[ocr errors]

Ah marry,

Ånd how exquisitely does the to get them by heart, and retail poet ridicule the reasoning in fa- . them for his own. And this the jion, where he makes Polonius poet has finely shewn us 'was the remark on Hamlet's madness; case, where, in the middle of Though this be madness, yet Polonius's instructions to his ferthere's method in't :

vant, he makes him, tho withAs if method, which the wits of out having received any interrupthat age thought the most effen- tion, forget his leffon, and say, tial quality of a good discourse, And then, Sir, does he this; would make aménds for the mad. He does -what was l about ness. It was madness indeed, yet to say ? Polonius could comfort himself I was about to fay Something? with this reflection, that at least where did I leave ?it was methad.

It is certain The servant replies, Shakespear excels in nothing At, clofes in the consequence. more than in the preservation of This fets Polonius right, and he his characters.; To this life and goes on, varie'y of character (says our At, closes in the consequence. great poet in his admirable preface to Shakespear) we must add He clofestbus; I know the the wonderful preservation of it. gentleman, &c. We have said what is the charac. which shews they were words got ter of Poponius; and it is allowed by heart which he was repeating on all hands to be drawn with Otherwise cluses in the consequence, wonderful life and spirit, yet the which conveys no particular idea unity of it has been thought by of the subject he was upon, could fome to be grofly violated in the never have made him recollect excellent

prezepts and inflructions, where he broke off. This is an which Shakespear makes his statel- extraordinary instance of the poman give to his son and servant et's art, and attention to the prein the middle of the first, and fervation of Character. WARB. beginning of the second act. But : This account of the character: I will venture to say, these crie of Polonius though it sufficiently ticks have' not entered into the reconciles the seeming inconfillpoet's art and address in this

par ency of so much wisdom with so ticular. He had a mind to or much folly, does not perhaps nament his scenes with those fine correspond exactly to the ideas of Jeffens of social life ; but his Por our authour. The commentator lonius was too weak to be the au makes the charactor of Polonius, thor of them, tho' he was pedant a character only of manners, disenough to have met with them criminated by properties superfiin his reading, and fop enough cial, accidental, and acquired.

The

1

Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity's the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief ; you noble son is mad;
Mad, call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't, but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go-

Queen. More matter, with less arte

Pol. Madam, I swear, I use no art at all. That he is mad, 'tis true ; 'tis true, 'tis pity; And pity 'tis, 'tis true.

A foolish figure, But farewel it; for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then ; and now remains That we find out the cause of this effect, Or rather say, the cause of this defect; For this effect, defective, comes by cause; Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.--Perpend.-I have a daughter; have, whilft she is mine

The poet intended a nobler de. knowing in retrospect, and ig-
lineation of a mixed character of norant in foresight. While he
manners and of nature. Polonius depends upon his memory, and
is a man bred in courts, exercised can draw from his repositories of
in business, stored with observa- knowledge, he utters weighty
tion, confident of his knowledge, sentences, and gives useful coun-
proud of his eloquence, and de- fel; but as the mind in its en-
clining into dotage. His mode feebled state cannot be kept long
of oratory is truly represented as busy and intent, the old man is
designed to ridicule the practice subject to sudden dereli&tion of
of those times, of prefaces that his faculties, he loses the order of
made no introduction, and of his ideas, and entangles himself
method that embarrassed rather in his own thoughts, till here.
than explained. This part of his covers the leading principle, and
character is accidental, the rest is falls again into his former train.
natural. Such a man is positive This idea of dotage encroaching
and confident, because he knows upon wisdom, will folve all the
that his mind was once strong, phænomena of the character of
and knows not that it is become Polonius.
weak. Such a man excels in ge. .10 expostulate } To
neral principles, but fails in the exp ftulate, for ta enquire or dif-
particular application. He is cuss.

WARB.
Who

9

N 4

Who in her duty and obedience, mark,
Hath given me this; now gather, and furmise.

[He opens a letter, and reads.] I To the celestial, and my soul's idol, the most beautified Ophelia That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase : becutified is a vile phrase; but you shall hear -Tbefe to her excellent white bofoni, these.

Queen. Came this from Hamlet to her ?
Pol. Good Madam, stay a while. I will be faithful.

Doubt tkou, the stars are fire, [Reading
Doubt, that the Sun doth move ;
Doubt truth to be a liar,

But never doubt, I love.
Oh, dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers ; I have

" To the celestial, and my foul's ful anticlimax is it to descend to idol, the most beautified Ophelia.] such an epithet as beautified? On I have ventur'd at an emendation the other had, beatified, as I here, against the authority of all have conjectur’d, raises the the copies; but, I hope, upon image: but Polanius might very examination it will appear pro- well, as a Roman Catholick, call bable and reasonable. The word it a vile phrase, i. e. favouring beautified may carry two distinct of profanation ; since the epithet idea, either as applied to a wo is peculiarly made an adjunct to man made up of artificial beau- the Virgin Mary's honour, and ties, or to one rich in native therefore ought not to be emcharms. As Shakespeare has ployed in the praise of a meer therefore chose to use it in the mortal.

THEOBALD. latter acceptation, to express na Both Sir T. Hanmer and Dr. tural comeliness; I cannot ima Warburton have followed Theor gine, that here, he would make bald, but I am in doubt whether Polonius except to the phrase, and beautified, though, as Polonius call it a vile one.

But a stronger calls it, a vile phrase, be not the objection still, in my mind, lies proper word. Beautified seems against it. As celestial and soul's to be a vile phrase, for the amidol are the introductory charac- biguity of its meaning. teristics of Ophelia, what a dread

not

not art to reckon my groans ; but that I love thee best, ob most beft, believe it.

Adieu.

Thine evermore, most dear Lady, whilst

this Machine is to him, Hamlet.

2

This in obedience hath my daughter shewn me,
And, more above, hath his solicitings,
As they fell out by time, by means and place,
All given to mine ear.

King. But how hath she receiv'd his love?
Pol. What do you think of me?
King. As of a man faithful and honourable.
Pol. I would fain prove so. But what might you

think
When I had seen this hot love on the wing,
(As I perceiv'd it, I must tell you that,
Before my daughter told me:) what might you,
Or

my dear Majesty your Queen here, think 3 If I had play'd the desk or table-book, Or giv'n my heart a working, mute and dumb, Or look'd upon this love with idle sight? What might you think? No, I went round to work, And my young mistress thus I did bespeak; Lord Hamlet is a Prince out of thy sphere,

2 More above, - is, more [play'd the desk or table-look,] or over, befides,

had connived at it, only observed 3 If I had play'd the desk or them in secret without acquainttable-book,

ing my daughter with my discoOr giv’n my heart a working very, [given my heart a mute and mute and dumb,

dumb working,] or lastly, had Or lock'd upon this love with been negligent in observing the idle fight;

intrigue, and over-locked it, What might you think ?-] i.e. [look'd upon this love with idle If either I had conveyed intelli- fight;] what would you have gence between them, and been thought of me? WARB. the confident of their amours,

This must not be ; and then, I precepts gave her,
That she should lock herself from his resort,
Admit no messengers, receive no tokens :
4 Which done, she took the fruits of my advice;
And he repulsed, s a short tale to make,
Fell to a sadness, then into a fast,
Thence to a watching, thence into a weakness,
Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension,
Into the madness wherein now he raves,
And all we wail for.

King. Do you think this?
Queen. It may be very likely.
Pol. Hath there been such a time, I'd fain know

that,
That I have positively faid, 'tis so,
When it prov'd otherwise ?

King. Not that I know.
Pol. Take this from this, if this be otherwise.

[Pointing to his Head and Shoulder. If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed

4 Which done, SHE TOOK tke this character is here admirably

fruits of my advice; sustained. He would not only And he repulsed,-) The fruits be thought to have discovered of advice are the effects of ad. this intrigue by his own sagacity, vice. But how could she be said but to have remarked all the to take them the reading is stages of Hamlet's disorder, from corrupt. Shakespear wrote, his sadness to his raving, as reWhich done, see too the fruits galarly as his physician could of my advice;

have done ; when all the while For, he repulfed,

the madness was only feigned. WARBURTON. The humour of this is exquisite She took the fruits of advice from a man who tell us, with a when she obeyed advice, the ad. confidence peculiar to small povice was then made fruitful. liticians, that he could find

$ - a short tale to make, Where truth was bid, though Fell 10 a sadness, then into a it were hid indeed fafi, &c.] The ridicule of

Within the centre.

WARB.

« AnteriorContinua »