Imatges de pàgina

Fort. This quarry cries on havock'! -O proud death!
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell",
That thou so many princes, at a shot,
So bloodily haft ftruck ?

1. Amb. The light is dismal;
And our affairs from England come too late:
The ears are senseless, that thould give us hearing,
To tell him, his commandment is fulfill'd,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenslern are dead :
Where should we have our thanks?

Hor. Not from his mouth,
Had it the ability of life to thank you ;
He never gave commandment for their death.
But fince, so jump upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack wars, and you from England,
Are here arriv’d; give order, that these bodies

“ Why, I will fight with him upon this theme,
“ Until my eyelids will no longer wag.
“ I lov'd Ophelia ; forty thoutand brothers
“ Could not with all their quantity of love

“ Make up my sum.” When Hamlet says, “ the bravery of his grief did put me into a towering paffion," I think, he means, into a lofty expression (not of resentment, but) of forrow. So, in King Jobn, Vol. IV. p. 4871

“ She is sad and passionate at your highness' tent." Again, more appofitely in the play before us:

« The instant burst of clamour that she made,
“ (Unless things mortal move them not at all,)
« Would have made milch the burning eyes ot heaven,

“ And passion in the gods." I may also add, that he neither assaulted, nor insulted Laertes, till that nobleman bad cursed him, and seized him by the throat. MALONE. 9 Tbis quarry cries on bavock ! ] Hanmer reads,

cries out, bavock! To cry on, was to exclaim against. I suppose, when unfair sportsmen destroyed more quarry or game than was reasonable, the centure was to cry, Havock. JOHNSON.

Wbar feast is toward in thine eternal cell,] Shakspeare has already employed this allusion to the Cloa, or feasts of tbe dead, which were anciently celebrated at Athens, and are mentioned by Plutarch in the life of Antonius. Our author likewise makes Talbot lay to his lon in the First Part of King Henry VI:

“ Now art thou come unto a feast of dearb,” STEEVENS. bis moutb,] . e. the king's. STEEVENS.

High on a stage be placed to the view;
And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world,
How these things came about: So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts 3 ;
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;
Of deaths put on * by cunning, and forc'd causes;
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall'n on the inventors' heads : all this can I
Truly deliver.

Fort. Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with forrow I embrace my fortune;
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.

Hor. Of that I shall have allo cause to speak,
And from his mouth whole voice will draw on more?:

3 Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural 087s;] Of fanguinary and unnatural acts, to which the perpetrator was instigated by concupiscence, or, to use our poet's own words, by “ carnal ftings.” The speaker alludes to the murder of old Hamlet by his brother, previous to his incestuous union with Gertrude. A feeble Remarker asks, " was the relationihip between the usurper and the deceased king a secret confined to Horatio ?" -No, but the murder of Hamlet by Claudius was a secret which the young prince had imparted to Horatio, and had imparted to him alone ; and to this it is he principally, though covertly, alludes.- Carnal is the reading of the only authentick copies, the quarto 1604, and the folio 1623. The modern editors, following a quarto of no authority, for carnal, read cruel. MALONE.

4 of dearbs put on-] i. e. inftigated, produced. See Vol. VII. p. 217, n. 7.

MALONE. and forc'd caufe ; ] Thus the folio. The quartos read--and for eo caufe. STEEVENS.

6 some rights of memory in this kingdom, ] Some rights, which are remembered in this kingdom. MALONE.

? And from bis moutb w bose voice will draw on more:] Thus the folio. The quarto 1604, reads-draw no more. MALONE. Hamlet, just before his death, had said,

But I do prophesy, the election lights
On Fortinbras: be bas my dying voice;

So rell him, &C. Accordingly, Horatio here delivers that message; and very justly infers, that Hamlet's voice will be feconded by others, and procure chem in favour of Fortinbras's succession. THEO BALD.



But let this fame be presently perform’d,
Even while men's minds are wild ; leit more mischance,
On plots, and errors, happen.

Fort. Let four captains
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage ;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov'd molt royally: and, for his paffage,
'The foldiers' musick, and the rites of war,
Speak loudly for him.-
Take up the bodies :-Such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here Mhews much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers thoot.

[A dead march. [Exeunt, bearing off the dead bodies; after which,

a peal of ordnance is hot of $ If the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterised, each by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety. The incidents are so numerous, that the argument of the play would make a long tale. The scenes are interchangeably diverhified with merriment and fo. lemnity; with merriment chat includes judicious and instructive ob. fervations; and folemnity not Brained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man. New characters appear from time to time in continual succession, exhibiting various forms of life and particular modes of conversation. The pretended madness of Hamlet causes much mirth, the mournful distraction of Ophelia fills the heart with tenderness, and every personage produces the effect intended, from the apparition that in the first act chills the blood with horrour, to the fop in the last, that exposes attectation to just contempt.

The conduct is perhaps not wholly secure against objections. The action is indeed for the most part in continual progrellion, but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause, for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of fanity. He plays the madman most, when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness, which seems to be useless and wanton cruelty.

Hamiet is, through the whole piece, rather an instrument than an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted the king, he makes no attempt to punish him; and his death is at last effected by an incident which Hamlet had no part in producing.

The catastrophe is not very happily produced; the exchange of weapons is rather an expedient of neceflity, than a stroke of ari. A scheme might easily be formed to kill Hamlet with the dagger, and Laertes with the bowl.

The poet is accused of having fewn little regard to poetical justice, and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical probability: The apparition left the regions of the dead to little purpose; the revenge which he demands is not obtained, but by the death of him that was



required to take it ; and the gratification, which would arise from the deitruction of an ufurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious. JOHNS

А A CT II. SCENE II. P. 275. The rugged Pyrrbus, be, &c.] The two greatest poets of this and the last age, Mr. Dryden, in the preface to Troilus and Crefjila, and Mr. Pope in his note on this place, have concurred in thinking that Shakspeare produced this long panlage with dengn to ridicule and expose the bombast of the play from whence it was taken; and that Hamlet's commendation of it is purely ironical. This is become the general opinion. I think just otherwise; and that it was given with commendation to upbraid the false tafe of the audience of that time, which would not suffer them to do justice to the fimplicity and fubiime of this production. And I reaion, first, from the character Hamlet gives of the play, from whence the pallage is taken. Secondly, from the pallage itself. And thirdly, from the ctfect it had on the audience.

Let us consider the character Hamlet gives of it. The play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviarc to ibe general: but it was (as I received it, and others, wboje judgment in Jueb matters cried in tbe top of mine) on excellent play, well digefted in tbe jeenes, fer down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember one said, bere was no falt in the lines to make ibe matter savoury; nor no marrer is ibe pbrase ibat might indite obe autbor of affeétion; but called it en boneft merbod. They who suppose the pafiage given to be ridiculed, must needs suppose this character to be purely ironical. But if so, it is the ftrangest irony that ever was written. It pleased not the multitude, This we must conclude to be true, however ironical the rest be. Now the reason given of the designed ridicule is the supposed bombast. But those were the very plays, which at that time we know took with the multitude. And Fletcher wrote a kind of Rebearsal purposely to expose them. But say it is bombast, and that therefore it took not with the multitude. Hamlet presently tells us what it was that displeased them. There was no falt in tbe lines to make the master favoury; nor no matter in the pbrase that might indite obe autbor of affertion; but called it an buneft method.

Now whether a person speaks ironically or no, when he quotes others, yet common sense requires he should quote what they say. Now it could not be, if this play displeased because of the bombast, that those whom it dila pleased should give this reason for their dislike. The same inconlitencies and absurdities abound in every other part of Hamlet's speech, fuppofing it to be ironical; but take him as speaking his sentiments, the whole is of a piece; and to this purpose. The play, I remember, pleased not the multitude, and the reason was, its being wrote on the rules of the ancient drama; to which they were entire Atrangers. But, in my opinion, and in the opinion of those for whole judgement I have the highest esteem, it was an excellent play, well digested in tbe scenes, i. e. where the threc unities were well


preserved. Ser down with as much modefty as cunning, i. e. where not only the art of compofition, but the fimplicity of nature, was carefully attended to. The characters were a faithful picture of life and manners, in which nothing was overcharged into farce. But these qualities, which gained my esteem, lost the public's. For I remember one faid, Tbere was no sale in the lines to make the matter favoury, i. e. there was not, according to the mode of that time, a fool or clown, to joke, quibble, and talk freely. Nur no matter in the phrase that might indise the author of affection, i. e, nor none of thole pailionate, pathetic love scenes, so eilential to modern tragedy. But be called it on boneft metbod, i. e. he owned, however iafieless this method of writing, on the ancient plan, was to our times, yet it was chaste and pure; the distinguishing character of the Greek drama. I need only make one obfervation on all this; that, thus interpreted, it is the justest picture of a good tragedy, wrote on the ancient rules. And that I have rightly interpreted it, appears farther from what we find in the old quarto, An boneft method, as wholesome os freel, and by very much more HANDSOME iban FINE, I. e. it had a natural beauty, but none of the fucus of falle art.

2. A second proof that this speech was given to be admired, is from the intrinfie merit of the speech itself; which contains the defcription of a circumitance very happily imagined, namely, Ilium and Priam's falling together, with the etteet it had on the destroyer.

-Tbe bellish Pyrrbus, &c.
To, Repugnant to command.

The unner ved fatber falls, &c.
To, -

-So after Pyrrbus' pause. Now this circumstance, illustrated with the fine fimilitude of the florm, is so highly worked up, as to have well deserved a place in Virgil's second book of the Æneid, even though the work had been carried on to that perfection which the Roman poet had conceived.

3. The third proof is, from the effects which followed on the recital. Hamlet, his best character, approves it; the player is deeply affected in repeating it; and only the foolish Polonius tired with it. We have laid enough before of Hamlet's sentiments. As for the player, he changes colour, and the tears start from his eyes. But our author was too good a judge of nature to make bombaft and unnatural sentiment produce such an effect. Nature and Horace both instructed him,

Si vis me flere, dolendum eft
Primùm ipfi tibi, tunc rua me infortunia lædent,

Aut dormitabo aut ridebo. And it may be worth observing, that Horace gives this precept particularly to thew, that bombast and unnatural sentiments are incapable of moving the tender passions, which he is directing che poet how to raise. For in the lines just before, he gives this rule :


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