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CLAUDIU S, King of Denmark.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother to Hamlet.
(1) Honest Langbaine (in his account of Dramatic Poets) having told us that he knew not whether this story were true or falle, not finding in the list given by Doctor Heylin such a King of Denmark as Claudius; Mr Pope comes and tells us, that this story was not invented by our Author, though from whence he took it he knows not. Langbaine gives us a sensible reason for his ignorance in this point; what to make of Mr Pope's affertion, upon the grounds he gives us for it, I confess I know not. But we'll allow this gentleman, for once, à prophet in his declaration; for the story is taken from Saxo Grammaticus, in his Danish history. I'll subjoin a short extract of the material circumstances on which the groundwork of the plot is built; and how happily the Poet has adapted his incidents, I shall leave to the
observation of every reader. The historian calls our Poet's .hero Amlethus; his father, Horwendillus; his uncle, Fengo; and his mother Gerutha. The old King in single combat flew Collerus, King of Norway; Fengo makes away with his brother Horwendillus, and marries his widow Gerutha. Amlethus, to avoid being suspected by his uncle of designs, assumes a form of utter madness. A fine woman is planted upon him, to try if he would yield to the impressions of love. Fengo contrives that Amlethus, in order to found him,
[cold, Ber. Have you had quiet guard? Fran. Not a mouse stirring.
Ber. Well, good-night.
Enter HOR AT10 and MARCELLUS.
[there? Mur. And liege-men to the Dane. Fran. Give you good night.
Mar. Oh, farewel, honelt foldier; who hath rea lieved you?
Fran. Bernardo has my place; give you good night.
[Exit Francisco Mar. Holla! Bernardo.
should be closeted by his mother. A man is concealed in the rushes to overhear their discourse, whom Amlethus dir. covers and kills. When the Queen is frighted at this bea haviour of his, he tasks her about her criininal course of life, and incestuous conversation with her former husband's murderer ; confesses his madness is but counterfeited, to preferve himself and secure his revenge for his father; to which he injoins the Queen filcoce. Fengo sends Amletbus to Britain; two of the King's servants attend him, with leaters to the British King, stridly prefing the death of Amleshus, who in the night time, coming at their commiffon, overreads it, forins a new one, and turns the destruction, designed towards himself, on the bearers of the letters. Ambethus, returning home, by a wile furprizes and kills bais uncle,
Ber. Say, what, is Horatio there?
[cellus. Ber. Welcome, Horatio ; welcome, good Mar-Mar. What, has this thing appeared again to. Ber. I have seen nothing.
(night? Mar. Horatio fays, 'tis but our fantasy ; And will not let belief take hold of him, Touching this dreaded fight, twice feen of us : Therefore I have intreated him along With us, to watch the minutes of this night; That if again this apparition come, He may approve our eyes, and speak to it.
Hor. Tush ! tush! 'twill not appear.
Ber. Sit down a while,
Hor. Well, fit we down,
Ber. Last night of all,
yon same star, that's westward from the pole, Had made his course to illume that part of heav'n Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one, Mar. Peace, break thee off;
Enter the Ghost. Look, where it comes again.
Ber. In the same figure, like the King that's dead. Mar. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio. Ber. Looks it not like the King? mark it, Horatio. Hur. Most like : it harrows me with fear and
wonder. Ber. It would be spoke to. Mar. Speak to it, Horatio.
[night, Hor. What art thou, that usurpest this time
Together with that fair and warlike form,
[fpeak. Ber. See! it stalks away. Hor. Stay; speak: I charge thee, speak.
[Exit Gholt. Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.
Ber. How now, Horatio? you tremble and look Is not this for thing more than fantasy? [pale. What think you of it?
Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe, Without the sensible and true avouch Of mine own eyes.
Mar. Is it not like the King ?
Hor. As thou art to thyself.
[hour, Mar. Thus twice before, and just at this dead With martial stalk, he has gone by our watch.
Hor. In what particular thought to work, I know But, in the gross and scope of my opinion, (not: This bodes fome strange eruption to our state. Mar. Good now sir down, and tell me, he that
knows, Why this same strict and most observant watch So nightly toils the subjects of the land? And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, And foreign mart for implements of war? Why such impress of shipwrights, whose foie task Does not divide the Sunday from the week? What might be toward, that this sweaty hafte Doth make the night joint labourer with the day: Who is't that can inform me?