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THE SHAKESPEARE KEY.

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ABRUPT COMMENCEMENTS.

SHAKESPEARE often begins a scene with an abrupt commencement ; with a conversation already begun, and in course of progress, at the time the speakers enter upon the scene. It serves to give an effect of great naturalness and ease to the dialogue :

If you misdoubt me that I am not she.-All's W., iii. 7.
We did observe.-R. II., i. 4.
Well said, my noble Scot.-

:-1 H. IV., iv. 1.
His grace is bold, to trust these traitors.-H. V., ii. 2.
I warrant it is to knight you, captain.Ibid., iv. 8.
Not for that neither : here's the pang.-H. VIII., ii. 3.
But Montague is bound as well as I.-R. & Jul., i. 2.
Who, the Lord Timon ?-Timon, iii. 2.
Will you think so ?-Oth., iv. 1.
It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul.-Ibid., v. 2.

So much for this, sir: now shall you see the other.-Hamlet, v. 2. He occasionally makes a character enter with an abruptly commenced remark, as if in continuation of some speech addressed to the person accompanying the speaker, and not to those already on the

scene:

'Tis true, fair daughter; and this blessed day.-Yohn, iii. 1.
Oh, sir, you are not right: have you not.-Coriol., ii.

3. He sometimes allows his speakers to make abrupt reference to some subject that has been talked of apart by two or more persons while others are occupied more prominently on the scene; as where Polixenes says to the old Shepherd, in reply to something asked by the latter during the dance :

Oh, father, you 'll know more of that hereafter.-W.T., iv. . 3. Or where Camillo refers to some difficulty that has been suggested by Florizel while Autolycus soliloquises :

Nay, but my letters, by this means being there

So soon as you arrive, shall clear that doubt.Ibid., iv. 3. Or where Brutus says, in reply to something Lucilius has said to him while Cassius and Messala have been engaged in spoken dialogue :

Even so, Lucilius.- Jul. C., V. 1.

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Or where Duncan responds to something which Banquo has said in praise of Macbeth's valour, while the two former have been conversing apart during the latter's soliloquy :

True, worthy Banquo—he is full so valiant.—Macb., i. 4. He sometimes commences a scene with abrupt reference to some unnamed but thoroughly understood person or persons, by allowing the speaker to use only the pronoun he, his,' • him," “ her,' " them," or their,” as the case may be ; and the mode in which he employs this expedient of dramatic art occasionally serves as an admirable resource for producing emotional impression. As, for example, where Leontes bursts into the presence of his wife, furiously inquiring in reference to the escaped Polixenes :

Was he met there? his train ? Camillo with him ?-W. T., ii. 1. · Or where Queen Gertrude shudderingly refuses to admit the poor distracted Ophelia to an interview :

I will not speak with her.-Hamlet, iv. 5.
Or where the Duke of Cornwall, enraged against the supposed
treachery of Gloster, says :-

I will have my revenge, ere I depart his house.-Lear, iii. 5.
Or where Salisbury agitatedly alludes to his determination to join the
Dauphin, in the words :-

I will meet him at Saint Edmund's-Bury.-Yohn, iv. 3.
Or where Antony angrily tells his wife Octavia of her brother's breach
of faith towards him :

He hath wag'd new wars 'gainst Pompey.-Ant. & C., iii. 4. Or where Cleopatra comes in hurriedly asking for Antony :

Where is he?-Ibid., i. 3.
Or where Octavius and Antony are made to refer to each other in
mutual wrath :

He calls me boy; and chides, as he had power to.-Ibid., iv, 1.
He will not fight with me, Domitius.-Ibid., iv. 2.
We have beat him to his camp.-Ibid., iv. 8.

Go to him, Dolabella, bid him yield.-Ibid., v. I.
In certain instances, Shakespeare has employed the little word "he
with singularly impressive effect, to indicate purposely vague mention
of an intended victim by murderous speakers :-

That we may be admitted where he is.—R. III., i. 3.
He that 's coming must be provided for.-Macb., i. 5.
He's here in double trust.Ibid., i. 7.

He has almost supp'd.-Ibid., i. 7.
The same indefinite monosyllable, used with pointed effect in
reference to an understood though unnamed person, is employed where
Macbeth seeks to rouse the two Murderers into belief of Banquo's

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having injured them, when the speaker incites them to undertake Banquo's assassination :

Know that it was he, in the times past, which held you so under fortune.-Macb., iii. 1. Also, in the infamous Goneril's letter to Edmund, which is found in the slain Oswald's pocket by Edgar ; where the writer refers to her injured husband :

You have many opportunities to cut him off: . . . if he return the conqueror : then am I the prisoner, and his bed my gaol.—Lear, iv. 6. Also, where the tribunes, half fearful and repenting of their deed in causing Coriolanus to be banished, creep back from the city gates, alluding to the people and to the object of their excited enmity thus :

Bid them all home; he's gone.-Coriol., iv. 2. In some passages “them " is used abruptly with dramatic and passionate effect :

Let them (the mob) pull all about mine ears.-Ibid., iii. 2.

Let them (meaning his disaffected nobles] fly all.—Macb., V. 3. In the dark grop'd I to find out them (the base agents of the king's treachery against the speaker].-Hamlet, v. 2.

The pronouns“ him” and “their” are employed abruptly, with characteristically reluctant effect, by Gloster in reference to the unnatural conduct of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall towards the poor old king

When I desired their leave that I might pity him.-Lear, iii. 3. One of Shakespeare's natural touches of abrupt reference and introduction of subject has exquisitely pathetic and characteristic effect. Although there has been no previous mention of conjugal infidelity in the scene, yet both Desdemona and Emilia use the word " such in a manner to show that the subject has been in their thoughts, that it has lain at the root of their dread that Othello is jealous, and that it is perfectly present to their mind in this unushered allusion :

Dost thou in conscience think,—tell me, Emilia,-
That there be women do abuse their husbands
In such gross kind ?
Emil.

There be some such, no question.
Des. Would'st thou do such a deed for all the world ?-Oth., iv. 3.
He even occasionally opens a play with an abrupt commencement
that gives excellent dramatic effect of spirit and vigour :-

As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion. As You L., i. 1.
Never tell me; I take it much unkindly
That thou, lago, who hast had my purse
As if the strings were thine, should'st know of this.-Oth. i. 1.

Nay, but this dotage of our general's.-Ant. & C., i. 1. [See SOLILOQUIES.]

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