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ghost. The first propriety in the conduct of this kind of machinery seems to be, that the præternatural person be intimately connected with the fable; that he increase the interest, add to the solemnity of it, and that his efficiency, in bringing on the catastrophe, be in some measure adequate to the violence done to the ordinary course of things, in his visible interposition. These are points peculiarly important in dramatic poetry, as has been before observed. To these ends it is necessary, this being should stand acknowledged and revered by the national superstition, and thus every operation that developes the attributes, which vulgar opinion, or the nurse's legend, have taught us to ascribe to him, will augment our pleasure ; whether we give the reins to cur imagination, and, as spectators, willingly yield ourselves up to pleasing delusion, or, as critics, examine the merit of the composition. I hope it is not difficult to shew, that in all these capital points our author has excelled. At the solemn midnight hour, Horatio and Marcellus, the
schoolfellows of young Hamlet, come to the centinels upon guard, excited by a report that a Ghost of their late Monarch had, some preceding nights, appeared to them. Iloratio, not being one of the believing vulgar, gives little credit to the story, but bids Bernardo proceed in his relation.
Last night of all, When yon same star, that's westward from the pole, Hlad made his course t'illume that part of heav'n, Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one
Here enters the Ghost, after you are thus prepared. There is something solemn and sublime in thus regulating the walking of the spirit, by the course of the star: it intimates a connection and correspondence between things beyond our ken, and above the visible diurnal sphere. Horatio is affected with that kind of fear, which such an appearance would naturally excite. He trembles, and turns pale. When the violence of the emotion subsides, he reflects, that probably this supernatural event portends some
danger danger lurking in the state. This suggestion gives importance to the phænomenon, and engages our attention. Horatio's relation of the king's combat with the Norwegian, and of the forces the young Fortinbras is assembling, in order to attack Denmark, seems to point out, from what quarter the apprehended peril is to arise. Such appearances, says he, preceded the fall of mighty Julius, and the ruin of the great commonwealth ; and he adds, such have often been the omens of disasters in our own state. There is great art in this conduct. The true cause of the royal Dane's discontent could not be guessed at: it was a secret which could be only revealed by himself. In the mean time, it was necessary to captivate our attention, by demonstrating, that the poet was not going to exhibit such idle and frivolous gambols, as ghosts are by the vulgar often represented to perform. The historical testimony, that antecedent to the death of Cæsar,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
gives credibility and importance to this phænomenon. Horatio's address to the Ghost is brief and pertinent, and the whole purport of it agreeable to the vulgar conceptions of these matters.
lis vanishing at the crowing of the cock, is another circumstance of the established superstition.
Young Hamlet's indignation at his mother's hasty and incestuous marriage, his sorrow for his father's death, the character he gives of that prince, prepare the spectator to sympathize with his wrongs and sufferings. The son, as is natural, with much more vehement emotion than Horatio did, addresses his father's shade. Hamlet's terfor, his astonishment, his vehement desire to know the cause of this visitation, are irresistibly communicated to the spectator by the following speech.
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!