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HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK. [act V.,
You from the Polack + wars, and you from England,
High on a stage be placed to the view;
Let us haste to hear it,
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
Let four captains
the bodies : -Such a sight as this Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss. Go, bid the soldiers shoot. [A dead March.
[Exeunt, bearing off the dead Bodies; after
which, a Peal of Ordnance is shot off:
PREFACE TO OTHELLO.
This tragedy is justly considered as one of the noblest efforts of dramatic genius that has appeared in any age or in any language ; but the subject is unfortunately little suited to family reading. The arguments which are urged, and the facts which are adduced as proofs of adultery, are necessarily of such a nature as cannot be expressed in terms of perfect delicacy; yet neither the arguments, nor the facts, can be omitted; for although every reader
“ O'er gentle Desdemona's woes.' Yet I believe there is no person who would wish to aggravate the guilt of Othello, by leaving out any of those circumstances which give an appearance of truth to the suggestions of lago.
From the multitude of indecent expressions which abound in the speeches of the inferior characters, I have endeavoured to clear the play, but I cannot erase all the bitter terms of reproach and execration with which the transports of jealousy and revenge are expressed by the Moor, without altering his character; losing sight of the horror of those passions ; and, in fact, destroying the tragedy. I find myself, therefore, reduced to the alternative of either departing in some degree from the principle on which this publication is undertaken, or materially injuring a most invaluable exertion of the genius of Shakspeare. I have adopted the former part of the alternative, and, in making this decision, I have
· Scott's Rokeby.
been much influenced by an opinion which I have long entertained, that this play, in its present form, is calculated to produce an excellent effect on the human mind; by exhibiting a most forcible and impressive warning against the admission of that baneful passion, which, when once admitted, is the inevitable destroyer of conjugal happiness.
That adultery is a crime which is deservedly placed next to murder, will be allowed, not only by the Christian, but by every being whose mind is not wholly insensible to the most obvious principles of virtue. But in proportion to the enormity of the offence, should be the caution with which the suspicion is permitted to be entertained; for, besides the injury which is thus done to the person accused, the jealous accuser will assuredly exclaim with Othello :
« O now for ever, “ Farewell the tranquil mind — farewell content.”.
Shakspeare appears to have been particularly desirous of warning mankind against the indulgence of this dreadful passion, for, independent of various observations in different parts of his works, he has made it the principal subject of no less than four of his very good plays; exerting his matchless powers in painting it with every variety of colouring that was calculated to warn the human mind against its admission. It is laughably ridiculous in Ford; it is justly odious in Leontes ; we tremble for its consequences in Posthumus; and we view them in their utmost horror in Othello.
After the foregoing observations, I shall only add, that I have endeavoured to erase the objectionable expressions which so frequently occur in the original text, whenever it could be done consistently with the character and situation of the speaker; but if, after all that I have omitted, it shall still be