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most likely to affect the spectators with passions proper on the occasion.
«The regal habit has nothing uncommon in it, nor surprising,
nor could it give rise to any fine images. The habit of interment was something too horrible ; for terror, oct horror, is to be raised in the spectators. The common habit (or habit de ville, as the Fre:-ch call it,) was by no means proper for the occasion. It remains then that the poet should choose some habit from his own brain: but this certainly could not be proper, bécause invention in such a case would be so much in danger of falling into the grotesque, that it was not to be hazarded.
“Now as to the armour, it was very suilable to a King who is described as a great warrinr, and is very particular; and consequently affects the spectators without being fantastick.
“ The King spors on his son lo revenge his foul and upnatural murder, from these two considera, tions chiefly; that he was sent into the other world without having had time to repent of his sips, and without the necessary şacramepış, according to the church of Rome, and that cousequently his soul was to suffer, if not eternal damnation, at least a long course of penauce ip purgatory; which aggravates the circumstances of his brother's barbarity; and secondly, that Denmark might not be the scene of usurpation and incest, and the throne tbus polluted and profaned. For these reasons he prompts the young Prince to revenge; else it would have been more becoming the character of such 'a Prince as Hamlet's father is represented to have been, and more suitable to his present condition, to kave left his brother to che divine punishment, and to
a possibility of repentance for his base crime, which, by cauivg him off, he must be deprived of.ssa
"To conform to the ground-work of his plot, Shakspeare makes, the young Prince, feign himself mad. I canpot byt think this to be ivjudicious; for so far from securing himself from any violence which be feared from the usurper, it seems to have been the most likely way of getting himself confined, and conseqnently debarred from an opportunity of revengiug bis father's death, which now seemed to be his only aim; and accordingly it was the occasion of his being sent away to England; .which design, had it taken effect upon his life, he never could have revenged his father's murder. To speak trath, our poet by keeping too close to the groundwork of his plot, las fallen into an absurdity; for there appears no reason at all iu naure, why the young Prince did vot put the usurpen to death as soon as possible, especially as Hamlet is represepted as a youth so brave, and so careless of his owu life.
The case indeed is this. Had Hamlet gone paturally to work, as we could suppose such a Prince to do in parallel circumstapces, there would have been an end of our play. The poet therefore was obliged to delay bis hero's revenge: but then he should have contrived some good reason for it.
"His beginning his scenes of Hamlet's madness hy his behaviour to Ophelia, was judicious, bem cause by this means he might be thought to be mad for her, not that his brain was disturbed about state affairs, which would have been dangerous
“It does not appear whether Ophelia's madness was chiefly for her father's death, or for tbe loss of Hamlet. It is not often that young women run mad for the loss of their fathers. It is more naa.
tural to suppose that, like Chimene, in the Cid, her great sorrow proceeded from her father's being killed by the man she loved, and thereby making it indecent for her ever to marry him.
“Laertes's character is very odd one; it is not easy to say whether it is good or bad: but his consenting to the villainous contrivance of the usurper's to murder Hamlet, makes him much more a bad man than a good one. - It is a very nice conduct in the poet to make the usurper build bis scheme upou the generous unsuspicious temper of the person he intends to murder, and thus to raise the Prince's character by the confession of his eyemy; to make the villain ten times more odious froin bis own mouth. The contrivance of the 'foil unbated, (i. e. without a button,) is methinks too gross a deceit to go down even with a man of the most unsuspicions nature.
“Laertes's death and the Queen's are truly poelical justice, and very naturally brought abont, although I do not conceive it so easy to change Papiers in a seule without knowing it at the time. The death of the Queen is particularly according to the strictest rules of poetical justice; for she loses her life by the villainy of the very person, wbo had beep the cause of all her crimes.
“Siuce lhe poet deferred so long the usurper's death, we must own that he has very naturally effected it, and still added fresh crimes to those the murderer had already coinmitted.
"Upon Laertes's repentance for contriving the death of Hainlet, ove cannot but feel some sentino ments of pity for him; but who can see or read the death of the young Prince without melting idlo tears and compassion ? Horatio's earnest desire 109 die with the Prince, thus not to survive his frienis
gives a stronger idea of his friendship for Hamlet in ite few lines on that occasion, than many actions or expressions could possibly have done. And Hamlet's begging him to draw his breath in this harsh world a little longer, to clear' his reputation, and manifest his iuuocence, is very suitable to his virtuous character, and the honest regard įhat all men should have not to be misrepresented to posterily; that they may not set a bad example, when in reality they have set a good ope: which is the only motive that can, in reason, recommend the love of fame and glory.
Horatio's desire of having the bodies carried in a stage, &c. is very well
of his de ceased friend and he acts in this, and in all the best way of satisfying the request and was points, suitably to the manly hovest character, under which he is drawn throughout the piece. Besides, it gives a so
a sort of content to the audience, that though their favourite (whịch must be Hamlet) did not escape with life; yet the greatest amends will be made him, which can in this world, viz. justice done to his memory.
"Fortinbras comes in very naturally at the close of the play, and lays a very just claim to the throne of Denmark, as he had the dying voice of the Prince. He in a few words gives a noble character of Hamlet, and serves to carry off the deceased hero from the stage with the honours due to his birth and merit." MALONE.
END OF THE SEVENTEENT# VOLUME.