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HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK.
LITERARY AND HISTORICAL NOTICE. THIS tragedy is supposed to have been written in 1596. The principal incidents were probably drawn from a
dramatic piece by one Thomas Ryd, and from a Historie of Hamblet, in black letter, adopted by Belleforest in his collection of novels (published 1564) from the narrative of Saxo-Grainmaticus, the old Danish historian. The play has long been accounted a first-rate dramatic production, for, with some egregious blunders, it con tains a variety of unparalleled beauties. As originally written, it consumed four hours in the representation ; persons, in Shakspeare's time, visiting the theatre so early as four o'clock, and regarding the quality less than the quantity obtained for their money : this will excuse some of those trifling interlocutions which yet remain. Perhaps none of our poet's undertakings have been subjected to so much erudite and ingenious criticism as this ; and none, certainly, after its most severe exercise, have been left with so much to approve. For although it has been observed, with some appearance of justice, that in the management of the piece, Sbakspeare has been rather unfortunate, all its most striking circumstances arising so early in the formation, as " not to leave him room for a conclusion suitable to the importance of its beginning :" yet this defect is amply recompeused by the sublimity of conception, the didactic morality of sentiment, the pathetic intenseness of feeling, the power and comprehensiveness of diction, and the delightful diversity of character, which are displayed in almost every scene. Indeed, were each drama of Shakspeare to be characterized by the par. tieular quality which distinguishes it from the rest, the praise of variety must especially be given to the irogedy of Hamlet ; as it is interchangeably contrasted" with merriment that includes judicious and instructive observations; and with solemnity not strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man." To those, however, who are mentally capable of appreciating its excellences as a play, the charm of perusing it in the closet will probably be greater than the delight of witnessing its exhibition ; since it is rich in the treasares of contemplative and philosophical speculation ; divested of the glare and bustle which captivate or bewilder the senses; whilst the principal character, thougb furnished with abundant materials, is almost the only support of the piece, and seldom meets with a representative in whom the beauties of the original are effectively embodied. Of the plot it may be observed, that it teems with slaughter, and is justly obnoxious to criticism in many of its parts; but the catastrophe is certainly its most disgusting feature, and can only be tolerated by the known partiality of an English audience for a multiplicity of deaths and bloodshed. “The manner of Pamlet's death (says Dr. Johnson) is not very happily produced i for the exchange of weapons is racher an expedient of necessity, than a stroke of art."
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark.
FRANCISCO, a Soldier. HAMLET, Son to the former, and Nephew to REYNALDO, Servant to Polonius. the present King.
A CAPTAIN AN AMBASSADOR. POLONIUS, Lord Chamberlain.
GHOST of Hamlet's Father. HORATIO, Friend to Hamlet.
Prince of Norway.
GERTRUDE, Queen of Denmark, and Mother
of Hamlet. ROSENCRANTZ,
OPHELIA, Daughter of Polonius.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, Another COURTIER.
Grave-diggers, Sailors, Messengers, A PRIEST.
and other Attendants. MARCELLUS, BERNARDO,
SCENE 1.-Elsinore.-A Platform before the
Fran. Nay, answer me : stand, and unfold
Ber. Long live the king!
Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve ; get thee to bed,
Ber. Have you had quiet guard ?
Enter Horatio and MARCELLUS.
Mar. And liegemen to the Dane.
Why this same strict and most observant watch Fran. Give you good night.
So nightly toils the subject of the land; Mar. 0, farewell, honest soldier:
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, Who hath reliev'd you
And foreigu mart for implements of war; Fran. Bernardo hath my place.
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore Give you good night. [Erit FRANCISCO.
task Mar. Holla! Bernardo !
Does not divide the Sunday from the week : Ber. Say.
What might be toward, that this sweaty baste What, is Horatio there?
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the Hor. A piece of him.
day ; Ber. Welcome, Horatio ; welcome, good Mar. Who is't, that can inform me? cellus.
Hor. That can I; Hor. What, has this thing appear'd again At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, to-night?
Whose image even but now appear'd to us, Ber. I have seen nothing.
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Mar. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy; Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, And will not let belief take hold of him, Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us :
(him.) Therefore I have entreated him, along
(For so this side of our known world esteem'd With us to watch the minutes of this night, Did slay this Fortinbras ; who, by a seal'd comThat, if again this apparition come,
Well ratitied by law and heraldry, (páct, He may approve our eyes, and speak to it. Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands Hor: Tnsh! tush ! 'twill not appear.
Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conquerer : Ber. Sit down awhile ;
Against the which, a moiety competent And let us once again assail your ears,
Was gaged by our king ; which had return'd That are so fortified against our story,
To the inheritance of Fortinbras, What we two nights have seen.
Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same coHor. Well, sit we down,
mart, And let us bear Bernardo speak of this.
And carriage of the article design'd, + Ber. Last night of all,
His fell to Hamlet : Now, Sir, young FortinWhen yon same star, that's westward from the or unimproved mettle hot and full, [bras, pole,
Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, Had made his course to illame that part of heaven Shark'd g up a list of landless resolutes, Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself, For food and diet, to some enterprise The bell then beating one,
That hath a stomach || in't : which is no other Mar. Peace, break thee off-look, where it (As it doth well appear unto our state,) comes again!
But to recover of us, by strong band,
And terms compulsatory, those 'foresaid lands Enter GHOST.
So by his father lost : And this, I take it, Ber. In, the same figure like the king that's Is the main motive of our preparations ; dead.
The source of this our watch ; and the chief Mar. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.
head Ber. Looks it not like the king i mark it, of this post-haste and romages in the land. Horatio.
(Ber. I think it be no other, but even so: Hor. Most like :-it harrows me with fear, well may it sort, ** that this portentous figure and wonder.
Comes armed through our watch; so like the Ber. It would be spoke to.
king Mar. Speak to it, Horatio.
That was, and is, the question of these wars. Hor. What art thou, that usurp'st this time Hor. Á mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye. of night,
In the most high and palmy tt state of Rome, Together with that fair and warlike form A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, (dead In which the majesty of buried Denmark The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted Did sometimes march ?-By heaven I charge Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.
thee, speak ! Mar. It is offended.
As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Ber. See ! it stalks away.
Disasters in the sun ; and the moist star, 11 Hor. Stay; speak : speak I charge thee, speak. Upou whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
(Erit Ghost. Was sick alnost to doomsday with eclipse. Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.
And even the like precurse of fierce events, Ber. How now, Horatio ? you tremble, and As harbingers preceding still the fates, look pale :
And prologue to the omen yg coming on,
Unto our climatures and countrymen.--]
Re-enter GHOST. of mine own eyes.
But, soft ; behold! lo, where it comes again! Mar. Is it not like the king ?
I'll cross it, though it blast me.--Stay, illuHor. As thou art to thyself :
sion ! Such was the very armour he had on.
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice, When he the ambitious Norway combated : Speak to me : So frown'd he once, when, in angry parle, + If there be any good thing to be done, He smote the sledded | Polack ý on the ice. That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, 'Tis strange.
Speak to me :
Wbich happily foreknowing may avoid,
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
[Cock crou's. Mar. Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
• Joint bargain. + The covenant
to confirm that bargain. • Full of spirit without experience.
Picked. • Make good or establish. + Dispute. Reenution.
9 Search Sledge. An inhabitant of Poland.
It Victorious. 1: 'The moon.
Speak of it:-stay, and speak.Stop it, Mar- Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting. cellus.
Thus much the business is : We have here writ Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partizan? To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,Hor. Do, if it will not stand.
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears Ber. 'Tis here!
of this his nephew's purpose,--to suppress Hor. 'Tis here!
His further gait" herein ; in that the levies, Mar. "Tis gone!
[Exit GHOST. The lists, and full proportions, are all made We do it wrong, being so inajestical,
Out of his subject :--and we here despatch To offer it the show of violence ;
You, good Cornelius, and you Voltiinand, For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway ; And our vain blows malicious mockery.
Giving to you no further personal power Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock To business with the king, more than the scope crew. Of these dilated articles allow.
(duty. Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing Farewell ; and let your haste commend your Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
Cor. Vol. In that and all things will we slow The cock, that is the trumpet of the morn,
our duty. Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat King. We doubt it nothing; lieartily fare. Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
well. Whether in sea or fire, In earth or air,
[Ereunt VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS, The extravagant and erring * spirit hies
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you? To his confine; and of the truth herein
You told us of some suit ; What is't, Laertes ? This present object made probation. +
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane, Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock. And lose your voice : What would'st thou beg, Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
What wouldst thou have, Laertes ?
Your leave and favour to return to France ; Hor. So I bave heard, and do in part believe From whence, though willingly, I came to Denit.
mark, But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, To show my duty in your coronation ; Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern bill : Yet now, I must confess, that duty done, Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, My thoughts and wishes bend 'agalu toward Let us impart what we have seen to night
France, Uuto young Hamlet : for, upon my life, And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon. This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to bim : King. Have you your father's leave : What Do you consent we shall acquaiut him with it,
says Polonins 3 As needful in our loves, fitting our duty ?
Pol. He hath, my lord, (wrung from me my Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning
slow leave, know
By laboursome petition ; and, at last, Where we shall find himn most convenient. Upon bis will I seal'd my bard consent :)
[Exeunt. I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be SCENE II.-The same.- A Room of State in
thine, the same.
And thy best graces ; spend it at 'thy will.
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son, Enter the KING, QUEEN, HAMLET, POLONIUS,
Ham. A little more than kin, and less than LAERTES, VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, LORDS,
[Aside. and Attendants.
King. How is it, that the clouds still hang on King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
Ham. Not so, my lord, I am too much Pthe The memory be green ; and that it us befitted
sun. To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole king- Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour dom
off, To be contracted in one brow of woe ;
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark. Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature, Do not, for ever, with thy veiled lids I That we with wisest sorrow think on him, Seek for thy noble father in the dust : Together with remembrance of ourselves. Thou know'st 'tis common ; all that live must Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, The imperial jointress of this warlike state, Passing through nature to eternity. Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy, - Ham. Ay, madam, it is common. With one auspicious, and one dropping eye ; Queen. If it be, With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in mar. Why seems it so particular with thee? riage,
Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is I know not In equal scale weighing delight and dole, 1
seems. Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd "Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, Your better wisdoms, which bave freely gone Nor customary suits of solemn black, With this affair along.-For all, our thanks. Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath, Now follows, that you know, young Fortin. No, nor the fruitful river in the eye, bras,
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage, Holding a weak supposal of our worth ;
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief, Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death, That can denote me truly : These, indeed, Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
seem, Colleagued with this dream of his advantage, For they are actions that a man might play : He hath not fail'd to pester us with message, But I have that within, which passeth showImporting our surrender of those lands
These, but the trappings and the suits of woe. Lost by his father, with all bands $ of law, King. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your To our most valiant brother --so much for
nature, Hamlet, bim.
To give these mourning duties to your father :