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“ Groats-worth of Wit,” &c. 1593, applied to Shakespeare, and “ the trade of Noverint ” so well tallies with the received tradition of his having passed some time in the office of an attorney, that, primâ facie, the allusion to Hamlet would seem directly levelled at our author's tragedy. But, then, interposes a difficulty on the score of dates. Shakespeare, in 1589, was only twenty-three years of age,—too young, it may be well objected, to have earned the distinction of being satirized by Nash as having “run through every art.” It is asserted, too, on good authority, that an edition of the “ Menaphon.” was published in 1587; and if that earlier copy contained Nash's Epistle, the probability of his referring to Shakespeare is considerably weakened. Again, in “ Wits Miserie, and the Worlds Madnesse,” &c. 1596, Lodge, describing a particular fiend, says, “he walks for the most part in black under colour of gravity, and looks as pale as the vizard of ye ghost which cried so miserally at ye theator like an oisterwife, Hamlet, revenge.”
After duly weighing the evidence on either side, we incline to agree with Mr. Dyce, that the play alluded to by Lodge and Nash was an earlier production on the same subject; though we find no cause to conclude that the first sketch of Shakespeare's “ Hamlet," as published in 1603, was not the piece to which Henslowe refers in the entry connected with the performances at Newington Butts,
“9. of June 1594 at hamlet * ** -viii. s.”
The original story of “ Hamlet,” or “ Amleth,” is related by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, and was adopted by Belleforest in his collection of novels, 1564. From the French of the novelist, it was rendered into English at an early date, and printed under the title of “ The Hystorie of Hamblet.” If there were really a tragedy of “Hamlet” anterior to the immortal drama by Shakespeare, we may reasonably assume that he derived the outline of his plot from that source. If no such play existed, he probably constructed it entirely from the rude materials furnished by “ The Historie of Hamblet."
CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark.
MARCELLUS, Hamlet, Son to the former, and Nephew to the BERNARDO, } Officers. present King.
FRANCISCO, Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
REYNALDO, Servant to Polonius. HORATIO, Friend to Hamlet.
Players. LAERTES, Son to Polonius.
Two Clowns, Grave-diggers. VOLTIMAND,
FORTINBRAS, Prince of Norway. CORNELIUS,
GERTRUDE, Queen of Denmark, and Mother to A Gentleman.
Hamlet. A Priest.
Ghost of Hamlet's Father.
FRANCISCO on guard. Enter to him BERNARDO.
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
And liegemen to the Dane. BER. Long live the king !"
Fran. Give you good night.
O, farewell, honest soldier : BER.
He. Who hath reliev'd you ? Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour.|| FRAN.
Bernardo has my place. BER. 'Tis now struck twelve ; get thee to bed, | Give you good night.
Holla! Bernardo ! Fran. For this relief much thanks : 'tis bitter BER. Say, what, is Horatio there? cold,
A piece of him. And I am sick at heart.
BER. Welcome, Horatio ;-welcome, good MarBER. Have you had quiet guard ?
Not a mouse stirring. MAR. What, has this thing appear'd again toBER. Well, good night.
night? If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
BER. I have seen nothing.
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us :
(*) The first folio omits, ho! Long live the king!) This was the watchword of the night
The rivals-) That is, the associates, partners, &c. In the quarto of 1603, the reading, indeed, is “ partners."
Therefore I have entreated him along
Is not this something more than fantasy ?
Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe,
Of mine own eyes.
Is it not like the king ?
Hor. As thou art to thyself: That are so fortified against our story,
Such was the very armour he had on, What we two nights have seen.
When he* the ambitious Norway combated : Hor.
Well, sit we down, So frown’d he once, when, in an angry parle, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. BER. Last night of all,
'Tis strange. When yond same star that's westward from the Mar. Thus twice before, and jump at this dead pole
hour, Had made his course to illume that part of heaven With martial stalk he passed through our watch. Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
Hor. In what particular thought to work, I The bell then beating one,
know not ; Mar. Peace ! break thee off; look, where it But in the gross and scope of minet opinion, comes again!
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land ? BER. In the same figure, like the king that's And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, dead.
And foreign mart for implements of war; MAR. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio. Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task BER. Looks it not like the king? mark it, Does not divide the Sunday from the week ; Horatio.
What might be toward that this sweaty haste Hon. Most like :—it harrows me with fear and Doth make the night joint-labourer with the wonder.
day: BER. It would be spoke to.
Who is't that can inform me ?
That can I ; Hon. What art thou, that usurp'st this time of At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, night,
Whose image even but now appear'd to us, Together with that fair and warlike form
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, In which the majesty of buried Denmark
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, Did sometimes march ? by heaven, I charge thee, Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet speak !
(For so this side of our known world esteem'd Mar. It is offended.
See ! it stalks away! Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a scald compact, Hor. Stay! speak! speak! I charge thee, Well ratified by law and heraldry, speak!
[Exit Ghost. Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands, Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.
Which he stood seiz'd of, I to the conqueror : Bex. How now, Horatio ! you tremble, and Against the which, a moiety competent look pale:
Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
& - approve-) Corroborate, confirm, make good. b - beating-) The quarto, 1603, has,
"The bell then tolling one, "which, perhaps, imparts additional solemnity to this impressive preparation for the appearance of the spectre.
c Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.] As exorcisms were usually pronounced by the clergy in Latin, the notion became current, that supernatural beings regarded only the addresses of the learned. In proof of this belief, Reed quotes the following from. “Tho Night Walker" of Beaumont and Fletcher, Act 11. Sc, 2, where Toby is scared by a supposed ghost, and exclaims,
“Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,
And that will daunt the devil." - the sledded Polacks- The sledged Polanders; though it may be doubtful whether the original “Pollax" was intended as the singular or plural: many editors read," Polack."
e - and jump at this dead hour,-) So the quartos; the folio substitutes the more modern word, just: but in Shakespeare's day, "jump" was the familiar term. So in Act. V. Sc. 2, of this play,
“But since, so jump upon this bloody question." So, also, in “Othello," Act II. Sc. 3,
“— bring him jump when he may Cassio find.” f With martial stalk he passed through our watch. The reading of the earliest quarto, and presenting a finer image than that of the subsequent editions, which have,
" hath he gone by our watch."
.- design'd,–] So the second folio; the previous editions having, designe.
b of unimproved mellie hot and full. - ] By unimproved=unreproved, we apprehend is meant, insatiable, ungovernable, as in Chapman's "Homer's Iliads," Book the Eleventh,
(SCENE I So by his father lost: and this, I take it,
Mas Shall I strike at it with my partisan ?
Hoe. Do, if it will not stand.
'Tis here! Of this post-haste and romage in the land.
'Tis here BER. I think it be no other, but e'en so:
MAR. "Tis gone!
[Erit Ghost. Well may it sort that this portentous figure
We do it wrong. being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
HOR. And then it started like a guilty thing
opted dead | Upon a fearful summons. The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
I have heard, Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets: The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat Disasters in the sun ;(l) and the moist star,
Awake the god of day; and, at his warning, Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, Was sick almost to dooms-day with eclipse :
The extravagant and erring spirit hies And even the like precurse of fierce events,
To his confine: and of the truth herein, As harbingers preceding still the fates,
This present object made probation. And prologue to the omen coming on,
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock.(?? Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes Unto our climatures and countrymen.
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, But, soft! bebold ! lo, where it comes again! The bird of dawning singeth all night long
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir † abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planeta Re-enter Ghost.
So hallowd and so gracious is the time,
HOR. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Speak to me: If there be any good thing to be done,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill :: That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, Break we our watch up; and, by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen to-night
Unto young Hamlet: for, upon my life,
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, I
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty ? Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
Mar. Let's do 't, I pray: and I this morning For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
know Speak of it:-stay, and speak !-Stop it, Mar- | Where we shall find him most conveniently.
a-romage Commolion, turmoil.
b I think it be no other, but e'en so :) This and the seventeen succeeding lines are not in the folio.
c I'll cross it, though it blast me.--) It was an ancient superstition, that any one who crossed the spot on which a spectre was seen, became subjected to its malignant influence. See Blakeway's note ad I. in the Variorum edition.
Stay, illusion !) Attached to these words in the 1604 quarto, is a stage direction,"It spreads his arms."
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat-] This is the text of the folio and all the quartos, except the first, which reads, perhaps preferably,
is a state Illusion !] "Atlariorum editiont influence
(*) First folio, day.
(+) First folio, can walke. Her Russet Mantill bordourit all with sabill.“ 1- yon high eastern hill :] The earliest quarto has,
"— yon hie mountaine top;"the later quartos,
"— yon high eastward hill.” We adopt the lection of the folio, as more in accordance with the poetical phraseology of the period. Thus, in
n Chapman's trata
Chap lation of the Thirteenth Book of Homer's Odyssey
" Ulysses still An eye directed to the eastern hill." And Spenser charmingly ushers in the morn by telling us that
" -- carly and shrill-crowing throat.
- extravagant and erring-1 Wandering and erratie, * No fairy takes,-) The folio inadvertently prints talkes. To take has before been explained to mean, to paralyze, to deaden, to benumb.
cheareful Chaunticlere with his note shrin
hm in russet mantle clad. In the recapitulation of his labours at the conclusion of the Anead, Gawin Douglas says,
Quhen pale Aurora with Face lamentabill."