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so difficult and so important, he does not confide in his own observations; but, in order to have his judgment rectified, in case of error, and to have his resentment tempered, in case of violence, he imparts his intention to Horatio. Hamlet,
The expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form, knew the sanctity of friendship, its uses, and its importance. His friend was not merely the partner of his amusements, to be his associate in his pleasures, and to cherish his vanity by adulation: he was a friend to counsel and assist him in doubtful emergencies, to improve his heart, and correct his judgment. The qualities that distinguish Horatio, and render him worthy of the esteem of Hamlet, are not affluence, nor pageantry, nor gay accomplishments, nor vivacity, nor even wit, and uncommon genius, too often allied to an impetuous temper: he is distinguished by that equanimity and independence of which arise from governed and corrected passions, from a sound and discerning judgment.
Horatio, thou art e'en as just a man,
Hor. Oh, my dear Lord
Ham. Nay, do not think I flatter:
Hamlet, by means of a dramatic exhibition, into which he had introduced the
representation of his father's murder, having assured himself of the guilt of Claudius by his emotions, has no longer any doubt concerning the propriety of his resentment. If we are eagerly interested in any pursuit, whether of an end, or of a mean by which some end may be accomplished, our success is ever attended with joy, even when the end we are pursuing is in itself a foundation of sorrow. It frequently happens too, if anger or resent ment have taken possession of the soul, and have excited a desire of vengeance; and if there is yet some uncertainty concerning the reality or grossness of the injury we have received, that, till reflection operates, we are better pleased to have our suspicions confirmed and our resentment gratified, than to be convicted of an error, and so be delivered from a painful passion. Hamlet, pleased with the success of his project, though its issue justified his resentment, discovers gaiety, the natural expression and sign of joy.
* In quem manca ruit semper fortuna. Hor.
Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play ;
So runs the world away.
No scene was ever better imagined than that where Rosincrantz and Guildenstern accost the prince. The creatures of Claudius, and instigated by the queen, they are employed as spies upon Hamlet. He perceives it, and treats them with deserved contempt: in such a manner, however, as to conceal, as much as possible, the real state of his mind. Yet he is teased with their importunity: the
transient gaiety of his humour, as it proceeded from a transient cause, is soon dissipated, and is succeeded by reflections on his condition. His anger and resentment are inflamed; and indignant that the unworthy engines of a vile usurper should be thought capable of insnaring him, he confounds them, by shewing them he had discovered their intentions, and overwhelms them with the supercilious dignity of his displeasure.
Ham. Will you play upon this pipe ?
Ham. 'Tis' as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me? you would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass; and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think that I am easier to be play'd qu than a pipe ?
The king, alarmed by the consciousness
his mother to question him,
of a camel ?
The perfidy and guilt of Claudius are now