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yeelds many good sentences-hee will afford you whole Hamlets, Í should say, handfuls of tragicall speeches.'- I cannot determine exactly when this Epistle was first published; but, I fancy, it will carry the original Hamlet somewhat further back than we have hitherto done: and it may be observed, that the oldest copy now extant, is said to be ' enlarged to almost as much againe as it was.' Gabriel Harvey printed at the end of the year 1592, • Foure Letters and certaine Sonnetts, especially touching Robert Greene:' in one of which his Arcadia is mentioned. Now Nash's Epistle must have been previous to these, as Gabriel is quoted in it with applause; and the Foure Letters were the beginning of a quarrel. Nash replied in Strange News of the intercepting certaine Letters, and a Convoy of Verses, as they were going privilie to victual the Low Countries, 1593. Harvey rejoined the same
' year in Pierce's Supererogation, or a new Praise of the old Asse.' And Nash again, in · Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriell Harvey's Hunt is up;' containing a full answer to the eldest sonne of the halter-maker, 1596.”-Nash died before 1606, as appears from an old comedy called The Return from Parnassus.
STEEVENS. A play on the subject of Hamlet had been exhibited on the stage before the year 1589, of which Thomas Kyd was, I believe, the author. On that play, and on the bl. 1. Historie of Hamblet, our poet, I conjecture, constructed the tragedy before us. The earliest edition of the prose-narrative which I have seen, was printed in 1608, but it undoubtedly was a republication.
Sbakspeare's Hamlet was written, if my conjecture be well founded, in 1596. MALONE.
Claudius, King of Denmark.
Bernardo," } Officers.
Francisco, a Soldier.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother of Hamlet. Ophelia, Daughter of Polonius.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, GraveDiggers, Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants.
| Hamlet,] i. e. Amleth. The h transferred from the end to the beginning of the name. STEEVENS.
PRINCE OF DENMARK.
SCENE I. Elsinore. A Platform before the
FRANCISCO on his Post. Enter to him BERNARDO.
Ber. Who's there?
Fran. Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold Yourself.
Ber. Long live the king !
He. Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour. Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed,
Ber. Have you had quiet guard?
Not a mouse stirring.
and have a
me:) i. e. me who am already on the wa right to demand the watch-word.
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.
Fran. I think, I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who
is there! Hor. Friends to this ground. Mar.
And liegemen to the Dane. Fran. Give you good night.
O, farewell, honest soldier: Who hath reliev'd you? Fran.
Bernardo hath my place. Give you good night.
[Exit FRANCISCO. Mar.
A piece of him.
cellus. Hor. What, has this thing appear'd again to
Mar. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy;
may approve our eyes, and speak to it.
Sit down awhile; And let us once again assail your ears,
? The rivals of my watch,] Rivals for partners. 3
approve our eyes,] He may make good the testimony of our eyes; be assured by his own experience of the truth of that which we have related, in consequence of having been eye-witnesses to it. To approve in Shakspeare's age, signified to make good, or establish.
That are so fortified against our story,
Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
Ber. Last night of all, When yon same star, that's westward from the pole, Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself, The bell then beating one, Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it
Enter Ghost. Ber. In the same figure, like the king that's dead. Mar. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.* Ber. Looks it not like the king? mark it, Ho
ratio. Hor. Most like:-it harrows me with fear, and
wonder. Ber. It would be spoke to. Mar.
Speak to it, Horatio. Hor. What art thou, that usurp'st this time of
night, Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee,
See! it stalks away.
[Exit Ghost. Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer.
• Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.] It has always been a vulgar notion that spirits and supernatural beings can only be spoken to with propriety or effect by persons of learning.
- it barrows me, &c.] To harrow is to conquer, to subdue. The word is of Saxon origin.