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Hor. If your mind dislike anything, obey it: I And will this brother's wager frankly play, will forestall their repair hither, and say you are Give us the foils; come on. not fit.
Laer. Come, one for me. Ham. Not a whit: we defy augury; there is a Ham. I'll be your foil, Laertes; in mine ignospecial providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it
rance be now, 't is not to come; if it be not to come, it Your skill shall, like a star i' the darkest night, will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come : Stick fiery off indeed. the readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he Laer. You mock me, sir. leaves, knows, what is 't to leave betimes? Let Ham No, by this hand.
King. Give them the foils, young Osric.
Cousin Hamlet, Enter King, QUEEN, LAERTES, Lords, OSRIC, You know the wager? and Attendants, with foils, &c.
Ham. Very well, my lord : King. Come, Hamlet, come, and take this hand Your grace hath laid the odds o' the weaker side. from me.
King. I do not fear it : I have seen you both : [The King puts the hand of LAERTES into But since he's bettered, we have therefore odds. that of HAMLET.
| Laer. This is too heavy; let me see another. Ham. Give me your pardon, sir : I have done Ham. This likes me well. These foils have all you wrong;
a length ? [They prepare to play But pardon it, as you are a gentleman.
Osr. Ay, my good lord. This presence knows, and you must needs have King. Set me the stoups of wine upon that heard,
table:How I am punished with a sore distraction. If Hamlet give the first or second hit, What I have done,
Or quit in answer of the third exchange, That might your nature, honor, and exception, Let all the battlements their ordance fire; Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness. The King shall drink to Hamlet's better breath ; Was 't Hamlet wronged Laertes ? Never, Hamlet : And in the cup an union shall he throw, If Hamlet from himself be ta’en away,
Richer than that which four successive kings
The cannons to the heavens, the heaven to earth, Sir, in this audience,
“Now the king drinks to Hamlet.”—Come, begin ; Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil
And you the judges, bear a wary eye.
Laer. Come, my lord.
[They play. And hurt my brother.
Laer. Well, - again.
is thine; To keep my name ungored. But till that time, Here's to thy health. - Give him the cup. I do receive your offered love like love,
[Trumpets sound; and cannon shot off within. And will not wrong it.
Ham. I'll play this bout first; set it by awhile. Ham. I embrace it freely;
| Come. — Another hit: what say you ? [They play.
Laer. A touch, a touch, I do confess. Unbated and envenomed: the foul practice
Hath turned itself on me; lo, here I lie,
Then, venom to thy work. [Stabs the KING. King. Gertrude, do not drink.
Osr. ] Treason! treason ! Queen. I will, my lord : I pray you, pardon Lords. ] me.
King. O, yet defend me, friends; I am but King. It is the poisoned cup; it is too late.
[Aside. Ham. Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damHam. I dare not drink yet, madam; by-and-by.
néd Dane, Queen. Come, let me wipe thy face.
Drink off this potion :- Is the union here? Laer. My lord, I 'll hit him now.
Follow my mother.
[King dies. Kiny. I do not think it.
Laer. He is justly served; Laer. And yet it is almost against my con. It is a poison tempered by himself.science.
[Aside. Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet : Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes. You do Mine and my father's death come not upon thee; but dally : Nor thine on me!
[Dies. I pray you, pass with your best violence :
Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee. I am afeared you make a wanton of me.
I am dead, Horatio. — Wretched queen, adieu. — Laer. Say you so ? come on. [They play. | You that look pale and tremble at this chance, Osr. Nothing neither way.
That are but mutes or audience to this act, Laer. Have at you now.
Had I but time (as this fell sergeant, Death, [LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then in scuffling, Is strict in his arrest), O, I could tell you,
they change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds But let it be. — Horatio, I am dead;
Thou liv’st; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane;
Ham. As thou ’rt a man, Osr. How is 't Laertes ?
Give me the cup; let go; by heaven, I'll have it. Laer. Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, O, good Horatio, What a wounded name, Osric:
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
me? Ham. How does the queen ?
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, King. She swoons to see them bleed.
Absént thee from felicity awhile, Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink!—0, my And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain, dear Hamlet !
To tell my story. — [March afar off, and shot The drink, the drink; I am poisoned ! [Dies.
within. Ham. O villainy! Ho! let the door be locked: What warlike noise is that? Treachery! seek it out. [LAERTES falls. Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come Laer. It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art 1. from Poland, slain;
To the ambassadors of England gives
Ham. O, I die, Horatio ;
I cannot live to hear the news from England: High on a stage be placed to the view;
How these things came about: so shall you hear
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Fall'n on the inventors' heads : all this can I Why does the drum come hither? [March within. Truly deliver.
Fort. Let us haste to hear it, Enter FORTINBRAS, the English Ambassadors,
And call the noblest to the audience. and others.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune : Fort. Where is this sight?
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom, Hor. What is it you would see?
Which now to claim my 'vantage doth invite me. If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search. Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak, Fort. This quarry cries on havoc !--0, proud | And from his mouth whose voice will draw on Death!
more: What feast is toward in thine eternal cell, But let this scene be presently performed, That thou so many princes, at a shot,
Even while men's minds are wild; lest more misSo bloodily hast struck ?
chance, 1st Amb. The sight is dismal ;
On plots and errors, happen. And our affairs from England come too late : Fort. Let four captains The ears are senseless that should give us hearing, Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage; To tell him his commandment is fulfilled; For he was likely, had he been put on, That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead. To have proved most royally : and, for his passage, Where should we have our thanks?
The soldiers' music, and the rites of war, Hor. Not from his mouth,
Speak loudly for him.Had it the ability of life to thank you;
Take up the bodies : such a sight as this Ile never gave commandment for their death. Becomes the field, but here shews much amiss.But since, so jump upon this bloody question, Go, bid the soldiers shoot. [A dead March. You from the Polack wars, and you from England, [Exeunt, marching ; after which, a peal Are here arrived, give order that these bodies
of ordnance is shot off.
“ BAR. Who's there?
“ In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,” &c.
Act I., Scene 1. The striking and eminently dramatic opening of this great tragedy
The whole of this fine passage is omitted in the first folio edition has been often praised: but never with more taste and congenial
of Shakspeare. The second quarto (1609) is stated to be “enlarged spirit, than by Mrs. Radcliffe.
to almost as much againe as it was;” and it is on this edition that “In nothing," says the very competent authority, " has Shaks the received text is mainly founded. It contains the passage in ques peare been more successful, than in selecting circumstances of man
tion, and many others of great importance which are not found in ners and appearance for his supernatural beings, which, though wild
the folio. The whole of the characteristic scene in the fourth act, and remote, in the highest degree, from common apprehension, never
between Hamlet and the Captain of Fortinbras, is not in that copy: shock the understanding by incompatibility with themselves; never
in its turn, however, it contains some valuable matter which is want. compel us, for an instant, to recollect that he has a license for ex
ing in the quarto. Indeed, it would be highly injudicious to follow travagance. — Above every ideal being, is the ghost of Hamlet, with
either version implicitly, although upon the whole, the quarto affords, all its attendant incidents of time and place. The dark watch upon
singly considered, the most full and satisfactory text. Malone's reathe remote platform; the dreary aspect of the night; the very ex
sons for preferring the quarto editions of those plays which did not pression of the officer on guard, " The air bites shrewdly; it is very
appear for the first time in the folio, are thus stated in the preface to cold;** the recollection of a star, an unknown world, are all circum
his edition of 1790:- Fifteen of Shakspeare's plays were printed in stances which excite forlorn, melancholy, and solemn feelings, and quarto antecedent to the first complete collection of his works, which
was published by his fellow-comedians, in 1623. These plays are: dispose us to welcome, with trembling curiosity, the awful being that
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, LOVE'S LABOR'S LOST,' ROMEO AND draws near; and to indulge in that strange mixture of horror, pity,
* TIAMLET,' the Two Parts of HENRY IV.' RICHARD II.,' and indignation, produced by the tale it reveals. Every minute cir. cumstance of the scene between those watching on the platform, and
• RICHARD III.,' MERCHANT OF VENICE,' HENRY V.,' Much ADO of that between them and Horatio, preceding the entrance of the
ABOUT Nothing.' "MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,' • TROILUS AND CRESapparition, contributes to excite some feeling of dreariness, or melan
SIDA," KING LEAR,' • OTHELLO.'
“ The players, when they mention these copies, represent them all choly, or solemnity, or expectation, in unison with, and leading on toward, that high curiosity and thrilling awe with which we witness
as mutilated and imperfect, but this was merely thrown out to give the conclusion of the scene. So the first question of Bernardo, and
an additional value to their own edition, and is not strictly true of the words in reply, 'Stand, and unfold yourself. But there is not a
any but two of the whole number: The MERRY WIFES OF WINDSOR,' single circumstance in either dialogue, not even in this short one
and · HENRY V. With respeet to the other thirteen copies, though with which the play opens, that does not take its secret effect upon
undoubtedly they were all surreptitious - that is, stolen from the the imagination. It ends with Bernardo desiring his brother officer,
play-houre, and printed without the consent of the author or proafter having asked whether he has had 'quiet watch,' to hasten the
prietors- they, in general, are preferable to the exhibition of the guard if he should chance to meet them; and we immediately feel
same plays in the folio, for this plain reason: because, instead of ourselves alone on this dreary ground.
printing these plays from a manuscript, the editors of the folio, to " When Horatio enters, the challenge - the dignified answers,
save labor, or from some other motive, printed the greater part * Friends to this ground,'. And liegemen to the Dane' – the question
of them from the very copies which they represented as maimed and of Horatio to Bernardo touching the apparition - the unfolding of
imperfect; and frequently from a late, instead of the earliest, edition; the reason why Horatio has consented to watch with them the min
in some instances, with additions and alterations of their own. Thus, utes of this night' — the sitting down together, while Bernardo relates
therefore, the first folio, as far as respects the plays above enumerthe particulars of what they had seen for two nights - and, above
ated, labors under the disadvantage of being, at least, a second, and all, the few lines with which he begins his story, 'Last night of all'
in some cases a third, edition of these quartos. I do not, however, - and the distinguishing, by the situation of 'yon same star,' the
mean to say, that many valuable corrections of passages, undoubt. very point of time when the spirit had appeared - the abruptness
edly corrupt in the quartos, are not found in the folio copy; or that
a single line of these plays should be printed by a careful editor, with which he breaks off, the bell then beating one' - the instant
without a minute examination and collation of both copies; but appearance of the Ghost, as though ratifying the story for the very truth itself; - all these are circumstances which the deepest sensi
those quartos were in general the basis on which the folio editors bility only could have suggested; and which, if you read them a
built, and are entitled to our particular attention and examination thousand times, still continue to affect you almost as much as at
as first editions. first. I thrill with delightful awe, even while I recollect and men
“ It is well known to those who are conversant with the business
of the press, that (unless when the author corrects and revises his tion them as instances of the exquisite art of the poet.” The preceding excellent remarks are extracted from a posthumous
own works) as editions of books are multiplied, their errors are mul
tiplied also; and that, consequently, every such edition is more or paper by Mrs. Radcliffe, on “ THE SUPERNATURAL IN POETRY."
less correct, as it approaches nearer to, or is more distant from, the
first.” * This is a lapse of memory in the writer. The words here quoted are used by Hamlet at the commencement of Scene 4. The occasion,
After these remarks, the writer proceeds to give, in support of his however, is similar.
| main position, “ a few instances of the gradual progress of corrup tion:" from these instances, we will extract two, as among the most who twice crossed swiftly; and when the Earl of Derby came to the striking:
place where he saw this man, he fell sick.” “ In the original copy of "HENRY IV.," Part I., printed in 1598 (act iv., scene 4), we find :
“ The glowworm shews the matin to be near, And what with Owen Glendower's absence thence,
And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire." - Act I., Scene 4. (Who with them was a rated sinew too),' &c.
In the paper by Mrs. Radcliffe, to which we have before alluded, “In the fourth quarto, printed in 1608, the article being omitted there are some further fine observations on the Ghost scenes of Hamby the negligence of the compositor, and the line printed thus: let, which we subjoin, as infinitely superior in interest to mere verbal
criticism :“Who with them was rated sinew too;'
“ I should never be weary of dwelling on the perfection of Shaks
peare, in his management of every scene connected with that most the editor of the next quarto (which was copied by the folio), instead
solemn and mysterious being, which takes such entire possession of of examining the first edition, amended the error (leaving the metre
the imagination that we hardly seem conscious we are beings of this still imperfect), by reading :
rld while we contemplate the extravagant and erring spirit.' The
departs, accompanied by natural circumstances as touching Who with them was rated firmly too.'”
as those by which he had approached. It is by the strange light The instance of gradual perversion just cited, is simply curious: of the glowworm, which • 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire;' it is at that which follows has the additional value of drollery :- Malone the first scent of the morning air -- the living breath - that the approceeds:
“ I have sometimes thought, as I walked in the deep shade of the “6 Away to heaven, respective lenity,
North Terrace of Windsor Castle, when the moon shone on all be And fire-eyed fury be my conduct now!
yond, that the scene must have been present in Shakspeare's mind says Romeo, when provoked by the appearance of his rival. Instead
when he drew the night scenes in Hamlet: and as I have stood on of this, which is the reading of the quarto (1597), the line in the
the platform, which thero projects over the precipice, and have heard quarto (1599) is thus corruptly exhibited ;
only the measured step of a sentinel, or the clink of his arms, and
have seen his shadow passing by moonlight, at the foot of the high * And fire end fury be my conduct now!'
eastern tower, I have almost expected to see the royal shade, armed
cap-&-pe, standing still on the lonely platform before me. The very In the subsequent quarto copy, and was substituted for end; and star-yon same star, that's westward from the pole'- fcemed to accordingly, in the folio, the poet's fine imagery is entirely lost, and watch over the western towers of the Terrace, whose high dark lines Romeo exclaims :
marked themselves upon the heavens. All has been so still and
shadowy, so great and solemn, that the scene appeared fit for "no * And fire and fury be my conduct now!""
mortal business, nor no sound that the earth owes.' Did you ever
observe the fine effect of the onstern tower, when you stand near the From these examples, it will appear that the patient plodding of
western end of the North Terrace, and its tall profile rears itself upon Shakspeare's editors has not been the useless and ridiculous thing it is often represented. In further justice to Malone (who has, it seems
the sky, from nearly the base to the battled top; the lowness of the
parapet permitting this? It is most striking at night, when the stars to us, been somewhat harshly censured), we subjoin his statement of the praiseworthy efforts he made to secure correctness in his own
appear at different heights, upon the tall dark line, and when the
sentinel on watch moves a shadowy figure at its foot." edition: "Paving often experienced the fallaciousness of collation by the
It is in this congenial spirit that Shakspeare should be read. Such eye, I determined, after I had adjusted the text in the best manner
poetic associations give additional interest even to the time-honored in my power, to have every proof-sheet of my work read aloud to me,
towers and terraces of royal Windsor. while I perused the first folio for those plays which first appeared in that edition; and for all those which had been previously printed, the first quarto copy, excepting only in the instances of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,' and • HENRY V.,' which, being either sketches or imperfect copies, could not be wholly relied on. * * * I had, at the
“ My liege, and madam, to expostulate, same time, before me a table which I had formed of the variations
What majesty should be, what duty is," &c. between the quarto and the folio. By this laborious process, not a
Act II., Scene 2. single innovation, made either by the editor of the second folio, or any of the modern editors, could escape me."
Johnson has discussed the conflicting qualities in the character
of Polonius, in one of his best notes. "Polonius," he remarks, " is * The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
a man bred in courts; exercised in business; stored with observa. Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets. * * *
tion; confident in his knowledge; proud of his eloquence; and deAs stars wilh trains of fire and dewos of blood, &c.
clining into dotage. His mode of oratory is designed to ridicule the
Act I., Scene 1. practice of those times, of prefaces that made no introduction, and After the word "streets," in the above quotation, a line is, with
of method that embarrassed rather than explained. This part of his
character is accidental, the rest natural. Such a man is positive and great probability, supposed to be lost, and a blank space, or a line
confident, because he knows that his mind was opce strong, and of dashes, is usually left for it: we have, however, thought a minor
knows not that it is become weak. Such a man excele in general mark of omission (* * *] sufficient for the purpose. - Something is evidently wanting to connect the passage commencing “ As stars
principles, but fails in particular application; he is knowing in retro with trains of fire,” &c., with that which immediately precedes it.
spect, and ignorant in foresight. While he depends upon his memory, and can draw from his depositories of knowledge, he utters weighty
sentences, and gives useful counsel; but as the mind in its enfeebled “ I'll cross it, though it blast me." — Act I., Scene 1.
state cannot be kept long busy and intent, the old man is subject to It was an ancient superstition that the person who crossed the the dereliction of his faculties; he loses the order of his ideas, and spot on which a spectre was seen, became thus subject to its malig- entangles himself in his own though, till he rerovers the leading nant influence. Ferdinand, Earl of Derby, died young, in 1594; and principle and falls into his former train. The idea of dotage er among the reasons for supposing him to have been killed by witch- croaching upon wisdom, will solve all the phenomena of the character craft, was the following:-" On Friday, there appeared a tall man, 'of Polonius."