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Fallen on the inventors' heads. All this can I
Let us haste to hear it,
For me, with sorrow, I embrace my fortune;
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
Even while men's minds are wild; lest more mischance On plots and errors happen.
Let four captains Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royally; and, for his passage,
Speak loudly for him.
the bodies. Such a sight as this Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss. Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
[A dead march. [Exeunt, bearing off the dead bodies; after which a peal of ordnance is shot off.
1 i. e. some rights which are remembered in this kingdom.
THE following scene in the first quarto, 1603, differs so materially from the revised play, that it has been thought it would not be unacceptable to the reader :
Enter HORATIO and the Queen.
Hor. Madam, your son is safe arrived in Denmarke;
Whereas he writes how he escaped the danger,
Queen. Then I perceive there's treason in his looks,
But I will sooth and please him for a time,
For murderous minds are always jealous:
But know not you, Horatio, where he is?
Hor. Yes, madam, and he hath appointed me
To meet him on the east side of the city
Queen. O fail not, good Horatio, and withal commend me
Be wary of his presence, lest that he
Fail in that he goes about.
Hor. Madam, never make doubt of that:
I think by this the news be come to court
He is arrived:
Observe the king, and you shall quickly find,
Hamlet being here, things fell not to his mind.
Queen. But what became of Gilderstone and Rossencraft?
Hor. He being set ashore, they went for England,
And in the packet there writ down that doom
To be performed on them 'pointed for him:
And by great chance he had his father's seal,
So all was done without discovery.
Queen. Thanks be to Heaven for blessing of the prince.
With thousand mother's blessings to my son.
Hor. Madam, adieu!
Ir the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterized, each by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tragedy of Hamlet the praise of variety. The incidents are so numerous, that the argument of the play would make a long tale. The scenes are interchangeably diversified with merriment and solemnity— with merriment that includes judicious and instructive observations, and solemnity not strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man. New characters appear from time to time in continual succession, exhibiting various forms of life and particular modes of conversation. The pretended madness of Hamlet causes much mirth, the mournful distraction of Ophelia fills the heart with tenderness; and every personage produces the effect intended, from the apparition that, in the first act, chills the blood with horror, to the fop, in the last, that exposes affectation to just contempt.
The conduct is, perhaps, not wholly secure against objections. The action is indeed for the most part in continual progression; but there are some scenes which neither forward nor retard it. Of the feigned madness of Hamlet there appears no adequate cause; for he does nothing which he might not have done with the reputation of sanity. He plays the madman most when he treats Ophelia with so much rudeness, which seems to be useless and wanton cruelty.
Hamlet is, through the whole piece, rather an instrument than an agent. After he has, by the stratagem of the play, convicted the king, he makes no attempt to punish him; and his death is at last effected by an incident which Hamlet had no part in producing.
The catastrophe is not very happily produced; the exchange of weapons is rather an expedient of necessity, than a stroke of art. A scheme might easily be formed to kill Hamlet with the dagger, and Laertes with the bowl.
The Poet is accused of having shown little regard to poetical justice, and may be charged with equal neglect of poetical probability. The apparition left the regions of the dead to little purpose; the revenge which he demands is not obtained but by the death of him that was required to take it; and the gratification which would arise from the destruction of a usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.