Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

Give me the cup; let go; by heaven I'll have it.-
O God!-Horatio, what a wounded name,
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me?
If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart,
Absent thee from felicity awhile,

And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
To tell my story.-

[March afar off, and shot within.
What warlike noise is this?

Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from


To the ambassadors of England gives

This warlike volley.


O, I die, Horatio;

The potent poison quite o'er crows* my spirit;
I cannot live to hear the news from England:
But I do prophesy the election lights

On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice;

So tell him, with the occurrents t, more or less,
Which have solicited †,-The rest is silence.

[Dies. Hor. Now cracks a noble heart;-Good night, sweet prince;

And fights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
Why does the drum come hither? [March within.

Enter Fortinbras, the English Ambassadors, and others.

Fort. Where is this sight?

What is it, you would see!

Hor. If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search. Fort. This quarry cries on havock-O proud


What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,

• O'er-comes.

+ Incidents.

Heap of dead game.


A word of censure when more game was destroyed than was reasonable.

That thou so many princes, at a shot,

So bloodily hast struck?

1 Amb.

The sight is dismal;

And our affairs from England come too late :

The ears are senseless, that should give us hearing,
To tell him, his commandment is fulfill'd,

That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead:
Where should we have our thanks?

Not from his mouth*,
Had it the ability of life to thank you;

He never gave commandment for their death.
But since, so jump t upon this bloody question,
You from the Polack‡ wars, and you from England,
Are here arriv'd; give order, that these bodies
High on a stage be placed to the view;

And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world,
How these things come about: So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts;
Of accidental judgements, casual slaughters;
Of deaths put on by cunning, and forc'd cause;
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook

Fall'n on the inventors' heads: all this can I
Truly deliver.


Let us haste to hear it,

And call the noblest to the audience.

For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune;
I have some rights of memory in this kingdom,
Which now to claim my vantage doth invite me.

Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more:
But let this same be presently perform'd,
Even while men's minds are wild; lest more mis.

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 prov'd most royally: and, for his passage,

i. c. The king's. + By chance.


The soldier's musick, and the rites of war,
Speak loudly for him.-

Take up 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 bodies; after which,
a peal of ordnance is shot off.

If the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterised, each by the particular excellence which distinguishes it from the rest, we must allow to the tra gedy 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; aud solemnity not strained by poetical violence above the natural sentiments of man. New characters appear from time to time iu 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 maduess 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

[ocr errors]

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 stra tagem 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 an usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.


« ZurückWeiter »