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Give me the cup; let go; by heaven I'll have it.-
And in this harsh world draw thy breath in pain,
[March afar off, and shot within.
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;
On Fortinbras; he has my dying voice;
So tell him, with the occurrents t, more or less,
[Dies. Hor. Now cracks a noble heart;-Good night, sweet prince;
And fights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
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,
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?
The sight is dismal;
And our affairs from England come too late :
The ears are senseless, that should give us hearing,
That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead:
He never gave commandment for their death.
And let me speak, to the yet unknowing world,
Fall'n on the inventors' heads: all this can I
Let us haste to hear it,
And call the noblest to the audience.
For me, with sorrow I embrace my fortune;
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
On plots and errors, happen.
Let four captains
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
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,
Take up the bodies-Such a sight as this
[A dead march.
[Exeunt, bearing off the bodies; after which,
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
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.