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“Conceive a prince, such as is here painted, and that his father suddenly dies. Ambition and the love of rule are not the passions that inspire him. As a king's son he would have been contented ; but now he is first constrained to consider the difference which separates a sovereign from a subject. The crown was not hereditary; yet a longer possession of it by his father would have strengthened the pretensions of an only son, and secured his hopes of the succession. In place of this, he now beholds himself excluded by his uncle, in spite of specious promises, most probably for ever. He is now poor in goods and favour, and a stranger in the scene which from youth he had looked upon as his inheritance. His

temper here assumes its first mournful tinge. He feels that now he is not more-that he is less-than a private nobleman; he offers himself as the servant of every one; he is not courteous and condescending, he is needy and degraded. “ His past condition he remembers as a vanished dream. It is in vain that

1 his uncle strives to cheer him,—to present his situation in another point of view. The feeling of his nothingness will not leave him.

“ The second stroke that came upon him wounded deeper, bowed still more. It was the marriage of his mother. The faithful tender son had yet a mother, when his father passed away. He hoped, in the company of his surviving noble-minded parent, to reverence the heroic form of the departed; but his mother too he loses, and it is something worse than death that robs him of her. The trustful image, which a good child loves to form of its parents, is gone. With the dead there is no help ; on the living no hold. She also is a woman, and her name is Frailty, like that of all her sex.

“Now first does he feel himself completely bent and orphaned ; and no happiness of life can repay what he has lost. Not reflective or sorrowful by nature, reflection and sorrow have become for him a heavy obligation. It is thus that we see him first enter on the scene. Figure to yourselves this youth, this son of princes ; conceive him vividly, bring his state before your eyes, and then observe him when he learns that his father's spirit walks ; stand by him in the terrors of the night, when the venerable ghost itself appears before him. A horrid shudder passes over him ; he speaks to the mysterious form; he sees it beckon him ; he follows it and hears. The fearful accusation of his uncle rings in his ears; the summons to revenge, and the piercing, oft-repeated prayer, ' Remember me!'

"And when the ghost has vanished, who is it that stands before us ? A young hero panting for vengeance? A prince by birth, rejoicing to be called to punish the usurper of his crown? No! trouble and astonishment take hold of the solitary young man: he grows bitter against smiling villains, swears that he will not forget the spirit, and concludes with the significant ejaculation,

• The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right?

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In these words, I imagine, will be found the key to Hamlet's whole procedure. To me it is clear that Shakspeare meant, in the present case, to represent the effects of a great action laid upon a soul unfit for the performance of it. In this view the whole piece seems to me to be composed. There is an oak-tree planted in a costly jar, which should have borne only pleasant flowers in its bosom ;-the roots expand, the jar is shivered.

" A lovely, pure, noble, and most moral nature, without the strength of nerve which forms a hero, sinks beneath a burden which it cannot bear, and must not cast away. All duties are holy for him ; the present is too hard. Impossibilities have been required of him ;—not in themselves impossibilities, but such for him. He winds, and turns, and torments himself; he advances and recoils ; is ever put in mind, ever puts himself in mind; at last does all but lose his purpose from his thoughts; yet still without recovering his peace of mind.”GOETHE.

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“ This is that Hamlet the Dane whom we read of in our youth, and whom we seem almost to remember in our after years ;-he who made that famous soliloquy on life, who gave the advice to the players, who thought this goodly frame, the earth, a sterile promontory, and this brave o'erhanging firmament,

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the air—this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours;' whom 'man delighted not, nor woman neither;' he who talked with the gravediggers, and moralised on Yorick’s skull; the schoolfellow of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern at Wittenberg; the friend of Horatio; the lover of Ophelia ; he that was mad and sent to England ; the slow avenger of his father's death ; who lived at the court of Horwendillus five hundred years before we were born, but all whose thoughts we seem to know as well as we do our own, because we have read them in Shakespeare.

“ Hamlet is a name; his speeches and sayings but the idle coinage of the poet's brain. What, then, are they not real? They are as real as our own thoughts; their reality is in the reader's mind. It is we who are Hamlet. This play has a prophetic truth, which is above that of history. Whoever has become thoughtful and melancholy through his own mishaps or those of others; whoever has borne about with him the clouded brow of reflection, and thought himself too much i' the sun ;' whoever has seen the golden lamp of day dimmed by envious mists rising in his own breast, and could find in the world before him only a dull blank with nothing left remarkable in it; whoever has known “the pangs of despised love, the insolence of office, or the spurns which patient merit of the unworthy takes ;' he who has felt his mind sink within him, and sadness cling to his heart like a malady, who has had his hopes blighted and his youth staggered by the apparitions of strange things; who cannot be well at ease while he sees evil hovering near him like a spectre ; whose powers of action have been eaten up by thought,-he to whom the v.niverse seems infinite, and himself nothing; whose bitterness of soul makes him careless of consequences, and who goes to a play as his best resource to shove off, to a second remove, the evils of life, by a mock-representation of themthis is the true Hamlet."-HAZLITT.



This tragedy, there can be no reasonable doubt, was first published in the folio collection of 1623, where it is printed with, for that volume, a remarkable exemption from typographical inaccuracies. The date of its production is less certain. Malone, in his “Attempt to ascertain the order in which the Plays of Shakespeare were written,” concludes that it could not have been composed before 1607; but, as his argument mainly rests upon the fact that a tragedy with the same title by William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Sterline, was printed in London that year, * from which he conjectured Shakespeare had derived one or two ideas, it cannot be regarded as satisfactory. Upon safer grounds, we think, Mr. Collier believes that Shakespeare's “ Julius Cæsar” was written and acted before 1603. In Act V. Sc. 5, it will be remembered, Antony pays a beautiful tribute to the character of Brutus,

“ His life was gentle; and the elements

So mix'd in him, that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, This was a man!

Referring to this passage, Mr. Collier observes, “ In Drayton’s ‘Barons' Wars,' Book III. edit. 8vo. 1603, p. 61, we meet with the subsequent stanza. The author is speaking of Mortimer :

""Such one he was, of him we boldly say,

In whose rich soul all sovereign powers did suit,
In whom in peace th' elements all lay
So mix'd, as none could sovereignty impute;
As all did govern, yet all did obey :
His lively temper was so absolute,
That 't seem'd, when heaven his model first began,
In him it showd perfection of a man.'

Italic type is hardly necessary to establish that one poet must have availed himself, not only of the thought, but of the very words of the other. The question is, was Shakespeare indebted to Drayton, or Drayton to Shakespeare? We shall not enter into general probabilities,

* It was published in Scotland, of which Malone was not aware, three years before



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upon the original and exhaustless stores of the mind of our great dramatist, but advert to a few dates, which, we think, warrant the conclusion that Drayton, having heard · Julius Cæsar' at a theatre, or seen it in manuscript, before 1603, applied to his own purpose, perhaps unconsciously, what, in fact, belonged to another poet.

Drayton's 'Barons' Wars' first appeared in 1596, 4to., under the title of Mortimeriados.' Malone had a copy without date, and he and Steevens erroneously imagined that the poem had been originally printed in 1598. In the 4to. of 1596, and in the undated edition, it is not divided into books, and is in seven-line stanzas; and what is there said of Mortimer bears no likeness whatever to Shakespeare's expressions in ‘Julius Cæsar.' Drayton afterwards changed the title from 'Mortimeriados' to • The Barons' Wars,' and remodelled the whole historical poem, altering the stanza from the English ballad form to the Italian ottava rima. This course he took before 1603, when it came out in octavo, with the stanza first quoted, which contains so marked a similarity to the lines from • Julius Cæsar.' We apprehend that he did so, because he had heard or seen Shakespeare's tragedy before 1603; and we think that strong presumptive proof that he was the borrower and not Shakespeare, is derived from the fact, that in the subsequent impressions of the 'Barons' Wars,' in 1605, 1607, 1608, 1610, and 1613, the stanza remained precisely as in the edition of 1603: but in 1619, after Shakespeare's death and before · Julius Cæsar' was printed, Drayton made oven a nearer approach to the words of his original, thus :

"He was a man, then boldly dare to say,

In whose rich soul the virtues well did suit;
In whom so mix'd the elements did lay,
That none to one could sovereignty impute;
As all did govern, so did all obey:
He of a temper was so absolute,
As that it seem'd, when Nature him began,

She meant to show all that might be in man.'" We think it will be admitted that Mr. Collier has made out a very strong case, -all but proved, indeed, that in this instance Drayton was the borrower, and, as a consequence, that Shakespeare's tragedy is of an earlier date by some years than Malone and others had supposed.

The material incidents of this tragedy appear to have been derived from North’s translation of Plutarch ; but as there was a Latin play upon the subject of Cæsar—“Epilogus Cæsaris Interfecti,” &c.—written by Dr. Richard Eedes, which was played at Christ's Church Coll., Oxford, in 1582, and an old anonymous play in English, of the same age, it is possible that Shakespeare may have incurred some obligations to one or both of these.

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Conspirators against Julius Cæsar.
ARTEMIDORUS, a Sophist of Cnidos.
CINNA, a Poet. Another Poet.
A Soothsayer.

to Brutas and Cassius. VARRO, CLITUS, CLAUDIUS, STRATO, LUCIUS, DARDANIUS; Servants to


PINDARUS, Servant to Cassius,

CALPHURNIA, Wife to Julius Cæsar.
PORTIA, Wife to Brutus.

Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, $c.

SCENE,-During a great part of the Play at Rome; afterwards at SARDIS;

and near PHILIPPI

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