Page images
PDF
EPUB

Prince. We still have known thee for a holy man.-
Where's Romeo's man? what can he say in this?

Bal. I brought my master news of Juliet's death;
And then in post he came from Mantua,
To this same place, to this same monument.
This letter he early bid me give his father;
And threaten'd me with death, going in the vault,
If I departed not, and left him there.

Prince. Give me the letter, I will look on it.
Where is the county's page, that rais'd the watch?
Sirrah, what made your master in this place ?-
Page. He came with flowers to strew his lady's

grave;
And bid me stand aloof, and so I did:
Anon, comes one with light to ope the tomb;
And, by and by, my master drew on him;
And then I ran away to call the watch.

Prince. This letter doth make good the friar's words,
Their course of love, the tidings of her death;
And here he writes—that he did buy a poison
Of a poor 'pothecary, and therewithal
Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.
Where be these enemies ? Capulet! Montague !
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That beaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen :m—all are punish’d.

Cap. O, brother Montague, give me thy hand :
This is my daughter's jointure, for no more
Can I demand.
Mon.

But I can give thee more :
For I will raise her statue in pure gold;
That, while Verona by that name is known,
There shall no figure at such rate be set,
As that of true and faithful Juliet.

Cap. As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie;
Poor sacrifices of our enmity!

Have lost a brace of kinsmen :) Mercutio and Paris : Mercutio is expressly called the prince's kinsman in act III. sc. iv.; and that Paris also was the prinee's kiasman, may be inferred from other passages.—MALONE.

Prince. A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head :
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished :o
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

[Exeunto

* Some shall be pardon'd and some punished :] This line has reference to the novel from which the fable is taken. Here we read that Juliet's female attendant was banished for concealing the marriage; Romeo's servant set at liberty because he had only acted in obedience to his master's orders; the apothecary taken, tortured, condemned, and hanged; while friar Laurence was permitted to retire to a hermitage in the neighbourhood of Verona, where he ended his life in penitence and tranquillity.--STEEVENS.

• This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, the incidents are numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.

Here is one of the few attempts of Shakspeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, in a pointed sentence, that more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio's wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life ; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakspeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.

The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtlety of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dishonest.

His comick scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetick strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.* -Jonsson.

This quotation is also found in the Preface to Dryden's fables : “ Just John Littlewit in Bartholomew Fair, who had a conceit (as he tells you) left him in his misery; a miserable conceit.”— STEEVENS.

H A MLET.

The first edition of this splendid tragedy, which has been recently discovered, was printed in 1603. It was among the earliest of our Author's works; and Steevens saw a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, which formerly belonged to Dr. Gabriel Harvey (the antagonist of Nash), wbo, in his own handwriting, has set down Hamlet, as a performance with which he was well acquainted, in the year 1598. His words are these : “The younger sort take much delight in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis ; but his Lucrece, and his tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wiser sort, 1598."

In the books of the Stationers' Company, this play was entered by James Roberts, July 26, 1602, under the title of “ A booke called The Revenge of Hamlett, Prince of Denmarke, as it was lately acted by the Lord Chamberlain bis servantes."

The story on which the play is built, may be found in Saxo Grammaticus, the Danish historian. From thence Belleforest adopted it in his collection of novels ; and from this latter work, the Hystorie of Hamblett, quarto, bl. I. was translated

The frequent allusions of contemporary authors to this play sufficiently show its popularity. Thus, in Decker's Bel-man's Nightwalkes, 4to. 1612, we have “But if any mad Hamlet, hearing this, smell villainie, and rush in by violence to see what the tawny diuels (gypsies) are dooing, then they excuse the fact,” &c. Again, in an old collection of satirical poems, called The Night-Raven, is this couplet:

“ I will not cry Hamlet Revenge my greeves,

But I will call Hangman, Revenge on thieves."

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

CLAUDIUS, king of Denmark.
HAMLET,son to the former, and nephew to the present

king.
Polonius, lord chamberlain.
HORATIO, friend to Hamlet.
LAERTES, son to Polonius.
VOLTIMAND,
CORNELIUS,

courtiers.
ROSENCRANTZ,
GuildENSTERN,
Osric, a courtier.
Another Courtier.
A Priest.
MARCELLUS,

officers.
BERNARDO,
FRANCISCO, a soldier.
REYNALDO, servant to Polonius.
A Captain. An Ambassador.
Ghost of Hamlet's father.
FORTINBRAS, prince of Norway.

[ocr errors]

Gertrude, queen of Denmark, and mother of Hamlet. Ophelia, daughter of Polonius.

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, Grave-diggers,

Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants.

Scene, Elsinore.

a Hamlet,] i. e. Amleth. The h transferred from the end to the beginning of the name.-STEEVENS.

HAMLET,

PRINCE OF DENMARK.

ACT I.

SCENE I.- Elsinore.

Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle. FRANCISCO on his Post. Enter to him BERNARDO. Ber. Who's there? Fran.

Nay, answer me :a stand, and unfold Yourself.

Ber. Long live the king !
Fran.

Bernardo?
Ber.

He. Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour. Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Fran

cisco.
Fran. For this relief, much thanks : 'tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart.

Ber. Have you had quiet guard ?
Fran.

Not a mouse stirring.
Ber. Well, good night,
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS. Fran. I think, I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who is there? Hor. Friends to this ground. Mar.

And liegemen to the Dane. Fran. Give you good night. a-me:) i. e: Me who am already on the watch, and have a right to demand the watch.word.-STEEVENS.

-rivals-) i. e. Partners.

« PreviousContinue »