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Ham. Good madam,
Gertrude, do not drink.
I do not think it.
[Aside. Ham. Come, for the third, Laertes: You do but dally; I
pray you, pass with your best violence; I am afeard, you make a wanton of me." Laer. Say you so? come on,
[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling,
they change Rapiers, and Hamlet wounds
Part them, they are incens’d.
[The Queen falls.
Look to the queen there, ho! Hor. They bleed on both sides :-How is it, my lord ? Osr. How is't, Laertes ?
Laer. Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric;
Ham. How does the queen?
She swoons to see them bleed.
Ham. O villainy !-Ho! let the door be lock’d:
you make a wunton of me.] i. e. You trifle with me; make child's play.
I can no more; the king, the king's to blame.
Ham. The point
[Stabs the King. Osr. 8. Lords. Treason! treason! King. O, yet defend me, friends, I am but hurt.
Ham. Here thou incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane, Drink off this potion :-Is the union here ? Follow my mother.
[King Dies. Laer.
He is justly serv'd;
Never believe it;
As thou’rt a man,-
[March afar off, and Shot within.
Is the union here?] It should seen from this line, and Laertes' next speech, that Hamlet here forces the expiring king to drink some of the poisoned cup, and that he dies while it is at his lips.-MALONE.
That are brut mutes or audience to this aci,] That are either auditors of this catastrophe, or at most only mute performers, that fill the stage without any part in the action.—Johnson.
i-sergeant,] i. e. Bailiff, or sheriff's officer.—Ritson.
Osr. Young Fortinbras, with conquest come from To the ambassadors of England gives
[Poland, This warlike volley. Ham.
0, I die, Horatio ; The potent poison quite o'er-crows my spirit; I cannot live to hear the news from England: But I do prophecy, the election lights On Fortinbras; be has my dying voice; So tell him, with the occurrents,' more or less, Which have solicited, The rest is silence. [Dies.
Hor. Now cracks a noble heart;-Good night, sweet And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! [prince; 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? If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search,
Fort. This quarry cries on havock !LO proud death!
The sight is dismal ;
Not from his mouth,"
gave commandment for their death.
h The potent poison quite o'er-crows —] Alluding to a victorious cock exulting over his conquered antagonist.–STEEVENS.
occurrents,] i. e. Incidents.
solicited,] For excited. ? This quarry cries on havock !) To cry on, was to esclaim against. I suppose, when unfair sportsmen destroyed more quarry or game than was reasonable, the censure was to cry, havock.-Johnson.
m What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,] The allusion is to the chose, or feasts of the dead, which were anciently celebrated at Athens, and are mentioned by Plutarch in The Life of Antonius.--STEEVENS.
- his mouth,] i. e. The king's.
But since, so jump upon this bloody question,
Fort. Let us haste to hear it, And call the noblest to the audience. with sorrow I embrace
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,
Let four captains
[A Dead March. [Exeunt, bearing off the dead Bodies; after
which a Peal of Ordnance is shot off." • Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts;] Of sanguinary and unnatural acts, to which the perpetrator was instigated by concupiscence, or, to use our poet's own words, by "carnal stings.” The speaker alludes to the murder of old Hamlet by his brother, previous to his incestuous union with Gertrude.MALONE.
put on--] i.e. Instigated, produced.
some rights of memory in this kingdom,] Some rights, which are remembered in this kingdom -M ALONE.
' If the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterised, each by the particular excellence wbich 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, exbibiting 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 an usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.—Johnson.
* In a note on the scene an attempt is made to show that this severity of conduct was neither wanton or cruel on the part of Hamlet. The following remarks by Dr. Ferriar, Essay on Apparitions, p. 114, are so ingenious, and shed so much ligbt on the character of Hamlet, that I cannot forbear inserting them.
Shakspeare's character of Hamlet can only be understood on the supposition of latent lunacy. He feigns madness for political purposes, while the poet means to represent his understanding as really (and unconsciously to himself) udhinged by the cruel circumstances in which he is placed. The horror of the communication made by his father's spectre; the necessity of belying his attachment to an innocent and deserving object; the certainty of bis mother's guilt; and the supernatural impulse by which he is goaded to an act of assassination, abhorrent to his nature ; are causes sufficient to overwhelm and distract a mind previously disposed to “weakness and melancholy,' and originally full of tenderness and natural affection. By referring to the play, it will be seen, that his real insanity is only developed after the mock play. Then, in place of a systematic conduct, conducive to his purposes, he becomes irresolute, inconsequent, and the plot appears to stand unaccountably still. Instead of striking at his object, he resigns himself to the current of events, and sinks at length, ignobly, under the stream." This opinion of Dr. Ferriar's coincides with that of Goethe, who in William Meister's Apprenticeship, b. iv. c. 13, says, " It is clear to me that Shakspeare's intention was to exhibit the effects of a great action, imposed as a duty on a mind too feeble for its accomplishment. In this sense, I find the character consistent throughout. Here is an oak tree planted in a china vase, proper only to receive the most delicate flowers. The roots strike out and the vessel flies to pieces."