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Ham. Good madam,
King

Gertrude, do not drink.
Queen. I will, my lord ;– I pray you, pardon me.
King. It is the poison'd cup; it is too late. [Aside.
Ham. I dare not drink yet, madam; by and by.
Queen. Come, let me wipe thy face.
Laer. My lord, I'll hit him now.
King

I do not think it.
Laer. And yet it is almost against my conscience.

[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,

[They play.
Osr. Nothing neither way.
Laer. Have at you now.

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then, in scuffling,

they change Rapiers, and Hamlet wounds

LAERTES.
King

Part them, they are incens’d.
Ham. Nay, come again.

[The Queen falls.
Osr.

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;
I am justly kill’d with mine own treachery.

Ham. How does the queen?
King.

She swoons to see them bleed.
Queen. No, no, the drink, the drink,-0 my dear

Hamlet !
The drink, the drink ;-I am poison'd!

Ham. O villainy !-Ho! let the door be lock’d:
Treachery! seek it out.

(LAERTES falls.
Laer. It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain;
No medicine in the world can do thee good,
In thee there is not half an hour's life;
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated, and envenom'd: the foul practice
Hath turn’d itself on me; lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again : Thy mother's poison’d;

you make a wunton of me.] i. e. You trifle with me; make child's play.

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[Dies.

d

I can no more; the king, the king's to blame.

Ham. The point
Envenom'd too!—Then, venom, to thy work.

[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;
It is a poison temper'd by himself.-
Exchange forgiveness with me, noble Hamlet:
Mine and my father's death come not upon thee;
Nore thine on me!

[Dies.
Ham. Heaven make thee free of it! I follow thee.
I am dead, Horatio :-Wretched queen, adieu !
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
That are but mutes or audience to this act.
Had I but time, (as this fell sergeant,& death,
Is strict in his arrest,) O, I could tell you, “
But let it be:-Horatio, I am dead;
Thou liv’st; report me and my cause aright
To the unsatisfied.
Hor.

Never believe it;
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane,
Here's yet some liquor left.

As thou’rt a man,-
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?

Ham.

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?
Hor.

What is it, you would see? If aught of woe, or wonder, cease your search,

Fort. This quarry cries on havock !LO proud death!
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,
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?
Hor.

Not from his mouth,"
Had it the ability of life to thank you ;
He
never

gave commandment for their death.

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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.

n

For me,

But since, so jump 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 came about: So shall you hear
Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts;o
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;
Of deaths put one by cunning, and forc'd cause ;
And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on the inventors' heads: all this can I
Truly deliver.

Fort. Let us haste to hear it, And call the noblest to the audience. 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 mischance,
On plots, and errors, happen.
Fort.

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,
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 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

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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."

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