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“ Ham. Who commands them, sir?
It is to be noticed, too, that the absence of this dialogue and soliloquy from the quarto of 1603 is no proof whatever that they were not written when the copy for that edition was prepared ; and this for the all-sufficient reason that they are also wanting in the folio itself, which was printed twenty years afterwards. It seems almost certain that these passages were omitted in the representation, and struck out of the stage copy from which the folio was printed, owing to the great length of the play, and a lack of popular interest consequent upon their speculative character. And it is also safe to conclude that the same considerations led the procurer of the copy for the surreptitious edition to withhold even a garbled version of them, if, indeed, they were not already omitted in the performance at the time when he did his work.
And this brings us to another branch of the evidence in the case. There are many important passages of the completed play of which there is no vestige in the quarto of 1603; which would seem to favor the conclusion that that edition represents but an early sketch of Shakespeare's work, especially as some of them are reflective in character, and all indicate maturity of power. Of these I will mention the lines about the ominous appearances in Rome “ere the mightiest Julius fell,” Act I. Sc. 1; all that part of Hamlet’s censure of T)anish drunkenness beginning, “This heavy-headed revel,” Act I. Sc. 4; the reflection upon “that monster custom,” Act III. Sc. 4; the soliloquy just above alluded to, Act IV. Sc. 4; the euphuistic passage between Osric and Hamlet beginning, “Sir, here is newly come to court, Laertes,” Act W. Sc. 2.; and the Prince’s brief colloquy with a Lord in the same Scene. But the absence of these passages from the first quarto is deprived of all bearing upon the question of the state of the play which that edition professed to represent by the fact that they are likewise lacking in the folio. On the other hand, there are passages in the folio which are not found in the second quarto, enlarged though it was “to almost as much againe” as the play had been before, “according to the true and perfect copy;” and of these passages there are traces at least in the quarto of 1603. Such is the passage about the company of child actors, – “How comes it Do they grow rusty " and seven speeches afterwards, * Act II. Sc. 2, — which, although entirely lacking in the second quarto, is thus represented in the first : —
“Ham. How comes it that they trauell? Do they grow restie :
There are other vestiges in the quarto of 1603 of passages which do not appear in that of 1604, but which are found in the folio ; and, although they are of minor importance, they go to show none the less that the surreptitious text of 1603 and the authentic text of twenty years later had a common origin. In some parts of the first quarto the arrangement of the Scenes is not the same as in that of the subsequent editions, which might seem to favor the supposition that the play was recast after its first production. But the order of the earliest edition in these cases is mere disorder, resulting from the inability of the person who superintended the preparation of the copy for the press to arrange even the materials at hand in their proper sequence. As evidence of this, it is only necessary to state that the soliloquy “To be, or not to be” (Act III. Sc. 1) is introduced in the quarto of 1603 immediately after the proposal by Polonius (Act II. Sc. 2) that Ophelia shall lure Hamlet into an exhibition of his madness. It is immediately preceded by the command of her father —
* “ Ham. How comes it? Do they grow rusty Ros. Nay, their endeavour keeps in the wonted pace: But there is, sir. an aiery of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, and are most tyranically clapped for 't; these are now the fashion; and so berattle the common stages, (so they call them,) that many, wearing rapiers, are afraid of goose-quills, and dare scarce come thither. . Ham. What, are they children 7 who maintains them? how are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality, no longer than they can sing? will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players, (as it most like, if their means are no better,) their writers do them wrong, to make them exclaim against their own succession ? Ros. 'Faith, there has been much to do on both sides; and the nation holds it no sin, to tarre them on to controversy: there was, for a while, no money bid for argument, unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question. Ham. Is it possible? . Guil. O, there has been much throwing about of brains. Ham. Do the boys carry it away? Ros. Ay, that they do, my lord; Hercules and his load too.”
VOL. XI. B
“And here Ofelia, read you on this booke,
and, as in the true and perfect copy, it closes with the entreaty — “Lady in thy orizons be all my sins remembred; ”
and yet, according to the imperfect, as well as the perfect text, Ophelia is not upon the stage | The circumstance that in two Scenes Hamlet enters just as the same personages (the King, the Queen, and Ophelia's father) leave the stage, misled the purloiner of the text for the first edition into the supposition that the old courtier's suggestion in the earlier Scene was immediately followed.
But the text of the first quarto presents two features of difference from that of any subsequent edition which cannot be attributed to accident or haste. These are the names of Ophelia's father and of his servant, (who in that edition are called Corambis and Montano,) and the existence of a Scene which (in form, though not in substance) has no counterpart in the authentic text. The Scene in question is a brief one between Horatio and the Queen. It succeeds that of Ophelia's insanity; and in it Horatio informs Hamlet’s mother of the manner in which her son escaped the plot laid by the King to have him put to death in England. It is worth our while to quote this Scene entire.
“Hor. Madame, your sonne is safe arriv'de in Denmarke,
Queene. Then I percieue there's treason in his lookes
But I will soothe and please him for a time,
Isere, at last, is no confusion or mutilation; all is coherent and complete; but, on the other hand, there is heaviness of form, emptiness of matter. Plainly Shakespeare never wrote this feeble stuff: it is an interpolation. What he did write, having the same purpose, the reader will find in the beginning of the second Scene of Act W.; and he will notice, that the occurrences which Hamlet in that version relates to Horatio are exactly the same as those of which in this Horatio informs the Queen, even to the use of the dead King's seal, to which there is no allusion in the old history. But it is to be observed that neither in Hamlet’s letter to Horatio nor in any other part of the authentic text is ...there a hint of an appointed meeting between them “on the east side of the city to-morrow morning.” From these circumstances it appears that the Scene in the first edition does 'not represent a counterpart in Shakespeare's Hamlet which the procurer of the copy for that edition had failed to obtain. It seems rather a remnant of a previous play upon the same subject. Such I believe it and the names Corambis and Montano to be. We have seen, by Henslowe's Diary, that there was a Hamlet performed on the 9th of June, 1594. Henslowe heads the leaves upon which this memorandum is entered, “In the name of God, Amen, beginning at newington, my lord admirell men and my lord chamberlem men as followeth, 1594.” Here we have a Hamlet played in 1594 at a theatre where the company to which Shakespeare belonged was performing: in 1602 the same company still perform a Hamlet; and we know of no play of the same name performed at any other theatre. It seems at least most probable, then, that this tragedy belonged from the first to that “cry of players;” and I believe that when they shortened it (for the pruning was plainly their work, and not the poet's, as the case of the Scene which opens with the entry of Fortenbras and his army makes manifest) they omitted Hamlet's long, discursive relation to Horatio of his stratagem against Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and, as the story must be told, introduced the short Scene between Horatio and the Queen from the old play, which, according to the stage practice of that time, (and perhaps even of our day,) they had a perfect right to do. As to two names from an older play, nothing is more probable than that Shakespeare himself should have retained them. But when, in the height of his reputation as a poet and a dramatist, 1603, he saw a mutilated, and in some parts caricatured, version of his most thoughtful work surreptitiously published, nothing also is more probable than that he, and his fellow-players with him, should send immediately “the true and perfect copy” to the press, and that from this, in case it had not been done before, he should eliminate even the slightest traces of the previous drama, if they were but two names. I have hardly a doubt that this was done, and that the quarto of 1604 was printed from a copy of the tragedy obtained with the consent of its author and the company to which it belonged. It would be most gratifying to share the opinion which has so generally obtained in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe, that the text of the first quarto of this play is an imperfect copy of the first sketch, written in Shakespeare's early years, and that a comparison of it with the later text enables us, in the recent words of F. Victor Hugo, “pénétrer jusq’au