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Whatever happens to him, we apply to ourselves; because he applies it so himself, as a means of general reasoning.
3. He is a great moralizer, and what makes him worth attending to, is, that he moralizes on his own feelings and expe. rience. He is not a commonplace pedant. If LEAR shows the greatest depth of passion, HAMLET is the most remarkable for the ingenuity, originality, and unstudied development of character. There is no attempt to force an interest : every thing is left for time and circumstances to unfold. The attention is excited without effort; the incidents succeed each other as matters of course; the characters think, and speak, and act, just as they might do, if left entirely to themselves. There is 10 set purpose, no straining at a point.
4. The observations are suggested by the passing scene—the gusts of passion come and go like sounds of music borne on the wind. The whole play is an exact transcript of what might be supposed to have taken place at the court of Denmark, at the remote period of time fixed upon, before the modern refinements in morals and manners were heard of. It would have been interesting enough to have been admitted, as a by-stander in such a scene, at such a time, to have heard and seen something of what was going on.
5. But here we are more than spectators. We have not only “the outward pageants and the signs of grief,” but “
we have that within which passes show." We read the thoughts of the heart, we catch the passions living as they rise. . Other dramatic writers give us very fine versions and paraphrases of nature; but Shakspeare, together with his own comment, gives us the original text, that we may judge for ourselves. This is a great advantage.
6. The character of Hamlet is itself a pure effusion of genius. It is not a character marked by strength of will, or even of passion, but by refinement of thought and sentimen'. Hamlet is as little of the hero as man well can be : but he is a young and princely novice, full of high enthusiasm and quick sensi. bility,—the sport of circumstances, questioning with fortune,
and refining on his own feelings; and forced from the natural bias of his disposition by the strangeness of his situation
THE PLAY or Hamlet is founded upon a story derived, it is said, by Shakspeare, from Saxo Grammaticus, a Danish historian, who died in the year 1204. Hamlet's father, the king of Denmark, while asleep in his orchard, is murdered by his own brother; the queen, Hamlet's mother, being privy to it. The story is given out, that he came to his death by the sting of a serpent. But the ghost of the murdered king appearing to Hamlet, reveals the terrible secret, and summons his son to the task of vengeance.
SCENE FROM HAMLET.
ELSINORE. Room of State in the Castle. The King, (Harc
let's uncle,) THE QUEEN, (his mother,) HAMLET, POLONIUS, (the Lord Chamberlain,) and others.
King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
and that it us befitted
Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.
King How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
If it be,
Ham. Not so, my lord, I am too much i' the sun.
Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
Ham. Ay, madam, it is common.
Ham. Seems, madam, nay, it is; I know not seems.
King. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
you must know, your father lost a father;
the most vulgar thing to sense,
To reason most absurd; whose common theme
[Exeunt all except Hamlet
* Hypēlrion is but another name for Apollo, who was distinguished for his beauty; a sā' tyr was a sort of demi-god monstrous in deformity,
† Nil o be, daughter of an ancient king of Lydia, being deprived of her children, is said to have wept herself to stone !
Ere the salt of most unrighteous tears
Enter HORATIO (a friend to Hamlet, BERNARDO and MAR.
I am glad to see you well : Horatio, -or I do forget myself.
Por. The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever
Ham. I pray thee, do not mock me, fellow-student;
Hor. Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
Ham. Thrift, thrift, Horatio ! the funeral baked meats
Ham. He was a man, take him for all in all,
Hor My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
The king, my father
For God's love, let me hoar