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Fallen on the inventors' heads. All this can I
Fort. Let us haste to hear it,
Hor. Of that I shall have also cause to speak,
Let four captains Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage ; For he was likely, had he been put on, To have proved most royally ; and, for his passage, The soldier's music, 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
1 i. e. some rights which are remembered in this kingdom.
The following scene in the first quarto, 1603, differs so materially from the revised play, that it has been thought it would not be unacceptable to the reader :
Enter Horatio and the Queen.
Hor. Madam, your son is safe arrived in Denmarke ;
Queen. Then I perceive there's treason in his looks,
Hor. Yes, madam, and he hath appointed me
Queen. O fail not, good Horatio, and withal commend me
Hor. Madam, never make doubt of that:
Queen. But what became of Gilderstone and Rossencraft?
Hor. He being set ashore, they went for England,
Queen. Thanks be to Heaven for blessing of the prince.
Hor. Madam, adieu !
If the dramas of Shakspeare were to be characterized, each by the particular excellence which 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 solemnitywith 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, exhibiting 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 a usurper and a murderer, is abated by the untimely death of Ophelia, the young, the beautiful, the harmless, and the pious.
OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE.
The story is taken from the collection of Novels, by Gio Giraldi Cinthio, entitled Hecatommithi, being the seventh novel of the third decad. No English translation of so early a date as the age of Shakspeare has hitherto been discovered; but the work was translated into French, by Gabriel Chappuys, Paris, 1584. The version is not a faithful one; and Dr. Farmer suspects that through this medium the novel came into English.
The name of Othello may have been suggested by some tale which has escaped our researches, as it occurs in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Adultery, standing in one of his arguments as follows:—“She marries Othello, an old German soldier.” This history (the eighth) is professed to be an Italian one; and here, also, the name of Iago occurs. It is likewise found in The History of the famous Euordanus, Prince of Denmark; with the strange Adventures of lago, Prince of Saxonie, 4to. 1605. It may, indeed, be urged, that these names were adopted from the tragedy before us; but every reader who is conversant with the peculiar style and method in which the work of honest John Reynolds is composed, will acquit him of the slightest familiarity with the scenes of Shakspeare.-Steevens.
The time of this play may be ascertained from the following circuinstances :-Selymus the Second formed his design against Cyprus in 1569, and took it in 1571. This was the only attempt the Turks ever made upon that island after it came into the hands of the Venetians (which was in 1473); wherefore the time must fall in with some part of that interval. We learn from the play, that there was a junction of the Turkish fleet at Rhodes, in order for the invasion of Cyprus ; that it first came sailing towards Cyprus ; then went to Rhodes, there met another squadron, and then resumed its way to Cyprus. These are real historical facts, which happened when Mustapha, Selymus's general, attacked Cyprus, in May, 1570; which is, therefore, the true period of this performance.See Knolles's History of the Turks, p. 838, 846, 867.— Reed.
The first edition of this play, of which we have any certain knowledge,