Page images
PDF
EPUB

the oldest copy now extant is said to be enlarged to almost as much againe as it was.' Gabriel Harvey printed at the end of the year 1592, · Foure letters and certaine Sonnetts, especially touching Robert Greene :' in one of which his Arcadia is mentioned. Now Nash's Epistle must have been previous to these, as Gabriel is quoted in it with applause; and the Foure Letters were the beginning of a quarrel. Nash replied in 'Strange News of the intercepting certaine Letters, and a Convoy of Verses, as they were going privilie to victual the Low Countries, 1593.' Harvey rejoined the same year in · Pierce's Supererogation, or a new Praise of the old Asse.' And Nash again, in • Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriell Harvey's Hunt is up ;' containing a full answer to the eldest sonne of the haltermaker, 1596.'— Nash died before 1606, as appears from an old comedy called The Return from Parnassus. Steevens.

A play on the subject of Hamlet had been exhibited on the stage before the year 1589, of which Thomas Kyd was, I be. lieve, the author. On that play, and on the bl. 1. Historie of Hamblet, our poet, I conjecture, constructed the tragedy before

The earliest edition of the prose-narrative which I have seen, was printed in 1608, but it undoubtedly was a re-publication.

Shakspeare's Hamlet was written, if my conjecture be well founded, in 1596. Malone.

us.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

Cladius, king of Denmark.
Hamlet, son to the former, and nephew to the present,

king.
Polonius, lord chamberlain,
Horatio, friend to Hamlet.
Laertes, son to Polonius.
Voltimand,
Cornelius,

courtiers.
Rosencrantz,
Guildenstern,
Osric, a courtier.
Another courtier.
A priest.
Marcellus,
Bernardo
Francisco, a soldier.
Reynaldo, servant to Polonius.
A captain. An ambassador.
Ghost of Hamlet's father.
Fortinbras, prince of Norway.

Gertrude, queen of Denmark, and mother of Hamlet.
Ophelia, daughter of Polonius.

Lords, ladies, officers, soldiers, players, grave-diggers,

sailors, messengers, and other attendants.

SCENE, Elsinore.

1 Hamlet,] i. e. Amleth. The h transferred from the end to the beginning of the name. Steevens,

HAMLET,

PRINCE OF DENMARK.

ACT I....SCENE I.

Elsinore. A Platform before the Castle. FRANCISCO on his post. Enter to him BERNARDÓ.

Ber. Who's there?
Fran.

Nay, answer me:: stand, and unfold Yourself.

Ber. Long live the king !3
Fran.

Bernardo?
Ber.

He. Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour. Ber. 'Tis now struck twelve ;4 get thee to bed, Fran

cisco. Fran. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.

Ber. Have you had quiet guard?
Fran.

Not a mouse stirring.
Ber. Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

2

me:

e:] i. e. me who am already on the watch, and have a right to demand the watch-word. Steevens.

3 Long live the king!] This sentence appears to have been the watch-word. Malone.

4 'Tis now struck twelve ;] I strongly suspect that the true reading is-new struck &c. So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, sc. i:

“ But new struck nine.” Steevens. 5 The rivals of my watch,] Rivals for partners. Warburton.

Rival is constantly used by Shakspeare for a partner or associate. Malone.

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS. Fran. I think, I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who is there? Hor. Friends to this ground. Mar.

And liegemen to the Dane. Fran. Give you good night. Mar.

O, farewel, honest soldier: Who hath reliev'd you? Fran.

Bernardo hath my place. Give you good night.

[Exit FRAN. Mar.

Holla! Bernardo!
Ber.

Say,
What, is Horatio there?
Hor.

A piece of him.
Ber. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Marcellus.
Hor. What," has this thing appeared again to-night?
Ber. I have seen nothing.

Mar. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy;
And will not let belief take hold of him,
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:
Therefore I have entreated him along,
With us to watch the minutes of this night;8
That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve our eyes, and speak to it.

8

6 Hor. A piece of him.] But why a piece? He says this as he gives his hand. Which direction should be marked. Warburton.

A piece of him, is, I believe, no more than a cant expression. It is used, however, on a serious occasion in Pericles: “ Take in your arms this piece of your dead queen."

Steevens. 7 Hor. What, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1604. Steevens. These words are in the folio given to Marcellus. Malone.

- the minutes of this night;] This seems to have been an expression common in Shakspeare's time. I find it in one of Ford's plays, The Fancies chaste and noble, Act V:

“ I promise ere the minutes of the night." Steevens.

approve our eyes,] Add a new testimony to that of our eyes. Johnson. So, in King Lear:

this approves her letter, “ That she would soon be here." See Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, sc. i. Steevens. He may approve our eyes,] He may make good the testimony of our eyes; be assured by his own experience of the truth of that which we have related, in consequence of having been eye

9

Hor. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.
Bér,

Sit down awhile;
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.!
Hor.

Well, sit we down, And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

Ber. Last night of all, When yon same star, that 's westward from the pole, Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcellus, and myself, The bell then beating one, Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

Enter Ghost. Ber. In the same figure, like the king that 's dead. Mar. Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio. Ber. Looks it not like the king? mark it, Horatio. Hor. Most like :-it harrows me with fear, and wonder.

witnesses to it. To approve, in Shakspeare's age, signified to make good, or establish, and is so defined in Cawdrey's Alphabetical Table of hard English Words, 8vo. 1604. So, in King Lear :

“ Good king that must approve the common saw!
" Thou out of heaven's benediction com'st

“To the warm sun.” Malone. 1 What we two nights have seen.] This line is by Sir Thomas Hanmer given to Marcellus, but without necessity. Johnson.

2 Thou art a scholar, speak to it, Horatio.] It has always been a vulgar notion, that spirits and supernatural beings can only be spoken to with propriety or effect by persons of learning. Thus, Toby, in The Night-walker, by Beaumont and Fletcher, says:

It grows still longer,
“ 'Tis steeple-high now; and it sails away, nurse.

Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,

And that will daunt the devil." In like manner the honest butler, in Mr. Addison's Drummer, recommends the steward to speak Latin to the ghost in that play.

Reed. it harrows me &c.] To harrow is to conquer, to subdue. The word is of Saxon origin. So, in the old black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys :

" He swore by him that harrowed hell.” Milton has adopted this phrase in his Comus :

Amaz'd I stood, harrowed with grief and fear!" Steevens.

[ocr errors]

3

« PreviousContinue »