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version, which he uses in Italy, before he encounters the criticism of Shakespeare's countrymen. Mr. Irving has exchanged Hamlet for another Shakespearian rôle, after having given the almost incredible number of two hundred consecutive representations of the part : it was inevitable that his performance should suffer from so fatigning a persistence in it, and I trust, for the sake of art, such a call may never again be made pn his strength. Acting is an art which cannot be preserved in any perfection, unless the actor has the opportunity of changing, not unfrequently, the character which he represents. If a painter were to spend a year in painting the same subject over and over again, he would lose most of whatever skill he ever possessed ; his delicacy of touch would be seriously impaired; his colouring would be apt to grow coarse and careless; while his artistic perception would be diminished, and his power of execution would be worn away by very weariness. Art must have variety, or it pines and becomes cramped. I have ventured to make these remarks because the opinion I have incidentally expressed, in different parts of this work, of Mr. Irving's Hamlet was formed in the course of his first twenty performances; and, judging by the portion that I saw of his two-hundredth performance, I should say that the prolonged strain on his powers had told prejudicially on his execution of what was, undeniably, a singularly fine conception of the character. The charming grace, and melodious elocution, of Signor Salvini could not be obscured by the fact that he was under the disadvantage of speaking a language, with which but very few of his audience were familiar: he has, by his performance of Othello and Hamlet, won a position among Englishmen, as an in.terpreter of Shakespeare, which few of our own countrymen have gained. Ernesto Rossi, whose style is totally different *

* A writer in the Times, speaking of Rossi's Othello, as given in Paris, said that the two great Italian actors were as similar in style as Phelps from that of Salvini, though he is in grace and talent his most worthy rival, will be sure of a generous welcome : his appearance amongst us will stimulate that revived interest in Shakespeare's plays which has been such a marked feature of the last year. As far as regards the Hamlet of the three great actors I have named, I should say that Salvini's interpretation was the most tender, Rossi's the most passionate, and Irving's the most intellectual.

Now that it has been proved that the plays of Shakespeare can be made to bring money as well as glory to the managers, I live in the hopes of seeing some performances of our greatest dramatist's masterpieces worthy of the honour in which we hold him. I do not mean as regards scenery and dresses, but as regards the representation of the characters themselves; one good actor cannot make an efficient cast; and unless the minor characters in Shakespeare's plays are adequately represented, it is impossible to form any just conception of the excellence of his work. This can only be effected by actors, managers, and audiences, uniting together in making greater sacrifices to Art than they have hitherto seemed willing to do. · The text from which I have quoted throughout is the "Cambridge Shakespeare." All the references are to that edition, which I cannot praise too highly. The text of the Quarto 1603, which I have used, is that contained in Allen's Reprint, entitled “The Devonshire 'Hamlets,'” in which the Quartos of 1603 and 1604 are exactly reprinted in facsimile side by side. It is a most valuable book. I have exercised all possible care in the revision of the letterpress, especially of the quotations. For what few mistakes have still crept in I crave pardon.

and Macready. I never saw Macready, but I am sure that all, who have seen Rossi and Salvini in the part, will admit that there could scarcely be two more dissimilar interpretations of Hamlet.

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The three first Parts have been in print for some time ; various circumstances prevented my finishing the work, and delayed its publication. I hope I have succeeded in availing myself to some extent of the more important additions that have been made to Shakespearian criticism, especially as regards “Hamlet,” since I began my task. I do not profess to have read all, or nearly all, that has been published on the subject; but I can honestly say that the number of works referred to in the course of this book does not include one half of those I have consulted,

It only remains for me to thank most sincerely those friends, some of them men whose names are honoured in literature, who have helped me with their advice and encouragement. To Mr. Frederic Broughton, who has given me most valuable and timely aid in the revision of the work, I owe especial thanks. I also may perhaps be allowed to express my gratitude to my amanuensis, Mr. G. J. White, who, though suffering from a long and painful illness, has by his care and intelligence in verifying quotations and authorities, and in the laborious collation* of the first Quarto (1603) with the text of the Cambridge edition, been of invaluable service to me.

* See Foot-note, page 163,

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CONTENTS.

PART 1.
“ HAMLET" popular, 9 ; cause of popularity, 9 ; " love interest." subordinate to

love for his father, 10. Hamlet's weakness of action, '10 ; his sympathy for
good and contempt of evil, 12 fidelity to friends. 12 uncongeniality
of his position, 12–13. Summary of remarks, 13–14; reasons for making
them, 14. Voltaire's abuse of Shakespeare, 14–15. Criticisms on Shake-
speare, 15.-16. Excellency of Schlegel, 16. Hamlet's first entrance, 16–17;
first soliloquy, 18. Entrance of Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo, 18–19.
Hamlet hears of the appearance of the Ghost, 19; his meeting with the
Ghost, 19–21 ; second soliloquy, 21 ; remarks on it, 22. Coleridge's idea of
Hamlet's madness, 22. Time elapsing between 1st and 2nd Acts, 23 ; how
Hamlet employed it, 23. Malone's remark on his assumption of madness,
23. Hamlet's resolve to break off his affectionate relations with Ophelia, 24 ;

her account of the last interview to Polonius, 24; remarks on his conduct,
V25—26. Was Hamlet guilty of the ruin of Ophelia ? 26 ; Polonius' device

to tes his lov for Ophelia, 27; their meeting, 27. Explanation the
scene with Ophelia, 28--29,

PART II.

Reception of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern by King and Queen, 31. Polonius a

satire on Lord Burleigh, 32. Hamlet's welcome of Rosencrantz and Guil.
denstern, 32-33; he discovers they were “sent for," 33 - 34; his treatment
at Court, 34; and non-assumption of madness before Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern, 34. Mischievous raillery against Polonius on announcing the
arrival of players, 34–35; excuses for it, 36; interview with players, 35.
Third soliloquy, 36 ;"remarks on it, 37- 89. Interval between 2nd and 3rd
Acts, 39. King's interview with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, 39. «Fourth
soliloquy, 39--40 ;v remarks on it, 41.-42. Design of sending Hamlet to

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