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which they give is narrated with so much interest, that while it bespeaks the genius of Shakspere, proves also how justly he drew his inspirations from streams enriched with the purest gems, the scene being interspersed with passages of great poetical beauty. Horatio not giving credence to the story, he bids Bernardo proceed in his relation ; and here we cannot refrain from offering our tribute of admiration, when we find the poet, in a strain of high sublimity, regulating the walking of the spirit, by the course of the evening star; there is something truly solemn, when Bernardo says:
6. Last night of all,
With our minds under the influence of this sublime allusion, the Ghost suddenly enters. Horatio, harrowed with fear, trembles and turns pale, and amidst a variety of reflections, supposes that this supernatural event, “ bodes some strange eruption to the state." He alludes to the assembling of the forces under young Fortinbras, with the intent of invading Denmark, and seems to think that it is from Norway the apprehended danger is to come. There is great art in this; while the poet continues to give effect to the scene by Horatio alluding to that portion of Roman history, which relates to the death of Julius Cæsar, when,
- In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
Disasters veil'd the sun; and the moist star,
The true cause of the appearance of the Ghost, yet veiled in mystery, cannot, however, be comprehended by Horatio and his companions: the secret could only be revealed to Hamlet ; but the address of Horatio to the shade of the murdered king is truly impressive, and quite in accordance with the traditions of a superstitious age :
"Stay illusion !
At the crowing of the cock, the ghost vanishes, an incident though apparently trivial, is very beautifully adverted to, notwithstanding the ridicule with which this circumstance has been assailed (3): The first scene of the play closes by Horatio, resolving to inform his young friend Hamlet, of what he had seen, and in a strain of great beauty, reminds his associates, that their night watch is up, and day approaching;
But look, the morn in russet mantle clad,
In an after scene of the piece, we witness Hamlet in communion with the spirit of his father ; his terror, his astonishment, and ardent desire to know the cause of this visitation, are evinced by the address which he makes to the ghost, and during this interview we are influenced by no small degree of emotion, when we hear a voice from the grave, deliver to the young prince, the solemn mandate of revenging “a foul and most unnatural murder;" — eager to hear the tale whose lightest word was to “ harrow up his soul," Hamlet says,
Haste me to know it; that I with wings as swift
The scene becomes sad and deeply affecting-every circum. stance melts us with compassion, and inspires us with horror, no author, either in ancient or modern times, ever related a tale pregnant with so much pity and terror.
In our first interview with Hamlet, we at once discover the melancholy of his disposition; we meet him where Claudius and Gertrude are giving audience to Polonius, Laertes, and other courtiers, upon the occasion of the king's assumption of the throne ; Claudius observing the grief of Hamlet, his mother endeavours to console him, but the reply of the prince, is in language, that indicates the sorrow, which had taken possession of his soul, accompanied with sentiments, that imply, how far custom has ever set too much importance upon the show of external habits, whereby, a false gloss not unfrequently conceals the real feelings of the human heart;- this passage which so deeply awakens our interest in favor of Hamlet the Dane, is given by the poet with great truth and beauty.
QUEEN.-Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
HAMLET.-Ay, madam, it is common,
If it be,
HAMLET.-Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not seems.
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Hamlet is ultimately left alone, when he repeats the beautiful soliloquy, “O that this too, too solid flesh would melt" which with so much eloquence denotes those qualities of the heart, that rendered him altogether unfit, to encounter the difficulties he was destined to perform.
The mandate of revenging his father's death, deeply engraven on the mind of Hamlet, leads him to obliterate from the tablets of his memory," the consideration of every other object, and in the pursuit of this task, in a conference with his friend Horatio, he resolves with the view of concealing from the King his designs, to assume the air and appearance of madness ;-at this interview, he says to Horatio,
How strange or odd so e'er I bear myself,
This scheme seemingly fraught with sound policy, surrounded as Hamlet was, by the base parasites of a corrupt and vicious court, has however excited among the commentators of Shakspere, much criticism, some maintaining that the counterfeit of insanity was totally unnecessary, and not in any way conducive to the plot, whilst others, overlooking the peculiar temperament of the prince, have been disposed to consider his melancholy as the result of madness itself, rendering as they affirm, this stratagem, as entirely superfluous ;-amongst those authors who have thought that the madness of Hamlet was not altogether feigned, Dr Akenside and Dr. Ferriar may be ranked, whilst an illustrious poet of the present day, asserts with equal confidence, that Hamlet's disposition being interwoven with a morbid sensibility, the whole tenor of his conduct must be looked upon as a species of insanity (4); the sensibility ascribed to Hamlet proceeding however from that delicacy of structure of the nervous system which gives to the individual those qualities of perception, and keen feeling, so peculiar to the tender frame of woman, as well as men of fine and acute imagination, should not here strictly come under the term morbid, so long, as the powers of reason are left evidently unimpaired (6); in the beautiful delineation which Shakspere has given, he has exhibited to us, a mind weak and irresolute, yet apparently free from the wanderings of a depraved imagination, for, the circumstance of