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"Habito Antico di Giovani nobile ornato per far l'amore." The female costume of the same period con
He assigns no particular date to it, but the sisted of a robe, or super-tunic, flowing in gracepointed cowl, or hood, depending from the ful folds to the feet, coming high up in the shoulders, the closely-set buttons down the front neck, where it was sometimes met by the whimof the super-tunic, and up the arms of the under- ple, or gorget, of white linen, giving a nun-like garment, from the wrist to the elbow, with the appearance to the wearer; the sleeves termipeculiar lappet to the sleeve of the super-tunic, nating at the elbow, in short lappets, like those are all distinctive marks of the European cos- of the men, and showing the sleeve of the under tume of the early part of the fourteenth century, garment (the kirtle, which fitted the body and to be found in any illuminated French or tightly), buttoned from the wrist to the elbow English MS. of the time of our Edward II., also, as in the male costume. 1307-27, and still earlier, of course, in Italy, The hair was gathered up into a sort of club from whence the fashions travelled northward, behind, braided in front, and covered, wholly or through Paris to London.
partially, with a caul of golden network. GarThe coverings for the head were, at this time, lands of flowers, natural, or imitated in goldbesides the capuchon, or cowl, here seen, caps smith's work, and plain fillets of gold, or even and hats of various fantastic shapes, and the ribbon, were worn by very young females. We chaperon, or turban-shaped hood, began to make shall say no more respecting the costume of this its appearance (vide second male figure in the play, as the introduction of such a masquerade engraving after Giotto). No plumes, however, as is indispensable to the plot would be inconadorned them till near the close of the century, sistent with the dressing of the other characters when a single feather, generally ostrich, appears correctly. Artists of every description are, in placed upright in front of the cap, or chaperon. our opinion, perfectly justified in clothing the The hose were richly fretted and embroidered dramatis personæ of this tragedy in the habits with gold, and the toes of the shoes long and of the time in which it was written, by which pointed.
means all serious anachronisms would be avoided.
THE earliest edition of 'Hamlet' known to exist is that of 1603. It bears the following title: The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, by William Shakespeare. As it hath beene diverse times acted by his Highnesse servants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and elsewhere. At London, printed for N. L. and John Trundell, 1603.' The only known copy of this edition is in the library of the Duke of Devonshire; and that copy is not quite perfect. It was reprinted in 1825.
The second edition of Hamlet' was printed in 1604, under the following title: 'The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke. By William Shakespeare. Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and perfect coppie. Printed by J. R. for N. Landure, 1604, 4to.' This edition was reprinted in 1605, in 1609, in 1611, and there is also a quarto edition without a date.
In the folio of 1623 some passages which are found in the quarto of 1604 are omitted. In our text we have given these passages. In other respects our text, with one or two minute exceptions, is wholly founded upon the folio of 1623. From this circumstance our edition will be found considerably to differ from the text of Johnson and Steevens,
of Reed, of Malone, and of all the current editions which are founded upon these.
In the reprint of the edition of 1603, it is stated to be "the only known copy of this tragedy, as originally written by Shakespeare, which he afterwards altered and enlarged." We believe that this description is correct; that this remarkable copy gives us the play as originally written by Shakspere. It may have been piratical, and we think it was so. The Hamlet' of 1603 is a sketch of the perfect 'Hamlet,' and probably a corrupt copy of that sketch.
The comprehension of this tragedy is the history of a man's own mind. In some shape or other, 'Hamlet the Dane' very early becomes familiar to almost every youth of tolerable education. He is sometimes presented through the medium of the stage; more frequently in some one of the manifold editions of the acted play. The sublime scenes where the Ghost appears are known even to the youngest school-boy, in his 'Speakers' and 'Readers;' and so is the soliloquy, "To be, or not to be." As we in early life become acquainted with the complete acted play, we hate the King, we weep for Ophelia, we think Hamlet is cruel to her, we are perhaps inclined with Dr. Johnson to laugh at Hamlet's madness-("the pretended madness of Hamlet causes much
mirth”) we wonder that Hamlet does not and, perhaps, advantageously so, with regard kill the King earlier,-and we believe, as to the comprehension of 'Hamlet.' Garrick believed, that the catastrophe might The final appreciation of the 'Hamlet' of have been greatly improved, seeing that the Shakspere belongs to the development of the wicked and the virtuous ought not to fall critical faculty,-to the cultivation of it by together, as it were by accident.
reading and reflection. Without much acA few years onward, and we have become quaintance with the thoughts of others, acquainted with the ‘Hamlet' of Shakspere, many men, we have no doubt, being earnest - not the ‘Hamlet' of the players. The and diligent students of Shakspere, have book is now the companion of our lonely arrived at a tolerably adequate comprehenwalks ;- its recollections hang about our sion of his idea in this wonderful play. In most cherished thoughts. We think less of passing through the stage of admiration they the dramatic movement of the play, than of have utterly rejected the trash which the the glimpses which it affords of the high commentators have heaped upon it, under and solemn things that belong to our being. the name of criticism,—the solemn commonWe see Hamlet habitually subjected to the places of Johnson, the flippant and insolent spiritual part of his nature, --communing attacks of Steevens. When the one says with thoughts that are not of this world, - “The apparition left the regions of the dead abstracted from the business of life,—but to little purpose,"--and the other talks of yet exhibiting a most vigorous intellect, and the "absurdities” which deform the piece, an exquisite taste. But there is that about and “the immoral character of Hamlet,”– him which we cannot understand. Is he the love for Shakspere tells them, that essentially “ in madness,” or mad “only in remarks such as these belong to the same craft?” Where is the line to be drawn between class of prejudices as Voltaire's "monstruosités his artificial and his real character? There is et fossoyeurs." But after they have rejected something altogether indefinable and mys- all that belongs to criticism without love, terious in the poet's delineation of this cha- the very depth of the reverence of another racter;--something wild and irregular in the school of critics may tend to perplex them. circumstances with which the character is The quantity alone that has been written associated ;-we see that Hamlet is propelled, in illustration of ‘Hamlet' is embarrassing. rather than propelling. But why is this We have only one word here to say to the turn given to the delineation? We cannot anxious student of ‘Hamlet :' “Read, and exactly tell. Perhaps some of the very again, and again.” These are the words charm of the play to the adult mind is its which the Editors of the folio of 1623 mysteriousness. It awakes not only thoughts addressed “to the great variety readers" of the grand and the beautiful, but of the as to Shakspere generally: “Read him, incomprehensible. Its obscurity constitutes therefore ; and again, and again : and if then a portion of its sublimity. This is the stage you do not like him, surely you are in some in which most minds are content to rest, manifest danger not to understand him.”