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Where is the county's page, that rais’d the watch ?Sirrah, what made your master in this place ?
Page. He came with flowers to strew his lady's grave; And bid me stand aloof, and so I did : Anon, comes one with light to ope the tomb; And, by and by, my master drew on him; And then I ran away to call the watch.
Prince. This letter doth make good the friar's words,
Cap. O, brother Montague, give me thy hand.
Mon. But I can give thee more :
Cap. As rich shall Romeo by his lady lie;
The sun for sorrow will not show his head:
Some shall be pardon'd, and some punished :
The earliest edition of 'Hamlet' known to exist is that of 1603. It bears the following title : ‘The Tragicall IIistorie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, hy William Shake-speare. 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 tbat Hamlet does not kill the King earlier,—and we believe, as Garrick believed, that the catastrophe might have been greatly improved, seeing that the wicked and the virtuous ought not to fall together, as it were by accident.
A few years onward, and we have become acquainted with the 'Hamlet' of Shakspere,—not the “Hamlet'