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Betroth'd, and would have married her perforce,
To county Paris-Then comes she to me;
And, with wild looks, bid me devise some means
To rid her from this second marriage,
Or, in my cell there would she kill herself.
Then gave I her, so tutor❜d by my art,
A sleeping-potion: which so took effect
As I intended, for it wrought on her
The form of death: meantime I writ to Romeo,
That he should hither come at this dire night,
To help to take her from her borrow'd grave,
Being the time the potion's force should cease.
But he which bore my letter, friar John,
Was staid by accident; and yesternight
Return'd my letter back: Then all alone,
At the prefixed hour of her waking,
Came I to take her from her kindred's vault;
Meaning to keep her closely at my cell,
Till I conveniently could send to Romeo:
But, when I came (some minute ere the time
Of her awakening,) here untimely lay
The noble Paris, and true Romeo, dead.
She wakes; and I entreated her come forth,
And bear this work of heaven with patience:
But then a noise did scare me from the tomb;
And she, too desperate, would not go with me,
But (as it seems,) did violence on herself.
All this I know; and to the marriage
Her nurse is privy: And, if aught in this
Miscarried by my fault, let my old life
Be sacrific'd, some hour before his time,
Unto the rigour of severest law.
Prince. We still have known thee for a holy man.
Where's Romeo's man? what can he say in this?
Bal. I brought my master news of Juliet's death;
And then in post he came from Mantua,
To this same place, to this same monument.
This letter he early bid me give his father;
And threaten'd me with death, going in the vault,
If I departed not, and left him there.
Prince. Give me the letter, I will look on it.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
Their course of love, the tidings of her death:
And here he writes-that he did buy a poison
Of a poor 'pothecary, and therewithal
Came to this vault to die, and lie with Juliet.-
Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That Heaven finds means to kill your joys with love!
And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen :-all are punish'd.
Cap. O, brother Montague, give me thy hand:
(1) Mercutio and Paris.
This play is one of the most pleasing of our author's performances. The scenes are busy and various, incidents numerous and important, the catastrophe irresistibly affecting, and the process of the action carried on with such probability, at least with such congruity to popular opinions, as tragedy requires.
Here is one of the few attempts of Shakspeare to exhibit the conversation of gentlemen, to represent the airy sprightliness of juvenile elegance. Mr. Dryden mentions a tradition, which might easily reach his time, of a declaration made by Shakspeare, that he was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third Act, lest he should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no such formidable person, but that he might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to the poet. Dryden well knew, had he been in quest of truth, in a pointed sentence, that more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very seldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio's wit, gaiety, and courage, will always procure him friends that wish him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the construction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shakspeare to have continued his existence, though some of his sallies are perhaps out of the reach of Dryden; whose genius was not very fertile of merriment, nor ductile to humour, but acute, argumentative, comprehensive, and sublime.
The Nurse is one of the characters in which the author delighted: he has, with great subtilty of distinction, drawn her at once loquacious and secret, obsequious and insolent, trusty and dis: honest.
His comic scenes are happily wrought, but his pathetic strains are always polluted with some unexpected depravations. His persons, however distressed, have a conceit left them in their misery, a miserable conceit.
HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK.
Claudius, king of Denmark.
Francisco, a soldier.
the present king.
Polonius, lord chamberlain.
Horatio, friend to Hamlet.
Laertes, son to Polonius.
Hamlet, son to the former king, and nephew to Reynaldo, servant to Polonius.
A Captain. An Ambassador.
Ghost of Hamlet's father.
Fortinbras, prince of Norway.
Osric, a courtier.
SCENE 1.-Elsinore. A platform before the castle. Francisco on his post. Enter to him
Ber. Long live the king!
Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour.
Ber. "Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed,
Hor. What, has this thing appear'd again to night?
Ber. I have seen nothing.
And will not let belief take hold of him,
Mar. Horatio says, 'tis but our fantasy;
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us;
Therefore I have entreated him, along
With us to watch the minutes of this night;
Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold That, if again this apparition come,
He may approve2 our eyes, and speak to it.
Hor. Tush! tush! 'twill not appear.
Sit down a while;
And let us once again assail your ears,
That are so fortified against our story,
What we two nights have seen.
Fran. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.
Ber. Have you had quiet guard?
Ber. Well, good night.
If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals1 of my watch, bid them make haste.
Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
Fran. I think, I hear them.-Stand, ho! Who is there?
Not a mouse stirring. 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
Hor. Friends to this ground.
And liegemen to the Dane.
Fran. Give you good night.
Who hath reliev'd you?
Give you good night.
O, farewell, honest soldier:
What, is Horatio there?
A piece of him.
Ber. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Mar
Gertrude, queen of Denmark, and mother of
Ophelia, daughter of Polonius.
Bernardo hath my place. [Exit Francisco. Holla! Bernardo!
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, Grave diggers, Sailors, Messengers, and other At. tendants.
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
Mar. Thus, twice before, and jump at this dead hour, With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. Hor. In what particular thought to work, I know not;
But, in the gross and scope of mine opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Mar. Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land;
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
And foreign mart for implements of war;
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week:
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day;
Who is't, that can inform me?
That can I; At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king, Whose image even but now appear'd to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, Dar'd to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet (For so this side of our known world esteem'd him,) Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact, Well ratified by law and heraldry, Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands Which he stood seiz'd of, to the conqueror: Against the which, a moiety competent Was gaged by our king; which had return'd To the inheritance of Fortinbras, Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same co-mart,5 And carriage of the article design'd,6 His fell to Hamlet: Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimproved mettle hot and full,7 Hath in the skirts of Norway, here and there, Shark'd8 up a list of landless resolutes, For food and diet, to some enterprise That hath a stomach9 in't: which is no other (As it doth well appear unto our state,) But to recover of us, by strong hand, And terms compulsatory, those 'foresaid lands So by his father lost: And this, I take it, Is the main motive of our preparations; The source of this our watch; and the chief head Of this post-haste and romage10 in the land.
[Ber. I think, it be no other, but even so : Well may it sort, that this portentous figure Comes armed through our watch; so like the king That was, and is, the question of these wars.
Hor. A mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye. In the most high and palmy 12 state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.
(3) Polander, an inhabitant of Poland. (4) Just. (5) Joint bargain.
(6) The covenant to confirm that bargain.
As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,13 Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. And even the like precurse of fierce events,As harbingers preceding still the fates, And prologue to the omen14 coming on, Have heaven and earth together démonstrated Unto our climatures and countrymen.]
But, soft; behold! lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me.-Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
Speak to me:
If there be any good thing to be done,
That may to thee do ease, and grace to me,
Speak to me:
If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
Or, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
Speak of it :-stay, and speak.-Stop it, Marcellus.
Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partizan?
Hor. Do, if it will not stand.
Mar. 'Tis gone!
We do it wrong, being so majestical,
To offer it the show of violence;
For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
And our vain blows malicious mockery.
Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew.
Hor. And then it started, like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
The cock, that is the trumpet of the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring15 spirit hies
To his confine: and of the truth herein
This present object made probation. 16
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, This bird of dawning singeth all night long And then they say no spirit dares stir abroad; The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
Hor. So I have heard, and do in part believe it. But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill: Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet: for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him: Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty? Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
(7) Full of spirit without experience. (8) Picked. (9) Resolution. (10) Search. (11) Suit. (12) Victorious. (13) The moon. (14) Event. (15) Wandering. (16) Proof.
Where we shall find him most convenient. [Exe. SCENE II-The same. A room of state in the Enter the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, Voltimand, Cornelius, Lords, and
King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
The memory be green; and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of wo;
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature,
That we, with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
The imperial jointress of this warlike state,
Have we, as 'twere, with a defeated joy,-
With one auspicious, and one dropping eye;
With mirth in funeral, and with dirge in marriage,
In equal scale weighing delight and dole,!
Taken to wife: nor have we herein barr'd
Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
With this affair along:-For all, our thanks.
Now follows, that you know, young Fortinbras,—
Holding a weak supposal of our worth;
Or thinking, by our late dear brother's death,
Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
Colleagued with this dream of his advantage,
He hath not fail'd to pester us with message,
Importing the surrender of those lands,
Lost by his father, with all bands2 of law,
To our most valiant brother-So much for him.
Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting.
Thus much the business is: We have here writ
To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,-
Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
Of this his nephew's purpose,-to suppress
His further gait3 herein; in that the levies,
The lists, and full proportions, are all made
Out of his subject:-and we here despatch
You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltimand,
For bearers of this greeting to old Norway;
Giving to you no further personal power
To business with the king, more than the scope
Of these dilated articles allow.
Farewell and let your haste commend your duty.
Cor. Vol. In that, and all things, will we show
King. We doubt it nothing; heartily farewell.
[Exeunt Voltimand and Cornelius.
And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
You told us of some suit; What is't, Laertes?
You cannot speak of reason to the Dane,
And lose your voice: What would'st thou beg,
That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
The head is not more native to the heart,
The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
What would'st thou have, Laertes?
My dread lord,
Your leave and favour to return to France;
From whence though willingly I came to Denmark,
To show my duty in your coronation;
Yet now, I must confess, that duty done,
My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France,
And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
King. Have you your father's leave? What says
Pol. He hath, my lord, [wrung from me my slow leave, By laboursome petition; and, at last,
(3) Way, path.
Upon his will I seal'd my hard consent:]
do beseech you, give him leave to go.
And thy best graces: spend it at thy will.—
King. Take thy fair hour, Laertes; time be thine,
But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son,-
Ham. A little more than kin, and less than kind.4
King. How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
Ham. Not so, my lord, I am too much i'the sun.
Queen. Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not, for ever, with thy veiled lids5
Seek for thy noble father in the dust:
Thou know'st, 'tis common; all, that live, must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.
Ham. Ay, madam, it is common.
If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?
Ham. Seems, madam! nay, it is; I know not
'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, modes, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly: These, indeed, seem,
For they are actions that a man might play :
But I have that within, which passeth show;
These, but the trappings and the suits of wo.
King. 'Tis sweet and commendable in your na-
To give these mourning duties to your father:
But, you must know, your father lost a father;
That father lost his; and the survivor bound
In filial obligation, for some term
To do obsequious sorrow: But to perséver
In obstinate condolement, is a course
Of impious stubbornness; 'tis unmanly grief:
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven;
A heart unfortified, or mind impatient;
An understanding simple and unschool'd:
For what, we know, must be, and is as common
any the most vulgar thing to sense,
Why should we, in our peevish opposition,
Take it to heart? Fie! 'tis a fault to heaven,
A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
To reason most absurd; whose common theme
Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried,
From the first corse, till he that died to-day,
This must be so. We pray you, throw to earth
This unprevailing wo; and think of us
As of a father: for let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne;
And, with no less nobility of love,
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart toward you. For your intent
In going back to school in Wittenberg,
It is most retrograde to our desiré :
And, we beseech you, bend you to remain
Here, in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
Queen. Let not thy mother lose her prayers,
pray thee, stay with us, go not to Wittenberg. Ham. I shall in all my best obey you madam. King. Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply; Be as ourself in Denmark.-Madam, come; This gentle and unforc'd accord of Hamlet Sits smiling to my heart: in grace whereof,
(4) Nature: a little more than a kinsman, and less than a natural one.
(5) Lowering eyes.