페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

and turns pale. When the violence of the emotion subsides, he reflects, that probably this supernatural event portends some danger lurking in the state. This suggestion gives importance to the phænomenon, and engages our attention. Horatio's relation of the king's combat with the Norwegian, and of the forces the young Fortinbras is assembling, in order to attack Denmark, seems to point out, from what quarter the apprehended peril is to arise. Such appearances, says he, preceded the fall of mighty Julius, and the ruin of the great commonwealth; and he adds, such have often been the omens of disasters in our own state. There is great art in this conduct. The true cause of the royal Dane’s discontent could not be guessed at : it was a secret which could be only revealed by himself. In the mean time, it was necessary to captivate our attention, by demonstrating, that the poet was not going to exhibit such idle and frivolous gambols, as Ghosts are by the vulgar aften represented to perform. The historical

testimony,

L3

testimony, that, antecedent to the death of Cæfar,

The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets, gives credibility and importance to this phænomenon.

Horatio's address to the ghost is brief and pertinent, and the whole purport of it agreeable to the vulgar conceptions of these matters.

HORATIO.

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, Oh speak! 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.

Its vanishing at the crowing of the Cock, is another circumstance of the established fuperstition.

Young Hamlet's indignation at his mother's hasty and incestuous marriage, his sorrow for his father's death, the character he gives of that prince, prepare the spectator to sympathize with his wrongs and sufferings. The Son, as is natural, with much more vehement emotion than Horatio did, addresses his Father's shade. Hamlet's terror, his astonishment, his vehement desire to know the cause of this visitation, are irresistibly communicated to the spectator by the following speech.

HAMLET.
Angels and ministers of grace defend us !
Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d, .
Bring with thee airs from heav'n, or blasts from hell,
Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape,
That I will speak to thee. I'll call thee Hamlet,
King, father, royal Dane : oh! answer me;
Let me not burst in ignorance; but tell,
L 4

Why

Why thy cảnonized bones, hearsed in death,
Have burft their cearments ? Why the sepulchre,
Wherein we saw thee quietly in-urn'd,
Hath op'd his ponderous and marble jaws,
To cast thee up again ? What may
That thou, dead corse, again, in compleat steel,
Revisitst thus the glimpses of the moon,
Making night hideous ?

this mean,

[ocr errors]

Never did the Grecian Muse of Tragedy relate a tale so full of pity and terror, as is imparted by the Ghost. Every circumstance melts us with compassion ; and with what horror do we hear him say !

GHOST.

But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold; whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon must not be

To ears of Aleth and blood.

All

All that follows is solemn, sad, and deeply, affecting

Whatever in Hamlet belongs to the præternatural, is perfectly fine; the rest of the playdoes not come within the subject of this chapter.

The ingenious criticism on the play of the Tempest, published in the Adventurer, has made it unnecessary to enlarge on that admirable piece, which alone would prove our Author to have had a fertile, a sublime, and original genius.

Τ Η Ε

« 이전계속 »