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the noble Originals of Antiquity buried in Oblivion. One would think that the Works of Sophocles, Euripides, &c. were Discoveries of the last Age only; and not that they had existed for so many Centuries. There is something very astonishing in the general Ignorance and Dullness of Taste, which for so long a Time over-spread the World, after it had been so gloriously enlighten'd by Athens and Rome ; especially as so many of their excellent Master-pieces were still remaining, which one would have thought should have excited even the Brutes of those barbarous Ages to have examined them, and form’d themselves according to such Models.
Vol. the 7th of Mr. Theobald's Shakespeare.
Bernardo and Francisco, two Centinels.
Bernardo. Who's there? &c.
NOTHING can be more conformable to Reason, than that the Beginning of all Dramatick Performances (and indeed of kind of Poesie) should be with the greatest Simplicity, that so our Passions may be work'd apon by Degrees. This Rule is very happily observ'd in this Play ; and it has, this Advantage over many others, that it has Majesty and Sim
city joined together. For this whole preparatory Discourse to the Ghost's coming in, at the fame Time that it is necessary towards lay. ing open the Scheme of the Play, creates an Awe and Attention in the Spectators, such as very well fits them to receive the Appearance of a Messenger from the other World, with all the Terror and Seriousness necessary on the Occasion. And surely the Poer has manag’d the Whole in such a Manner, that it is all entirely Natural: And tho' most Men are well enough arm’d against all Belief of the Appearances of Ghosts, yet they are forced, during the Representation of this Piece, entirely to suspend their most fixed Opinions, and believe that they do actually see a Phantom, and that the whole Plot of the Play is justly and naturally founded upon the Appearance of this Spectre.
HOR AT10, Tush, Tush, 'twill not appear!
THESE Speeches help greatly to deceive us ; for it thews one of the principal Persons
of the Drama to be as incredulous, in Relation to the Appearance of Phantoms, as we can be; but that he is at last convinc'd of his Error by the Help of his Eyes. For it is a Maxim entirely agreeable to Truth, if we consider human Nature, that whatever is supernatural or improbable, is much more likely to gain Credit with us, if it be introduced as such, and talk'd of as such by the Persons of the Drama, but at last prov'd to be true, tho' an extraordinary Thing, than if it were brought in as a Thing highly probable, and no one were made to boggle at the Belief of it. The Reason of this seems to be, that we can for once, upon a very great Occasion, allow such an Incident as this to have happen'd, if it be brought in as a Thing of great Rarity ; but we can by no means fo fufpend our Judgment and Knowledge, or deceive our Understandings, as to grant That to be common and usual which we know to be entirely Supernatural and Improbable.
Here it is certain, nothing could be better tim'd than the Entrance of this Spectre ; for he comes in and convinces Horatio, to save Mar. cellus the Trouble of repeating the whole Story, which would have been tiresome to the Spectators, as these Gentlemen were obliged soon after co relate the Whole to Prince Hamlet.
Horario's Speeches to the Apparition are exceeding Natural, Aweful, and Great, and well suited to the Occasion and his own Character.
What art Thou, that usurpest this Time of
Night, Together with that fair and warlike Form, In which the Majesty of buried Denmark Did fome Time march? By Heaven, I charge
The other is Page 230.
Stay Illusion ! If thou hast any Sound, or Vse 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, Fore-knowing may avoid, Ob 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 --Stay and speak !---Stop it Mare
His desiring Marcellus to stop it, is also much in Nature, because it fhews a Perturbation of Mind, very much to be expected at such an Incident. For he must know, be ing a Scholar, (as they term him) that Spirits could not be stopp'd as Corporeal Substances can.
But to return to Page 228.
Bernardo, How now Horatio! you tremble
and look pale, &c.
This is entirely in Nature, for it cannot be supposed, that any Man, tho' never so much endu'd with Fortitude, could fee fo strange a Sight, so shocking to human Nature, without some Commotion of his Frame, although the Bravery of his Mind inakes him get the better of it.
Horatio, Before my God, I might not this
believe, Without the sensible and true Avouch Of mine own Eyes.
This Speech still helps on our Deception, for the Reasons I have already given,
Page 228. Horatio, Such was the very Armour he had on, &c.