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ON THE MADNESS OF OPHELIA. The mental distemper of Ophelia Ophelia, with affectionate duty, prois that of sorrowing distraction, and mises to obey his commands. is so correctly painted, as to leave At a subsequent period, when no doubt of its having been drawn Hamlet's malady is the subject of from suffering nature. The fair and investigation, Polonius mentions to gentle Ophelia, confiding in the sin- the King the conversation he had cerity of Hamlet, had listened to his had with his daughter, and attriaddresses, and

butes Hamlet's derangement to the Suek'd the honey of his music vows,

repulse given to him by Ophelia, sufficiently to imbibe the contagion You know sometimes he walks four hours

addingof love. Laertes, aware of the state of her Here in the lobby.

together affection, cautions her against the At such a time I'll loose my daughter to attentions of the Prince:

him : For Hamlet, and the trifling of his favor, * Be you and I behind an arras then ; Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood; Mark the encounter : if he love her not, A violet in the youth of primy nature, And be not from his reason fall’n thereon, Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, Let me be no assistant for a state, The perfume and suppliance of a minute ; But keep a farm and carters. No more.For nature, crescent, does not grow alone

The Queen, it seems, was by no In thews and bulk; but as this temple waxes,

means averse to their mutual ata The inward service of the mind and soul

'tachment. Grows wide withal,* Perhaps he loves you Queen. And for your part, Ophelia, I do now;

wish And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch

That your good beauties be the happy cause "The virtue of his will : but you must fear, Of Hamlet's wildness : 80. shall I hope His greatness weigh’d, his will is not his

Will bring him to his wonted way again, For he himself is subject to his birth: To both your honors. He may not, as unvalued persons do,

Ophelia's answer, “ Madam, I Carve for himself. Then weigh what loss your honor may sus

wish it may,” shows that her 'love tain,

had not been diminished by the If with too credent ear you list his songs,

wholesome lessons of Laertes, or the Or lose your heart:

harsh controul of her father. Her Fear it, Ophelia, fear it, my dear sister, feelings, however, are on every occa

sion made subservient to the views Polonius, her father, observes :

of Polonius, who now bids her walk 'Tis told me, he hath very oft of late

alone that she may have an interview Given private time to you: and you your

with Hamlet. self

Read on this book, Have of your audience becn most free and That show of such an exercise may colour bounteous :

Your loneliness. What is between you ?, Give me up the

truth. Ophelia. He hath, my lord, of late made 'I hear himn coming — let's withdraw, my

lord. many Tenders of his affection to me.

The conduct of Hamlet, during

the remainder of the scene, excites And hath giren countenance to his speech, strong feelings of sympathy towards My lord, with almost all the vows of heaven. the fair Ophelia, who is made to

Polonius, placing little confidence feel that all her hopes of reciprocal in her lover's affection, peremptorily affection are for ever blighted. charges her « not to give words or Ophelia. My lord, I have remembrances talk with the Lord Hamlet.” And

your virtues

own ;

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of yours

* The form of man is admirably described as a temple raised for the worship of God in which the mind and soul are said to do service. Mar, 1924.


I see.

That I have longed long to ro-deliver ; tion, she is instructed to tax him I pray you now receive them.

with unkindness, and to assign that Hamlet.

No, not I, unkindness as the cause of her deI never gave you aught.

livering back his presents :Ophelit. My honour'd lord, you know right well you did,

Their perfume lost, And with them words of 'so sweet breath Take these again, for to a noble mind composed

Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove un

kind, As made the things more rich: their perfume lost,

This humiliating declaration, inTake these again ; for to the noble mind volving at once the sacrifice of deliRich gifts wax poor when givers prove un- cacy and of truth in the most sensekind.

less coquetry, Hamlet immediately

perceives to have been prompted by Hamlet. I did love you once.

Polonius, and instantly puts on his Ophelia. Indeed, my lord, you made me fantastic character, the more strongly believe so.

to impress the King, through the reHamlet. You should not have believed port of Ophelia, with a notion of his me,

madness. Unfortunately, the shafts inI loved you not.

Ophelia. I was the more deceived. tended for the guilty strike the innoHamlet. Get thee to a nunnery, &c. &c. cent, and the poor Ophelia suffers all The distracted state of her lover's her lover's distraction. If it were pro

the misery consequent on a belief in mind, manifesting itself in violent sallies, excites her alarm, and she per to digress from the subject in

mediately under consideration, much exclaims

might here be said in praise of the O woe is me!

extraordinary consistency and merit To have seen what I have seen, see what

displayed by the author in deve

loping the different characters of this The character of Ophelia has been exquisite tragedy. This one scene justly considered as one of the most exhibits in rapid succession the menexquisite creations of the Great tal disease, the natural disposition, Master. When listening to the ad- and the crafty assumption of Hammonitions of her brother in the early let; it at the same time engages our part of the play, she is decked with sympathy for Ophelia, and gives a all the gentleness and modesty which finishing stroke to the inimitable distinguish an affectionate sister and sketch of the court sycophant and a virtuous woman.

In obedience to favourite. 'her father's harsh commands, she How different are the conclusions opposes duty to love, and gives it drawn from the conduct of Hamlet mastery. She is next called on by in this scene, by the innocent Maiden him to become an instrument by and the guilty King -Ophelia still which to ascertain the cause of her having confidence in her lover's aflover's madness. The political sub- fection, for faith is easy when the serviency of Polonius in thus out- heart is touched, and being incapable raging his daughter's feelings, merely of deceit herself, attributes Hamlet's to obtain a smile from majesty, ex- extravagance of behaviour to madcites feelings of disgust and indigna, ness:tion. The beauteous, ingenuous, and what a noble mind is here o'erthrown ! dutifulOphelia is directed to return, to the man of her heart, those precious tokens which the sweet breath of And I of ladies most deject and wretched, love had rendered doubly dear to Now see that noble and most sovereign

That suck'd the honey of his music vows, her. Such a sacrifice would have

reason, proved of itself a severe trial of a Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and daughter's duty; but the hapless

harsh ; Ophelia was doomed to still greater That unmatch'd form and feature of humiliation-to meanness and false

blown youth hood. Doating on Hamlet, whose Blasted with ecstasy. + affection for her does not appear to Such is the conclusion of the lahave suffered the slightest diminu- menting lady ; but the King, whose

+ Ecstasy was anciently used to signify some degree of alienation of mind.

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own « offence is rank” and “ smells

Ophelia. (Sings.) to heaven," with all the cowardice of

White his shroud as the mountain snow, guilt exclaims

Larded all with sweet flowers,
Love! his affections do not that way tend,

Which bewept, to the grave did go
With true

love showers. Nor what he spake, though it lack'd form

a little, Was not like madness. There's something

To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day, in his soul

All in the morning betime, O'er which his melancholy sits on brood;

And I a maid at your window
And I do doubt the hatch and the dis-

To be your Valentine.
Will be some danger: which for to prevent,
I have, in quick determination,

Then up he rose and donn'd his clothes, Thus set it down; he shall with speed to

And dupp'd the chamber door,

Let in a maid, that out a maid

Never departed more.

It is impossible to conceive any Haply the seas, and countries different thing more perfect than the picture With variable objects, shall expel of disease given by Shakspeare in This something-settled matter in his heart, this scene of Ophelia's. Every meWhereon his brains still beating, puts him dical professor who is familiar with thus

cases of insanity, will freely acFrom fashion of himself,

knowledge its truth. The snatches

of songs she warbles contain alluThe conflicts of duty and affection, sions strongly indicative of feelings hope and fear, which successively of an erotic tendency, and are such agitated Ophelia's gentle bosom, as under the chaster guard of reason were of themselves sufficient to she would not have selected. This dissever the delicate coherence of slight withdrawing of the veil, witha woman's reason. Her lover's ar

out disgusting by its entire removal, dent passion seemed to her to have displays at once the pathological subsided into cold indifference. De- correctness and the exquisite delicacy licacy of sentiment had been suc

of the Poet. ceeded by indecent scoffing and con

Throughout the short display of temptuous insult, and when the hap- Ophelia's derangement, a mournful less maiden saw her aged parent sympathy is kindled, and it is evisink into the grave, not in the course dently heightened by our previous of natural decay, but by the reckless acquaintance with her beauty, gentleinfliction of that hand she had fondly ness, and modesty. The incoherent hoped to unite with her own, her fragments of discourse, abrupt transusceptible mind, unable to sustain sitions, and absurd images, that orsuch powerful pressures, sank beneath dinarily provoke levity, here awfully their accumulated weight :

repress it : Nature is fine in love; and where 'tis fine They say that the owl was a baker's It sends some precious instance of itself daughter.—Lord ! we know what we are, After the thing it loves.

but know not what we may be. In the madness of Ophelia there are no intervals of reason; she exhi- I hope all will be well. We must be bits a state of continuous distraction, patient; but I cannot choose but weep to and though she is presented to ob- think they have laid him i'the cold ground. servation in only two short scenes, My brother

shall know of it, and so I the duration is sufficient for the

thank you for your good counsel. Come, effect; for the poet has contrived my coach! good night, ladies ; good night,

sweet ladies, good night, good nights with exquisite skill to dart, through the cloud that obscures her reason, That reader or spectator is little occasional gleams of recollection, to to be envied who could smile at indicate that disappointed love and Ophelia's distraction, which from filial sorrow still agonize her tender gentle breasts must extort sighs, and bosom:

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sobs, and tears those attributes

* From épws, amor.


of feeling that ennoble our nature. his plays'; but in no instance has he If any thing could heighten our'ad- shown his taste and judgment in the miration of the Immortal Bard, after selection of them with greater effect, a careful examination of the life of than in forming the coronet-wreath the unfortunate Ophelia, it would be of this lovely maniac. The Queen the exquisite contrivance of her describes the garland as composed of death:

crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and longYour sister's drown'd, Laertes.

purples; and there ought to be no There is a willow grows ascaunt the brook, question that Shakspeare intended That shews his hoar leaves in the glassy them all to havean emblematic meanstream;

ing. “ The crow-flower," is a speTherewith fantastic garlands did she make cies of lychnis, alluded to by DrayOf crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long- ton, in his Polyolbion. It is the purples,

lychnis flos cuculi of Linnæus and That liberal shepherds give another name, Miller, and the l. plumaria sylvesBut our cold maids do dead-men’s-fingers tris of Parkinson ;—the l. cuculi flos call them :

of C. Bauhin. It is of considerThere on the pendent boughs her coronet able antiquity, and is described by

wecds Clambering to hang, an envious sliver Pliny under the name of odontitis. broke;

The more common English name is When down her weedy trophies and herself meadow-lychnis,or meadow-campion. Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes It is sometimes found double in our spread wide,

own hedge rows—but more commonAnd, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up, ly in France, and in this form we are Which time she chaunted snatches of old told by Parkinson, it was called tunes;

The fayre Muyde of France." It is As one incapable of her own distress, to this name and to this variety that Or like a creature native and endu'd

Shakspeare alludes in the present inUnto that element: but long it could not

stance. be, "Till that her garments, heavy with their

The “long-purples” are commondrink,

ly called dead-men's-hands" Pullid the poor wretch from her melodious

« fingers." lay

Our cold maids do dead-men's-fingers call To muddy death.

them. There is something so exquisitely

The “daisey” (or day's-eye) imaffecting in this draught of sorrow, ports “ the pure virginity, that it is impossible not to drain the "spring of life," as being itself" the cup to the very dregs.

virgin bloom of the year.

The intermixture of nettles requires Too much of water hast thou, poor Ophelia,

no cominent. And therefore I forbid my tears : but yet It is our trick; nature her custom holds,

Admitting the correctness of this Let shame say what it will.

interpretation, the whole is an exquisite specimen of emblematic, or

picture-writing. They are all wild Lay her i' the ea th; And from her fair and unpolluted flesh,

flowers, denoting the bewildered state

of the beautiful Ophelia's own faMay violets spring!

culties; and the order runs thus, Shakspeare has displayed a know. with the meaning of each term beledge and love of flowers in several of neath :CROW-FLOWERS. NETTLES. DAISIES. LONG-PURPLES.

stung to

the quick. bloom." hand of death. A fair maid stung to the quick, her virgin bloom under the cold hand of death."

It would be difficult to fancy a more emblematic wreath for this interesting victim of disappointed love and filial sorrow.

Sweets to the sweet, farewell !
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
And not have strew'd thy grave,




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But now to my hero. If borg's style is dull and mean. His many a forgotten writer, or writer narrations and their whole contexture destined to be forgotten, is on that appear in fact to have originated in a account the more deserving of ap- disorder of his sensitive faculty, and plause for having spared no cost of suggest no reason for suspecting that toil and intellectual exertion upon his the speculative delusions of a deworks, certainly Swedenborg of all praved intellect have moved him to such writers is deserving of the most. invent them. Viewed in this light, Without doubt his flask in the moon they are really of some importance is full; and not at all less than any of -and deserve to be exhibited in a those which Ariosto saw in that pla- short abstract; much more indeed net filled with the lost wits of men, than many a brainless product of so thoroughly is his great work emp- fantastic philosophers who swell our tied of every drop of common sense. journals with false subtilties'; for a Nevertheless there prevails in every coherent delusion of the senses is part so wonderful an agreement with always a more remarkable phenoall that the most refined and con- menon than a delusion of the intelsistent sense under the same fantastic lect; inasmuch as the grounds of delusions could produce on the same this latter delusion are well known, subject, that the reader will pardon and the delusion itself corrigible me if I here detect the same curio- enough by self-exertion and by sities in the caprices of fancy which putting more check upon the rash many other virtuosi have detected in precipitation of the judgment; the caprices of nature; for instance, whereas a delusion of the senses in variegated marble, where some touches the original foundation of all have discovered a holy family; or in judgment, and where it exists is rastalactites and petrifactions, where dically incapable of all cure from others have discovered monks, bap- logic. I distinguish therefore in our tismal fonts, and organs; or even in author his craziness of sense from his frozen window-panes, where our crazy wits; and I pass over his abcountryman Liscow, the humourist, surd and distorted reasonings in those discovered the number of the beast and parts where he abandons his visions, the triple crown; things which he only for the same reason that in reading a is apt to descry, whose head is pre- philosopher we are often obliged to occupied with thoughts about them. separate his observations from his

The main work of this writer is arguments: and generally, delusive composed of eight quarto volumes experiences are more instructive than full of nonsense, which he presented delusive grounds of experience in the to the world as a new revelation un- reason. Whilst I thus rob the reader der the title of Arcana Cælestia. In of some few moments, which otherthis work his visions are chiefly di- wise perhaps he would have spent rected to the discovery of the secret with no greater profit in reading sense in the two first books of Moses, works of abstract philosophy that and to a similar way of interpreting are often of not less trivial import, the whole of the Scripture. All these I have at the same time provided fantastic interpretations are nothing for the delicacy of his taste by the to my present purpose : those who omission of many chimæras, and by have any curiosity may find some concentrating the essence of the book account of them in the Bibliotheca into a few drops; and for this I anTheologica of Dr. Ernesti. All that ticipate no less gratitude from him I design to extract are his audita et than (according to the old story) a visa, from the supplements to his patient expressed towards his phychapters—that which he saw with sicians, who had contented themhis own eyes, and heard with his own selves with ordering him to eat the ears: for these parts of his dreams it bark of the quinquina, when it was is which are to be considered as the clearly in their power to have insisted foundation of all the rest. Sweden- on his eating up the whole trec.

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