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CLAUDIUS, king of Denmark

HAMLET, son to the late, and nephew to the present king

POLONIUS, lord chamberlain

HORATIO, friend to Hamlet

LAERTES, son to Polonius

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GERTRUDE, queen of Denmark, and mother to Hamlet
OPHELIA, daughter to Polonius

Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Sailors, Messengers, and other


Ghost of Hamlet's Father

SCENE: Denmark





Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

Francisco at his post.

Ber. Who's there?

Enter to him Bernardo.

Fran. Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold your


Ber. Long live the king!

2. "answer me"; that is, answer me, as I have the right to challenge you. Bernardo then gives in answer the watch-word, “Long live the king!"-"Compare," says Coleridge, "the easy language of common life, in which this drama commences, with the direful music and wild wayward rhythm and abrupt lyrics of the opening of Macbeth. The tone is quite familiar: there is no poetic description of night, no elaborate information conveyed by one speaker to another of what both had immediately before their senses; and yet nothing bordering on the comic on the one hand, nor any striving of the intellect on the other. It is precisely the language of sensation among men who feared no charge of effeminacy for feeling what they had no want of resolution to bear. Yet the armour, the dead silence, the watchfulness that first interrupts it, the welcome relief of the guard, the cold, the broken expressions of compelled attention to bodily feelings still under control,—all excellently accord with, and prepare for, the after gradual rise into tragedy; but, above all, into a tragedy, the interest of which is as eminently ad et apud intra, as that of Macbeth is directly ad extra." -H. N. H.

Fran. Bernardo?

Ber. He.

Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour.

Ber. "Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Fran


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.

Not a mouse stirring. 10

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste. Fran. I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who is there?

Enter Horatio and Marcellus.

Hor. Friends to this ground.

Fran. Give you good night.

And liegemen to the Dane.

O, farewell, honest soldier:

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Ber. Welcome, Horatio; welcome, good Marcellus.

18. “give you good night"; this salutation is an abbreviated form of, "May God give you a good night"; which has been still further abbreviated in the phrase, “Good night.”—H. N. H.

A piece of him.


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Mar. What, has this thing appear'd again to


Ber. I have seen nothing.

Mar. Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,

And will not let belief take hold of him
Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:
Therefore I have entreated him along
With us to watch the minutes of this night,
That if again this apparition come,
He may approve 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 have two nights seen.


Well, sit we down,
And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

21. "has this thing appeared, etc.; the folio assigns this speech to Marcellus. The quartos are probably right, as Horatio comes on purpose to try his own eyes on the Ghost.-We quote from Coleridge again: “"Bernardo's inquiry after Horatio, and the repetition of his name in his own presence indicate a respect or an eagerness that implies him as one of the persons who are in the foreground; and the scepticism attributed to him prepares us for Hamlet's after eulogy on him as one whose blood and judgment were happily commingled. Now, observe the admirable indefiniteness of the first opening out of the occasion of all this anxiety. The preparative information of the audience is just as much as was precisely necessary, and no more;-it begins with the uncertainty appertaining to a question: 'What! has this thing appear'd again to-night?" Even the word again has its credibilizing effect. Then Horatio, the representative of the ignorance of the audience, not himself, but by Marcellus to Bernardo, anticipates the common solution.-""Tis but our fantasy'; upon which Marcellus rises into,-This dreaded sight twice seen of us'; which immediately afterwards becomes 'this apparition,' and that, too, an intelligent spirit that is to be spoken to!"-H. N. H.

Ber. Last night of all,

When yond same star that 's westward from the pole

Had made his course to illume that part of

Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
The bell then beating one,-

Enter Ghost.

Mar. Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!


Ber. In the same figure, like the king that's dead. Mar. Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio. Ber. Looks it not like the king? mark it, Horatio. Hor. Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder.

40. "Peace, break thee off"; "this passage seems to contradict the critical law, that what is told makes a faint impression compared with what is beholden; for it does indeed convey to the mind more than the eye can see; whilst the interruption of the narrative at the very moment when we are most intensely listening for the sequel, and have our thoughts diverted from the dreaded sight in expectation of the desired, yet almost dreaded, tale, this gives all the suddenness and surprise of the original appearance: 'Peace! break thee off: look, where it comes again!' Note the judgment displayed in having the two persons present, who, as having seen the Ghost before, are naturally eager in confirming their former opinions; whilst the sceptic is silent, and, after having been twice addressed by his friends, answers with two hasty syllables,-'Most like,'—and a confession of horror: 'It harrows me with fear and wonder'" (Coleridge).-H. N. H.

42. "speak to it"; it was believed that a supernatural being could only be spoken to with effect by persons of learning; exorcisms being usually practiced by the clergy in Latin. So in The Night Walker of Beaumont and Fletcher:

"Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,

And that will daunt the devil."-H. N. H.

44. "it harrows me"; to harrow is to distress, to vex, to disturb.

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