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no ghost from the grave to tell them. But Hamlet's coherence of purpose has yielded under the terrible impressions lately made upon him: he starts aside from every direct remark, for his thoughts are fixed on other matter. Broken suggestions have arisen in his mind touching the stern justice required at his hands upon the smiling damned villain, his uncle, but as yet he cannot firmly comprehend the terrible image of duty that is before him; all his ideas are incomplete, confused, and confounded; his soul is tossed in a gulf of fantasy. He is on the point of revealing to his friends the wonderful recital to which he has listened; but either the effort appals him, or some distrust inherent in his nature seals up his confidence. Yet he knows that if ever man trusted man he may at least trust Horatio; but he is not composed enough for any frank communion, and only becomes anxious to dismiss his companions, and to be alone: he shakes hands with them, and would despatch them to their business and desire, observing that every man has business and desire, such as it is, and adding, with

a sense of the new burthen on his own mind and


And for mine own poor part,

Look you, I'll go pray.

These wild and hurling words are not listened to without comment by Horatio, in whom they can but cause friendly solicitude; and the interview is thus prolonged. Hamlet is still pursuing some imagined scheme of action, including secresy as to the great fact of the ghost's appearance, which he requires the other witnesses of it not to reveal. The voice of the ghost is still in his ear; its tones could not be forgotten; and even now, again, that voice is heard as from the earth beneath, ascending to him where he stands and wherever he moves it adjures his friends to swear to the secresy he is enjoining, but it comes to him without solemnity, and only adds to his wild excitement. He jests with the uneasy ghost, calls it boy, and true-penny, and old mole, and fellow in the cellarage. The awe which its appearance had first inspired, before its dreadful tale was told, has passed away, or been lost in the confusion of all natural

feeling, and the mind, injured by the shock, gives no reasonable response; and still it scarcely can be understood why he is devoured by anxiety to have the appearance of the ghost kept secret. Seven times

over he commands that his friends shall never speak of it. His sudden frenzied manner, and his unwonted words, bewilder Horatio, whose exclamation,

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange !

seems to remind Hamlet that his behaviour must have been unexpected by them, and, with what would seem to be the quick suspicion of incipient and still conscious disorder of reason, he catches at a word and falls upon a new resolve-the resolve which has furnished the chief matter of critical and literary controversy up to this time.

HAM. And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

But come ;

Here, as before, never, so help you mercy!
How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,
As I, perchance, hereafter shall think meet

To put an antic disposition on


That you, at such times seeing me, never shall
With arms encumber'd thus, or thus head-shake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,

As, "Well, we know ; "-or, "We could, an if we would;"
Or, "If we list to speak;"- or, "There be, an if they

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Or such ambiguous giving out, to note

That you know aught of me :-This do you swear,

So grace and mercy at your most need help you!


Again the ghost beneath says "Swear," and now Hamlet with due reverence replies—

Rest, rest perturbed spirit—


for now painful reflections come again, of responsibility and sorrow, and perhaps of some conscious feebleness, and of how little "so poor a man as Hamlet is may to help others, and of unfitness, for a time out of joint, and of the spite of fate that had sent him into the world" to set it right."

The injunction to his friends to abstain from all indications of being able to account for his conduct, however strange his conduct may hereafter appear, has generally been adduced as indubitably proving

that all Hamlet's subsequent eccentricity is to be interpreted as mere acting. It is as generally overlooked that the interpretation can scarcely extend to the eccentricity previously manifested, or explain his conduct and language before he had heard anything of the appearance of his father's ghost. Among his confused resolves, that of feigning madness seems suddenly to have suggested itself, either as subsidiary to some equally obscure plan of revenging his father's death, or merely to account for the wild words he had been uttering. The suggestion might have arisen in his mind in the short interval between the departure of the ghost from his sight and his rejoining his friends. We shall find that it is never acted upon as a part of a consistent plan, but recurs to him now and then, and fitfully, and is at such times acted upon, not as a deliberately planned conduct, but as something lost sight of amidst the real tumult of a mind unfeignedly disordered. A critic of the highest class, and who appears to have accepted the simulation of Hamlet's madness without question, has yet been constrained by a consideration of these and other wild passages


say that

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