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quently happens too, if anger or resentment have taken poffeffion of the soul, and have excited a desire of vengeance ; and if there is yet some uncertainty concerning the reality or grossness of the injury we have received, that, till reflection operates, we are better pleased to have our suspicions confirmed and our resentment gratified, than to be convicted of an error, and so be delivered from a painful paffion. Hamlet, pleased with the success of his project, though its issue justified his resentment, discovers gaiety, the natural expression and sign of joy.
Why, let the strucken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled play:
So runs the world away.
No scene was ever better imagined than that where Rosincrantz and Guildenstern accost the prince. The creatures of Claudius, and, instigated by the queen, they are employed as spies upon Hamlet. He perceives it, and treats them with deferved contempt: In such a manner, however, as to conceal, as much as poffible, the real state of his mind. Yet he is teazed with their importunity: The transient gaiety of his humour, as it proceeded from a transient cause, is soon diffipated, and is * succeeded by reflections on his condition. His anger and resentment are inflamed ; and, indignant that the unworthy engines of a vile usurper should be thought capable of infnaring him, he confounds them, by shewing them he had penetrated their design, and overwhelms them with the supercilious dignity of his displeasure.
Ham. Will you play upon this pipe ?
Ham. 'Tis as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent mufic, Look you, these are the stops,
Guil. But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
Ham. Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me? you would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery ; you would found me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak. Why, do you think, that I am eafier to be play'd on than a pipe?
The king, alarmed by the consciousness of his guilt, and rendered wary by the suspicions naturally accompanying the dread of punishment, becomes exceedingly apprehenfive of the design's of Hamlet. Accordingly, he engages his mother to question him, to fift his soul, and detect him. Rofincrantz and Guildenstern invite him to the conference. They are followed by another engine, who, with all the fawning and self-fufficiency of a courtier, grown grey in adulation and paltry cunning, endeavours, by affentation, to secure his confidence, and so elicit his secret purpose. Hamlet, fretted and exasperated with a treatment so ill-fuited to his sentiments and understanding, receives him with contempt; he endeavours to impose on him the belief of his madness, but can hardly bridle his indignation.
Pol. My Lord, the Queen would speak with you, and
prefently. Ham. Do you see yonder cloud, that's almost in shape
of a camel ? Pol. By the mass, and its like a camel, indeed, &c.
The perfidy and guilt of Claudius are now unquestioned. All the circumstances of the murder are stamped indelibly on the imagination of Hamlet.
Yet, though vehemently incenfed, the gentle and affectionate principles of his nature preserve their influence, and to the unhappy Gertrude he will not be inhuman. His character, in this particular, is finely distinguished from the Orestes either of Sophocles or of Euripides. His gentleness is far more natural, and renders him more amiable and more esteemed * His violent resentment against his uncle is contrasted in a very striking manner, with the warnings of his moral faculty, and the tenderness of his affection.
'Tis now the very witching time of night, When church-yards yawn, and hell itself breathes out Contagion 'to this world, Now could I drink hod
And do such bitter bufiness as the day
The scene between the Queen and Hamlet has been highly celebrated, and
. In favour of Orestes, it may, however, be arguedg. that he was compelled to put Clytemnestra to death by religious motives and the voice of an oracle: Hamlet, on the contrary, was deterred by a similar authority from conceiving vengeance against the Queen, and was warned by the ghoft,
Not to contrire against his mother aught,