Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 28

ASTORLENOX AND TILDEN "OUNDATIONS

1901

MISCELLAN I E S.

Ham let.

CHAPTER XXXV.

Obligations of the public to Mr. Stephens and Mr.

Malone. --The time, when Hamlet was firft a£ted, not certainly authenticated.--Shakspeare's frequent additions to those plays he valued.-Hamlet, first play of Shakspeare acted at the duke's theatre. Popularity of Hamlet.- Francisco and Boheme.--Voltaire's disingenuity.--Rivals of the watch:The word stomach explained.- A little more than kin, and less than kind.—Too much i'th'sun.A common thought notly expressed.-- Dr. Johnson fupposed to be mistaken.- Parallel passage, in the Supplicants of Æschylus, to the advice of Laertes.

-Kings of Denmark lovers of Rhenish.--Their intoxication.- Masque of the Queen of Sheba.A wbole Court inebriated.-Dram of base.A pallage rectified with a small alteration. Reverend Mr. Robertson. - Complete steel.--Beetles o'er his base.-Confin’d to fast in fires.- Lucian's Dialogue of Menippus, &c.—Juice of cursed Hebenon.-Galen, Diofcorides, Celfus, &c.-Distracted globe.-The first act of Hamlet unequalled. --Ghost of Darius, from Æschylus.- A good leffon for princes.--Dr. Potter and Mr. Rumney

Ghost of Laius.--Of Ninus, in Semiramis.- La VOL. III.

B

Clar

Clairan, Le Kin, and the properly-man.-- Difcuffion of the manner of addresing the Ghost by Hamlet.--Taylor, Sir W. Davenant, Betterton. Macklin and Henderson.-Colley Cibber and Mr. Addison.— Booth and Wilks.— Booth's superiority

in the Ghoft. All lovers of Shakspeare are indebted to Mr. Steevens and Ms. Malone, for their diligent researches into every thing which related to this great man and his family, and more especially to the immortal part of him, his writings. The chronological series of his plays, with large and instructive notes, is a very curious and interesting composition, in which Mr. Malone has endeavoured to authenticate the order and fix the dates of all the plays written by our great poet.

After a most ftri& examination into the time when Hamlet made its first appearance, Ms. Malone is, obliged to leave that circunstance rather undetermined, though he has, with some degree of probability, placed it to the year 1596. In my opinion, the firft sketch of it was brought on the stage more early. In all his pieces, for which he entertained a predile&ion, it is granted he made such additions as he thought would advance the credit of the play, and make it more palatable to an audience; and, as no one of his tragedies by con. sent of history and tradition, was more relished, by the inhabitants of this metropolis, than Hamlet, we have no reason to doubt, that he, from time to time, threw in such materials as would improve the original stock: so that the first and last Hamlet might be, in some respe&, as dissimilar, as Pope's Rape of the Lock, with the sylphs, and the fame poem without them.

The

The first play of Shakspeare, aded after the Restoration at the duke's theatre, if we may depend on the Narrative of Downs, was Hamlet ; the principal character was acted by Betterton, who often exhibited himself in this part, at the opening of the theatre, as an infallible lure to draw company. Wilks at Drury-lane, and Ryan at Lincoln's-inn fields, frequently chose this favourite part to open the winter season at these rival playhouses. From the first representation of Hamlet, to the present

day, we may reasonably conclude, that no dramatic ne piece whatever has laid hold on the public affection

so strongly and been a&ted so frequently,

Act I. Scene I.

FRANCISCO. For this relief much thanks : 'uis bitter cold, And I am fick at heart. The right expression of a simple thought is sometimes of considerable and unexpected consequence to the speaker. Mr. Boheme was about the year 1718, accidently seen by Rich, when playing with some itinerants at Stratford le Bow, who soon distinguished him from his companions, and hired him, at a small income, to act at his theatre in Lincoln's-inn fields. I have been told, that this actor was, on his first trial, cast into the triling part of Francisco. His unaffe&ted, yet feeling, manner, of pronouncing this short speech, roused the auditors to an altention of his merit. His salary was immediately increased by the manager, and he proved afterwards a great ornament of the stage.

I DE M.

Not a mouse stirring. Voltaire, who, in examining the merit of our author's plays, disdains the use of no unfair method

to

to depreciate them, has ridiculed this passage of Hamlet, as if the mention of a mouse were beneath the dignity of tragedy. But could there be a properer mode of describing the solitariness which reigned in the place, than by saying that every thing was so ftill, that the soft tread of a small reptile had not been heard? The insignificance of an object does by no means lessen the general idea. Have not the most celebrated antient dramatic writers admitted thoughts as low, and words more gross and offensive, into their best tragedies ? How does the nice ear of a Frenchman relish the filthy plasters and nasty rags which Phi. loetetes applies to his fores? Yet Sophocles un. derstood nature, and the laws of decorum, I pre. sume, as perfe&ly as Voltaire. Tiresias's de scription, in Antigone, of the ordure and filth of the ill-omened birds who had fed on the carcass of Polynices, would raise a naufea in the stomach of a delicate French critic! Men of solid judgment and true taste despise such refinement.

BERNARDO, If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watchDr. Warburton will have rivals to mean partners.

Blunt derives the word from rivus, or rivilus, or from men fetching water from a neighbouring river, or rivulet. Hanmer says, rivals are those men who watch upon an adjoining ground: by this interpretation, they, who are to succeed Bernardo, must have indeed gone through very hard service, as they were called from one ad of duty to another. But, without a learned explanation, it is plain, by rivals, that Shakspeare means, those men who were appointed next to relieve soldiers on the

watch.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »