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His entreaties to Paris—“O be gone !”—are full of the same tenderness. He is constrained to fight with him--he slays him, but he almost weeps over him, as
"One writ with me in sour misfortune's book. The remainder of Romeo's speech in the tomb is, as Coleridge has put it, “the master example, how beauty can at once increase and modify passion.”
From this world-wearied flesh.” This is the one portion of the “ melancholy elegy on the frailty of love, from its own nature and external circumstances,"* which Romeo sings before his last sleep. And how beautifully is the corresponding part sung by the waking and dying Juliet !
“ What's here? a cup, clos'd in my true love's hand ?
Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end :
To make me die with a restorative." They have paid the penalty of the fierce hatreds that were engendered around them, and of their own precipitancy. But their misfortunes and their loves have healed the enmities of which they were the victims.“ Poor sacrifices !” Capulet may now say,
"O, brother Montague, give me thy hand." They have left a peace behind them which they could not taste themselves. But their first “rash and unadvis'd” contract was elevated into all that was pure and beautiful, by their after sorrows and their constancy; and in happier regions their affections may put on that calmness of immortality which the aucients typified in their allegory of “Love and the Soul.”
STATE OF THE Text, AND CHRONOLOGY, OF HAMLET. The earliest edition of Hamlet known to exist is that of 1603. It bears the following title : 'The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, by William Shake-speare. As it hath beene diverse times acted by his Highnesse servants in the Cittie of London : as also in the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and elsewhere. At London, printed for N. L. and John Trundell, 1603.' The copy of this edition in the library of the Duke of Devonshire wants the last leaf. This was reprinted in 1825. Another copy is known, without the title-page.
The second edition of Hamlet was printed in 1604, under the following title : The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke. By William Shakespeare. Newly imprinted and enlarged to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and perfect coppie. Printed by J. R. for N. Landure, 1604, 4to.' This edition was reprinted in 1605, in 1609, in 1611, and there is also. a quarto edition without a date. Steevens has reprinted the edition of 1611, in his twenty plays.
In the folio of 1623 some passages which are found in the quarto of 1604 are omitted. In our tert we have given these passages, indicating them as they occur. In other respects our text, with one or two minute exceptions, is wholly founded upon the folio of 1623. From this circumstance our edition will be found considerably to differ from the text of Johnson and Steevens, of Reed, of Malone, and of all the current editions which are founded upon these. Mr. Caldecott alone, in his
Specimen of an Edition of Shakspeare,' privately printed in 1832, recognises the authority of the folio of 1623. We cannot comprehend the pertinacity with which Steevens and Malone rejected this authority. There cannot be a doubt, we apprehend, that the verbal changes in the text were the corrections of the author. We have given the parallel passages in the quarto of 1604 in our foot notes.
In the reprint of the edition of 1603, it is stated to be “the only known copy of this tragedy, as Griginally written by Shakespeare, which he afterwards altered and enlarged.” We believe that this description is correct; that this remarkable copy gives us the play as originally written by Shakspere. It may have been piratical, and we think it was so. It may, as Mr. Collier says, have been "published in haste from a short-hand copy, taken from the mouths of the players.” But this process was not applied to the finished Hamlet; the Hamlet of 1603 is a sketch of the perfect Hamlet, and probably a corrupt copy of that sketch. Mr. Caldecott believes that this copy exhibits, “in that which was afterwards wrought into a splendid drama, the first conception, and comparatively feeble expression, of a great mind." We think, further, that this first conception was an early conception; that it was remodelled,—“enlarged to almost as much againe as it was," – at the beginning of the 17th century; and that this original copy being then of comparatively little value was piratically published.
It is, perhaps, fortunate as regards the integrity of the current text of Hamlet, that the quarto of 1603 was unknown to the commentators; for they unquestionably would have done with it as they did with the first sketch of Romeo and Juliet. They would have foisted passages into the amended play which the author had rejected, and have termed this process a recorery of the original text. Without employing this copy in so unjustifiable a manner, we have availed ourselves of it, in several cases, as throwing a new light upon difficult passages. But the highest interest of this edition consists, as we believe, in the opportunity which it affords of studying the growth, not only of our great poet's command over language-not only of his dramatical skill,—but of the higher qualities of his intellect-his profound philosophy, his wonderful penetration into what is most bidden and obscure in men's characters and motires. We request the reader's indulgence whilst we attempt to point out some of the more important considerations which have suggested themselves to us, in a careful study of this original edition.
And, first, let us state that all the action of the amended Hamlet is to be found in the first sketch. The play opens with the scene in which the Ghost appears to Horatio and Marcellus. The order of the dialogue is the same; but, in the quarto of 1604, it is a little elaborated. The grand passage beginning
" In the most high and palms state of Rome," is not found in this copy; and it is omitted in the folio. The second scene introduces us, as at present, to the King, Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, and Laertes, but in this copy Polonius is called Corambis. The dialogue here is much extended in the perfect copy. We will give an example :(Quarto of 1603.]
(Quarto of 1604.] Ham. “My lord, 't is not the sable suit I wear;
Ham. " 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, No, nor the tears that still stand in my eyes,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected 'haviour of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shows of grief,
That can denote me truly : these, indeed, seem,
We would ask if it is possible that such a careful working up of the first idea could have been any other work thau that of the poet himself? Can the alterations be accounted for upon the principle that the first edition was an imperfect copy of the complete play, “ published in haste from a shorthand copy taken from the mouths of the players ?” Could the players have transformed the line
“ But I have that within which passeth show," into,
“ Him have I lost I must of force forgo," The haste of short-hand does not account for what is truly the refinement of the poetical art. The same nice elaboration is to be found in Hamlet's soliloquy in the same scene. In the first copy we have not the passage so characteristic of Hamlet's mind,
"How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world." Neither have we the noble comparison of “Hyperion to a satyr." The fine Shaksperian phrase, so deep in its metaphysical truth, “a beast that wants discourse of reason," is, in the first copy, “ beast devoid of reason." Shakspere must have dropt verse from his mouth, as the fairy in the Arabian tales dropt pearls. It appears to have been no effort to him to have changed the whole arrangement of a poetical sentence, and to have inverted its different members; he did this as readily as if he were dealing with prose. In the first copy we have these lines, —
" Why, she would hang on him as if increase
of appetite had grown by what it look'd on."