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CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark.
H A M L E T.
A C Τ Ι.
SCENE-A Platform before the Palace.
Enter BERNARDO and FRANCISCO, two Sentinels.
Bernardo. Who's there? (1)
HAMLET. In this second volume I proceed to the explanation of two of Shakspeare's plays, Hamlet and King Lear, by a like reference to the moon, as in the first volume; but though the ordinary duties of criticism, such as pointing out particular beauties and defects, or the preference of one reading to another, have been hitherto left to others, yet I cannot refrain from observing here, that, as to the first point, it is impossible the reader should not entertain a much higher idea of the art and ingenuity of these compositions, when he considers from what slender sources the Poet draws his characters; and, as to the second point, it will be found that the Poet's rigid adherence to the
prototypes, from whence he does, in fact, draw his characters, and to the adjuncts contiguous to them, furnishes a happy elucidation of a multitude of passages, which, either in the thought or expression, might otherwise be deemed quaint, uncouth, and inelegant.
Each play ought regularly to have its own independent explanation, but, in order to avoid much repetition or
circumlocution, as well as the re-engraving of many subjects, the reader will find himself referred to former notes and figures. Supposing him, therefore, as before, to look with attention into the map of the moon, and (whenever he finds such terms as mouse, cannon, sword, blow, &c. printed in the text in italics,) to trace out there the relative position of the prototypes of those things, I shall henceforth trouble hiin with fewer notes in proportion than those given upon Hudibras ; my principal object being to offer him a clear and correct notion of the dramatis personæ of each play, leaving many of the minuter allusions to his own investigation.
(1) Figure 46 gives a view of Francisco, whose prototype in the moon (its south side being placed uppermost,) is determined by the circumstance of his being told to go to bed: for his face and night-cap, which are in shadow, are alone seen; the rest of his body being enreJoped in light, or in white bed-clothes, as it were. His prototype is, in fact, composed of the same shadow which made up the second grave-digger in Hamlet, (fig. 73,) but considered as turned with the face the contrary way, or to the right.
(2) Bernardo is drawn in fig. 47. His prototype bas been before introduced in one of the characters on horse- back, in fig. 32. The expression unfold yourself, addressed
to him by Francisco, alludes to his being gradually developed, as more and more of the moon comes into view. Bernardo's face is in bright light, and nearly in a parallel line, and close to the shadows which compose Francisco's face; and this explains the expression used by the latter, Bernardo has my place. The frequent mention of watch, night, midnight, good night, &c. convey oblique intimations that the scene lies in the moon.
Ber. Long live the King!
[cold, Ber. Have you had quiet guard? Fran. Not a mouse stirring.
Ber. Well, good night.
(3) The south side of the moon being uppermost, there will appear, in light, about the region of the center, a likeness of the Roman numerals XII, as drawn in
upon which, in fact, Bernardo's prototype comes.