Page images
PDF
EPUB

llam. I have heard of your paintings that from which in the meekness of too, well enough; God hath given you thy lamenting sorrow thou behold'st one face, and you make yourselves an- “that noble and most sovereign reaother ; you jig, you amble, and you lisp, son” fall like a star from its sphere ! and nick-name God's creatures, and make But hear another speak, who always vour wantonness your ignorance : Go to, speaks well: I'll no more of 't; it hath made me mad.

"We do not see him as a lover, nor as I say, we will have no more marriages : those that are married already, all but

Ophelia first beheld him ; for the days one, shall live; the rest shall keep as they

when he importuned her with love were

before the opening of the drama--before are. To a nunnery, go.

his father's spirit revisited the earth ; but (Exit HAMLET.

we behold him at once in a sea of trouOph. O, what a noble mind is here

bles, of perplexities, of agonies, of terrors.

bles. of per o'erthrown!

A loathing of the crime he is called on to The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye,

revenge, which revenge is again abhorrent tongue, sword:

to his nature, have set him at strife with The expectancy and rose of the fair state, himself; the supernatural visitation has The glass of fashion, and the mould of perturbed his soul to its inmost depths ; form,

all things else, all interests, all hopes, all The observ'd of all observers: quite, quite affections, annen

affections, appear as futile, when the madown!

jestic shadow comes lamenting from its And I, of ladies most deject and wretched, place of torment " to shake him with That guck'd the honey of his music vows,

thoughts beyond the reaches of his soul!' Now see that noble and most sovereign His love for Ophelia is then ranked by reason,

himself among those trivial, fond records Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and which be has deeply sworn to erase from •harsh;

his heart and brain. He has no thought That unmatch'd form and feature of

to link his terrible destiny with hers; he blown youth,

cannot marry her ; he cannot reveal to Blasted with ecstasy: 0, woe is me!

her, young, gentle, innocent as she is, To have seen what I have seen, see what the terrific influences which have chanI see !"

ged the whole current of his life and purShakspeare and Mrs Jameson were poses. In his distraction, he overacts the right. Ophelia herself knew that painful part to which he had tasked himHamlet loved her ;- and Hamlet

self; he is like that judge of the Areopaknew that Ophelia knew that he

gus, who, being occupied with graver mat

ters, flung from him the little bird which loved her, and therefore he used her

had sought refuge in his bosom, and that thus; for no behaviour of his, he was

with such angry violence, that unwittingwell assured, could ever make his

119 ly he killed it. “soul's idol” “ doubt he loved.” That

"In the scene with Hamlet, in which he doubt would have broken her heart. madly outrages her and upbraids himself, But Hamlet wished not to break Ophelia says very little; there are two Ophelia's heart, whatever else he short sentences in which she replies to his may have wished; and what he wild, abrupt discoursewished is “ hard to be scanned.” Ham. I did love you once.

Oph. Indeed, my lord, you made me believe so.

Ilam. You should not have believed me : for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it. I loved you not.

Oph. I was the more deceived.' ing escapes her lips; all she feels is - pity! She is “ of ladies most de

“ Those who ever heard Mrs Siddons ject and wretched;" but not because read the play of

read the play of Hamlet, cannot forget the no more she “sucks the honey of

ev of world of meaning, of love, of sorrow, of his music vows;" but to see “ Oh!

despair, conveyed in these two simple what a noble mind is here o'er

phrases. Here, and in the soliloquy af

terwards, where she saysthrown !" And never was wreck of

"And I of ladies most deject and wretched. mind so sublimely painted in words That sucked the honey of his music vows,' as by her, the simple of heart! are the only allusions to herself and her when at last she exclaims, “ O, woe own feelings in the course of the play ; is me!” The woe is —" to have and these, uttered almost without conseen what I have seen! see what I sciousness on her own part, contain the see!” O sinless being ! uplifted by revelation of a life of love, and disclose the thy self-forgetting innocence to a secret burden of a heart bursting with its loftier height of humanity even than own unuttered grief. She believes Ham

let crazed : she is repulsed, she is forsa- our heresy of 1818; and have sworn ken, she is outraged, where she had ben by the book to be orthodox. stowed her young heart, with all its hopes We have looked on Ophelia as and wishes ; her father is slain by the God made her, let us see her as she hand of her lover, as it is supposed, in a was made by Hamletparoxysm of insanity; she is entangled

« Divided from herself and her fair inextricably in a web of horrors wbich

judgment." she cannot even comprehend, and the result seems inevitable.”

She had seemed formerly in the

court, “in her loveliness and puriOphelia would have forgiven Ham

ty, like a seraph that had wandered let every thing, but it seems she had

out of bounds, and yet breathed on nothing to forgive. Therefore at the

the earth the air of paradise.” Behold Play we can imagine her again hap- her now! py, since Hamlet seems to his sweet senses restored.

6 Queen. - I will not speak with her.

Hor. She is importunate; indeed, disHamlet. Lady! Shall I lie in your lap?

tract; (Lying down at Ophelia's feet.) Her mood will needs be pitied. Ophelia. No, my lord.

Queen. What would she have ? Hamlet. I mean my head upon your Hor. She speaks much of her father; lap.

says, she hears, Ophelia. Aye, my lord.”

There's tricks l’the world; and hems, and We must not find fault with Ham

beats her heart ; let's wit throughout this scene, for Spurns enviously at straws ; speaks things though Ophelia could not choose but in doubt, wonder, yet she was not critical on That carry but half sense : her speech is what she did not more than half-un

nothing, derstand; and though her Hamlet Yet the unshaped use of it doth move might seem to ber to speak strangely, The hearers to collection ; they aim at it, he was not the Hamlet who frighten- And botch the words up fit to their own ed her when“ sewing in her closet,”

thoughts ; the Hamlet for whom she cried, “ 6 Which, as her winks, and nods, and geswoe is me!” in the room in the castle.

tures, yield them, Half-glad and half-sad was she now

Indeed would make one think, there might to be able to say, “ You are merry, a

be thought, my lord.”

8. Though nothing sure, yet much unhapAfter that night we see Ophelia

Queen. 'Twere good she were spoken in her right wits never again. It was well for Hamlet that the slayer Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding

with; for she may strew of her father saw her not in the state

minds : to which that slaughter, and other Let her come in. [Erit HORATIO. causes connected with him, had re- To my sick soul, as sin's true nature is, duced her; for surely he had then Each toy seems prologue to some great been more dismally deranged by

amiss : such image, than even by his father's So full of artless jealousy is guilt, ghost. That, revisiting the glimpses It spills itself in fearing to be spilt. of the moon, made night hideous; Re-enter Horatio with Ophelia. this would indeed have darkened the Oph. Where is the beauteous majesty sunlight, or rather made the ceru

of Denmark? lean vault of Heaven lurid as the dun

Queen. How now, Ophelia ? cope of Hell. Would he then, to Oph. How should I your true love use the palliating language of Mrs

know Jameson,“ have ranked his love for From another one ? Ophelia among those trivial fond rea By his cockle hat and staff, cords which he has deeply sworn to And his sandal shoon. [Singing. erase from his heart and brain ?Queen. Alas, sweet lady, what imports Alas! methinks to drive one's young this song? true love mad by wild words and Oph. Say you ? nay, pray you, mark. rash deeds, though not so wicked, He is dead and gone, lady, [Sings. was more lamentable than to pour He is dead and gone; the juice of cursed hellebore from At his head a grass-green turf, a pbial into the ear of an old sleep

At his heels a stone, ing king! But we are relapsing into 0, ho! VOL. XXXIII. NO. ccy.

2D

pily.

Queen. Nay, but Ophelia,

O heavens! is't possible, a young maid's Oph. Pray you mark.

wits White his shroud as the mountain snow. Should be as mortal as an old man's life?

[Sings. Nature is fine in love : and, where 'tis

fine, Enter King.

It sends some precious instance of itself
Queen. Alas, look here, my lord. After the thing it loves.
Oph. Larded all with sweet flowers;

Ophelia.
Which bewept to the grave did go,

They bore him barefac'd on the bier ;
With true-love showers.

Hey no nonny, nonny hey nonny: King. How do you, pretty lady?

And in his grave rain'd many a tear; Opk. Well, God 'ield you! They say, Fare you well, my dove! the owl was a baker's daughter. Lord, Laer. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst we know what we are, but know not

persuade revenge, what we may be. God be at your table! I

It could not move thus. King. Conceit upon her father.

Oph. You must sing, Down-a-down, Opħ. Pray, let us have no words of

an you call him a-down-a. O, how the this; but when they ask you, what it

wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, means, say you this :

that stole his master's daughter. Good morrow, 'tis St Valentine's day, Laer. This nothing's more than matAll in the morning betime,

ter. And I a maid at your window,

Oph. There's rosemary, that's for reTo be your Valentine:

membrance ; pray you, love, remember;

and there is pansies, that's for thoughts. Then up he rose, and don'd his clothes,

Laer. A document in madness; thoughts And dupp'd the chamber door ;

and remembrance fitted. Let in the maid, that out a maid

Oph. There's fennel for you, and coNever departed more.

lumbines :-—there's rue for you; and King. Pretty Ophelia !

here's some for me:-we may call it, herb Opħ. Indeed, without an oath, I'll of grace o' Sundays :—you may wear your make an end on't:

rue with a difference. — There's a daisy:

-I would give you some violets; but By Gis, and by Saint Charity,

they withered all, when my father died : Alack, and fye for shame! Young men will do't, if they come to t;

- They say, he made a good end,

for bonny sweet Robin is all my joy, By cock, they are to blame.

[Sings. Quoth she, Before you tumbled me, Laer. Thought and affliction, passion, You promised me to wed :

hell itself. He answers.

She turns to favour, and to prettiness. So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,

Sings. An thou hadst not come to my bed. Oph. And will he not come again? Ring. How long hath she been thus ?

And will he not come again? Oph. I hope all will be well. We

No, no, he is dead, must be patient : but I cannot choose but

Go to thy death-bed, weep, to think they should lay him i'the

He never will come again. cold ground: My brother shall know of

His beard was as white as snow, it, and so I thank you for your good coun

All flaxen was his poll : sel. Come, my coach! Good night,

He is gone, he is gone, ladies; good night, sweet ladies, good

And we cast away moan; night, good night.

[Exit.

God 'a mercy on his soul !

And of all Christian souls! I pray God. Laer. How now! what noise is that?

God be wi' you! [Exit Oraelia. Enter Opụelia, fantastically dressed with

Laer. Do you see this, O God ?" straws and flowers. O heat, dry up my brains! tears seven

No hint had been given of what times salt,

had happened to Ophelia. Perhaps Burn out the sense and virtue of mine

there were none to take notice of the eye!

change that came gradually upon her By heaven, thy madness shall be paid -perhaps in one hour or less, she with weight,

became insane. Her father had been Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of killed by Hamlet; and Hamlet was May!

moralizing far off on the "imminent Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelial death of twenty thousand men.”

“ Her brother bad in secret come lap at the play. She would have from France,” but “kept himself in died, rather than sing to Hamlet that clouds," and knew nothing of his night the songs she sings now-yet sister till he cried “How now! what she had not sung them now, had she noise is that?” The weak and wicked not been crazed with love ! “ Where queen, though she may have looked is the beauteous Majesty of Den“ with a kind of melancholy com- mark ?" She must mean Hamlet. placency on the lovely being she had He is dead and gone, lady, destined for the bride of her son,"

He is dead and gone ; was but heedless of her weal or woe, At his head a grass-green turf, and at the beginning of this sad scene

At his heels a stone." says “I will not speak with her ;” Means she her father? Perhaps-but and then—“'twere good she were

most likely not. Hamlet ? It is prospoken with ; for she may sow dan- bable. Mavhap but the dead man of gerous conjectures in ill-breeding the song. Enough that it is of death, minds." That “ cut-purse of the and burial. Or to that verse, as haply empire," who fears the babbling of to others too, she may attach no her insanity, had not heart even to meaning at all. A sad key once like Ophelia, when “sewing in her struck, the melancholy dirge may closet." Neglected had she been by flow on of itself, Memory and Conone and all all but Horatio, that sciousness accompanying not one noble soul of unpretending worth, another in her insanity! “ They say, and he knew not what ailed her till the owl was a baker's daughter. she was past all cure. He it is who Lord, we know what we are, but feelingly, and poetically, and truly know not what we may be. God be describes the maniac ; he it is who at your table.” The King says, brings her in; he it is who follows «co

“ conceit upon her father.” Adulher away-dumb all the while! And terous beast! it was no conceit on who with right souls but must have her father. The words refer to an been speechless amidst these gentle old 'story often related to children ravings? The adulterous and inces- to deter them from illiberal behatuous only it is that speak. “How viour to poor people. Our Saviour now, Ophelia ?” “Nay! but Ophelia,” went into a baker's shop, and asked 80 minceth the queen. “How do you for bread to eat—the baker's daughpretty lady?” “Pretty Ophelia !” So ter cried, “ heugh! beugh! heugh!” stuttereth the king. Faugh! the noi- which owl-like noise made our Sasome and loathsome hypocrites! So viour, for her wickedness, transform that her poor lips were but mute, her into that bird. Ophelia had both would have fain seen them learnt the story in the nursery, and sealed up with the blue mould of

she who was always charitable thinks the grave! But Laertes-he with all

of it now-God only knows whyhis faults and sins has a noble heart

and Shakspeare, who had heard such -his words are pathetic or pas dim humanities from the living lips of sionate

the deranged-as many have done Thought and aMiction, passion, hell its who are no Shakspeares-gave them self,

utterance from the lips of the sweet. She turns to favour, and to prettipess." est phantom that ever wailed her

woes in hearing of a poet's brain. Do you see this, O God ?"

“ The mildewed ear who blasted his Horatio says, “ her speech is no- wholesome brother,” shews his vul. thing." It is nearly nothing. But gar stupidity by asking considerately, the snatches of old songs, they are “ How long hath she been thus ?" something-as they come flowing in But Ophelia's soul is deaf to all music from their once hushed rest- outward sounds-all but her own ing-places far within her memory, sweet voice! And now she does inwhich they had entered in her days deed think for a moment, and but a of careless childhood, and they have moment, of her father, and nobody a meaning now that gives them dole- else. “ I cannot choose but weep to ful utterance. It is Hamlet who is think they should lay bim i' the cold the Maniac's Valentine. “You are ground. My brother shall know of merry, my lord,” is all she said to it.” She has forgot that Hamlet him as he lay with his head on her killed him for had she thought of

lia !”

that, she would not have told Laer- Ophelia is insane. Her sweet mind lies tes. The darker clouds vanish-and in fragments before us-a pitiful specta. Ophelia, who, when in her senses, cle! Her wild, rambling fancies; her cared pought about coaches, is plea- aimless, broken speeches; her quick sed, when out of them, with this transitions from gaiety to sadness_each world's poor vanities ! and gaily bids equally purposeless and causeless; ber good night to a bevy of court ladies ! snatches of old ballads, such as perhaps

Horatio was a wise keeper of the her nurse sang her to sleep with in her insane. He did not seek to restrain infancy-are all so true to the life, that her in her harmless fancies. So we forget to wonder, and can only weep. Ophelia re-appears, fantastically

It belonged to Shakspeare alone so to dressed with straws and flowers.

temper such a picture that we can en

dure to dwell upon it“ O rose of May!

• Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself, Dear maid ! kind sister! sweet Ophe She turns to favour and to prettiness.

" That in her madness she should exShe is somewhat more composed change her bashful silence for empty - perhaps by that act of wild adorn babbling, her sweet maidenly demeanour ment. She is conscious of presences; for the impatient restlessness that spurns and it may be that there is something at straws, and say and sing precisely fitting in her floral gifts-her floral what she never would or could have emblems. « There's rue for you, [the uttered had she been in possession of her Queen,7 and here's some for me. We reason, is so far from being an impromay call it herb of grace o' Sun- priety, that it is an additional stroke of days," contains a world of woe! nature." “ You, madam,” says Ophelia to the Who but Shakspeare could have Queen, “may call your rue by its found a fitting death for Ophelia ? Sunday name, 'herb of grace,' and She knew not what death to herself 80 wear it with a difference, to dis- did mean; dim and strange were tinguish it from mine, which can her thoughts of death even to them never be any thing but merely rue— who had disappeared. She knew that is-sorrow.” Well said, STEE- not that fire would burn, that water VENS. “I would give you some vio- would drown. For she was what lets, but they wither'd all when my“ we grave livers do in Scotland” father died.” She is sorry for the call “ an Innocent.” The Queen was violets. They are not worth giving affected, after a fashion, by the picaway-but they are worth keeping- turesque mode of her death, and and she will keep them, though she takes more pleasure in describing it soon forgets for what they withered, than any one would who really bad for now * Bonny sweet Robin is all a heart. Gertrude was a

a heart. Gertrude was a gossipmy joy." Hamlet once more-but for and she is gross even in her grief. a moment; and she who was 80 strong in filial piety, again chants

Queen. Your sister'sdrown'd Laertes. about her father, and sees the com

Laer. Drown'd! 0, where? mon conclusion of monumental in

Queen. There is a willow grows asscriptions_“ And of all Christian

caunt the brook,

That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy 'souls, I pray God !-God be wi'

stream; you !"

Therewith fantastic garlands did she of her subsequent madness what make can be said ? What an astonishing - Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and what an affecting picture of a mind ut

long purples, terly, hopelessly wrecked !-past hope- That liberal shepherds give a grosser past cure! There is the frenzy of ex.

name, cited passion—there is the madness But our cold maids do dead men's fingers caused by intense and continued thought

call them : there is the delirium of fevered nerves; There on the pendant boughs lier corobut Ophelia's madness is distinct from

net weeds these : it is not the suspension, but the Clambering to hang, an envious sliver utter destruction of the reasoning powers:

broke ; it is the total imbecility which, as medi- When down her weedy trophies, and her. cal people well know, too frequently

self, follows some terrible shock to the spirits. Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes Constance is frantic ; Lear is mad; spread wide;

« PreviousContinue »