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Accordingly we may take Notice, that Hamlet's Speech to his Father's Shade is as much fuperior to that of Horatio upon the fame Occafion, as his is to any Thing of that kind that I have ever met with in any other Dramatick Poet.

HAMLET'S Invocation of the heavenly Ministers, is extremely fine; and the begging their Protection upon the Appearance of a Sight fo fhocking to human Nature, is entirely conformable to the virtuous Character of this Prince, and gives an Air of Probability to the whole Scene. He accofts the Ghoft with great Intrepidity; and his whole Speech is fo full of the Marks of his Filial Piety, that we may eafily obferve, that his Tenderness for his Father gets the better of all Sentiments of Terror which we could fuppofe to arife, even in the Breast of the most undaunted Perfon, upon the fecing and converfing with fo ftrange an Apparition.

His breaking from his Friends with that Vehemency of Paffion in an Eagerness of Defire to hear what his Father could fay to him, is another Proof of his Filial Tenderness.

THE Reader of himself must easily fee why the Spectre would not fpeak to the Prince, but a-part from thofe who were with him: For it was not a Secret of a Nature fit to be divulg'd. Their earnest Intreaties, and almoft Force which they ufe to keep him from going, are much in Nature; the Reasons they give him, and the Reflections they make af

ter

ter he is gone, are poetically exprefs'd, and very natural.

THE Ghoft's Account of the bafe Murther committed on him, is express'd in the strongest and most nervous Diction that Poetry can make use of; and he fpeaks with fuch Gravity and Weight of Language as well fuits his Condition. The Ideas he raifes in the Audience by his fhort Hint concerning the Secrets of his Prifon-Houfe, are fuch as muft caufe that Ter. ror which is the natural Effect of fuch Appearances, and muft occafion fuch Images as thould always accompany fuch Incidents in Tragedy.

THE Ghoft's bringing out the Account of his Murder by Degrees, and the Prince's Exclamations as he becomes farther acquainted with the Affair, are great Beauties in this Scene, because it is all entirely conformable to Na ture; that is, to thofe Ideas by which we naturally conceive, how a Thing of this fort would be managed and treated, were it really to happen.

WE are to obferve further, that the King fpurs on his Son to revenge his foul and unnatural Murder from these two Confiderations chiefly, that he was fent into the other World without having had Time to repent of his Sins, and without the neceffary Sacraments, (according to the Church of Rome,) as Mr. Theobalds, (See his Note, p. 253.) has well explained it,) and that confequently his Soul was to fuffer, if not eternal Damnation, at leaft a long Course of Penance in Purgatory;

which

which aggravates the Circumftances of his Bro ther's Barbarity. And, Secondly, That Denmark might not be the Scène of Ufurpation and Inceft, and the Throne thus polluted and profaned. For thefe Reasons he prompts the young Prince to Revenge; elfe it would have been more becoming the Character of fuch a Prince as Hamlet's Father is represented to have been, and more fuitable to his prefent Condition, to have left his Brother to the Divine Punishment, and to a Poffibility of Repentance for his bafe Crime, which by cutting him off, he must be deprived of.

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His Caution to his Son concerning his Mother, is very fine, and fhews great Delicacy in our Author; as has been obferv'd by a great Writer of our Nation. The Ghoft's Interrupting himself (but soft, methinks, I fcent the Morning Air, &c.) has much Beauty in it, particularly, as it complys with the received Notions, that Spirits fhun the Light, and continues the Attention of the Audience by fo particular a Circumstance.

THE Sequel of this Scene by no Means anfwers the Dignity of what we have hitherto been treating of. Hamlet's Soliloquy, after the Ghoft has difappeared, is fuch as it fhould be. The Impatience of Horatio, &c. to know the Result of his Conference with the Phantom, and his putting them off from knowing it, with his Caution concerning his future Conduct, and his intreating them to be filent in Relation to this whole Affair; all this, I

fay,

fay, is natural and right; but his light and even ludicrous Expreffions to them; his making them fwear by his Sword, and fhift their Ground, with the Ghoft's Crying under the Stage, and Hamlet's Reflection thereupon, are all Circumstances certainly inferiour to the preceeding Part.

BUT as we fhould be very cautious in finding Fault with Men of fuch an exalted Genius as our Author certainly was, left we fhould blame them when in reality the Fault lies in our own flow Conception, we should well confider what could have been our Author's View in fuch a Conduct. I must confefs, I have turn'd this Matter on every Side, and all that can be faid for it (as far as I am able to penetrate) is, that he makes the Prince put on this Levity of Behaviour, that the Gentlemen who were with him, might not imagine that the Ghost had reveal'd fome Matter of great Confequence to him, and that he might not therefore be fufpected of any deep Defigns. This appears plaufible enough; but let it be as it will, the whole, I think, is too lightly managed, and fuch a Defign as I have mention'd might, in my Opinion, have been anfwered by fome other Method more corref pondent to the Dignity and Majesty of the preceeding Part of the Scene. I must observe once more, that the Prince's Soliloquy is exquifitely beautiful.

I SHALL Conclude what I have to fay on this Scene, with obferving, that I do not

know

know any Tragedy, ancient or modern, in any Nation, where the Whole is made to turn fo naturally and fo justly upon fuch a fupernatural Appearance as this is; nor do I know of any Piece whatever, where a Spectre is introduced with so much Majesty, fuch an Air of Probability, and where fuch an Apparition is manag'd with fo much Dignity and Art; in fhort, which fo little revolts the Judgment and Belief of the Spectators. Nor have I ever met in all my Reading, with a Scene in any Tragedy, which creates fo much Awe, and ferious Attention as this does, and which raises fuch a Multiplicity of the most exalted Sentiments. It is certain, our Author excell'd in this kind of Writing, as has been more than once observed by feveral Writers, and none ever before or fince his Time, could ever bring Inhabitants of another World upon the Stage, without making them ridiculous or too horrible, and the Whole too improbable and too fhocking to Men's Understandings.

ACT II.

Polonius and Reynoldo, and afterwards.
Ophelia.

POLONIUS'S Discourse to Reynoldo is of a good moral Tenour, and thus far it is ufeful to the Audience. His forgetting what he was faying, (p. 260.) as is ufual with old

Men,

2

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