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HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK.] The original story on which this play is built, may be found in Saxo Grammaticus the Danish hiftorian. From thence Belleforeft adopted it in his collection of novels, in feven volumes, which he began in 1564, and continued to publish through fucceeding years. From this work, The Hyftorie of Hamblett, quarto, bl. I. was tranflated. I have hitherto met with no earlier edition of the play than one in the year 1604, though it must have been performed before that time, as I have feen a copy of Speght's edition of Chaucer, which formerly belonged to Dr. Gabriel Harvey, (the antagonist of Nash) who, in his own hand-writing, has fet down Hamlet, as a performance with which he was well acquainted, in the year 1598. His words are thefe: "The younger fort take much delight in Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis; but his Lucrece, and his tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke, have it in them to please the wifer fort, 1598."
In the books of the Stationers' Company, this play was entered by James Roberts, July 26, 1602, under the title of " A booke called The Revenge of Hamlett, Prince of Denmarke, as it was lately acted by the Lord Chamberlain his fervantes."
In Eastward Hoe, by George Chapman, Ben Jonfon, and John Marfton, 1605, is a fling at the hero.of this tragedy. A footman named Hamlet enters, and a tankard-bearer asks him-"'Sfoote, Hamlet, are you mad?"
The frequent allufions of contemporary authors to this play fufficiently fhow its popularity. Thus, in Decker's Bel-man's Nightwalkes, 4to. 1612, we have-" But if any mad Hamlet, hearing this, fmell villainie, and rufh in by violence to see what the tawny diuels [gypfies] are dooing, then they excufe the fact" &c. Again, in an old collection of Satirical Poems, called The NightRaven, is this couplet:
"I will not cry Hamlet Revenge my greeves,
Surely no fatire was intended in Eastward Hoe, which was acted at Shakspeare's own playhouse, (Blackfriers,) by the children of the revels, in 1605. MALONE.
The following particulars relative to the date of this piece, are borrowed from Dr. Farmer's Essay on the Learning of Shakspeare, p. 85, 86, fecond edition :
"Greene, in the Epiftle prefixed to his Arcadia, hath a lash at fome vaine glorious tragedians,' and very plainly at Shakspeare in particular. I leave all these to the mercy of their mothertongue, that feed on nought but the crums that fall from the tranflator's trencher. That could fcarcely latinize their neck verse if they should have neede, yet English Seneca read by candlelight
yeelds many good fentences-hee will afford you whole Hamlets, I fhould fay, handfuls of tragicall fpeeches.'I cannot determine exactly when this Epiftle was first published; but, I fancy, it will carry the original Hamlet fomewhat further back than we have hitherto done and it may be obferved, that the oldest copy now extant, is faid to be enlarged to almost as much againe as it was.' Gabriel Harvey printed at the end of the year 1592, Foure Letters and certaine Sonnetts, efpecially touching Robert Greene:' in one of which his Arcadia is mentioned. Now Nah's Epistle muft have been previous to these, as Gabriel is quoted in it with applaufe; and the Foure Letters were the beginning of a quarrel. Nah replied in Strange News of the intercepting certaine Letters, and a Convoy of Verses, as they were going privilie to victual the Low Countries, 1593.' Harvey rejoined the fame year in Pierce's Supererogation, or a new Praise of the old Affe.' And Nah again, in Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriell Harvey's Hunt is up;' containing a full answer to the eldest fonne of the halter-maker, 1596."-Nash died before 1606, as appears from an old comedy called The Return from Parnaffus. STEEVENS.
A play on the subject of Hamlet had been exhibited on the stage before the year 1589, of which Thomas Kyd was, I believe, the author. On that play, and on the bl. letter Hiftorie of Hamblet, our poet, I conjecture, conftructed the tragedy before us. The earliest edition of the profe-narrative which I have feen, was printed in 1608, but it undoubtedly was a republication.
Shakspeare's Hamlet was written, if my conjecture be well founded, in 1596. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of his Plays, Vol. I. MALONE.
Claudius, King of Denmark.
Hamlet,* fon to the former, and nephew to the prefent,
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
Francifco, a foldier.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and mother of Hamlet. Ophelia, daughter of Polonius.
Lords, Ladies, Officers, Soldiers, Players, Gravediggers, Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants.
* Hamlet,] i. e. Amleth. The b transferred from the end to the beginning of the name. STEVENS.
PRINCE OF DENMARK.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Elfinore. A Platform before the Caftle.
FRANCISCO on his poft. Enter to him BERNARDO.
BER. Who's there?
Nay, anfwer me: ftand, and unfold
BER. Long live the king!3
He. FRAN. You come most carefully upon your hour. BER. 'Tis now ftruck twelve; get thee to bed, Francifco.
FRAN. For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
And I am fick at heart.
BER. Have you had quiet guard?
Not a mouse stirring.
2 —me:] i. e. me who am already on the watch, and have a right to demand the watch-word. STEEVENS.
3 Long live the king!] This fentence appears to have been the watch-word. MALONE.
• 'Tis now ftruck twelve;] I ftrongly fufpect that the true reading is-new ftruck &c. So, in Romeo and Juliet, A& I. fc. i: "But new ftruck nine." STEEVENS.
BER. Well, good night.
do meet Horatio and Marcellus, The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste,
4 The rivals of my watch,] Rivals for partners.
So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1636: "Tullia. Aruns, affociate him.
"Aruns. A rival with my brother," &c. Again, in The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1637:
"And make thee rival in thofe governments." Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, A&t III. fc. v: "having made ufe of him in the wars against Pompey, prefently deny'd him rivality." STEEVENS.
By rivals the fpeaker certainly means partners (according to Dr. Warburton's explanation,) or thofe whom he expected to watch with him. Marcellus had watched with him before; whether as a centinel, a volunteer, or from mere curiofity, we do not learn: but, which ever it was, it feems evident that his ftation was on the fame fpot with Bernardo, and that there is no other centinel by them relieved. Poffibly Marcellus was an officer, whose business it was to vifit each watch, and perhaps to continue with it fome time. Horatio, as it appears, watches out of curiofity. But in Act II. fc. i. to Hamlet's queftion,-" Hold you the watch to-night?" Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo, all anfwer," We do, my honour'd lord." The folio indeed, reads-both, which one may with greater propriety refer to Marcellus and Bernardo. If we did not find the latter gentleman in fuch good company, we might have taken him to have been like Francifco whom he relieves, an honeft but common foldier. The ftrange indifcriminate ufe of Italian and Roman names in this and other plays, makes it obvious that the author was very little converfant in even the rudiments of either language. RITSON.
Rival is conftantly ufed by Shakfpeare for a partner or affociate. In Bullokar's English Expofitor, 8vo. 1616, it is defined, "One that fueth for the fame thing with another;" and hence Shakspeare, with his ufual licence, always ufes it in the fenfe of one engaged in the fame employment or office with another. Competitor, which is explained by Bullokar by the very fame words which he has employed in the definition of rival, is in like manner (as Mr. M. Mafon has obferved,) always used by Shakspeare for affociate. See Vol. III. P. 221, n. 5•
Mr. Warner would read and point thus: