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a broken heart. Slighter emotions affect our ordinary discourse; but deep distress, sitting in the secret gloom of the soul, casts not its regard on the common occurrences of life, but suffers them to trick themselves out in the usual garb of indifference, or of gaiety, according to the fashion of the society around it, or the situation in which they chance to arise. The melancholy man feels in himself (if I may be allowed the expression) a sort of double person; one which, covered with the darkness of its imagination, looks not forth into the world, nor takes any concern in vulgar objects or frivolous pursuits; another, which he lends, as it were, to ordinary men, which can accommodate itself to their tempers and manners, and indulge, without feeling any degradation from the indulgence, a smile with the cheerful, and a laugh with the giddy.

The conversation of Hamlet with the Grave-digger seems to me to be perfectly accounted for under this supposition; and, instead of feeling it counteract the tragic effect of the story, I never see him in that scene, without receiving, from his transient jests with the clown before him, an idea of the deepest melancholy being rooted at his heart. The light point of view in which he places serious and important things, marks the power of that great impression, which swallows up every thir else in his mind, which makes Cæsar and Alexander so indifferent to him, that he can trace their remains in the plaster of a cottage, or the stopper of a beer-barrel. It is from the same turn of mind, which, from the elevation of its sorrow, looks down on the bustle of ambition, and the pride of fame, that he breaks forth into the reflection in the fourth act, on the expedition of Fortinbras.

It is with regret, as well as deference, that I accuse the judgment of Mr Garrick, or the taste of his audience; but I VOL. IV.

2 c

cannot help thinking, that the exclusion of the scene of the Grave-digger, in his alteration of the tragedy of Hamlet, was not only a needless, but an unnatural violence done to the work of his favourite poet.

Shakespeare's genius attended him in all his extravagancies. In the licence he took of departing from the regularity of the drama, or in his ignorance of those critical rules which might have restrained him within it, there is this advantage, that it gives him an opportunity of delineating the passions and affections of the human mind, as they exist in reality, with all the various colourings which they receive in the mixed scenes of life; not as they are accommodated, by the hands of more artificial poets, to one great undivided impression, or an uninterrupted chain of congenial events. therefore preposterous, to endeavour 'to regularize his plays, at the expence of

It seems

depriving them of this peculiar excellence, especially as the alteration can only produce a very partial and limited improvement, and can never bring his pieces to the standard of criticism, or the form of the Aristotelian drama. Within the bounds of a pleasure-garden, we may be allowed to smooth our terraces, and trim our hedgerows; but it were equally absurd as impracticable, to apply the minute labours of the roller and the pruning-knife, to the nobler irregularity of trackless mountains and impenetrable forests.


FEB 1922

Printed by James Ballantyne & Co,

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