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When rest has restored some force to the human machine, the fixed idea shakes him again, and drives him onward, like a pitiles horseman, who has left his panting horse only for a moment, to leap again into the saddle, and spur him over precipices. The more he has done, the more he must do:
"I am in blood
Stepp'd is so far that, should I wade no more,
He kills in order to preserve the fruit of his murders. The fatal circlet of gold attracts him like a magic jewel; and he beats down, from a sort of blind instinct, the heads which he sees between the crown and him:
"But let the frame of things disjoint, both the
Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
Ay, and since too, murders have been per
Too terrible for the ear: the times have been,
And there an end; but now they rise again,
Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold
His body trembling like that of an
That shake us nightly: better be with the land, which he is depopulating, a ceme
"Where ... the dead man's knell Is there scarce ask'd for who; and good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
His soul is "full of scorpions." He
Macbeth has ordered Banquo to be murdered, and in the midst of a great teast he is informed of the success of his plan. He smiles, and proposes Banquo's health. Unexpectedly, conscience-smitten, he sees the ghost of the murdered man; for this phantom, which Shakspeare summons, is not a mere stage-trick: we feel that here the supernatural is unnecessary, and "Macbeth. She should have died hereaf that Macbeth would create it, even if ter; hel' would not send it. With mus-There would have been a time for such a word cles twitching, dilated eyes, his mouth half open with deadly terror, he sees it shake its bloody head, and cries with that hoarse voice which is only to be heard in maniacs' cells:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Life's but a walking snanow, a poor player
There remains for him the hardening
enemies, "bear-like, tied to a stake," he fights, troubled only by the prediction of the witches, sure of being invulnerable so long as the man whom they have described, does not appear. Henceforth his thoughts dwell in a supernatural world, and to the last he walks with his eyes fixed on the dream, which has possessed him, from the first.
A little month, o ere ose shoes were old With which she follow'd my poor father's body,
Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
thought, a beginning of hallucination,
He thinks he sees him. How then will it be when the "canonized bones have burst their cerements," "the sepulchre hath oped his ponderous and marble jaws," and when the ghost comes in the night, upon a high "plat form " of land to tell him of the tortures of his prison of fire, and of the fratricide, who has driven him thithstrengthens him, and he has a desire Hamlet grows faint, but grief for living:
The history of Hamlet, like that of Macbeth, is a story of moral poisoning. Hamlet has a delicate soul, an impassioned imagination, like that of Shak-age of his father rises before his mind. speare. He has lived hitherto, occupied in noble studies, skilful in mental and bodily exercises, with a taste for art, loved by the noblest father, enamored of the purest and most charming girl, confiding, generous, not yet having perceived, from the height of the throne to which he was born, aught but the beauty, happiness, grandeur of nature and humanity.* On this soul, which character and training make more sensitive than others, misortune suddenly falls, extreme, overwhelming, of the very kind to destroy all faith and every motive for action: with or glance he has seen all the vileness of humanity; and this insight 's given him in his mother. His mind is yet intact; but judge from the violence of his style, the crudity of his exact details, the terrible tension of the whole nervous machine, whether he has not already one foot on the verge of madness:
"Hold, hold, my heart;
And you my sinews, grow not instant old,
In this distracted globe.-Remember thee?
That one may smile, and smile, and be a vil-
At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark:
This convulsive outburst, this fe.
let cries, with a nervous excitement | own ideas; when ot and a fitful gayety:
Ah ha, boy! say'st thou so? art thou there, truepenny?
Come on-you hear this fellow in the cellar.
Understand that as he says this his eeth chatter, "pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other." Intense anguish ends with a kind of laughter, which is nothing else than a spasm. T'henceforth Hamlet speaks as though he had a continuous nervous attack. His madness is feigned, I admit; but his mind, as a door whose hinges are twisted, swings and bangs with every wind with a mad haste and with a discordant noise. He has no need to search for the strange ideas, apparent incoherencies, exaggerations, the delage of sarcasms which he accumulates. He finds them within him; he does himself no violence, he simply gives himself up to himself. When he has the piece played which is to unmask his uncle, he raises himself, lounges on the floor, lays his head in Ophelia's lap; he addresses the actors, and comments on the piece to the spectators; his nerves are strung, his excited thought is like a surging and crackling flame, and cannot find fuel enough in the multitude of objects surrounding it, upon all of which it seizes. When the king rises unmasked and troubled, Hamlet sings, and says, "Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers-if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with re-with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players, sir!"† And he laughs terribly, for he is resolved on murder. It is clear that this state is a disease, and that the man will not survive it.
In a soul so ardent of thought, and so mighty of feeling, what is left but disgust and despair? We tinge all nature with the color of our thoughts; we shape the world according to our * Hamlet, i. 5. ↑ Ibid. iii. 2.
soul is sick, we
see nothing bat sickness in the uni verse :
"This goodly frame, the earth, seems to ma a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopv, the air, look you, this brave o'er hanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of noble in reason! how infinite in faculty. ir vapours. What a piece of work is a man! how form and moving how express and adinirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? man delights not me: no, nor woman neither." *
Henceforth his thought sullies what. fore Ophelia against marriage and love. ever it touches. He rails bitterly beBeauty! Innocence ! Beauty is but a thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou means of prostituting innocence: "Get be a breeder of sinners? What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven? We are us." t arrant knaves, all; believe none of
accident, he hardly repents it; it is one When he has killed Polonius by fool less. He jeers lugubriously:
"King. Now Hamlet, where's Polonius? Hamlet. At supper.
K. At supper
H. Not where he eats, but where he is eaten a certain convocation of politic worms
are e'en at him." +
And he repeats in five or six fashions these grave-digger jests. His thoughts already inhabit a churchyard; to this hopeless philosophy a genuine man is a corpse. Public functions, honors passions, pleasures, projects, science, all this is but a borrowed mask, which death removes, so that people may see what we are, an evil-smelling and g in ning skuil. It is this sight he goes to see by Ophelia's grave. He count the skulls which the grave-digger turns up; this was a lawyer's, that a cour tier's. What bows, intrigues, preten sions, arrogance! And here now is a clown knocking it about with his spade, and playing at loggats with 'em." Cæsar and Alexander have turned to clay and make the earth fat; the mas ters of the world have served to "patch a wall." "Now get you to my lady' ↑ Ibid. iii. I.
* Ibid. ii. 2. ↑ Ibid. iv. 3.
nch thick, to this favor she must come; make her laugh at that."* When a man has come to this, there is nothing left but to die.
namber, and tell her, let her paint an | and will, dwelling in palaces cr pcrti cos, made for conversation and society, whose harmonious and ideal action is developed by discourse and replies, ir a world constructed by logic beyond the realms of time and piace.
This heated imagination, which explains Hamlet's nervous disease and If Shakspeare had framed a psychol his moral poisoning, explains also his ogy, he would have said, with Esqui conduct. If he hesitates to kill his rol: Man is a nervous machine, gov uncle, it is not from horror of blood or erned by a mood, disposed to halluci from our modern scruples. He belongs nations, carried away by unbridled pas to the sixteenth century. On board sions, essentially unreasoning, a mi ship he wrote the order to behead ture of animal and poet, having instead Rosencrantz and Guildensterr., and to of mind rapture, instead of virtue sendo so without giving them "shriving-sibility, imagination for prompter and time." He killed Polonius, he caused guide, and led at random, by the most Ophelia's death, and has no great re- determinate and complex circumstanmorse for it. If for once he spared ces, to sorrow, crime, madness, and his uncle, it was because he found him death. praying, and was afraid of sending him to heaven. He thought he was killing him, when he killed Polonius. What his imagination robs him of, is the coolness and strength to go quietly and with premeditation to plunge a sword into a breast. He can only do the thing on a sudden suggestion; he must have a moment of enthusiasm ; he must think the king is behind the arras, or else, seeing that he himself is poisoned, he must find his victim under his foil's point. He is not master of his acts; opportunity dictates them; he cannot plan a murder, but must improvise it. A too lively imagination exhausts the will, by the strength of images which it heaps up, and by the fury of intentness which absorbs it. You recognize in him a poet's soul, When we enter upon Shakspeare's made not to act, but to dream, which comedies, and even his half-dramas,† it is lost in contemplating the phantoms is as though we met him on the thresof its creation, which sees the imaginary hold, like an actor to whom the proworld too clearly to play a part in the logue is committed to prevent misunreal world; an artist whom evil chance derstanding on the part of the public, has made a prince, whom worse chance and to tell them: "Do not take too has made an avenger of crime, and seriously what you are about to hear : who, destined by nature for genius, is I am amusing myself. My brain, being condemned by fortune to madness and full of fancies, desired to array them, unhappiness. Hamlet is Shakspeare, and here they are. Palaces, distant and, at the close of this gallery of por-landscapes, transparent clouds which traits which have all some features of his own, Shakspeare has painted himself in the most striking of all.
If Racine or Corneille had framed a psychology, they would have said, with Descartes: Man is an incorporeal soul, served by organs, endowed with reason • Hamlet, v. I.
Could such a poet always confine himself to the imitation of nature? Will this poetical world which is going on in his brain, never break loose from the laws of the world of reality? Is he not powerful enough to follow his own laws? He is; and the poetry of Shak speare naturally finds an outlet in the fantastical. This is the highest grade of unreasoning and creative imagination. Despising ordinary logic, it creates another; it unites facts and ideas in a new order, apparently absurd, in reality regular; it lays open the land of dreams, and its dreams seem to "s the truth.
blot in the morning the horizon with their gray mists, the red and glorious flames into which the evening sun de
* A French physician (1772-1844), celebrated for his endeavors to improve the treatment of the insane.-TR.
Twelfth Night, As you Like it, Tempest, Winter's Tale, etc., Cymbeline, Merchant d Venice, etc.
scends, white cloisters in endless vista | fine gentlemen pass by. I hear the through the ambient air, grottos, cot- rolling fire of their metaphors, and I tages, the fantastic pageant of all hu- follow their skirmish of wit. man passions, the irregular sport of unlooked-for adventures,-this is the medley of forms, colors, sentiments, which I let become entangled and confused in my presence, a many-tinted skein of glistening silks, a slender arabesque, whose sinuous curves, cross ing and mingled, bewilder the mind by the whimsical variety of their infinite complications. Don't regard it as a picture. Don't look for a precise composition, a sole and increasing interest, the skilful management of a well-ordered and congruous plot. I have tales and novels before me which I am cutting up into scenes. Never mind the finis, I am amusing myself on the road. It is not the end of the journey which pleases me, but the journey itself. Is there any need in going so straight and quick? Do you only care to know whether the poor merchant of Venice will escape Shylock's knife? Here are two happy lovers, seated under the palace walls on a calm night; wouldn't you like to listen to the peaceful reverie which rises like a perfume from the bottom of their hearts?
How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
Sit, Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven
But in his motion like an angel sings,
a corner is the artless arch face of a
twined. Together with diversity, m spectators allowed improbability. Con edy is a slight winged creature, which flatters from dream to dream, whose wings you would break if you held it captive in the narrow prison of commor sense. Do not press its fictions too hard; do not probe their contents. Let them float before your eyes like a charming swift dream. Let the fleeting apparition plunge back into the