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A WAIL FROM THE DEAD.
TRANSLATED FROM CASIMIR DE LA VIGNE,
Beloved!—from this sojourn of tears
To beg your prayers in Charitie.
Ah, well a-day!
How fearless, then, my soul took wing !
Oh, woe is me, what worlds of woe
None costs me in the drear domain,
mine arms instinctive stray,
Oh, 'ere my guilty course was run,
From him whose judgments now are dealt.
Whilst happy in my arms you lay,
Ah, well-a-day !
Lay-to, till morn his beams restored.
A pillow for my burning head!
My portrait needs must do despite.
Since now you prize a rival's charms.
Ah, well-a-day !
N. I. N. THE CHARACTER OF HAMLET ELUCIDATED.
BY EDWARD MAYHEW.
(Continued from page 38 1.) This was the purpose we undertook at the conclusion of the paper which appeared in the Magazine of the foregoing month. To many, doubtless, the attempt will seem to have originated in a spirit that desired to gain applause by arrogating a power to look through mystery ; but no inspiration is affirmed-a simple intelligence sufficient to interpret truth and to understand it, alone is presumed, and the faith of the reader only asked as his perceptions shall be satisfied. As in the previous paper all abstruse learning is rejected, we come to our task not to display what we have learnt, but to speak that which we know, and hoping attention but as such knowledge can be communicated. In this temper we begin our labour, forgetting all that has been written, and entreating our readers to do so also, that with unbiassed and clear minds we may proceed together, investigating a work which was published as a truth, and seeking in its pages, rather than in foreign aids, the clue to comprehend it in its singleness. Then, guided by our intelligence, and lighted by a sincere conviction that our author wrote, meaning his words to be intelligible, which, therefore, should be within our comprehension, let the reader candidly and trustfully join us, and proceed in company to enquire what good reason exists that this road should for so long a time have been declared inaccessible?
Taking up the subject from that point where the last paper left off, we must begin with directing attention to the peculiarities of Hamlet's condition, so as to comprehend the precise nature of that distemper with which his actions have shown him to be afflicted.
Hamlet speaks of himself as mad; and because circumstances have partially restored his senses when he so describes his distemper, his evidence, rejected on every other occasion, is on this admitted ; yet that word which shall represent the deprivation of Lear and of Ophelia, the implacable hate of Timon, and the stupor of Pericles, may be misapplied if arbitrarily used to denote his calamity, which is accompanied by perceptions that enable him to dispute of his distemper, and even with a show of truth to deny its existence
“ It is not madness
Act III. Scene 4. There is no reason to doubt the history of his father's death, and all the events connected with it were so impressed upon the mind of Hamlet as to enable him to recapitulate ; yet this is a peculiarity of that condition which it is advanced to deny-madness in its earlier stages or less virulent forms ever being most retentive of the facts on which it feeds. On other matters it may be questioned whether the memory could have borne a similar ordeal. Hamlet's memory during his resi
dence in the palace is by no means sure. In no case does he refer directly to any incident that occurs in the first four acts, though there existed reasons why he ought to have recalled every circumstance. Of space he has at the commencement of the drama a very imperfect recognition. Thus, in the first soliloquy, he contradicts himself—“ But two months dead—nay, not so much, not two ;" then he says, “ And yet within a month;" and afterwards he fixes the limit as “ A little month"-again to unsettle the point, declaring it to be " within a month.” Of any power to recall the past he gives no proof. The play he never alludes to-Ophelia's conduct he never refers to—her father's death he never explains-he forgets he has passed the King, and loses sight of his determined course of behaviour to his mother. After he quits the palace he regains in some degree the weakened faculty, which, however, seems never to be perfectly recovered. To the last he continues dreamy. His account of his escape in the second scene of the fifth act is characterised far more by the feeling than the mind at work, and this complexion is enforced by the reference he makes to Laertes's cause against bimself, for the resemblance between their injuries was so remote as regards the fact, and so removed as regards the truth, that had the memory teen firm the comparison would never have been made, wherefore it may be doubted whether the test proposed, if fairly tried, would have given an answer of sanity. To Hamlet's opinion of himselt', had he been calm when he pronounced it, no credit can be attached, as who las visited an asylum without being distressed by hearing parallel assertions uttered with every outward appearance of veracity?
Hamlet is not so afflicted as to be past restraint. Even in his parosysms a sudden check will recall his reason, and sometimes these flashes of intelligence occur with a brilliancy which enables him to discover his own condition—dividing his being, as it were—that Hamlet sane warns of Hamlet mad. Thus, after he has leaped into Ophelia's grave, Laertes seizing him, the shock, he being a Prince, and holding his person sacred, affrights the impulse, and he says
I pray thee take thy fingers from my throat ;
Act V. Scene 1. Nor has his malady gained such confirmed strength but it can exhaust itself, for his caution to Laertes not being obeyed, Hamlet by resistance is wrought to a rage that burns to cope impossibilities, which distraction exploding, the defiance concludes with
Nay, an thou'lt mouth,
Act V. Scene 1. Which is not a sneer, as some actors deliver it, but an anti-climax natural to his condition, when, the phrenzy being spent, reason gleams upon his brain.
Thus, incapable of a sustained transport, and open to restraint when excited, of course in calmer moods a less powerful agency would operate to his recall; and in ordinary circumstances the sight of out
ward objects is sufficient to hold Hamlet's mind from grossly wander-
You that look pale and tremble at this chance,
To the unsatisfied.
Never believe it ;
There's yet some liquor left.
As thou’rt a man-
Things standing thus unknown, shall live behind me?" &c. Here he contemplates his position and its consequences. He regards the world, and is solicitous about 'opinion, which is a reach of vision Hamlet during the Drama has not exhibited. He has been abstracted, removed from the world. In the heat of passion he sometimes for a moment has descended, but nowhere else does--he rest on earth, and calmly recognise the features that surround him. When passion does not stir, his malady is siniply pourtrayed in eccentricity, which the high breeding of Hamlet insensibly controls; so, while as a Prince he was exposed to severest losses, therefore most likely to be stricken, he was also most refined, and, consequently, best suited to pourtray mental alienation on the public stage; and in this is perceived the delicate judgment exercised by the great master in the selection of his characters.
Remissness in deportment was consequent on a want of appreciation