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through the participating characters. Laertes, in accordance with his hasty nature, leaps into the grave of his sister, and indulges in the wildest grief. But Hamlet follows him and even surpasses him in extravagance! Hamlet here again acts from his emotions and impulses; the love for Ophelia and the circumstances of her death return upon him like the rush of an overwhelming ocean, and bear down all moderation. He, for once, is mad, as every such man is momentarily mad. It is our opinion that he does not here feign madness, the motives thereto are all gone; the King knows his secret designs, and he must know that the King knows them. It is the love and death of Ophelia which furnish the cause for this extraordinary spectacle. There is another contrast in this scene which is too striking to be omitted. Every one speaks with the greatest tenderness and affection of the sweet Ophelia; she is embalmed in love and peace in the memories of all. But there is one exception--the priest. He has no share in the general sorrow; he would even exclude from the rites of decent burial the frail maiden who had lost reason and life together. He is thus placed with the clownish gravediggers, not only in the character of adherence to empty form, but also in the special subject of conversation, for their discussion is about the Christian burial of one that has committed suicide. Thus Ophelia is laid to rest; Hamlet's acts are beginning to return upon him in his intense sorrow; but a deeper thrust is at hand, for he has already been brought face to face with the avenger.
Next comes the conversation in which Hamlet tells Horatio the circumstances of his escape. He attributes his action wholly to instinct and presentiment, and now for the first time he indicates the great change which has come over himself. He ascribes to accident, and not to any prearranged plan, the rescue by the pirates. On board the vessel he acted from a secret, irresistible impulse; behold the result. This event has changed his whole view of the world. Hitherto his faith in intelligence was unbounded, his confidence in his own ability to counteract all hostile schemes had never failed; even when he is told that he must go to England, he with exultation declares
“But I will delve one yard below their mines
But this strange accident upon the sea has changed his entire way of thinking. Now he believes that often indiscretion serves better than the profoundest deliberation; that destiny rules the hour; that there is an extra-human agency which overrules the activity of man:
There 's a divinity that shapes our ends
Rough-hew them how we will." In a later passage, just before he goes to fence with Laertes, he enunciates the same doctrine in a stronger form. Thus Hamlet abjures intelligence, which he thinks has been so baneful to him; he resigns himself into the hands of Fate, which is the divinity above mentioned; he is now ready to obey the first promptings of his soul. We have before attempted to show that this conversion of Hamlet to a belief in destiny was a necessary consequence of his intellectual point of view, for he has now become acquainted with something possessing objective validity, of which his subjective spirit is able to give no adequate account, and which it does not possess. Hence he comes to believe in external determination, in action without forethought. Thus under impulse he commits the forgery which sends to death the two royal messengers; but, true to his old character, he can still ask the question whether he ought in conscience to slay that king, whom, in addition to the other crimes against him, he has just canght laying a snare for his destruction.
But the final consummation, the last transition, that from the grave-yard to the grave, is at hand. Osrick, in the absence of Rosencratz and Gildenstern, comes to invite Hamle to fence with Laertes. This courtier is described in full, more fully perhaps than his importance warrants. Hamlet we see here at his old tricks, with his love of sly, obscure satire which confounds his victim and comes near confounding his reader. We cannot get his exact meaning, but we do perceive very distinctly the drift; it is directed against the person at hand, who is too dull to comprehend it, as was seen in the case of Polonius. Osrick exhibits the hollowness and formalism into which everything had fallen; it is a drossy age which has lost all substantial worth, contrasting thereby with the deep moral nature of Hamlet. But the match is agreed on, though Hamlet has still presentiments. Here he falls into the trap; and one thinks if he had been as shrewd now as upon former occasions, he would not have been caught. Undoubtedly the plan against Hamlet is not more profound than many others which he has seen through; why, then, should it succeed? For the reason that Hamlet's view of the nioral order of things is changed; he no longer believes that man can determine anything, one act is as good as another for bringing about a result; whether he goes or declines is all the same in the eye of Fate. Hence he resigns himself to destiny, and the cautious Hamlet blindly proceeds to what comes first. Yet in reality he could no longer delay.
The two combatants are brought together. Hamlet begs pardon of Laertes, and declares that all the wrongs done by him to Laertes were the result of madness. This means merely impulse, the momentary absence of reason, else we must suppose Hamlet guilty of wanton falsehood, and, besides, destroy the whole meaning of the poem. Here is found the motive for Laertes' generous candor at death, when he discloses the infamous scheme of the King. So they are reconciled, yet they fall by each other's hand—they are incited not so much by personal grievances against each other as they are the avenging instruments of Wrong. Nor must we omit to mention the absolute logical precision and necessity of this mutual destruction, for the poet himself has reminded us of the fact lest it might escape our notice. Hamlet the son is seeking revenge for a father slain. But he slays Polonius, who is also a father, and thus commits the very crime whose punishment is his sole object. In being an avenger, he calls up an avenger against himself, who is therefore the son of Polonius, Laertes. The execution of his will thus involves his own destruction, and moreover the special manner of his destruction. But Laertes too must perish, for he also has willed murder.
It will be observed that these deaths at the end of the play seem to be accidental, though to a certain extent mediated by the plan of the King and Laertes. They too are involveda result which they did not expect. But the sensuous side must have always an element of accident, because it is externality. What we must look for is the logic of these deaths. Have the persons done that which justifies their fate? Do
their deeds imply destruction when taken in an universal sense? In other words, have they only been overtaken by justice, by the irrevocable consequences of their acts ? For Art must exhibit the deed in its completeness, in its return to itself. If we examine the actions of the various persons swept away in the course of this play, we shall find that all have done something which deserved death; that the idea of Retribution is imprinted on every character. Each one has willed that which by logical necessity involves his own destruction. Nor has the poet failed to express this thought repeatedly. Laertes seems so impressed with the notion of Retribution that he states it three times:
Osrick. How is 't, Laertes?
I'm justly killed with mine own treachery.
“ The foul practice Hath turned itself on me; lo, here I lie
Never to rise again." Speaking of the King
“He is justly served; It is a poison teripered by himself.” But even here Hamlet can only act under the spur of impulse; angered by what Laertes tells him, he rushes up and stabs the King just as he slew Polonius. Hamlet perishes, and we see impulse in its results. Rational action alone can be moral, for it can distinguish its objects. Hamlet confesses that he was wrong in killing Polonius and regrets it, still he must bear the consequences of his deed. It is now brought home to him through the son, Laertes.
Hamlet's dying request to Horatio is to report his cause aright that a wounded name might not live behind him. Thus at the very last breath we see a manifestation of that beautiful moral nature, which desires that its motives be set right before the world. Moreover he gives his dying voice for Fortinbras, the man of action, as the sovereign most suitable for ruling his country. And we hope that it will not seem wholly fanciful to the reader if we point out a deeper signification in this last injunction to Horatio: it means the writing of this drama. For how else can the desire of Hamlet be fulfilled, to have his story told to the world? The poem, therefore,
accounts for itself; Horatio is to be poet, and he even states the argument of his work in his conversation with Fortinbras. Thus ends the greatest of plays, with Fortinbras and Horatio, ruler and poet, master of the actual world and master of the ideal world; the former is chief actor who moulds the reality, the latter is the thinking artist who transmutes that reality into the transparent forms of Beauty. In this way Shakspeare has given a positive solution to the collision, and has also accounted for his drama.
The subordinate characters, most of which are only inferior to Hamlet in power and grandeur of delineation, must be reserved for a final essay.
PHILOSOPHY IN EUROPE.
PROSPECTUS FOR THE NEW VOLUME OF THE PHILOSOPHISCHE MOXATSHEFTE,
[The following Prospectus, issued by Dr. Bratuscheck, editor of the Philosophische Monatshefte, since Dr. Bergmann became Professor at Königsberg will be interesting to our readers as an indication of the zeal that accompanies philosophical undertakings in Germany. The translation is by Mr. Arthur Amson. -En.)
The newly awakened philosophical movement in Germany, to gain unity and power, needs a central organ, which shall not represent any particular school, but, on one hand, give to all tendencies an opportunity to express themselves and to measure themselves with each other; on the other hand, to represent impartially and purely objectively the development of German philosophy, at the present time, in all its expressions.
The Philosophische Monatshefte, as the programme printed at the beginning of the first number shows, endeavored from its first establishment to accomplish this object. They began their work four years ago, and since that time have cleared a way for themselves, although the storms of the mighty political events were not very favorable for the development of philosophical tendencies.
The blessings of peace have added new vigor to the undertaking; it will be possible to carry out the original programme with more variety and regularity. The Contributions are offered in such number, and the matter to be treated has so accumulated, that it has become necessary to increase the corps of editors, which heretofore had consisted of the founder of the Journal, Dr. Bergmann, only; for this reason Dr. F. Ascherson and the undersigned have undertaken to share with him the business of editing. The undersigned from this date is the Corresponding Editor. But besides this