« ElőzőTovább »
formly rational, with one exception only, and that is immediately after the play scene, and the discovery of the king's appalled conscience, when the wild words he utters may be fairly imputed to the result of his excitement, consequent upon the confirmation of the Ghost's murder-tale. With the players, too, and the gravedigger, where it is unnecessary to maintain the consistency of the part he had assumed, he is perfectly collected and even utters sound criti. cism and profound philosophy. His apology to Laertes, wherein he decidedly imputes his former misconduct to mental aberration, is the nearest approach to a confirmation of the idea that he has been really insane; but this scene takes place in the presence of the whole court, whom he has all along intended to deceive, his revenge, moreover, being still left unaccomplished '-pp. 67-72. The late George Dawson's opinion was, that in the common acceptation of the word, Hamlet was not mad, but he was near to it; and he sometimes even was so overcome that he passed across the fine line where sanity trembled into a form of madness '--Lecture on Hamlet, 1850.
A different opinion was expressed in 1856 by W. Watkiss Lloyd, in a series of Essays on the Life and Plays of Shakespeare, contributed to the second edition of S. W. Singer's Shakespeare, of which fifty copies were separately printed in 1858 without pagination. On the first page of letter K of this reprint we read : ‘Hamlet's mind is certainly unhinged, and I would prefer to say unsettled. He is two entirely different Hamlets in different scenes, and we see him in constant alternations of hurried and placid intervals. If we could assume for a moment that his madness is entirely feigned, we should stumble over the inconsistency that it is so carried out as to answer no reasonable purpose, excites suspicion instead of diverting it, covers not, and is not fitted to cover, any secondary design; and would amount at best to a weak and childish escapade of ill-humour and spleen.' This opinion that Hamlet's 'intellects were really im. paired by the circumstances in which he was placed,' which Joseph Ritson, in his Remarks, Critical and Illustrative, on the Text and Notes of Shakespeare, 1783, thought 'very probable,' has of late acquired fresh interest. •The doctors of the insane have been,' as Professor Edward Dowden, in Shakespeare's Mind and Art, p. 160, says, “studiers of the state of Hamlet's mind-Drs Ray, Kellogg, Conolly, Maudsley, Bucknill [&c.];? but they find it harder than Polonius did to hit upon a definition of madness :
'For, to define true madness, What is it but-to be nothing else than mad.'
The first-named, Dr Ray, tells us, in his Mental Pathology, 1873, though in a paper, reprinted from The American Journal of Insanity, April 1847, that 'Hamlet's mental condition furnishes in advance the characteristic symptoms of insanity in wonderful har. mony and consistency' (p. 506); and he thinks that on the supposi.
tion of his real insanity we have a satisfactory explanation of the difficulties which have received such various solutions. The integrity of every turn of reason[ing] is marred by some intrusion of disease ; the smooth, deep current of his feelings is turned into eddies and whirlpools under its influence, and his most solemn undertakings conducted to an abortive issue'-p. 509. Dr Kellogg, in Shakespeare's Delineations of Insanity, &c., 1866, maintains that . Shakespeare . recognised what none of his critics, not conversant with medical psychology in its present advanced state, seem to have any conception of-namely, that there are cases of melancholic madness of a deliberate shade, in which the reasoning faculties, the intellect proper, so far from being overcome, or even disordered, may, on the other hand, be rendered more active and vigorous, while the will, the moral feelings, the sentiments, and affections, are the faculties which seem alone to suffer from the stroke of disease. Such a case he has given us in the character of Hamlet, with a fidelity to nature which continues more and more to excite our wonder and astonishment as our knowledge of this intricate subject increases’-p: 36. Dr Conolly, who had been a practitioner of medicine in Stratford-on-Avon, in his Study of Hamlet, 1863, affirms that 'Hamlet's mental constitution, and the already existing disturbance in his feelings' indicate a predisposition to actual madness,' and says: 'It certainly appears to me that the intention to feign was soon forgotten, or could not steadily be maintained, in consequence of a real mental infirmity; that it subsequently recurred to Hamlet's thoughts only in circumstances not productive of much emotion; but became quite unthought of in every in which his feelings were strongly acted upon, and that in such scenes a real and lamentable mental disorder swept all trivial con. siderations away'-p. 53. Dr Maudsley lays down this principle, that ‘if any one in the full possession of his reasoning powers refuse to accept the delusions of life, and persists in exposing the realities beneath appearances, he is so much out of harmony with his surroundings that he will to a certainty be counted more or less insane. Strange, too, as it may seem, it is nevertheless true that such an one will commonly feign to be more eccentric or extravagant than he really is'-p. 140. The deliberate feigning of insanity was an act in strict conformity with Hamlet's character; he was by nature something of a dissimulator, that feeling having been born in him'p. 143. • It is in Hamlet's inherited disposition to dissimulation that we find the only explanation of his deliberately feigning madness, when, to all appearances, policy would have been much better served if he had not so feigned'-p. 144, Mind and Body, 1875. In his Madfolk of Shakespeare, Dr Bucknill points out that. Hamlet is not slow to confess his melancholy, and indeed it is the peculiarity of this mental state that those suffering from it seldom or never attempt to conceal it. A man will conceal his delusions, will deny and veil the excitement of mania; but the melancholiac is almost always readily confidential on the subject of his feelings. In this he
resembles thc hypochondriac, though not perhaps from the same motives. The hypochondriac seeks for sympathy and pity; the melancholiac frequently admits others to the sight of his mental wretchedness from mere despair of relief and contempt of pity'p. 78. Although he arrives at the conviction that Hamlet is morbidly melancholic,' he does not wish to convey the erroneous impression that he is a veritable lunatic. He is a reasoning melancholiac, morbidly changed from his former state of thought, feeling, and conduct. . . He is in a state which thousands pass through without becoming truly insane, but which in hundreds does pass into actual madness. It is the state of incubation of disease'-p. 127.
This subject the reader will find further discussed, if he desires to investigate the matter more fully, in Essays on the Varieties in Mania in Hamlet, Lear, Ophelia, etc., by George Farren, 1833; What Does Hamlet Mean ? by Thomas Wade, 1840; An Essay on the Tragedy of Hamlet, by P. Macdonell
, 1843; Shakespeare's Hamlet, by Edmund Strachey, 1848; Bucknill's Psychology, 1859, and his Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare, 1860; Shakespeare's Medical Knowledge, C. W. Stearns, M.D., 1865; in pamphlets bearing the title, Was Hamlet Mad? by John Hernon, 1864; and by several authors, edited by R. H. Horne, 1871; W. Bryson Wood's Hamlet, from a Psychological Point of View, 1871; Tyler's The Philosophy of Hamlet, 1874; F. Marshall's Study of Hamlet, 1875; and in a collection of chronological extracts on the subject, contained in H. H. Furness' Hamlet, vol. ii, pp. 194-235. For ourselves, we consent to marvel with Cardinal Wiseman : How consummate must be the poet's art who can have so skilfully de. scribed, to the minutest symptoms, the mental malady of a great mind as to leave it uncertain to the present day, even among learned physicians versed in such maladies, whether Hamlet's madness was real or assumed '-William Shakespeare, 1865, p. 41. Of what other author of any time or place do we inquire into the character of fictitious persons
in this manner as if they were real ?'-Rev. Charles Bathurst's Shakespeari's Versification, p. 70.
HAD THE QUEEN ANY SHARE IN THE MURDER OF
The idea involved in the Observations on Hamlet, being an attempt to prove that Shakespeare designed it as an indirect censure on Mary Queen of Scots, 1796, and in the three parts of the Appendix' to that work, issued in 1797, by James Plumptre, M. A., is, that the queen was an accessory to the murder of her husband, Hamlet's father. That subject, however, apart from its probable historical relation to Scottish history, has been brought up as a
distinct literary inquiry in an anonymous pamphlet, entitled An Attempt to Ascertain Whether the Queen were an Accessory Before the Fact to the Murder of her First Husband, 1856.
This author argues for her innocence-(1) Hamlet's grief arises from his mother's hasty marriage; (2) the Ghost ascribes his death exclusively to Claudius, and expressly desires that Hamlet should do no hurt to his mother; (3) Claudius never treats her as if there had been this guilty secret between them; (4) nor does she at the play, like the king, take guilt to herself from the representation of the act; for had she been rt and part in the murder, and retained her self-command under that suggestive scene, she must have been the strongest rather than the weakest character in the play; (5) when she recog. nised her own fickleness in the mirror of the play she did not feel personally stung by the words:
169 • None wed the second but who killed the first'-III, ii, 296;
(6) the king, when he suspects she knows his crime, becomes less loving to her, and at last she unsuspiciously drinks of the poisoned cup he had mingled for her son.
It has been argued against this exculpatory attempt—(1) that, considering the suddenness of the death of her former husband, her haste to wed Claudius, and so become
'The imperial jointress to this warlike state'-1, , 9, argues a likelihood, if not of actual consent, yet of guilty connivance on her part; (2) the Ghost is reticent on her participation, but yet asserts Claudius won' her; and he does not ask Hamlet to take revenge on her, but commands him to
• Leave her to Heaven,
(3) Hamlet endeavours to press the matter to her conscience by asking – Madam, how like you this play?' (4) he actually charges her with the crime in these terms:
• A bloody deed ! almost as bad, good mother,
Queen. As kill a king!
Ay, lady! 'twas my word '-III, iv, 29-31; and (5) she, in part, confesses, when she says:
• Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul,
Besides, (7) Shakespeare's omission in subsequent editions of the two following lines of disclaimer by the queen, which appear in
the 1603 quarto, shows that he felt that her relation to the murder should be brought nearer and closer :
‘But as I have a soule, I sweare by heaven
If we give the queen the benefit of the doubt, we shall perhaps go as far as we can logically go by bringing in the convenient and sometimes perfectly legitimate verdict of ‘not proven.' In the early form Shakespeare followed The Hystorie of Hamblet, in making her innocent; but it is evident that in the later forms she takes a lower moral position, though, as Hunter, in his New Illustrations of Shakespeare, vol. ii, p. 257, says, “her precise situation is not clearly exhibited.'
INHIBITION' AND 'INNOVATION'-(II, ii, 318, 319).
When Hamlet asks, regarding the players, 'How chances it they travel ?' Rosencrantz replies, not very clearly to the general apprehension, 'I think their inhibition comes by the means of the late innovation.' Theobald at one time suggested that we should read itineration for inhibition, but did not subsequently hold to his emendation. Dr. Johnson supposed that the true reading probably was, “I think their innovation '[i.e., their new practice of strolling] comes by means of the late inhibition.' J. P. Collier understands by the phrase that, as a matter of fact, the players, by a “late innovation,” were inhibited or forbidden to act in or near the city, and therefore travelled or strolled into the country. The editors of the Clarendon Press Hamlet explain it thus: 'If by "inhibition” Shakespeare merely meant, as we think most probable, that the actors were practically thrown out of employment, it seems also likely that by “innovation” he meant the authority granted to the Children (of the Queen's Revels) to act at the regularly licensed theatres' - Preface, p. 14. Steevens resolves the difficulty by saying that 'Rosencrantz means that their permission to act any longer at an established house is taken away, in consequence of the new custom of introducing personal abuse into their comedies. Several companies of actors in the time of Shakespeare were silenced on account of this licentious practice.' Malone objects to this—(1) Shakespeare could not mean to charge his friends, the old tragedians, with the new custom of introducing personal abuse; but rather must have meant that the old tragedians were inhibited from performing in the city, and obliged to travel on account of the misconduct of the younger company. And (2) he could not have directed his satire at these young men who played occasionally at his own theatre,' and says, 'I have no doubt therefore that the present dialogue was pointed at the choir boys of St Paul's'-who