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the quickness which the requirements of a stage representation demand, there is a perpetual undercurrent or suggestion of that longer time which would be needed in real life for the due development of the characters in the action. The details and proofs of this curious discovery are too long to be given here, but the reader will find an interesting account of it in the work of Mr. Furness.* Again, take two out of endless instances of what Coleridge calls Shakespeare's art in minimis, the first of which he himself points out. In the play of “King John,' Lady Faulconbridge comes in, with her serving-man, James Gurney ; and her imperious son, wishing to speak privately to his mother, says, “James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave awhile ?' To which James Gurney replies, Good leave, good Pbilip,' and so goes out not to be seen again, while the haughty young
Faulconbridge says, 'Pbilip! sparrow':-alluding to the old song, and implying that he does not approve of such familiarity. Now this is a distinct picture which we have of the worthy, trusted, servingman in personal attendance on the lady of the house—a servingman who is at once familiar and humble, who treats the young lord with the familiarity natural to an old trusted servant, and yet has not the least disposition to intrude, but takes the curt request that he will retire with an imperturbable good humour, implied in the repetition of the word 'good'— Good leave, good Philip.' Our other instance is that of the chief grave-digger in the churchyard scene in. Hamlet.' He is a shrewd fellow, though a clown, with a traditional set of jests and songs treasured up in his memory, and produced with more or less aptness, yet with the disregard to logic or even sense proper to the peasant. Shakespeare could as easily have put into the clown's mouth the correct words of Lord Vaux's ballad, as the mixture of correct words and mere nonsense which the clown actually sings. But how much truer to nature is this eking out of sense with nonsense by the singer whose memory of the words is at best little more than a memory of tune and sounds. And we may also notice here the little touch of nature in the man beginning to sing when his fellow grave-digger is gone away for a stoup of liquor, and he must cheer his work with the pickaxe and the shovel by the natural substitute for the talk he had been previously carrying on.
And now let us pass from these general considerations, which we trust that our readers will find to be not irrelevant to the
*'A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, edited by Horace Howard Furness,' Vol. III. (“Hamlet,' Vol. I.), pp. xiv.-xviii.
special special questions which we have taken in hand. And first as to the Ghosts of Shakespeare.
We cannot doubt that Shakespeare, like his contemporaries, believed in ghosts, while we do not. How then can we say that he is true to nature, when he makes Hamlet or Brutus or Macbeth see ghosts, talk with them, and thereby in all respects believe in them? Sceptical arguments against the reality of ghosts were not unknown to Shakespeare's contemporaries. He must have read them himself in Plutarch's · Brutus': but we cannot suppose that those arguments had more effect on him than on Brutus himself. And we cannot escape from the difficulty by saying that the superstition being natural to the poet and the men of his time, it was natural that he should make the personages of his plays subject to it. For the groundwork of all our study of Shakespeare assumes that he was not merely of an age, but for all time. What we do say is, that the men of Shakespeare's age believed in ghosts because they had seen them; and we, for the same reason, disbelieve in them. We have, like Coleridge, seen too many. Plenty of ghosts have been, and still are, seen: but the sight has been verified by investigators with habits of mind derived from the practice of the Baconian method of examining facts. Ghosts have been verified; and, like many other phenomena once so mysterious as to be supposed to be of supernatural or preternatural origin, they have been found to have their place under known laws of nature. They have been ascertained to be, in metaphysical phrase, subjectively, but not objectively, real. They come not under the laws of the bodily eyes and of optics, but under those of the imagination : and it is imagination which can and does give the brain most of the impressions of bodily sight and sound when a ghost is seen. We say most of these, because among the distinctions between a real and a sham—that is a pretended, dressed-up-ghost is this, that the real ghost does not strike such terror as does the sham, nor does it tell his hearer what he did not know before. It is true that in many wellauthenticated ghost stories of our own time even, there is an element of unexplained coincidence, which still seems to give them a supernatural appearance; but these, too, the friends of · Psychical Research believe that they shall one day bring under ordinary natural law. And for this we may be content to wait.
The true distinction, then, is not that our fathers saw ghosts and we do not, but that they saw and believed, and we see and do not believe, that the apparition has come from another world. We have convinced ourselves by sufficient evidence,
that they come only from the regions of our own imagination, and that there is some abnormal, unhealthy, or over-excited condition, either of the mind or the body, in the man or woman who sees a ghost. Many of our readers may recal instances of such verified ghosts from their own experience or that of their acquaintances—apparitions recognized as illusions, yet having all the features of objective, matter-offact reality. Or such instances may be found in the treatises of Dr. Hibbert, Sir Walter Scott, Sir David Brewster, and the Reports of the Society for Psychical Research. One of the most interesting of these is the account of her ghost-seeing which Mrs. A. herself gave to Sir David Brewster, she having retained coolness of mind to face and test ghosts which had every appearance of reality, but which she did not believe in. Our conclusion is, then, that in certain states of mind men do see ghosts, as our fathers did ; though we know, what they did not, that these are not visitants from another world, but projections of our own imaginations, transferred to the brain and (as Sir David Brewster seems to think) to the retina, just as if they had been actually in the room before us. And this being so, Shakespeare is true to nature in his ghosts, if those of his characters who see ghosts might have seen them in actual life; and if the ghosts so seen act and speak as such ghosts would have done, with only the same difference between them and the ghosts of actual life as corresponds with the difference between art and nature which we find throughout Shakespeare's Plays. His ghosts, and the effects they produce on those who see them, are natural, while transmuted from the actual to the ideal, by that art of the poet of which we have already said so much.
Of Banquo's ghost we will speak presently. In support of our contention that Brutus would have seen a ghost, and that the ghost of Cæsar, we may quote the words of Sir Walter Scott, who, be it observed, is speaking of the Brutus of history, and not the Brutus of Shakespeare. He says :
• The anticipation of a dubious battle, with all the doubt and uncertainty of its event, and the conviction that it must involve bis own fate and that of his country, was powerful enough to conjure up to the anxious eye of Brutus the spectre of his murdered friend Cæsar, respecting whose death he perhaps thought himself less justified than at the Ides of March, since, instead of having achieved the freedom of Rome, the event had only been the renewal of civil wars, and the issue might appear most likely to conclude in the total subjection of liberty. ... Brutus's own intentions, and his knowledge of the military art, had probably long since assured him that the decision of the civil war must take place at or near Philippi ; and, allowing that his own imagination supplied that part of his
dialogue * *Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,' by Sir Walter Scott, Letter I.
dialogue with the spectre, there is nothing else that might not be fashioned in a vivid dream or a waking reverie.'
Scott, indeed (probably writing from memory), rather assumes with Shakespeare than finds in Plutarch that the ghost was that of Cæsar ; or he may have thought this to be implied by Plutarch's words in his Julius Cæsar'-as Malone suggests in his note to Act iv. sc. 3 of the Play. But this does not affect his argument; and if that be true and who will doubt it?—of the Brutus of Plutarch, it must be granted that it is no less true of the Brutus of Shakespeare.
The Ghost of Hamlet's father, in itself and in its relation to Hamlet, still more fully supports and proves the truth of our hypothesis, if we will give the subject that careful examination which it demands and deserves. If we follow Goethe's method of criticism of this Play, by bringing together all the incidents, allusions, and inferences scattered throughout the play, we shall find that they are sufficient to enable us to form a very clear and consistent estimate of Hamlet's character. Then we see that he was just the person to have seen his father's ghost, and to have heard from that ghost all that he did hear; namely, to have seen him in his mind's eye,' and to have heard from him all that his prophetic soul' had already told him. This method of treating the subject has been adopted in the Essay on Hamlet which we have quoted at the head of this article ; and we have followed the writer's analysis, and for the most part in his own words. He points out that in the scene in which Hamlet first meets Horatio, the former, who is in one of his most melancholy and depressed moods, shows how prepared he is for the apparition, when he says, "My father, methinks I see my father . . . . In my mind's eye, Horatio. He was prepared to see his father's spirit, for he already saw him in the brooding abstraction of his own mind. When Hamlet returned to Denmark from Wittenberg on the sudden death of his father, he must have heard that his father was found dead in his garden, with all the appearances of having been poisoned, and that his uncle had either been the person to find him, or the last one seen near the place, and that he had actively spread the “forged process' that the king had been stung to death by a serpent. Hamlet had found that brother already elected to the throne instead of himself, who had always been looked upon as the presumptive heir, had found him married to his mother, and been received by him with evidently most unnaturally affected protestations and caresses which could not conceal from the young prince's keen eye the hatred of guilty fear which lurked beneath. The Ghost merely re-informs him of some of these circumstances, and adds as a fact that which Hamlet's exclamation, O my prophetic soul, my uncle,' shows that he had already arrived at as an inference from the other facts. And not only does the Ghost tell Hamlet nothing that he was not, just at the moment of its communication, beginning to conclude by force of his own reasonings, but Hamlet does not trust to the evidence of the Ghost except just in the same degree as he does to those conclusions of his reason; and the one, like the other, he requires to be confirmed (as he does get them confirmed by the scheme of the play) before he decides on avenging his father's death, as the Ghost enjoins him to do.
When the sun is setting behind the Brocken mountains, and high mists are rising in the east, the traveller
still see that fearful phenomenon, the Spectre of the Brocken-fearful even to him who knows it to be only his own shadow projected under a rare combination of circumstances, and tenfold fearful to the simple peasant to whom it is a gigantic spectre. And so we shall rightly understand the Ghost as the embodying of Hamlet's dreary thoughts into an image which is projected upon the dark mists which have risen before the hopes of his life, while the sun of the past is about to sink below the horizon; and which seems to him a visible spectre, presenting itself to the senses as well as to the mind.
But if this be the theory and the philosophy of ghost-seeing, we must not the less remember that in order to understand and sympathise with Hamlet in the thoughts and feelings which the apparition excites in him, we must look at it from his point of view, and heartily believe in it too. And this will explain the dramatic fitness of the appearance of the Ghost to Horatio and the soldiers, though they have no such imaginations within them as could properly raise such a spirit. That they see the Ghost, and with so many details of fearful reality, is a part of the dramatic machinery—the art—which is necessary to enable us to see it with Hamlet's eyes, and to sympathise adequately with him in the belief in its visible
Just in a like way Hamlet speaks soliloquies, in order that we may know the thoughts which are passing within him, though these would have come and gone without his moving his lips, if he had been an actual man, and there had been no poet's art intervening to reveal to us the secrets of his bosom. “And that this is the right explanation we may farther infer from the entire silence of the Ghost to all but Hamlet, as well as from his not being visible to the Queen on a subsequent occasion.