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So far as any human being may be said to be free from complexity she is simplicity itself. Her griefs and trials we can understand, each as it comes. Her nature is the only one in the course of the action that is simple enough to be spontaneously pathetic. There are persons of the drama of whose qualities we have to learn as we do those of the decaying vegetation at the bottom of a pond, by the bubbles that rise to the surface. Ophelia is not one of these. The floating lily, spreading out its budding fragrance to the sunshine, is blasted by an untimely hailstorm, and the scattered petals dance aimlessly to the shore.

The only commentary her story really needs is to follow its slender thread through the tangled skein of the plot. We need not draw it out as the ungracious critics do, but we cannot resist the temptation to pause now and then to undo a snarl of their making. We know Ophelia first as one who loves Hamlet and is beloved by him. She is warned against the warmth of this affection by her brother and her father-in neither of whom do considerations of true goodness out weigh all others. They both see dangers of which her innocence is unconscious. In her few short answers is the keynote of her motif: girlishness passing over into womanhood. She is in turn shyly incredulous, righteously indignant and tearfully compliant. She has attained independence of feeling, but has not yet a right to it in action. When next she sees Hamlet-now really in need of her sympathetic affection and cut to the heart by her change of attitude-she is again racked between filial duty and her heart's desire. Duty is strongest; she runs sobbing to her father. The queen by saying a little later that she hopes Ophelia's good beauties may be the cause of Hamlet's madness voices the royal sanction of a union between Hamlet and Ophelia and entirely overrules the main force of the arguments of Laertes and Polonius. But it is too late the shuttle has slipped; Ophelia's thread can no more follow its ideal pattern; it must go whither the sad destiny of the play thrusts it. Hamlet's thread meets and parts from her's by chance.

It is a standard platitude of the novelist that the summit of love is at the same time the summit of hate; that they are but the sunny and shadowy sides of the same mountain. The transition from one to the other is often sudden

and not always permanent. The scholarly critic, the Gelehrter, would fain make much out of Hamlet's rudeness to Ophelia; he would persuade us that she had forfeited Hamlet's respect. If we must have a guide here let us turn to Charles Lamb. He knew, he said, how Hamlet could have used rough words to Ophelia; he had himself acted in the same way toward one whom he loved. But the trial is none the less severe for her who is tested. At the end of a scene for the third time we leave her weeping; the strain is all too continuous.

We see her last as a spectator of the play called "The Mouse Trap." There is something in the by-play here between her and Hamlet that is almost more affecting than her later insanity. It is a lesson that turns us back to the Earl of Shaftesbury's estimate of Shakespeare as a moral force; the lesson of the fungus growth on budding youth; the canker that galls the infants of the spring. He feels its force most who knows-are there many who do not?-the morbid fascination which attracts impassioned innocence unconsciously toward wrong; not to wrong necessarily, but toward it. Ophelia is so far affected by it that she listens without rebuke. It is matter for the psychologist. Professor McLaughlin used to say that the theme, by its very reality, was too painful for discussion-and it is. Let the de-humanized German gloat over it as cruelly as he will; we need not listen to him. Our principle of personal impression for interpretation is a screen impervious to him.

I said "we see her last" in that scene. Ophelia insane is no more herself than is the corpse to which the churlish. priest denies Christian burial. It is but the shell which shows by its very emptiness how much has been taken away. The long strain has told at last. The dramatic reason for her madness is all lost sight of. We have no thought but for her who wanders through the palace fol

lowed by Horatio-there is a world of suggestion in his attendance upon her rather than another's-singing old songs and calling for the beauteous majesty of Denmark. She has become a prattling child. How distinctly the reference to the legend of the impiety of the baker's daughters fixes the period of her thought! It has been suggested that the songs she sings are also scraps of nursery reminiscences. Let us believe them to be none other. At the same time they are betrayers of an inward feeling to which in her sanity she gave no voice-even in the whispered colloquy with Hamlet before the play. At the end she can tell her love all unconsciously and without a blush. It is the last sobbing chord before her part in the motif ends. Like the swan she dies singing.

One has a vague impression that the poet was conscious stricken that Ophelia had been made to bear so much; or else troubled lest the tender effulgence of her glory should be left clouded, and thus had saved his dearest tributes for her burial. He touches, as Lowell notes, the springs of the profoundest sorrow and pity in the hardened indifference of the grave diggers with which the scene opens. "We know," says Lowell, "who is to be the guest of this earthen hospitality; how much beauty, love and heartbreak are to be covered in that pit of clay. All we remember of Ophelia reacts upon us with tenfold force." This reaction is followed close by the tender and wrathful rebuke of Laertes to the priest:

"Lay her i' the earth;

And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!"

It is Gervinus, a German of the Germans, who says of this passage, that Shakespeare was a poet of too fine feeling to have caused these words to be spoken in hollow mockery. Lowell himself must have had to admit, there, that the moie had broken forth for once into the fresh air and the daisies.

"Sweets to the sweet; farewell!"

Says the queen,

"I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;
I thought thy bride bed to have decked, sweet maid,
And not have strewed thy grave."

And finally Hamlet makes tempestuous public avowal of his love. For one moment, at the end, the curtain that hangs before the things that might have been is drawn aside. For that moment the play is the tragedy of Ophelia and not of Hamlet. So ends the poet's study-a girl, thrown underfoot in the press of men. Her story, as Mrs. Jameson says, would have our tears, not words.

O Rose of May!

Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia !


It is some half-forgotten lay

That will not go, and will not stay,
Whose accents, gently rhym'd, I hear
Fainter and fainter year by year,

Like music mingling in a dream,

Like fleeting beauty scarcely seen,

Like thoughts of death for those whose lives

A shadowy memory still survives.

I know not what those words may be,

The secret of their melody,

And yet I clearly seem to feel

The thoughts of love that they reveal;
What poet's soul has found so well
Those golden chords I cannot tell,
Yet, though men smile, still am I sure
His life was quiet, calm and pure.

O time of half-forgotten lays,

O near, yet distant childhood days!
Land of the mystic poet's tongue,

Of dreams half dream'd and songs half sung!
Youth's hand, suspended, waits to feel
The softening prelude on him steal,
Before, cheer'd by that calm refrain,
He strikes life's sterner epic strain !

Burton J. Hendrick.


"That face which no man ever saw

And from his memory banished quite."

Sargent's portrait of Booth-ALDRICH.


WELL remember reading the playbills, late upon a snowy January afternoon eight years ago. There came a vaguely defined outline of the poetic figure as imagination pictured him; the lithograph of the wily Cardinal, upon the bill board, was surrounded by a halo of snow flakes through which the arc light shot its gleams; and the people passed silently to and fro, muffled like hooded monks.

Nor is the grey morning when the box sheet was opened a matter to be forgotten. The tiled lobby of Macauley's was hung round with the familiar prints and photographs of many a favorite, and the manager, with shrewd insight, had placed an engraving of Booth in a prominent position. One person stood gazing at it in boundless admiration for fully half an hour and nearly lost his turn thereby. Your school boy is your true hero-worshipper.

A reference to the Courier-Journal of that date would show that Macauley's held, the Richelieu evening, the largest audience in the history of that venerable playhouse. Society wore its best patch, powder, and patent leather for the occasion, as a man with an opera glass could easily tell, a good half hour before the performance. Then there was that delicious sensation combined of the rustle of silks, the fragrance of mingled perfumes, and the murmur of subdued conversation. Is there a moment in life more delightful than that very brief one before the curtain rises?

One passes rapidly in recollection by the opening scene in the drinking-house with the rattle of dice, the clinking of glasses, and the gay ribaldry of the courtiers. The scenes part, disclosing Richelieu's closet, when suddenly—

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