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might eafily reach his time, of a declaration made by ShakeSpeare, that be was obliged to kill Mercutio in the third act, left he Should have been killed by him. Yet he thinks him no fuch formidable perfon, but that be might have lived through the play, and died in his bed, without danger to a poet, Dryden well knew, had he been in queft of truth, that, in a pointed fentence, more regard is commonly had to the words than the thought, and that it is very feldom to be rigorously understood. Mercutio's wit, gaiety and courage, will always procure him friends that with him a longer life; but his death is not precipitated, he has lived out the time allotted him in the conftruction of the play; nor do I doubt the ability of Shake
CLAUDIUS, King of Denmark.
Fortinbras, Prince of Norway.
Hamlet, Son to the former, and Nephew to the pre
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain.
Ofrick, a Fop.
} two Soldiers.
Reynoldo, Servant to Polonius.
Gertrude, Queen of Denmark, and Mother to Hamle Ophelia, Daughter to Polonius.
Ladies attending on the Queen.
Players, Grave-makers, Sailors, Messengers, and other Attendants.
The Story is taken from the Danish Hiftory of Saxo Grammaticus.
1. Quarto, 1605. J. R. for N. L.
Of this Play the Editions are,
1611. W. S. for John Smethwicke. 1637. R. Young, for John Smethwicke. No date. W. S. for John Smethwicke.
I have only the third Quarto and Folio.
PRINCE of DENMARK.
ACT Í. SCENE I.
A Platform before the Palace.
Enter Bernardo and Francifco, two Centinels.
Fran. Nay, anfwer me. Stand, and unfold yourfelf.
Ber. Long live the King!
Fran. You come most carefully upon your hour.
Fran. For this relief, much thanks. 'Tis bitter
cold, And I am fick at heart.
than almost any other of the works of Shakespeare.
*This Play is printed both in the folio of 1623, and in the quarto of 1637, more correctly, VOL. VIII.