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Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 409

seven year' (in Q2 'three years') that the toe of the peasant comes near the heel of the courtier. The fact that the Player-King in Q1 speaks of having been married forty years shows that here too the writer has not any reference to Hamlet's age in his mind1




     This passage has occasioned much difficulty, and to many readers seems even absurd. And it has been suggested that it, with much that immediately follows it, was adopted by Shakespeare, with very little change, from the old play.

     It is surely in the highest degree improbable that, at such a critical point, when he had to show the first effect on Hamlet of the disclosures made by the Ghost, Shakespeare would write slackly or be content with anything that did not satisfy his own imagination. But it is not surprising that we should find some difficulty in following his imagination at such a point.

     Let us look at the whole speech. The Ghost leaves Hamlet with the words, 'Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me'; and he breaks out:

O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,

   1I do not know if it has been observed that in the opening of the Player-King's speech, as given in Q2 and the Folio (it is quite different in Q1), there seems to be a reminiscence of Greene's Alphonsus King of Arragon, Act. IV., lines 33 ff. (Dyce's Greene and Peele, p. 239):

Thrice ten times Phoebus with his golden beams
Hath compassed the circle of the sky,
Thrice ten times Ceres hath her workmen hir'd,
And fill'd her barns with fruitful crops of corn,
Since first in priesthood I did lead my life.

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