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(r) I'm dead—at least I shall be in a minute.
Thus the folio. The quarto reads,
I'm dead at last-or shall be in a minute.
We might, without much violence, read and point thus:
I'm dead : at rest I shall be in a minute.
By at rest is meant buried.
What authority Dr. Warburton has for this alteration I know not: and I am equally ignorant of his reasons for so unequivocally asserting, that at rest means buried. Surely, when once the principle of vitality has quitted his frame, a man is as much at rest above ground as under. So feebly is he armed, that, in the present instance, I consider the reverend critic as an unequal adversary, and, therefore, scorn to meet him within the lists of controversy. Impotency demands our pity; but, when it affects Herculean muscularity, it but provokes
our contempt. We disdain to punish, but we are bound to expose. Were the proposed reading admitted, we should make Hamlet positively announce his own death, and afterwards advert to his own funeral. But of this too much.
To a literary friend of mine I am indebted for the following very acute observation : “ Throughout this " play,” says he," there is nothing more beautiful than “ these dashes ; by their gradual elongation, they dis“ tinctly mark the balbucination and the increasing “ difficulty of utterance observable in a dying man.” To which let me add, that, although dashes are in frequent use with our tragic poets, yet are they seldom introduced with so good an effect as in the present instance.
J. M. RICHARDSON,
No. 23, CORNHILL.
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