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About Hesperian student / (Lincoln [Neb.]) 1872-1885 | View Entire Issue (July 5, 1885)
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the philosophic scepticism, with which this well trained,
scholarly man of the world receives the story of the frightened
sentinels about the "dreaded sight" that haunts the castle
walls, is most reassuring; we feel at once that here is a man
who can be depended upon, one who will not be carried
away by childish fear or unreasoning credulity. Still, like
a true searcher for the facts, he is not unwilling to sift the mat
ter to the bottom. In this no idle curiosity impells him, but
a right-minded desire for knowledge and information on all
that is taking place around him.
In a few lines, then, we learn more than one interesting
quality of Horatio's self. He is quiet and reserved, not given
to accepting dubious statements without a thorough investi
gation, nor unwilling to be convinced when the proof is laid
before him. He is strong and self-reliant and those about him
lean upon his superior mind with confidence that the
support will not be insufficient. He is not easily thrown off
his guard by any unexpected event, neither is he unstrung by
strange and mysterious occurrence. The apparition of the
murdered king is viewed without undue excitement. "Looks
it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio." whispers the awe
struck Bernardo, and Horatio answers slowly, and weighing
every sylablc; "Most like; it harrows me with fear and wond
er." We can readily believe that the wonder was uppermos
in his mind. When the spectre vanishes without disclosing
its identity or mission, Horatio is a little disconcerted, partial
ly, perhaps, from fear bnt also from disappointment in no
learning more about the ghostly visitor. How different is the
bearing of sensitive, high strung Prince when ho is brough(
face to face with the same uneasy spirit! "Angels and minis,
ters of grace defend us!" It is a cry of fright, of horror. To
be sure Hamlet recovers himself and questions the ghost; bu
right here is the difference between the two men. Hamlc1
regains his composure. Horatio never loses his.
As a friend, Horatio is all that one could ask. With him
the meaning of friendship goes deep. He fully understands
what the word implies and lives up to his own lofty ideal. The
confidence reposed in him by Hamlet is not betrayed. The
thought of such treason never even presented itself to the
true heart and warm sensibilities of Horatio. By a word to
the king he might have unmasked the dissembling
Prince. To some men, in the position of Horatio, for he
was not high in the affairs of state, the temptation to bctiay
a confidence for the sake of gaining a monarch's favor might
have been too great. But he was not even tempted. Such
a false position would have been an absolute impossibility.
. Horatio is sincere. He means what he says and says what
he means. His words arc unconventional and not moulded
by the current freaks of fashion. Osric may vie with Polon
ius in slanging together a vocabulary whileforgctting the at
tendant sense, that alone makes speech of value; but Horatio
never attempts to emulate them. His mind is clear and his
expression of the thought born from that clear mind is of
fitting transparency. He is a man to whom one might unbur
den the innermost soul and be sure that a sincere response
would be given. Thjs quality of Horatio makes him a trust
ed confidant of the Prince.
There are situations in the drama which seem to require
that Hamlet and Horatio have come to understandings behind
the scenes. The two characters leave the stage togetner and
enter it together in a subsequent scene. We can almost com
prehend their conversation while absent from sight and free
from interruption. And still more strange, a it may seem,
we are able to judge much of the workings of Horatio's mind
and heart from these unknown colloquies. Thus the skill, the
almost mqre than human art of the Great Master is revealed.
Both on and off the stage we see Horatio as the same who
To institute a comparison between Horatio and Cassio who
appears in Othtllo would be instructive. Both are among
the best of Shakespeare's male characters, perhaps the very
best. Both are honest, true, noble, sincere. One marked
difference, however, may be noted. Cassio is simple-hearted.
In fact, it is on this simple hcartedness of purpose and char
acter, that he depends for much of the peculiar charm with
which he impresses us. Horatio is wanting here. As said
before, he is a man of the world, pure and undcfilcd, but,
none-the less, well acquainted with what is going on about
himself and the royal court. His eyes are open and he will
not rush blindly into peril as did Cassio. If there is a flaw in
the mental make-up of Horatio it is right here. It is possible
that he was over-cautious, so much so as to render him
more careful of self than was compatable with the best inter
ests of his friend.
The more we think over Horatio's power, his experience,
his good sense, his capabilities the less arc we able to recon
cile these with his inactivity. Is it possible that Horatio
would, in a calm, friendly way, permit a man who so bound
in him as was Hamlet, to be drawn down by the relentless
undertow of destiny without making a single effort to save him?
Horatio was strong and able. Why did de not do something?
With his advantages we cannot forgive him for leaving Ham
let so entirely to his own devices. "Certainly", you reply,
"but that would have spoiled the play." Very true, still there
is something wrong. We are inclined to throw a share a Hit
blame on him who created Horatio. It is, to be plain, an im
position on a man of Horatio's nature to place him in a posi
tion which calls for him to lend a hand and then man icJp
him with fetters of inactivity. Horatio is either selfish or
wronged, we arc inclined to think the latter.
Viewed from a literary standpoint Horatio is a marvelous
creation. Viewed from the utilitarian side "How would Jhe
appear on the stage" it must be confessed that he is rtol if
success. It is impossible to give his part to the star of u mc
atrical company, for it is not what might be called a le;idirj
role. 1 hen, too, if an only moderate player attempts the
character, he will, almost certainly, fail to bring out he deli
cate shades that arc in the soul of a correct rendition. Under
such unfavorable conditions Horatio degenerates into a
"supj" who has little to say and do and less to think of.
Perhaps the words of Thomas Carlylc are not 'unfittingly
illustrated in Shakespeare's treatment of Horatio. How
much in Shakespsarc lies hid; much that is not known at all,
not spcakable at all: Like roots, like sap and forces working
underground! Speech is great but silence is gcater. 'Sj.
The Doane Ow lays down the rule that a young man should
"never set in the same seat with a lady." Astounding.
Found on the campus of a southern college. "Dear Father:
I am studying hard. The professors say I am doing well. I
am thinking about joining the church. Please send me $125.
Your loving son, "
On the evening of Saturday, May 30, the whole body ofstu.
dents was invited to spend the hours from 8 to 10 in Chancel
lor Manatt's hospitable parlors and most of them did so. The
rooms were too full to permit any "distant feeling" on the
part of any, and the only ones that observed any "backward
ness" were a few small individuals that got -themselves
wedged in between extensive corporosities. The evening
was cool, the refreshments delicious, and enjoyment universal.