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THE story of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is told in the Historia Danica of Saxo Grammaticus, a writer who lived about A.D. 1150-1220, and wrote his work about 1180-1208. The earliest edition of it is that of Paris, 1514. The story as it there appears was incorporated in Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques, of which the earlier volumes contained translations from the Italian of Bandello, and amongst them the tragical history of Romeo and Juliet. The fifth volume of these Histoires, in which Hamlet first appears, was printed at Paris in 1570, and the story was thence translated into English. The only edition now extant of this translation is that of 1608, which is reprinted in Collier's Shakespeare's Library, vol. i., from the only perfect copy known, which is among Capell's books in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. There were in all probability earlier editions, but none of these are known to have been preserved. The title of this book is "The Hystorie of Hamblet. London: Imprinted by Richard Bradocke, for Thomas Pauier, and are to be sold at his shop in Corne-hill, neere to the Royall Exchange, 1608.'
Between the story of Hamlet as it appears in this 'Hystorie' and the story as it appears in Shakespeare there are very marked differences. Except in the case of Hamlet himself and his mother, who is called 'Geruth' in the Hystorie,' there is no resemblance whatever between the names of the characters in the 'Hystorie' and in the play. In the former, Hamlet's father is Horvendile, his uncle is Fengon, corresponding to Horvendillus and Fengo in Saxo Grammaticus. The murder of Hamlet's father by his uncle, and the subsequent marriage of the latter with his brother's widow, the feigned madness Hamlet, the various devices of the uncle to penetrate his secret, the death of Polonius, Hamlet's re