22 FEBRUARY 1890, Page 3

Mr. Irving, as the President for this year of the

Wolver- hampton Literary and Scientific Society, delivered on Wednes- day an address, in which he insisted that there is not in any literature a more moving expression of filial reverence and love than that contained in Shakespeare's Hamlet, especially as it comes out in the scene between Ophelia and Hamlet. " In this scene, the actor had perhaps the most difficult task in the whole range of the drama." He had " to present the conflict in Hamlet's soul so clearly that it should connect itself in the minds of the audience with the whole train of thought which preceded it, instead of seeming the brutal out. break of a mere madman." We should have said that the scene with Ophelia really represents the sudden distrust and disgust towards feminine beauty and frailty as resulting from his mother's conduct, much more powerfully than it represents Hamlet's personal love and reverence for his father. The commission to avenge his death never really takes full hold of Hamlet, nor is he quite able to overcome a certain doubt of the ghost's trustworthiness. That Hamlet loved and reverenced his father, is matter of course ; but surely his filial love is not the main feature of the tragedy, and still less of the scene with Ophelia.