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Hor. Do not, my lord.

Ham. Why, what fhould be the fear?
I do not fet my life at a pin's fee7;
And, for my foul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself ?

It waves me forth again;-I'll follow it.
Hor. What, if it tempt you toward the flood, my

Or to the dreadful fummit of the cliff,
That bettles o'er his bafe into the fea?


And there affume fome other horrible form,
Which might deprive your fovereignty of reafon,
And draw you into madness? think of it :
[The very place 'puts toys of desperation,
Without more motive, into every brain,
That looks so many fathoms to the fea,.
And hears it roar beneath.]

Ham. It waves me ftill:

Go on, I'll follow thee.

Mar. You fhall not go, my lord.
Ham. Hold off your hands.
Hor. Be rul'd, you fhall not go.
Ham. My fate cries out,
And makes each petty artery in this body
As hardy as the Nemean lion's nerve.-
Still am I call'd-unhand me, gentlemen;

[Breaking from them. By heaven, I'll make a ghoft of him that lets me :


7-pin's fee:] The value of a pin. Jonsson.

8 deprive your fovereignty, &c.] Dr. Warburton would read deprave; but feveral proofs are given in the notes to King Lear of Shakspeare's ufe of the word deprice, which is the true reading. STEEVENS.

I believe deprive in this place fignifics fimply to tale away.

? The very place] The four following lines added from the first edition. POPE

-puts toys of defperation,] See vol. vii. p. 8. EDITOR STEEVENS that lets me :] See vol. i. p. 188. VOL. X

I fay,

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I fay, away :-Go on,--I'll follow thee.

[Exeunt Ghoft, and Hamlet. Hor. He waxes defperate with imagination. Mar. Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him. Hor. Have after :-To what iffue will this come? Mar. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Hor. Heaven will direct it 3.

Mar. Nay, let's follow him.



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A more remote Part of the Platform.

Re-enter Ghoft, and Hamlet.

Iam. Whither wilt thou lead me? speak, I'll go no further.

Ghost. Mark me.

Ham. I will.

Ghoft. My hour is almoft come,

When I to fulphurous and tormenting flames
Muft render up myfelf.

Ham. Alas, poor ghost!

Ghoft. Pity me not, but lend thy ferious hearing To what I fhall unfold.

Ham. Speak, I am bound to hear.

Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

Ham. What?

Ghoft. I am thy father's fpirit;

Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night;
And, for the day, confin'd to faft in fires,


3 Heaven will direct it ;] Perhaps it may be more appofite to read Heaven will detect it." FARMER.

Marcellus anfwers Horatio's question, "To what iffue will this come and Horatio alfo answers it himself with a pious re"Heaven will direct it." BLACKSTONE. fignation, confin'd to faft in fires,] We fhould read,


too faft in fires.

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'Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
5 Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
To tell the fecrets of my prifon-house,

I could

i. e. very clofely confined, The particle too is ufed frequently for the fuperlative moft, or very.


I am rather inclined to read, confin'd to lafting fires, to fires un-
remitted and unconfumed. The change is flight. JOHNSON.
Doom'd for a certain time to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires.

Chaucer has a fimilar paffage with regard to punishments of hell. Parfon's Tale, p. 193. Mr. Urry's edition: "And moreover the mifefe of hell, fhall be in defaute of mete and drinke.” SMITH.

Nah, in his Pierce Penniless's Supplication to the Devil, 1595, has the fame idea: "Whether it be a place of horror, ftench, and darknefs, where men fee meat, but can get none, and are ever thrifty, &c." Before I had read the Perfoxes Tale of Chaucer, I fuppofed that he meant rather to drop a stroke of fatire on facerdotal luxury, than to give a serious account of the place of future torment. Chaucer, however, is as grave as Shakspeare. So likewife at the conclufion of an ancient pamphlet called The Wyll of the Devyll, bl. 1. no date:

Thou fhalt lye in froft and fire
"With fickneffe and hunger; &c."


s Are burnt and purg'd away.-] Gawin Douglas really changes the Platonic hell into the "punytion of Saulis in purgatory:" and it is obfervable, that when the ghoft informs Hamlet of his doom there,

"Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature
"Are burnt and purg'd away,-

the expreffien is very fimiliar to the bishop's: I will give you his
verfion as concisely as I can ; "It is a nedeful thyng to fuffer
panis and torment-Sum in the wyndis, fum under the watter,
and the fire uthir fum: thus the mony vices-
"Contrakkit in the corpis be done
"And purgit."-


Sixte Book of Encados, fol. p. 191.

Shakspeare might have found this expreffion in the Hyftorie of Hamblet, bl. 1. F. 2. edit. 1608 : "He fet fire in the foure cor ners of the hal, in such sort, that of all that were as then therein not one efcaped away, but were forced to purge their finnes by fire." MALONE.

Shakspeare talks more like a Papift, than a Platonist; but the language of bishop Douglas is that of a good Proteftant:


X 2

I could a tale unfold, whofe lightest word.
Would harrow up thy foul; freeze thy young blood;
Make thy two eyes, like ftars, ftart from their fpheres;
Thy knotty and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to ftand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine":
But this eternal blazon must not be

To cars of flesh and blood :-Lift, lift, O lift! —
If thou did't ever thy dear father love,-

Ham. O heaven!

Ghoft. Revenge his foul and moft unnatural murder".

Ham. Murder?

Ghoft. Murder moft foul, as in the best it is; But this moft foul, ftrange, and unnatural.

"Thus the mony vices

"Contrakkit in the corpis be done away
"And purgit.".

Thefe are the very words of our Liturgy, in the commendatory prayer for a fick perfon at the point of departure, in the office for the vilitation of the fick ;"Whatfoever defilements it may have contracledbeing purged and done away." WHALLEY.

fretful porpentine:] The quartos read fearful porpentine. Either may ferve. This animal is at once irafcible and timid. The fame image occurs in the Romant of the Rofe, where Chaucer is defcribing the perfonage of danger:

Like fharpe urchons his beere was grow."

An urchin is a hedge-hog. STEEVENS.


Revenge his foul and moft unnatural murder.] As a proof that this play was written before 15.97, of which the contrary has been afferted by Mr. Holt in Dr. Johnfon's appendix, I must borrow, as ufual, from Dr. Farmer. Shakspeare is faid to have been no "extraordinary actor; and that the top of his performance was the "Ghoft in his own Hamlet. Yet this chef d'oeuvre did not pleafe; "I will give you an original stroke at it. Dr. Lodge published "in the year 1596 a pamphlet called Wit's Miferic, or the World's "Madness, difcovering the incarnate devils of the age, quarto. "One of thefe devils is, Hate virtue, or forrow for another man's "good fucceffe, who, fays the doctor, is a foule lubber, and looks as pale as the vizard of the Ghoft, which cried fo miferably at the theatre, Hamlet's revenge." STEEVENS.


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Ham. Hafte me to know it; that I, with wings as fwift


As meditation, or the thoughts of love,

May fweep to my revenge.
Ghost. I find thee apt;

9 And duller fhould't thou be than the fat weed
'That rots itself in ease on Lethe's wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear;
'Tis given out, that, fleeping in my orchard,
A ferpent ftung me; fo the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged procefs of my death
Rankly abus'd but know, thou noble youth,
The ferpent, that did fting thy father's life,
Now wears his crown.

8 As meditation, or the thoughts of love,] This fimilitude is extremely beautiful. The word meditation is confecrated, by the myftics, to fignify that stretch and flight of mind which aspires to the enjoyment of the fupreme good. So that Hamlet, confidering with what to compare the iwiftnefs of his revenge, choofes two of the most rapid things in nature, the ardency of divine and human paffion, in an enthufiaft and a lover. WARBURTON.

The comment on the word meditation is fo ingenious, that I hope it is juft. JOHNSON.

9 And duller fhouldst thou be than the fat weed

That roots itself in cafe on Lethe's wharf, &c.] Shakspeare, apparently through ignorance, makes Roman Catholics of thele Pagan Danes; and here gives a defcription of purgatory; but yet, mixes it with the Pagan fable of Lethe's whart. Whether he did it to infinuate to the zealous Proteftants of his time, that the Pagan and Popish purgatory stood both upon the fame footing of credibility, or whether it was by the fame kind of licentious inadvertance that Michael Angelo brought Charon's bark into his picture of the Laft Judgment, is not eafy to decide.


That rots itself, &c.] The quarto reads-That roots itself. Mr. POPE follows it. OTWAY has the fame thought: like a coarfe and ufclefs dunghill weed "Fix'd to one fpot, and rot just as I grow."


The fuperiority of the reading of the folio is to me apparent: to be in a crefent ftate (i. e. to root itfelf) affords an idea of activi ty; to rot better fuits with the dullnefs and inaction to which the Ghoft refers. Nevertheless, the accufative cafe (itself) may feem to demand the verb roots. STEEVENS.



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