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I do not set my life at a pin's fee 19;
into madness? think of it:
It waves me still: -
hands. Hor. Be ruld, you shall not go. Ham.
My fate cries out, And makes each petty artery in this body As hardy as the Némean lion's nerve.
[Ghost beckons. Still am I call’d;—unhand me, gentlemen ;
[Breaking from them.
19 • I do not estimate my life at the value of a pin.'
20 i. e. overhangs his base. Thus in Sidney's Arcadia, b. i.• Hills lift up their beetle brows, as if they would overlooke the pleasantnesse of their under prospect. The verb to beetle is apparently of Shakspeare's creation.
21 • To deprive your sovereignty of reason,' signifies to take from you or dispossess you of the command of reason. We have similar instances of raising the idea of virtues or qualities by giving them rank in Banquo's ' royalty of nature, and even in this play we have nobility of love,' and ' dignity of love.'
22 i. e. whims.
By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets 23
I'll follow thee.
[Exeunt Ghost and HAMLET. Hor. He waxes desperate with imagination. Mar. Let's follow; 'tis not fit thus to obey him. Hor. Have after:-To what issue will this come? Mar. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Hor. Heaven will direct it24. Mar.
Nay, let's follow him.
SCENE V. A more remote Part of the Platform.
Re-enter Ghost and HAMLET.
My hour is almost come,
Alas, poor ghost! Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold. Ham.
Speak, I am bound to hear.
· Villains, set down the corse, or by St. Paul
King Richard III. Act i. Sc. 1. To let, in old language is to hinder, to stay, to obstruct; and still a current term in leases and other legal instruments.
24 Marcellus answers Horatio's question, ' To what issue will this come ?' and Horatio also answers it himself with pious resignation, · Heaven will direct it.'
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night;
1 The first quarto reads :
• Confin'd in flaming fire.' The spirit being supposed to feel the same desires and appetites as when clothed in the flesh, the pains and punishments promised by the ancient moral teachers are often of a sensual nature. Chaucer in the Persones Tale says, 'The misese of hell shall be in defaute of mete and drinke.
• Thou shalt lye in frost and fire,
The Wyll of the Devyll, blk. l. 2 Gawin Douglas really changes the Platonic hell into “ the punytion of the saulis in purgatory. Dr. Farmer thus compressed his account:~' It is a nedeful thyng to suffer panis and torment;--sum in the wyndis, sum under the watter, and in the fire other sum: thus the mony vices-
Contrakkit in the corpis be done away
And purgit.' 3. How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted
In the distraction of this madding fever.' Sh. Son, 108. 4 Vide note on The Comedy of Errors, Act ii. Sc. 2. It is porpentine in the old editions in every instance. Fretful is the reading of the folio ; the quartos read fearful. The irascible nature of the animal is noted in a curious passage of the Speculum Vitæ, by Richard Rolle, MS.:
" That beest is felle and sone is wrath,
Ham. O heaven!
murder 5. Ham. Murder?
Ghost. Murder most foul, as in the best it is; But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
Ham. Haste me to know it; that I, with wings
As meditation, or the thoughts of love,
I find thee apt;
Ham. O, my prophetick soul ! my uncle!
Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, (O wicked wit, and gifts, that have the power So to seduce !) won to his shameful lust
5 There is an allusion to the ghost in this play, or in an older one of the same name, by Lodge in his Wit's Miserie and the World's Madness, 1596. He describes one of his Devils, by name Hate Virtue, as ' a foule lubber, who looks as pale as the vizard of the Ghost, which cried so miserably at the theattre, Hamlet, revenge.
6 The folio reads— rots itself, &c. In the Humorous Lieutenant, by Beaumont and Fletcher, we have:
• This dull root pluck'd from Lethe's flood.' Otway has a similar thought:
like a coarse and useless dunghill weed Fix'd to one spot, and rot just as I grow.' 7 Quarto 1603-heart.
The will of my most seeming virtuous queen:
8 This is also a Latinism, securus, quiet, or unguarded.
• The poison'd henbane, whose cold juice doth kill.' And Drayton, in his Baron's Wars, p. 51:
• The poisoning henbane and the mandrake dread.' The French name comes near in sound, hannebane. It is, however, possible that poisonous qualities may have been ascribed to ebony; called ebene, and ebeno, by old English writers. Marlow, in his Jew of Malta, speaking of noxious things, says:
The blood of Hydra, Lerna's bane, The juyce of hebon, and cocytus breath.' The French word hebenin, which would be applied to any thing made from ebony, comes indeed very close to the hebenon of Shakspeare. In confirmation of my conjecture, I find the newly · discovered quarto, 1603, reads-hebona.