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Hor. My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
The king my father :
For God's love, let me hear.
6 I shall not look upon his like again.) Mr. Holt proposes to read, from an emendation of Sir Thomas Samwell, Bart. of Upton, near Northampton:
Eye shall not look upon his like again; and thinks it is more in the true spirit of Shakspeare than the other. So, in Stowe's Chronicle, p. 746: “In the greatest pomp that euer
eye behelde.” Again, in Sandys's Travels, p. 150 : “ We went this day through the most pregnant and pleasant valley that ever eye beheld.” Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, Lib. III, p. 293, edit. 1633:
- as cruell a fight as eye did ever see.” Steevens. * Season your admiration - ] That is, temper it. Fohnson.
8 With an attent ear;] Spenser, as well as our poet, uses attent for attentive. Malone.
9 In the dead waist and middle of the night,] This strange phra. seology seems to have been common in the time of Shakspeare. By waist is meant nothing more than middle ; and hence the epithet dead did not appear incongruous to our poet. So, in Marston's Malecontent, 1604 :
“ 'Tis now about the immodest waist of night." i. e. midnight. Again, in The Puritan, a comedy, 1607: “ the day be spent to the girdle, —."
In the old copies the word is spelt wast, as it is in the second Act, sc. ii: “Then you live about her wast, or in the middle of her favours.” The same spelling is found in King Lear, Act IV, sc. vi : “ Down from the wast, they are centaurs.” See also, Minsheu's Dict. 1617 : “Wast, middle, or girdle-steed.” We have the same pleonasm in another line in this play:
“ And given my heart a working mute and dumb.” All the modern editors read--In the dead waste &c. Malone. Dead waste may be the true reading. See Vol. II, p. 35, n. 2.
Armed at point, exactly, cap-à-pe,
But where was this?
1 Armed at point,] Thus the quartos. The folio:
Arm'd at all points. Steevens.
with the act of fear,] Fear was the cause, the active cause that distilled them by the force of operation which we strictly call act in voluntary, and power in involuntary agents, but popularly call aet in both. Yohnson.
The folio reads-bestil'd.Steevens.
s Did you not speak to it?] Fielding, who was well acquainted with vulgar superstitions, in his Tom Jones, B. XI, ch. ii, observes that Mrs. Fitzpatrick, “like a ghost, only wanted to be spoke to," but then very readily answered. It seems from this passage, as well as from others in books too mean to be formally quoted, that spectres were supposed to maintain an obdurate silence, till interrogated by the people to whom they appeared.
The drift therefore of Hamlet's question is, whether his father's shade had been spoken to; and not whether Horatio, as a particular or privileged person, was the speaker to it. Horatio tells us he had seen the late king but once, and therefore cannot be imagined to have any particular interest with his apparition.
The vulgar notion that a ghost could only be spoken to with propriety and effect by a scholar, agrees very well with the character of Marcellus, a common officer; but it would have disgraced the Prince of Denmark to have supposed the spectre would more readily comply with Horatio's solicitation, merely because it was that of a man who had been studying at a university.
We are at liberty to think the Ghost would have replied to Francisco, Bernardo, or Marcellus, had either of them ventured to question it. It was actually preparing to address Horatio, when the cock crew. The convenience of Shakspeare's play, howerer, required that the phantom should continue dumb till
My lord, I did;
'Tis very strange.
Ham. Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
We do, my lord,
Arm’d, my lord.
Hamlet could be introduced to hear what was to remain concealed in his own breast, or to be communicated by him to some intel. ligent friend, like Horatio, in whom he could implicitly confide.
By what particular person, therefore, an apparition which exhibits itself only for the purpose of being urged to speak, was ad. dressed, could be of no consequence.
Be it remembered likewise, that the words are not as lately pronounced on the stage,-"Did not you speak to it?"_but“ Did you not speak to it?"-How aukward will the innovated sense appear, if attempted to be produced from the passage as it really stands in the true copies !
Did you not speak to it? The emphasis, therefore, should most certainly rest on-speak.
Steevers. the morning cock crez loud;] The moment of the evanescence of spirits was supposed to be limited to the crowing of the cock. This belief is mentioned so early as by Prudentius, Cuthem. Hymn. I, v. 40. But some of his commentators prove it to be of much higher antiquity.
It is a most inimitable circumstance in Shakspeare, so to have managed this popular idea, as to make the Ghost, which has been so long obstinately silent, and of course must be dismissed by the morning, begin or rather prepare to speak, and to be interrupted, at the very critical time of the crowing of a cock.
Another poet, according to custom, would have suffered his Ghost tamely to vanish, without contriving this start, which is like a start of guilt. To say nothing of the aggravation of the future suspense, occasioned by this preparation to speak, and to impart some mysterious secret. Less would have been expected, had nothing been promised. T. Warton.
From top to toe? All. My lord, from head to foot. Ham.
Then saw you not His face.
Hor. O, yes, my lord; he wore his beaver up.
A countenance more
Pale, or red?
And fix'd his eyes upon you?
I would, I had been there.
His beard was grizzld? no?
I will watch to-night;
I warrant, it will.
wore his beaver up] Though beaver properly signified that part of the helmet which was let down, to enable the wearer to drink, Shakspeare always uses the word as denoting that part of the helmet which, when raised up, exposed the face of the wearer: and such was the popular signification of the word in his time. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, beaver is defined thus :-" In armour it signifies that part of the helmet which may be lifted up, to take breath the more freely.” Malone.
So, in Laud's Diary: “ The Lord Broke shot in the left eye, and killed in the place at Lichfield-his bever up, and armed to the knee, so that a musket at that distance could have done him little harm.” Farmer. • A sable silverd.] So, in our poet's 12th Sonnet:
“ And sable curls, all silver'd o'er with white." Malone. VOL. XV.
And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
Our duty to your honour.
[Exeunt HoR. MAR. and BER.
A Room in Polonius' House.
Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA.
7 Let it be tenable in your silence still ;] Thus the quartos, and rightly. The folio, 1623, reads-treble. Steevens.
8 My father's spirit in arms!] From what went before, I once hinted to Mr. Garrick, that these words might be spoken in this
My father's spirit! in arms ! all is not well; -, Whalley. 9 The pérfume and suppliance of a minute ; ] Thus the quarto, the folio has it:
sweet, not lasting,