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I do not set my life at a pin's fee 19;
And, for my soul, 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 summit of the cliff,
That beetles 20 o'er his base into the sea ?
And there assume some other horrible form,
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason 1,
And draw


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 sea,
And hears it roar beneath.

It waves me still: -
Go on, I'll follow thee.
Mar. You shall not go, my

lord. Ham.

Hold off


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
say, away:
:-Go on,

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.
Ham. Whither wilt thou lead me? speak, I'll go

no further.
Ghost. Mark me.

I will.

My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.

Alas, poor ghost! Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing To what I shall unfold. Ham.

Speak, I am bound to hear.
Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt

Ham. What?
Ghost. I am thy father's spirit;

· Villains, set down the corse, or by St. Paul
I'll make a corse of him that disobeys.'

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;
And, for the day, confin’d to fast in fires 1,
Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
Are burnt and purg'd away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood;
Make thy two eyes,like stars,start from their spheres”;
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine*:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.—List, list, O list!-
If thou didst ever thy dear father love,-

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,
With sicknes and hunger,' &c.

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,
And when he is greved he wol do scathe;
For when he tenes [angers] he launches out felly
The scharpe pinnes in bis body.'

Ham. O heaven!
Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural

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 swift

As meditation, or the thoughts of love,
May sweep to my revenge.

I find thee apt;
And duller should'st thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharfo,
Would'st thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
'Tis given out, that sleeping in mine orchard,
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abus’d: but know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father's life?,
Now wears his crown.

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:
0, Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
From me, whose love was of that dignity,
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage; and to decline
Upon a wretch, whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be mov'd,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven;
So lust, though to a radiant angel link’d,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
And prey on garbage.
But soft! methinks, I scent the morning air;
Brief let me be :--Sleeping within mine orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure 8 hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebenon9 in a vial,
And in the porches of mine ears did pour
The leperous distilment: whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man,
That, swift as quicksilver, it courses through

8 This is also a Latinism, securus, quiet, or unguarded.
9 Hebenon may probably be derived from henbane, the oil of
which, according to Pliny, dropped into the ears, disturbs the
brain : and there is sufficient evidence that it was held poisonous
by our ancestors, in Anton's Satires, 1606, we have :-

• 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.

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