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Did forfeit with his life all tliose his lands,
Which he stood seiz'd of," to the conqueror :
Against the which, a moiety competent
Was gaged by our king ; which had return'd
To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same co-mart,
And carriage of the article design'd,"
His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
Of unimproved mettle hot and full,"3
Hath in the skirts of Norway, bere and there,
Shark'd up a list of landless resolutes,
For food and diet, to some enterprise
That hath a stomach in't : " which is no other
(As it doth well appear unto our state)
But to recover of us, by strong hand
And terms compulsative,' those 'foresaid lands
So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
Is the main motive of our preparations,


"This is the old legal phrase, still in use, for held possession of, or was the rightful owner of.

19 Co-mart is the reading of the quartos ; the folio reads, cov'. nant. Co-mart, it is presumed, means a joint bargain. No other instance of the word is known. Design'd is here used in the sense of the Latin designatus ; carriage in the sense of import: that is, the import of the article marked out for that purpose.

13 That is, of unimpeached or unquestioned courage. To improve anciently signified to impeach, to impugn. Thus Florio : « Improbare, lo improove, lo impugn." The French have still im. prourer, with the same meaning ; from improbare, Lat. Numer. ous instances of improve in this sense may be found in the writings of Shakespeare's time. — Shark'd is snapped up or taken up hasti. ly. Scroccare is properly to do any thing at another man's cost, to shark or shift for any thing. Suroccolone, a cunning shifter or sharker for any thing in time of need, namely for victuals ; a tall trencher-man, shifting up and down for belly cheer." The quar. los have lawless instead of landless, of the folio. Lawless may bo right.

16 Stomach is used for determined purpose.

16 So the folio; the quartos, compulsatory which carries the same meaning, but overfills the measure.

The source of this our watch, and the chief head Of this post-haste and romage in the land."

Ber. I think it be no other but e'en so: Well may it sort," that this portentous figure Comes armed through our watch; so like the king That was, and is, the question of these wars.

Hor. A mote it is, to trouble the mind's eye. In the most high and palmy 18 state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets : As, stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Disasters in the sun ; and the moist star,'' Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. And even the like precurse of fierce events — As harbingers preceding still the fates, And prologue to the omen 20 coming on — Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Unto our climatures and countrymen. —

16 Romage, now spelt rummage, is used for ransacking, or making a thorough search. - What follows, after this line down to the re-entrance of the Ghost, is wanting in the folio of 1623 and in the quarto of 1603.

H. 17 That is, fit, suit, or agree: often so used. 18 That is, victorious ; ihe Palm being the emblem of victory.

19 There is evidently some corruption here, but it has hitherto baffled remedy, and seems to be given up as hopeless. Both the general structure of the sentence and the exigencies of the sense clearly favour the belief that as stars is a misprint for some word of iwo syllables, and disasters for some verb. For the first, Malone would read astres ; to which Steevens objects that there is no authority for such a word. The passage in North's translation of Plutarch, Life of Julius Cæsar, which the Poet probably had in his eye, yields no certain help. See, however, Julius Cæsar, Act i. sc. 3, note 2, and Act ii. sc. 2, note 2. — “The moist star" is the moon. So in Marlowe's Hero and Leander : “ Not that night. wand'ring pale and watery star."

H. 20 Omen is here put for portentous event. The use of the word is classical.

Re-enter the Ghost. But, soft! behold! lo, where it comes again! I'll cross it, though it blast me.? — Stay, illusion ! If thou hast any sound, or use of voice, Speak to me: If there be any good thing to be done, That may to thee do ease, and grace to me, Speak to me: If thou art privy to thy country's fate, Which, happily, foreknowing, may avoid, O, speak! Or, if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth, For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

[Cock crows. Speak of it :- stay, and speak ! — Stop it, Mar

Mar. Shall I strike at it with my partisan ?
Hor. Do, if it will not stand.

'Tis here! Hor.

'Tis here! Mar. 'Tis gone.

[Exit Ghost. We do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence; For it is, as the air, invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery.

91 It was believed that a person crossing the path of a specire became subject to its malignant influence. Lodge's Illustrations of English History, speaking of Ferdinand, Earl of Derby, who died by witchcraft, as was supposed, in 1594, has the following: “On Friday there appeared a tall man, who twice crossed him swiftly; and wben the earl came to the place where he saw this man, he fell sick." - Johnson remarks that this speech of Horatio is very elegant and noble, and congruous to the common traditions touching apparitions.

Ber. It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

Hor. And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,“
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day; and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine : 23 and of the truth herein
This present object made probation.

Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock.“
Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long :
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad ; *
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, 24 nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

22 So the quartos ; the folio bas day instead of morn. Drayton gives the cock the same office:

“ And now the cocke, the morning's trumpeter,

Play'd hunts-up for the day-star to appear." 23 Extravagant is extra-vagans, wandering about, going beyond bounds. Erring is erruticus, straying or roving up and down. Mr. Douce has justly observed that “the epitbets extrav. agant and erring are highly poetical and appropriate, and seem to prove that Shakespeare was not altogether ignorant of the Latin language."

% This is a very ancient superstition. Philostratus, giving an account of the apparition of Achilles' shade to Apollonius of lyanna, says, “it vanished with a little gleam as soon as the cock crowed." There is a Hymn of Prudentius, and another of St. Ambrose, in which it is mentioned ; and there are some lines in the latter very much resembling Horatio's speech.

25 So read all the quartos but the first; ibe folio has, “ no spirit can walk abroad." It is difficult wbich to prefer, both readings being so good.

20 That is, no fairy blasts, or infects. See The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act iv. sc. 4, note 2. - Gracious is sometimes used

Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it. But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o'er the dew of yond' high eastern bill. Break we our watch up; and, by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen to-night Unto young Hamlet ; for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him. Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty ? ?

Mar. Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know Where we shall find him most conveniently. (Exeunt


The Same. A Room of State.
Enter the King, the Queen, HAMLET, POLONIUS,

King. Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's

The memory be green ; and that it us befitted
To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
To be contracted in one brow of woe;
Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature,
That we with wisest sorrow think on him,
Together with remembrance of ourselves.
Therefore, our sometime sister, now our queen,

by Shakespeare for graced, favoured. See As You Like It, Act i sc. 2, noie 11. — The quartos bave " that time," and further on, eastward for eastern.

87 Note the inobtrusive and yet fully adequale mode of introducing the main character, " young Hamlet," upon whom is trans. feried all the interest excited for the acts and concerns of the king bis father. - COLERIDGE.


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