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Ber. Looks it not like the king ? mark it, Horatio. Hor. Most like: - it harrows me with fear and
wonder. Ber. It would be spoke to. Mar.
Question it, Horatio. Hor. What art thou, that usurp'st this time of
night, Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? by Heaven I charge thee,
speak! Mar. It is offended. Ber.
See! it stalks away. Hor. Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!
[Exit Ghost. Mar. 'Tis gone, and will not answer. Ber. How now, Horatio ! you tremble and look
pale. Is not this something more than fantasy ? What think on't ?
Hor. Before my God, I might not this believe,
Is it not like the king ?
“ Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin,
And that will daunt the devil." 8 The first quarto reads, “it horrors me.” To harrow is to distress, to vex, to disturb. To harry and to harass have the same origin. Milton has the word in Comus : “ Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear.". -« Question it,” in the next line, is the reading of the folio ; other old copies have “ Speak to it.”
He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. 'Tis strange. Mar. Thus, twice before, and jump 10 at this dead
hour, With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch. Hor. In what particular thought to work, I know
not ; But, in the gross and scope of mine opinion, This bodes some strange eruption to our state. Mar. Good now; sit down, and tell me, he that
knows, Why this same strict and most observant watch So nightly toils the subject of the land ? And why such daily cast of brazen cannon, And foreign mart for implements of war? Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task Does not divide the Sunday from the week ? What might be toward, that this sweaty haste Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day? Who is't, that can inform me? Hor.
That can I; At least, the whisper goes so.
Our last king, Whose image even but now appear'd to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride, Dar'd to the combat ; in which our valiant Hamlet (For so this side of our known world esteem'd him) Did slay this Fortinbras; who, by a seal'd compact, Well ratified by law and heraldry,
9 Polacks was used for Polanders in Shakespeare's time. Sledded is sledged; on a sled or sleigh. — Parle, in the preceding line, is the same as parley.
10 So all the quartos. The folio reads just. Jump and just were synonymous in the time of Shakespeare. So in Chapman's May Day, 1611 : “Your appointment was jumpe at three with
Did forfeit with his life all those his lands,
11 This is the old legal phrase, still in use, for held possession of, or was the rightful owner of.
12 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, to improove, to impugn.” The French have still improuver, with the same meaning ; from improbare, Lat. Numerous instances of improve in this sense may be found in the writings of Shakespeare's time. Shark'd is snapped up or taken up hastily. “ Scroccare is properly to do any thing at another man's cost, to shark or shift for any thing. Scroccolone, 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 quartos have lawless instead of landless, of the folio. Lawless may be right. 14 Stomach is used for determined purpose.
15 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.18
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 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.
17 That is, fit, suit, or agree : often so used. 18 That is, victorious ; the 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 two syllables, and disasters for some verb. For the first, MaJone would read astres ; to which Steevens objects that there is no authority for such a word. The passage in Nortli'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 nightwand'ring pale and watery stur.”
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
'Tis here! Hor.
'Tis here! Mar. 'Tis gone.
[Erit 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.
21 It was believed that a person crossing the path of a spectre 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 when 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.